Baltimore Ravens Season Wrap-Up: Fight, Injuries and Discipline

Dec 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) celebrates with teammates after intercepting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) (not pictured) during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) celebrates with teammates after intercepting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) (not pictured) during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Another Baltimore Ravens football season comes to an end. This was definitely one of the hardest seasons to watch as a fan, and I’ve been a Chicago Cubs fan since birth so that is really saying something.

The beginning of this season had playoff and Super Bowl ambitions, but through an injury-plagued season along with not meeting expectations before the injuries, the Ravens finished 5-11. This is the first season that Baltimore has been under .500 under Coach John Harbaugh. While this has been a season to forget, there are some positives and negatives that as an organization the Ravens can take and learn from heading into the 2016 season.

This was one of the hardest season’s I have been though as a fan, but it is also one that I am most proud of. This team fought until the end of this season, and never folded or gave in. Let’s take a look at the season:

The Ravens lost nine out of their 11 games by eight points or less and in total by 37 points which is an average of 4.11 points. Of course, the season is all the more heartbreaking because of those close losses, but it does offer optimism for next season.

Through all the adversity the season provided this team never quit, and it truly showed in these past two weeks of the season. The Ravens completed a miraculous hard-fought win against the Steelers, and played to the last minute against a very tough well-coached Cincinnati Bengals team. While the Steelers crawled into the playoffs after the Jets collapse and overall lack of effort, the Ravens sweep of the Steelers almost made the tumultuous season worth it. 

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Coach Harbaugh showed tremendous resolve and had his players believing despite all the injuries and adversity, which is why I believe he is one of the best coaches in the NFL. He showed that through the fight of his players.

I also want to highlight two players in particular who really showed fight all season and showed immense promise for next year:

Kamar Aiken: The first player I wanted to point out was probably the Ravens best skill player this season. He showed promise to be a quality No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in the future. He won’t stretch the field or burn anyone with speed, but shows the ability to find open space in zone coverage, while using quality route running to get open against man coverage. Aiken finished the season with 944 yards and five touchdowns and broke Derrick Mason‘s record for consecutive games with five catches or more with nine. Aiken showed promise this season and hopefully the Ravens will keep him in the restricted free agency process.

Brandon Williams: The next guy I want to mention is a Pro Bowl snub. Williams showed signs of breakout possibility last season, but had a fantastic season in 2015. He finished with 53 tackles, while totaling two sacks in 2015, and is showing that he is one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in the NFL. The stat sheet does not tell the full tale for Williams either. How many times he has pushed the pocket to force the quarterback to other teammates and doing the same thing in the run game is invaluable to the Ravens defense. With one year remaining on his contract, I believe that he will be a top extension priority this offseason by Ozzie Newsome and company.


The Ravens fans and players certainly have heard this word what feels like everyday for the entire season. In fact, the game after the second Pittsburgh win was the only game this season where a MRI was not needed after the game. Now here is the good news with the injuries this season, it has to be almost mathematically impossible to repeat the same amount the injuries the Ravens suffered this season. Another positive is that it gave young guys a chance to see the field and hopefully will help them develop faster in the future seasons.

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I definitely don’t want to use injuries as an excuse to the Ravens season. I think the season was not going to be playoff worthy either way after the loss to the Raiders, but I think it made us appreciate Joe Flacco more and more each game he was out. Of course, his contract restructuring will be another key focus this offseason and it will be very interesting to see how it turns out.


Now this is definitely the most negative category. There were too many penalties that really hurt the Ravens chances in many games this year. The Ravens finished first in the NFL in number of penalties. You cannot expect to win many games if you lead the entire league in penalties. While I gave Harbaugh a huge compliment, I have to be critical of his coaching in the discipline area. The Ravens have led the league in the most penalties in two of the last three seasons. Baltimore is known for smash mouth football and the rules are constantly changing, but you have to adapt to continue winning in the NFL. You can argue that the Ravens were on the wrong side of a good amount of calls this season, but you have to instill discipline into your players.

We saw too many times safeties Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill make blatant pass interference penalties. We saw awful personal foul penalties from Courtney Upshaw and Timmy Jernigan due to simply playing without discipline. I think there is probably more of a discipline issue with the players since they are indeed the ones on the field, but it is something that must be addressed in the offseason. The Ravens did not have enough talent and healthy players to overcome the penalties like they have in past seasons.

I thought Coach Harbaugh said it best in his press conference after the game, which was probably my favorite post-game press conference of his in his seven-year coaching career:

Even though I am excited for this rough season to be over, I am very proud to be a fan of a team that did not back down. Did not quit and rollover to tank for a draft pick, but played for the teammates around them.

Now onto the offseason and the draft season, my favorite time of the year. The Ravens officially have the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft. I believe with solid drafting by Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta and a few free agency pick ups sprinkled in there, the Baltimore Ravens can return to the cream of the crop of the AFC.

Let’s also not forget the Ravens have made the playoffs and won a game in the playoffs six out of the eight seasons since Harbaugh became head coach in 2008. While it is frustrating season, fans forget many NFL franchises would be delighted by this sort of consistency.