Eric Weddle, former Pro Bowl safety for the Baltimore Ravens had it right a year ago when he made the claim, “These ain’t the same old Ravens.” The franchise whose reputation was built off a physical smash mouth style offense and hard nosed defense, has undergone a quick transition. The NFL world is about to experience something I don’t think anyone is prepared for, and us Ravens fans will have the bird’s eye seat.
The transformation started when Ozzie Newsome traded his 2018 2nd round pick and this year’s 2nd round pick to move back into the last slot of the 1st round to grab Joe Flacco’s eventual successor, Lamar Jackson. Weddle made his claims about his former team early last season. At the time, he was referring to the Ravens defense. Going into last season, the Ravens were eliminated from the playoffs on the last week off the season after giving up a 4th quarter lead. Weddle, along with Ravens legend Terrell Suggs and perennial Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley, were able to get the Ravens into the playoffs for the first time since the end of the 2014 season. The leagues best yardage defense and number 2 scoring defense, were the backbone of the resurgence. But it was the insertion of Jackson into the starting lineup, that signaled an end of an era was on the way.
If that was the case, then the off-season player exodus which saw all three defensive stalwarts leave along with other defensive free agent loses, the Ravens are getting a full make over. Gone are over the hill veterans like Suggs and Weddle. Replaced by recent draft selections ( 2017’s Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams; and this year’s 3rd round selection, Jaylon Ferguson) and free agent signing of All Pro safety, Earl Thomas. Losing Mosley who is in the prime of his career will be tough, but with an pass rush that has been infused with youth, and upgrading the secondary by swapping out an aging superstar for a defensive playmaker closer to his prime should offset the loss. Especially when considering Mosley, though stout against the run, was often a liability in the passing game and as a blitzer. Letting last year’s 4th round pick, Kenny Young step into his position will also add versatility to the defense because he is both a better blitzer and is outstanding in coverage.
All of these changes are nothing new, although unexpected. The reimagining of the offense and he restocking of playmakers however, is a welcome change that has long ben overdue. Coach John Harbaugh joked in the press conference after Ravens made their first selection in the 2019 draft, “Listen, if you love the long drive and you love the grind-it-out and take-it-down, get first downs and get it into the red zone and keep your fingers crossed and hope you score touchdowns, then you don’t want this guy. If you don’t like scoring from 70 yards out, then you don’t want this guy.” After selecting Brown, the Ravens went on to select RB Justice Hill and WR Miles Boykin, Both of which were amongst the fastest players in this years draft. The Ravens as a high speed quick strike offense. Now that is something new, and very dangerous for the rest of the league. Lookout, Lamar and Company are coming!