As established on our homepage, we here at BroSports.Blog are writing a team by team breakdown of the all-franchise teams for every club in the NFL. This week, the focus is on the Baltimore Ravens.
The All-Franchise Team: The Baltimore Ravens
Coach: John Harbaugh
It’s strange that John Harbaugh is the best coach in Ravens history when he probably won’t be the head coach in a few weeks, but when you look at the franchise’s history, he’s obviously the best. He has as many rings as Brian Billick did, but was significantly more consistent. To this day, he only ever had one losing season with the team and had them in the playoffs six times (maybe seven?).
Quarterback: Joe Flacco
The Baltimore Ravens don’t have the best history as far as quarterbacks go. Vinny Testaverde was the first starting quarterback in franchise history, but between him and Joe Flacco, the Ravens started 14 different men under center. Some, were bad, first round pick Kyle Boller never turned his physical talent into on-the-field production, and Elvis Grbac is almost universally despised by every fanbase he ever played for. There were some weird cameos at the position, including Randall Cunningham and Jim Harbaugh, yes, John Harbaugh’s brother.
Then, in 2008, they drafted Joe Flacco in the first round out of Delaware. Just like Harbaugh, Flacco’s time in Baltimore is likely done after this year. The team selected Lamar Jackson with their second first round pick this season, and with Flacco’s hefty salary leaving little-to-no dead money after this season, it only makes sense.
What is there to say about Joe Flacco that hasn’t been said a thousand times. He’s good, not great. You can win with him, but you’ll rarely win because of him. He’s Baltimore’s all-time leading passer in every category, and his 2012 post-season run is arguably the best of all time.
Tailback: Jamal Lewis
Uh… duh? Back in the early days of the Ravens, their entire philosophy was this. Play smashmouth defense, run the ball, don’t miss field goals. Ray Lewis and company held down the defense, Matt Stover didn’t miss anything, and Jamal Lewis was a punishing tailback in between the tackles.
To this day, Jamal Lewis remains the Ravens all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He had the longest run in franchise history (82 yards), most yards (2,066) in a season, and most touchdowns (14) in a season. This is a no-brainer. The only real question is why this guy isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame yet? I mean, if Terrell Davis is…
Wide Recievers: Derrick Mason and Torrey Smith
I went back and forth about picking Anquan Boldin or Steve Smith Sr. in one of these spots. Both veteran receivers came to Baltimore and helped develop and protect Joe Flacco throughout his career. But then I remember Derrick Mason, the original veteran receiver during the Joe Flacco era.
Believe it or not, Mason is still Baltimore’s all-time leading receiver, and he played a crucial role in developing a young Joe Flacco. Mason caught 411 passes for 5,777 yards and 29 touchdowns in his six years with the team.
Meanwhile, Torrey Smith is the best receiver the Ravens ever drafted. No wide receiver in Ravens history has caught more touchdown passes than Smith, and while the speedster never became the number one they drafted him to be, he played a crucial part on some very good Ravens teams.
Weird note: The Baltimore Ravens haven’t made the playoffs once since Smith left the team after the 2014 season. That could change this year.
Tight End: Todd Heap
This is a very easy one. Sure, Dennis Pitta was solid piece, Shannon Sharpe made a cameo, and other guys have come in and played the position well, but nobody in Ravens history caught more touchdowns than Todd Heap, and that’s despite not having great quarterbacks. There’s no debate, Todd Heap was one of the best tight ends of the early 2000’s, who unfortunately was overshadowed by the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.
Tackle: Jonathan Ogden
Jonathan Ogden was the first player the Baltimore Ravens drafted, and the first person the team drafted to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ogden’s accolades speak for themselves. Eleven Pro Bowls, nine All-Pros, Super Bowl Champion, and Pro Football Hall of Famer. Ogden was famous for being a sweetheart off the field and a monster on it, and was a crucial part of the Raven running game for over a decade.
Guard: Marshal Yanda
While Ogden played on a team committed to the run and nothing else, Marshal Yanda has been tasked with Baltimore’s roller-coaster ride of different offensive schemes. Since Yanda joined the team in 2007, he’s played under six different offensive coordinators. He’s dealt with nine different starting quarterbacks and two different head coaches. With all that turnover, one thing has been consistent, and that’s Yanda’s incredible play.
Center: Mike Flynn
I really wanted to pick Matt Birk for this spot, but Flynn’s longevity at the position took the lead. I’m still going to take this opportunity to praise Birk for being a leader in that locker room and really helping bring Joe Flacco along.
Beyond that, Flynn is one of the best success stories in recent NFL history. He went undrafted in 1997, and after bouncing around practice squad, he found himself starting for Baltimore in 2000. He would remain the team’s starter at center for the rest of his career, retiring in 2007.
Edge Rusher: Terrell Suggs
Terrell Suggs has nearly twice as many sacks as any other player in Ravens history, and is bound for Canton, Ohio when it’s all said and done. A two-time All-Pro, and a seven-time Pro Bowler, Suggs holds the distinct honor of winning both Defensive Rookie (2003) and Defensive Player of the Year (2011).
Interior Defender: Haloti Ngata
Surprisingly athletic for his size, Haloti Ngata was a force on the Raven defensive line for nine seasons. Ngata could do it all. He chewed up blocks, making life easier for his linebackers, but was also able to tear tailbacks down, and get after the passer. Ngata’s Baltimore stats include five interceptions, six forced fumbles, and 25.5 sacks.
Linebacker: Ray Lewis
This is so obvious, it’s not even funny. Ray Lewis is arguably the best linebacker in NFL history. Who else could it be?
Corners: Chris McAlister and Duane Starks
Chris McAlister is easily the best corner in franchise history, spending 11 years on the outside for the team, going to three Pro Bowls, being named All-Pro twice, and intercepting more passes (26) than any other corner in franchise history. He, as well as Duane Starks, started at corner for the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV.
Starks had a shorter run with the team, only playing for the squad for four seasons, but during those four years, he was dominant. He had twenty interceptions, not including the 49 yard pick six in Super Bowl XXXV that effectively put the game out of reach.
Safeties: Ed Reed and Rod Woodson
Ed Reed and Rod Woodson are both legendary safeties, but one needs a little more explaining than the other. While Ed Reed spent 11 seasons with team team, registering 61 interceptions and seven touchdowns, Rod Woodson is best known for being something horribly different than a Raven… a Pittsburgh Steeler.
While Woodson only spent four years with Baltimore, he was extremely effective. He had twenty interceptions, five of which he returned for touchdowns, and was a crucial part of the legendary 2000 defense.
Kicker: Justin Tucker
I struggled with this one, because I had to balance Justin Tucker’s right-now excellence against Matt Stover’s longevity. Both kickers are extremely reliable and accurate. The deciding factor was that Tucker’s leg is significantly more powerful than Stover’s was. In 13 years with the Ravens, Stover made nine kicks of at least 50 yards. Tucker has made 37 such kicks in seven.
Punter: Sam Koch
Punters don’t get a ton of love, but there’s no question that Sam Koch is one of the good ones. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in most punt yards, average punt distance, and longest punt, and has been a staple of Baltimore’s special teams since 2006.