Only six days left before the first mandatory Mini-Camp and that means Training Camp isn’t that far off. So it’s time once again to take a look at the what the Ravens will be bringing to the table in an attempt to return to the post-season in 2014.
I’ll start with the most important position on the field – the quarterback.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
2014 Depth Chart: Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Keith Wenning
There were plenty of questions surrounding the former Super Bowl MVP heading into last season and most of them included the issues surrounding his huge contract. Was he truly a player that deserved such an elite pay raise?
Unfortunately for Joe Flacco he didn’t do much to quiet his critics last year. He threw a career high twenty two interceptions while his completion percentage was below sixty percent for the third consecutive season. Certainly the excuses that he missed favorite targets Pitta and Boldin, and as a horrid offensive line that caused him to be sacked Forty Eight times have validity. Still the fact remains that Flacco needs to play better for the Ravens to have success next season, something he himself has acknowledged.
The franchise has taken several steps this off-season in helping their quarterback perform better as they made upgrades in almost every area from receiving, blocking and coaching. So it is on Flacco to take another step forward and improve his consistency from week to week.
Tyrod Taylor hasn’t really gotten much of a chance to show what he can do on the field as he enters his fourth year in Baltimore. That’s not really his fault considering Flacco’s Iron Man like streak of consecutive starts puts him behind only two other quarterbacks in the NFL in Eli Manning and Philip Rivers. Even though it’s a small sample size Taylor has exhibited great speed and play-making ability coupled with an average arm and spotty consistency throwing the football. As he enters his last season of his rookie deal Ravens brass may be wondering if Taylor is really a fit for Kubiak’s schemes as they move forward.
Keith Wenning, a four-starter at Ball State was scooped up by the Ravens this past May in the draft and already appears to be a better fit than Taylor. He shown some flashes so far in early workouts. If he can continue to progress he may be able to truly challenge Taylor for the back-up spot behind Flacco. He remains a player to keep a close eye on during Training Camp and into the Pre-Season.
Projections: Joe Flacco embarks on his seventh season in Baltimore. Is it safe to say that Flacco has reached his ceiling or will Gary Kubiak be able to tailor an offense to his strengths and allow him to take another step in production and consistency? I’m not so sure.
I think we can expect that this may finally be the year he tops 4,000 yards but not by much. I also think that with an improved line and hopefully improved run game he won’t be forced to push the ball downfield so much. That means fewer turnovers but you are still going to have moments with him where you wonder just what he was seeing or why he got stripped. A part of me feels that this is who Joe Flacco is and while he’s clearly not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning that’s okay because what he has proven over his career is that the Ravens can win with him under center and right now that’s more important to me than flashy statistics.
Keith Wenning’s development is going to dictate Taylor’s future in Baltimore. The Ravens haven’t kept three quarterbacks since 2009 and it’s unclear at this point if they’ll start now. I think we know what we have in Taylor and I don’t forsee a scenario where Taylor is re-signed to an extension in 2014 so if Wenning can show enough proficency running Kubiak’s offense Taylor may be expendable.