As an eternal optimist, it is hard for me to join everyone on the tank bandwagon. But everything has gone wrong with the 2015 season that could possibly go wrong, so there is nothing to root for this year except the addition of a special talent in next years draft. This is a sad reality, but at the same thing time it is exciting to anticipate an addition of the caliber of a Joey Bosa or a Vernon Hargreaves to this franchise.
However, lets not take this too far. Too many on this site act like this team is basically in tear down condition, and this is far from the truth. This roster, with Suggs and other major players missing due to injury, and everything going wrong from horrible play calling and player usage by DC Dean Pees, some bad calls from refs, and uncharacteristic miscues like the one from Elvis Dumervil this week costing them games, has still been in every game.
This team has talent at the most important positions:
Quarterback, the defensive line, and the offensive line which we learned the hard way in 2013 could easily be a teams undoing. In addition, this team also features a legit #1 CB in Jimmy Smith, who is still battling back from a foot injury, and All Pro talent at safety (Will Hill), ILB (Mosley), and NT (Brandon Williams). Suggs and Dumervil need a young, high talent Robin to their Batman roles, but they can still play at a high level for 2-3 years (possibly more in Doom's case).
Are there big flaws? Of course. This team needs to jettison Kyle Arrington and Kendrick Lewis, and bring in top talent at CB, S, and OLB. They could use help at WR, and an upgrade at RB will be necessary at some point. But nothing points to issues that cannot be fixed in one offseason.
Which leads me to the purpose of this article:
The Ravens will be going for a Lombardi in 2016, not rebuilding. Just like every other year!
Some have suggested the Ravens will just mail it in for 2016 for a variety of reasons: lack of talent, lack of cap space to bring in players to fill the holes, the opinion that it is better to leave Flacco's cap hit and restructure starting in 2017 to keep his cap hit lower in the future to help us contend in those years.
But there are 2 reasons that will never happen:
1) You never waste a year of your franchise QB's prime.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Things go wrong in seasons when you have high expectations, like this season and last with injuries to integral players like Terrell Suggs and Jimmy Smith. Things happen. Bounces don't go your way, some times in the playoffs. Not to mention that many a Super Bowl has been won by a team getting hot and healthy at the right time, the 2012 Ravens team included. So you need to play to win, because once you make the postseason it is a new ballgame. The more times you get in, the better chance you have to win it all.
2) It has never taken the Ravens more than 1 season to make it back into the playoffs since 2000.
Q: How many sub .500 seasons have we had since 2000?
A: This will be our 4th. 2002 (7-9), 2005 (6-10), 2007 (5-11), and this year.
Lets look who we got in the draft those years:
2003: Terrell Suggs & Jarrett Johnson
2006: Haloti Ngata & Dawan Landry
2008: Joe Flacco & Ray Rice
Our record the season following each of those drafts:
It has never taken us more than one year to restock the pantry and get back in the playoffs. We never had higher than the 10th pick overall, not to mention we also didn't have a franchise QB for any of those years.
The 4 players who carried us as Ray Lewis and Ed Reed declined were from those drafts: Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, and Ray Rice. The greatest defensive players besides the 2 Ravens icons are on this list, as our 2 of the 3 greatest offensive players to ever play for us (Jamal Lewis is the 3rd in my opinion).
So while there are those of you doubting Ozzie's ability right this ship, mocking the team's clearly effective BPA strategy, and acting like we are the Raiders or the Lions, I will be preparing for another season of contention in 2016. Because that is what we will be getting next season, a high caliber team ready to win games.