The Ravens dropped to 4-4 Sunday afternoon, in what might be their most disappointing loss of this season. Losing 36-21 and now dropping three of their last four games. The team very much looked unrecognizable. The pass rush that led the league in sacks was no where to be found. Quarterback Cam Newton went virtually untouched thru four quarters. The top ranked defense that was atop of the NFL heading into the day gave up nearly 400 yards, giving up two passing touchdowns and two on the ground. The offense struggled as well and didn’t look much better than the defense. Having three turnovers, one on a fumble where Alex Collins could barely get the handoff before the rush got there. The other two came on two very questionable throws by Joe Flacco, throws a vet like him shouldn’t be throwing in year 11.
After the game finally concluded, there was a feeling that every Raven fan probably felt after the clock hit triple zeros: Is this team destined to go 8-8 or 9-7 and miss the playoffs yet again, for the fourth straight year? And if that does happen, what actions will follow? I think if that does happen, and looking at the teams remaining schedule, its too far off predicting that kind of outcome, we very well could be watching the end of an era, in more ways than one. We already know that Ozzie Newsome will be stepping down when this season comes to a close. But when Eric DeCosta takes over will he choose to part ways with Head Coach John Harbaugh and decide to move forward with a head coach of his choosing? Since winning the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2013, this team has certainly seen its share of struggling over the last five years. And it starts with the head coach. John Harbaugh’s contract will be up in 2019 and if the team fails to reach the playoffs for the fourth straight year, its hard picturing owner Steve Bisciotti signing off on giving him an extension. After all, he did consider giving him the axe in 2018. If the team reaches the same outcome that it did in 2017, Bisciotti might come to the conclusion that it’s time for the team to move in another direction and part ways.
Harbaugh might not be the only piece that the Ravens and the front office will decide to move on from. As we all know, Ozzie Newsome traded up in April’s draft to select quarterback Lamar Jackson. Eric DeCosta could see it’s also time to move forward with their future under center. And decide to part ways with former Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco. Since winning the Super Bowl, Flacco just hasn’t lived up to that very generous contract extension that was given to him. Part of that is the front offices fault as well for failing to give him any young talent to work with over the past five years. They still will have to consider moving on from him and his crippling cap hit. As they can save 18.5 million on the 2019 cap, if they cut Flacco after June 1st. Which is something the front office will surely have to consider because that kind of money is something that will certainly be needed over the next couple of years.
Someone else that might be in that boat is cornerback Jimmy Smith. Who many speculated could be a cut after the 2018 season before it even began. And with the way he has been playing, it wouldn’t surprise many people. Since coming back from his suspension he’s given up 12 receptions on 15 targets for 182 yards and a touchdown. This year, he just hasn’t been the lockdown corner that he once was. With Marlon Humphrey playing the way he has, DeCosta could very well move on from Smith and his 16-million-dollar cap hit in 2019. Cutting Jimmy Smith and Joe Flacco could free up to 28 million dollars. And for a new general manager, he could see those figures and want to have that kind of money to splurge either this offseason or the next.
The next three games will determine the Ravens 2018 season. It could also determine whether or not some players and coaches keep their jobs here in Baltimore in 2019. The last couple of games have made it difficult for the teams fanbase to see them make it back to the playoffs. When a team shows you who they are, believe them. And this squad just hasn’t shown to be a team bound for playoff contention this year. And if they don’t, expect things to change this upcoming offseason.