The Baltimore Ravens suffered a heartbreaking loss to a division rival last Sunday that kept them from making the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Finishing with a record of 9-7 and missing the playoffs labels the 2017 season a failure in the eyes of many. The general consensus for the Ravens this year was playoffs or bust.
The front office invested heavily in the defense, to prevent 4th quarter meltdowns like they experienced against the Steelers on Christmas Day in 2016. The saying among players and coaches was to “finish” this time around. They did the exact opposite.
Baltimore had forced Cincinnati into fourth-and-12, with under a minute to go in the game. Victory sealed right? Wrong. A 49-yard touchdown followed, and with that the season was lost. All of the preparation, money, and draft picks spent on defense was for nothing in the final seconds of the season.
No matter how bad it stings, we as fans have to move on, just as the team does. There are many positives to take from this season, like our secondary going forward. First round rookie Marlon Humphrey played exceptionally well after Jimmy Smith went down for the season. Smith himself was having a career season, possibly as one of the best corners in the league. Tavon Young will return from his knee injury suffered before the season as well. Second year player Maurice Canady showed great potential, as well as undrafted rookie Jaylen Hill. The defense is young and hungry, with savvy veterans such as Terrell Suggs and Eric Weddle still playing at high levels.
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has decided to retire, so there is hope for a younger, energetic coach to take control of this defense and tap into it’s full potential. Some young offensive players emerged this year as well, such as running back Alex Collins, fullback Patrick Ricard, and wide receiver Chris Moore.
A strong offseason could push Baltimore over the hump and into the post-season next year. Joe Flacco needs more weapons around him though. Ozzie Newsome cannot continue to ignore the offensive lack of firepower by just putting a temporary band-aid on it.
Baltimore should draft a quarterback in the early to mid rounds and allow him to sit and develop behind Flacco while he can. The future of the Ravens should be bright. Only one team will win the Super Bowl at the end of the year, so 31 other fanbases will feel exactly like us until the 2018 season starts in September.
The players played hard for us fans, and for the city of Baltimore. I’m sure they are hurting much worse than we are right now. Let’s go easy on them, and hope next season will be better. There’s no reason it shouldn’t be.