I’ve kept saying these words over and over again during the last month and a half and yet it still seems like there are people who are struggling with them. Allow me to try again.
“These aren’t the Ravens.”
I understand why Ravens fans have been worked up during these last six games of the 2021-22 season. There has been a team, wearing purple and black, with John Harbaugh coaching them. The announcers have referred to them as “Baltimore” or “the Ravens.” So when we’ve been watching the games, it has been understandable that people who care about the Ravens would get worked up while watching “the Ravens.”
I don’t understand how, when the games are over, these people are still worked up. Need I remind you …
“THESE. ARE. NOT. THE. RAVENS.”
Mrs. Clark and I have a dog named Maddie. Maddie, like so many dogs, loves people food. Mrs. Clark and I also enjoy people food! Sometimes we order people food (like, say, smoky thigh wings from Glory Days Grill) and eat a late dinner after we put our kids to bed. When we do this, we eat dinner in our living room and put something agreeable on the television like “Master Chef Junior” or “that’s actually our entire list of agreeable shows.” When we do this, Maddie oftentimes will linger near our coffee table, perhaps letting out a whine because, obviously, she too wants to rip apart the delicious smoky thigh wings in front of her.
Yet for some reason, Mrs. Clark tends to feel as though an investigation is needed. “Maddie, do you need to go outside? Are you feeling sick? What’s wrong Maddie? Did someone accidentally hide your toy?” No matter how many times I say “Mrs. Clark, she clearly wants the food,” the interrogation continues. “What’s going on, Maddie?” she asks. “Are you worried about the future of our democracy? Do you have a structured settlement but need cash now?”
I’ve felt this way watching us discuss the demise of this Baltimore Ravens season. It’s just not that hard to figure out what happened. They lost half of their football team, most importantly their quarterback. They attempted to win football games with the Detroit Lions’ roster (except weaker in a few areas). They fought valiantly. They had more chances than could have been reasonably fathomed. But it wasn’t meant to be. We don’t have to keep trying so hard to find an answer. THAT’S IT. We know the dog wants the food that’s on the damn table!
And that’s important because the question at the end of a season typically ends up being something like, “What’s next?” And never before has the answer been so simple.
“You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back after it.”
Obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that but it’s essentially that simple. “But Glenn, the Ravens have won just one playoff game during the last seven seasons. You don’t think serious changes are warranted?”
No. And I’m not really interested in wasting much internet space on the topic. This team certainly needs more postseason success. Perhaps that would have come this year had they not lost, you know, the overwhelming majority of their significant pieces. The top of the organization is incredibly stable. You’re wasting your breath.
“But what about Greg Roman?”
This is the best way I can explain this. If the Ravens believed they had a chance to win the Super Bowl coming into this season, there’s absolutely no reason for me to think they shouldn’t believe they’ll have a chance to win the Super Bowl with a healthy roster next year. And if that’s true, I would have no interest in shaking things up.
I know your anti-Greg Roman arguments. You don’t like certain play calls. You think that if he would have just done something else, it definitely would have worked. You think, for whatever reason, the Ravens need to “open things up” and throw the ball significantly more or they just need different “passing concepts.”
Honestly, sometimes I get it. I don’t always agree with the play calls. I don’t always agree with the in-game strategy. But I’ve overwhelmingly agreed with the results and moreover, I don’t agree with shaking things up because we didn’t enjoy a stretch of games where THEY DIDN’T HAVE THEIR PLAYERS.
But that’s me, Glenn Clark talking. This isn’t Greg Roman’s fault. But decisions are made all of the time in the NFL for any number of reasons. I don’t know what the Ravens will do. If they think it’s time to do something different offensively, they’ll definitely need to go in a different direction. Meek Mill’s record label wouldn’t tell him to become a country singer. They’d go sign a country singer. If the Ravens want to throw the ball 40-plus times a game next season, they’ll need a different offensive coordinator.
I wouldn’t be looking to do that. The Ravens will (presumably) get their running backs back next season and will hopefully have a healthy Lamar Jackson. If they can straighten out their offensive line a bit, I don’t know why we couldn’t expect them to dominantly run Roman’s system again.
And Jackson, of course, is the most important part of all of this no matter what the offensive system is. The Ravens should prioritize getting his long-term deal done quickly. I wouldn’t mess around with this any longer. I have no reason to believe that Jackson would demand a trade or hold out if he didn’t get his deal this offseason, but if I were advising him I would probably encourage him to. There’s major demand for quarterbacks in this market. It’s time for the Ravens to get the deal done.
There are other decisions to be made, of course. Patrick Ricard and Bradley Bozeman are the top free agents. Calais Campbell and Jimmy Smith’s futures are in question, too. So when I say that my overall philosophy is “just ignore the last six weeks, pay Lamar Jackson and run it back again next year,” I realize that’s a bit of an oversimplification.
But really. Ignore the last six weeks. Pay Lamar Jackson. Get your players back. And run it back next year.
And if for some crazy reason a far more representative Ravens team comes apart down the stretch next season, we can start looking at the organizational structure then.
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