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Upon further review: No fixing Ravens 'til offseason

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Upon further review: No fixing Ravens 'til offseason

For the first time since coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco arrived in 2008, there’s a serious gap between the Ravens and the NFL’s elite teams. It shows in the standings. And it shows on the field.

Even in 2013, when the Ravens finished 8-8, they had a chance to make the playoffs in the final week of the regular season. Not this year. Sunday’s gut-wrenching 22-20 loss to the Jaguars was the pin that popped the Ravens’ 2015 balloon. Nobody in their locker room was talking about making a playoff run when this game was over. No matter how bizarre the ending, it only magnified  the Ravens' reality.

A team that hasn’t been able to win two straight games isn’t going to the playoffs. A team that loses to the Jaguars and the Browns at home isn’t going to the playoffs.

The key for the Ravens now is to make sure the 2016 season is not a repeat of 2105. So what’s the best way for the Ravens (2-7) to approach the final seven games?

RELATED: Jaguars describe being on other side of crushing Ravens loss

For the players, the job really doesn’t change. They still need to practice with purpose, play with pride, and play to win. Evaluations are being made on who stays, and who goes after this season.

But for the front office and coaches, they need to evaluate the Ravens’ talent far more accurately than they did in August.  Everyone in the Ravens’ organization thought they would be a Super Bowl contender. It has become clear that the overall talent on the roster was overrated, not just by many outsiders, but by the Ravens themselves.

Losing linebacker Terrell Suggs in Week 1, not having rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman at all, and losing wide receiver Steve Smith in Week 8 have certainly been major blows. However, look how the Steelers (6-4) are coping, despite quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being in and out of the lineup, without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey , and recently losing running back Le’Veon Bell for the season.

Look at the Bengals, undefeated entering their Monday night game and loaded with young playmakers - wide receivers A. J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu, tight end Tyler Eifert, and running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.

Whether Smith returns or retires, he is 36 years old. Terrell Suggs is 33, dealing with the second Achilles injury of his career. No. 1 running back Justin Forsett is 30 years old. And the Ravens still don’t know what they really have in Perriman, and may not have a clue until next season.

The Ravens need more dynamic playmakers on offense, more speed on defense, and more quality depth overall. That’s not going to change until the offseason. Having a quarterback like Flacco, a proven clutch quarterback, means 2016 could bring a quick turnaround with the right offensive moves. But the rest of 2015 is about playing for pride. That’s not what the Ravens are used to. But it’s where they are.

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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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