Only two starters, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, remain from the defense that helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in 2012. For the first time in a decade and a half, Baltimore went consecutive seasons without having a top-10 defense. Ouch is right, but Head Coach John Harbaugh and Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees look to turn that trend around this upcoming season.
If the Ravens defense does finish in the Top 5 in 2014, how much better are their chances of hoisting another Lombardi Trophy? I'd say rock solid, considering that their 2012 Super Bowl unit did not bode well at all -- ranking 17th in yards allowed and 20th in points allowed per game during the regular season.
"The expectation for our defense is to be top-five, at the worst," Harbaugh said. "It has always been that way and always will be."
After spending their first three rounds on defensive players in the 2013 and 2014 NFL Draft, it's safe to assume that the Ravens front office is looking to build another championship-caliber defense.
When the new bunch on defense ripens and the players develop to perform at their fullest potentials, the 11, regardless of who's on the field, will be feared by opposing offenses. Training Camp should determine who separates the men from the boys and currently all eyes are on Terrence Cody, Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams for the nose tackle job. Another must-see free-for-all battle to pay attention to is the spot on the defensive line rotation with rookie Brent Urban, Chris Canty and Kapron-Lewis Moore.
Championship-caliber defense. The fusion of the young talent with a pair of versatile pass rushers in Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, reliable veterans Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb and Ngata, a game-changing wrecking ball in the middle of the line excites me. I haven't even mentioned inside linebacker Daryl Smith yet.