Upgrades: The team needs upgrades at the wide receiver, tight end, defensive line and cornerback/secondary positions. The team also needs to sign a fullback so we can see McClain get some carries too in short yardage and in relief of Rice. The ideal would be picking up a wide receiver via the free agency and drafting one in the first or second rounds. The pass rush was anemic and the secondary has been a nagging issue.
Reducing Penalties: One of the biggest needs on this team is reducing penalties. There were too many games where miscues and penalties were a big part in losing games. In fairness this is Harbaugh’s only second year, but it is time now to start laying down the law and holding himself and his players accountable. The NFL and there is little room for mistakes, the competition is too tough to allow it.
Offseason Development: We witnessed Ray Rice come into training camp physically primed for the season. Rice worked out and bulked up–he was durable, reliable and a playmaker. Joe Flacco needs to do the same as Rice, as he will need to work out and put on some weight in the offseason, it will help him get through the arduous NFL season. Paul Kruger will need to bulk up as well in order to compete against the huge lineman in the NFL.
1. Wide receiver. A speedy tall receiver for the deep threat and/or a big bodied receiver that can get physical at the line, a big target. A lot will depend on attaining a WR in free agency.
2. Cornerback.Not a developmental cornerback, a corner that can start immediately.
3. Defensive End.A bona fide Pass rusher to compliment Suggs. The NFL is all about passing, a good pass rush is a must. The need for a pass rusher depends on Paul Kruger. If the coaches feel Kruger will be a good pass rusher then the need may drop. But, Kruger will have to work out and bulk up in the offseason.
4. Tight End. How long can Heap play for? And who is on the depth chart?
5. Defensive Tackle. A big tackle to play along side Ngata. How long does Gregg, Bannan, Pryce have left?
In franchise terms this is the best offense we have seen. However, Joe Flacco was pushed too fast in his development. More focus should have been given to the running game earlier in the year and then infuse Flacco’s skills as the season progress. Rice carried this team. The team should have signed a fullback, the LeRon “McCalin tailback package” is too tempting to pass up on and it would have helped the team out in goaline, as well as short yardage situations.
Coach Mattison deserves credit, the defense played well as the season progressed. It is easy to pass judgment early in the season, but the coordinator has to be given a chance, and the defense improved even after losing CB Washington and Webb. The team also lost Ayenbadejo as he was becoming a good linebacker. You have to take into account that the team also improved as Suggs had an off year and there was virtually no pass rush.
Special Teams: B
Jalen Parmale is perfect for returns and if McGahee ends up leaving he would take his place. The team ranked high in return yardage. Coverage was good. P Koch is excellent and consistent.
Personnel utilization:The coaching staff has to do a better job of utilizing the personnel. Where was L.J. Smith when healthy? Where were the blitz packages with Antwan Barnes and Jameal McClain? Why didn’t we see Demetrius Williams, at least with Williams on the field we would have ha a deep threat. Where the heck was Kruger?
Michael Oher was an upgrade for the line—he should be competing for left tackle.
Darnell Ellerbe has solidified the spot left by Bart Scott
Lardarius Webb was a steal and will be a cornerback.