The Baltimore Ravens were unable to ride their early momentum for a victory on Saturday in the divisional round and must start planning for next season.
Despite quarterback Joe Flacco’s four touchdown passes, the Ravens were unable to score when it mattered most: the fourth quarter. Entering the postseason as a No. 6 seed, the Ravens exceeded expectations but are now on the outside looking in.
Turning the page to the offseason, FOXSports.com takes a look at the three most pressing issues facing the Ravens.
Keeping the offense’s identity: The Ravens offense has been revamped since offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s arrival this year. After spending eight seasons in Houston, Kubiak was fired despite making the postseason in the two years prior to his dismissal. Kubiak is expected to draw interest in head-coaching searches. If Kubiak takes a job, the Ravens must replace him with someone familiar with the system. Quarterback Joe Flacco has enjoyed the best season of his career in the West Coast offense. There was also an obvious jolt in the running game as running back Justin Forsett finished the regular season with 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns.
Planning for the future: Forsett was one of this season’s pleasant surprises after joining the team on a veteran minimum deal. The 2008 seventh-round pick had a career year and will be testing free agency if the Ravens choose to not re-sign him. After clearly becoming the team’s MVP, Forsett should be a priority for Baltimore brass. Another offensive player who will be available to other teams after the season is wide receiver Torrey Smith. Smith has had plenty of production in four seasons with Baltimore, but a decision on his future must be made. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Pernell McPhee should get the chance to become a free agent despite being a very underrated piece. Good teams, of course, ultimately have to part with good players. Baltimore has proven before they know how to choose wisely in these situations.
Double coverage: The Ravens have made an effort to beef up their secondary in recent years, but injuries somehow find a way to continue to plague the unit. With defensive backs Rashaan Melvin, Anthony Levine and Darian Stewart logging playing time during the postseason, general manager Ozzie Newsome might look to re-tool the back end of this defense with players reminiscent of former safety Ed Reed’s ball-hawking days.