The season is officially over for the Baltimore Ravens after they fell to 8-8 with a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2016 season was a roller coaster of emotions for Baltimore, one that started with high potential then ended with heartbreak. Ultimately, the Ravens are on the outside of the post season looking in for the second straight season.
Although this season did not end with a playoff berth, it shouldn’t be viewed as a total disappointment. Baltimore was spoiled for the first five years of the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era with three AFC championship appearances and a Super Bowl.
In 2015, Harbaugh and Flacco suffered their first losing season together because of injuries and a lack of play-makers across the board.
This past offseason, the Ravens’ Front Office set out to make major changes for this team. Most moves were positive, and resulted in a three-win increase from 2015. Albeit, Baltimore left a few wins on the field throughout the season, leaving fans with a feeling that this season could’ve gone much better.
Before the Week Eight Bye, Baltimore started the season with three consecutive wins, followed by four consecutive losses. Eric Weddle said it best when he stated that Baltimore could’ve easily started the season out 6-0 or 0-6. Each game went to the wire, and could have gone either way in every contest.
Baltimore went 5-4 down the stretch, and usually followed up encouraging performances with disappointing losses (@Dallas, @New England, and @Cincinnati). In hind-sight, this squad improved on their dreadful 2015 performance, and this season can be viewed as a bridge between rebuilding phases.
Baltimore improved in many phases this year. They improved their offensive line by drafting Ronnie Stanley and Alex Lewis. The secondary was remade with the additions of Eric Weddle and Tavon Young, as well as moving Lardarius Webb to free safety. The defense tied for the league lead in interceptions (18) after recording only 6 in 2015. Inserting linebacker Zachary Orr next to Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley gives Baltimore its best inside linebacking duo since Ray Lewis and Bart Scott. Finally, the encouraging young duo of Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon deserve to be a staple in this offense going forward. That is, assuming they hire an Offensive Coordinator who will run the ball consistently.
As well as improving in many areas, there were still weaknesses left on this team. Although the offensive line improved, the play-calling did not. The Offensive Coordinating duo of Marc Trestman/Marty Mornhinweg held Flacco’s offense back all year. The offense led the league in passing attempts, while ranking 30th in rushing attempts. Flacco is unsuccessful when he is forced to throw the ball 40+ times per game. The offense had troubles in the redzone all year, and consistently dealt with turnovers and penalties at the worst possible moments.
On defense, the lack of a pass rush was evident all year. It affected the defense late in many games and allowed many offenses to shred Baltimore’s secondary in the 4th quarter. Baltimore tied for 24th in the league with 31 sacks. Terrell Suggs led the team with 8 sacks, while playing with a torn biceps for much of the year, but could not get much help elsewhere from his younger counterparts. Timmy Jernigan started the year with a hot streak, but fizzled down the stretch and ended with only 5 sacks. Rookie Matt Judon showed flashes of brilliance with 4 sacks, but must improve on consistency going forward. Pass rushers will be a big need in 2017.
Overall, Baltimore made positive strides in 2016 after a terrible 2015, and played meaningful football until Christmas day. Baltimore hit on most of its draft picks and free agent acquisitions, with many new faces making contributions this year. If the Ravens can bring in another draft class or two like this year’s class, combined with a few solid veteran contributors, they will find themselves back where they are most comfortable: the post season.
Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Posts Perfect Passer Rating
Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback continues to make a strong argument for MVP honors this season, and Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals only strengthened his case.
Jackson became the second player in NFL history to produce a perfect passer rating (158.3) in multiple games in a single season, joining Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who accomplished the feat twice back in 2007.
Jackson posted a perfect rating in the Ravens’ season opening victory against the Miami Dolphins, becoming the sixth player in league history to post perfect ratings in multiple career games.
Jackson fueled the Ravens’ rout of the winless Bengals on Sunday, a game that resulted in a 49-13 final score.
“I’m a quarterback at the end of the day,” Jackson said, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “I want to prove that each and every day I go out and practice. I treat it like it’s a game. If I miss a pass at practice, I’m ticked off.”
“I mean, jeez, you go out there and he’s whipping the ball and putting it in awesome spots,” Ravens tight end Nick Boyle said. “You saw his awesome passes today. That’s something he can do that people don’t think he can do or didn’t think he could do. That’s what makes him so dangerous. He could do everything.”
Jackson entered the 2019 season with plenty of questions regarding if he could be the long-term NFL quarterback for the Ravens, given his style of play.
Jackson has answered those questions, and then some.
“He’s one of the most exciting players I’ve ever seen,” Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said. “(He’s) dynamic. I’m interested to see what teams do down the road here to stop him, because he certainly is hitting on all cylinders right now.”
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Ravens’ Earl Thomas Celebrates Victory Over Seahawks
Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas was extra motivated when playing his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday, and the victory over Seattle meant a little bit more than a normal regular season win.
Thomas spent his first nine seasons with the Seahawks, including their Super Bowl championship back in 2014, but had a rather sour departure from the team, highlighted by a rift with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
Thomas and the Ravens won the game 30-16 at CenturyLink Field.
“I definitely came in here with a purpose, and we got it done,” Thomas said following the game, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
While Thomas had his issues with his former head coach, he has the utmost respect for his former teammate, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has the same respect for Thomas.
“I hold Earl in high regard, man,” Wilson said. “I really love him. Just how much he’s meant to my family, his family and everything else, and what that means and then also just to the Seahawks organization and what he’s meant … he played really good today, he played great, he was battling out there, back-and-forth … Earl’s one of the best to ever do it.”
Throughout the game Thomas could be seen talking trash to the Seahawks sideline.
“You knew I was going to say something,” Thomas said. “I definitely said what I had to say. It was between me and them.”
Thomas played a big part in keeping the Seahawks offense in check, chipping in five tackles of his own, in an impressive, and convincing victory.
“Earl had a great game,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “And it meant a lot to Earl. Earl didn’t have much to say. He just wanted to go ‘do.’ I think he played great. No big plays. Nothing over the top, Earl and Chuck both. Earl was back there, patrolling the back end. A couple of critical tackles. I mean, sometimes you forget about the safety when he’s doing his job so well.”
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Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Says ‘I hate running’; I’d rather pass
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson worked all offseason to change the perception of him that he is a running quarterback, intent on changing the narrative about his style of play and vowing that he would be running less.
Three games into the season and Jackson is showing his preference of throwing as opposed to taking off for a run.
“I hate running,” Jackson said, according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley. “Only if I have to, but my job is to get the ball to the receivers, the tight ends, running backs. If I have to run, I’ll do it, but I’d rather just sit back and pass it. I like throwing touchdowns instead of running them.”
Thus far this season, Jackson is averaging 33 passes and just nine rushes per game, which is a considerable drop from his 17 carries per game during his rookie season.
Jackson did tuck the ball and run for a score during Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, but he insists that running the ball was his only option on the play.
“I only could run it. There was no one open,” Jackson said. “I had to make him miss. I’m one-on-one. I like my chances over anyone one-on-one.
Currently, Jackson is on pace for over 900 yards on the ground, and his ability to create highlight-reel runs often amazes his teammates.
“He’s wild, man. He’s amazing,” Ravens’ running back Mark Ingram said. “I don’t think there is anything like him in the league, as far as just extending plays and being able to juke defenders. He’s special. He can extend plays and buy time for us to get open, receivers to get open, or him take off and run at the last resort and juke people, spin around people, make people fall.”
But even more impressive than his production on the ground has been Jackson’s improvement as a passer, and he carries a 113.9 passer rating s the Ravens enter their Week 4 tilt against the division-rival Cleveland Browns.
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