When you win the Super Bowl, the questions generally get more enjoyable to answer. When the team that won that Lombardi Trophy is all but dismantled to enter the following season, however, the inquiries get less and less pleasant.
For the Baltimore Ravens, such is life for a veteran-laden squad that rolled through the postseason to capture its second Super Bowl title in franchise history in February. The team lost veterans like Ed Reed and Dannell Ellerbe to free agency while Anquan Boldin departed via trade and Ray Lewis called it a career. All of this begs the question of just where will this team gets its leadership from in the upcoming season?
Now obviously John Harbaugh has proven to be a spectacular leader of men having taken his team to at least the AFC Divisional round in each of his five seasons at the helm for the Ravens. Still, a coach cannot be the sole driving force within a locker room that leads a team into battle on a weekly basis.
We’ve all seen the famous, fiery pep talks from No. 52 in purple prior to the Ravens playing on Sundays for more than a decade now. It would be silly to expect someone else to try and reproduce that kind of passion and that kind of leadership, but there’s no doubt that someone is going to have to lead in their own way this season.
Joe Flacco was given the massive contract he deserved following his impressive postseason run with the team, but he has never been much of a demonstrative leader. To expect him to change his ways just because some key veterans are gone would be asking a bit much.
What this team must do in 2013 is band together and take on a team-first mentality rather than relying on a group of individuals as they have in seasons past. Great individual players like Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice, Haloti Ngata, and Torrey Smith still remain, but camaraderie and togetherness needs to be this team’s mantra this season in order to be successful. Last year’s motivation of winning the Super Bowl for Ray Lewis can’t be duplicated, and this team needs to forge its own identity this season.
Trying to define an intangible question is a very difficult task, but that is exactly what the Ravens must do as they prepare for the upcoming campaign. This team has to establish its leaders, set goals, and come together to attain what they set out to achieve in 2013. Whether or not they have one vocal leader as they’ve had in the past or several veteran presences to carry the torch, the Ravens need to figure out where their leadership is going to come from this season.