Here's how to fix the Ravens

Let Bulger compete with Flacco for starting QB job

  • Ravens coach John Harbaugh speaks to the media after players clear out their lockers at The Castle.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh speaks to the media after players… (Doug Kapustin / Photo for…)
January 17, 2011|Mike Preston

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh gave his farewell speech to his players on Monday morning, closing out a very disappointing 2010 season.

A season of high expectations and possible Super Bowl promise went unfilled. The Ravens could have been preparing for the AFC championship game here this weekend.

Instead, they are forced to again look toward the future.

Harbaugh is expected to meet with owner Steve Bisciotti within the next two days, and possibly discuss the future of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. If that isn't the No. 1 priority, then it should be.

But along with a decision on Cameron, there are a few other items the Ravens should take care of during the offseason:

•If the Ravens keep Cameron and Joe Flacco is the starting quarterback, then they need to change the system. Flacco might be better in a West Coast offense which is predicated on quick reads and short passes. The more Flacco has to think, the more he struggles.

•Re-sign backup quarterback Marc Bulger. The Ravens should have an open competition between Bulger and Flacco at training camp. Clearly at this time, Bulger is the better quarterback even though the Ravens would be embarrassed to admit it. After three years, Flacco still hasn't proven he is the answer at quarterback. Bulger gives the Ravens another option, and the competition might bring out the best in Flacco. There are certain snap shots of things Flacco did this season which makes you wonder if he'll ever be a top-notch quarterback.

•The Ravens can't allow defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to hit the free-agent market. He played at a peak level in 2010, and became a complete player by being able to put pressure on the quarterback. Note to Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome: Just back up the armored car and give him the money.

•Either draft or sign a quality left offensive tackle. If the Ravens can get a left tackle, they can move Michael Oher back to the right side, and Marshal Yanda back to his original spot at right guard. With Yanda and Oher returning to the right side, the Ravens will have a physical presence again, something they lacked this season. The Ravens offensive line was soft, especially in short-yardage situations, in 2010.

•Draft players with higher football IQs. Few over at The Castle want to say it, but the Ravens need some smarter players on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Some of the big plays given up by the Ravens were from the lack of basic football common sense. Da light bulbs weren't always coming on with some of da players.

•Find some speed and utilize it. The Ravens need some speedy receivers who can stretch defenses, and some speed at outside linebacker as well. Jameel McClain can run, but Terrell Suggs is a pass rusher and both Ray Lewis and Jarret Johnson are basically run stoppers at this point in their careers.

•The Ravens have to find more athletic defensive tackles. It's OK to have run stoppers, but the Ravens rely too much on specialization or hybrid players. The great defenses have front fours which can play both the run and the pass while also dropping seven into coverage.

•Special teams are in need of some veterans. We understand the Ravens like to build these units with young players, but you need a core group of hungry vets who make a living by being special teams nuts. There is a different performance level between a young player who is waiting to become a starter, and a veteran who is using the job to put food on his table.

•The Ravens need a speed rusher who can line up opposite of Suggs. Suggs was the only constant pass rushing threat. If the Ravens can get another one along with end Cory Redding and Ngata on the inside, they could have a pretty good all-around group.

•Besides Ngata and Bulger, there is a large group of potential unrestricted free agents. I'd make fullback Le'Ron McClain, cornerbacks Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, kicker Billy Cundiff, punter Sam Koch and Yanda priorities.

•The Ravens need a change in attitude. They thought they were close to winning a championship, so they went out and brought in veterans like Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But if you bring in those types of players, you better have the system and assistants in place to work with them. The Ravens spent too much time trying to make certain players happy.

They need to go back to the formula of two years ago where it was a team concept, and everyone worked hard to win. I've never been a fan of the star system. Blue collar wins out over blue chip most of the time.

Listen to Mike Preston on "The Bruce Cunningham Show" from noon to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays on 105.7 FM.

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