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The 2019 Baltimore Ravens are under new management on the field and off, with longtime quarterback Joe Flacco moving onwards while second-year man Lamar Jackson takes over under center, and general manager Ozzie Newsome retiring (finally) with his old job going to his assistant Eric DeCosta.
Some major themes in Baltimore these days are speed, youth, and inexpensive talent, and DeCosta has let go of some of his costlier players and drafted their cheaper replacements (or so he hopes) with the goal of surrounding Jackson with a young roster he can grow with.
But the AFC North has gotten more competitive lately so there may be some growing pains during the 2019 season for Baltimore, and we take a look at some of the offseason moves the Ravens have made plus the odds and predictions of their 2019 season.
For the first time since 2012, the Baltimore Ravens won their division in 2018, posting a 10-6 record after starting the season off 4-5, but were taken out of the playoffs when they lost the Wild Card game to the Los Angeles Chargers 23-17.
The main reason the struggling Ravens went on a 6-1 tear to end the season was because of a hip injury to veteran quarterback Joe Flacco during the Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers forced head coach Jim Harbaugh to start rookie Lamar Jackson.
At 22-years of age, Jackson, who general manager Ozzie Newsome had traded up to get during the draft, became the youngest NFL quarterback to ever start a playoff game.
The 2018 Baltimore Ravens had the number one defense and by the end of the season, their offense was ranked ninth, but many of those starters have moved on due to free agency or trades so new general manager Eric DeCosta has begun a trend towards finding more inexpensive and youthful players to surround Jackson.
The only reason the Baltimore Ravens switched general managers at the end of last season was because their longtime (and the first-ever African American) general manager Ozzie Newsome decided to finally retire.
After retiring from his own NFL career, Newsome had been a front office executive with his old team the Cleveland Browns starting in 1991 and then made the switch with the team to Baltimore when the Browns were sold in 1996 and worked his way up the ladder there.
Newsome was replaced by his assistant, Eric DeCosta, at the end of last season and DeCosta has hit the ground running by trading away veteran quarterback Joe Flacco and retooling the team around Jackson.
The strategy that the Ravens will use in 2019 will most likely be an extension of the one that got them on a 6-1 run at the end of the season, which was to take advantage of Jackson’s speed and maneuverability to run the ball and revolve the offense around the run-pass option (RPO).
Add to that the deep threat that DeCosta just drafted in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and the Ravens’ potential offense under newly promoted coordinator Greg Roman becomes tricky to anticipate, let alone stop.
The loss of wide receiver John Brown, safety Eric Weddle and linebackers C.J. Mosely, Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs to free agency will leave some big holes to fill, but drafting Brown and acquiring free agent safety Earl Thomas is certainly a great way to start.
Middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who signed a five-year contract with the New York Jets for $85 million with $51 million of that guaranteed.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals for $10 million, with $7 million of that is guaranteed.
Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who signed with the Green Bay Packers, receiving a four-year, $66 million deal, with $20 million of that guaranteed.
What have been the Ravens’ key free agent pick-ups this offseason?
Free safety Earl Thomas, who agreed to a four-year, $55 million contract, with $32 million of that guaranteed.
Running back Mark Ingram, who signed a three-year, $15 million deal with $6.5 million of that guaranteed.
Cornerback / special teams Justin Bethel, who took a two-year, $4 million deal with $1 million of that guaranteed.
Offense: wide receiver, interior line
Defense: Pass rusher, linebacker, cornerback, safety
The Ravens ended up with 8 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they were:
Over the last decade, the Baltimore Ravens have been to the playoffs six times, including their Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 by a score of 34-31.
Of those other five postseason appearances, the Ravens lost in the Divisional round three times (2009, 2010 and 2014) and lost the AFC Championship in 2011 and in the Wild Card Game in 2018.
Since the Ravens started as an NFL franchise in 1996, they have also won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000, when they beat the New York Giants by a score of 34-7 and Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis took home the Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Oddsmakers are not very optimistic that a second-year quarterback (that teams have had an entire offseason to watch film on) can lead a roster that has been so heavily re-worked, with fourteen other teams having an equal or better chance of bringing home the Lombardi Trophy in 2019.
However, there is a lot of excitement in Baltimore because for the first time in twelve seasons Joe Flacco won’t be under center causing recent doubts and the new possibilities that Jackson brings with him have Ravens fans predicting some 2019 upsets.
Can Lamar Jackson maintain his physical approach to the game of football and remain healthy, or will he take too many hits trying to stretch for yards?
Will the rebuilt defense have the same devastating effect on opponents or will the new model have too many holes in it to be effective?
How effective will running back Mark Ingram be in his first NFL season ever not in a New Orleans Saints’ uniform?
Does Marquise Brown have the breakaway speed necessary to beat NFL corners?
It will be a season of proving for the Baltimore Ravens, both on the field and in the front office, but the reformatting franchise seems to be making all the right offseason moves to put them in a position to succeed.
Baltimore Ravens Postseason
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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