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Mike Preston: Here's how the Ravens can improve this offseason

Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Football

BALTIMORE — During exit interviews Sunday, a lot of the Ravens said the right things about their 17-3 divisional-round loss to the Buffalo Bills.

They talked about the need to finish and a lack of execution. Some explained that the wind was a factor, even though center Patrick Mekari’s theory on how that affected his errant snaps made very little sense. Receiver Marquise Brown was the most practical when he spoke about improving the passing game and the importance of balance on offense.

It was the second straight year the Ravens were eliminated in the divisional round after being knocked out in the wild-card round in 2018. Most of the players suggested some tweaks for next season, but the Ravens need more than some slight fixes.

So, as the Ravens enter the offseason, here are some suggestions to improve the team:

Add help at edge rusher and offensive line

Every offseason there is always a cry from fans about the need to take a receiver in the first round of the draft, but the Ravens have other priorities, such as finding a good pass rusher and some versatile offensive linemen.

 

The Ravens weren’t able to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing and they might lose outside linebackers Matthew Judon and Tyrus Bowser in free agency, so there is some urgency in finding an edge rusher.

The Ravens acquired outside linebacker/defensive end Yannick Ngakoue from the Minnesota Vikings during the season in hopes that he could provide pressure, but the move had little impact and turned out to be as disappointing as the signing of safety Earl Thomas III in March 2019.

So, the draft seems to be a better route than free agency. The Ravens also need to find some quality offensive linemen. In the past couple of years, the Ravens focused on drafting linemen who were primarily run blockers, but that philosophy hasn’t worked out, especially when defenses shut down their running attack in the postseason. Against Buffalo, the Bills’ front seven made the Ravens look slow and unathletic when rushing quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Ravens could use more speed at cornerback with veterans Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith showing signs of age. Of course there is always a need for a big, fast wide receiver, but that isn’t a top priority unless one falls to the Ravens at the end of the first round.

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