Right after winning the Super Bowl, it looked like the Baltimore Ravens were going to take a huge nosedive from the highest place possible, but despite the retirement of Ray Lewis, and the departure of Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard and Cary Williams, the confidence about their defense next season is quite high.
Why? They might lack leadership, but part of the plan during the offseason was getting rid of (too) strong personalities in the locker room, along with getting younger and slimmer when it came to the salary cap, allowing them to take in the new deals with Joe Flacco and Ray Rice a bit more easily.
And the Ravens still have plenty of talented pieces, not to mention a new one they’re quite excited about. Elvis Dumervil should have been in training camp with the Denver Broncos, but his agent made a huge mistake, and he ended up as a free agent. A free agents with 63.5 sacks in the 7 seasons he’s been in the NFL, which more than make up for the departure of Kruger to the Cleveland Browns.
And then there’s what is left from the title. Terrell Suggs is healthy again, and he might be one of the top 5 pass rushing linebackers in the NFL, which was clearly the case after recovering from his injury midway through the 2012 NFL season. His partnership with Kruger was excellent, and it should remain that way with Dumervil.
Another player looking forward to a bigger season now that he’s completely healthy is Haloti Ngata, who has made the Pro Bowl for the last four seasons and played slightly injured last season. He’s going to look much better and dominant in 2013 from defensive tackle, and that’s not all.
Chris Canty had a lot of teams going after him, but eventually chose the Ravens, and according to reports, he has been doing an incredible job during the OTAs, meaning the Ravens might have gotten even better at the defensive line. Pernell McPhee has made a switch to outside linebacker, and in general, the Ravens are liking what they’re seeing from their re-branded defense.
Replacing Reed and Lewis on the field and in the dressing room in terms of influence was impossible, so the Ravens didn’t try. They just moved parts around and made signings that at the moment look pretty good, and might end up having a much better season than most predict they will.