After yesterday’s season-ending 24-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens finish with a 5-11 record, their worst since Brian Billick’s last season as the head coach. Though the Ravens held the lead at the half, the Bengals took control of the game in the second half with two touchdowns after halftime. A late rally by the offense came up short.
Due to the many injuries this team suffered, all preseason predictions of a playoff berth and in some quarters, a Super Bowl appearance went out of the window early in the season. And while the Ravens played a bit better towards the end of the season, it still wasn’t good enough to end the year with a winning record.
Now comes the most important offseason in many years. The Ravens of 2015 showed that the team lacked depth at several positions and that there is a talent gap between them and the Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. Though they swept the Steelers this season, most observers will tell you that the Steelers have more talent—especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Ravens hold the sixth pick in the upcoming draft, their highest draft choice in over a decade.
To say the Ravens need to have a very good draft only states the obvious. The final weeks of the season featured many players they brought in off the street or plucked off the practice squad. Playmakers are needed just about everywhere. One good thing about the season is that with all the injuries, the coaches and front office got to see many players on the field to see if they can help the team going forward.
What also would help the Ravens is that many of the injured return to good health and hopefully keep it in the next season. Particularly Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, Sr. and Breshad Perriman (last season’s first-round draft pick who never played a single down all season) need to come back healthy and be productive. There are also big decisions with players currently on the team-whether to release or keep them with guard-tackle Kelechi Osemele one of the biggest offseason question marks.
With this team, the faithful always live by the motto “In Ozzie (Newsome) We Trust.” This offseason may be general manager Newsome’s biggest test.