Putting a bow on the 2019 Baltimore Ravens season

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - JANUARY 26: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts to winning MVP Trophy after the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium on January 26, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - JANUARY 26: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts to winning MVP Trophy after the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl at Camping World Stadium on January 26, 2020 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

With the Super Bowl behind us, let’s evaluate the entirety of the Baltimore Ravens 2019 season.

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs put the finishing touches on a 2019 Super Bowl Championship when they pulled away from the San Francisco 49ers late in the fourth quarter last night resulting in a 31-20 triumph.

That officially puts an end to the 2019 NFL season though it ended for the Baltimore Ravens a little over three weeks ago when they fell 28-12 to the upstart Tennessee Titans. It left many fans disappointed in the 2019 season as a whole as the Ravens bowed out of the playoffs for the second consecutive season in their first playoff game. It didn’t help that both of those defeats at home.

Heading into the season, expectations varied for this team. I personally saw them finishing the season 8-8 or 9-7 and missing out on a return trip to the playoffs. Some had them going 10-6 and winning the AFC North for back-to-back seasons. Some even had them being the number one seed in the AFC. Fewer had them finishing below .500 this season but those people were out there.

There were a ton of unknowns heading into the season namely the improvement of Lamar Jackson. Your prediction likely centered around on how you felt the Ravens second year signal caller would progress. This was the single most important thing heading into the 2019 season for me. I wanted to walk away feeling that Jackson was a franchise quarterback. Maybe I was foolish to have doubts but I couldn’t get that Chargers season ending loss out of my head. I also couldn’t look past the fact that he seemingly had a hard time holding onto the ball and being heavily relied upon as a passer.

I can say as I have numerous times that I wasn’t optimistic on Jackson. I can also now say that I was completely wrong as I have on numerous occasions. Jackson was the unanimous MVP of the league and his status as a franchise quarterback is cemented. I am an idiot for doubting him.

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Moving on.

Others were down on the Ravens because they wondered where the defense would end up this season having lost veteran stalwarts like Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, Za’Darius Smith, Brent Urban, and C.J. Mosley in the off-season. This was a lesser concern to me but those losses did rear their ugly heads at different points throughout the season. Enter Eric DeCosta who signed inside linebackers Josh Bynes and L.J. Fort after Patrick Onwuasor, Kenny Young, and Chris Board couldn’t deliver. He executed an in-season trade for Marcus Peters to sure things up on the back-end of the secondary as well.

The need for linebackers and inside pass rushers still exists but the Ravens have proven time and time again that they have the ability to plug holes via the draft and free agency. Don Martindale sticking around as the defensive coordinator  certainly helps matters as well. Potential departures loom this off-season (Talking to you Matt Judon) but you have to feel confident the Ravens will figure out how to get things right on defense.

The other big questions were on the offensive line. Left guard and center were two positions of concern for many Flockers heading into the season, myself included. Bradley Bozeman stepped in at left guard from the start of the season and didn’t miss a beat. Center Matt Skura upped his game significantly this season before a devastating knee injury took him out of commission for the year and potentially part of next year.

But undrafted free agent, Patrick Mekari stepped in and the Ravens didn’t miss a beat rumbling to an NFL record 3,296 yards rushing. The offensive line graded out as one of the best in the league. Yes they were pushed around in the playoffs in the second consecutive season which is a concern. There’s also the impending decision from Marshal Yanda that could leave the Ravens looking a for right guard early in the NFL draft. Overall we should walk away from this season feeling better about the Ravens pieces on the offensive line than we did entering the year.

Then there was the wide receivers issue that has seemingly been carrying on for the entirety of the Ravens’ existence. DeCosta drafted Hollywood Brown with this first pick of his tenure as the GM. Many were down on the pick, insulting Brown’s size and questioning his durability given his coming off of a Lisfranc surgery. Brown was admittedly not at 100 percent all season but managed to play in 14 games amassing 46 catches for 584 yards and seven touchdowns. He looks like a stud in the making for me.

Fellow rookie, third rounder Miles Boykin, struggled at times this season but did flash some potential finishing the year with 13 catches 198 yards and three touchdown catches. The Ravens would hope that Boykin can take a leap in his second year to become a more consistent passing game threat. I am walking away from the season feeling like the Ravens have two potential difference making YOUNG pass catchers in the fold. When’s the last time you could say that?

Overall what I am getting at is that despite its ending, the 2019 Baltimore Ravens season was an overwhelming success. In the grand scheme of things, it didn’t result in a Lombardi Trophy which is the ultimate measure of success. But once you take a step back from the heat of the moment frustration, the Ravens answered most of the concerns raised about them heading into this season.

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There will be more concerns heading into next season and some of them will carry over to a certain extent. That’s the nature of the sport. But walking away from the 2019 season with the unanimous league MVP, an improved offensive line room, new defensive play-makers, and young weapons in the fold should leave the 2020 Ravens in a good spot heading into next season.