With the Ravens sitting at 2-6 and headed towards their first losing season since 2007, things need to be re-evaluated. For a team that is used to consistent success, something has definitely gone awry in 2015. A couple of bad drafts, some swings and misses in free agency and some bad cap management have all caught up with the Ravens. We’re all used to the playoffs and despite a watered down AFC in 2015 the Ravens will be sitting at home (no matter what John Harbaugh says). I don’t blame him for his egregious optimism and no one should, any head coach who has any other outlook probably shouldn’t be a head coach. That’s the bad news.
The good news though is despite how gut-wrenching 2015 has been, the Ravens won’t be in re-building mode following the season. There is no need to blow the whole thing up like the Lions did last week and like the Browns will probably do after the season. There is likely no one within the Ravens organization who doesn’t have the utmost confidence the team can get back to their winning ways in 2016, and unlike this year’s playoff prediction, that confidence is well founded.
That foundation all starts with Joe Flacco. Joe has his critics, and I am self admittedly at times one of them. He seems to go into a coma for long stretches of games, his back-foot throws are maddening and he’s had some bad turnovers this year. But when surrounded with the right weapons Joe has already proven he can take a team to the highest level. Negotiations between the Ravens and Flacco’s agent Joe Linta could be tricky this offseason, given the Ravens down year, but they will find a middle ground. Flacco may be overpaid based on his average stats, but numbers aren’t everything. Quarterbacks like Andy Dalton may know how to light up the scoreboard in November but there’s a reason Flacco has the nickname January Joe.
The Ravens front office and coaching staff are one of the steadiest groups in all of football. Both John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome have had their struggles this past year. Newsome has missed badly on free agents like Kyle Arrington, Eugene Monroe and Kendrick Lewis, and Harbaugh has struggled with clock management, poorly timed special teams fakes and in-game adjustments. However, they have both garnered a reputation as two of the best at what they do and one bad season certainly does not change that. Despite some calling for them both to be on the first train out of Baltimore they will both be back in 2016, and likely more motivated than ever to prove that 2015 was nothing more than a hiccup on otherwise stellar resumes.
Aside from the continuity at the GM, head coach and quarterback position, the Ravens have young talent on both sides of the ball. Players like Brandon Williams, C.J Mosley, Timmy Jernigan and Jimmy Smith provide the defense with a young and athletic core to build around. While there are more question marks around the young talent on offense, there’s a good chance that Breshad Perriman and Maxx Williams will both have much bigger impacts in 2016. Most tight ends, even the really good ones, are rarely impact players in year one. The Perriman situation has been frustrating for sure, but his sheer speed and size alone will be a challenge for opposing defenses once he is healthy.
Combine these building blocks with potentially the Ravens’ highest draft pick since 2008 and there a lot of reasons to believe that the Ravens can right the ship quickly, and possibly as early as next season.
2015 has been tough and it’s been a failure on many fronts, and the Ravens roster has some gaping holes that will certainly make for a challenging offseason. But considering the track record of those involved they should get a mulligan for the 2015 season that they shanked off the tee. There’s certainly no reason to hit the reset button with such a solid foundation already in place.
Follow me on Twitter @ryanpjones82.