Ravens

Quick Links

Defense comes up big again in win over Chargers

uspw_6791114.jpg

Defense comes up big again in win over Chargers

On a day when the offense struggled again for long stretches, the defense came through and played a big role in the Ravens’ 16-13 overtime victory over San Diego Sunday.

Quarterback Philip Rivers picked the Ravens apart in last year’s meeting, and while he moved the Chargers well through the air at times, it wasn’t nearly the same thing. San Diego gained just 121 yards after taking a 10-0 halftime lead.

The defense stiffened and allowed only three points after that and forced punts on five of San Diego’s six possessions in the final two quarters and into the overtime. They did a good job of getting pressure on Rivers, sacking him six times. Arthur Jones got Rivers twice. The Ravens couldn’t sack him at all last year.

In addition, the defense made a number of big stops on third down. San Diego converted only three of 15 third-down plays. That was a big reason the Ravens were able to come back and then win in overtime.

The Ravens lost Dannell Ellerbe to a first-half injury, but Brendon Ayanbadejo made some good open-field tackles in the fourth quarter and overtime, and the secondary broke up several Rivers’ passes that could have kept the Chargers moving.

One of the biggest parts of the comeback came in the fourth quarter when the defense forced a three-and-out after Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta that cut the lead to 13-10. On third-and-seven, Ayanbadejo made a nice open-field tackle that forced the Chargers to punt. The Ravens then got the ball back, and Flacco led the game-tying drive.

The defense still isn’t quite what its been in years past, but now it seems like they’re much more effective. Players appear to be growing more comfortable in their roles, and the team’s won three straight road games to give the Ravens a three-game lead with five games left.

And with a defense that appears to be getting stronger, that’s not a bad position to be in.

Quick Links

The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Baltimore Ravens made it clear after their Wild Card loss that Lamar Jackson would be their quarterback going forward, bringing the somewhat official end to Joe Flacco's 11-year career with the team.

So what's next for the Super Bowl MVP?

Retirement after a fruitful NFL career is an option, but in a league where teams are desperate for a seasoned veteran, Flacco could find himself with another affluent contract. The Ravens, too, could get something nice in return.

"Let's start with a second-round pick," former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said. "It's negotiable, we're going to keep him in pencil. Who am I not going to trade him to? Well, I may not have a choice. I may only have one trade pick. I don't want him in the AFC. I don't want this guy costing me a playoff position next year."

There are several AFC teams in need of a QB, too. The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars would jump at the chance to get Flacco under center.

But it may not be that easy for the Ravens.

"If the team wants to renegotiate his contract, Flacco controls the trade," Casserly adds. "He can simply say, 'no' [and the] Ravens may have to just release him and let Joe go his own way." 

The former GM adds that he expects something to be settled come March. Why? Casserly places Teddy Bridgewater and Nick Foles as hotter free agency pickups for QB needy teams, and with the 2019 NFL Draft not offering a ton in terms of first-round quarterbacks, the Ravens may have to act fast in order to get a return on their investment. 

One team that is definitely in need of a QB1 is the Washington Redskins. The idea could interest Flacco as his family of seven could stay put in the DMV area. But can the Redskins afford Flacco? 

The team is facing a huge cap charge with Alex Smith, whose career is in question after suffering a catastrophic leg injury, and a rookie they can mold could make more sense than a 34-year-old Flacco.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

john_harbaugh.jpg
USA Today Sports

Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: