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Vita Vea #50 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sacks Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium on October 27, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Some people are fans of the Baltimore Ravens. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Baltimore Ravens. This 2023 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: OH THAT BALL’S OUT! THAT’S LIVE!

Your 2022 record: A 10-7 gagfest normally reserved for the likes of the Chargers, Vikings, and Browns. Last year’s Ravens made it their goal to join these hallowed ranks, and you can’t say that they failed in the endeavor. They blew a 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter to Miami, giving up 469 yards to Tua Tagovailoa through the air. They blew a 20-10 halftime lead to Buffalo, got stoned at the two on fourth down late in that game, and finally succumbed on a Tyler Bass field goal at the other end. They also blew a 10-point lead to Daniel Jones, which should never happen to any team, under any circumstance. But this team loved blowing huge leads, I tell you! Loved it more than lowballing their own quarterback!

And those were the FUN losses. Baltimore also lost to Jacksonville in the final minute on this pass, with Doug Pederson balls-ily going for two for the lead afterward and getting it. This was the rare Ravens game where asking Justin Tucker to nail a 66-yarder at the gun to win it did NOT pay off for them. Would you believe this team also managed to lose to the Browns as well, in Deshaun Watson’s first game back from suspension? It’s true. The Ravens also lost in the final minute to the Steelers, and then ended the year with two straight losses in Cincinnati. The first of those losses was a Week 18 laugher where they turned the ball over four times. The second game was The Sam Hubbard Game, in which Mike Tirico finally earned his stripes as a play-by-play man in the clip you see above.

Let’s add some context to that 99-yard death blow. The Ravens made the playoffs despite losing QB Lamar Jackson for the final five games of the regular season. Jackson sprained his PCL early in December, which the team believed to be an injury he could quickly recover from, certainly in time for the playoffs. Jackson, an impending free agent, felt otherwise, thus beginning a cold war with his own organization that would last deep into the offseason.

But with—and I swear this is true—2023 Pro Bowler Tyler Huntley subbing for Jackson, the Ravens managed to outplay the Bengals on that fateful night, outgaining them by a margin of 364-234. Late in the game, they were poised to take the lead outright at the goal line when Huntley, bless his idiot soul, reached over the goal line to score instead of simply sneaking between linemen with the ball firmly in his grasp. The rest is comedy.

Not content to throw his first-string QB under the bus, coach John Harbaugh did the same to Huntley after it was all over:

"We felt we had a good call, it was a push sneak play, wasn't executed the right way," he said. "Tyler went over the top, that's a burrow play, he's gotta go low on that. That's the way the play's designed."

When this team left Cleveland in 1995, it managed to leave all of its organizational dysfunction behind. They are now hellbent on making up for lost time.

Your coach: Still John Harbaugh, who oscillates between enlightened football thinker one minute and seething prick the next. If John comes off as the reasonable Harbaugh to you, it’s only because his brother planted the sanity bar deep in the ground, right underneath his collection of urine jars. But a Harbaugh is still a Harbaugh, which means that these Ravens will remain as maddeningly unreliable as their head coach until the day he’s gone. According to his present contract, that day won’t come until 2025 at the earliest. Dagger.

The good news is that John Harbaugh finally discovered the idea of having a viable passing offense this past offseason. So say goodbye to former offensive coordinator and future St. Louis BattleHawks head coach Greg Roman, and say hello to former Georgia OC Todd Monken, whose job will be to draw up plays that DON’T end with Jackson desperately heaving the ball to Mark Andrews. Monken’s last NFL job was as OC in Cleveland under Freddie Kitchens, which ended precisely the way you think it did. His job before that was running the Jameis Winston/Ryan Fitzpatrick Bucs offense. Funny how going back down to the college ranks and joining a historically loaded program in Georgia improved Monken’s reputation after all of that. John Harbaugh always fixes his offense two years too late.

Your quarterback: Against all odds, it’s still Lamar Jackson. I’m gonna recap Jackson’s offseason saga as quickly as possible, so that I can get right to making fun of him. After sitting out that Wild Card game, the Ravens slapped the rare non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, putting him out on the market in perhaps the biggest Dad Move in NFL history. They may as well have locked him in a closet with a carton of Marlboros. No team offered Lamar a contract after that, because of collusion and because Jackson opted for a combination of himself, his mom, and unauthorized Florida Men as his representation, instead of just hiring an actual agent. Bereft of options, he turned around and inked a fat contract to stay put. Cold war over. Everyone happy. For now.

Jackson could’ve played in that Bengals game, but didn’t because it could’ve hurt his earning power. I don’t blame him for this, because nobody wants to end up being the next Robert Griffin III. But now that he has been paid, the Ravens are more dependent than ever on a fragile quarterback who missed 10 games in the past two seasons with more legitimate injuries, rendering him a dangerous investment for the rest of his career. And neither he nor Harbaugh are the type of men to let any grudge pass without nursing it for decades on end. They still hate each other, and likely always will.

Finally, you and I know goddamn well that Denny from Dundalk wanted Jackson's ass out of Baltimore this spring so that the team could draft some pasty asshole instead. And you know that Denny and every other pair of Zubaz in the state of Maryland will hold last year against Jackson for the rest of his natural life.

Your backup is still Tyler Huntley, which means that your starter is still Tyler Huntley.

What’s new that sucks: WHERE WERE YOU?!

None shall recover. Elsewhere, the Ravens’ habit of giving famous wideouts one last job endures, as they signed terminal weirdo Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year deal with $15 million guaranteed. When we last saw Beckham, he was on the verge of winning Super Bowl MVP before tearing his knee up. He then spent all of last season happily fueling a Who Will Land Odell? storyline that ended with him still in rehab and unable to sign with anyone at all. And now the Ravens need him to be their WR1. This team cannot stop injuring its own players, mascot included. So it’s a cold hard lock that Harbaugh orders Monken to call some gadget play where OBJ throws it back to Lamar in the end zone, which ends with an interception and one of those men tearing an MCL.

They also signed Nelson Agholor, because they hate themselves.

Now, the defense. Minus an injured CB Marlon Humphrey, who will return from surgery on a timeline that Harbaugh currently regards exclusively as Baltimore Ravens information, the Ravens’ secondary is barren. As of last week, they were down to only two cornerbacks available to practice, and had to grab CB Ronald Darby off the street as gauze for an already open wound.

All of this attrition in the secondary could be mitigated with a fearsome pass rush, except that Baltimore doesn’t have one. Waning name-brand players like DT Calais Campbell and edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Houston left in the offseason, but the Ravens have little in the way of replacements. Their best hope is unwanted edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney—who they just grabbed off the street—and 2021 first-rounder Odafe Oweh, whose sack total declined from five to three in his second year. If you’re the kind of meathead who loves blitzing recklessly and giving up 400 yards every game, this is your defense. But the linebacking crew? Well, thanks to last year’s in-season trade for LB Roquan Smith, that unit is SOLID. And that’s all that any defense needs to thrive in 2023!

As a result, the Ravens’ fortunes in 2023 will depend on being able to outscore everyone else on the schedule, and that’s a big ask when your best RB is full body cast J.K. Dobbins, and when Rashod Bateman is still one of your primary receiving options.

Patrick Queen sucks now. David Simon won’t stop asking to see the manager about speed cameras. USE WAZE, OLD-TIMER.

Why the players think you suck: This might be the only organization in the league where players do NOT like their strength coaches. The union gave the Ravens the dreaded F- and then ordered Harbaugh to drop and give them 20:

30 of the 32 teams in the NFL gave their strength coaches fairly positive reviews. Baltimore was one of the two teams that fell well below the rest, and they were even significantly below the second-worst team.

Players do not feel like the strength staff helps them be more successful… 36% of players believe they receive an individual plan (Ranked 32nd)

How fucking hard it is to give an NFL player an individual strength plan? I could google one up in five seconds. Here, Ronnie Stanley, do three sets of three. For everything. You wideouts should do every set to failure. BOOM. Done. Pay me.

What has always sucked: While the rest of the Eastern Seaboard is dotted with large and vital metropolises, Baltimore is not one of them. Baltimore resides firmly in the genre of American Cities That Have One Famous Thing. It’s Cleveland on the Chesapeake. A nothing city. A giant impediment to traffic.

As for greater Maryland, I’ve lived in this state for two decades and like it very much. This is because Maryland is a generic state, and I am a generic person. I like the suburbs. I like going to the mall. I like chain restaurants. I drive a Hyundai. I live my values, but never past the limits of my comfort. Deep down, I’m about as Maryland as it gets: plain, shallow, and forgettable. Also, everyone here parks crooked.

And the Ravens, despite their pedigree, are no different. This is a generic football team, with a generic coach and a generic roster that never has more than two exciting players on it in any given year. The stadium is generic and only stands out around here because it isn’t FedEx. The fans are all generic exurbanites. The owner is a generic fake tan. All of it is one big nothing. I can’t wait to move to a real state one day.

Color guys won’t shut the fuck up about Patrick Ricard. He’s just a fullback. Chill out.

Ratto says: For a team that has crafted a Steelers-level fetish for continuity, the Ravens have a fairly arcane view of how to care for and feed franchise quarterbacks … of which they have had one. John Harbaugh ranks fifth on the worldwide list of active coaches still with the same team, but he didn't need all those years on the job to know that one should never let money get in the way of quarterbacking stability. Lamar Jackson is better for Harbaugh's future than Tyler Huntley, Josh Johnson, or Anthony Brown, and therefore should be signed at whatever the going rate for soccer players in Saudi Arabia make.

What might not suck: I watched rookie WR Zay Flowers in that historic preseason loss, and he is legit. Same goes, as always, for Justin Tucker. Also it's August and the mayor hasn't been indicted yet this year, which is nice.

HEAR IT FROM RAVENS FANS!

Gabe Fernandez:

The last time a Ravens star had a viable weapon around him was when Ray Lewis was in Atlanta. The OBJ-Lamar connection is only an exciting prospect in Madden with injuries turned off. Also, the day Mark Andrews makes a vital catch in an important game is the day the water in the Inner Harbor becomes drinkable.

Also-also, and for the last time: fuck Greg Roman.

Kurt:

This is it. This is the year our "plan" at wide receiver finally works. 

River:

You could spot these guys 50 points against a team of six-year-olds and they'd find a way to blow it.

Bryan:

No coach looks smarter during press conferences and more confused on the field than John Harbaugh.

Vanessa:

John Harbaugh finally figured out which coordinator was the problem.

Jordan:

The only thing I'd trust Greg Roman to call is Domino's Pizza. We got rid of him two years too late.

Tom:

Over the last seven years, this is how the Ravens have ended each season:

2016: Big Ben two-minute drill resulting in an Antonio Brown TD with eight seconds left to miss the playoffs. On Christmas.

2017: Andy Dalton TD to Tyler Boyd on 4th and 12 with 53 seconds left to miss the playoffs. On New Year's Eve.

2018: Lamar fumble after mounting a furious comeback in a dud of a game vs. the Chargers.

2019: Shocking blowout loss to the Titans at home after going 14-2.

2020: Lamar red zone pick-pix to go down 17-3 to the Bills; concussed on next play.

2021: Started the season 8-3, Lamar injured, finished the season 0-6 to miss playoffs.

2022: That fumble.

Alex:

Because when the Ravens were trying to win a playoff game with a brutal ball-control offense and bone-crushing defense, and then came within one very ill-advised QB leap of actually pulling it off, I absolutely loved it

Grant:

The first person in our Ring Of Honor scored a total of five TDs while he was a Raven, and his NFL legacy will always be fumbling on the one-yard line in the AFC championship game.

Zach:

Dolphins at Ravens in Week 2 last year. My brother-in-law is a Dolphins fan, so I invite him to the game. It's his first time in Baltimore, so I want to be a good host. But all I really want is for the Ravens to bulldoze the Dolphins as payback for that miserable ass-whooping they suffered in Miami the year before.

I get us my favorite crab cakes before the game. Awesome. 

Q1 -- Ravens return the opening kickoff for six. Hell yes. The wheels are in motion. 

Q2 -- Lamar hits Bateman for a 75-yd TD. Sick. Speaking of which, my stomach is suddenly not feeling right. The heat's not helping. Don't really care though, because the Ravens are up 21 points at the half. 

Q3 -- Lamar goes 80 yds for a TD. I need water. I'm cramping bad. Please don't need to shit. Not at the stadium. Not like this. Fuck those crab cakes. This day is going downhill fast. But at least the Birds are still up 21. 

Q4 -- I am in hell. My body is shaking. I had stadium diarrhea and it didn't even help. Why is it so goddamn hot? My brother-in-law goes nuts as the Dolphins score their fourth touchdown of the quarter in the final minute. Ravens lose. I don't care. I don't even want to be around anymore. 

Post-game dinner near stadium -- I excuse myself to go lie down in the car. Oh no. Here it comes. I speed walk back into the Capital Grille bathroom with zero time to spare and projectile vomit into the toilet. For 15 minutes straight. Relief. Finally. I am human again. 

So anyway, the Ravens host the Dolphins again this year on New Year’s Eve and my wife thinks we should all go!

DangerNut:

If you ever find yourself driving through Baltimore... first, I am very sorry for the terrible turn your life has obviously taken. Please just scan the radio dial. Baltimore has the worst fucking sports coverage on the planet. Pretty much the only dedicated sports radio station in Baltimore is run by a knock off version of Alex Jones. 

Steve:

Stop bashing Indy.  When the Colts bolted in the middle of the night, 900 people were showing up for the games & I’m pretty sure half of them were Memorial Stadium employees. Art Modell pulled the same shit 11 years later and you all thought it was great.  So fuck your entitlement. I really hope the Ravens suck for years to come. 

Keith:

Anybody that owns anything purple camo is a moronic, white trash hillbilly who never actually goes into Baltimore except on game days. And to occasionally take their ladies out on a date to the Cheesecake Factory at the Inner Harbor.

Matt:

Lamar's window is closed. The season-ending injuries, the weakening of the team around him, and now the transition to a pass-first, Stetson Bennett offense, which is supposed to take the most dynamic dual threat in NFL history to a new level by de-emphasizing his primary skill. 

It's all set up to crater so perfectly. The new WR corps consists of a guy famous for dropping the ball, a high-priced former stud who hasn't seen a football field since before the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, and a first-round draft pick out of powerhouse Boston College who I have a few pounds and more than a few inches on. What was once a top-three line has been reduced to revolving doors, and a left tackle who's taken home $80 million for playing one of every three games the last three years. The defense is aging rapidly while the front office has paid market-topping salaries to a safety and an off-ball LB two years running, while the rest of the league saves money at those positions to pay pass rushers. Our best pass rusher last year? The reanimated corpse of Justin Houston, who looks like somebody's pop pop and also isn't on the team anymore.

At least Lamar got paid and somebody always compliments me when I wear his jersey around town.

Kelli:

It is November 11, 2021. I am inpatient at a hospital, having been life-flighted three hours away from home earlier that week. Away from friends and family, at 26 weeks pregnant. To make a complicated story short, I was suffering from pre-eclampsia and the doctors were desperately trying to prevent me from having to give birth so early.

I hadn't been following the season closely, trying to keep stress to a minimum as my blood pressure was getting outrageous at times. But, after being bedbound for several days, you get restless, bored, and tired of watching QVC. My blood pressure had been stable for three days, and doctors were confident it would remain that way. So I turned on the Thursday Night Football game. “Oh cool,” I think to myself. “It's against the Dolphins. It'll be fine.”

I call my dad, a self-hating Dolphins fan. We bullshit for a little while. As I say good night to him, the first quarter ends and I'm starting to feel uneasy. 

Honestly, I don't even remember much of the game now. All I remember is getting so upset during the third quarter that a patient tech came to check on me because my heart rate monitor was going crazy. My nurse came soon after, and my blood pressure was insanely high. They made me turn off the TV and I spent the rest of my night being checked every hour to see if it got better.

It didn't. The next morning at 9 am, my entire team of doctors come in and informed me that I had to have an emergency C-section as my baby and I were actively dying. I was rushed to the OR and put to sleep (which they don't like to do, but my it had become too dangerous to keep me awake) while they got my undercooked infant out of me. The next thing I remember is my husband and mother crowding around me. 

My son was in the NICU for six months, on a ventilator, almost died, etc. I'm glossing over it here, but trust me, it was harrowing and I wouldn't wish going through what we went through on my worst enemy. But almost two years later, he's a happy, healthy kid who should hopefully have a normal life.

Now, I'm not saying the Ravens are directly responsible for my son coming so early after I had been stabilized. Pre-eclampsia has no proven cause. I was a very sick woman, and anything could have happened. And I'm not saying I'm superstitious. But I am saying that the little Ravens onesie my dad bought my baby last Christmas was promptly stuffed in a dark corner of my closet, never to see the light of day again.

Christian:

Last season I did something that I never thought I would do in my Ravens fandom life. I took the season off. Going into 22-23, the team made no significant changes. Greg Roman was still running the offense, if you could call running the ball on every 3rd and 10 an offense. I thought it would be hard. I have rarely missed a game. I've taken days off work to watch playoff games.

But shockingly, my life moved on. No stress. No yelling at the TV and startling the pets. The season went on and I didn't miss them. In fact, every time they blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead, I smiled and thought how much better my life was without this team ruining my Sundays.

Then the playoffs came around. I told myself I would continue to not watch. I was checking in on the score through the game and at halftime the Ravens were up 10-9 and Burrow was playing terribly.

So I did what all fans do. I relapsed. They sucked me back in. Maybe we could pull this off. Then I watched Tyler Huntley at the one. After the game, my wife asked me why I turned it on after a whole season of not watching, and noted how much happier I seemed not watching. I have a problem. I know this. All fans do. It's why we watch.

What about this season, you ask? I'm back in! Roman is finally gone, Lamar is back with a shiny new contract, and we signed OBJ. What could go wrong? 

James:

Fuck Harbaugh, Fuck Bob from Parkville and fuck Ray Lewis and his tiny street preacher energy.

Bryan:

I'm just glad our most popular player ever writes children's books in his free time now instead of being an accessory to murder.

Submissions for the NFL previews are now closed. Next up: Minnesota Vikings.

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