Five Things That Need To Go Right For The Ravens In 2014Posted on August 27, 2014 by Phil Gentile
Last season the Ravens missed the playoffs for the first time under the Harbaugh/Flacco regime. Here are some things that need to happen in order for them to return to their typical postseason glory:
1. Ricky Wagner needs to be a dependable right tackle for sixteen games
Without a dependable offensive line in 2013, the entire Ravens offense was a disaster. Now Kelechi Osemele is healthy, Eugene Monroe has a better grasp on the system, and Ozzie Newsome added Jeremy Zuttah to replace Gino Gradkowski. However, the biggest question mark remains Ricky Wagner. A 5th round draft pick in 2013, Wagner had virtually no competition for the starting right tackle gig. Replacing Michael Oher means the expectations will be low but I'm not confident I've seen enough from Wagner to say he will be an instant success as a starter but for the Ravens offense to run on all cylinders he has to be.
2. Lardarius Webb needs to play at least twelve games
If you're reading this send help. Cornerback help to be specific.
Long story short Corey Graham left in free agency, Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson are still inconsistent, and Jimmy Smith was coughing up blood during the Ravens second preseason game vs. the Cowboys. None of that, however, worries me as much as Lardarius Webb's health. He was originally going to miss the first two preseason games but now will not see the field until Week One. The AFC is built around some lethal passing attacks and without healthy talent in the secondary it's going to be a long season. Worse case scenario the team will have to rely on youngsters like Sammy Seamster and Tramain Jacobs early in the season.
3. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil need to produce 30 total sacks
With an injured riddled secondary the key for the Ravens on defense early in the season is going to be getting tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This will force errant throws and give the opponent's receivers little time to get separation. We expected more from the Suggs/Dumvervil duo last season but I really think, with the emerging talent along the defensive line, they can combine for 30 sacks in 2014. With the lack of depth at cornerback and the teams in the AFC boasting three sometimes four quality receivers, those sack totals need to happen to keep teams from passing all over the Ravens secondary.
4. The sophomores need to step up
Matt Elam has the potential to be a game changing safety and should only improve on a very good rookie season. The rest are completely unproven. Brandon Williams and Arthur Brown were highly touted this time last year but with the arrival of Timmy Jernigan and C.J. Mosley they will be fighting for playing time. Ricky Wagner (mentioned above) and Kyle Juszczyk will both start and have shown in limited action that they can be relied on but we'll see if that continues. These five players must be consistent contributors for this team or it will set the franchise back talent-wise for another year.
5. Joe Flacco needs to be "elite"
Ok so I hate the term "elite" but hear me out......
The most successful Ravens teams in franchise history are typically built on a potent rushing attack and a dominant defense. The 2014 Ravens will likely have neither of those things.
If this team is going to be successful it starts with their quarterback. Not including his amazing run during the 2013 playoffs, Flacco has been pedestrian but with the weapons around him and Gary Kubiak's offensive scheme look for Joe Flacco to perform up to his potential. If not, this team isn't going anywhere.