Contrary to what you might conclude from this offseason, the Ravens do have another side of the ball.While spending most attention and resources on revamping the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing game, general manager Ozzie Newsome parted ways with only one player — defensive back Lardarius Webb — who played defensive snaps in 2017. That’s a remarkable level of continuity in this era, but will it pay off?The Ravens defense was exceptional at times in 2017, leading the league in takeaways and pitching three shutouts. The group ranked in the top 10 in most significant statistical categories until late in the season and still finished fifth overall in Football Outsiders’ weighted defense rankings.But the defense struggled down the stretch, blowing a late lead in Pittsburgh for the second year in a row and suffering one of the bigger collapses in team history when Cincinnati scored on a fourth-and-12 play from the Baltimore 49 with under a minute left in Week 17 to knock the Ravens out of the playoffs. No matter what the numbers said, the defense came up small in some of the biggest moments of the season.Below are five pressing questions for the Ravens defense as organized team activities are now underway:1. How much will change under new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale?Players have provided glowing endorsements of Martindale and anticipate more flexible and aggressive schemes than those employed by Dean Pees. Criticisms of the former defensive coordinator are fair — leaving Brandon Carr on an island with Antonio Brown late in the Week 14 loss to the Steelers was just one example — but these types of sentiments about new coaches are commonplace whenever teams fall short the previous season. It’s easy to subtly point fingers at individuals no longer in the picture, but Martindale’s roots with the Ryan family are definitely intriguing from a schematic standpoint. On the flip side, the former linebackers coach must prove his failed stint in Denver eight years ago was mostly due to the Broncos’ lack of talent since this defense has the talent to be a good-to-great unit.2. Who will man the inside linebacker position next to C.J. Mosley?This is likely a multi-pronged answer since former rookie free agent Patrick Onwuasor started 13 games at the weak-side spot and the dime package was frequently used in passing situations with an extra safety playing in the box last season. The Ravens should continue to be creative with sub packages, but they need more consistency at this position in the base defense, whether it’s Onwuasor taking the next step in his development or fourth-round rookie Kenny Young seizing the opportunity to get on the field. You’d expect Martindale to continue to use the likes of Anthony Levine and Chuck Clark in the dime package when appropriate, but Baltimore identifying another inside linebacker who can hold up in pass coverage will be vital to the overall success and flexibility of the defense.3. Will the Ravens get more out of safety Tony Jefferson?The prize free-agent acquisition of 2017 was ordinary in his first year with the Ravens, providing ammunition for critics who wondered why Newsome invested a four-year $34 million contract in a box safety when there were clear needs on the other side of the ball a year ago. Many point to Pees too frequently using Jefferson away from the line of scrimmage — a valid claim, especially in the first half of the 2017 season — but there were also examples of him being beaten in coverage by tight ends and not being as strong against the run as advertised. Martindale should continue using Jefferson in the box as much as possible, but Eric Weddle will need to be able to hold up in back-end coverage. Even after a restructure, Jefferson has the team’s ninth-highest cap number and must bring more to the table.4. What will the 5-technique defensive end spot look like?The season-ending loss of Brent Urban in Week 3 last season was unfortunate after the 6-foot-7, 300-pound lineman appeared on his way to becoming an impact player, and the Ravens struggled to fill this position for much of the season, another factor that hurt their run defense in addition to the four-game absence of Brandon Williams. Re-signing Urban to a cheap one-year deal was a prudent move, but counting on a player who’s missed 39 games in a four-year career is problematic at best. Carl Davis shifted outside to do a respectable job in the second half of last season, but he’s also entering the final year of his contract, making it critical for either 2017 third-round pick Chris Wormley or 2016 third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi to step up to become a real contributor at this spot.5. How will a deep group of cornerbacks be handled?On paper, this is one of the deepest cornerback groups the Ravens have ever had with young talents still pursuing their ceiling. Jimmy Smith’s health is the major question as he recovers from last December’s torn Achilles tendon, but Marlon Humphrey looked the part of a future shutdown corner as a rookie and the solid veteran Carr was retained as a pricey insurance policy. Beyond that, Tavon Young is back in the fold after serving as a strong slot defender as a rookie two years ago, and Maurice Canady will try to build on his late success at the nickel last season. Those numbers don’t even take into account fourth-round rookie Anthony Averett or Jaylen Hill, who showed potential last summer before being stricken with injuries. If all are healthy — a major if — Martindale will have a good problem on his hands.
E-mail: email@example.com Aren’t you glad the Olympics are over so you can start getting to bed at a decent hour and stop having to try to avoid listening to the news and looking at the Internet during the day? Actually, the Olympics were a lot of fun for the last couple of weeks. A few final observations …The story of the Games to me, wasn’t Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals. Sure that was remarkable, but not that unexpected. The biggest story was the way the U.S. Olympic men’s volleyball team came back from the adversity of the shocking stabbing death of their coach’s father-in-law on opening weekend to claim the gold medal. The projections I saw had the U.S. out of the medals, so winning the gold was quite the accomplishment for Hugh McCutcheon’s team and amazing under the circumstances …I thought the second biggest story was the incredible running of Jamaican Usain Bolt. The way he won the 100- and 200-meter races was astounding. Setting three world records in the process (he also was on the 4×100 relay team) was something we may not see for a long time …As obnoxious as Bolt can be with his pre- and post-race antics, he is an awe-inspiring runner who may get a lot better. And how about his gesture of donating $50,000 to the Red Cross to help victims of the Chinese earthquake? He makes a fraction of the money of many of the professional athletes at the Games, which makes his generosity even more extraordinary …Didn’t you get tired of how the Chinese gymnasts kept getting favored by the biased judges over the Americans? I did. Or was it just a case of biased American commentators who constantly made us believe our side was getting the shaft? …Then there were those cheating Chinese, who apparently weren’t playing by the rules in allowing gymnasts outside of the age limits to compete. But isn’t it kind of funny to be complaining about athletes having an advantage because they’re too young when in most sports being older is such an advantage? …It wasn’t surprising that the U.S. men’s basketball team won the gold medal, although I was surprised they couldn’t put away Spain earlier in the finals. What was the most suprising was seeing how poorly some of the best players in the world shoot free throws …Utah’s Deron Williams looked good in helping the U.S. to the gold medal with some key shots and all-around strong floor play. Let’s just hope Carlos Boozer hasn’t lost confidence after being relegated to end-of-the-bench status by his former college coach, Mike Krzyzewski …The one good thing about the time difference between here and China was that we could see Phelps’ races live, well, an hour later than they happened. However, the second week with track and field events, it was almost impossible to keep from finding out results before they happened since most of the main events were held in the morning our time. Of course, as poorly as the U.S. performed in track and field, it just saved us time by not watching the events they failed in …I don’t understand why so many runners wear chains around their necks during their races. Maybe they do it for religious reasons or for good luck, but I don’t think I’d like getting hit in the face all the time by a piece of metal … Finally, on a non-Olympic related note, how about Bruce Summerhays winning the Utah Open Sunday at age 64? Sixty-four, are you kidding me? It was incredible to watch and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
25-Jan4:15 AMMedical Trauma1000 block W. 8th 23-Jan9:53 PMMedical Trauma200 block E. Lincoln 21-Jan11:36 AMMedical EmergencyKansas Turnpike 21-Jan11:50 AMFuel Spill1100 block W. 8th Wellington Fire & EMS Weekly Run Log 28-Jan1:18 PMCheck Smoke400 block South H 28-Jan8:39 PMVehicle Fire600 block E. 20th Avenue 24-Jan9:27 PMTransfer to Wichita 24-Jan11:52 AMMedical Emergency400 block N. Woodlawn 28-Jan10:19 AMVehicle Accident1300 block E. 1st 28-Jan6:43 AMMedical Emergency800 block W. 22nd 24-Jan6:20 PMMedical Emergency900 block W. 7th 24-Jan7:40 AMMedical Emergency500 block N. Plum 23-Jan5:19 PMMedical Emergency1200 block S. Washington 24-Jan12:50 PMMedical EmergencyOxford 24-Jan1:28 AMTransfer to Wichita 23-Jan1:05 PMMedical Emergency800 block E. Lincoln 23-Jan9:32 PMMedical Trauma400 block E. Maple 24-Jan4:00 PMGrass Fire50th Avenue & Maize 27-Jan8:39 AMMedical Trauma2100 block E. Lincoln 28-Jan6:30 PMCheck SmokeUS 81 & Mill 23-Jan7:09 AMCarbon Monoxide200 block S. Tyler 26-Jan9:00 PMTransfer to Wichita 25-Jan10:03 AMVehicle Accident400 block W. 8th 23-Jan11:47 AMTransfer to Wichita 27-Jan10:16 AMTransfer to Wichita Sumner Newscow report — The weekly log report for the Wellington Fire/EMS Department for Jan. 21 to Jan. 17, 2018 is as follows: 28-Jan8:55 PMTransfer to Wichita 26-Jan7:15 PMTransfer to Wichita 23-Jan9:14 AMMedical Trauma200 block W. 30th Street 21-Jan4:24 PMMedical Emergency600 block N. Woodlawn 27-Jan7:40 AMMedical Emergency100 block W. South 23-Jan9:14 AMMedical Trauma400 block E. Maple 28-Jan1:58 PMGrass Fire1000 block W. Mill 25-Jan11:54 PMMedical Trauma1000 block W. 8th 23-Jan8:09 AMMedical Emergency400 block South C 23-Jan4:20 PMVehicle Fire500 block W. 16th 28-Jan9:31 PMStructure FireOxford