Some people are fans of the Baltimore Ravens. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Baltimore Ravens. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Baltimore Ravens.
Your 2020 record: 11-5. I guess have to talk about things other than The Dump Game, although I don’t really want to. But dammit this is JOURNALISM, and so I must do some journalism at you before I can unleash my Dump Game takes and allow them to flow freely. So lemme squeeze out some useful facts before I get logrollin’.
This team went 14-2 in 2019. Their quarterback was the reigning league MVP. Tom Brady was no longer in the AFC. Everything was in its right place. The Ravens were ready to assume THE THRONE, to WIPE away the competition all in a single MOVEMENT. Here’s what happened when they tried.
That’s Taron Johnson, who didn’t even start for Buffalo, snatching a tie ballgame away from Baltimore and running to the other side of the world with it. What a waste.
There’s a backstory to that pick-six, naturally. The Ravens underachieved at 11-5. They got swept by Pittsburgh, with one of those losses coming on a Wednesday because everyone involved got COVID. Their starting corner got COVID and totally played while he was contagious. They got run over by Damien Harris (who) in New England. They got walked off by Derrick Henry at home. They lost three in a row at midseason to blow any chance they had at a division title. They only beat two teams that had a winning record during the regular season and one of them was Cleveland. But when your quarterback can take a poop break midgame—as if ducking out of a conference call—and still beat the Browns, that doesn’t speak well of your competition. No wonder these guys finished… number two?… in the North. No wonder they needed Mike Vrabel to do them a favor in the wild card round and punt a win to them. And no wonder they went to Buffalo the next week, watched their quarterback get concussed into QAnon, and swapped in something called Tyler Huntley on their way to three lousy goddamn points. Whenever this team loses in the playoffs, they put on an offensive display that makes the Jets look like a fireworks factory.
Your coach: John Harbaugh, who gets way too much slack for being “the normal Harbaugh.” John Harbaugh’s only real genius is in finding the only owner outside of Dan Rooney who doesn’t know how to fire a coach.
Your offensive coordinator is still Greg Roman, who never met a postseason offensive game plan he couldn’t drown in used milk. Your defensive coordinator is still Wink Martindale, who got big mad when Zac Taylor dared to rob him of a shutout and who will absolutely get a head coaching job next offseason that was originally promised to Eric Bieniemy.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? Bobby Engram and Tee Martin are both on this staff and now I feel like I’m back in college all over again.
Your quarterback: Lamarsonaro!
You talk about guys that love getting COVID, this guy loves getting COVID! Can’t get enough of it. Lotta quarterbacks talk a big game about getting COVID, but Lamar Jackson walks the walk. He’s 100 percent dedicated to it. He’s the first player on the ventilator and the last one off. He spends all offseason training for COVID in hospice. He studies the COVID tape harder than any quarterback I’ve ever seen. His lungs are raw, but I see a TON of potential coming from them in terms of mucusability and spotting open COVID spores downfield. And he’s not selfish, either! Every other scout tells me that he’s not just gonna take off with the COVID first chance he gets. He’s gonna spread the wealth around. And if there’s loose COVID on the ground, this guy is diving for it. No hesitation. We’re talking about a true hospital rat. Incredible.
Your backup is Trace McSorley. Better get used to the idea of seeing him out there.
What’s new that sucks: Sammy Watkins is here from Kansas City, thereby bringing an end to the productive portion of his career. This is where aging wideouts go to soak their bunions. Even Dez Bryant got in on the action a year ago. A hallowed tradition. Watkins will be joined by first-rounder Rashod Bateman, who’s already hurt. You’re not a first-round wideout for Baltimore unless you’re in the training room by August, with Lamar’s COVID germs riding motorcycles around you in a menacing fashion. That means this offense will have to pray that Marquise Brown lives up to the hype. Tight end Mark Andrews’s reception totals at year’s end will tell you exactly how that plan worked out.
Elsewhere on offense, Mark Ingram left for the Texans, and wizard-ass-named JK Dobbins is already hurt, leaving Gus Edwards the only useful body in the backfield. Gonna take a wild guess and say a RB was never gonna be this team’s leading rusher in 2021 anyway. On the line, the team shipped unhappy right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to Kansas City—where he’ll be INDESCRIBABLY happier—and replaced him with former Steelers troop Alejandro Villanueva, forced to switch over from the left side. Former Giant guard Kevin Zeitler arrives to shore up an interior that’s still lacking a… what’s it called?… oh yes, a CENTER. Stalwart tackle Ronnie Stanley is attempting to come back from a dislocated ankle he suffered in the middle of the 2020 season. Ah yes, no better position for a dislocated ankle then the one where establishing a strong base is 90 percent of your job.
This defense had a middling pass rush a year ago. It’s only gotten worse. Baltimore’s former mayor just got sentenced to three years by doing fraud with her own children’s book.
What has always sucked: Now here is nowhere.
This is a fucking pothole of a town. The most forgettable city on the Eastern Seaboard, famous only for its cops being a noticeable tick more disgusting than other cops. The coolest thing about Baltimore is the really big mound of salt I see while driving past it on 95.
If you think Chicagoans have an inferiority complex, it’s nothing on what Baltimoreans have to offer the world. All they do is sit around their pissy little town all day, waiting for someone from an actual city to acknowledge them. And when that happens, they’re NEVER happy with it. They’re always like JURRGHHALUH, YA BELIEVE THESE DC BIG SHOTS SAYING OUR FOOD IS BAD?! WHY I OUGHTTA CALL THE BPD TO SHOOT THOSE GUYS ON FRIDEE! BERGER COOKIES ARE THE ONLY COOKIES THAT SHOULD BE LEEGAL!
Fuck Baltimore. Fuck the honorary Ohio that surrounds it. Fuck Catherine Pugh. Fuck Martin O’Malley. Fuck the shipyards. Fuck the Orioles. Fuck Cal Ripken. And super ultra DOUBLE fuck David Simon. The Wire is 20 years old. Try doing something new for a change instead fucking over your own union, you bald fuck.
Edgar Allan Poe isn’t even from here. I hope Larry Hogan gets hit by an oncoming cement mixer.
Ratto says: John Harbaugh has been the coach of this team for 13 years, and always benefits in the public eye from not being his brother. At some point this will no longer be true, and he will start to hear people’s dissatisfaction about going nine years since the team’s last Super Bowl, which came … against his brother. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Trystan Colon.
What might not suck: There will be at least two games that Lamar will win single-handedly this season. Those never get old. Too bad he’ll have to wear a mask over his facemask while pulling it off.
HEAR IT FROM RAVENS FANS!
Our amazing, groundbreaking, must-watch quarterback is a fucking anti-vaxxer who got COVID, missed a game, shit his pants in the middle of another, and still won’t take the jab.
I don’t even live in Maryland anymore but if I meet another Ravens fan they’ll make sure to let me know how it’s such a shame that Baltimore is going to hell even though they live all the way out in Carroll County.
The Ravens were one more positive COVID test away from me having to suit up for the team and play against the Steelers on a Wednesday afternoon last November.
Ravens Twitter is a cesspool that consists of shitposters vehemently defending Lamar Jackson against the even faintest whiff of criticism, and then complaining about how much they must defend Lamar Jackson.
We lost to Ryan Tannehill and Josh Allen in consecutive years. Somewhere Zach Wilson, this year’s cherubic model, is rubbing his hands like Birdman. If Sam Darnold had been in our division, he would be a perennial All Pro.
The Ravens are going to blow the last possible year they could win a Super Bowl with Lamar because they think running the ball 50 times a game is mixing it up as long as you do motion before the snap.
Lamar will shit himself when it counts this year. It won’t be against the Browns, and there will be no getting back on the field in the nick of time.
Justin Tucker will trip on a Royal Farms chicken leg and hurt his ankle in training camp.
We will end up wasting Lamar’s best years until he washes out so Bill from Parkville can go back convincing local sports radio whatever bland D2 quarterback that replaces him is actually better than he really is.
Fuck the NFL, COVID, and Larry Hogan.
There is no fanbase less attached to the city that houses their team than the Baltimore Ravens. A few years back I went to Lambeau to see Joe Flacco trounce a Rodgers-less Packers. There were four absolutely obnoxious Ravens fans behind me screaming obscenities and drinking the city of Green Bay out of Miller Lite (a feat, I know). One of these deranged morons saw my Ravens hat (10 degrees that day) and asked me where I was from. I told him I live in Chicago but was born and lived in Baltimore for some time. He asked where in Baltimore. I told him Towson. He said he had never heard of it.
If I see another pair of purple camo pants worn by some guy who lives an hour from the stadium but has never been outside the harbor I’m going to bludgeon my eyes out with a crab fork.
Ever since Ray Lewis retired, Harbaugh has been desperately trying to find a One and True Savior who is so talented it will cover for his inability to manage a game (the fourth-and-1s against Tennessee in the playoffs last year come to mind). Couple that with an overall ethos of “We don’t need talented receivers or a decent O-line for Lamar” and you have the makings of a Madden QB on a Tecmo Bowl team.
Oh, and fuck Villanueva. I’m sure he’ll be great, but fuck him for giving these goddamn Yinzers something else to be smug about.
Fraud ass team. This team is GREAT when facing the NFL’s weak links, but when it comes to real competition we’re choke artists. Lamar may have been MVP once but he’ll forever be just Mahomes’ also-ran from now on.
Marquise Brown’s only valuable contribution was pointing out why this offense doesn’t throw the ball more to all the souljas. Our top target is an unremarkable TE and we have a habit of signing washed receivers as cheap lip service. This team managed to get one of the most electrifying talents in a generation and proceeded to surround him with Nerf guns as weapons.
Everyone talks the defense up as if we still had probable murderer/hall of famer Ray Lewis and Ed Reed still on our team, but we don’t. Derrick Henry lives in our heads rent free. Andy Reid beat us using plays he drew up while doing ayahuasca.
If you put the Maryland flag on anything this fanbase will buy it. Put it on an anal plug. Larry Hogan wasted the sympathy he got as a cancer survivor by forcing unvaccinated teachers back to work and shafting Baltimore, a major and highly populated city, out of vaccines. Remember when Larry was ahead of the curve by ordering a paltry amount of test kits? Turns out they were shit.
Jimmy’s Seafood is overpriced chum. You said it before and it still rings true: Baltimore is shittier Philly. More crime, more drugs, more vacant/run down houses AND higher rent. You’re paying for the People who come to the city and make a Wire reference are at least 35 and only come for the inner harbor, tell their friends that ‘it’s exactly like the show!’, have vanilla sex with a partner who hates them and didn’t vote because ‘neither candidate appealed to them’.
I was in downtown Baltimore for the Super Bowl victory celebration in 2001. Imagine thousands of normally miserable, toothless people experiencing their single lifetime moment of joy. Watch Woodstock ’99 or footage of the January 6 riots, throw in some purple floodlights and you’ll get the idea. Like Philly, but with less creativity.
Five nationally broadcast games? SHOULD BE SIX. Documentary about the ’85 Bears? SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE 2000 RAVENS. We get one of the most exciting players in football, and I’ll be goddamned if we don’t find a way to turn him into fast Joe Flacco. The truth is that the only way we can cum is if we can openly gripe about being disrespected. I swear as soon as one major outlet projected the Browns to win the division, I became diamond hard. Now hurry up and write this article so I can finish.
I once dated a woman whose family held season tickets. Every member of her extended family had the appearance, personality, and intelligence of a Polish sausage. Based on the typical gameday crowd, this seems to be some sort of genetic prerequisite for becoming a Ravens fan.
A Ravens home game is distinguishable from a Trump rally only by the crowd’s preference for purple over red. Justin Tucker and Mark Andrews jerseys make up fifty percent of those present among at the stadium on game day. The other half are for Marshal Yanda and white former tight ends. My aforementioned ex-girlfriend’s mother openly had a crush on Dennis Pitta. Apparently, he had a really cute butt.
One evening in April 2015, at the height of the civil unrest following the murder of Freddie Gray, I was attending a function completely unrelated to football. While I was in the bathroom, a staggeringly drunk man in a Joe Flacco jersey came in and occupied the urinal next to me despite several others being available. As he pissed on the floor, he leaned in toward me and confided in me that, regarding the riots taking place barely ten miles away, he had an AK-47 and didn’t give a fuck. He was completely indistinguishable from everyone I’ve ever conversed with at the stadium.
In January 2007, the Ravens went into the playoffs with a 13-3 record and the second seed in the AFC behind the 14-2 Chargers, who they beat in the regular season. They were led by Steve McNair and a seemingly impenetrable defense. I was absolutely certain they were going to win the Super Bowl. Never mind the fact that they were going to have to host Peyton Manning and the Colts in the divisional round. The Colts’ defense was atrocious, and I knew in my heart that Air McNair was going to lead us to the promised land. I was 16 at the time, still young enough to feel that kind of magical sports hope that only kids can feel, but old enough to know better.
My parents were having company during the game. I excused myself early from dinner and sequestered myself in the room over the garage, where I could watch the game alone. The Ravens, in what I now know is vintage Ravens fashion, spent the entire game tripping over their own dicks en route to a miserable, low-scoring loss. Despite being as far away in the house from everyone else as possible, my mother came upstairs twice during the game to shush me and tell me to stop the profanity. When Adam Vinatieri hit the final field goal to make it 15-6 with 26 seconds remaining, I broke. My parents’ guests fled the house in terror as I trashed the entire room, then cried myself to sleep on the floor.
A few months ago, my mother found the Steve McNair shirsey I was wearing during that game while cleaning out the attic. When she returned it to me, I took it home and stared at it wistfully for a while that evening, then laid awake in bed for far too long thinking of all the Ravens Super Bowls that never were and wondering why I ever decided to subject myself to the torment of caring so much.
I was once physically sick after a loss to the Browns despite being sober. Prior to Lamar Jackson finally winning a playoff game last season, my last memory of a Ravens playoff victory was of drunkenly yelling, “Fuck ‘em right in the pussy!” alone in my living room as Certified Guy Crockett Gillmore streaked down the Steelers’ sideline for a touchdown that put the game on ice. My wife once found me on the floor in the fetal position in the second quarter of a regular season game against the Jaguars. She now refuses to be in the same room with me if the Ravens are playing, with the further stipulation that she will not be in the same building as me if they ever make it to the Super Bowl again.
This hasn’t mattered much in recent years, because for my own health and the health of my marriage I made the decision a few years ago to step way, way back. I now watch the Ravens only rarely, and I am a better man for it. To this day, I have not seen one second of footage from their playoff loss to the Titans two years ago, and I intend for it to stay that way.
Ray Lewis is a murderer. Joe Flacco was never elite. Justin Tucker is one bad game away from permanently getting the yips. Lamar Jackson is going to die either from COVID or from blunt force trauma after running up the middle 50 times during a game. Fuck Kyle Boller, fuck Billy Cundiff, fuck Ray Rice, and most of all fuck me.
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