Third and Long: A Change Will Do Some Good (Hopefully)

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Ch-Ch-Ch Changes, turn and face the strange.

Change isn’t an unusual circumstance in today’s NFL.

If you take a look at where the Baltimore Ravens were a year ago you’ll notice just how much different this team will be as the first snaps of practice are taken this week. Former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco was under center, the Ravens defense was looking at putting together a special season with veterans Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle leading the charge behind leading tackler C.J. Mosley and Alex Collins was hoping to build off a strong rookie season as the team’s top rusher.

All of the above are now gone.

It should be safe to say that 2018 was a huge success for Baltimore. Rookie first-rounder Lamar Jackson took the reigns from an injured Flacco and never let go, helping spur the group to six out of seven victories and the franchise’s first AFC North title in six years. A playoff letdown against the Chargers at home had fans grumbling and wondering aloud about a Flacco-less future for the first time in a decade.

While the team lost several fan favorites the franchise didn’t stand pat and brought in proven players like Mark Ingram II and arguably the league’s best Safety in Earl Thomas while drafting “Hollywood” Brown and Jaylen Ferguson to help spark both sides of the ball.

Will all this change yield the same result for the Ravens in 2019?

We won’t have the answer until hopefully February but the journey is why we’re here. Isn’t it?

  1. Lamar’s Team– Jackson was THE topic of discussion on social media this off-season. After soaring the last half of the season the Jackson hype train landed with a thud in the playoffs. For many it was validation that the rookie still had a long way to go and that the gimmicky offense installed by Ravens coaches would ultimately flop against better defenses. The loss obscured many positives in Jackson’s first season as a pro. In his first season he surpassed expectations and provided the Baltimore offense of something it’s been lacking far too long, an electric playmaker who creates excitement when he steps on the field. Unsurprisingly, he struggled with ball security and his mechanics on short throws were spotty. Still his future appears bright as he’s demonstrated a willingness to work over the off-season, shown accountability in interviews and exhibits a confidence that quarterbacks need to have to be successful in this league. Greg Roman’s offense should include plenty of play-action, quarterback reads and shots downfield. It should be an unpredictable attack. It should be fun. Can you imagine that? Since the pre-season is a time of hope why wouldn’t you place yourself firmly behind of the league’s most exciting players and hope for the best?
  2.  Offensive-Minded-Its clear that the Ravens brass wanted to build around young Lamar and provide him with a variety of Offensive weapons. (Joe Flacco looks on and sighs.) The Tight End group is deep and talented with Mark Andrews leading the way along with dependable Nick Boyle. Hayden Hurts was almost a forgotten man as he battled through injuries on a weekly basis. (Just realized I didn’t write Hurst and kept it anyway) He is healthy now and looks even stronger than he did at this point last camp. Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, and Kenneth Dixon form a more than respectable group at running back. Receiver, as always is the question mark. Marquise Brown hopes to provide a threat to score at any time but he’s still recovering from foot surgery this February. Willie Snead was a good possession man in the slot but he remains the only proven commodity at the position. Miles Boykin, Jaleel Scott, Chris Moore, Antoine Wesley, Joe Horn Jr. and list goes on. Will any of these men step up and give Baltimore a consistent set of hands to throw to? Give them a shot at least and please don’t sign Allen Hurns.
  3.  Defensive General?– The team lost a lot of production and personality this off-season. (I get confused looking at Terrell Suggs in any Arizona swag.) However Earl Thomas was a huge get to fill that void on both counts. Questions remain about his durability coming off a broken leg from last season. When he was on the field he was the glue that held the Legion of Boom together. Thomas should still have plenty left and he seems rejuvenated by the move. His leadership will be necessary as the Ravens defense transitions into a new season. On a personal note anyone who flips of Pete Carroll in public automatically gains favor with me.

 

 

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