WIPING THE SLATE CLEAN: The last few days have seen a major change in the Baltimore Ravens - and not just in the roster moves. This appears to be a change in the deeper character of the team. The changes are not just related to age/cap space/market values. IMHO this is the bigger change to a true TEAM identity - and a shift to an team with a focus on offense for now.
 1. Boldin: Right now he is the only offensive change; although McKinnie is probably the next one and Leach can still be a cap casualty. I truly thought that they would reach a deal with Q for an extension to address the cap issue. He was the third highest cap hit for 2013, and at his age it needed to be changed. I can only believe that they have a replacement (or feel that they can fill the void later), and gave him the opportunity to be on a competing team while maintaining his salary. I liked him, but figured that he could have been cut and braced myself for it after the SB.
 2. Kruger, Ellerbe and Pollard: I knew that Kruger would be priced out of the market, so he was gone. I was also not a big fan of his since I did not think he was a run-stopper/edge-setter. I thought they would try to land Ellerbe, but had my doubts based on his history. He had trouble with his work ethic and team attitude early on and I am not sure that you can change that mind-set. He put on a great effort IN HIS CONTRACT YEAR; and I am always skeptical about that. Miami made it easy to let him go with the contract that they offered. The Ravens were not matching one like that regardless if they believed that he was a changed man. Pollard was the surprise, and there are rumors that it was based on the "mutiny" after the Houston game or because of his attitude. We may never know why, and the fact that they extended him before last year suggests that it was a 2012 event that triggered this decision. 
3. Reed: I feel that he is back if he gets no offers in the market, but there is too much volatility to him to figure that he stays. He will feel disrespected because the Ravens do not offer him the best deal and he will take something just to leave; unless it is so low that even the Ravens can match it. I think that the defense is shifting to be different, and adjusting for Reed's tendencies makes it tougher. There are more reasons that he is gone than that he stays.
 4. Defense: The defense was a "smash-mouth" version for years. Pees is a more "chess-like" coach and I think that what he needs to make his defense work involves different player-types. "Bend-but-not-break" requires more speed and more players that wrap up. The league's focus on flagging and suspending for major hits suggests that people who are hard-hitters may cost their team in penalties and/or get suspensions. The last few years have done things to bolster an offense, and the focus is now on re-working the defense. Although Ozzie has his "Best player available" philosophy, I think he will tilt to the defense in the draft to build a plan for the future. With Ray Lewis leaving, the defense will now be focused on a scheme rather than adjusting for a player. And I really think that Pees is the DC because of his age and because it is less likely that he is plucked for a HC job. That means that the plans will be consistent over time.
 5. Culture: When Ray decided to retire, I think that Harbaugh had the opportunity to remove the idea that the team was linked to one player that became bigger than life. His Team philosophy could be put up front now that the Deity has ridden away. Converting the defense to a younger mold eliminates the focus on one veteran player that has been the face of the team since its beginning. This is now an offensive team, but Flacco is not the Icon-like figure. He may lead the offense in the game, but I do not see him as the rally point for the team as a whole. Harbaugh becomes the definition of the culture and the focus is to be on the Team concept. 

There are plenty of people who see doom-and-gloom based on how things are developing. They believe that the focus should be on keeping the personnel that won the Trophy so that they could do another run to the SB. But that is not how the NFL works. The 2012 season was won by the Baltimore Ravens. Once the SB was over, the screen read "Game Over" and 2013 will start from 0-0. Each team will be ready to make the run, and last year's victors will be one of 32 teams in the hunt. The roster will not be shaped until Training Camp, and even later depending on the waiver wire (remember when they got Ihedigbo and Hamilton?). All of these changes just means that the team is still in the creation phase. Check back just before the first game to see how the roster develops.
None of this helps deal with the emotions of this week. Just remember, there are no regular games in March that the Ravens can lose.

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