With the NFL concluding one of the greatest postseason weekends in its storied history, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens-related thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. John Harbaugh will have plenty of candidates to replace Wink Martindale, but previous defensive coordinators stepped into situations ripe with future Hall of Famers and established Pro Bowl talent. Beyond Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, there isn’t much of that under contract. The salary cap won’t be as friendly either.
2. The last six defensive coordinators were internal hires, meaning it’s unwise to dismiss defensive line coach (and ex-Houston defensive coordinator) Anthony Weaver, secondary coach Chris Hewitt, or outside linebackers coach Drew Wilkins. Of course, staying in-house isn’t a given with the reported request to interview Dallas assistant Joe Whitt.
3. I’m not at all discounting former Ravens linebackers coach Mike Macdonald as a candidate who could do a good job, but selling what he did as Michigan’s defensive coordinator just doesn’t do much for me. Slowing down Big Ten opponents isn’t the same as the NFL. Just ask Urban Meyer.
4. Tight ends coach Bobby Engram has been on the Ravens staff since 2014 and could be on his way to Wisconsin to become the Badgers’ offensive coordinator and join his son Dean, who will be a junior cornerback there. Engram’s character is second to none.
5. The Ravens can thank an incredible divisional round for swallowing their Friday evening news dump even locally. In various ways, all four games easily topped what we saw during wild-card weekend. I’m not positive Buffalo-Kansas City is the best game I’ve ever seen, but I can’t recall watching anything better.
6. I’m not opposed to tweaking the overtime format that resulted in Buffalo never getting the ball, but I can already hear people complaining about the loser not getting two possessions if we guarantee one to each. Nothing’s perfectly fair. Perhaps Baltimore’s “spot and choose” proposal from last year gains traction.
7. Lamar Jackson should have plenty of offseason motivation watching Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen look like the NFL’s new Brady-Manning rivalry. With those two atop the AFC as well as the impressive arrivals of Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, this conference isn’t getting any easier to navigate.
8. How long has it been since Cincinnati played in the AFC Championship game? The Orioles had traded future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray to the Los Angeles Dodgers a month earlier while Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams was six weeks shy of being born.
9. While critics sometimes accuse Baltimore of placing too much emphasis on special teams, watching Green Bay — who finished last in special teams DVOA — self-destruct and the Bills foolishly preserve 13 seconds for Mahomes at the end of regulation reminded how critical mistakes in that phase can kill your season. Brutal.
10. I’m not buying the Tom Brady retirement talk just yet, but I hope this isn’t it for the 44-year-old who’s defied all football logic. You don’t need to own a Brady jersey to appreciate what a near-impossible run he’s had. The Ravens also play at Tampa Bay next season.
11. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Za’Darius Smith, who played for the first time since Week 1 and registered a sack in Saturday’s loss. The Packers are expected to move on from the 29-year-old’s cap number approaching $28 million, but the ex-Raven certainly exceeded expectations in Green Bay.
12. Tennessee is now 0-for-3 playing in the divisional round as the No. 1 seed with the first two losses coming against Baltimore in 2000 and 2008. I’d say the top seed in each conference being bounced reinforced the lack of consistently elite teams more than home-field advantage not being meaningful.