They lost six starters from the defense that lined up in Super Bowl XLVII -- including Ray Lewis and Ed Reed -- so the Baltimore Ravens are supposed to be handicapped this season. Try again. Their defense will be improved, and here's why.
With Ray Lewis retiring, Dannell Ellerbe signing with the Dolphins and Rolando McClain lasting just a month in Baltimore before calling it a career in May, the addition of veteran linebacker Daryl Smith makes a lot of sense for the Ravens.
The Ravens signed embattled former first-round talent Rolando McClain in mid-April to add depth at linebacker. Ray Lewis retired in February and Dannell Ellerbee landed a big contract with the Dolphins at the start of free agency so there were holes on the roster.
Owner Steve Bisciotti has a go-to saying when tensions rise in Baltimore: Trust in Ozzie. The defending Super Bowl champions take aim at a repeat with numerous pressing needs armed with the resolve that comes with having GM Ozzie Newsome at the controls.
Who's happier than Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod about signing with the Bears? Clark Judge says it's probably Jay Cutler, who has taken more than his fair share of beatdowns in his Chicago career.
Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome rarely gets credit for being a flat-out genius, and he is exactly that. There's a lot of brain power there, and the one thing about Newsome is that he always has a plan. Always. So the question is: What the hell is the plan now?