Following up with our last AFC North fan interview after speaking with Tony Timoteo (Cleveland Browns) and The Smiths (Cincinnati Bengals), I reached out to die-hard Baltimore Ravens fan, J. James of the Park Heights (Maryland) area to find out what his insights are on the team, transactions, draft needs and the direction he feels the Ravens need to head to be successful in 2018. As a site run and written by fans, we at Steel City Underground finish this fan interview series with our last report on a Steelers rival.
"Having been born and raised in this part of the Baltimore area, the Ravens have been as big of a part of my sports fanaticism as the Orioles (Major League Baseball) were," James explained. "A lot of my friends were ticked when Modell and Browns franchise came here, screwed things up and then the Ravens became the black 'n purple force in the AFC North. We were ready for a team that could compete."
Every weekend the Ravens play, James and his "inner circle" have some form of party. "We throw meat on the grill, have a few cold ones no matter what the weather is out, and blast the game, win or lose. We get a little happier when they win, of course, so last couple years have been disappointing."
Rivers: Is there a player you were most disappointed by last season?
James: Lot of fans probably hated most on Joe Flacco, because he's supposed to be the leader on offense, but I didn't see it that way. His receivers didn't help him. Injuries didn't help the team either. So, really, no one person upset me. It was a team deal.
James: Honestly, I thought Crabtree might be on his last legs, but having a vet that's smart should help. I want the Ravens to grab a quick slot (receiver) in the Draft. Maybe get two young studs if they can.
Rivers: Do you have receiver prospects in mind that you think would fit into the Ravens' offensive scheme?
James: I'd love to see Courtland Sutton (SMU) or Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) because I think they'd start right away, especially St. Brown. He can separate from d-backs and torch the field. I love how he plays.
Rivers: Do you think the mock drafts suggesting the Ravens may move up from the 19th pick overall is realistic?
James: I don't see it, no. They have too many needs to be making moves in draft order. The Ravens gotta be smart to reset this team. Doubt they ignore that.
Rivers: Some have suggested Odell Beckham, Jr., could land in Baltimore.
James: (laughing) Yeah, if they dump a bunch of guys and make Flacco cut his money in half. I don't want the drama. Build, don't go for divas who can't handle sharing the catches. Can you see him and Crabtree (explitive) heated on the sidelines 'cause they both wanna be number one? OBJ can land in Baltimore on his rear end with a different jersey on.
Rivers: So, that's a "no"?
James: For me it is.
Rivers: What other positions do you see as top priorities in 2018?
James: A tight end to pair with Maxx Williams, like Mike Gesicki would be good. James Hurst moving up on offensive line doesn't make me feel the Ravens are done getting help there. I don't think Orlando Brown is our guy. Thinking Mike McGlinchey would be nice next to Ronnie Stanley. Not sure he'll be available if they go receiver first, but they know each other, so communication could improve immediately. I think the Ravens still need a guy to pair up with Terrell Suggs, too. Not a first-round guy, but maybe third round.
Rivers: Where do you think the focus needs to be for the team to improve the most in 2018?
James: Offense. The defense had some strong outings that caught people off guard last season. They can correct any issues there a lot easier than the other side. It was the offense that couldn't get it together. Lots of holes there. So, offense for sure.
Rivers: Where do you see the Ravens ending up (win-loss record) in the AFC North and season overall.
James: They could put together 9 to 10 wins legitimately if they get the offense going. Second place in division. Push for wild card spot in playoffs. Depends on how well they build, draft and prepare during camp.
Rivers: Is there a team you'd really like to see Baltimore beat in 2018?
James: Of course they gotta knock Pittsburgh down a notch, but I'd like to see them beat anyone who walks into their house this year. Never back down when it comes to repping home crowd.
Note: Many of the names James mentioned were edited to add first names (when he used last names alone) only to help readers navigate links to those player profiles.