Only a few weeks before the end of the offseason and the official start of training camp! Only a few weeks until the Baltimore Ravens take to the practice field in preparation for the grind of the 2017 season. The team enters this campaign with high hopes of a return trip to the postseason after a two-year absence and falling just short one year ago on Christmas night to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has revamped a secondary that has been a major weakness for the last five years and got younger in the pass-rush department. He drafted two offensive lineman, added Danny Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin to the offense, but questions still linger when it comes to coaching, tight ends, and the offensive line itself.
The Ravens will need to answer those questions both on offense and defense as camp progresses. Former NFL scout, Gary Horton, took a look at the Ravens roster and analyzed what the team needs to do in order to play playoff football in January.
Horton, in an article for www.fanragsports.com, previewed the Ravens and some of his tidbits on offense included the one big thing they must do to succeed on that side of the ball; get the running game going. It’s no secret that the running game is the bread-and-butter for the Ravens on offense. Being a balanced attack for the Ravens and the benefit of Joe Flacco is key, as Horton states below:
"Until they establish a legitimate run game the Ravens will struggle to attain offensive consistency. No run often means no play action. A potentially good vertical passing game morphs into a lot of safe short and checkdowns by Joe Flacco. The Ravens do have some vertical weapons which could open up this passing game. They love to use "heavy" personnel packages with multi-tight end sets."
On the defensive side of the ball, Horton mentions the amount of injuries the team has suffered over the years, forcing the team to change their style of defense from an attacking style, to a lot of zone. Horton stated:
"Injuries and a lack of depth make this usually strong defense difficult to evaluate. For years this has been an attack defense with aggressive man schemes, but out of necessity the Ravens have recently played a lot of zones and safer schemes that make them easy to attack. Their big plays and ability to create turnovers have been missing. However, their offseason additions to the back end of this defense give them hope that they can play more man."
He's certainly right about the amount of big plays this defense has given up and a lack of creating turnovers over the years with Dean Pees as the defensive coordinator. It’s one of the primary reasons why Ozzie Newsome signed Brandon Carr, Tony Jefferson and drafted Marlon Humphrey. Losing Tavon Young was a big blow, however, with Lardarius Webb, Maurice Canady, and Brandon Boykin, Baltimore hopes they finally have the depth to make up for it. Something they previously haven't had these last couple of seasons.
Horton also listed his five "summer film evaluations" that the team needs to do and work on throughout camp.
1. "They must stay committed to the run game."
2. "Maybe they can now play the many coverages they like."
3. "They need to utilize a good Flacco deep ball."
4. "A young but promising front seven needs to develop."
5. "This receiver corps need a lot of work and hope."
If you want to read more on Horton's analyses on the 2017 Ravens, click here.
Do you agree with Horton's take on the team?