Ravens are having season they were supposed to have last year
The Baltimore Ravens came into this year off a 14-2 season. They did this thing backward:
The Baltimore Ravens went 14-2 on the tailwind of one of the most magical times in franchise history. Despite the playoff loss, that was one glorious time to be a Ravens fan. That came out of nowhere and it wasn’t really supposed to happen. Not like that.
This year it feels like the Ravens are back to reality. They’re still a good football team. It really hasn’t been that bad of a year, despite one brutal stretch, we could be talking about an 11-5 record and a playoff spot. It wasn’t 2019 level glory, but it was more rewarding than it was punishing. If last year was a dream, Baltimore just woke up to reality.
The Ravens weren’t expected to be one of the top two or three teams in the NFL in the 2019 season. It just happened. Lamar Jackson developed into one of the most electric playmakers in the NFL, the Ravens traded for Marcus Peters and straight-up dominated in almost every single game. Last year was Madden. This year isn’t being played in franchise mode, but the real world.
The 2019 Ravens stayed mostly healthy and injury-free. Outside of Tavon Young going down for the year and a few notable exceptions it was a huge advantage for the 2019 squad. You can’t say things didn’t break Baltimore’s way last year.
The 2020 Ravens had to deal with an outbreak of the global pandemic in their facilities. Injuries have been much more problematic in 2020. In addition to losing Young again, Ronnie Stanley and Nick Boyle have been out for a while and will be out the remainder of the season.
If the Ravens make the playoffs, and maybe even make a run in said playoffs, this season isn’t nearly as bad as it may have felt like it was. If the Ravens came into this season with 2019 preseason expectations, our perspective through the year would have been drastically changed.
Most people knew that this year wouldn’t be quite the same, but 13-3 or 12-4 was the generally predicted result. The 2019 Ravens didn’t deal with growing pains from Lamar Jackson. He skipped over a step, going from new franchise quarterback to superstar in a blink of an eye.
This year, Jackson was pressing at first. This actually makes a lot of sense, he was faced with the impossible task of following up his MVP season. Jackson was more reserved as a runner and more eager to show he could be a pocket passer. When he finally started playing his game, things took off again.
Getting to the point:
The 2019 season showed us that John Harbaugh has something special to work with. Jackson is incredible and unique. The core group of talent is young and special. The 2020 season is the team growing up, dealing with adversity and, learning lessons they could ignore on their 12 game winning streak.
Losing teaches lessons in sports that winning allows you to ignore. The playoff loss to the Titans always kind of felt like a fluke. It was a “How does that even happen” kind of moment. The Ravens had a seemingly easy 2020 schedule and returned mostly the same roster. The magic was still alive, right?
That was all too easy to believe, especially after a 6-2 start to the year. Magical runs always end. Sometimes they end in a Super Bowl victory like in 2012 or the 2000 season. Last year’s magic started too early. It feels like a sort of 2020 magic may be starting to heat up and come into fruition for Baltimore. If my hypothesis is correct, and this team really did grow up this season, the way they probably should have a year ago, they may win it all.