Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How will the Ravens do in 2008? Can Brett Favre help?

I’ve been asked often by folks around town what I think of John Harbaugh and how I think the Ravens will do this year. Let’s start with Harbaugh.

John Harbaugh is tailor made for the Ravens and for this city. First off, he seems to me to be the prototypical guy for Steve Bisciotti. From an observer’s perspective and after speaking with folks who have worked for Bisciotti both as owner of the Ravens and with The Allegis Group, Bisciotti seems to take pride in hiring people who have something to prove, possess a strong work ethic, can work with and be respectful of their peers, superiors and subordinates and deliver more than they are expected.

That to me is Harbaugh. He’s a Bisciotti kind of guy. He strikes me as a scrapper, a battler, a hard hat guy who refuses to leave any stone unturned.

Jason Garrett in my opinion is none of those things. Harbaugh is Baltimore. Garrett is DC and if you are from these parts, that should tell you all you need to know.

Now how might the Ravens do?

To me the response is not different than it’s been for the past few years. If the Ravens get consistently efficient quarterback play, they will be a team that can join the dance in January. If they don’t, they won’t! It’s that simple.

Admittedly that is no cutting edge thought. It’s just the truth.

The Ravens don’t need a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or Carson Palmer at QB. They just need consistency. Steve McNair provided that in 2006. His play was hardly spectacular. It was pretty average really. Yet the Ravens won 13 games that year.

But McNair was an experienced pro and despite his physical shortcomings he was battle tested and he knew the game. He knew how to win when he could stay upright and his right arm wasn’t shattered like a Stones’ song.

So what can we expect from the Ravens trio of Smith, Boller & Flacco?

Unfortunately at this point it’s hard to confidently expect consistency and consequently I don’t expect the Ravens as a team to be very consistent. They might beat a team or two they shouldn’t and they’ll lose a couple that on paper they should win.

My guess is that Troy Smith will open the season as the starter. He will have his ups and downs and as a result Kyle Boller will get a spot start or two. Both will give way to Joe Flacco by about the 12th game of the season provided the offensive line has shown signs that they can adequately protect the key to the Ravens’ future. I’m thinking come January 1, 2009 the Ravens will be looking back upon a 7-9, 8-8 season.

It will be a fun season – a season of change and the team’s style of play will prove to be a breath of fresh air, not far removed from the results of the 1999 season.

Next year, who knows? Brian Billick’s first season ended 8-8 and we all felt optimistic about 2000 although no one besides Phil Mickelson thought a Super Bowl XXXV victory was possible for the Ravens.

Can 2009 be on par with 2000? Possibly.

But until then, while I’m not comfortable predicting a final 2008 record for the Ravens I can very safely say that it will be fun beginning with a training camp at McDaniel College that promises to be much different than anything we’ve seen in quite some time. Treat yourself to a road trip to Westminster this summer, provided of course you’ve saved enough money for gas…

Someone who won’t be making a road trip to these parts is Brett Favre. Look it’s natural for some of these national media folk to fill the dead NFL air with stories that very loosely make sense. Favre keeps stirring the ambers of his comeback flame instead of pouring a bucket of Gatorade on them once and for all. And until he does, there will be speculation when there’s not much else to discuss – like now!

But Favre to Baltimore makes sense only in fantasy football. With solid play at quarterback the Ravens can contend and Favre could be the missing piece. That’s about the only sensible thing to arise from such speculation. Yet there are compelling reasons not to consider Favre and the guess here is that such discussion is no more than comical conversation over a couple of cold summer beers for members of the Ravens’ front office.

Favre to Baltimore will only happen if Brett craves steamed crabs. Otherwise it is nothing more than fantasy football speculation for Anita Marks and Kurt Backert on MASN’s Fantasy Blitz. Simply put, there’s no cap room to pay a player who is more indecisive than The Clash.

One minute he’s retired, the next he’s not. Then he’s retired followed by a cry-me-a-river retirement press conference followed by “I’ve got the itch again” to play. Should he stay or should he go now?

Just go and if you don’t Brett, just don’t tell anyone that Baltimore would be a good fit for you.

It’s not. In my best Ben Stiller voice, nothing could be Favre from the truth.

The future is Bazooka Joe -- as in Flacco. Let’s not take our eyes off the ball here folks.

Besides No. 4 is already taken, right Sam?


f7eleven said...

I don't get the Phil Mickelson comment. Did he really predict a SB win in 2000?

Tony Lombardi said...

Well 7,

Saying he predicted the Ravens' win is a bit of a stretch. He did place a large wager in a Vegas sportsbook on the Ravens to win at all prior to the season.

I'm sure he needed the cash for golf balls.



Anonymous said...

To reiterate, with another top 5 "D" that will keep them in most games, coupled with better special teams and better physical/mental conditioning, the Ravens only have to be marginally better on "O" than in the past to be competitive. Given the unpredictability that comes with a new "O" system and coordinator, look for the Ravens to be back in the hunt, much to the surprise of many! As for Farve, his presence would give the "O" instant credibilty and provide a learning climate for Flacco, but I don't see it happening!

paul said...

The Ravens will ONLY have a top 5 D if the offense can make a play or two. The old guys can't stay on the field for 34+ min/game.