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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Harbaugh, Macdonald press conferences

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With head coach John Harbaugh and new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald meeting with reporters earlier this week, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Though a moot point with Jim Harbaugh remaining at Michigan, you couldn’t help but wonder if the former San Francisco coach would have invited Greg Roman to rejoin him in an NFL setting. Might that have explained what was perceived to be a tepid proclamation of Roman staying with Baltimore?

2. The reported departure of Rob Ryan would hardly be surprising since close friend Wink Martindale was pivotal in bringing him in as inside linebackers coach. Though the same could be said about Macdonald the previous year, the underwhelming development of Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison did him no favors.

3. As Harbaugh noted how the Ravens are “going to have to measure up” in the AFC North after finishing 1-5 in the division, Baltimore ranks 13th in a Pro Football Focus composite score measuring available offseason resources. Not bad, but Cincinnati ranks fifth and Cleveland seventh. This isn’t getting easier.

4. Plans can always change, but Harbaugh mentioning getting “two first-round pick corners back” sounded like good news for anyone worried about the Ravens possibly moving on from Marcus Peters and his $10 million salary. You just hope the 29-year-old has the same playmaking ability the Ravens desperately missed in 2021.

5. After initially ignoring calls from former special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg that he believed were from a Georgia football recruit, Macdonald accepted an internship in 2014, joining Baltimore at the same time as Chris Horton. Pretty cool for two of your current coordinators to climb that organizational ladder like that.

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6. Macdonald noted how he “wasn’t very good” in high school and said a key to good coaching is “to be willing to say that you don’t know” sometimes. Players will see right through even the best ex-players lacking humility and the ability to relate to lesser talents as coaches.  

7. Simulated pressures — sending a linebacker or defensive back in exchange for dropping a rusher into pass coverage — were commonplace under Wink Martindale, but you sense Macdonald may use them more frequently while scaling back outright blitzes. Using deception while maintaining more coverage integrity is a safer form of being “aggressive.” 

8. Asked about the play of Lamar Jackson, Harbaugh said he’s “really determined” to improve and concluded his broad assessment by saying, “Let’s get better at the things we need to get better at, and let’s let that talent shine.” It’ll be interesting to learn what that might entail this offseason.

9. Harbaugh stated how “critically important” offensive line play is to their success and expressed optimism that Ronnie Stanley “should be back full speed next year.” The Ravens can hope for the best with that, but preparing for the possibility that he’s not must be one of the top offseason priorities.   

10. Though Baltimore remains optimistic that Nick Boyle will be back to full speed next season, adding a more versatile tight end to complement All-Pro selection Mark Andrews makes sense if the right opportunity arises. You’d like to see 12 personnel become more dynamic in the passing game again.

11. Harbaugh said the Ravens will make changes and “turn over every stone” in response to their worst injury season since 2015. Some have clamored for head strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders to go, but any staff additions they make will likely be more relevant to the big picture.

12. Thursday marked nine years since the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII with Justin Tucker and Sam Koch being the only players from that team still under contract. It also signals their longest drought appearing in an AFC Championship, which reflects their overall success and urgency to return to that stage. 

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