After struggling to a 4-5 start, the Ravens went on a 6-1 run to finish 10-6 for the season and first place in the AFC North. The Ravens also got their first real look at rookie QB Lamar Jackson as he took over from Joe Flacco due to injury. Jackson led the Ravens into the playoffs (their first playoff game since 2014), but unfortunately, the Ravens came up against a strong Chargers team in the Wild Card round and lost 23-17. This was a season that also included the Ravens defense sacking Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota 11 times in their 21-0 win over the Titans in Week 6 (poor guy).
Long-serving Head Coach, John Harbaugh joined the Ravens back in 2008. Before this, he was the Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach. Since joining the Ravens, Harbaugh has led them to the playoffs seven times in eleven seasons and in 2012 captured the franchise’s second Super Bowl. Another stat to note is that since his 2008 arrival, the Ravens have posted the NFL’s fifth-most victories at 114. On to the offensive coordinator and in his second stint with the team, the Ravens brought back Greg Roman in 2017 at first as a tight ends coach. Roman was named offensive coordinator in January 2019 and since his return has made an impact on offense and looks to build on recent success, featuring the NFL’s No. 2 ranked rushing attack (152.6 yards per game) from 2018. The 2018 team also racked up the second-most rushing yards (2,441) in franchise history. At Defensive coordinator and going into his second season with the Ravens is Don “Wink” Martindale. Martindale in his first season with the Ravens led the unit to the top-ranked defense in the NFL, allowing a league-best 292.9 yards per game. Baltimore also gave up the league’s second-fewest points per game (17.7) just behind Chicago. For his coaching efforts, Martindale was recognized by Sports Illustrated as the Assistant Coach of the year in 2018.
Looking at the big Free Agency picture for the Ravens I have to say I don’t think it was kind to them. Some of the key losses will hurt this team and it may take more than one season to fill all the holes. Losing WR John Brown depletes what wasn’t the strongest receiver group to start with. The Ravens looked to help replace him with the signing of WR Seth Roberts on a one year deal from the Raiders. Roberts has been a steady receiver and will add some experience to what is now a young receiver group. The Ravens also addressed this position in the draft and I’ll elaborate on this below. Long-serving Quarterback Joe Flacco was also traded to the Broncos for a 4th Round pick this offseason, as I think the Ravens liked what they saw from Lamar Jackson last season and felt it was time to move on to the former 1st Round draft pick. I think though, the bigger losses were on the defensive side of the ball for the Ravens. FS Eric Weddle was released and joined our Rams on a 2-year contract worth $10.5 million (which, if you ask me is a steal). The Ravens look to fill that gap with veteran FS Earl Thomas, who left the Seahawks to test free agency off the back of a leg break. Thomas signed a 4-year contract worth $55 million. Other blows came at linebacker with C.J. Mosley, Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs all moving on. The biggest blow here, in my opinion, is C.J. Mosley. The young and super productive linebacker liked what he heard from the Jets in free agency and signed a 5-year contract worth $85 million. Also, long time Raven Terrell Suggs only wanted to play one more year nearer his home and signed a year’s contract ($7 million) with the Cardinals in Arizona. The final big blow to the defense was Za’Darius Smith. The big edge rusher who led the Ravens in sacks last year was expected to hit it big in free agency and signed a 4-year deal with the Packers worth $66 million. On to the Draft and right off the bat the Ravens addressed one of their weaknesses in the shape of a wide receiver. The Ravens took WR Marquise Brown with Pick 25 in the 1st Round. Brown is a speedster with big-play ability and I’m sure the Ravens will be looking for him to help stretch the field for them. The Ravens didn’t pick again until Round 3 when they took Jaylon Ferguson, an edge rusher. Ferguson has shown that he can explode off the ball and threatens with a combination of speed and power when rushing the passer. Also with their second 3rd Round pick, the Ravens selected another WR in Miles Boykin. Boykin is a big receiver who turned heads with an impressive work out at the combine. Boykin showed for a big receiver he had good speed and agility. With the first of their three 4th rounds picks the Ravens picked RB Justice Hill. Hill has outstanding explosiveness and top-end speed. Next 4th round pick they chose Ben Powers at offensive line. Powers is a tough and savvy guard with excellent football character. With their final 4th round pick they took CB Iman Marshall. Marshall is a big corner and solid tackler. 5th and 6th rounds the Ravens selected DT Daylon Mack and QB Trace McSorley respectively.
The Ravens in my humble opinion, look a little more rounded going into this season. I think we can still expect their defense to be very strong with a good defensive line and one of the best defensive backfields in the league. If the defense has taken a slight step back, as I said above, it’s at linebacker with the talent lost in free agency, but, I would still expect to still see this defense in the top ten. Maybe it’s just me but the Ravens just seem to make it work with what they have on defence every year. On offense I’m hearing that they want to stay committed to the ground game, but more with the running backs and a little less with QB Jackson scrambling out the pocket. The free agency pick up of Mark Ingram certainly gives them more options in the backfield. Lamar Jackson though brings this more mobile dimension for the Ravens at Quarterback that they didn’t always have and this will be utilised too. The offensive line continues to be decent with two handy tackles in Orlando Brown and Ronnie Stanley. Marshall Yanda also continues to be one of the better guards in the game. Moving on to the tight ends and the Ravens have always loved their tight ends with guys in the past like Todd Heap, Dennis Pitta and even Shannon Sharpe. This year, I’m sure, will be no exception and with Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, first and third-round picks only a year ago and Nick Boyle resigning to a 3-year deal, offensive coordinator Greg Roman has plenty of weapons at the position. At wide receiver, I’m not going to dwell on this position as I spoke a little above and I indicated this is a young group with a couple of veterans mixed in.
My final note on the Ravens is that it would not surprise me if they find themselves at the top of the AFC North at the end of this season, but lookout, as we know the Browns are loaded and this division could be a real tussle with the Steelers in the mix too… Again thanks for taking the time to read and as all ways Go Rams!…