Jon Gruden Discusses Ravens' Offseason Priorities


When ESPN's Jon Gruden looks at Baltimore's upcoming offseason, he sees a clear area that he expects the Ravens to address.

"Personally, I think they need to invest in their secondary," Gruden said during an interview at the Pro Bowl.

The observation from the former Super Bowl-winning coach falls in line with the predictions from many pundits and analysts, as the Ravens pass defense struggled in a year where the secondary was hit hard with injuries.

Baltimore lost five cornerbacks to injured reserve, including top cornerback Jimmy Smith, and also cut two others because of ineffectiveness. The injuries led to a revolving door on the back end of the secondary, and the Ravens had to scour the free-agent market to keep replenishing the cornerback spot. 

Asa Jackson, Rashaan Melvin, Danny Gorrer, Dominique Franks and Chykie Brown all had stints in the cornerback rotation over the course of the year.

"They had some issues there, obviously with Smith getting hurt at the corner position," Gruden said. "They played a lot of obscure players. It's a credit – it really is – to Dean Pees and that coaching staff. They had a lot of guys I didn't know much about."

In addition to strengthening the cornerback spot, Gruden also sees lingering questions at safety. Former first-round pick Matt Elam struggled during his second season, and the Ravens moved him around to different spots as the secondary dealt with injuries.

Determining Elam's role and finding playmakers in the back end are important questions to answer, Gruden said.

"What is Elam? Is he a nickel corner? Is he a safety? Who are the corners? Who are the guys in tournament time that can get some critical stops when they need them," Gruden said. "I think they probably have to take a good look at that secondary if you ask me."

On the other side of the ball, the top priority is building some continuity under new Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman. The Monday Night Football analyst expects Trestman to adapt to quarterback Joe Flacco after the veteran quarterback's best season of his career.

"Now he has to learn the offense, add his twists to the offense, and start that relationship with Flacco," Gruden said. "Offensively, I think they're pretty good. They're balanced."

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