July 2nd, 2014
After winning the Super Bowl in 2012, the Baltimore Ravens missed the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. As they did after winning the Super Bowl, general manager Ozzie Newsome shook up the roster this offseason. The Ravens had a great offseason given all of the players who had to leave and the team looks to rebound from a sub-par year and reach the playoffs in the weak AFC. The biggest storyline for the upcoming season is the arrival of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
The Texans have barely played for over a decade and have had very few coaches. The most successful was Kubiak. A former quarterback who was the backup to John Elway, Kubiak led Houston's offense for years and guided the team to multiple playoff appearances. He helped Andre Johnson be an elite player, made Matt Schaub a Pro Bowler, and at one time had the NFL's best ground game with Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Kubiak was fired midway through the 2013 season as the Texans finished with the worst record in the league, but Baltimore quickly added him in the offseason.
One of the reasons that the Ravens missed the playoffs last year was their offense. The running game, normally one of the best in the league, was the worst in the league at yards per carry. Kubiak will try to help get Ray Rice back to his top form and help him stay as one of the league's elite backs. Part of that will be solidifying the offensive line, which lost Michael Oher but added Jeremy Zuttah. Bernard Pierce had a poor second year as the backup and will face competition from some of the younger players added this offseason, such as rookie Lorenzo Talioferro.
Kubiak will have to show his expertise in the passing game to get Joe Flacco to show that he is somewhat worthy of his massive contract. Flacco had a career-high in interceptions and had more turnovers than touchdowns after getting a 120.6 million dollar contract after his Super Bowl win. Former Carolina Panther Steve Smith was added and will be a great possession receiver and veteran leader, while tight end Owen Daniels will bring over his experience with Houston. Jim Caldwell, the former offensive coordinator, made Flacco throw the ball far too many times. Kubiak will need to establish the running game and then let Flacco make throws that are not out of his range.
So far the Ravens' offense has been working well. Many players have already excelled in the new system and the players seem to like their third system in three years. There are still some questions about how the players will adapt, but from judging how the team has embraced the system Kubiak could lead the team back to the playoffs in 2014.