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Defensive lapses in the playoffs led the Ravens to their offseason decisions, Steve Wyche says

Defensive lapses in the playoffs led the Ravens to their offseason decisions, Steve Wyche says

The Baltimore Ravens' 2019 season has plenty of memorable moments. Lamar Jackson's run at MVP featured constant highlights and a 14-2 record led to a lot of celebrations.

Yet, one of the lasting images of the campaign is a negative one. In the AFC divisional playoffs against the Tennessee Titans, the Ravens were physically dominated. The offense struggled, but the defense was out-toughed constantly by the underdog's bruising run game. 

Despite all the positives of the season, Baltimore left that game defeated and needing to find an identity on defense. In the offseason, that's exactly what the team began to do. NFL Network's Steve Wyche saw the moves made by the Ravens and the players acquired as a sign of what a major focus is for the team.

“Defensively, they go out and get a Calais Campbell, they get [Patrick] Queen, the linebacker out of LSU," Wyche told NBC Sports Washington. “What does that tell you? They don’t want to look at that film with Derrick Henry trucking them all over the playoffs like what happened last year.”

Clearly, as Wyche stated, that feeling of being run over in the playoffs aided the Ravens' desire to make additions to the defense. Campbell is one of the most consistent and dominant defensive linemen and will strengthen the group upfront for Baltimore. Not only will he pressure the quarterback, but plug up some holes as well.

Queen, though a rookie, brings a much-needed body to the linebacking core. There may be some growing pains at first, but there is hope that he will eventually continue the long line of success at the position in the Charm City.

The focus on upgrading the defense shouldn't be viewed as the Ravens believing everything else is as good as can be. Lamar Jackson's 2019 season was phenomenal, but 2020 will be a year of adjustments for him as defenses get more comfortable. As Wyche explains, the loss of Marshal Yanda also takes away a skilled blocker and a tough persona from the offense.

However, that side of the ball also has a plethora of weapons and skills that will allow it to stay competitive in all types of contests. A shootout? No problem for a high-flying group that can move the ball down the field in an instant. A ground game battle? Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins can help with that.

It's not so simple on defense. As the Titans game showed, Baltimore was not prepared to be punched in the mouth like they were. The type of physicality showed by Tennesee's offense could not be matched by the Ravens.

“Styles make fights and that was not the type of style that they were ready to play against," Wyche said.

There is work to be done on defense, but Wyche also believes its nothing the Ravens can't fix. The 2019 defensive unit put together some strong stretches even after losing key names heading into the year. Now with the same core returning and a few new additions, there's no reason to think the unit can't take the next step.

“They lost a lot of leadership on defense," Wyche said of the 2019 team entering the season. "They let Sizzle [Terrell Suggs] go, they let [C.J.] Mosley go and they let [Eric] Weddle go. And look, they were fine.”

“The Ravens constantly reload," he added.

As Wyche says, the Ravens aren't a team that breaks down. They're a franchise that finds areas of weakness and attacks them with reinforcements. 2020 is no different, and the goal now is to eliminate the possibility of a situation like the divisional round happening again.

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Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey set to host garage sale Sunday, July 12

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey set to host garage sale Sunday, July 12

Offseason. What offseason? There is no offseason for Baltimore Ravens standout cornerback Marlon Humphrey who announced he's throwing a garage sale Sunday, July 12 in Owings Mills.

"Garage sale this Sunday! (Owings Mills, MD) New year means a lot needs to be left behind," Humphrey said. "Will have furniture, shoes, lights, and of course some Ravens gear 😎Everything must go..!"

Humphrey's post received north of 1,500 likes in two hours so it may be fair to say there will be a decent turnout. 

NFL players having garage sales is sort of a peculiar situation, it doesn't happen quite often. Former Green Bay Packers running back Eddy Lacy had one in 2017 which drew a large enough crown to wrap around the entire block.

In that instance, ten shoppers were allowed in at a time to peruse the items and Lacy said that all of the money will go to charity, with any leftover unsold items being given to the Freedom House homeless shelter in Green Bay, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

Humprey is entering his fourth season with the Ravens.

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How the Baltimore Ravens chose city history for their team name

How the Baltimore Ravens chose city history for their team name

Before they got their name in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens, wanted the city’s NFL franchise to be known, once again, as the Colts. 

When the Cleveland Browns left for Baltimore after the 1995 NFL season, there were more pressing matters on the mind of the organization before a name was constructed. Plus, with more than a dozen lawsuits from Cleveland trying to prevent the move in the first place, the public option to discuss the name wasn’t available just yet. 

So, as the franchise’s brass internally sat down to come up with options, the name “Colts” was brought up. Baltimore owner Art Modell reached out to Jim Irsay in Indianapolis about acquiring the name. Modell thought he could get the rights for a couple million dollars, so he offered $5 million. 

Irsay came back with an offer around $25 million.

“We probably had, in the original mix, 12 to 15 names as possibilities,” longtime Ravens executive vice president of public and community relations, Kevin Byrne, recalled. “We looked at variations of horse themes to go along with the Colts...(After Irsay’s offer) Art said, ‘I think we’re going to have a different name.’” 

The Colts had been the name of the city’s team from 1953 to 1984. The team had won three NFL Championships and one Super Bowl and had one of the league’s most famous quarterbacks in Johnny Unitas. 

But in the early morning hours of March 29, 1984, the Colts famously left town on Mayflower trucks for Indianapolis. The franchise, owned by Robert Irsay, kept the name.

When football returned to Baltimore, retaining — or, in this case, buying — the Colts name back wasn’t an option. Neither was keeping the name "Browns."

“(Owner) Art (Modell) had said from the very beginning, ‘I’d love to have you go with us, but we can’t be the Baltimore Browns,’” Byrne recalled. “‘I can’t do that to the people in Cleveland. They need to keep Jim Brown and Brian Sipe and Ozzie Newsome. We have no right to take that.’ (So) I knew we were going to have a new name.”

Paired with Modell’s lack of desire to keep the name, as well as commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s commitment to bring football back to Cleveland with the original “Browns” name, Baltimore searched for a new name for its new team.

Bryne, who was with the Browns organization starting in 1981, followed the team from Cleveland to Baltimore. He announced his retirement from the organization in April. 

While the team searched for a name, he said the organization wanted a unique name that worked with the city’s history. One option was to name the team the “Americans,” a name based on the railroad history of Baltimore.

“David was really enamored with that,” Byrne recalled. “He used to chuckle, ‘We will be America’s Team, we’ll be called the Americans. We’ll have American flag on the helmet.’”

Another option was the “Marauders,” a nod to the city’s football past with the Colts, as well as the country’s past.

Then, the Ravens name was introduced. 

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It was based on a poem titled “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe, who died in Baltimore in 1849 after spending the latter half of his life in the city. While the name is commonplace now, the debate raged on at the time.

“Internally, we couldn’t agree at all,” Byrne said. “One day we were discussing it and I said, ‘Why don’t we let the fans decide?’ So we went to The Baltimore Sun and asked them if they would like to be involved in a fan-vote. While we had lots of names, the three finalists we offered to the fans to vote on were Americans, Marauders and Ravens. And overwhelmingly, the fans selected Ravens.”

According to the Ravens’ website, The Sun announced a record-breaking 33,748 callers for the poll. The Ravens overwhelmingly won the poll with 22,463 votes. The Americans trailed 5,635, and Marauders 5,650.

“When we first practiced, we were the Mean Machine from ‘The Longest Yard,’” Byrne joked. “We didn’t have a logo on our helmets, we had white helmets with black jerseys. We had to kind of hurry the process.”

Once the name was chosen, colors had to be picked for the team. The pictures and descriptions the organization found of ravens showed the bird’s black figure with the look of almost purple wings. 

“In talking with the league, they told us, ‘You just can’t be black and purple, you need some white colors in there,’” Byrne said. “So we looked at the state flag which had some gold in it, had some yellow, had a little red in it, then we got those colors in to brighten up.”

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And with the name and colors decided, the Ravens were officially the NFL’s newest franchise. 

The only thing left to work out was the blending of Baltimore’s past into the future of the Ravens. Byrne credited Art Modell for making that happen. 

Former Baltimore Colt players were interested in who Art was, and many of them likened him to Robert Irsay in Indianapolis. Byrne assured them that wasn’t the case.

After Modell met with the former players and earned their trust, he set his sights on getting Unitas onboard. And with a promise to look after the NFL’s alumni from Modell, Unitas agreed to be on board with the Ravens’ organization. 

Later that year on Sept. 1 against the Oakland Raiders, the Ravens officially entered the NFL, with Baltimore Colt legends welcoming them on the field.

“John came, we had opening day with the jackets, we all lined up and Johnny presented the game ball to the referee,” Byrne said. “It was like the imprimatur from the Pope so to speak, that the Baltimore Colts were telling all the fans, ‘It’s OK to root for these guys. These guys are us.’”

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