After a playoff berth in the 2014 NFL Season, the Baltimore Ravens looked to be back on track as playoff contenders. With a solid offense led by quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens were one of the better teams in the NFL entering the 2015 season. With Pro Bowlers like Justin Forsett, Terrell Suggs, and C.J. Mosley all over the field, the Ravens were loaded with star power.
Unfortunately for Baltimore, injuries decimated their roster and the Ravens proved incapable of closing out games. A combination of the two led the Ravens to a poor 5-11 record, the first losing record of the Harbaugh-Flacco era in Baltimore.
Now healthy, the Ravens look to bounce back in 2016. After suffering a torn ACL in 2015, Flacco is on track to be healthy for the start of the season. However, it still remains unknown how Flacco will perform coming off of such an injury. Questions remain as to how the Ravens, and Flacco in particular, will do in 2016.
Expectations for Joe Flacco in 2016
Prior to his injury, Flacco was having a less than stellar season. While he set a new career-high in completion percentage (64.4%), his QBR was a career-low 40.9. This was a massive 26.1 point drop from 2014. However, not all of this was Flacco’s fault. The Ravens offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL in 2015, one of the main reasons why Baltimore made Ronnie Stanley the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Flacco was sacked a whopping 16 times in only 10 games. He very rarely had a clean pocket to throw in. If Stanley can provide the boost to the Ravens offensive line that they hope for, expect Flacco to produce at a much higher level.
One of the reasons why Flacco struggled in 2016 was due to the lack of weapons he had. This mainly came down to injuries. Pro Bowl running back Justin Forsett was out for the season after suffering a broken arm in Week 11, and Steve Smith Sr. suffered a torn achilles in Week Seven.
Now, Forsett and Smith are both healthy and ready to go for the start of the 2016 season. Baltimore also made plenty of additions to their roster in the off-season. Along with the return of reliable receiver Kamar Aiken, the Ravens brought in former Pro Bowler Mike Wallace and tight end Benjamin Watson via free agency. Baltimore also drafted running back Kenneth Dixon. They are also hoping for 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman to be healthy at some point this season.
When it comes down to it, the pieces are there for Joe Flacco and the Ravens to bounce back. The offensive line has been improved greatly, and still boasts one of the best lineman in the NFL with Marshal Yanda. Flacco should have far more weapons to his disposal in 2016. The argument can be made that this is the best group of weapons Flacco has ever been surrounded with. If Flacco can stay healthy, then the Ravens will be serious contenders this season.
Main Photo: BALTIMORE, MD – NOVEMBER 22: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens winces in pain on the final drive of the fourth quarter against the St. Louis Rams at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 16-13. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)