Ray Lewis raises Ravens' leadership question

The leadership question surrounding the Ravens has been a frequent topic of conversation ever since middle linebacker Ray Lewis retired, and free safety Ed Reed signed with the Houston Texans.

After losing so much institutional knowledge, the Ravens have expressed confidence in the combined leadership in their locker room.


Following the Ravens' 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos to open the season, Lewis raised the point of who will lead the Ravens going forward during his role as an ESPN NFL analyst on their pregame show Sunday.

"I want to see this myself, I really want to see where it comes from," Lewis said. "Does it come from Terrell Suggs or does it come from Joe Flacco? Mr. Bisciotti gave him $100 million. Does that $100 million calculate to you now spending bonus time with your young receivers, with your young team? There's one thing about talent, talent is seen with the eye; leadership is rarely seen because it's done most of the time after-hours.

"And that's where I think the biggest issue is: who's going to be the leader to invest in that team?  For so many years when I was there, the No. 1 things that I did so much was spend times with guys off the field, when the coaches wasn't around, when the film wasn't showing. That's the most crucial time when you're talking about players' development. How do you develop a man into a man?"

The Ravens allowed seven touchdown passes to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to open the season, also surrendering 510 yards of total offense.

"You've got to spend quality time with him," Lewis said. "So now the question with the Ravens is: does Terrell Suggs spend that time? Does Joe Flacco spend that time with those young guys to get this ball club back where they need to be? This team is going to have to identify … that what we created for so many years there, talent won't solve those issues.

"It's going to have to be chemistry because what men add and what we did time over time and time and time – what we built in that organization – was about chemistry, was about our brotherhood on how close we was that we could communicate with each other without saying one word. The other night against Denver, you saw none of that happen. And when everything fell, you had nobody to look to, and I think that's what their problem is."

Retired Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka chimed in as well on the Ravens, who allowed a franchise record for points in the opener.

"The greatness of this organization started with the defense," Ditka said. "There's nothing about this defense that is imposing to me, and maybe that's because they're missing the leadership on the defensive side of the ball."