Ravens Flock- I’m taking you to task.
Now please, sit down as I tell you a little story (noting you’re likely already sitting at your desk, on your couch, or on the toilet, hiding from life).
Being a Baltimore Ravens fan in 2018 has been nothing shy of insanity, mixed with a heavy dose of infighting. While we may feel justified in our positions in these verbal spars between keyboard warriors, I’m here to tell you to stop.
Just look at the list of arguments we’ve seen as the year has progressed for our boys in purple and black…
First, we had the State of the Ravens presser. Ravens owner Steve Biscotti (best known as Stevie Biscuits) not only proclaimed his confidence in John Harbaugh despite another playoff whiff, but we also got word that Ozzie Newsome is stepping down following the 2018 season, and Eric DeCosta will step in as the new Ravens General Manager.
Fight 1: John Harbaugh is/isn’t a good coach.
Fight 2: Ozzie is/isn’t washed up.
Up next was Free Agency, where the Ravens signed a trio of wideouts: Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, and John ‘Smoke’ Brown.
Fight 3: Same old by signing more washed up vets? Or savvy under-the-radar signings?
Then of course, the biggest fight scene of the offseason: the NFL Draft.
Fight 4: Everything Lamar Jackson
Fight 5: Hayden Hurst vs Derwin James vs D.J. Moore vs Calvin Ridley
Cooler heads prevailed for a few months, as the NFL went into hibernation. And things were good. Until we hit mid-summer and this eye-rolling narrative popped up for the umpteenth year in a row:
Fight 6: Is Joe Flacco working out with his receivers?
Eventually camp kicked in, and almost instantly the Ravens got docked a practice and fined for breaking OTA rules – the 3rd such infraction since their Super Bowl-winning season in 2012 – thus recycling the same fight from earlier…
Fight 7: John Harbaugh is/isn’t a good coach.
Finally, the season is upon us. The Ravens start 3-1, and here comes LJ-based fighting again.
Fight 8: The Lamar Jackson trick pays are great/awful.
Then the loss to the Browns that was uglier than any sweater I’ve seen this holiday season, and the rumblings started…
Fight 9: Give Lamar Jackson less reps/more reps/a start.
The chatter died down following a 21-0 win over the Titans, but within the three-game skid, and into the bye week?
Fight 10: START LAMAR/FLACCO.
Due to a hip injury, that debate quickly became moot, and Lamar started the next four games while the longtime Ravens QB rehabbed his injury. During the stint, the argument shifted.
Fight 11: Flacco deserves his job back when healthy/Flacco is done.
Once healthy, Harbaugh proclaimed Lamar the starter down the stretch, effectively ending Flacco’s career in Baltimore. Of course, that’s not enough to justify an end to the fighting…
Fight 12: The Ravens are winning because of Lamar/The Defense/Strength of Schedule.
Fast forward to today, and here we sit at 9-6, Week 17 drawing near, and the Ravens once again in a win-and-in situation.
Let me say that again for the folks in the back:
THE RAVENS ARE 9-6 AND CAN CLINCH THE AFC NORTH WITH A WIN AT HOME VERSUS THE BROWNS ON SUNDAY.
Despite the team looking at a playoff spot, an AFC North title and a home game in the second season? Instead of focusing on that win-and-in scenario and supporting the team? We’re still fighting, yelling, POSTING IN ALL CAPS TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE KNOWS I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG!!
Listen, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to arguing a few (most) of these points over the course of this season, but it’s never too late to right the ship! I realized my negativity was draining me from enjoying the ride, and you can too!
My suggestion? Instead of worrying about who is right and who is wrong, or which QB should be starting, or whether or not the coach should remain with the team, or which OC is best for 2019? We need to focus on the here and now.
FOCUS. ON. WINNING.
And that focus should be the entire fanbase, pulling for their team in unity! It shouldn’t be half the fans saying Flacco is a bum, while the other half insist Lamar is going to bust. It shouldn’t be a faction of fans blaming Harbaugh for everything while others praise him for everything. It shouldn’t be eye rolling and ‘same old Ravens’ or waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Honest question here: what’s the fun in being a fan if the entirety of your being is focused on criticizing and ‘everything is awful’ mentality? Why focus all of your energy on telling everyone why a player or coach is awful? Why take to social media to blast other fans for disagreeing with your stance on this team?
I’m not saying we need to constantly wear purple-tinted glassed and pretend the team is perfect – but can we stop and smell the roses while they’re in bloom instead of waiting for them to die?
Let’s start our optimism here: I think it’s pretty remarkable that this team is where they are today, despite every uphill battle and controversial position they’ve been in this year. Just to recap:
— Stevie Biscuits proclaimed he almost fired John Harbaugh last offseason. He didn’t, and thanks to a solid team effort, Harbaugh and the team are working out an extension.
— The Ravens defense is working under a new Defensive Coordinator in Wink Martindale, who had one stint in Denver that was flat out atrocious. The hire was met with skepticism, and most fans wanted to see the return of Chuck Pagano. Wink now leads a top-3 defensive unit in nearly every category.
— The Ravens lost Jimmy Smith to a four-game suspension to start the year. Since returning the tandem of Jimmy and stud CB Marlon Humphrey has been lock-down.
— There’s been a major QB controversy in Baltimore among the fans – but never within the team. The plan started with Flacco, and shifted to Lamar due to injury. It doesn’t matter if John would’ve gone to Lamar even if Joe wasn’t injured – it only matters how it played out, and despite some uneven play at times (attributed to being a rookie and very similar to Flacco in 2008), the team has managed to win five of its last six.
— We’ve seen more crucial drops from the Ravens than I can remember in a season in some time – yes, worse than 2017!
— We had a run game that was nonexistent up until the bye week, but since the bye week? It’s been a top-3 rushing attack, and they did so by shuffling the offensive line, completely revamping their running back trio (none of whom were active or on the team to start the season), and switching QBs.
— Four of the Ravens losses are by 14 total points.
Just step back and think about that: it’s been rough, crazy, tumultuous, controversial, and sometimes infuriating to be a Ravens fan this year. It’s been tough to watch at times, and other times has us jumping out of our seats and cheering. But despite all of that? The team is once again staring their own destiny in the face, with a win-and-in scenario.
I’m no longer worried about pointing out what I think was a right or wrong move. I’m not worried about questioning the loyalty and decision making of Stevie Biscuits and John Harbaugh. I’m not worried about Lamar Jackson making rookie mistakes. I’m not worried about officiating. I’m not worried about anything happening beyond the 2018 season.
Everything that has played out this year has led to a 9-6 record and a chance to clinch a playoff birth with a win on Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns, and that’s where our focus and support needs to be.