Here's my top ten reasons we'll be back in the playoffs next year, in an upwards progressing order or importance.
10.) One year removed from losing Raven idols Ray Lewis and Ed Reed
Explanation: If someone told me five years ago we'd be in the playoff race and barely fall short with an 8-8 record the year after we lose both Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, I would have thought that to be a positive. The fact that is followed a Super Bowl victory made it more disappointing in a way, but losing two players like that, especially one who was basically the heart beat of our team, definitely comes with an adjustment period.
9.) Young players learning from valuable starting time
Explanation: Players like Elam, Brown, Smith, the other Brown, etc got a lot of good and bad experiences to build upon this year. Hopefully we get a true FS and put Elam in the SS spot where he's more suited. Marlon could be poised for a breakout season next year. And Smith is playing like the shutdown corner he was in college.
8.) Hangover will wear off.
Explanation: I'm sure for the players who were retained from that winning roster, they probably thought things were going to pan out differently. I'm not suggesting that they didn't put in their all, but I'm saying nothing prepares you for being at the top and then having to defend that position with everyone gunning at you more than ever.
7.) Mediocrity in the AFC
Explanation: The most dominant team in the AFC got blown out in the Super Bowl...nuff said. Eisenberg wrote a good article about it after the Superbowl, and we're poised to make a comeback because we're going to be (see #6)
6.) Reinventing our offense
Explanation: I love Joe, but we rarely win when he throws it all over the place. The truth is, he and the rest of the team play better when we're focused on being a physical, wear you out offense that can throw an 80 yard bomb over your heads at a moment's notice. After how bad the running game was last year, I'd be shocked to see Ozzie not target offensive lineman and maybe even a running back in the middle rounds of the draft to put a notice out to Rice and Pierce that nothing is set in stone. But the improvement won't just come from new players, but from our new OC as well
5.) Missing playoffs will make our seasoned vets hungry again
Explanation: Well, duh.
And as K-dog added: "If any thing I will add to number five and that MOST of the team is pissed about an 8-8 record last year."
4.) Hopefully a healthy roster
The most overlooked story last year, largely overshadowed by our underwhelming offense (no run game and Joe being sloppy with the ball), was how many critical injuries we incurred. Jones, Pitta, Dickson, Brown, Rice, and other players missed anywhere from major time to at least a few weeks. Ngata again played hurt all year and Suggs fizzled out after week 10.
3.) In Ozzie we trust
2.) Softer Schedule, better Draft selection.
Explanation: There's a reason most teams don't make the playoffs five years in a row with three conference final appearances and a Super Bowl win: the league makes it hard. It finally caught up to us, but with the softer schedule and picking below 20 for the first time since the draft that nabbed Flacco and Rice, we're primed for a rebound.
1.) Joe Flacco. He had a tough year, but all things considering it could have been worse. Only Rodgers could have stepped in and played better, and that's a fact. Brady could have played better, but not with our coaching staff. Manning would have been injured 3 games in. Brees needs a good running game as much as Flacco does. Nay sayers be gone, Joe Flacco is what he is, and that's a championship caliber qb and I'm sure he's taking this offseason seriously to take time to hone his craft and prove that playoff run wasn't a fluke.
Edited by 3-4ravdef509, 12 February 2014 - 07:59 AM.