Like most teams heading to the off-season following a loss the Ravens have a lot of questions. The loss to the Colts on Saturday evening raised several issues.
The first being the one of discipline. The Ravens had too many costly penalties during the season that cost them games. One of the things coach John Harbaugh must emphasis, in the off-season, is correcting this major problem. How many times did a big play get overturned by a yellow hanky. Yes some of the calls by the refs were ticky-tacky but over the course of the season a pattern emerged.
The next few weeks could be very important to the future of both the offense and defense. Future Hall of Famer Ed Reed is considering retirement. He has been bothered, since last year, by neck and shoulder problems. If Reed walks away from the team he will be sorely missed both on and off the field. Wide Receiver Derrick Mason is talking retirement as well. Mason's loss would also be key. The Ravens need to get a receiver that can stretch the field but Mason would be the perfect compliment to that addition.
Right now the future of this team rests on the shoulders of guys like Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Michael Oher, Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. This is a pretty good nucleus but Ozzie Newsome and his staff will have to work hard to full in the blanks for the coming season.
One of the biggest problems for next season is not the possible retirements of Reed and Mason but the odd uncapped season. The NFL and its players union have not reached a new collective bargaining agreement. That means in 2010 teams will be allowed to spend without a salary cap but their are severe restrictions against the Top 8 teams in the league. The Ravens fit that bill after they made the divisional round of the playoffs. That means the Steelers, Browns and Bengals can spend with a free hand and the Ravens can't. That could be bad news for the Purplebirds. We will see.