Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rex Ryan did the Ravens a favor


Rex Ryan did his old team a favor last night by completely disrespecting the Ravens receivers and attacking Joe Flacco. Without a prototypical No. 1 receiver and a proven No. 2 or even a dangerous weapon at tight end Rex sent a message to Ozzie that he better get busy on the phones.

Last week I blogged that given the Ravens’ improved depth and the overall improvement of the team, they could advance beyond the AFC Championship Game even if the wide receiver corps remained status quo.

Unfortunately status quo is beginning to look optimistic.

Derrick Mason is Derrick Mason and Demetrius Williams is showing signs that he might be able to contribute – certainly more than last year but given his history of injuries, that is anything but an even money bet.

Kelley Washington looks like he can contribute here and there and for those who want to bust on him for not making a play on that jump ball in the end zone last night and close your argument by suggesting that Randy Moss or Larry Fitzgerald or Chad Johnson would have come down with it, here’s a newsflash for you – he is NONE of the above. He is being paid the NFL minimum PLUS, you have to give Lito Sheppard some credit for making a nice play on the ball.

Justin Harper made a stride or two in the game hauling in both passes thrown his way for 62 yards including a streak down the right side line for 51 yards. Beyond Harper, the highlights include a big drop by Jayson Foster who was clearly hearing footsteps.

This is what you expect from the Ravens receivers really and I have to think that if the first unit stayed on the field, Mason and Williams may have posted decent numbers.

Yet the lack of depth is alarming given the absence of Mark Clayton.

Clayton has had hamstring issues in the past and there are no guarantees that once he believes he’s fully rested that those hammies won’t rear their ugly heads again. There’s a better chance of a recurrence than Clayton going the full 16 plus without some sort of setback.

Making the wide receiver health/depth issues even worse is the team’s lack of depth at tight end. It’s no secret that the Ravens wanted Brandon Pettigrew in the 2009 NFL Draft and that to me is an indictment on Todd Heap. His cuts aren’t as sharp, he’s slower off the line of scrimmage and he seems to lack that gear in the open field that he once had. Bottom line is, he just plays much older than he is and for those who believe that there is some resurgence lying in wait for Heap, you better think again.

LJ Smith is far quicker than Heap off the line and shows decent change of direction skills but he is a china doll and at this point, given his familiarity with Smith in Philly, you have to wonder why Harbaugh gave the thumbs up on a guy so undependable particularly with an injury prone tight end sitting at the No. 1 position on the TE depth chart.

It’s time for Ozzie to get busy.

And no the answer isn’t Brandon Marshall.

The answer is another tight end AND another solid receiver. Waiting for the waiver lists to post might not be the way to go either. Maybe the Ravens need to start thinking about dealing from a position of strength and as always, that position is the defensive front seven.

The Ravens hosted 26 outside scouts last night looking at Ravens players on the bubble according to ESPN’s MNF broadcasting crew.

It’s time to find a dance partner or two Ozzie before your quarterback position ends up like the tight ends – that is fit for A Christmas Story wooden crate.

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