Talk pro football with SI.com's Andrew Perloff in Huddle Up, a forum to discuss the hottest topics around the NFL.
6/09/2006 12:15:00 PM
Ravens coach Brian Billick, left, Steve McNair, center, and general manager Ozzie Newsome are all smiles now, but wait until the season starts.
Ravens fans are busy looking into cheap flights to Miami for Super Bowl XLI when they should be purchasing Amtrak tickets to New York for next year's draft. The arrival of Steve McNair has Baltimore buzzing, but there are too many potential problems to even pencil the Ravens into the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl.
Here are five reasons Baltimore won't have a winning season:
1. Injuries: This is the only team on which the perennially banged-up McNair is healthier than his teammates. Stars Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have all battled injuries, and there's no guarantee they'll return to 100 percent.
2. Age: McNair is 33. Ray Lewis, 31. Derrick Mason, 32. Jonathan Ogden will turn 32 this offseason, as will Mike Flynn. Trevor Pryce will turn 31 in August. Every one of those guys is on the downside of his career.
3. AFC North: The Super Bowl champion Steelers kept their nucleus in tact, the division-winning Bengals are young and hungry, and the recent news has been positive for QB Carson Palmer. And the Browns spent a ton in free agency, making them more competitive.
4. Road Woes: They haven't won away from home since Nov. 14, 2004, at the Jets. And they have some killer out-of-division trips planned for this year -- at Denver, at Kansas City, at Tampa Bay.
5. Team Dissension: The love-fest we've seen this week in Baltimore seems forced. Ray Lewis showed his true nature this offseason with bitter comments about everything wrong with the Ravens. And although coach Brian Billick seems happy now, wait until things get tough and owner Steve Bisciotti starts riding him again.
The Ravens will be home in January. Take it to the bank. Take it to the M&T Bank Stadium if you want. But that's just my opinion. I want to hear from you on how good the addition of McNair will make Baltimore this season.
You could argue that maybe they've kept pace with Cleveland this offseason, but I still see them behind Cincy and Pittsburgh in the division race. Too many other good teams in the AFC to even consider a wild card spot at this point.
The Ravens have gotten a lot of mileage out of their Superbowl win nearly a decade ago. Getting hot at the right time netted them a SB, but they are not a dominant team. That division is stacked. They have a chance at the playoffs, but as it stands right now how can you rate them any higher than third in the division?
The Ravens had the number 5 defense w/o Ray Lewis last yr and half the season w/o Ed Reed, their players didn't huddle over Boller and some of them lacked effort obviously. McNair is what they needed and what The Skins/Cowboys/Panthers and who knows how many other teams need, an experienced QB, for short yardage situations, after INTs, to motivate the offense, and there's the rapport w/ Mason-who for age comparisons is no older than TO, or Rice in his final good yrs-oh yeah he had almost 100 catches last yr w/ Boller. Finally Todd Heap was a good QB to throw to him as well as Mark Clayton and any other young receiver that finally has the chance to become a fine crop in Baltimore rather than a bust. There O-line will only get better from last yrs horrid display as certain lineman will be benched, have been released, and younger talent will take over. Dan Cody and Ngata will provide a defensive spark-already better than last yr. W/ a healthy McNair they will easily reach the playoffs, especially w/ their hard running running backs. Even w/ a somewhat healthy McNair they know they will be better mentally and physically.
To me, that division is wide open. Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Steelers barely made the playoffs, nobody knows what to expect from the Bengals, and the Browns are at least a year away. Their defence still relys on reputation, but is solid with Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. If McNair can stay healthy enough to throw to Derrick Mason and Todd Heap, the Ravens could surprise.
Air will be an upgrade over Boller but the Ravens still have too many holes to fill. Running back is one of many. J-Lew won't be able to make it through the entire season and the secondary will struggle with Reed not @ 100 %
I'll give you some other names and tell me if they're on the downside of their careers: Ed Reed, Todd Heap, Terrell Suggs, Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Mark Clayton, Dan Cody, Haloti Ngata and Bart Scott. A successful team blends veteran leadership with youthful talent. I'd argue the Ravens have some of the latter that you may have overlooked.
Ray Lewis has slowed down, but they still have Suggs, Reed and McAlister in their prime years. If the offense can move the ball and eat up some clock, the defense will still be one of the best in the NFL. The playoffs are coming back to Bmore.
Looking back at last season, McNair would have given the Ravens at least 4-5 more wins; that's the playoffs. McNair will force defenses to be honest- Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson won't dface 8-9 guys in the box anymore. Lewisx2, Heap, Reed are all healed from injuries last year. Ogdenis in the best shape since 2000. My worry is in the Kicking game esp. Punting
I think that you are absolutely right. Tough division may be the biggest factor in the playoff missing equation. Also I think that their defense is waaaaayyy overrated. Last year we heard all the hype of "we're back in the form of the 2000 Super Bowl defense." Then they didn't finish in the top ten. Stop yappin, start putting it on the field. Nobody cares what you say, it's what you do.
The D is still good. They tried to change the schemes up too much last year but still finished well. If McNair plays at least 12 games, this team could get 10 wins. Is that good enough for the playoffs though?
Let's not lose sight. Ray Lewis is still one of the best backers in the business. I am not sold completely on Mcnair. Career lase with severe injuries. Running game was not impressive last year. Yet with all the doubt's there's still a glimmer of hope.
As much as Balitmore tries to take themselves seriously, they are the perennial whipping boy for the Steelers, and now the Bengals. Andy is right on when he says the team is over the hill, and it will show more than ever this year.
The ravens are definitely a playoff contender with the addition of McNair. They now have a proven quarterback, solid receivers, a 2,000 yd back, one of the best tight ends in the game, and an improved o-line. With a perennial top 5 defense that only got better, what are they missing? Also, McNair helps bring back the swagger they have been missing the last couple of years. They also know they have a short window to win and will play with a lot of urgency and confidence.
While I do envy the McNair to mason connection make sure the trainers have a steady stock of both cortizone and geritol. All jokes aside if Ray & Jamal Lewis can stay healthy they might have a chance in the division but I do think a trip ticket to Miami is definately a reach.
Ravens stink.. They were better off going after Marc Bulger as opposed to Steve McNair.. Ray Lew is has lost a step.. They should cut him and try to trade for Demarcus Ware.. In addition, the Ravens should fire Billick and bring in Rich Kotite as head coach and Jeff George as offensive coordinator
Ravens fans are delusional as Stealers(Yes Stealers, as in Stole the Super Bowl). The Ravens will still be lucky to win 8 games. They can't play offense no matter who's the QB and the Defense is old. They won't get out of the division let alone beat teams like INDY, Denver, and New England. Time to wake up Ravens fans
Hi, I like everyone's comments and would like to add that the Ravens won a SB based on their defense and McNair or not they need to start holding teams to single-digits again to have a shot at the playoffs.
All the Baltimore fans need to look at the facts. The Ravens were indeed the 5th ranked ypg defense, but they played the 26th ranked Brown's offence twice. They were the 10th ranked defense in points, which by the way, is what really matters. Time for the "we are da bomb defense" mantra to move on.
Perennial whipping boys? The steelers and ravens split every year. Yes, the bengals got them the last 3 times, but the law of averages has to kick in sometime. This is a playoff team. Those who don't think so are in denial.
The biggest reason that McNair won't help the Ravens is that Baltimore is the elephant graveyard of QBs. They all end up there and their careers die there. A QB simply can not succeed in Billick's (cough) system.
Also, as noted, Ray Lewis is running on reputation alone now and Jonathan Ogden couldn't block a fire hydrant.
Ravens have no chance. Their defense is still decent, but not spectacular by any means. They are old, and the team will not be able to ride Jamal Lewis as much as they used to. Boller was not the reason they couldn't do anything last year, as he actually played decently within their system. McNair is not as athletic as he used to be either and will be on the ground a lot. The Ravens will have lost playoff hopes midway through the season and will be trying to free themselves of McNair next offseason.
The Ravens have been nothing but over-rated since their Super Bowl Run. They have never recovered from letting go Trent Dilfer. They don't seem to have any plan or identity except a loud-mouth middle linebacker, a pompous head coach and no quarterback. Their offense will improve with McNair, if in fact, he does start and stay healthy. They are STILL over-rated. In the toughest division in the tougher conference, it will be hard for them to do dramatically better.
The Ravens will make the playoffs. Take that to the bank! (M&T if YOU like) The D was #5 last year and added much needed bulk on the D-Line with Haloti Ngata. I'll take Jonathan Ogden at 32 over most other, if not all, left tackles in the league. Same goes for Ray Lewis at age 31. Derrick Mason was still among the leaders in receptions last year even with Kyle Boller (Who happens to be a great backup for McNair. He's young with much upside). Todd Heap is a top 3 tightend and Mark Clayton showed last year why he was a 1st round pick. Jamal Lewis is over a year removed from his ankle injury and legal issues. Word has it is he's ready to play. Mike Andersen is a great complement to Jamal. The O-Line has some nice young talent ready to step in and Matt Stover is still among the leagues most accurate kickers. There's to much talent on this team to see them underachieve 3 straight years. And the Ravens always play Pittsburgh tough. We beat them in Baltimore last year and came within a last second fieldgoal of beating them at Ketchup Field. It's a solid coaching staff with Brian Billick, Jim Fassell and Rex Ryan. Baltimore will be back in the playoffs in 2006!
Every team in the NFL is a possible playoff team. As it stands though, Pittsburgh and Cincy are far ahead of the Ravens. The Steelers are 31-7 in the past two years and Cincy won the division last year. Like it or not, Baltimore has a tough task ahead and they'll probably fall short. Their chances of winning the division are about the same as finishing dead last in it.
I agree, With the competition of that division being at such a high level and the fact that all the Ravens stars are OLD and FRAGILE, there are too many "what if's" on this team. Like what if, (or When) McNair goes down, who will pick up the Ravens? Kyle Boller, Sure.
I'd say that Mason (almost 100 catches with Boller, who is awful) still has plenty left in the tank.
As far as the comments about the team getting old, that's just silly. Ray Lewis might be the only "Old" guy on the defensive side of the ball. Gregg, Thomas, Suggs, Reed (who'll actually give a crap when he gets a long term deal), Scott, McCallister (although he's overrated), Rolle, Cody are all in their prime.
The O line is still a concern, but the right side should be better with the young guys getting experience on the right side last year (remember that Zeus is gone). Center and LG could be an issue. Ogden should have a couple of good years left in him.
The team will contend for a playoff spot, but probably not the division. And if they lose early - duck and cover, because the team will implode.
McNair is an impovement over Boller, I think that Kordell was better than Boller. The Ravens need a new coach a new line and a young capable QB-- they will finish 4th behind Cleveland this year. They'll regret not making a strong push for Drew Brees. This division is the Steelers to lose!
The missing piece to a winning season was a stable QB. If McNair stays healthy then the playoffs area a certainty. And don't give me any crap about him being an injury risk. Every player in the NFL is at risk of being injured!
And the author forgot to mention Bmore's younger stars - Bart Scott, Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs, Mark Clayton, Ed Reed, Ngata, & Dan Cody will blend in nicely with the vets.
The Ravens are done and there's nothing McNair, RayRay or anyone else can do about it. Their time has passed...it happens. By the way, RayRay needs to quit bellyaching about getting the protection he needs to do his job. If he was as bad as he likes to pretend he is, he'd make plays no matter what DT's were in front of him. I could play MLB if I had Siragusa and Sam Adams in front of me- anyone could do that when those guys are taking on the whole line. For someone who's allegedly the best LB to ever play, he has a lot of excuses. Give me Urlacher, Tedy Bruschi, Zach Thomas, even the Colts' Gary Brackett...RayRay is all talk, no walk.
Solid coaching staff, don't make me laugh. Fassel couldn't do jack crap with the Giants and got run out of NY. And Billick was hired for his offensive "genius", and look how much he was done with the Raven's offense. They are downright incompetent.
Steelers kept their nucleus? How about they lost the only guy that THREW a TD pass in the Super Bowl last year and the best RB in franchise history. Maybe McNair doesn't make it though the whole season, but he won an MVP award only playing in 14 games in 2003. The Mike Anderson signing was a big move and teh O Line will have two MASSIVE bookends in Ogden and Adam Terry. Ray Ray will attone for his sins of the past and Ed Reed is playing for a new contract. I see 11-5 or 12-4 in their future. The playoffs are comign back to BMore
I saw every home game and a few away games last year. The defense was able to stop most teams all season long -- including a win at home against Pitt, and a near win in Pitt and Denver. The only thing that stopped them was inadequate leadership at QB and a suspect line. Obviously with the signing of McNair they now have a field general. Also, the addition of Mike Anderson and improvements to the line through the draft and a few young lineman maturing, this is now a team that will surprise a lot of people. If the team can rebuild its chemistry around "team" and not the individual dances by certain players (which I understand will be eliminated thru directive of Billick), then the next few seasons look promising.
The Ravens need to stay healthy and these guys haven't shown the ability to do so in quite some time. Their receivers are decent but not great. Some legal trouble will hit Jamal Lewis again. So if everything bounces right, they can contend, but way too many ifs. They aren't as good as the Steelers and Bengals. But to the Browns fan who says the division title goes through Cleveland, what are you smoking?
Look, that Ravens team seems primed to implode. Lewis is barely above average now. And I watched some average WR's make McAllister look lost the last couple years. Reed can dominate and Ngata may be a Pro Bowler before all is said and done, but they're one or two injuries away from a 5 win season. By the way, I'm not an AFC fan, so don't even call me biased. GO PANTHERS !!!
I'm a Raven's fan first and a football fan second. The Ravens still have a solid defense given the departures from last year. While free agency and the draft have brought more talent the question still remains if they will be able to step up into the holes that they will fill. The defense's greastest assest is now the offense. With the arrival of McNair, the Ravens offense has the potential to go on the attack, score points, and win games instead of depending on the defense to win. The single greastest concern is the O-line. So far reports out of Ravens mini-camps sound as though the O-line is in better shape, healthier, and working better than ever. Raven's fans will just have wait and see just how well everything will work together in week one. Just ignore the nfl nay-sayers since most of them have been wrong on just about everything-- see Mr. "Overrated".
the Ravens are hurrting bad. Zippy chance they can make it anywhere near the playoffs with their offense, if Steve McNair was the Steve McNair of old I'd still only give them a slight chance of having a winning season. But they still have to play the Steelers and Bengals twice a year and they definitely can't hang with them. The only reason they beat the Steelers last year was Turnover Tommy Maddox
Yes, Baltimore does have a good Defense, but not good enough to get them to the SuperBowl again or for that matter to the playoffs. They have one piece missing from the 2000 year that made that Defense exquisite.... Marvin Lewis.
If this team had a real coach, they could possibly be in line for a wild-card, as it stands now, I don't see them winning 7 games. All this talk about Lewis being slow now is true, but he has been for the last couple years. The main problem is coaching and "O" line. McNair will be busted up and in crutches by week 6.
Todd Heap a top 3 tight end? Yeah right. 1) Gates 2) Gonzalez 3) Witten 4) Crumpler 5) Shockey and then in some order Randy McMicheal, Chris Cooley and Heath Miller are all better than Heap. He's big time overrated
All of the Baltimore fans should go down to the pier and wave their ship goodbye! Just getting rid of Tommy Maddox added two victories to the Steelers totals and the Bengals and the Browns; yes the Browns; have both surpassed the Ravens! Say hello to 6 - 10 and the basement Baltimore!
The Ravens will end up 8-8 losing some games at the end of the season because of wear and tear on some old but still very important players. McNair will be an upgrade, but this team is too dependent on some fragile players to play well late into the season.
I heard all these same "Ravens are favorites for the Super Bowl" stories for the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 seasons. What have the produced? 2 Playoff appearances (2001 & 2003). And 1 Playoff win (2001). Quit drinking the purple kool-aide Ravens fans.
The Steelers may have lost Randle El and Bettis, but that doesn't hurt the team one bit. Bettis was great, but it was his time to go, besides Willy Parker was the starter last year, and if Duce Staley stays healthy they are fine at RB. As far as Randle El, he may have thrown the only Superbowl TD for the Steelers, but he didn't do much the rest of the season. Cedrick Wilson is a much better receiver than El, and will fill his spot just fine.
I live in TN and can honestly say, Baltimore, you can have Steve. First shot on his chest and he'll only play half the rest of the season. And that doesn't even count his legs. You think if he was considered solid that TN would have shipped him out?
OK, OK, enough already with Steve McNair. Two words that will describe this year for the veteran QB: New system. After a banged up 2005 with new OC Norm Chow, he has to learn a third system in three years after spending his entire career in Tennessee. A new coaching staff makes a difference, and Brian Billick might lose the confidence of some of his veterans with another slow start. Watch for Bart Andrus (his QB coach 1999) to continue his success in NFL Europe.
This is the best fit for Steve and the Ravens. i live in Nashville and am a titans fan. We love steve and appriciate everything he did for this organization, but as always in the busniess side of the NFL there comes a time where even the face of a franchise has to change. i thnik steve is motivated to show the league that he still has enough in the tank to take an underacheiving team and be the difference for them. He has favorite receiver so my odds are on Steve.
To the person who said Todd Heap is overrated: Hopefully you will get the chance to judge him in person and not just in your fantasy football league. He makes catches that only Gonzalez and maybe Gates can. The fact that you put Cooley and Heath miller ahead of him shows you are way out of your element. If Heap can stay healthy there is no question he will be at least top 3 in receiving yards for tight ends
Why the Ravens are idiots... It's ridiculous that the Ravens are thinking McNair is the missing link. If he was, we wouldn't have drafted Young (pardon the pun). 1999 McNair was great; but Baltimore paid 12 million dollars to assist us in making the split easy. I am GLAD McNair got a big payday; and I am even happier that we didn't have to give it to him. The Ravens are great at picking through our used talent...too bad they can't draft like we can and perhaps they would have players in the prime of their career; not two seasons after McNair himself said that he wanted to retire because his body can't take it anymore. Great job by a second rate team and front office. One day the Ravens will realize that teams are built through the draft...NOT looting another teams fallen hero's (Derrick Mason, Samari Rolle, and now Steve McNair). Man; you would think that moron Dan Snyder owned the Raven's...
With all of that said; congrats on your contract McNair; I am glad you got the money. No hard feelings...but remember you get paid for what you will do; NOT what you have done. I look forward to seeing you retire a Titan...WITH your 12 million :)
Do you think McNair will provide the opportunity to see a more "dynamic" offense, than Boller? (I think yes) Do you think McNair is a better athelte and QB than Charlie Frye and Ben Roethlisberger? (I think yes) Do you think K Boller is a better athelete and QB than Charlie Fye and Ben Roehtlisberger? (I think no)
Heath Miller deserves to be in front of Heap. Miller is a much better all round TE, its not all about catching passes. There are plenty of TE's that can outblock Heap any day of the week. He might as well just be a receiver.
Coming from a Steeler Fan in Baltimore ......Yes we are everywhere!! I think that the addition of McNair is good for the Ravens. I don't know if he will be able to produce much before he gets injured. However, his leadership and experience will be extremely important to the development of the Raven QB of the future. Kyle Boller has never had a mature former starter to mentor him. Many in Pittsburgh cringe at the name of Tommy Maddux, However, he was very vital to the development of Big Ben. They had a good working relationship and were able to share and learn together.
How can anyone talk bad about the ravens draft history and front office. Please take that guys mike away. The ravens could have the best draft history, although brief, of any team in history. Do these names sound familiar that we drafted: Ray Lewis, Jon Ogden, Peter Boulware, Ed Reed, Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Terrell Suggs, ect. I shouldnt even respond to that comment but I had to. Obviously the titans dont want to pick up mcnairs contract because they have a horrible team and dont have a chance at winning anytime soon. But the ravens do, so they made a move.
Ravens Schedule: @ Tampa Bay - W Raiders - W @ Browns - W Chargers - W @ Broncos - L Panthers - L @ Saints - W Bengals - W @ Titans - W Falcons - W Steelers - W @ Bengals - L @ Cheifs - W Browns - W @ Steelers - L Bills - W
12-4 you heard it here first. C U in the playoffs.
The McNair signing has given the Ravens some hope of having an offense that isn't downright offensive. A Super Bowl appearence would be a long shot, but this IS the NFL. Alot would have to go right for the Ravens to be playing in Miami, but isn't that the case with every team. I'll still take McNair over Boller at this point. Maybe just maybe Boller can grow from having some experience in front of him like he should have had when he was first drafted. The Ravens can only benefit from having someone who has proved he is a great QB. That and the confidence his teammates will have in McNair should be good for 3-4 extra wins. 10 wins not a bad place to be.
All of this "Heap is overrated" talk is assinine. Among Tight Ends, Heap was 3rd in receptions, 5th in yards, and tied for 2nd in TDs and all of it was done with a poor running game, mediocre O-line, and horrendous QB play. With those stats under those circumstances, he is absolutely a top 5 tight end. And it's no like anyone thinks he's better than Gonzalez or Gates.
So the fact is he is one of the top 5 tight ends because the statistics say so and he performed that way under with O-line and QB play worse than what Gates, Gonzalez, Shockey, Cooley, Whitten, and Crumpler had to play with.
The Ravens were 5th in Overall Defense, 9th vs the run, 8th vs the pass, and 10th in scoring defense despite being -9 in giveaway/takeaway. They did it without Ray Lewis or Ed Reed. McNair completed 61 percent of his passes for 3161 yds, 16 tds, 11 ints, and 20 sacks in 14 games. In comparison the two headed monster of Boller/Wright completed 59 percent for 3400 yds, 17 tds, 21 picks, and 42 sacks. The biggest difference is the 10 ints and 22 fewer sacks. Admittedly its not an exact comparison, but undoubtedly his level of play is superior to Boller or Wright. If they get a similar performance from McNair in 2006, I see them as a legitimate playoff threat. I think Super Bowl maybe too lofty for that roster, but certainly they could be in the mix come January.
Every team has inuries, whether they are perrenial pro bowlers or not. You blast the Ravens' injuries, but you seem very optimistic about Carson Palmer's return to form from major knee surgery. You can't have it both ways.
In 2005, the RAVENS scored an average of 16.6 points per game. The NFL average was about 20.6 points per game. The RAVENS' 5th ranked D in 2005 allowed 18.5 points per game scored. Thus, a 6W - 10L, disappointing season. STEVE McNAIR will bring the RAVENS' offense up to the NFL average in points scored, their defense will still be very good, most likely top 10 in 2006, just not totally dominant like in 2000. Regardless, the RAVENS go from 6-10 in 2005 to 10-6 in 2006!!! Is that enough for playoffs? If those 10 wins are vs. AFC/AFC North opponents, then YES! GO RAVENS!!! Also: Squealers will have SB hangover (they are not NE), Palmer in Cincy won't be the same (scared of his precious knee getting hit) and Cleveland is Cleveland, still a 'Mistake by the Lake'!
The Ravens are not good enough. McNair is to slow and injured to produce ditto ray lewis. Ed reed is fragile and jonathan ogden has lost his power. He is not even a top-ten left tackle anymore. The only decent player on the team is todd heap, but he can't carry the franchise on his own.
The Ravens have one of the best receiving corps in the NFL (Mason, Heap and I believe soon to be top receiver Clayton). Now they have a quarterback that despite age and injury threw more touchdowns, less interceptions and posted a higher quarterback rating last season than Kyle Boller in the previous two seasons. Steve McNair did it with a lesser supporting cast.
Lot of haters on this board. Didn't know so many people from Pittsburgh and Cleveland could spell, let alone type. Good for them. Keep bashing the Ravens. All I know is, the refs didn't have to give us our Super Bowl and those pussycats in Cincinnati curled up in the fetal position when their QB went down. Go see the Wizard and get some heart Ben-GALS.
For all those that have made comments about the Raven's D, they have been top 10 for the past 6 or 7 yrs no matter who is their Defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed missed half the season and they still finished 4th in total defense. Ray Lewis has lost a lot on his game, but he is still better than 90% of the linebackers out there. Ed Reed didn't have one interception last year, but nobody would throw near him.
Baltimore does not have the luxury of the 4 automatic wins over the Browns and Bengals anymore. Billick is a clown...Ray Lewis willed that team to win the SB. At the time, he was the most dominant force in football, easily. But no longer. I pity McNair, he won't be standing by November. Their greaseball owner will be cleaning house by the end of the year.
You are quick to name several players that are over the hill. What you fail to mention is one-time defensive POY Ed Reed who is just starting his prime, pro-bowl caliber LB Terrell Suggs TE Todd Head and CB Chris McAllister, rising star LBs Adalius Thomas and Bart Scott, WR Mark Clayton. People are quick to forget Oklamhoma standout Dan Cody, last year's second round pick who is coming back from an ACL injury. Even if Jamal Lewis continues with his average performance from last year Mike Anderson, a perrenially underrated back will be there to pick up the slack.
Living in B-more, and observing all the hype, I'll be stunned... STUNNED... if the Ravens break .500, much less make the playoffs. All of their stars (except Reed) are old, and getting less skilled each season. And Billick is an idiot.
Cody and Ngata - Play a down in the NFL before you say they are gong to be contributors. Your O Line stinks - I am a syracuse Fan and Terry was awful in college what makes you think he is going to be better in the Pro's. Just because he is big doesn't mean he is good - IE Check out Brown, Pashos, and Anderson - all awful.... Your center is awful Flynn. It is all line play and the Ravens will be pathetic. Anderson played for the Bronco's who have consistently churned out 1000 rushers. Last I checked the Ravens line isn't the Bronco's. Lewis a 2000 yard back. Last I heard so is OJ. What has he done lately not 3 years ago. McNair is injured by game 7 (not that I want to see it happen) and RayRay is complaining about something by week 8.
The Ravens are a good team and became a better team by adding McNair, but still don't have a shot at winning that division. McNair has missed 10 games the past 2 seasons and Kyle Boller clearly has proven that he CANT get the job done. Ngata was a good pick but hes only a rookie so you dont know what to expect out of him, look at Jonathan Sullivan and Dewayne Robertson, recent top picks that are defensive tackles. If healthy, Palmer, Chad, and the rest of the Bengals are a better team than the Ravens and the Steelers are the defending Superbowl champs. I just don't see the Steelers or the Bengals not making the playoffs so that means if the Ravens even have a shot its as a wild card, and there are too many good teams in the AFC to make them a sure bet.
This team is now a playoff team. The addition of McNair energizes an offense that had gotten better the second half of last year. The defense will be even better with Ngata added to the line and the return of Dan Cody to add to their already stellar pass rush. Add the presence of a 1-2 punch in Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson and opposing defensive lines will be worm out in the 2nd half. This is a playoff team, not a superbowl team, but definitely a playoff team.
Even if McNair was still in MVP form the Ravens wouldn't have a prayer b/c that offense is still terrible in so many ways. But McNair is broke, physically. He has taken way too many shots over the years and I don't care how tough you are, the body can only withstand that kind of pounding for so long(pay attention Byron Leftwich, this is your future). Take it to the bank - Boller will start more games than McNair this season and the Ravens will finish dead-last in their division.
The Ravens are not overrated, but might be the most vulnerable team to being destroyed by injuries, as they have so many injury prone players, as well as a fairly old set of superstars.
If they somehow stay very healthy this season though, I can see them threatening Cinci or Pittsburgh for the division crown and are a serious threat to finish with 11 wins. Their schedule isn't too tough really, and most of their tough non-divisional matches take place at home.
They just need to get in the playoffs, and there is where they will spoil someone's party plans!