By: Robert Braun
The Baltimore Ravens success this season has been a combination of their old defensive beliefs and a new high energy offense. This time last year the Ravens were sitting at home Watching the AFC Championship from their living rooms just one short year later they are getting ready to compete with their bitter rivals for a Super Bowl appearance.
This team was suppose to be rebuilding not resurrecting. John Harbaugh doesn't get enough credit in my eyes, he has finally managed to heal that offense/defense rift that has torn Baltimore apart throughout the better part of this decade. This was done with a no nonsense attitude in training camp and player accountability that was never seen when Brian Billick was at the helm. It hasn't hurt that Harbaugh made exceptionally smart choices when putting together his coaching staff either.
First, he gets Rex Ryan to stay and continue working with this stellar defense which has been the Ravens staple throughout their teams history. Rex Ryan has done some of his best work there, with his defense's finishing 5th,1st,6th,and 2nd in his 4 years as defensive coordinator, his insane blitz package's give even the best quarterbacks nightmare's. But defense has never been a problem in Baltimore, the question this season is how would the offense be different with "offensive genius" Brian Billick out of the picture.
Ravens fan's got the answer when Cam Cameron was hired to be the offensive coordinator. After being cast out of Miami last year Cameron, a proven offensive guru(though not the best head coach), came to the Ravens who were notorious for having a painfully bad offense. Cameron's work in San Diego is still being shown off as he was the one who developed Philip Rivers into the (should of been)All Pro QB he has become. Not to mention L.T. enjoyed his most prosperous season's with Cam calling the shots on the sideline.
But that was with an incredibly talented roster with L.T. and Antonio Gates, and(for a brief moment) Drew Bree's. Anyone should be able to score points with guys like that right? So how would Cameron get the Ravens, with a much less talented offense, to produce? That's where Joe Flacco came in.
After getting his job by a stroke of fortune when Kyle Boller was put on I.R. for the season and Troy Smith was ruled out for a couple weeks, the kid from Delaware has proven that even as a rookie he is a natural leader. Flacco brings a new dimension to the Ravens offense that was only seen by the Ravens this decade when Steve Mcnair was in uniform. The younger and much healthier Flacco should hope to give them a lot more years than Steve did and you can believe after having such a great rookie campaign he's going to be given a lot more freedom in this offense come next season but for now he's going to keep playing safe football, the playoff's isn't the time to let your rookie QB go nuts. Flacco's poise and accuracy in the pocket have me thinking he has a very bright future ahead of him.
The Ravens head into Pittsburgh Sunday playing on house money, nobody though they would be this far so they can't disappoint anyone now. But they don't see it that way, they realize they have a great opportunity and want to ride this momentum they have all the way to Tampa.
Regardless of the results Sunday Baltimore can look at this season as a success. For that they can thank their old friends, the defense.But they also owe a lot of credit to their new friends as well.