Baltimore Sun

Ravens' challenge: Going from good to great

Since the Ravens lost to the Steelers Saturday night, one thought keeps coming to mind and it's what Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said when he was replacing Terps football coach Ralph Friedgen: We want to take the next step and go from good to great.

That's exactly what the Ravens need to do. They need to be great. Good isn't cutting it for them, especially against the Steelers.

So how do they get there? Do they replace the coordinators? Do they bring in new players? Do they start to rebuild?


The first step is extending head coach John Harbaugh's contract, and Jamison Hensley reported this morning that it's going to get done.

The next step is locking up defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with a long-term deal.


Then it comes down to personnel executives Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta identifying who stays and who goes among the players. Another impact player on defense would be nice. They really haven't replaced Bart Scott since he left for the Jets. Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe have shown flashes, but haven't taken ownership of the job. After Ed Reed, is there a playmaker on D?

On offense, they have playmakers in Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Todd Heap. They don't have anyone to stretch the field. It would be nice if they could find that player like the Steelers have over the years, through the draft or finding undrafted gems.They need a right tackle (or left, if you think Michael Oher has been overmatched on The Blind Side and needs to return to the other side), so you can move bulldozing lineman Marshal Yanda back to guard.

The last two drafts haven't been particularly good to the Ravens. Oher and Lardarius Webb were great picks in 2009, but what of second-rounder Paul Kruger and anyone else in that draft? Ellerbe is the only substantial undrafted guy from that year and he spent most of the season in the doghouse. In the 2010 draft, Sergio Kindle was a bust, Terrence Cody didn't do much, David Reed was OK when healthy and the two rookie tight ends have potential. No impact players there.

The Ravens don't need an overhaul of the coaching staff. Coaching didn't lose the game Saturday. Uncommon mistakes by veteran players cost the Ravens the game.

So the challenge for the Ravens is to go from good to great. Can they do it? If you have total faith in Newsome, DeCosta and Harbaugh, the answer is yes. If not, early playoff exits will continue to be the norm.

Stay tuned.

Photo credit: AP