Thursday, August 20, 2009

Will the Ravens really miss former mates Ryan, Scott and Leonhard?

When the Ravens first lost Rex Ryan to the Jets only to be followed by Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard, many in Baltimore fretted the departures and wondered if the voids could effectively be filled. To make matters worse the national media folk seemed to drive that worrisome point home even more, perpetuating those fears.

Today it seems that on the local front those fears have not only subsided, they’ve all but disappeared.

New Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison was hardly asleep during Ryan’s defensive meetings last season and he’s clearly incorporated some of the former coordinator’s flair into this year’s incarnation of the Ravens defense. Perhaps more importantly, Mattison wants to instill a bit more discipline and gap accountability into his unit. So far the results are solid.

Helping Mattison fill the voids (and then some) left by Scott’s and Leonhard’s departures are Tavares Gooden, Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe, Dawan Landry, Haruki Nakamura, Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb.

Gooden has been a solid tackler during camp and is very quick to the ball exhibiting some explosiveness that Scott lacked. McClain is growing into an adept pass rusher, a skill that seemingly escaped Scott about midway through the 2006 season. Over the course of his final 45 games in Baltimore, Scott registered just 7 sacks. Dannell Ellerbe may be the surprise of camp so far showing suddenness in short spaces while delivering eye opening hits.

Leonhard reached rock star status here in Baltimore more because of his return skills and not so much for his ball skills as a safety. Leonhard was an inconsistent tackler when supporting the run and he was caught out of position from time to time when defending the pass. To his credit Leonhard got hot at the right time down the stretch and he cashed in.

Replacing Leonhard is the man HE replaced in ’08, Dawan Landry. Landry looks leaner, faster and has improved as a cover safety. Nakamura provides the depth that Leonhard once did and the coaching staff has been very impressed with his ability to blitz the passer and he’s shown ball skills in the secondary that Rex Ryan once compared to Ed Reed’s.

Chris Carr assumes the punt return responsibilities from Leonhard. Last year Leonhard averaged 11.3 yards to Carr’s 10.1 while with the Tennessee Titans. As a kick returned Carr was among the league leaders with a 28.1 yard return average. Waiting in the wings as a returner is the dangerous Lardarius Webb.

Miss their personalities and their place in the Ravens’ family.

Welcome them when they return on Monday.

But don’t fret the departures of Ryan, Scott and Leonhard.

The Ravens have it covered.


Don Banks said...

Clearly, this is another one of your "Pie in the Sky, Purple Kool-Aid" posts. To say that the Ravens won't miss Rex Ryan is the biggest crock you could possibly spew. Leonhard was a great player and it's typical Newsome/DeCosta fashion to let a great player walk for relatively little cash. They'll talk about Nakamura and Zibikowski and keep them on the roster at the expense of better players. DeCosta's drafts have been pitiful (Gaither, Ngata, and Flacco aren't that good) and Newsome has done a poor job of managing the roster (so what if the Ravens are the only team in the last ten years to be in the top-ten in the league injury-wise and make the playoffs) and making sound cap decisions. Sure our team has been in the playoffs and won Super Bowls but that has been more luck than anything else. Just think where we'd be with Phil Savage and Shaq Harris running personnel. Tony, you need to open your eyes and lose the "blind faith" tone that permeates most of your blogs (if you can call this pathetic drivel a blog...LOL)....THAT would be a nice change......


******note, this post is a JOKE meant to parody the anonymous coward who typically leaves negative posts on this site with obvious venom aimed at Tony. I figured I'd write Anon's comments for him to save him the time. That way he can spend more time in his closet hoping he's not exposed.*******

Dog Catcher said...

I think Don Banks is Anonymous and pretending not to be and both sound suspiciously like Damon Yaffe who I know used to take shots at Tony on air. That would also explain (at least in the case of Anon) why he won't take TL up on his offer to blog on this site.

I've read Yaffe on Press Box Tony. His writing sucks so rescind the offer. Press Box kicked him off because he whined and bitched and couldn't meet deadlines in his Boneyard or whatever dogshit infest yard he was playing in.

Jerry B said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the Ravens rarely, if ever, lose players they covet and those who leave usually don't do as well in new schemes. Jim Leonard was sensational last year, but came in as a substitute and would have played sparingly if Landry hadn't been injured. He also benefitted by having Ed Reed behind him. The same could be said for Bart Scott who played beside Ray Lewis. It will be interesting to see how they do in New York. As for Ryan, as great a coordinator as he was, he had one major flaw in my judgement when it came to rushing the passer. All too often, he would take the pressure off in crucial situations, particularly in all of the losses to Pittsburgh. I'm hopeful that Mattisson will put even more emphasis on the pass rush this year.........