7-30-14: Ray Rice finally learned his fate recently, as the NFL handed down a two-game suspension as discipline for Rice hitting his wife. Viewed as a slap on the wrist by the majority of fans, the Ravens are still probably breathing a sigh of relief that they won’t be without their top running back for long. Backup running back Bernard Pierce is likely to slide in as the starter for the first two weeks of the 2014 season. Baltimore lost some solid depth in the secondary recently, as they were forced to place cornerback Aaron Ross on injured reserve thanks to a torn Achilles he sustained earlier in the week. The Ravens did get some depth back, however, as they picked up former Giants safety Will Hill off the open market. Hill has to serve a six-game suspension before he can be made active, but is a flat-out steal if he can keep his nose clean moving forward.
7-15-14: Ray Rice’s offseason woes have yet to receive a verbal reaction from the NFL, as Rice could potentially be served a 4-6 game ban, but hasn’t heard anything official handed down by the league. While the Ravens may have to move on for a little while without Rice early in the year, they’re excited they’ll be getting a healthy Dennis Pitta to start the year. The star tight end missed most of last season with a bad hip injury and is being talked up as a star in new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s offense. Kubiak has historically made great use of his tight ends and reportedly plans to use the athletic Pitta “all over the formation”. Cornerback Jimmy Smith hit the headlines in a negative light, as he was arrested on July 12th for disorderly conduct. Smith isn’t expected to face punishment from the league.
6-5-14: Ray Rice has been the talk of Baltimore so far this offseason, as he publicly apologized for abusing his fiance. Baltimore’s top running back could still face discipline in the form of a suspension from the league or the Ravens, while his 2013 drop off could also result in a lighter rushing load. Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was expected to compete for a role in the backfield, but could have damaged his chances with his own run-in with the law on May 27th. The trip ups of Rice and Taliaferro could clear the way for a big season for Bernard Pierce. Elsewhere, defensive tackle Terrence Cody continues to recover from hip surgery, while the aforementioned Pierce is “ahead of schedule” with his shoulder injury.
5-19-14: The Baltimore Ravens addressed a lot of their needs during free agency, but still needed an impact wide receiver, a safety and some o-line help as they prepared for the 2014 NFL Draft. Let’s see how they did as we break down their main picks:
Round 1. Pick 17 C.J. Mosley, OLB, Alabama
Round 2. Pick 16 Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida St.
Round 3. Pick 15 Terrence Brooks, DB, Florida St.
Round 3. Pick 35 Crockett Gillmore, TE, Colorado St.
Round 4. Pick 34 Brent Urban, DT, Virginia
Round 4. Pick 38 Essray Taliaferro, RB, Marshall
Round 5. Pick 35 John Urschel, G, Penn St.
Round 6. Pick 18 Keith Wenning, QB, Ball St.
Round 7. Pick 03 Michael Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
Baltimore didn’t necessarily have inside linebacker high on their need list thanks to some solid talent there already, but when they saw the studly Mosley there at 17th overall, they couldn’t pass on him. Mosley is a fine athlete with great instincts and excellent leadership. He’s not Ray Lewis, but he might be close.
The Ravens continued with a very stellar draft, landing a potential difference-maker up front in the athletic Tim Jernigan. Losing Arthur Jones in free agency was a huge loss, so getting an elite talent to help replace him in round two was beyond a steal.
Terrence Brooks just might cure what ails the Ravens at safety, while Crockett Gillmore is a very balanced tight end who rounds out an insanely deep tight end corps in Baltimore. The Ravens didn’t land any other huge names, but did a solid job grabbing some needed depth across, the board, specifically at defensive tackle and offensive guard.
5-9-14: It was time to get a new Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens seem to have finally done that with the selection of Alabama inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. This is the classic Ravens defensive player pick, but at a whole new level, as Mosley can come in and start in the middle of the 3-4 from day one, if need be. Baltimore already has some young talent and veteran help on the inside, but this was a quality depth and long-term selection. Their defense slipped a bit in 2013 and bringing on a smart sideline to sideline defender should help improve their overall defense.
4-28-14: The Baltimore Ravens still seem to have the right amount of balance on both sides of the ball to make a deep playoff run. However, Anquan Boldin (trade) and Dennis Pitta (injury) were missed last year, making a big-play receiver of some sort a huge need for the Ravens. While receiver is the hottest position being mocked to the Ravens this draft season, that’s not the only spot they could get better at. Baltimore has lost some offensive tackle talent in the past year, and will likely seriously consider going after a talent like Michigan’s Taylor Lewan in the draft. They also have needs at safety, inside linebacker and defensive end for their 3-4 system. Defensive end Arthur Jones left in free agency, arguably causing the biggest hole in the defense. That could prompt the Ravens to go after the position early with someone like Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan.
4-18-14: Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens didn’t meet expectations in their defense of their 2012 Super Bowl win, so they’ll head into a pretty tough preseason schedule to try to rectify a poor season going into 2014. The Baltimore Ravens preseason schedule kicks off at home against Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers, where we’ll clearly have another episode of the “Harbaugh Bowl”. Week two brings Baltimore to Dallas to take on the Cowboys, where Tony Romo (back) may or may not be ready to take the field. That game is followed up by a date with the Washington Redskins in Baltimore, with the Ravens finishing their 2014 preseason run against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on the road. It’s a very stiff run of games that showcase some defensive battles, as well as the Ravens taking on some very explosive offenses. It should be a very exciting August.
4-7-14: Baltimore struggled on offense in 2013 thanks to injuries and the fact that they traded away Anquan Boldin, so addressing that side of the ball was key to start this offseason. They did so right away, as they re-signed Dennis Pitta and brought in Owen Daniels to secure themselves at tight end, and also brought in former Panthers star wide receiver, Steve Smith. With the offense hopefully less predictable, Baltimore also made sure to keep their defense going in a positive direction, as they retained the effective Daryl Smith at inside linebacker and also brought in safety Darian Stewart. Arguably their biggest signing came from within, though, as they brought back stud offensive tackle Eugene Monroe to make sure Joe Flacco would have solid protection for years to come.
3-21-14: One of Baltimore’s biggest weaknesses in 2013 was their lack of a go-to offensive playmaker. They shipped off the steady Anquan Boldin to the 49ers last offseason and couldn’t overcome that and the loss of Dennis Pitta (hip) for most of the season. Bringing in former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith just might correct that problem going into 2014. The Ravens also aimed to keep their offensive line steady, as they retained the hulking Eugene Monroe and let Michael Oher walk in free agency. They capped a very solid offseason by holding onto the now healthy Pitta, as well as inside linebacker Daryl Smith. The Ravens missed out on the playoffs last year, but with a solid showing in free agency and hopefully a stellar draft, they shouldn’t have much trouble getting back into the mix in 2014.
12-31-13: The Baltimore Ravens were tied with the Cincinnati Bengals at 17, all, and then it all went away. Despite the playoffs being within their grasp, Baltimore threw the game away in a flury of Joe Flacco interceptions, missing out on the post-season thanks to a 34-17 loss.
12-24-13: A week after marching into Detroit and beating a desperate Lions team, an equally desperate Ravens team couldn’t take care of business on their own field. Joe Flacco was not his usual poised self and the Ravens simply couldn’t generate any offense in a crushing 41-7 loss in Baltimore.
12-17-13: The Ravens failed to score a single touchdown against the Detroit Lions in week 15, but made the right throws and came up with the big plays on defense to help pull out a thrilling 18-16 win on the road. Justin Tucker was the man of the hour, as he nailed all six of his field goal tries, including the eventual game-winning 61-yarder that ended up being the deciding score.
12-10-13: The Ravens and Vikings saved their best for the final period. Sitting with a narrow 7-6 lead, Baltimore decided to go off for 22 fourth quarter points, while the Vikings were right there with them with 20 of their own. It was Joe Flacco and co. getting the last laugh at home, however, as Flacco zinged the game-winning touchdown pass to Marlon Brown with just four seconds left. The close 29-26 win kept Baltimore’s faint playoff hopes alive.
12-3-13: The old, gritty matchups between the Ravens and Steelers lived on in week 13, as the two sides fought hard until the very end. Baltimore struggled mightily to run the ball, but Joe Flacco topped 250 passing yards and didn’t make any huge mistakes, while the Ravens’ defense held strong in the end of a narrow 22-20 win at home.
Joe Flacco played better than expected against a Rex Ryan defense in week 12, completing over 65% of his passes and connecting on a beautiful 66-yard touchdown to help Baltimore to a 19-3 home win over the Jets. Baltimore abused rookie quarterback Geno Smith in this one, as well, sacking him three times and forcing him into three turnovers.
11-19-13: Ray Rice scored early to help the Ravens go up 10-0 on the road. Then mother nature took over. Baltimore’s road contest with the Bears was halted for over an hour due to poor weather. Rice continued on for over 100 rushing yards once the game commenced, but Baltimore couldn’t get it done in week 11, falling to the Bears on the road in overtime, 23-20.
11-12-13: Joe Flacco through two touchdowns and the Ravens were efficient in overtime to help them prevent a horrible collapse after a hail mary by the Cincinnati Bengals forced overtime. Baltimore ended up letting this one be close, but was clearly in control throughout, forcing Andy Dalton to throw three picks and sacking him fives times. The Ravens continued to struggle to run the ball effectively in this one, but did enough to earn the 20-17 win and get closer to .500 at 4-5.
11-5-13: The Baltimore Ravens had dominated the Cleveland Browns with 11 straight wins. All streaks have to end sometime. The Ravens stayed close throughout and made it just a three-point game with 12 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but simply couldn’t establish a rushing attack or get the Browns off the field when it mattered most, as they lost to their division rival, 24-18.
10-22-13: The Ravens knew what they were in for in week seven as they took on the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, and they got exactly what they thought they would. It was a dog fight throughout this one, and despite only allowing one sack and committing no turnovers, the Ravens simply weren’t effective enough on offense to knock off the Steelers on the road. Baltimore made a late run to tie the game at 16, all, but watched as Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham knocked in the winning field goal as time expired to take the week seven win, 19-16.
10-15-13: Joe Flacco rebounded from three rough quarters that saw him get sacked five times and lose a fumble to nearly lead the Ravens to a come from behind win at home. Unfortunately, Flacco’s two late touchdown passes weren’t enough against the Green Bay Packers, who used 120 rushing yards from rookie running back Eddie Lacy to ice this one, 19-17. Baltimore dropped to 3-3 on the year despite a solid defensive effort that included three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.
10-8-13: Joe Flacco was once again not on an elite level, but he and the Ravens offense did just enough to help the reigning Super Bowl champs get to 3-2 after five games. Ray Rice was the star of the day, as he found his way to two rushing scores despite the Miami Dolphins bottling him up for the most part on the ground, allowing him to just 74 rushing yards on 27 carries. Baltimore’s defense did some ‘bottling’ of their own in this one, however, as they held the Fins to just 22 total rushing yards and sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill a whopping six times. In a gritty defensive battle, Justin Tucker’s 44-yard field goal with under two minutes remaining was fittingly the deciding factor in the close 26-23 win for Baltimore.
10-1-13: Despite not having thrown an interception in nearly 80 passing attempts, the normally cool and collected Joe Flacco unraveled in week four at Buffalo, as he threw five costly interceptions en route to a narrow 23-20 loss to the Bills. Flacco was both the hero and the goat in this one, as he helped lead the Ravens back from a 20-7 deficit to a near-win, but ultimately made too many mistakes, while also taking four sacks. Part of the Ravens’ struggles stemmed from an ineffective rushing attack, as Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for just 24 yards on nine rushing attempts. The loss dropped the reigning Super Bowl champs to 2-2 and raised questions about the offensive play-calling with so few runs called in the second half.
9-19-13: The Browns and Ravens were expected to engage in a defensive battle and they did just that in week two, as neither team’s passing game could light up the field. Ray Rice exited this one with a hip injury, which gave way to bruising backup running back Bernard Pierce, who grinded out 57 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Baltimore would end up winning the game 14-6 as they evened up their record at 1-1. Next week, the Ravens host the Texans.
9-10-13: For the Ravens, Joe Flacco clearly missed the presence of some of his more reliable options in the passing game, too, as he threw two picks and struggled to move Baltimore’s offense in the deflating 49-27 loss in Denver. The Ravens look to rebound next week when the host the Browns at M&T Bank on Sunday afternoon.
8-16-13: Thanks to 20 4th quarter points the Ravens were able to win defeat the Atlanta Falcons 27-23 in their second preseason game. Joe Flacco played the first half and completed 7 of 9 passes for 118 yards, a TD, and an interception. Tyrod Taylor played the second was also solid, completing 5 of 9 passes for 83 yards and 2 TDs (1 pick).
8-11-13: The defending champion Ravens opened up the 2013 preseason in style, defeating the Buccaneers 44-16. Backup QB Tyrod Taylor threw for 154 yards and 2 TDs while completing 13 of 23 passes.
7-10-13: The Super Bowl champion Ravens watched Ray Lewis walk off into retirement, and then proceeded to dismantle their title-winning roster. Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers and the Ravens let Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Ed Reed leave via free agency. The team brought in Elvis Dumervil and Michael Huff in on the cheap and drafted well, but will the cost-cutting moves be enough for them to stage a repeat title run?
6-12-13: The Ravens won the Super Bowl
in 2012, and despite a good amount of turnover, Baltimore still figures to field a very competitive team again in 2013. Ray Lewis is retired, Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers, and Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans. All bad news, to be sure, but Baltimore saved cash and made smart, cheap acquisitions in Rolando McClain, Michael Huff and Elvis Dumervil.
Instead of a complete drop-off, Baltimore fans might not be crazy to start hitting their chest and boldly predicting a Super Bowl repeat. It’s unlikely, but the Ravens still look very good on paper and they should make things very interesting in the AFC North.
2013 Ravens Draft Overview:
Round 1, Pick 32: Matt Elam, S, Florida
Round 2, Pick 24 (from Seattle): Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Round 3, Pick 32: Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern State
Round 4, Pick 32: John Simon, DE, Ohio State
Round 4, Pick 33 (Compensatory Selection): Kyle Juszczyk, FB, Harvard
Round 5, Pick 35 (Compensatory Selection): Ricky Wagner, OT, Wisconsin
Round 6, Pick 32: Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE, Notre Dame
Round 6, Pick 35 (Compensatory Selection): Ryan Jensen, OT, Colorado State-Pueblo
Round 7, Pick 32: Aaron Mellette, WR, Elon
Round 7, Pick 41 (Compensatory Selection): Marc Anthony, CB, California
1-20-13: The Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl after defeating the New England Patriots 28-13 in the AFC Championship game. They will play the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans on February 3rd
1-9-13: The Ravens were victorious in the emotional return of their heart and soul player, Ray Lewis. Winning 24-9 over a hot Colts team is just what they needed heading into their next matchup with the Denver Broncos. In what will surely be a chess match between two future hall of famers (Peyton Manning and Ray Lewis) the Ravens will try and impose their physicality onto the Broncos in Denver. Although the Ravens offense struggled at times this season, they seemed to come together toward the end. Despite the offense picking up, the defense struggled without Ray Lewis, and the team finished the year going 1-4 in its last five games. Many were stunned by the way they beat the Colts, but one can never count out the Ravens and their experienced roster.
12-4-12: The Ravens blew on opportunity at home to clinch the AFC North against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. At 9-3 with a slew of injuries to key players on their defense, the Ravens will hope to limp into the post season and earn a bye week. The ravens will split their final four games 2-2 on the road and at home. With no word yet on the status of LB Terrell Suggs the Ravens will face a strong test on the road in Washington against RG III and the Redskins.