In what has been deemed a holiday by some pundits, "Black Monday" is the label given to the day following the final Sunday of the regular season. Yesterday claimed the jobs of seven head coaches in the NFL and multiple front office personnel.
As the dust settled and two-thirds of the NFL started looking ahead to the offseason, the other 12 teams still have an eye on the ultimate prize. While only one of the final playoff squads will be able to win its last game of the season, there will still be room to grade the year as a success.
There is no perfect team in the NFL. The parity in the league is such that even the team with the worst record in the league, Jacksonville, managed to remain competitive against two of the last playoff teams it faced. The Jaguars even took division-winning Houston to overtime in Houston before falling, 43-37.
The Baltimore Ravens enter the playoffs this week on a bit of a roll, but in the wrong direction. Racing out to a 9-2 record, the AFC North division winners ended the season in less than convincing fashion, losing four of their last five.
The single-elimination tournament of the NFL playoffs lends itself to any outcome though. The last two Super Bowl champions have defied conventional wisdom. The 2011 champion Green Bay Packers was the second sixth-seeded team to even make it to the Super Bowl. Last year's winner, New York, was only the third team to compete in the Super Bowl with fewer than 10 wins (9).
Surely the Baltimore Ravens have visions of overcoming the same obstacles of the last two Lombardi Trophy winners, but team architect Ozzie Newsome has already started planning the Ravens' offseason.
There are a number of questions that will need to be answered over the spring and summer of 2013. In addition, some very important decisions will have to be made that could dramatically change the appearance of the 2013 Baltimore Ravens.
There can certainly be no "perfect" blueprint to a team's offseason planning, but if the Ravens are looking to improve next season, they will need to address some very important areas.