With a 10-6 2012 regular season, including four of five losses in December, no one expected the Baltimore Ravens to heist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
After the win, veteran linebacker Ray Lewis hung up his shoulder pads while his quarterback Joe Flacco got his long-awaited six-year, $120.6 million payday. The team bid goodbye to some additional veterans including safety Ed Reed and center Matt Birk and now looking at the 2013 team, it’s a different one.
This doesn’t stop it from from being a topic of conversation on whether or not the team will repeat a Super Bowl win in February.
The odds are stacked against the Ravens for a few reasons.
History is against the Ravens
While the 2013 Ravens have different players, just because a team has won one Super Bowl, winning a second consecutive one doesn’t happen too often. Take a look at the last seven Super Bowl winners and what the following year looked like after their win, according to BaltimoreRavens.com.
2011 New York Giants – Missed Playoffs
2010 Green Bay Packers – Eliminated In First Round
2009 New Orleans Saints – Eliminated In First Round
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers – Missed Playoffs
2007 New York Giants – Eliminated In First Round
2006 Indianapolis Colts – Eliminated In First Round
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers – Missed Playoffs
On a positive note, the Ravens have been performed well in the five postseasons under coach John Harbaugh’s watch: During this time, they are the sole team to go to the playoffs and win a game in each year.
In addition, even Vegas doesn’t see a repeat with the following odds (via Bovada as of May 15):
San Francisco 49ers 6/1
Denver Broncos 7/1
New England Patriots 8/1
Seattle Seahawks 17/2
Green Bay Packers 12/1
Where are the Ravens? They’re 22/1.
There’s a new leader in town: Flacco
Now that linebacker Lewis has retired, it’s time for Flacco to step up as the team’s new leader. Which you wonder why he hasn’t already done so.
Will he gain the same respect and energy that Lewis did? We’re talking two different personalities here, so probably no but his team did rally behind Flacco during his solid playoff performances.
Last Friday after the team had its ring ceremony, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti made his intentions quite clear in a Jerry Jones kind of way to Flacco with, “You are the leader now, like it or not.”
No pressure Joe.
New Players to Step Up
Along with the aforementioned losses, the Ravens said goodbye to Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, and Cary Williams in free agency along with Bernard Pollard and Brendon Ayanbadejo who were cut for their salaries.
There’s also the loss of wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
But all the changes may not be the worst thing as the Ravens were one of the older teams in 2012.
So who will be playing for the Ravens this year? There’s lots of players ready to act but can they all play well with another?
Thanks to a fax machine snafu, they added veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil from the Denver Broncos. Other defensive newbies include linemen Marcus Spears and Chris Canty, along with safety Michael Huff and linebacker Daryl Smith.
Should these veterans go down, there’s still linebacker Courtney Upshaw, cornerback Jimmy Smith and defensive lineman DeAngelo Tysonto step up as well as linebacker Terrell Suggs, cornerback Lardarius Webb and Jameel McClain, who will return from injuries and contribute.
There’s also Ravens slew of talented defensive rookies: safety Matt Elam, linebacker Arthur Brown, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and defensive end John Simon.
On the offensive side, there’s the Boldin hole to fill and Jacoby Jones could be the guy to step up after his kick-returning duties last year.
Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell recently said of the player, “Obviously, he is still going to serve our special teams and serve them well in his role. But then obviously, we will use him, certainly, as a big part of our offense as well.”
There’s also fellow receiver Tandon Doss to see more playing time.
Entering the season with low expectations is always motivation and this won’t be the first time the Ravens have done so. Their defensive swagger may be gone and they’ll need to see how all the chemistry works, but it doesn’t mean that the new Ravens won’t find their own identity and success.
It just won’t be in 2013.