As a football fan, the Divisional round was amazing. Absolutely insane football this weekend. All four games were decided on the last play of the game. That’s gotta be a first. As a Ravens fan, I hated every minute of it. You’ve all heard it by now. The AFC quarterback room is loaded. We just watched two of the top defenses in the league get torched by Mahomes and Allen. Joe Burrow and the Bengals are in the AFC Championship. The road to a Super Bowl will be treacherous in the AFC for years to come.
Which leads me back to the upcoming offseason and how the Ravens could and need to be better. I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, good, bad and ugly so we’ll take a look at all of them.
Disclaimer: This is not a prediction blog. This is a look into my brain and how Ravens football fills it 98% of the time.
The Good/Wishful Thinking
The Ravens have the #14 pick in the draft and a million picks in the 3rd and 4th rounds.
This is the best spot we’ve been in since 2016 & Ronnie Stanley. We’re a damn good football team year in and year out so top 15 is not where we are accustomed to living. I like a LOT of options at this pick. Three of them happen to be Georgia players, but when discussing perhaps the best college defense of our lifetime, that should be the case. If Nakobe Dean somehow falls to us, we snatch him up and immediately have the best sideline to sideline linebacking corps in the league. Queen & Dean (c’mon they rhyme too?) flying around and making plays in space sounds phenomenal. Travon Walker and Jordan Davis would give the DLine a rejuvenation of young talent. You could go best OL available or take a guy like Sauce Gardner or Andrew Booth to shore up the CB room (we didn’t NEED a corner in 2017 either and now Marlo is All-Pro). Not to mention… 7 picks in rounds 3&4.. SEVEN. This is where the Ravens have found guys like Marshal Yanda, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown, Brandon Williams, and Za’Darius Smith over the years. I think the most likely scenario is we draft best player available at 14 and get big in the trenches with all of the depth picks. That would be an A+ draft.
Ryan Jensen reunion?
Okay so, former sixth round pick gets his bag from Tampa, wins a Super Bowl and now he’s 30 and all of a sudden the Ravens could have a need at center? Interestingggg. The Ravens have been known for a reunion or two over the years cause guys love to play here. We couldn’t afford Jensen back then, I’m sure there’s no hard feelings. But I would love to have this tough SOB anchoring the middle of our line for a few more years.
Two Safeties come to Baltimore
One active, one retired. Go get the Honey Badger. He was always supposed to be in purple. ALWAYS. I love Deshon Elliott and will certainly miss him…but go get the best safety in the game and stop messing around. It would give us the security we haven’t had since Ed Reed… speaking of which, Reed has expressed a desire to coach. He has also said he would not take less than a coordinator position. Wouldn’t ya know it? The Ravens just parted ways with their DC. BRING HIM BACK
Davante Adams a Raven?!
Okay, this one isn’t happening even if he does hit free agency, but it’s fun to think about. The Packers will probablyyyy franchise him. Not enough cap even though the cap does not matter, run first offense, all the draft capital we’ve spent on wideouts… BUUUTTT Keith Williams is the man’s private WR coach. And Tae is a Lamar guy. Longshot but I like this thought so it stays in the blog.
We get HEALTHY
This one is self explanatory right? We had one of the best rosters in football heading into the season and almost everyone got injured. We get healthy and the league is on notice again.
In recent years, we’ve extended a good bit of the team. That’s good. The bad is that as a result, we don’t currently have a ton of wiggle room. We can get there with cuts and restructures. But some of this could be bad. Marcus Peters being cut rumors? Get that trash out of here, but it still creeps in my mind. That said, I would love to restructure him, Marlo and Stanley, BUT that hurts us down the line with more guaranteed money backloaded and all three are coming off of major injury. The cap is just annoying and complicated and we’re bound to hurt someone’s feelings or have to make a tough decision.
AB to Baltimore
I could put this in the good or ugly, so I think that’s why it lands here. AB could come to Baltimore on a low-risk incentive laden deal and love playing with Lamar and his cousin Hollywood. He could be an explosive option on the outside. He could also be a locker room cancer. He will most likely be pissed at the lack of targets. He will most likely not love Harbaugh’s rules and structure. He could poison the thoughts of a ton of players regarding contracts and how the NFL is biased towards teams/owners. He could rule himself out for being hurt and not necessarily injured. He could get cut midseason and leave us high and dry. In a perfect world, AB has a clean bill of health, no off-field issues, an All-Pro season and catches the game winning TD in the Super Bowl. The perfect scenario usually has awfully low odds.
Something the Ravens have usually had a plethora of does not seem to be the case anymore. Huntley *should* get paid by a poverty franchise in need of a QB. The OL is not deep, as seen the last two seasons when Stanley went down. Mekari saved our ass by being a guy who can play all 5 positions. Project Pat Ricard is a free agent and we need a fullback to run this offense. The aging DL needs attention already. The only way Campbell and Williams come back are on sweetheart deals. Bowser may or may not be ready for the season which leaves us thin on the edge. Last but not least, our top two corners are coming off of injury, AA is set to walk in FA and Elliott is walking too. Not great Bob, not great.
WHY IS HE STILL EMPLOYED?! Because his offense has hit all of the metrics. They’re efficient. Due to Lamar? Eh nah, it’s the scheme. Give me a break. Lamar makes the offense go, not Roman. The Ravens offense has hit its ceiling just like San Francisco and Buffalo. The simplicity of his scheme safeguarded Lamar as he grew as a QB. Now to take the next step, we need a new OC. KEITH WILLIAMS PLEASE.
I mentioned it in the intro. The AFC is a GAUNTLET. The quarterback play is phenomenal and this is before Aaron Rodgers chooses the Broncos, Steelers, or Colts. Along with the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Titans and Chargers all being legit threats already. Lamar has all of the talent in the world, but I also think he’s playing against a stacked deck. I’m not here to say that the Ravens don’t have weapons or that they are not good. I am here to say that KC, Buffalo, Cincy and even Tennessee all have better weapons than us AND utilize them the way they should. The only thing keeping it close currently is Mark Andrews. Hollywood and Bateman can take another step, absolutely, but it won’t be while Roman is around.
It’s been an issue for years. We can’t generate a 4 man rush. Was it Wink? Was it the talent? Was it a combo? Idk. Judon and Z Smith have eaten after we let them walk.. that didn’t happen before Wink. Oweh showed flashes and Houston made an impact this season but now, Bowser is a huge question mark and Houston is set to hit the free agent market. We’ve needed to bring 5 and 6 guys the last couple of years to get remotely close and when QBs are making hot reads, we’re toast. I don’t recall the last time I got a telestrator highlight of a Ravens DLine stunt. It’s probably the biggest of the team’s needs right now.
It has been a foregone conclusion that Lamar will be a Raven for life. I like to subscribe to this school of thought as well. But what if he doesn’t sign? I know QBs don’t hit free agency in the NFL and all that, but what if? I think Lamar wants a record breaking deal, AND he should get it. Accolades aside, if that’s what it takes to secure your future at quarterback in the league, you do it. But what about the cap? What if Lamar is seeing everyone get paid around him, in house and around the league, and is a little disgruntled? Remember when Dez left and he posted all those videos of practice and called out the fat man and his playcalling? And then we fire Wink and keep Roman. I can’t imagine that went over well. A certain RB came into Baltimore this year who held out for a year during his prime to secure record breaking guaranteed money. A certain WR who thinks the NFL is out to get him works out with Lamar and his best friend in the summer. All I’m saying is, I could see it.
All in all, this weekend has my head spinning and there’s a good 7 months before the Ravens take the field again on September 11, 2022 but who’s counting? Not me, I’m not nervous. At all, obviously.