In Ozzie we trust. This has been the mantra for Ravens fanatics time and time again as one after another the Ravens superbowl roster has progressively depleted. While the loss of future hall of famer Ray Lewis definitely left them in a state of an identity crisis, losing their veteran wide receiver Anquan Bouldin and intimidating defensive standouts has transformed the Ravens into a young and anemic franchise.
Although the Ravens young defense had some prolific success in the pre season, their season opener against the Denver Broncos was a depressingly tumultuous affair as they gave up over 450 yards. On top of that, the Ravens leading man Joe Flacco once again displayed moments of greatness and erratic decision-making. While Flacco managed to through for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he still threw for two interceptions and only completed 54.8% of his passes. To be fair, Flacco was without his #2 wide receiver Jacoby Jones who was injured during a special teams play. Without a deep receiving corps that has lost reliable talent in Dennis Pitta along with Jones and Bouldin, Flacco will have a difficult time becoming the face of a franchise that is still going through immense growing pains.
However, this is not to say that the Ravens are doomed to their first mediocre season in over five years. Year in and year out, the Ravens have performed especially well when the pressure is high and the stakes are nearly insurmountable. If anything, the Ravens devastating loss to the Broncos should be a blatant wakeup call that will allow them to make the necessary adjustments to succeed in the long run. With that being said, if the Ravens want overcome their recent travesties, they’ll need to find some sort of a spark that will rejuvenate them to their former victorious glory.
Enter the Ravens all-star running back Ray Rice. Despite the fact that Rice only rushed for 32 yards and a single touchdown against the Broncos, his inspiring determination and toughness is what makes him a likeable offensive leader. Although Rice may not be the most imposing back in terms of his size, his insatiable drive and quickness is what makes him a dangerous runner no matter what the situation. Along with Rice’s consistent dependability, the Ravens also acquired a back up running back last season that proved he could be physical and effective. While Bernard Pierce may not be as agile as Rice, he has immense strength and speed, which makes it difficult on defenses to garner an open field tackles on him.
However, when all is said and done, the Ravens will live and die by how well their rookie talents turns out, particularly on defense. If safety Matt Elam and line backer Arthur Brown can live up to their lofty expectations, the Ravens will have a dynamic and intellectual defensive corps that can make the right defensive plays in the most critical of game time situations. Yet, even with all the potential that exists within the Ravens young defensive squad, none of their high expectations have come to fruition. Allowing Peyton Manning to throw seven touchdown passes is simply unacceptable, especially for the Ravens defensive standards that emphasize toughness and consistency above all else. Even with these disappointments, the Ravens defense shouldn’t feel the least bit demoralized. If anything, the Ravens defensive youngsters should feel hungrier and more determined than ever to not emulate their disgraceful performance in the first game of the season. If these athletes truly contain as much potential and skill as general manger Ozzie Newsome believes them to have, they’ll have no problem bouncing back in the Ravens home opener against the Cleveland Browns.
In the end, the Ravens have a long way to go before they can even consider reaching another Super bowl, especially with Flacco’s questionable leadership qualities and inconsistency issues. Although the Ravens are only one game into the season, if they want to repeat as Super Bowl champions they’ll have to once again overcome the overwhelming adversity that has plagued them in the past. If Flacco can emulate his post season performances that made him a Super Bowl MVP and the Ravens defense can shake off the rust that resulted in a deflating regular season loss, they have as good a chance as anybody to prove the critics and football fans wrong once again.