Ravens Maintain Continuity, How They Could Have a Saints-Like Turnaround in 2018
The Ravens came within a play of making the postseason for the seventh time in 10 years.
But they didn't make that play, and now the focus is on the fact that they've missed the playoffs for three-straight seasons. As the Ravens examine ways to improve their team in 2018, The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec noted the differences in approach taken by other recent Super Bowl winners who also missed the playoffs this year.
Zrebiec pointed to the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. The Packers changed their general manager and offensive and defensive coordinators. The Seahawks parted ways with their longtime offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
The Ravens have kept Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in place after his unit's strong second half of the season, and made the internal promotion of Don "Wink" Martindale to defensive coordinator after Dean Pees retired.
Zrebiec wrote that Owner Steve Bisciotti, President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh "are smart people who generally have the pulse of the fan base," and that they "surely have a reason they've chosen this route."
Calls for change are expected in the NFL when a team fails to make the postseason three consecutive years, but big-picture changes aren't necessarily the right answer.
ESPN compared the Ravens' situation to Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. Payton won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009, but then the team had a downturn. With the shine of the Lombardi Trophy worn off, the Saints missed the playoffs for three-straight seasons (2014-2016), which led to some in New Orleans calling for the Saints to move on from Payton and even quarterback Drew Brees.
The Saints stood pat and bounced back this season to finish 11-5 and win the NFC South. They will take on the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round this weekend.
"Payton's turnaround can provide some hope for those who don't believe Harbaugh can pull the Ravens out of their rut of mediocrity," ESPN wrote.
ESPN laid out the three keys for the Ravens to have a Saints-like turnaround this year:
- Nail the draft
- Find offensive playmakers
- Start the season strong
"New Orleans landed five impact players in the 2017 draft, including the potential NFL offensive rookie of the year in running back Alvin Kamara and defensive rookie of the year in cornerback Marshon Lattimore," ESPN wrote. "This type of draft will be tough for any team to duplicate, but the crux is the Ravens need to reverse their draft trend. Baltimore has selected only five starters over the past three drafts, which is a big reason why this team has been stuck in the middle of the league."
The Ravens will likely use the draft to address the void of offensive playmakers, particularly at wide receiver and tight end. Baltimore could also re-sign speedy receiver Mike Wallace or use free agency to add another veteran wideout like its done in recent years.
Whatever route they take in search of offensive talent, the Ravens need to find difference-makers to get themselves back to playing football in January.
"If the Ravens can add some much-needed playmakers on offense, perhaps Baltimore can enjoy the same type of renaissance," ESPN wrote. "For those who don't believe the Ravens can ever fix their offense, many who follow the Saints felt the same way about their defense."
Ravens Should Get Sixth-Best Compensatory Pick
No team has mastered the art of collecting compensatory picks better than the Ravens.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams who lose players as unrestricted free agents, and the most productive, highest-paid players garner the highest picks in return. Compensatory picks can range from third- to seventh-round picks.* *
General Manager Ozzie Newsome and company have received more compensatory picks than any other team (48) since the system was put into place in 1994, and it looks like Baltimore is in [ADD] line for another pair of picks this year.
OverTheCap.com broke down the list of players who left teams in free agency last year, and the Ravens are projected to get a third-round pick for right tackle Rick Wagner after his $47.5 million contract with Detroit. That is projected to be the sixth-best compensatory pick in the league.
Based on the compensatory pick cancellation chart from OverTheCap, the Ravens will also receive a seventh-round pick for guard Vladimir Ducasse, who signed with the Buffalo Bills.
"Baltimore's front office is the master of maximizing the compensatory formula," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Vasilis Lericos. "The Ravens are likely to continue this trend next year, as Ryan Jensen, Mike Wallace and James Hurst are impending unrestricted free agents."
No London Trip on the Schedule This Year
The Ravens won't be making another trip across the pond in 2018.
Baltimore's first and only trip to London last season didn't go the way it planned, as the Ravens fell to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 44-7. As much as the Ravens enjoyed a chance to play in front of their international fans, the trip had logistical obstacles that the Ravens would prefer to avoid.
They got their wish this season, as they weren't one of six teams that the NFL announced would make the trip abroad.
"Ravens coach John Harbaugh made clear in the days after the game that the organization wouldn't be volunteering to play in London again in the near future," Zrebiec wrote.
The six teams scheduled to travel to London this year are the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee Titans.