Sat, 17 Nov 2018

Baltimore Ravens: What went right, what went wrong

Sports Xchange
09 Feb 2018, 03:30 GMT+10

A 31-27 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular-season finale knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Now, the Ravens front office is left to pick up the pieces and will have to make some tough decisions on the coaches and players.

Baltimore (9-7) could have advanced to the postseason with a win or losses by both Buffalo and Tennessee. However, the Bills and Titans won their games and took over the final two spots of the postseason.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees confirmed that he was retiring. As a result, Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh needed to decide whether to promote an existing coach or look outside the organization to fill that role.

Harbaugh decided to stay in-house and promote linebackers coach Don "Wink" Martindale, likely because of his familiarity with the players and the organization. Martindale formerly served as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.

The Ravens need playmakers on both sides of the ball, but they will need to free up salary-cap space to make those improvements. That means the team will have to make tough decisions about keeping some veterans such as linebacker Terrell Suggs and receiver Jeremy Maclin. Tight end Benjamin Watson and receivers Mike Wallace are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in March.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Ravens (9-7) finished with a winning record for the first time in three seasons. They also led the league in interceptions (22), takeaways (34) and turnover differential (plus-17). Baltimore was in the playoff hunt throughout the second half of the season. Linebacker Terrell Suggs, 35, showed he can still make plays and led the team with 11 sacks. Suggs, fellow linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Eric Weddle made the Pro Bowl.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The Ravens missed the postseason for the third consecutive season. The offense sputtered for much of the season before making some late-season improvements. A home loss to the 5-11 Chicago Bears proved to be devastating. A revamped secondary once again struggled to make plays at the most critical moments.

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