OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens went from Super to mediocre in 2013, finishing 8-8 following an offseason in which the NFL champions shuffled the roster because of salary-cap concerns.
In the months ahead, general manager Ozzie Newsome will resume the rebuilding process for more conventional reasons: To improve a flawed team that missed the playoffs.
For the first time in six seasons under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens cleared out their lockers one day after the conclusion of the regular season. It was a dreary Monday for a franchise unaccustomed to failure.
"It just feels like it's too early to be packing up," running back Ray Rice said. "It's not normal, especially for me. I've always been in the playoffs, every year. "
Baltimore' running game struggled in 2013, in part because Rice wasn't 100 percent healthy. After reaching the 1,000-yard mark in four straight seasons, he garnered only 660 yards rushing.
That's due in part to his ailing hip and because Rice was running behind an offensive line that never really meshed. Second-year center Gino Gradkowski had to learn under fire after taking over for retired Matt Birk, left tackle Bryant McKinnie was traded in October and replaced by Eugene Monroe, and left guard Kelechi Osemele played only seven games before being placed on injured reserve.
The ineffective offensive line also impacted the passing game. Forced to throw under duress virtually every game, Joe Flacco tossed a career-high 22 interceptions and was sacked an alarming 48 times.
This, after Flacco lost one of his favorite targets, Anquan Boldin, during the post-Super Bowl roster purge.
Clearly, there were no shortage of reasons for the inconsistency of an offense that performed so well just one year earlier.
"It wasn't Joe that led us to this point or the offensive line or the receivers," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "There's no one group you can point to. It's on all of us."