With wins against the Panthers (17-12) and Redskins (23-3), the Ravens are 2-0 to start the preseason. The defense turned in an impressive performance a week ago against Washington, forcing four turnovers and knocking quarterback Donovan McNabb out of the game with an ankle injury. A lot is expected from Baltimore this year, but before fans get too excited about the quick start, keep in mind that the Ravens were 4-0 in the preseason last year, and went on to a 9-7 regular season record, a disappointment to some, though they did beat the Patriots in the playoffs before losing to the Colts the following week.
The Ravens are one of NFL's best run organizations. Led by GM Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh, the team drafts as well as anyone, and the organization is solid from top to bottom. The defense carried Baltimore to a Super Bowl win in 2001. In 2010, the offense has the potential to be one of the league's best, while the defense was third best in the NFL in 2009.
The Ravens are led on offense by quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice, and wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. Donte' Stallworth, who is returning after a one-year suspension, and Mark Clayton provide depth in the receiving corps. Center Matt Birk anchors a strong offensive line. Todd Heap is back at tight end, but the team did draft Ed Dickson in the third round and Dennis Pitta in the fourth round to learn from the veteran. Willis McGahee will get the call in short-yardage situations.
On defense, Ray Lewis is 35 but he's still one of the best linebackers in the league. Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johhnsons return at outside linebacker. Good things are expected from the defensive line, while the team will wait patiently for the return of Ed Reed. The safety is recovering from hip surgery. Other than that, here's what you need to know about the Ravens' defense, compliments of The New York Times:
There’s something about playing for the Ravens defense that brings out the best in people. Subpar players become serviceable. Serviceable players become solid. Solid players become good, etc. … Although Greg Mattison’s creative 3-4 scheme deserves credit, the driving force behind these elevated performances is Ray Lewis. No one wants to disappoint him. And Lewis’s high football I.Q. keeps everyone on the same page.