The Ravens defensive backs were a popular punching bag throughout this past season.
In mid-season games against the Steelers, Saints and Chargers, the Ravens allowed a ton of passing yards and came away 1-2 in those outings. Surrendering six touchdowns to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the moment outing for the group, though the Ravens were able to avenge that loss in the postseason.
Of course, in the AFC Divisional Round, the Ravens lost to the Patriots, with the secondary unable to stop Tom Brady from moving the ball down the field in the fourth quarter.
However, there's reason for optimism in 2014. The Ravens' secondary was cursed, if you will, with a slew of injuries affecting them all year. It all started with Aaron Ross tearing his Achilles in the preseason and spiraled from there. With a healthy group entering 2015, general manager Ozzie Newsome is optimistic this group can improve on its own without having to address the need too much in free agency or the draft.
"As we look at it now, getting Jimmy [Smith] back healthy is going to be very big for us," Newsome said this week at the State of the Ravens presser. "So, that's a good start. Having Lardarius [Webb] go through a season where he's not rehabbing — he's just getting himself ready to play — [is beneficial]. And because of the injuries, we were able to pick up Rashaan [Melvin] and [Chris] Greenwood, some other young guys, that we have in our system right now that should be able to get on the field and help us."
The Ravens could stand to add a corner, or even a safety, to bolster the unit. But the starting two corners should be fine. Will Hill at one of the safety spots is encouraging. It's a matter of finding a consistent nickel back and another every-down safety to put into the rotation.
Newsome compared the defensive backs to where the offensive line was a year ago. The front office made a couple of tweaks — they brought in Jeremy Zuttah and placed Rick Wagner into the starting role after Michael Oher left in free agency. Now the line is a strength. That's how Newsome sees the defensive backs situation playing out.
"But as we move forward for 2015, I would look at it as this time last year we were talking about the offensive line, and I don't think we'll be talking a whole lot about the offensive line going into 2015, because when we attacked that we did it in a good way because of the process the coaches and the scouts have," Newsome said.