2019 NFL Season Preview- Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens looked like a middle of the pack team at the midway mark, but finished the year as strong as any team.
After a 4-5 start to the season, Baltimore finished the year 6-1 and won the AFC North. However they lost in the wildcard round at home to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Quarterback Joe Flacco began the season as the starter before dealing with a hip injury midseason. Running back Kenneth Dixon played just six games due to a knee injury. Buck Allen was active for all but two games but didn't amount to much while Ty Montgomery had less than 200 yards from scrimmage in six games. Tight end Nick Boyle had a solid season blocking and receiving and Maxx Williams played well down the stretch. The wide receiver's production declined in the ladder half of the year. Michael Crabtree was the most targeted receiver but had just 52 receptions and struggled with drops. Willie Snead led the team in catches with 62 for 651 yards and a score. John Brown had 42 receptions for 715 yards and five touchdowns. The offensive line thrived in the running game but struggled in the playoff game against the Chargers. Tackle James Hurst and left guard Alex Lewis struggled with injuries.
The defense was dominant against the run and finished first overall in yards allowed. Nose tackle Michael Pierce emerged as the top playmaker on the defensive line while Brent Urban brought physicality to the unit. Willie Henry was poised for a big season before landing on injured reserve with a back injury. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has played more games than any player in team history and finished with seven sacks. Patrick Onwuasor and Matthew Judon had solid seasons while Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams have been largely disappointments. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey has developed into one of the league's top shutdown corners. Jimmy Smith bounced back from a torn Achilles and was productive for much of the season. Brandon Carr was effective overall and Tavon Young was solid as the nickel corner. Safety Tony Jefferson was solid with a career high six pass deflections.
The Ravens consistently have one of the best special teams units in the league. Punter Sam Koch is widely considered one of the best in the league and nailed 27 kicks inside the 20. Long snapper Morgan Cox has been a mainstay since 2010. Return specialist Cyrus Jones brought a spark to the return game after he was released by New England and scored a 70-yard punt return touchdown.
The team had four Pro Bowlers in guard Marshal Yanda, nose tackle Brandon Williams, inside linebacker CJ Mosley, and safety Eric Weddle while Yanda and Mosley were named second team All-Pro and kicker Justin Tucker was named first team All-Pro. Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game even after missing most of 2017 with an ankle injury. Williams started all 16 games and finished with 34 tackles and one sack but was uneven overall. Mosley made his fourth Pro Bowl after registering 105 tackles and an interception. Weddle made his sixth Pro Bowl despite not having an interception on the year. Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history and has made more field goals than any other kicker since entering the league in 2012.
The top end of the rookie class made an immediate impact on the team. Tight end Hayden Hurst was injured in training camp and never got back on track. Quarterback Lamar Jackson took over for Joe Flacco midseason and led all NFL quarterbacks with 695 rushing yards but struggled to throw the ball downfield. Tackle Orlando Brown became the starter after Week 6 and didn't allow a sack in the regular season. Tight end Mark Andrews overcame an injury filled camp to become one of the team's top playmakers. Cornerback Anthony Averett was undersized, but worked his way into the rotation. Linebacker Kenny Young earned playing time as a reserve and finished fifth on the team with 51 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Undrafted running back Gus Edwards helped the Ravens rack up the most total net yards in a single season as he emerged as the starter in the second half of the season.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After the 10-6 season, head coach John Harbaugh signed a four year contract extension, keeping him with the team through the 2022 season. 2019 will also be the first with general manager Ozzie Newsome who announced that 2018 would be his last. Long time assistant Eric DeCosta was hired as the new general manager while Newsome does plan to stay with the team as an advisor.
After the season, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was let go. The team then hired the team's assistant head coach and tight ends coach Greg Roman to be the new offensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- RB Mark Ingram, WR Michael Floyd, WR Seth Roberts, LB Pernell McPhee, LB Shane Ray, CB Justin Bethel, S Earl Thomas
Notable Departures- QB Joe Flacco, RB Buck Allen, RB Ty Montgomery, RB Alex Collins, WR Michael Crabtree, WR John Brown, TE Maxx Williams, DE Brent Urban, LB CJ Mosley, LB Terrell Suggs, S Eric Weddle
Ravens 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Holding the 22nd overall pick in the draft, the Ravens have to bolster their roster if they want to make a deep playoff run. They need to make upgrades at wide receiver, offensive lineman, and safety.
The team signed two receivers in free agency, but the team still needs a speedy receiver who can get behind the defense and help Lamar Jackson get the ball downfield.
The offensive line fell apart in the playoffs. The team needs improvements at left guard and center to help protect Jackson.
The team signed Earl Thomas but he's 30 and coming off a broken leg. The secondary needs playmakers when they face Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, and Baker Mayfield twice a year.
On draft day, Baltimore traded back with Philadelphia so the Eagles could draft Andre Dillard. So with the 25th overall pick, the Ravens selected Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. Brown has the best release of any receiver prospect this year, but is painfully thin with not much room for added muscle mass.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Jaylon Ferguson, OLB, Louisiana Tech- Quick off the snap, finesse style of plays
Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame- Rare leaping ability, not a speed receiver
Justice Hill, RB, Oklahoma State- Strong with great vision, needs to bulk up
Ben Powers, G, Oklahoma- Hard nosed demeanor, shorter than ideal
Iman Marshall, CB, USC- Large frame, very raw in coverage
Daylon Mack, DT, Texas A&M- Cannonball off the snap, not technically sound
Trace McSorley, QB, Penn State- Good accuracy on the move, frame well below normal
Notable Undrafted Free Agent Signings:
Gerald Willis III, DT, Miami- Competitive off the snap, off the field red flags
Marquise Brown Highlights
What To Expect
On paper, the Ravens filled a lot of their holes but that doesn't mean 2019 will play out the same as last season.
Lamar Jackson goes into the season as the undisputed starter but has to show he can improve his accuracy and overall passing. Gus Edwards could begin the season as the starting running back, but Mark Ingram and Justice Hill will also likely see considerable playing time. Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst could form a nice tight end tandem while Nick Boyle remains a solid blocker. The offensive line should remain a dominant run blocking force, but the lack of change to the middle of the line raises questions on whether they can efficiently pass protect.
The defensive line could see Michael Pierce supplant Brandon Williams at nose tackle some point this season and should have solid depth around the line as a whole. With the departure of CJ Mosley and Terrell Suggs, Shane Ray and Kenny Young will have to step up and fill the voids. The depth at cornerback remains solid and Earl Thomas is a playmaking upgrade at safety assuming he returns healthy.
Until Lamar Jackson makes some big strides as a passer, I have to put Baltimore behind Pittsburgh and Cleveland in the AFC North.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 8-8