Thursday, February 12, 2009

In the NFL one year can make a HUGE difference...the Ravens are no exception

As we’ve all learned in our lives, one year can make a big difference and that statement clearly is so true of the NFL. Last year at this time I blogged about certain changes – suggestions if you will for the Baltimore Ravens. Now such suggestions can make you look pretty silly, even downright incompetent and begs the question, “What were you thinking?”

So with that in mind, I thought I’d revisit today my 10 suggestions with commentary that I made for the Ravens one year ago and see just how ridiculous I look (and by the way that’s nothing new)…

1. Extend Jason Brown’s contract now! Not after the ’08 season when he becomes a free agent – now! And while you’re at it, put him at center. Chris Chester may have dazzled some coaches and scouts with his athleticism and his ability to get to the second level but there are serious doubts as to whether he can hold firm at the point of attack against some of the behemoth nose guards and defensive tackles the Ravens encounter in the AFC North. It’s beginning to look like he is yet another second round mistake by the Ravens.

One year later: Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then although admittedly Chester played much better than expected.

2. Restructure Chris McAlister's contract. The Ravens will need the $4+ million in cap space that a C-Mac restructure can provide the Ravens and given his size, McAlister could mirror the career path established by other physical corners like Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott who have migrated from corner to safety. Some might say, “Well what about Dawan Landry?” To them I say, “What about Dawan Landry?” Isn’t Ed Reed as a deep centerfielder statement enough that Landry is a liability in coverage?

One year later: C-Ya, C-Mac

3. Speaking of Reed, isn’t it time to reel him in? No more of this wagging (aka Wild Ass Guessing). He needs to stick to his assignments and stop leaving corners vulnerable to big plays. Reed’s best season was in 2004 when Mike Nolan seemed to have a better handle than Rex Ryan on how to utilize his unique playmaking skills. Ryan allows Reed to roam as he pleases without consequence. It’s time to put a hook in that!

One year later: Reed had as good a second half of the season as any safety since…well, maybe Ed Reed in 2004. He did real in the wagging somewhat and that could in part be the result of him not being 100%. Very seldom did he leave his corners out to dry as he did in ‘07.

4. Fix the quarterback position! This doesn’t mean a one year fix. The Ravens need stability and consistency at the position, something they’ve yet to enjoy in their 12year history. Clearly this is easier said and done but don’t anoint Steve McNair the starter and just say McNo to McNabb. Even the Ravens at this point don’t know what the answer is at QB for ’08 but it makes no sense to implement short-term fixes at the expense of long-term stability. If Cam Cameron thinks that free agent QB Billy Volek can work short-term (he coached him in San Diego), then get Volek on a two year deal at about $3 mil per and draft a quarterback to compete with Troy Smith. Take the haircut on McNair if Volek comes and see what Boller could bring in a trade.

One year later: We are whacko for Flacco!

5. Lose the band once and for all. Instead of increasing ticket prices as expected again in ’09, why not boot the band from the end zone seats, sell PSL’s and season tickets and soften the blow to the remaining PSL owners. Aren't we all tired of subsidizing such unnecessary nostalgia?

One year later: Yo Bisciotti…feel free to steal the idea and take the credit. Had you listened you may have helped all those who are now struggling to justify the expense of football on Sundays in the fall. A price increase in this economy? Are you kidding me? Can’t wait to pay $9 for a Bud Light.

6. Get a playmaker receiver! Some may argue that Demetrius Williams is a playmaker if given the chance and it would be short-sighted to say that he couldn’t fit that role. The problem with your friendly neighborhood Spiderman is that he is very lanky and needs to fill out that frame. He's vulnerable to injuries. The Ravens need someone to stretch the field and someone that has good ball skills – a receiver that can get the ball up high. Of course having a quarterback who can get it there is a prerequisite but you get the picture, don’t you?

One year later: Ditto…except now we have the QB.7. Admit that signing Mike Anderson was a mistake. After two seasons and 53 carries (at roughly $90,000 per carry) Anderson has contributed next to nothing and he’s a drag on the roster because he makes little to no impact on special teams. Ozzie, with this former Marine maybe you’ve taken semper fi to extremes.

7. Admit that signing Mike Anderson was a mistake. After two seasons and 53 carries (at roughly $90,000 per carry) Anderson has contributed next to nothing and he’s a drag on the roster because he makes little to no impact on special teams. Ozzie, with this former Marine maybe you’ve taken semper fi to extremes.

One year later: Doesn’t it seem like 6 years later? Did Mike Anderson really play for the Ravens in ’07?

8. Beef up the pass rush…If we learned anything from the Ravens in ’07 and from the Giants in the Super Bowl, to win in the NFL you have to get to the quarterback. With that in mind the Ravens should bring back Terrell Suggs for at least another season and hope that a player like Vernon Gholston falls to them at No. 8 on draft day. Gholston, Suggs, Trevor Pryce and Antwan Barnes as a pass rushing unit could be ferocious.

One year later: Put the Michael Phelps bong down! Gholston could go kaboom soon and Barnes is slow to develop. That said if Ray Lewis walks, might the Ravens use that suddenly available ch-ching to invest in Julius Peppers and place him opposite Suggs?

9. Do not reach for a corner at No. 8. The draft seems deep in capable corners yet lacking in talent worthy of No. 8. Real quick, who were the Giants’ starting corners in the Super Bowl? See what I mean? It’s all about the push from the front four.

One year later: Real quick, who will be the starting corners in 2009 for the Ravens? It could be that one of them is picked at No. 26 in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Other odds and ends…Note to Cam Cameron: Please leave your best offensive player in the game on third down. If Willis McGahee needs a rest, take him off the field after you get the first down, not before…And while you are at it Cam do you think we can see a no huddle offense to help change the game’s tempo at some point in the game other than inside of two minutes? Be brave, have courage, if not go to Oz.It once worked for a cowardly lion.

One year later: Willis McGahee, the Tin Man is paging you.


Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Feb 12th
I am annointing TONY LOMBARDI, the Baltimore version of NOSTRADOMUS!
Great predictions in 2008.
Welcome to :-)

Jerry B said...

Oh, great "Sage" from the far East......Baltimore, Ozzie should have heeded your advice re: Jason Brown, who they may well lose as a result.

And, while echoing your sentiments re: Cameron's offense, I'd also like to see more (any?!) screens, flares, misdirection, etc. in the coming year as well as more of...Ray Rice!

With a real, honest-to-goodness QB, it will be easier to attract a "playmaking" wide receiver via the draft and/or free agency/trade. Oh, and by the way, we need another......tight end!

Starting corners in 2009......TBA!

Keep these great columns coming, TL and I, for one, can't wait to see the "Swami's" prognostications for 2009.....