Last year: 10-6, Super Bowl champions
Acquisitions: Elvis Dumervil, Matt Elam, Chris Canty, Caleb Hanie (!!!), Michael Huff, Visante Shiancoe
Departures: Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Dennis Pitta (injury)
Vegas 2013 win total over/under: 8 1/2 wins
Five selections Ravens players make at the ice cream truck
– Crunch So Hard University cone
– Ray-Ray deer antler pop
– John Harbaugh’s bottled INTENSITY
– Jim Caldwell’s unflavored ice water
– Steelers fans tearsicle
Fan forecast, by kommenter 0tarin:
Composing the prekkake for the prior year’s champs seems like it would be a challenge, especially when that team is the Ravens. No one likes Baltimore, but everyone hates the Ravens. And what’s not to hate? The QB who keeps somehow falling up the ladder of success and fortune? The crop of felons scattered about the defense? (Admittedly, the biggest offender departed, but don’t kid yourself–they’re still awful.) The fans? HOLY SHIT the fans. Purple camo jokes aside, no one plays the “no one respects us!” card quite like a Ravens fan. This is bizarrely compounded by our ability to assume that everyone–EVERYONE–has it out the team. Even now, after the slew of good fortune that flooded the team throughout the playoffs last season, the only team we Baltimore fans hate more than Pittsburgh is the one in black and white stripes.
But enough about the fans–let’s get to the real reason we’re here: to hate on the team. In last year’s prekkake, guest writer Rushmore Hollandaise’s brilliant breakdown touched on the fact that the team’s inability to sign a franchise quarterback for over a decade was truly a failure for the ages. I put it to you, however, that this pathetic tale pales in comparison to their true Achilles heel: their inability to draft a single decent receiver over the team’s entire existence.
Ozzie Newsome, for all his talents, simply cannot draft a WR to save his life. The closest thing to a wideout that Baltimore has drafted in the last decade has been Torrey Smith, who is a hilariously self-inflicted injury away from going the path of Plaxico Burress. Outside of his respectable-but-infrequently-seen talent, here’s the murderer’s row of WRs that Baltimore actually drafted in the last ten years:
*Denotes a pick that would actually be expected to produce something–round 1 or 2.
Holy shit. Let that putrescence roll around in your brain for a few minutes; it’ll help you truly appreciate why you see headlines like “Ravens Sign T.J. Houshmanzadeh” every year. Every year, that is, except this one. Evidently, 2013 is the year that Baltimore simply accepts its wideout-related ineptitude, because the front office not only refrained from bringing in a useful free agent to supplement yet another draft’s worth of WR washouts, but managed to trade away the only respectable receiver in the locker room, presumably planning to replace him with one of those well-known and proven commodities listed above. This brings us to the most depressing (or hilarious, for non-Ravens fans) part of this issue: the fact that the entire Ravens’ staff seem to think that this is the year! THIS YEAR, our crop of wideouts will become useful! They won’t. They never will, and Torrey Smith will become Mark Clayton 2.0–Bigger and Claytonier than ever.
Baltimore’s strategy towards the OL should look familiar to Pittsburgh fans: retain one or two solid players and supplement them with subway turnstiles and bags of packing peanuts. It’s become an annual ritual to throw one or two high- to mid-round picks at the line–you know, to show the audience that you at least have a general idea that the positions are important–and then resume signing old veterans just in time for them to show up 400lbs overweight and already injured. Proving that this year would be no exception, the Ravens opted to drop 5th and 6th round picks on some camp bodies and move forward with Michael “Left-no-right-no-left-no-right Tackle” Oher and Bryant “Did you say Twinkies?” McKinnie as the bookends for the line. That’s OK, because with Joe Flacco under center, we have a QB who is slightly more mobile than a sedated Kurt Warner, so he’ll be donating sacks after holding the ball for 15 minutes while waiting for Ray Rice to break quadruple coverage.
Speaking of boat anchors, no season preview of the Ravens would be complete without mentioning the albatross of a contract that Flacco and his agent somehow got the organization to sign. By now, it’s been often noted by the media that the contract isn’t actually as bad as it looks–unfortunately, this is because the contract looks like a goddamn train wreck. Sure, signing Unibrow for $120 million over 6 years looks better when you realize that only $52 million of it is guaranteed, but that still means you just decided that Flacco is worth $52m. Bert has somehow perfected Rexy’s patented “go long or dumpoff” strategy and made it appear viable, and then persuaded a team to throw him a bag of money for doing it.
The FEARSOME RAVENS DEFENSE has been a point of pride for Baltimore fans since the team won its first Super Bowl, and we continue to tout it as the team’s main strength–the constant that is ever-hindered by an inept offense (see above). This comes despite the fact that the defense has been in a continuous state of decline that spirals downward in a suspiciously close correlation with the aging of its two main superstars. Last season marked the defense’s worst performance in a decade, and now that Stabby and Hobo Ed are gone, things aren’t likely to improve. (Yes, they were awful in coverage last year, but they had INTANGIBLES.) Now we get to see how the front office does at building around the team’s offense and hoping it can prop up the D–my comments above should make it clear how likely that is.
Now yes, the Ravens won the Super Bowl last year, so all this whining and cynicism could seem unwarranted, but I think everyone is aware just how close this team came to flaming out of the playoffs completely. Opposing teams’ coverage breakdowns (PLURAL! Jesus, teams really didn’t want to beat them) aside, this team loses in the wild card round without Flacco and Boldin turning into superheroes at precisely the right time. Now Boldin’s gone, Flacco’s going to go into the traditional post-contract slump, and Dennis Pitta’s leg went full-Griffin. Hello, 9-7! I can’t wait.