It will take a few days, weeks, perhaps even a month or two for the Ravens to pick up the pieces from their disappointing divisional playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans.
A record-setting, 17-week season went up in a puff a smoke in less than four hours.
After the game, some of the Ravens were shell-shocked, others expressed optimism for the future and several players might have said their final goodbyes.
Welcome to the offseason.
Lamar Jackson will again be the most scrutinized player on the roster. It’s difficult to discount the season he had for the Ravens and he’ll likely win the league MVP.
However, Jackson is already facing questions about his ability to win a playoff game. Perhaps, people should be talking about his ability to make the postseason in his first two seasons.
That was Jackson’s sentiment moments after the loss to Tennessee.
“I don’t really care about what they say,” Jackson said. “This is my second year in the league. Many people aren’t able to bring it to the playoffs. I’ve got a great team with me. I don’t really worry about what people say. We’re just going to keep going … and get ready for next year.”
Jackson had three turnovers — two interceptions and a lost fumble — and was sacked four times. He did pick up some big yards in the second half when the Titans went to their prevent defense.
Jackson was 31-of-59 for 365 yards with two interceptions. He also ran for 143 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. That’s 508 yards of total offense for Jackson; the Ravens had a total of 530 yards. Baltimore’s high-powered offense was held to one touchdown and two field goals.
The Ravens are not worried about Jackson. He took a major step forward from his rookie year to his second season, and his work ethic should pave the way for even more improvement.
“Lamar played with heart and guts and courage, and he competed like he always does,” Harbaugh said. “And that’s what you ask for. He laid it all out there, just like all our guys did. As a coach, that’s what you hope for. Everything else, you work on. But that’s who he is. That’s who all our guys are. I’m proud of him and that’s it.”
Domata Peko: “I think they have a bright future here in Baltimore … Stick with the team.” pic.twitter.com/WcwDNxz8JN
— Sean Grogan (@Sean_CecilWhig) January 12, 2020
Other players were much more critical of the team’s performance.
Cornerback Marlon Humphrey said the Ravens deserved the backlash that comes with the No. 1 seed losing to a sixth-seeded team for the first time since 2010. When asked how this year’s Ravens team should be remembered, Humprhey replied: “As losers, I guess. We just lost, so that is how I will remember it.”
Humphrey acknowledged the 2020 Ravens will have a different look than this past year’s team. And with change comes uncertainty.
“I see it as this was a good team. But next year’s team will not be the same,” Humphrey said. “Last year’s team was not this team. Every team is different. I would not really say, ‘How is this team…’ I think this team is done. Some players will go, some players will stay. Through this offseason, we will come back, and see who the 2020-21 Ravens are.”
Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has some big decisions with 16 players set to become free agents. Some of those most notable players include linebackers Matthew Judon, Pernell McPhee and Josh Bynes, defensive tackles Michael Pierce, Jihad Ward and Domata Peko and defensive backs Jimmy Smith and Anthony Levine.
“I love it in Baltimore,” said Judon, who led the team with 9.5 sacks. “I told y’all this every time y’all ask. I’m appreciative of DeCosta, of Ozzie, of Coach ‘Harbs’ giving me an opportunity. They trusted in me starting for the last three years. They gave me a bigger portion this year as my role on the team, and I’m forever grateful to them.
“But ultimately, that’s a decision that comes from them and me. We have to sit down and talk about some things and my agency. We have to see, but for the last four years and this whole year, I couldn’t ask for anything else.”