The Baltimore Ravens had a season to forget in 2015. A series of tough losses to start the season plus a ridiculous amount of injuries made it tough to make a playoff push. However, John Harbaugh never seems to get enough credit for the job he’s done with the Ravens.
Despite all the issues the team had, the Ravens lost by only eight points or less in nine of their 11 losses this year. There season could have been a lot different if their best player at almost every single position didn’t get hurt.
Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, and Steve Smith Sr. all went down with season ending injuries. Those four players are the pillars of this team and not having them made a big difference.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Running back, defensive line and linebackers, quarterback, offensive line
The Baltimore Ravens continue to prove that they can build a solid team through free agency and the the draft. Justin Forsett played for most of the season and started to put together some solid performances before breaking his arm.
The next in line was Lorenzo Taliaferro who also suffered a big injury. Then the team added a former Browns draft pick Terrance West and their other draft pick Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen. Both of them filled in admirable for Forsett, and it’s clear this team is set at running back.
The Ravens calling card has always been defense and despite their poor start to the season, they still ended up in the top 10 in rushing and total defense.
The team had to deal with the injury of Terrell Suggs, but guys like Elvis Dumervil, C.J. Mosley, and Chris Canty helped pick up the slack. As long as Suggs comes back, this defense will be just fine.
Joe Flacco might be the least interesting guy in the NFL, but that’s part of the reason that makes him so good. His ability to stay composed , keep his emotions in check and not be distracted by a life outside football means he can stay consistent.
Joe Flacco has self belief and can make any throw, the Ravens will be just fine. They’ll be even better if they can keep Ryan Mallett or Matt Schaub as a backup to him.
As mentioned earlier, the Ravens know how to build a team and it starts in the trenches. They already have a future hall of fame guard in Marshal Yanda who they signed to another extension.
The team also has guys like Eugene Monroe and Jeremy Zuttah on the front line, which means they’re solid there as well.
Wide receiver, secondary
The Ravens were lucky to have Steve Smith Sr. in what was supposed to be his last year. Smith was on pace for his 9th 1,000 yard season before going down near the halfway point of the year. The team drafted Breshad Perriman who has the potential to be a big-time target but he didn’t even play in 2015.
Outside of those two players the Ravens receivers struggled a lot. Kamar Aiken basically became the main target and he wasn’t much help either. The Ravens are going to need a replacement for Steve Smith Sr. after next season.
This might be a bit harsh because the Ravens finished 12th in pass defense and ended the season well. However, there were times where this team got burned over and over again. It didn’t help to be in the same division as Antonio Brown or A.J. Green.
Lardarius Webb and Will Hill have been veterans but they don’t have a guy like Ed Reed to protect them anymore. Jimmy Smith was a high draft pick and he needs to step things up next season as well. Don’t be surprised if the team tries to address it in the offseason.
PLAYERS TO RE-SIGN:
QB Matt Schaub
K Justin Tucker
LB Courtney Upshaw
FREE AGENT TARGETS (2016 PROJECTED CAP SPACE – $3,744,966):
WR Alshon Jeffery
WR Anquan Boldin
CB Prince Amukamara
CB Janoris Jenkins
2016 FIRST ROUND DRAFT TARGETS (NO. 6 PICK)
CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida)
WR Josh Doctson (TCU)
Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:
AFC North: Cleveland Browns
AFC West: San Diego Chargers