Lamar Jackson recently made headlines when he said the Baltimore Ravens overlooked the Tennessee Titans prior to Baltimore's 28-14 upset loss to Tennessee in the divisional round of last year's AFC playoffs. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh offered a response when asked about Jackson's comments during a virtual meeting with the media earlier this week. Simply put, Harbaugh didn't agree with his quarterback.
"I respect his opinion on it," Harbaugh said, via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. "If he views it that way, that's how he views it. That doesn't bother me. I don't think we took them lightly personally. I just think we didn't play well."
Jackson, the league's reigning MVP, made the comments during an appearance on Complex's Load Management podcast.
"It's any given Sunday. You can't underestimate no team, no opponent and that's what we did," Jackson said, via Nick Shook of NFL.com. "So I'm looking forward to this 2020 season playing the Browns first. ... Don't underestimate your opponents. They caught us by surprise. That's all it was."
While Jackson may not be completely off base with his opinion, one can make a more compelling argument that the Titans simply played better than the Ravens, who lost their first playoff game at home for a second consecutive season. While Baltimore's run defense allowed Derrick Henry to rush for 195 yards, Jackson was sacked four times while committing three turnovers. The turnovers overshadowed Jackson's 365 rushing yards and 143 passing yards, as Tennessee scored two of their four touchdowns after forcing Jackson into committing a turnover. The Titans' other two touchdowns were scored after their defense stopped Jackson on designed quarterback runs on fourth-and-1 plays.
The playoff loss to the Titans exposed deficiencies that the Ravens have aggressively filled during the offseason. Defensively, the Ravens went out and traded for perennial Pro Bowl defensive end Calais Campbell. They also drafted defensive tackle Justin Madubuike along with linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. Expect Queen and Harrison to start right away, with Madubuike getting reps as a backup behind Derek Wolfe.
On the offensive side of the ball, Baltimore used their second-round pick to select running back J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for over 2,000 during his final season at Ohio State. The Ravens also drafted a pair of receivers in Devin Duernay and James Proche. On the offensive line, Marshal Yanda's offseason retirement has opened the door for Ben Powers to replace Yanda as the Ravens' starting right guard. And while neither player will likely start as rookies, guards Ben Bradeson and Tyrie Phillips will likely get considerable playing time in reserve roles.
While their offseason moves do not guarantee anything as it relates to success in 2020, the Ravens have put themselves in a position to have success in the postseason after falling short the previous two years. They've also added more pieces around Jackson, who is surely motivated to prove that he can parlay his regular season success into postseason wins.