Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things change quickly in the NFL, the Ravens are no exception

As we are all well aware this is the NFL’s quiet time – the calm before the storm of training camp and the five plus months of coverage to feed the insatiable appetites of NFL fans. We love our summers but boy opening day can’t arrive fast enough.

The season is a marathon for the players. Top conditioning is a prerequisite and when you add in the mini-camps, training camp and preseason, there’s very little down time for the league's athletes.

But now is that time.

Since there is next to nothing new going on, save a new contract here and there, I took a look back at some of the articles and reports we posted here on 24x7 at this time last year. The reminiscing was somewhat eye opening and it served as a reminder of the extent of change that occurs in the NFL in one calendar year.

Here are a few of the stories we covered that were relevant at the time yet seem so yesterday less than 12 months removed…

Offensive Line ~ it looked so bad that most fans and observers supported Troy Smith as the starter over Kyle Boller and Joe Flacco if for no other reason than he was more adept at avoiding the rush. The line looked like it would be a sieve as the team considered rejects like Barry Sims and even hired Chad Slaughter to “bolster” the line.

Willis McGahee ~ he would be the beneficiary of Cam Cameron’s system much like LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego. Some predicted a blistering scoring season for McGahee. Apparently no one let McGahee in on the plan.

Chris McAlister ~ the team’s top cover corner knocked down the doors to John Harbaugh’s dog house, dove in and never re-emerged. C-Mac is now sitting in SoCal waiting for that call to come.

The Retirements of Jon Ogden and Steve McNair ~ One, you could see coming…the other was a surprise. When the Ravens drafted Flacco, the Ravens planned to keep 4 QB’s on their roster. It never happened as McNair sailed into the sunset quietly without so much as a whisper of a possible return.

Brett Favre ~ this gunslinger doesn’t whisper about possible returns – his very public un-retirements are about as subtle as a Mariah Carey dress. Some even pegged Favre to the Ravens, championing him as a mentor of sorts for rookie Joe Flacco. At this time last year it was hard envisioning Favre in any color other than Packers’ green. Within the course of a year, he left the Bucs at the altar, signed with the Jets, retired again and is now contemplating another comeback and dress in the colors of the Vikings. Favre packs more drama than a runaway bride and thankfully he never wore Ravens purple.

Le’Ron McClain ~ with running backs McGahee, P.J. Daniels, Cory Ross and Allen Patrick all nursing injuries, McClain was asked to carry some of the load during the summer for Ray Rice who was the training camp workhorse. Along the way the Ravens discovered a new weapon. During his college career, McClain had 37 carries total during his four seasons at Alabama. As a second year Raven, McClain ran the rock 232 times.

John Harbaugh ~ could a rookie head coach with no prior head coaching experience at any level, handle the strong personalities in the Ravens' locker room some of which were huge supporters of annointing Rex Ryan as Brian Billick's replacement? It's safe to say Harbaugh exceeded all expectations and his well thought out staff certainly helped make that happen.


At this time last year I asked several members of the local media who cover the Ravens to weigh in on their thoughts regarding the then upcoming season.

Joe Platania of Press Box had this to say about an AFC North forecast:

Because the AFC North is taking on the two toughest divisions in football this year -- the AFC South and NFC East -- the division winner will not have more than ten wins. The Ravens will go 8-8 and fight Pittsburgh for second behind the Browns. Cincy will finally implode and finish last.

ABC 2’s Rob Carlin shared his thoughts on the notion of starting Joe Flacco during his rookie season:

Let me be perfectly clear - Joe Flacco should NOT start this year. At any point!! He is a rookie without any "big-game" experience. The tackles are, at best, a project. The wideouts haven't proven to be playmakers. There's no reason to throw him out there to get his brains beat out. Maybe get him in some games early. Maybe some late. But he should not have the pressure, or expectations, of being the Ravens starting QB in Year 1.

As you can see, judging from some of the surprising developments from just one of the league’s 32 teams, a lot can change in a hurry in the National Football League.

And those changes are often swift and unpredictable.


Anonymous said...

Didn't McNair retire before the Ravens drafted Flacco?