Saturday, December 29, 2007

Suggs' value drops...shots at the Ravens and around the NFL

Terrell Suggs is now one day removed from unofficially becoming a free agent. Ravens’ players and coaches will tell you that Suggs has become a much more well-rounded player over the past two seasons having improved in both run support and in zone pass coverage. The trouble for Suggs is that such improvement and versatility may be more valuable to the Ravens morphing defensive style than other clubs that might be interested in his services. The Ravens would be outright foolish to pay him as an elite defensive end/linebacker after the ’07 season.

Another factor working against Suggs is his apparent need for a wingman to be effective. Suggs was once viewed as a premier pass rusher but this year through 15 games he has only 5 sacks and has forced only 1 fumble, hardly the type of numbers that would inspire any team to ante up Dwight Freeney-like dollars. With Trevor Pryce down for most of ’07 due to injuries, Suggs hasn’t been a difference maker and he is undeserving of difference maker money.

Fans have a lot to get off their chests these days when it comes to the Ravens and this fan is no different. Those who view these pages regularly know that I’ve been beating the “Fire Brian Billick” drum for quite a while. It took me some time to reach this point and now that I have, I’m convinced that Billick needs to go.

I like Brian Billick. The players like playing for him but they like it for the wrong reasons and the culture that he’s carefully crafted during his tenure in Baltimore needs to be changed. There’s too much of a pecking order and there is a severe lack of accountability. Despite the wretched results on the field, Ravens press releases and Billick’s press conferences are all too predictable with him constantly shelling out hall passes to his players even after inept performances.

His approach is exactly the opposite of Bill Belichick’s who regularly criticizes his team even after dominating performances. I’ll let you be the judge of which approach inspires a team to reach down for a little more and find ways to improve.

Todd Heap is clearly one of the elite tight ends in the league – when he’s on the field. Many question Heap’s toughness and his ability to play with pain. Injuries that generally might sideline players for a game or two seem to put Heap on the shelf for several games. That said it’s difficult to question a player’s toughness unless you walk in their shoes and absorb the kind of punishment that Heap has during his career. Years of passes thrown behind him have left Heap looking like the proverbial sitting duck to oncoming linebackers and defensive backs that regularly get clean blind side shots on Heap. Ask yourself this: Have you ever seen a tight end of Heap’s size sent head over heals so frequently by small DB’s like the Ravens No. 1 tight end?

These hits take their toll. They have a cumulative effect and you really have to wonder if the Ravens will get their money’s worth from Heap who signed a seven year extension in ’05 that averages $4.3 million per year and included an $11 million signing bonus. At the time the deal was signed, it placed Heap among the top 15 receiver contracts in NFL history and it was the richest tight end deal in league history. There is no Ravens offensive player deserving of such generosity – NONE! At least not with Brian Billick’s fingers on the offensive control buttons. For some reason, I just had a picture of Wile E. Coyote at the control switch pop into my mind…

How about Terrell Suggs taking a shot at fans who sell their tickets? While I personally would eat the tickets rather than sell to Steelers’ fans, if some of Suggs’ teammates hadn’t sold out against the Colts, maybe the fair-weathered opportunists would be more supportive. Some diehard Ravens fans might have a problem with their fair-weathered brethren but what other voice does any fan have with their team to protest their performance? Staying away, as blasphemous as it may seem to some, sends a message. Will it be heard? Seems to me that Wayne Heuzinga heard a similar message in Miami and responded. Whether you agree with the hiring of Bill Parcells or not, at least the Dolphins organization is admitting the error of their ways and they are trying to correct the problem. Here in Baltimore it seems as though the Ravens prefer to stick their collective head in the sand and hope to one day peak out to find that the proverbial coast is clear. It won’t be.

Other meandering Ravens’ and NFL thoughts…Does anyone think that Rex Ryan will get a sniff from any teams looking for a new head coach after the ’07 season? Personally I think Rex would be a very good head coach -- just not in Baltimore...Is there any other offensive coordinator in the NFL that would take his best player off the field on third down other than Brian Billick? I guess we’ll see the “sure-handed” Corey Ross on third down v. Pittsburgh…Since 1998 the Ravens have drafted the following players in the second round: Chris Chester; Dan Cody; Adam Terry; Dwan Edwards; Anthony Weaver; Gary Baxter and Patrick Johnson. I think they are due to hit on an impact player in Round 2…Don’t you PSL owners and season ticket holders feel fortunate? The Ravens have announced that they will not increase ticket prices in 2008. Is that supposed to excite us? I guess when you compare it to the Orioles who have the stones to increase prices the Ravens want to come off like knights in shining armor. They don’t. The announcement is the equivalent of Sony holding firm on pricing for a Playstation 2…

I’d like to see the Patriots lose in the playoffs but if they are successful and they do reach the unprecedented pinnacle of a 19-0 season, at least we won’t have to hear the blabbering idiocy of Mercury Morris any more…And speaking of idiocy, what about that Goof on the Roof? Perhaps they need to put up another goof on that Canton Station roof only this time, the new goof could raise money to help the poor woman who is short about 40 grand in child support.

And finally, parity has been the goal of the NFL and it was the vision embraced by the late Pete Rozelle. I don’t think 2007 is what the league or the former commissioner had in mind. The league has two premier teams, a couple of decent teams and a collection of really bad teams that make the decent ones appear better than they really are. (Can you say Steelers, Jaguars, Cowboys, Chargers, Packers and Seahawks?) It was obviously a very disappointing year for the Ravens and if not for the Patriots flirting with history, it would be the same for Goodell & Co.


Anonymous said...'s that time of year again folks. No, it's not time to make plans to attend the playoffs...not this year for the Ravens, anyway.'s time to try to put things into perspective. (that's what fans of teams who AREN'T going to the playoffs do.)

And what better way to cap things off than by looking at the Ravens vs. the Colts cap situation. To say that some of the figures are shocking is an understatement (as good as Ray & C-Mac are, does it really make sense that they're each making $1.2 million MORE than Peyton Manning?)

At the very least, the figures show that while Ozzie and the FO have done an above average job of drafting talent & signing FA's over the past 7-10 years, some legitimate questions can be raised as to whether or not the right sorts of contracts have been proffered with regard to signing/keeping those players.

You be the judge.

Happy New Year, 24x7.

(I don't know about anybody else, but I'm definitely ready for a new, hilarious "Ask Brian" right about now.)

According to

2007 Cap Value (in parenthesis, rounded)

Manning ($8.2M)
Wayne ($5.9M)
Freeney ($5.7M)
Sanders ($0.8M)
Harrison ($8.4M)
Saturday ($4.6M)
Vinatieri ($2.1M)
Clark ($1.1M)
Brock ($4.1M)
Diem ($5.8M)
Mathis ($4.0M)
McFarland ($5.5M)

compare to the Ravens:

McNair ($5.5M)
Suggs ($5.8M)
Reed ($3.1M)
Mason ($4.4M)
Ogden ($4.8M)
Heap ($4.9M)
Lewis ($9.4M)
Scott ($4.8M)
Rolle ($5.2M)
Pryce ($4.2M)
McAlister ($9.4M)
Flynn ($2.8M)

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 DEc 29th
Tony, you assessed the current state of the Ravens Very Well. As far as TODD HEAP, I think he played every down in 2005 & 2006. But for a big man,and the money they are paying him, he never seems to EAGER to get back out on the field. I've had my share of INJURIES during my life time, but I am not a Professional Football Player, and I have no idea what it takes to go out there every week. However, Could it be that many of these Injuries are due to CAMP CREAM PUFF? No other team in the league has ever had this many injuires in one year. Atleast , none come to mind; I've been watching football since 1957! This season must be an abberration; Injuries occur on every team, but the Ravens have set a new record in 2007 for MOST PLAYERS out and NOT returning to the field. Samari ROLLE has a valid reason for his absence.
In closing, I hope the Ravens Draft Matt Ryan, the tall Quarterback from Boston College and I hope that Billick will not be his coach. Since 1999, the Baltimore Ravens have been a graveyard for Quarterbacks. What is the once constand during this period? Easy one word answer: BILLICK! His Offensive system is flawed and he refuses to change and attack the defense. Give the FRIDGE down at College park credit; He attacked oregon state in the first Quarter with some Deep Passes and they were successful. The Fact that they lost was due to the overwhelming running game by Oregon State.
Billick will never ATTACK! That is why the team: The Fans; and yes the players, deserve someone NEW with FRESH ideas to move the Ravens forward in 2008!

Tony Lombardi said...

Ask and you shall receive:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Tony. I think you did very very well with this current "Ask Brian". It was clearly within the parameters of the scheme; it defied conventional wisdom; it was what it was.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I do understand the sentiments, however I have a slightly different opinion. First, injuries were a major part of this year's failures and i would agree that the conditioning has something to do with it. However, these guys are paid large sums of cash to stay in shape year round. I don't think many of them came into camp in prime shape. Also, not only was camp easy but i continually hear how little hitting is done in practice each week. Unfortunately few people can practice one way and play another. Most people play like they practice. If you are not going full speed at all during the week, it will take some adjustment getting used to the speed of the game each and every week. Therefore the entire mentality of prepartion needs to be re-examined. Yes the mental part of the game is important at this level, but so is the physical part as well.

Secondly, there is enough talent on this curent team to make it competitive next year. I have been around football a long time as a player, coach and fan to realize that there are some special players on this team. In fact, you may have the QB of the future even though he is 6'0. Funny, some of the greatest QBs in the game were between 6'0 - 6'3, why does everyone get infatuated with a tall QB? Troy Smith is a winner, he's got guts, poise and make solid decisions. I'll take him and groom him under McNair for a year. Yes, I believe keeping McNair makes sense. I don't think he wants to out as a wash up and I think Troy Smith will benefit from working with him. Offensive line, WR and RB have a solid group of young players. Defensively we need corner backs. Samari may be done, but there will be some FA talent out there and I wouldn't give up on David Pittman just yet. It took Dwan Edwards three years to mature enough to play, Pittman may be in the same boat.

The way I see it, a solid offensive coordinator is what is lacking in terms of talent. I hear that Biscotti and Ozzie have already addressed this with Brian. In fact, if you listen to the interview Viviano did Billick eluded to the fact that they would be in search of an Offensive coordinator. I know it won't happen but if Mike Martz somehow became available I would go to vegas and put $10K on the ravens going to the superbowl.

So maybe I am seeing things through my purple colored glasses, but I don't think we are too far away. Coaching needs to improve, midset needs to improve and players need to take accountability for their actions. A lot easier to do than to blow up the team and start from scratch.