Best Laid Plans; Ravens 2019 Season Ends
Last night, the Tennessee Titans came into Baltimore and knocked the Ravens out of the post-season.
Rhetorically, I’ll ask – How are you doing this morning my fellow Ravens fans?
This one is going to hurt for sometime.
It’s right up there with the 2006 loss to the Colts, and the 2011 AFC Championship loss at New England.
It stings today, and it’s going to sting the next few weeks as we watch some other team hoist the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl Champions on February 2nd.
It’s still going to hurt years from now, when we look back and lament opportunity lost.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Trent Reznor once wrote (later covered by Johnny Cash), “I hurt myself today. To see if I still feel. I focus on the pain. The only thing that’s real.”
What I’ve always loved about sports are the drama, and the life lessons.
There are no better dramas than what you get by investing yourself as a fan of team.
Not just individual games, or seasons, but lifetimes.
Watching how teams are constructed. How players and coaches and executives progress. Or don’t.
Watching how teams perform in defining moments. Or don’t.
Being truly surprised. Either by expectations being exceeded, or by coming up short.
Personality wise, I’m fairly even keeled. At-least in what I show outwardly.
I’d suggest I burn as hot as anyone you know for the things I truly care about, but if you don’t know me; you might not know whats behind my eyes. I’m good at internalizing.
Running this site has been interesting for me.
Especially with our active game threads in emotional games like last night.
What it’s taught me is that there is no one (correct) way to fan.
If you wear your emotions on your sleeve, good for you.
As I’ve aged, I’ve wondered why I haven’t quite cared as much about individual losses for the teams I follow and love as I did as a kid.
Some if it’s just basic maturity. Life, adulthood, other interests.
Another part is a better understanding of time. Life goes on.
Still, outside of my wife, I’ve built my life around this site. I want to feel.
And I did last night, and I do this morning.
And I’m thankful for that.
While I’d rather have surging adrenaline that comes coursing through your veins from a big win, and growing expectations; I’m content this morning to be wallowing in our collective disappointment.
You know why today hurts so much?
For the same reason I said above that I often don’t care as much as I did when I was younger.
A better understanding of time.
Meaning that while time and life march on, we all recognize there is only so much time in our respective hourglass’ of life. There are only so many opportunities, and when you fail to capitalize – it’s tough, because you don’t get this moment back.
Take Something From This
This year took me by surprise.
I thought this was a 10-6 team, they went 14-2 and dominated the league, outscoring their opponents by 242 points.
I thought Lamar would be improved, but I didn’t anticipate him being the MVP.
Things appeared to come easy for this team.
I didn’t think they were going to lose last night.
I thought they’d generally control the game.
I thought if there was a scenario where Titans pulled the upset, it was going to take several things.
The Ravens playing tight as the favorite, and rusty after the bye. The Titans playing loose as the big underdog. Multiple Ravens turnovers. Tannehill having success against the blitz. Henry wearing down the Ravens Front 7.
Some of that happened.
The most important thing might’ve have been the Titans getting an early lead.
Their confidence increasing. The Ravens questioning themselves.
For the majority of this season, the Ravens came out and punched teams in the mouth.
They dominated the 1st Quarter all year. They played from ahead, and put pressure on teams.
Then last night, things didn’t go as planned.
The Ravens were hit first.
And they got wobbly.
The life the Ravens led in this 2019 season is rare.
Most times in life, things don’t like that. There is more adversity, more pain.
You get used to getting hit.
Last night the Ravens looked like the proverbial bully who gets socked in the mouth for the first time; and didn’t know they were capable of bleeding.
When the Ravens lost in the Playoffs to the Chargers last year, Jackson took the criticisms he faced in that game and used it as fuel for his off-season. He worked, and he worked some more, and he made huge strides.
That’s what Jackson and the Ravens need to do again here.
Use it as fuel for their off-season. Keep it in-mind all of next season.
They don’t get to replay last night.
All you can do is focus on what comes next.
Get back to work.
The Decision Making / Second Guessing
There are always multiple ways to do things.
I chaffed for years when the growing narrative was, “This is a passing league, you can’t win running the ball.”
That was always ridiculous.
And especially because the league was becoming pass happy.
That created an opportunity to do something different. As league defenses became running Nickel as the standard; you could build running attacks to take advantage.
The best teams in football traditionally are able to either dictate, or adjust.
I believe a conservative, ball control, field position team can win a title.
I believe a team which throws the ball all over the field, and goes for it on 4th down every opportunity; could win a title.
The job of Coaches in-my-opinion is to get the most out of the team they have.
To best utilize the pieces they have.
I think the Ravens Coaching staff did an excellent job at that this season.
And they – and the players on this team – established a mentality that was aggressive.
It worked for this team.
I’m not going to second guess the decisions to go for it on 4th and 1 last night.
That’s what this team did all year, and it worked.
I think it would’ve been a horrible message to the team to get away from what had worked all year, when the opportunity called for it last night. It just didn’t work, and that’s the way it goes.
What’s fair to question in-my-opinion, is the actual play calls. Not the decisions to go for it, but the plays run.
What’s also fair to question in-my-opinion is that Jackson ended up with 59 pass attempts, while Ingram and Edwards had 9 total carries.
Yes, the deficit impacted the total number of pass attempts, but still.
The Ravens got away from the run too early, and that was disappointing.
Last night wasn’t a great or even good game for Jackson.
Which I guess says something considering he did throw for 365 yards, and ran for 143 more.
While he wasn’t helped by his teammates (at-least 5 drops), the fumble was on him. The second interception was him. He floated several passes.
Is there anything you would’ve done differently with him?
I mean, if he plays in Week 17, is he any sharper last night? I think that is a stretch.
Sometimes things just don’t go your way.
Last Night Was A Failure; The Season Was A Success
The #1 overall seed going out at home against the #6 seed, is a failure.
Putting up 530 total yards of offense, and scoring 12 points, is a failure.
Being the 5th best team against the rush for the year, and gutted for 195 yards by Henry is a failure.
Letting Henry beat you, when Tannehill threw for 88 yards, is a failure.
The season remains a success.
Only one team gets to win it all.
If the only measure is winning it all, only the ultimate champion can say their season was successful.
I don’t believe that.
The Ravens won their division for the second straight year.
DeCosta made draft selections and acquisitions which improved the roster.
The Coaching staff got the most out of the talent they had, by being willing to do things differently.
They set rushing records.
Stanley had a great year at LT. Humphrey was excellent at CB.
The TE’s all contributed.
In Peters, they acquired a real defensive play-maker, and got him extended.
Thomas and Ingram gave the Ravens some leadership on both sides of the ball.
12 Ravens were selected to the Pro Bowl. 5 Ravens were First Team All-Pro.
And most importantly, Jackson (who just turned 23) showed his immense talent, and his abilities as a leader.
Yes, until he shows he can win in the post-season, it will be a question to some of if he can.
I think the Ravens have a window where they are now going to be a perennial Super Bowl contender, and it starts with him.
The Ravens will be back.
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.