Over the last few seasons, the Baltimore Ravens had been considered one of the better teams in the National Football League.
But they haven’t been able to reach the AFC Championship Game yet, let alone the Super Bowl, despite the presence of one of the league’s better and most unique quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson.
Baltimore is coming off a very disappointing 2021 campaign in which it finished just 8-9 and missed the playoffs.
Could it be on the way to another lackluster campaign this coming season?
Baltimore Does Have Talent
Some may question Jackson’s ability to excel in certain situations as a passer, especially while in the pocket, but he has the uncanny ability to move the chains with his feet.
Although there is a feeling that defenses are starting to figure him out, he still ran for 767 yards and two touchdowns this past season, despite missing five contests due to injury.
When Jackson suffered the ankle injury in Week 14 that prematurely ended his year, the Ravens were 8-5 and seemingly on their way to the postseason.
But without him, they lost their last four regular season contests.
Let’s not forget that Jackson won the MVP award in 2019 when he threw for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns, the latter of which led the NFL, and ran for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns.
This past season, Andrews made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro First-Team with 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns.
Mark Andrews played with a passion yesterday like it was the Super Bowl. Paid no attention to the dire circumstances. No elaborate celebrations either. Just went to work. Best TE in the league. pic.twitter.com/ENuzVtzR29
— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) December 27, 2021
But there are some significant reasons for concern.
Roster Issues To Work Out
First off, the Ravens have to decide whether to keep Brown around for another season, as he has one year left on his contract as an option year.
Although Brown is somewhat inconsistent, Jackson has vouched for him and wants the team to keep him in the fold rather than trade him.
Excuse my French real quick sir…. But HELL NAW❗️ https://t.co/uf1KyvaB8R
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) March 23, 2022
Baltimore’s pass defense was frightfully weak in 2021, and it looked like help was on the way when Za’Darius Smith was reportedly about to sign a four-year deal with the team.
But Smith pivoted away from that and instead joined the Minnesota Vikings.
Unless the Ravens pull something off, the defense will not be able to stop opposing teams in an improved conference from racking up points.
The Biggest Reason Baltimore May Miss The Playoffs Again
After an insane amount of player movement over the last few weeks, the AFC is as strong and competitive as anyone can ever remember it being.
Of the teams in the conference that missed the playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Miami Dolphins look much stronger thanks to their big additions.
The only 2021 playoff team in the AFC that could realistically miss the postseason next year is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That alone could mean that Jackson and crew will be home in January and February of 2023 instead of competing for a spot in Super Bowl LVII.