Thursday, October 30, 2008

Unhappy secondary could become Ravens' primary concern


Judging from the things we’ve seen and heard around Owings Mills, the bet here is that Chris McAlister will end up on injured reserve within the next two weeks. Body language, rumors, innuendo and the things you read between the lines suggest that McAlister doesn’t really like John Harbaugh and McAlister’s personality isn’t really conducive to eating a little humble pie, buckling up his chin strap and playing football again. Not this year anyway.

Just last week McAlister told reporters that his knee was “excellent.” Want us to read between the lines Chris? Ok, I’ll play. What it says to me is that you are a smart ass!

This behavior is indicative of the unique personality that is Chris McAlister. He’ll reverse field soon, admit that the knee just isn’t 100% and go on IR, officially ending his season and more than likely his career as a Raven.

It is unlikely that Harbaugh will entertain the idea of McAlister returning in ’09 – not with his attitude and not when his release represents an $8 million cap savings which could be used to sign other free agents including a few of the Ravens’ own.

McAlister is on record saying that he would like to extend his playing career by following the career path of Rod Woodson who moved to safety from corner when he no longer possessed the top end speed required for the position. And he could very well do that but it won’t be in Baltimore.

Thanks for the memories…

Speaking of safety, the best in town is Ed Reed, a player most thought would be a life long Raven. And while Reed isn’t quite the malcontent that McAlister is, he isn’t completely buying into the Harbaugh Way. Reed has been hurt throughout the season and isn’t playing consistently well – certainly not the way we’ve come to expect from the All Pro safety. But for the better part of two seasons, let’s face it, Reed hasn’t been Reed.

Ed Reed needs to make plays. He craves it. Consider this quote from the Ravens’ safety:

“I grew up watching Michael Jordan. When his team needed somebody to make a play, he put it on his shoulders and made it. He inspired me. That’s the mentality I take to each game – make a play that will make a difference for my team. When the other team comes to the line, I’m saying to myself: ‘Make a play.’”

So, if that’s Reed’s mentality and more times than not in ’08 he is playing centerfield to protect his injury and to enable the corners to man up, might that not leave him out of position at times? Might that explain why the Ravens have given up so many big plays and then pointed to communication break downs? Does his desire to make a play leave the team vulnerable? And with such pre-snap ambitions, can he fully commit to the concept of “team?”

The truth be told Reed isn’t worth the money the Ravens are spending on him right now. If he can’t buy into “team” (I suggest that Ray Lewis b---- slap him a bit) and if he can’t get on board the Harbaugh Way 100%, then it might be time to move him too. Think it’s a crazy suggestion? Then answer this, how many playoff games have the Ravens won with Ed Reed?

Answer: The same amount that they’ve won with you and me.

Moving on a free agent who has been out there quite a while is Ty Law. If the Ravens consider themselves a serious playoff contender, might he not help? It very well could be that Law is too long in the tooth to contribute but might he not be worthy of a look?

A player the Ravens did give a look to is RB Marcus Mason who they picked up from the Redskins. Mason is said to be a decent special teams player with upside at running back. Now I realize the Ravens are pretty set at RB with the three headed monster but why not move Mason to the active roster – one that includes Edgar Jones who is a transitional tight end (who seems to contribute nothing but penalties to the box score) and WR Ernie Wheelwright (who can’t even get on the field despite the team’s problems at receiver).

Oops, too late now…the Jets just signed Mason to their active roster.

And we never even got to know you Marcus.

Happy trails….
Photo by Sabina Moran

9 comments :

Ray said...

I could live with a loss of C-Mac but I think we need to get Reed healthy and keep him. Reed is a huge play maker when he is in prime shape and we need that in our backfield. Right now we need our back up to the back ups to make plays!

Jeremiah said...

Why are you being so negative? Give me a fact or some quotes before you run another franchise player out of town too soon. Last year it was Ray Lewis is as good as gone, now yo are tearing into C Mac and trashing Reed? Oz let Marcus Mason slip off to the Jets? Boo freaking hoo. RB is the last thing the Ravens have to worry about right now if what you say is true, our best 2 secondary defenders would rather be Bungles. Maybe they want to play for Jerry Jones or New England? They are not the guys who are about to be free agents, but even though you are a forward thinking guy and ahead of the news, it really is not time to worry about next season and the massive amount of possible roster turnover. The Ravens have given themselves the flexibility to go either way at the end of the year. They can try to make one more run with the core they have, or can replace all the vets and go with a new core of players. Right now they are in contention, have the best defense in the NFL, a promising offense and a chance to get back to first place this week.

Why do you have to write devisive distracting speculative stories? Reed and C Mac may complain a little because they have complaints, but they have not shown any lack of focus when they put on the pads. So far they have played through the injuries very well, unlike a guy who does not like his coach and may have taken himself out to spite him.

Tony Lombardi said...

Jeremiah,

I love your passion bro, I really do and I also admire those thick purple goggles. But try taking them off for a second.

First, let’s talk about Ray Lewis. You interpret my description of what I believe is the reality of the Ray Lewis situation and through those goggles, you conclude that I’m trying to run him out of town. Back in the beginning of October I wrote this in a Lombardi’s Way piece on 24x7 (http://www.profootball24x7.com/column_view.php?cid=1&id=2318&view=archive):


"Paramount to any discussions about a Ray Lewis extension is gauging the balance of his career. Clearly Bisciotti is delusional if he thinks Ray has 4-5 good years left. The man hasn’t completed a full season since 2003 and he does not take on blockers nor does he punish ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage the way he once did in part because he is trying to preserve his scarred shoulders.

The best thing the Ravens can do right now with Ray is absolutely nothing and therein possibly lays the silver lining. In that scenario you may see Ray Lewis more determined than ever to prove the world wrong and turn in a banner 2008. Then he can hold the Ravens ransom, provided they let him.

Let’s see what Ray brings in 2008. Let’s see what he brings in December when the wear and tear of another season tests the will of players. Let’s see what an aging yet highly motivated Ray Lewis can do. Even then, the Ravens hold the winning cards provided they don’t allow emotion into the negotiating mix.

Ozzie could point to Ray’s age, his beaten shoulders and the eroding value of players who don’t touch the ball or the quarterback in order to keep the declining superstar’s demands in check. Perhaps other teams will take note and conclude that if Baltimore isn’t offering Ray big dollars, why should we? Others might also take note of what former Ravens defenders have done in other systems. Usually they aren't as effective as they were in Baltimore.

Who knows, maybe the club has learned. They had no problem watching Adalius Thomas head out of town despite being a fan favorite. The team rightfully decided then that they were not going to pay AD going forward for what he had already accomplished. They wanted to pay for production going forward.

It all comes back to Ozzie’s mantra “Right player, right price.”

With Ray Lewis that mantra will be put to the test like never before."


You want a quote from McAlister?

When asked after the Dolphins’ game how his knee was feeling, McAlister replied: "My knee is excellent."

Want something from Ed Reed? Did you hear Sports with Coleman this week when they played Reed’s interview? If you missed it, here’s some commentary on a message board thread about it?

http://www.profootball24x7.com/forum/showthread.php?t=29366

Don’t believe the thread? Then listen in to our show The X Factor on Saturday on Fox 1370 at 10 am. We’ll play more from that interview.

You interpret my opining on the reality that is the Ravens as negativity. I look at it as a problem that needs to be dealt with in order to pave the road to success and I liken your denial of the problems to be the equivalent of sticking your head in the sand.

Of course at the end of the day, I hope you are right and the Ravens are just one big happy family. At the moment, I just don’t see it.

Can I borrow those goggles?

Anonymous said...

Well put Jeremiah. C-Mac has never gone under the knife, and if he is hesitant to do so, who are we to judge that? Two years ago, JO had that decision regarding surgery on his toe and nobody questioned that decision, but because C-Mac has "attitude" the press in Baltimore want to make a soap opera out of the situation.

These guys give it their all each Sunday, playing in pain many times. C-Mac has arguably been the best CB of the last decade, but the press would rather chase him away, ala Eddie Murray.

As far as players not buying into the Harbaugh plan, that will take care of itself in the off season. I'm certain that Harbaugh's "team-first" philosophy will prevail and those that don't buy-in will not have their contracts extended and in some cases may be let go. As a fan that loves the "team" that's fine with me!

Jeremiah said...

I only have a little purple haze and a lot of malice in the heart.

It is not like I think attitude and morale are not a factor, but the overreaction and drama that is drawn from some words on the radio is ridiculous. It is show buis, and a brutal contact sport with no job security despite the price tag on your "contract".

We know that C Mac lost most of last year to a knee injury. We know he did not have surgury, and thet he played the first 4 games like the best CB in the NFL, on the top ranked D. I saw a couple times on interception returns, him put a lot of stress on the knee, including what looked like a very late hit from a Bungle lineman.

Chris looked lost in Indy. He seemed to be playing the wrong coverage, like he was in zone and everyone else was in man. If he blew calss and missed signals because he missed meetings, he may have been benched to send a message. He really does have a serious knee situation no matter how exellent the guy may tell Anita it feels on the high radio daily drama report, and now that he was humliated, his knee and his feelings may be all swollen up like Winslows staph. The bottom line though is C Mac is a crown jewel in the ring of honor, and I don't like you trashing him without any stinking facts. His future and any football players future is always up in the air on any snap, but you do not need to be kicking the guy while they team is up and he is down.
Not that you are being too harsh if the rumous are true. And the size of his contract always makes him a possible "cap casualty" along with any injured member of the "over 30 club" and that kind of insecurity and a new coach who took away the treat them like men mentality, and you are going to have some sound bites filed with spite with a twist of bitterness coming from that little bit of malice in the heart stemming from the cold hard reality of the not for long fickle mentality and the breaking down of the body they are feeling.
Put your goggles on man its about to be greasy. Tipping point like Black thought said over a Questlove track a few years ago.

If Billick taught us anything, it was words are only words when it comes to football. They never blocked, tackled or covered anyone. But Reed and C Mac, have done it better than anyone during the times they were able to suit up in Purple. Start wearing purple people. We are 4-3, and may be watching the last best years of some real HOF level defensive footbal players. Lets just enjoy it for a while, and don't kill they buzz. Cheese.

Good work on the rest of the stuff you cover, though homey, I check out even the radio show when up early on the weekend.

Ravcolt said...

After CMAC gets officially released I will certainly miss his ability to:

1. unbuckle both chin straps simultaneously,
2. rip off his helmet,
3. run around in circles waving his arms complaining that tackling a WR prior to the ball arriving is NOT interference
4. receive transmissions from the Moon.

And good riddance to Reed and McGahee (but thanks to the idiotic contract we have to wait two more years for Ozzie's 'explosive' RB to adios).

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Oct 30th
... Tony, You GO GUY
..Tony I think you struck a nerve with some of the Fans. I think your analysis hit the nail on the head about CMAC. He has always had an "Attitude" and when he is healthy , and on the field; that is an asset.
But flying out with the team WEARING SHORTS when the Rest of the Team is wearing SUITS and TIES..if that report is true.. that would tend to NOT GO WELL with Coach Harbaugh!!! ..Michael Mc Crary said on the Radio coverage of the Ravens Game last week; "Some of these players, forget that the TEAM is the EMPLOYER...and the Players are the Employees"
I rest my case. The Book Next man up tells it like it is in the NFL. George Shaw went down in 1956 and some Bowl Legged kid from Pittsburgh stepped up and played for the next 18 years. You never know who is waiting in the wings?

Rayshawn Lanier said...

Keep this defense together at all cost. Think of what they have done these past couple of years. No other defense can compare to me. They all work well together. I just have this feeling as soon as one leaves for money or just lack of disrespect for the organization that will be the end of this dominate defense. Never have I seen a defense be so consistent for so many year regardless of how poor the team was as a whole. This is a great unit. Why would you want to see anyone leave?

Anonymous said...

I think the Ravens made a big mistake letting Marcus Mason go. He played lights out in the preseason, and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't do the same in the regular season if given the opportunity. Keep an eye on him with the Jets -- he's going to make a big impact.