It’s tough to be a Ravens fan these days.
You get gut-punched on 4th-and-12 and then watch teams the following week in the playoffs that the Ravens could beat to stay alive to play one more game.
In the playoffs, anything can happen. We’ve seen it. We’ve experienced it.
But Ravens fans, and perhaps more importantly the Ravens, shouldn’t fall for the illusion that they “missed it by that much” (ala Maxwell Smart) just because one play kept them from the postseason. They should really assess how it is that they got as close as they did. This past season the Ravens:
• Had a soft schedule
• Faced few top-end quarterbacks
• Benefitted immensely by a league-leading turnover differential of +17
• Intercepted opposing QB’s 22 times
In 2018 the schedule will not be as soft. They will face quarterbacks named Carr, Brees, Roethlisberger (2), Rivers, Ryan and Newton. That alone will shrink the interception totals and naturally the turnover differential.
In other words, things won’t be so favorable in 2018. Finding the right NFL betting site with a Ravens over/under win total of more than 8 will be a challenge.
And let’s not forget that the Ravens coaching staff won’t be as strong in 2018 as it was in 2017, if for no other reason than attrition.
John Harbaugh promoted linebackers coach Wink Martindale – the next man up in the coaching ranks. And that leaves a corresponding move. To fill Martindale’s void at LB coach, Harbaugh promoted Mike Macdonald.
The 30-year old Macdonald started with the Ravens in 2014 as a coaching intern on defense. He was then promoted to defensive assistant (2015-16) and defensive backs coach (2017). Not exactly the kind of resume you’d like to see in control of a linebacker corps that didn’t exactly have a stellar season in 2017. C.J. Mosley and Patrick Onwuasor graded out as the 37th and 41st ranked inside linebackers, respectively per Pro Football Focus. And if the experienced Martindale wasn’t going to coach up the disappointing Kamalei Correa, how can anyone realistically expect Macdonald to provide a magic wand?
The thing I can not wrap my arms around is Billick went 13-3 the year before he got fired. Harbaugh just continues on the path of bland average football and stays. It just does not add up.
— David Harlak (@HarlakDavid) January 10, 2018
The Ravens were arguably the best team in the NFL by the time the playoffs rolled around in 2006. That may have been the best team the Ravens have ever fielded, finishing 13-3. Had they beaten the Colts and Patriots that season, with games coming through Baltimore, the Ravens would have faced Rex Grossman and the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.
We all know it didn’t happen. That loss to the Colts in January of 2007 was the start of a downward spiral for the Ravens. The following year they went 5-11 and at one point lost 9 straight games. It appeared as if Brian Billick had lost the locker room. A rift separated the offense and defense, exacerbated in part by having come so close the season before.
Throughout the Ravens past 5 seasons of mediocrity under Harbaugh, there’s been little evidence of a divided locker room and in part that may be what is keeping the Super Bowl 47 winning coach around.
But then again, the strong personalities – the alpha males prevalent on Billick’s roster, are scarce on the Ravens roster.
And that probably helps keep the Melba toast team together.