Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti on the same solutions he hears every year on how to fix the Ravens. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
People who get older like to say that age is just a number. Is that true in the NFL?
Of the 10 oldest teams in the league, as compiled by The Philly Voice after the 53-man cutdowns in September, only the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers qualified for the playoffs. The Falcons were the oldest team, with an average age of 27.1 years, and the Steelers ranked ninth at 26.3 years.
On the flip side, three of the 10 youngest teams advanced to the postseason: the Green Bay Packers (third at 25.4 years), Kansas City Chiefs (sixth at 25.5) and Seattle Seahawks (seventh at 25.6).
The Ravens ranked sixth (26.4 years), and many of their best players were over the age of 30. Among that group were since-retired wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (37 years old), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (34), punter Sam Koch (34), outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (32), right guard Marshal Yanda (32), strong safety Eric Weddle (32), quarterback Joe Flacco (31) and tight end Dennis Pitta (31).
But Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pointed out last week that the franchise captured its second Super Bowl title to cap the 2012 season with a defense led by 37-year-old inside linebacker Ray Lewis and 34-year-old free safety Ed Reed.
"I don't see age, I see accomplishments," Bisciotti said during the "State of the Ravens" address last Tuesday. "Dumervil had a rough go of it getting back on the field. So we're going to have to project whether he can get back to what he is. But we're just as likely to move on from a 24-year-old as much as we are from Dumervil based on our assessment of their capabilities.
"I just don't like that age question. I don't think it matters. I think that a lot of teams like New England, who goes out and supplements their thing with guys like [27-year-old] Shea McClellin, it doesn't make them a worse team with a 10-year guy versus a two-year guy. I just don't know how valuable it is to focus on that. To me, it's production."
The team did skew younger this past season with rookies Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis and Tavon Young making more than eight starts each, and Brandon Williams, Kyle Juszczyk, Rick Wagner, C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan starting nearly every game.
"The other thing is, we're playing players younger," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Somehow, draft choices are getting on the field, and sometimes it's out of necessity, and coaches have to do a good job of that."