In 2015, the Baltimore Ravens were a train-wreck. They lost 11 games, the second most in a season in franchise history. The team hasn’t had a losing record since Brian Billick coached the team back in 2007, so many were baffled as to what happened. Frankly it’s quite obvious.
Injuries crippled the team. The team’s leading passer, rusher, receiver, and pass rusher from 2014 spent part of the season injured reserve. Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith Sr., and Terrell Suggs all spent part of the season on the bench. Despite missing all of these pieces, the Ravens still managed to have a top ten defense and a middle of the pack offense. In 2016, the team should be completely different.
Don’t Sleep on the Baltimore Ravens
First things first, all of the injured players are coming back. After suffering through Matt Schaub and Ryan Mallett at quarterback last season, former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will return to command the offense in 2016. And fortunately for Flacco, it will be a totally different offense.
When Steve Smith Sr. went down last season, Joe Flacco didn’t have many weapons on offense. Kamar Aiken overachieved last year when he caught 75 passes for 944 yards, but he couldn’t be accounted on to carry the offense. He won’t have to in 2016 as Smith returns, and the Ravens signed former Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Wallace. Not only will Baltimore have Smith, Wallace, and Aiken, but 2015 first round pick, Breshad Perriman will finally make his debut.
The Ravens have also attempted to rebuild their offensive line by drafting Ronnie Stanley in the first round. The loss of Kelechi Osemele to the Oakland Raiders hurts, but the return of Marshal Yanda for one more season helps. A healthier offensive line will give a recovering Flacco more time to move the ball to his new targets and reinvigorate the Ravens offense.
Strength of Schedule
A rare upside to having such a bad season is that in theory, you should have an easier schedule the next year. For the Baltimore Ravens, this is true. While it’s true that the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore’s in-division rivals, both made the playoffs last year, Baltimore’s schedule isn’t hard outside of that.
Of the ten non-divisional opponents that the Ravens will face next season, only the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins made the playoffs in 2015. For a team that should be a significantly improved squad next season, they should bowl over many of their weaker opponents.
The Baltimore Ravens may have been mediocre in 2015, but they should be much better in 2016. All of the missing pieces are coming back to join some new ones, and the Charm City Birds should return to form this season. Don’t sleep on the Baltimore Ravens.