Dear Baltimore Ravens Fans:
It’s very easy, as a Baltimore Raven fan, to get carried away by all the glamour and attention that this team has been getting. The confidence that comes with being a die-hard fan of a winning football team can become over-confidence in a heartbeat. However, this Ravens team earned the AFC North title by grinding everyday and always working to improve. No matter how well this team plays and how many records they break, the season isn’t over until someone wins the Super Bowl.
It is easy to see why many Ravens fans are becoming slightly smug, considering the generational success of this team is quite special. The one thing to remember through these playoffs is that regardless of what happened during the first 17 games, one game can change all of that.
This Baltimore team was molded thoughtfully and creatively through the draft, mid season trades, and free agent pickups. Their roster during their monster win week one in Miami is very different from the team we now know and love. After a surprising loss to Cleveland in week four (40-25) there was a big culture change that took place in both the locker room and front office. The coaches and other staff in management knew how badly this team wanted to win, so they sat down and spoke on what it takes for a 2-2 team to turn themselves around and become contenders. After that, opponents failed to beat Baltimore week after week which lead to an historic 12 game win streak; a streak that is still alive going into the playoffs.
Fans are smart to think that this is the beginning of something very special. This team has all the makings of a dynasty from any angle you look at it. You start with the obvious skill players like Lamar Jackson and Marquise Hollywood Brown; nevertheless, where this team really checks all the boxes starts from the front office. General Manager Eric DeCosta has filled Ozzie Newsome‘s shoes perfectly to a point where we rarely feel Newsome’s absence. DeCosta has proven to be as good of a GM that there is in the NFL right now.
Even though he is still involved with the organization, Newsome’s stepping down from his GM position was a huge sign of trust and confidence in DeCosta. DeCosta has since made some phenomenal moves including trades and signings that has granted fans to transfer an old saying to him: “In Eric we trust.”
Trust is one thing that is often overlooked when discussing what factors make a team truly great. Often, fans look for a great QB or defense to lead a team to the promised land. This Ravens team seemingly has it all, but no individual player or person is looking to bask in individual glory. Lamar Jackson, likely the 2019-2020 NFL MVP, has been the poster child for how to be a killer on the field yet humble off of it. He could have easily spent all season discussing how great he’s been playing and how he’s making a living off of making grown men look silly; that’s just not who he is. Lamar constantly preaches how not only he, but this team would be nowhere without their camaraderie in the locker room. When each player truly plays for one another, that is when a team becomes nearly impossible to beat. This team has it all: big goals, big work ethic, and big truss.
So why shouldn’t fans be over confident when it comes to how much success the Ravens have been having? That is simply due to the fact that truly anything can happen in a game of football. Teams have been upset in much greater fashions in the past, and the Ravens are aware of that. The good news is they had the best regular season in the NFL, so the road to the Super Bowl has to go through Baltimore. Still, when you put two teams on a field, the outcome can change with one play.
A week of rest (2 weeks for some starters) and extra time for players to rest their minds and bodies can at times come with complacency. This team needs to band up, study hard, and continue playing for one another in order to beat not only the Tennessee Titans, but to win the Super Bowl. The whole league is against us for seemingly the first time in franchise history. While Baltimore loves a good underdog story, this year the only team that can defeat the Ravens is themselves.
This style of play that the Ravens are implementing into the NFL will change the game forever. The mobile quarterback mixed with speed receivers, blocking tight ends, and a stingy defense seems to be the future of this league. Baltimore is bringing back the fullback back as well with all-pro Patrick Ricard. This team will undoubtedly change the way the league plays, scouts, and drafts. This overhaul just happened to be so smooth that the rest of the league failed to notice how special this team is until Jackson started showing up on every highlight reel. The important thing about that is the fact that although they were not necessarily treated like a threat by the rest of the league, they all knew that what they were doing was going to be special, or a revolution if you ask coach Harbaugh.
This trust and confidence in one another doesn’t happen overnight and cannot be easily replicated. It took every single player and person involved to truly believe before they could make this big of a jump. Some players had to be cut, some had to be traded, some just needed an opportunity. The test comes, however, when you begin to feel eyes on you. The team is filled with players who don’t crave the spotlight or individual glory. Many of these guys came here because they were overlooked elsewhere. Like Matthew Judon said “it’s not easy being a Raven,” It takes hard work and mental strength to succeed here. That is something that cannot be developed at will; you need a chip on your shoulder. This team as a whole has a lot to prove, but nothing is final until someone wins it all.
Ravens fans, please continue this high level of excitement you have for this team; it has truly been a magical season filled with many highs and a few lows. Just remember that playoff football is another monster in it of itself. Just ask the Saints and the Patriots. With the position the Ravens face themselves in, they are the team to beat in the AFC. Everyone wants to be the ones to come into M&T Bank Stadium and upset our squad.
As fans, we have two paths to take from here. We can take the humble high road, like Lamar, and let their game do the talking. Or we can let the confidence get to our heads and be made a fool of. Either way, the only thing we can do now is sit back and watch how the playoffs pan out. We can only hope that the Lombardi trophy gets hoisted by our team and comes back to Baltimore.