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The offense is at the top of the priority list for the Ravens this offseason.
Baltimore is looking to work out new deals with quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Ray Rice and left guard Ben Grubbs, and General Manager Ozzie Newsome said that solidifying the offensive line and upgrading at wide receiver are two of the Ravens biggest needs.
But, even with the recent emphasis placed on the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens insist they aren’t moving away from their defensive-minded philosophy that has been their foundation for more than a decade.
“It’s a very delicate balance when you try and shift attention over to the offense, and the next thing you know, you’re giving up 27 points a game,” Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti said last week at the Ravens end-of-season press conference. “We don’t want to be there as an organization.”
The Ravens defense again ranked as one of the NFL’s best this year, finishing the regular season third overall, second against the run and fourth against the pass.
Baltimore continued that success into the playoffs, and Bisciotti pointed to the way the defense played against New England – where they held Brady to 22-of-36 passing for 239 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns – as an example of what he hopes to see from his teams in the future.
“What our defense did to Tom Brady is something that I want my defense to do to the Tom Bradys and the [Ben] Roethlisbergers of the world going forward, forever,” Bisciotti said.
The defensive unit is already loaded with perennial Pro Bowlers Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, and budding stars Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith.
The offense is catching up, as four offensive players – Rice, Grubbs, fullback Vonta Leach, and right guard Marshal Yanda – made the Pro Bowl this season, and the offense ranked in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories.
Continuing the offensive improvement is a priority heading into next season, but Ravens brass made it clear last week they aren’t willing to undercut the team’s defense as part of that process.
“I guess what I’m saying is we want to have a better offense, but if you flip the switch too quick, then you’re giving up 27 points per game,” Bisciotti said. “So, I’m not going to be trading Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb for [Cardinals WR Larry] Fitzgerald because that’s the quickest way to get there.”