Ravens All-Time Favorites Squad:
Baltimore is very lucky to have a great guy, and a great player in Joe Flacco. I guess his presence makes up for all those years of torture. I honestly wouldn't take any other QB in the league over Flacco, it's seemingly impossible to hate him. I've enjoyed watching him take the team from a defensive powerhouse, to a team that actually receives respect for its offense. Flacco recently said he could see himself playing into his 40s, I certainly hope he does, and I'd love to see him as a Raven for life. Here's to 'Joe Cool' leading the offense for years to come.
Jamal Lewis was the man in Baltimore for quite a few years. At the beginning of the decade, Ravens football was synonymous with legendary defense (of course), and an amazing ground game. The Ravens didn't beat their opponents from the air, they preferred a more pure approach, running the ball as much as they could.
Anquan is my favorite Ravens receiver because his game is so complete. He did it all. He truly was a jack of all trades, the ideal wide receiver. It's a shame that he seems to be underrated among fans and the media. I don't think anyone can replace what Anquan did for us. He was truly a 'Raven'.
Heap was a great guy, and a fan favorite, many wonder what his career could've been had he had better quarterbacks, as Heap was the victim of many errant Kyle Boller passes. Still, it's amazing what he did with the quarterbacks he had.
Play Like a Raven. That was something Jon certainly did, and set the bar for everything that a Ravens player should stand for.
For 12 years, you could always count on Jon. He didn't just rely on his abilities, but studied relentlessly and trained nonstop. "Talent isn't enough," Ogden said. "A lot of people have talent, they don't always live up to it. For me it is about maximizing, striving for perfection."
Ray didn't simply play well for the Ravens, he established a franchise by his play, without Ray Lewis, I don't think the Ravens would be regarded in the same light as a franchise. He led us to two Super Bowls, one as a younger player, and the other as a veteran on the brink of retirement. Ray paved the way for the dominant Ravens defenses that Baltimore became known for, and great linebackers like Suggs, Boulware, Johnson, Sharper, and Thomas all followed in his footsteps. Ray wasn't simply a player, he was a legacy for the team.
Ed Reed was the pinnacle of defensive eliteness. A guy who dominated the league for years, and patrolled the field like no one else. No quarterback was safe against him, and he was a key part of some of the best defenses the Ravens ever had. Ed Reed set the mold for future Ravens defensive backs, and we can only hope that one day Baltimore will see another DB as great as Reed, but that may never happen, because Reed was truly one of the greats.
He made our D-Line dynamic, and his play amplified the abilities of others too. I like to think that having Haloti on the field made guys like Jarret Johnson, Terrell Suggs, and Ray Lewis even better, and vice versa. The Ravens defenses always seem to be a unit, a working machine of many cogs, and when all the parts work together correctly, the result is a spectacular sight.
The Ravens were just a year removed from the heartbreak of a missed kick. In the 2011 AFC Championship, All-Pro Kicker Billy Cundiff sliced a field goal attempt wide right, had he made the kick, it would've forced overtime. What would've happened then? No one knows, but the heartbreak of not knowing was enough.
Except this time, the result was different. The rookie looked calm and poised. He stepped right up, and sent a 47-yard attempt straight down the middle. The Ravens had just completed the upset of the Broncos, and Tucker was the guy to finish them off.
In his first seven seasons, Harbaugh has led the Ravens to six playoff berths, and is the only head coach in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in six of the first seven seasons of a coaching career. You can see countless other statistics and achievements of Harbaugh here, but the point is, he's a winner.
Special Mention: the Ravens Front Office
While doing all of my research for this series, one common theme popped up. The team would never be where it is today without their excellent front office staff. While these guys might not be spotted on the field, their contributions can certainly be seen both on and off it.
Hats off to former owner Art Modell, who brought back professional football to Baltimore. More kudos to current owner Steve Bisciotti, whose 'hands off' managerial style and trust in his staff has brought success to Baltimore. You can't forget the contributions of Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta, the best GM-Assistant GM tag-team in the league. You have to wonder what the 'darkest timeline' would be for the Ravens if the Ravens didn't have this talented, dynamic group running the team.
So there you have it. The Ravens have had so many greats over their twenty-season existence, and that didn't make my job so easy. This is a very solid squad, representative of Ravens from all the years, and very diverse. The Ravens are lucky to have such a rich history in so few years.
I hope you've enjoyed this series as much as I have, it's been super fun to write and see the discussions in each article. Comment below with your 'All-Time Favorites' squad, I'd love to see them.