Ed Reed Best Safety in NFL
The Ravens' 11-5 record in 2008 turned some heads last season, and heading into 2009 Baltimore is team many have their eye on. The Sporting News has been releasing rankings of the top NFL players at every position the past several weeks, and many Ravens have seen their names mentioned, including Ed Reed, who was named the league's best safety last week.
As the only unanimous selection of the 2008 All-Pro team, Reed led the league last season with nine interceptions, two for touchdowns. He finished ahead of Troy Polamalu of the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
Said* The Sporting News: "The system won't change in Baltimore this year, and Reed is on his way to a Hall of Fame career if he can stay healthy."*
Ravens Fifth Best Organization in League
While individual player accolades are nice, Ravens fans will likely take satisfaction in knowing that the entire organization is viewed as one of the best after FoxSports.com ranked them fifth in their first inaugural NFL organization rankings.
The criteria were based on ownership, front office, head coach, coaching staff, quarterback, offense, defense and intangibles. The Ravens score came to a 66.5, behind only the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants:
"The Ravens organization doesn't get enough credit for being among the elite. The public relations staff is excellent, both media and player friendly, which helped the Ravens get a 9 for intangibles. Ozzie Newsome and his outstanding staff are consistently plucking superb talent in the draft, and the front office got a "10". And the stellar defense (9.5) and a young stud at quarterback (7) didn't hurt the ranking, either."
The Ravens can likely thank Joe Flacco and head coach John Harbaugh for the high ranking heading into this season. Those two specific criteria which were once viewed as weaknesses in the media may have helped push Baltimore into the top five.
Ozzie Visits Home
Before Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome made his mark in Baltimore, he was a hometown hero for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He visited his home state for the first time in four years last Friday to give the keynote address at the 2009 Eagle Luncheon by the Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Newsome has often been regarded as a potential hire for Alabama's athletic department. Newsome simply reiterated his love for his alma mater, and said that he would return home when the time was right. Ravens fans shouldn't fret, however, as Newsome made clear he has no intention of leaving his current job anytime soon.
"I have a lot of work to do in Baltimore," he noted.
Brandon Marshall Seeking a New Contract?
Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall has reportedly been seeking a new contract, according to The Denver Post. Earlier reports indicated that he was skipping the Broncos' passing camp as part of a holdout, but his attorney refuted that claim. BaltimoreRavens.com has received multiple e-mails suggesting the Ravens make a move to acquire Marshall. This remains at this time very unlikely, given Denver's stance that they want to keep Marshall at his current contract, as well as Marshall's past legal problems with alleged domestic violence charges.
Other Sporting News Rankings
"260 pounds, McClain is a punishing blocker. Last season, when injuries crippled the running back position, he showed the athleticism to become the featured ball carrier and led the team in rushing. He can fill multiple roles within the offense, critical in the Ravens' run-first attack."
Two defensive players were also ranked fourth in their respective positions. Outside linebacker and defensive tackle are both in their primes as members of the Ravens' defense, and were recognized as such.
Suggs was designated the franchise player for the second year in a row this offseason, indicating how much value the Ravens place in the disruptive defender. The versatile pass rusher is characterized as the "motor that makes the Baltimore defense go." The Ravens have expressed their intention of signing Suggs to a long-term deal.
As for Ngata, the fourth-year tackle has emerged as one of the elite defensive tackles in the league. Ranked ahead of Cleveland's Shaun Rogers, who went to the Pro Bowl in January, Ngata's profile has grown over the past few seasons and plays a key role in letting Ray Lewis run free. The highest player on the list, Washington's Albert Haynesworth, signed a massive contract with the Redskins in free agency this offseason, illustrating how vital good defensive tackles are to a defense, and what it may take to re-sign Ngata once he becomes a free agent.
Todd Heap ranked ninth for tight ends and Jared Gaither ranked 14th for offensive tackles, a real feat considering he replaced future Hall-of-Famer Jonathan Ogden. Entering his second year, he was recently the Chicago Tribunetabbed as a player about to have a break-out season by .
"He ranked in the top 10 in the league with a 45.5-yard average and a 39.9-yard net. His 74-yard boot was the third-longest punt of the season in the NFL. He was also second with 34 punts inside the 20. The Ravens were smart to sign him to an extension this offseason."
Koch was ranked ahead of Dave Zastudil, the man he replaced after Zastudil signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent after the 2005 season.