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Despite uneven playoff performance, Ravens predict bright future with Lamar Jackson

Despite uneven playoff performance, Ravens predict bright future with Lamar Jackson

It was shaping up to be a storybook ending. The Baltimore Ravens, led by the youngest quarterback in the history of the NFL to start a playoff game, was surmounting a comeback with only minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Rewind about 50 minutes, however, and the outlook was much different.

After going 6-1 as a starter and leading his team to the playoffs for the first time in four years, Jackson entered the fourth quarter of Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers three-for-nine for 25 passing yards and 40 rushing yards on seven attempts.

Chants for Joe Flacco's return to the field began in M&T Bank Stadium while Jackson's future with the Ravens became a hot topic on Twitter. Cornerback Jimmy Smith was taken back by the negativity.

"They're booing the guy that got us here," Smith said after the loss. "Are you a fairweather fan that quickly? They turned their backs on him, and that got under my skin a little bit. But for the record I want to say our fans are a lot better than that. There's a few of them in there that, you know, fair weather. But overall our fans are great."

It was an interesting turn of events for a guy that reignited a fire in the city of Baltimore. 

After the game, Jackson's head coach and teammates made their faith in the 2018 first-round pick crystal clear.

"I mean, Lamar [Jackson] is our quarterback going forward — no question about that," John Harbaugh said postgame.

"He's the future. He is the future," safety Eric Weddle added. "As you guys can tell, he's devastated right now, and that's what's going to drive him in the offseason. And, he'll come back 10 times better than he was this year. For what he did, and to the belief that he gave not only our team, but our city, this organization, is pretty special."

In seven starts in the regular season, Jackson threw for 2,465 yards and 12 touchdowns while adding 695 rushing yards and five touchdowns. The speed he presented kept defenses on their toes, but his room for improvement throwing the ball and his lack of ball control remained a mark on his reputation.

That problem was apparent in Sunday's loss and will remain a question throughout the offseason. Jackson knows he has room for improvement, but within the Ravens organization there's no doubt what he brings to Baltimore.

"I am proud of him," cornerback Brandon Carr said after the loss. "Once he finally took over the team, his composure, his demeanor says a lot about him. The game was not too big for him. Once he got on the field you could see his talent. I think his future is bright. That's great for us as a team. Once he gets this offseason, he'll take the next leap. Once he gets his eyes set, his mechanics will improve, and let's see what we got with Lamar." 

And despite the fans' restlessness throughout Sunday's game, the only rookie quarterback to make a postseason appearance knows his teammates, and the fans of Baltimore, deserve better.

"We still love the fans," Jackson said. "They're going to come fill up seats for us. It was a hard finish. They were looking for better in us. We didn't perform well. It happens sometimes." 

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Impossibly, the Orioles have lost a game more recently than the Ravens

Impossibly, the Orioles have lost a game more recently than the Ravens

Hard to believe, right?

Somehow, some way, the Baltimore Orioles have lost a game more recently than their football neighbors.

As a reminder, the Orioles season ended on *September 29*. They lost their regular season finale to the Red Sox that afternoon.

The Ravens’ last loss also came on September 29, though it came earlier in the afternoon.

It’s hard to fathom an NFL team winning for two-and-a-half straight months. 10 consecutive wins in that span is in the top-60 longest winnings streaks in NFL history, a sign of just how rare and impressive this Ravens stretch has been. 

It won’t be easy for Baltimore to maintain their play all the way through to the Super Bowl. If they do, however, they’ll have a chance to go almost an entire calendar year until their next loss.

Unfortunately, there will probably be a whole lot more Orioles losses in that span.

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Why a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore makes sense and what could prevent it from happening

Why a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore makes sense and what could prevent it from happening

The Cardinals made a splash on Friday by waiving outside linebacker Terrell Suggs after just 13 games played in his Arizona career. 

The 37-year-old is now on waivers until Monday, where he’ll wait to see if he was claimed by one of the 31 other teams. Should he go unclaimed, he’ll be a free agent. 

Naturally, the immediate inclination was to assume a reunion was destined to happen between Suggs and the Ravens. Suggs is the all-time franchise leader in sacks (132.5) and games played (229), too.

But a reunion is more complicated than it might seem on the surface. 

This year, Suggs has 5.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits and 23 tackles. On the Ravens, those numbers would rank second, tied for third and 15th. But Suggs hasn’t registered a full sack since Oct. 20 and didn’t register a statistic in the team’s last game against the Steelers. 

Even still, with the need for proven pass-rushers across the league, Suggs is a desirable addition to any team looking to make a run.

Baltimore ranks 15th in sacks with 34, even with having played one more game than 30 other teams. The need is there for Suggs, who has already returned to the Ravens as a member of a different organization.

“It wasn’t circled, but when the schedule came out, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to downplay it as just another game,’” Suggs said in September. “But we all know that’d be (expletive). It’s kind of a unique situation, isn’t it?”

Suggs has shown the ability this season to be, at the very least, a situational pass-rusher and one that can contribute through the end of the season. Which, as the season winds down, makes his services valuable to teams looking to make a playoff push. 

He’ll be cheap too, as he wouldn’t cost a ton of money against the cap — and would fit into the Ravens plans moving forward. 

The problem, however, is where the Ravens are in the waiver wire order — dead last.

Teams like the Seahawks and Texans, whose pass rush ranks worse than the Ravens at the moment, and the 49ers, who just lost Dee Ford for a month, all could use pass-rushers to bolster their front seven.

That doesn’t include the possibility of a team in the AFC adding Suggs for two reasons: To add to their pass rush, while keeping Suggs away from Baltimore. 

Preventing the AFC’s top team from acquiring a late-season pass-rusher, one that would provide a significant boost to the organization, might be tempting as well. 

But for storylines, need on the field and fit with the organization, Suggs is a match to return to Baltimore.

It seems clear that Suggs and the Ravens would’ve preferred to be married to one another for the duration of Suggs’ career, and now there’s a chance to bring him back on board for another run at a title. 

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