Lamar Jackson had a message for Ravens fans after winning the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award.
“We didn’t get what we wanted, but we got one of them,” Jackson said.
He was, of course, referring to the team falling short of winning a Super Bowl last season. Instead, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.
Jackson made his initial proclamation of bringing a Super Bowl back to Baltimore just minutes after he selected by the Ravens with the 32nd overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 27, 2018
Jackson has not backed away from those comments. In fact, he has further embraced the challenge of winning a Super Bowl.
Jackson has lost the first two playoff games of his young career, which has brought some scrutiny. Jackson led the Ravens to victories in six of the final seven games of the 2018 season, but they were knocked out in the wild-card round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Chargers, a team they had beaten just two weeks prior.
The Ravens won a franchise-record 12 straight games this past season and earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs as the top seed in the AFC. The Ravens then lost to the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the postseason.
Both Jackson and coach John Harbaugh dismissed the playoff criticism.
“He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than [presumed 2020 #1 overall pick] Joe Burrow,” Harbaugh said. “So, he has a pretty good head start right now. He’s along the way. The Manning brothers combined to, they had five losses in their first five playoff games before they won one. [Joe] Montana, [Steve] Young and [Brett] Favre didn’t start a playoff game until their third season, [Drew] Brees and [Troy] Aikman, until their fourth season, and [Aaron] Rodgers until his fifth season. Interesting.
“So, everybody is different, right? But I’m really confident in Lamar and his understanding the things he needs to do to get better, and that he’s going to work really hard to keep building himself up as a player.”
The Ravens have the pieces in place to make a run at the Super Bowl next season. In fact, they are already one of the preseason favorites, according to the prognosticators in Las Vegas.
Harbaugh, who was named the NFL Coach of the Year, is confident moving forward. His entire staff will be back next season, including offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year. Defensive coordinator Don Martindale, who interviewed for the head-coaching vacancy with the New York Giants, will also be back in Baltimore.
The Ravens also have a young roster that remain mostly intact with the potential exception of a few high-profile veterans such as linebacker Matt Judon, defensive tackle Michael Pierce and cornerback Jimmy Smith.
General manager Eric DeCosta currently has $21.3 million in salary cap space to pursue free agents, per RSR’s Brian McFarland. The Ravens can create more room by releasing a couple of veterans on the current roster.
It’s no secret the Ravens need to add an effective pass rusher, a veteran wide receiver, depth for the offensive line and a linebacker this offseason. Harbaugh is confident the Ravens have the wherewithal to fill those holes and defend their AFC North title.
“We have a few more resources in front of us right now,” Harbaugh said. “We have good draft resources; we have great cap resources that we haven’t had in the past. So, we have a chance to build our roster in a way that we haven’t been able to maybe in the last large number of years.
“Then, because we have our quarterback in place, and because we have our defensive and offensive systems in place, it is pretty straightforward where we want to go, roster-wise.”