With only twenty three days left until Training Camp I thought it would be a good time to look ahead as the Ravens plan to defend their Lombardi trophy in the upcoming season.
Over these next few weeks I hope to take a hard look at each position and to the promise of another successful campaign for Baltimore in 2013.
So let’s begin with the players under center.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
2013 Depth Chart: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Caleb Hanie
You’d think that the Super Bowl MVP from a year ago wouldn’t have many questions to answer heading into a new season. Of course when you ink one of the league’s richest contracts in history there will always be the pressure from fans and pundits to live up to such an elite pay raise.
Still Joe Flacco remains a player that people can’t seem to decide if he’s a truly great player or not. Certainly for a position that is often defined by numbers Jersey Joe doesn’t wow anyone with statistics. He’s never thrown more than twenty five touchdowns or come close to 4,000 yards passing in his five-year career. Of course once Cam Cameron was out of the equation, in six games under Jim Caldwell Flacco flourished with an aggressive offensive mindset averaging 283 yards a contest, Fifteen touchdowns and only one interception.
So it seems fair to think that this is the year that Flacco ascends to the level of a true top ten signal caller. That said I still wonder if the expectations placed on Joe due to his new contract will be possible to achieve. Leadership is also another question some fans may have with the departures of some veterans but I feel that it’s overblown. Flacco will continue to be his low key self and lead by example but with Cameron gone he should be able to put a bigger stamp on his offense with the freedom to audible when appropriate and adjust the game plan with his coach.
Tyrod Taylor enters his third-season with the Ravens and for most of it he’s been holding a clipboard as Flacco continued his iron man streak of games started. Taylor was able to showcase some of what he can do in Week Seventeen against Cincinnati. His speed allowed him to get to outside and create plays while putting pressure on the defense. In that game he connected for 149 yards but also threw a pick six. It seems that the Ravens are content with him as the primary backup and like his mobility and change of pace he would provide if Flacco were to ever go down.
Lastly, vet and career backup Caleb Hanie enters his sixth season in the league and he appears to be in the same position as Curtis Painter from a year ago. He’ll provide Taylor with some competition but I’m not sure if I see him on the team in September. For the past two seasons the Ravens have been content with only two quarterbacks on the roster and unless Hanie impresses I can’t see that changing into 2013.
Predictions: After such a huge performance in last season’s playoffs there is no question to me that this is Flacco’s offense but I like many still wonder if he can do it over the entire regular season. I expect to see moderate jumps in all of the major statistical categories including interceptions. I think he’ll finally surpass 4,000 yards but not by much as the Ravens are still built to have a strong one-two punch in the running game and should continue to develop and utilize that over the season.
The Ravens seem happy with Taylor who I’m not really a huge fan of. He’s the type of player that can pay dividends coming in for a few weeks but I don’t see him as a long-term solution if Flacco were to be out an extended period of time. He does understand the offense but it’s not really one that is tailored to his strengths.
As for Hanie I think it’s a long-shot to see him in Ravens uniform this season.