In Ozzie We Trusted
It’s been one thing as a Ravens fan I’ve always held onto and that is trusting Ozzie Newsome to do the right thing. Whether this was through the draft or free agency, we’ve always been able to trust Ozzie. Now we enter a new era with Eric DeCosta; we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. We know that DeCosta has been Ozzie’s right-hand man for some time and that he’s already made some decisions himself. So, knowing this, my evaluation period will obviously begin with the handling of key contracts. Talks have already begun about bringing C.J. Mosley back; that is a huge plus for me. We also have learned that John Harbaugh has received a four-year contract extension and that Greg Roman will be our new Offensive Coordinator. So while we finish the ushering in of a new era I’ll list off some things that need to be addressed. I believe if the Ravens address these issues, and the team needs, that we’ll be title contenders once again.
- Wide Receivers– Yes once again we find ourselves looking for a brand new wide receiver corps. While we do retain Willie Snead, it looks like the Ravens will be moving on Michael Crabtree. It’s an understandable money move and philosophy move. It’s been my opinion that the Ravens need to bring back John Brown. He has been a huge boost to bringing speed to the perimeter and will be key in developing Lamar Jackson. Another receiver the Ravens should look at is Devin Funchess. The wideout from Carolina is a huge possession target that is also very quick. The Ravens need a guy like him to be a perfect complement and a safety net.
- Guard– The Ravens need to get someone who can help protect Lamar. The young age of our offensive line showed against the Chargers when Lamar could hardly do anything. Now, usually I’m a guy who likes to build a roster through the draft, but I believe the Ravens need to go get another veteran Guard. Whether it’s by trade or free agency this will be our next biggest need.
- Edge Rusher– Unfortunately this is where the decision-making gets rough. The Ravens will have to decide whether to keep the longest-tenured Ravens player ever in Terrell Suggs or keep Za’Darius Smith. Due to cap space, we can’t keep both. On a more positive note, the Ravens could eye a potential third-rounder out of Lousiana Tech named Jaylon Ferguson. The edge rusher out of Tech needs some work, but while in college he beat Terrell Suggs career sacks record with 45 over his career.
- Center– Now I wouldn’t say that this is a huge issue as this was Matt Skura’s first year as a starter, but I believe that the Ravens should have a contingency plan in the event that he keeps struggling. Skura does post an average, 58.2, grade on Pro Football Focus. He does have room to grow and could be a lot better next year; the Ravens should be concerned while developing Lamar.
- Running Back– What?! Have you forgotten about Gus Bus?? No, I have not. The Ravens have seemed to have a running back come out of nowhere and do really well. The next year, they fall off the face of the earth with Ravens fans asking the same question. How do we solve our run game? Well, the Ravens, in my opinion, need to think about making some moves for a solidified and consistent back.
- Turnovers– This issue not only plagued our season but it quite literally ended it as well. While we were able to win most games, we just couldn’t hold on to the ball. The Ravens need to place a heavy emphasis on this during the off-season and should be priority number one.
- Passing Game– Lamar Jackson is ready. Despite what you might hear from most Ravens fans or even other analysts; Lamar is ready to be given more of the playbook. Sure, you could make an argument that the offense looked putrid against the Chargers. That’s because of lack of innovation of Marty. Why would you not plan on trying to throw the ball more against a team that Lamar had a career game against the first time? The first time the Ravens played the Chargers, Lamar threw for 204 yards and a touchdown. Then in the postseason, Lamar threw for 194 and a pair of touchdowns. Now we have Greg Roman. This man helped Colin Kaepernick get to his Super Bowl against the Ravens. While the Ravens do need to continue developing Lamar, which is why this is on the list, I believe the passing game will be fine.
- Forcing Turnovers– While the Ravens boasted the second-best defense, they struggled to force turnovers. The Ravens finished being tied 18th for interceptions and 27th for forced fumbles. The normal production just wasn’t there and if they want to support Lamar, then ball control is the name of the game. Now, obviously our defense wasn’t our weakest point, but still needs to be addressed.
- Offensive Playcalling– Now sure this can be pinned with the passing game issues but the Ravens are gonna need to get away from calling the run so often. When Jackson took over, we obviously played to his strength but going forward it has to change. It’s not sustainable to run the ball 63% of the time. I have faith in Greg Roman but this still makes the list.
- Turnovers– Yes, again. This really is gonna be the make or break of this offense. That is why this issue makes the list twice.
A New Era of Trust Begins
We will see how Eric DeCosta handles his new role but if Ozzie Newsome taught us anything, it is that we should always trust the process. So, that is exactly what I’ll do. I’ll revisit this list in Week 4 of next year to see our progress. If you think my list is wrong, hit me up on twitter. Until next time, stay safe Ravens Flock.