The Baltimore Ravens started the 2013 season as the defending champion that has suffered the most roster turnover since winning the Super Bowl last year. In the NFL Kickoff game they traveled to face the Denver Broncos where they were humiliated on national television on both sides of the ball as well as in the front office.
In Baltimore they say “In Ozzie we trust.” High praise for General Manager Ozzie Newsome who has been the roster whisper and architect of two Super Bowl Champion rosters in his storied career. I believe it is a principled truth in life that the people who do the least reflecting make the biggest mistakes. I think Ozzie put his hands on the Lombardi Trophy for the second time last February and somehow the act of touching corrupted his genius into hubris.
While I can’t fault Ozzie for watching Ray Lewis wave a fond farewell riding off into the sunset and I can even live with Ed Reed taking flight in free agency, there are still a lot of other unsound decisions he made in the offseason that leave us scratching our heads.
Rather than pay Anquan Boldin what he was worth for a job well done, they shipped him off to let him star for the San Francisco 49ers. This meant that Ozzie essentially entrusted the pass catching duties to Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, two receivers who only know how to run go and out routes, putting the possession receiver role only on Dennis Pitta, who ripped his hip into Alpo early in the preseason.
When Jacoby Jones got whacked by his own man on a meaningless punt return during the kickoff game, it left the Ravens with rookie Marlon Brown the only option left to take his place.
In the past the Ravens were a team that could take knocks like this on the offense and be able to survive on the strength and character of the defense. However this year the Ravens return only five original starters from last year’s Super Bowl team. The most notable edition is Elvis Dumervil, another outside linebacker in exactly the same mold as Terrell Suggs.
I wonder if Ozzie ever considered that the Ravens have too many guys running straight at the quarterback and very few players capable of dropping back into coverage! Maybe evidence of this glaring hole in the defense would be the seven touchdowns Peyton Manning through for last week without even breaking a sweat.
I can understand saying “In Ozzie we trust” if you’re a team that’s rebuilding. Still, going from Super Bowl Champions to a team in the middle of a total rebuild is just too high a cliff to fall from.
Eric Beuning is a Football writer for RantSports.com.