By Chris Schisler
Baltimore Ravens fans, here we go again. Bucky Brooks brought up that the Ravens have the head coach and quarterback with the second most pressure going into the 2021 season. It’s an odd take. For starters, the Ravens have shown nothing but a commitment to John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson.
Before we get into this too much, let’s remember that Brooks thought the Baltimore Ravens should “Graduate” from Jackson and draft Justin Fields. At this point, saying things that rile up the Ravens Flock about Lamar Jackson is just what Brooks does. He’s been an analyst and a scout for a long time. With all due respect, his Lamar Jackson takes have been off the wall. This tweet says it all:
Brooks listed the top pressure combo as the Los Angeles Rams. That makes sense. The Rams trade for Matthew Stafford was massive and it’s surely Super Bowl or bust. The third team on the list was the Indianapolis Colts who just traded for Carson Wentz.
The Raiders were fourth, which makes sense. Jon Gruden isn’t exactly rocking the “The Black Hole” and Derek Carr has been consistently underwhelming. Number five was the Chicago Bears Matt Nagy and whomever the starter is between Justin Fields and Andy Dalton.
Jackson and Harbaugh don’t belong in this grouping. The Ravens have kicked an awful lot of butt since Jackson became the starting quarterback. John Harbaugh has a Super Bowl ring and was the 2019 NFL head coach of the year. Every team in this conversation has doubt under center and on the sideline. The Ravens have continuity and confidence.
The Ravens went 14-2 in 2019 and 11-5 in 2020. Is there pressure for them to win the Super Bowl? Yes. Let’s be honest though, a lot of that is self-imposed pressure. With great football comes great expectations. With great expectations there is pressure. As long as the Ravens are contenders and there will be pressure to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.
Baltimore Ravens: Forget outside pressure
Outside pressure doesn’t really matter in Baltimore. Steve Bisciotti wanted Lamar Jackson. and the organization appears to be gaga in love with him. Bisciotti hired John Hatbaugh in 2008 and it’s no secret that he doesn’t want to part ways with him. That’s his guy, it would take a lot for the Ravens and Harbaugh to part.
Pressure implies that there is an ultimatum. If the Ravens win the AFC North but fail to win the Super Bowl do you think they’ll switch gears? There may be a coordinator named Greg Roman out the door, but you should bet on Harbaugh and Jackson to keep their run going strong. How bad would it have to be to change that? That’s the point.
The biggest problem the Ravens have with pressure is getting in their own way. It’s why the 2019 dream season ended with the offense abandoning the run against the Tennessee Titans. It’s why the Chiefs are the Ravens’ kryptonite. The Ravens want it too badly. When things slip away from them they have mostly found a way to lose a winnable game.
Lamar Jackson puts a lot on himself. He’s said nothing but the right thing. He’s constantly working. This is a quote from Lamar Jackson from Jamison Hensley’s ESPN article:
“It’s really not the offseason anymore,” Jackson said. “For us, I’ll say, we’ve just got to keep grinding and stay in shape. We can’t go backward right now, because we already had our fun and did whatever we did during the regular offseason. Not this time; it’s straight go-mode right now. The season is here.”
Jackson isn’t being put in a win or else situation. In fact, nobody expects more of him than he does himself. Jackson’s motivation comes from within. He wants to prove his detractors wrong, but that’s not what drives the man. Jackson wants to win, he wants to be great. He believes in himself and he works to see his dream of winning a Super Bowl come true.
The Bottom Line:
Jackson has an energy about him that is different. It feels like this is where he is supposed to be, as the offense’s version of Ray Lewis. Jackson took the Ravens from a middle-of-the-pack team that had missed the playoffs in three of the previous four seasons, to a team that started doing amazing things.
Number eight jerseys are all around Baltimore. The excitement for this team may be at an all-time high. The confidence of the team and the organization reflect that. Jackson is the spark plug, and John Harbaugh is the engineer who has kept the train on the tracks for years. That’s not changing. There is pressure on the Ravens, but it’s the self-imposed kind. That’s not what Bucky Brooks was talking about. Brooks really just needs to admit that he doesn’t believe in Lamar Jackson already.