The League

Anthony Stalter
National Blogger

Anthony Stalter

Senior Sports Editor for The Scores Report

Ravens, Dolphins make big upgrades

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Every year, after another season has concluded, NFL teams will spend time re-evaluating what they have on their roster. Coaches and general managers will watch film, determine which players they want to keep and what holes they need to address.

Then the real fun begins; they get to shop for needs.

The only way to really grade a team's offseason is to answer whether or not they improved. Granted, we won't know if teams actually improved until the games start counting in the standings, but it's not complicated to determine which squads filled holes with productive players, and which ones will have the same problems as they did a year ago.

The Ravens and Dolphins are two teams that significantly improved from last season and their offseasons mirrored each other in a lot of ways. Both teams were dying to add more offensive firepower and give their young quarterbacks a true No. 1 weapon, and they did that with trades for Anquan Boldin (Ravens) and Brandon Marshall (Dolphins), respectively.

Boldin isn't a spring chicken anymore and the Dolphins are taking a massive risk by financially committing to the headache-educing Marshall, but it's hard to argue that the teams' offenses haven't improved with these additions. Joe Flacco has led Baltimore to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons without a true No. 1 and now he has one in Boldin. Chad Henne proved last year that he's a capable starter and his game should only improve with a playmaker like Marshall. These two teams could already run the ball and now they've added true receiving threats to complement their ground attacks.

Both teams drafted extremely well, too. The Ravens got a steal in linebacker Sergio Kindle, who, if healthy, provides their defense with a young, explosive athlete that could be a force playing alongside Ray Lewis. The selection of "Mount" (Terrence) Cody also represented good value and if he can stay motivated, he and Haloti Ngata form a 700-pound wall in the middle of the Ravens' defense. Arthur Jones was another steal in the fifth round and will provide plenty of depth for the defensive front four.

Miami, which wound up trading back in the first round, landed Jared Odrick, who was hailed as the best 3-4 defensive lineman in the draft. Koa Misi will add some aggressiveness to the team's front seven, while John Jerry can play either guard or tackle and safety Reshad Jones was a playmaker at Georgia. Let's not forget that the Dolphins also added linebacker Karlos Dansby in free agency, who will be an absolute rock in the middle of Miami's defense. He's one of the best all-around linebackers in the NFL - a complete package.

Did both teams have flawless offseasons? No. Baltimore still has issues at cornerback and Miami could stand to add another pass rusher (Adalius Thomas, anyone?). But again, it's hard to argue that these teams didn't improve over the last couple of months.

The Jets are another team that dramatically improved themselves this offseason. While Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie are risks, nobody is denying the talent both players have. The additions of Kyle Wilson and Vladimir Ducasse in the draft were solid and the signing of LaDainian Tomlinson should help ease the loss of Thomas Jones. These moves have definitely kept the Jets in playoff contention moving forward.

By Anthony Stalter  |  May 5, 2010; 11:34 AM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens , Draft , Free Agency , Miami Dolphins , NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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