I had been thinking of touching on this topic for a while after seeing yesterday that my colleague Wola Odeniran did some similar that clinched it. You can read Wola’s incredibly well written article here.
To sum it up, Wola was questioning if the Baltimore Ravens might go back to their roots of relying more on the defense as opposed to the offense. Well I’m going to say straight up that the defense will be up this year, while the offense will be a little down.
For those of you who didn’t watch every Ravens game last year like me, maybe don’t know that the usually always awesome Ravens defense was a shell of itself for most of the year. They came together towards the end of the year, but early on they absolutely bludgeoned by the run game. This was something I wasn’t used to as a Ravens fan. I remember being at the stadium for the night game against the New England Patriots . I remember leaning over to my father and saying, “the defense can’t do s***; the offense is going to have to win for us.” It used to be the other way around. Most of the time we’d say, “the defense needs to score”.
The goal of the offseason was to strengthen the middle of the defense. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears were brought in because both are great against the run. The first three draft picks all could make an immediate impact on the defense. Matt Elam should be a great box safety, Arthur Brown could be the steal of the draft at middle linebacker, and Brandon Williams could start right away at nose tackle. Michael Huff should be an upgrade over the old man version of Ed Reed. The Ravens will also be getting Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb back healthy. Sounds good right? I didn’t even mention Elvis Dumervil in all that.
On offense, it’s going to be hard to overcome the losses of both Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Ed Dickson will probably do an admirable job of filling in for Pitta and Tandon Doss looks to fill the void of Boldin, although he’s unproven thus far. Another thing that could be a problem is the health and conditioning of LT Bryant McKinnie. I’m finding it hard to believe that McKinnie can last through sixteen regular season games and playoff games after that.
I predicted last season that the offense would carry the defense and to a point I was right. This year I’m saying the defense will carry the offense more. Not that there won’t be a few 34-31 games, but for the most part the Ravens will have to win more 16-13, 20-17 type games. In 2013, it’s defense up, offense down. As long as the W’s aren’t down, it shouldn’t be a problem.