Friday, July 02, 2010

DeCosta Q&A: Williams, Cousins could step up for Ravens


Before his summer vacation, we sat down to talk Ravens with team Director of Personnel, Eric DeCosta.

Tony Lombardi: Cary Williams has the measurables that you look for...length, speed, etc. Why hasn't he put it all together on the field? What does he need to do to take that next step and take advantage of a golden opportunity with the Ravens?

Eric DeCosta: Cary is a player who has all the physical abilities to emerge as a contributor. He is young and still learning the ways that we play coverage. We expect that he will take the next step and emerge as a true defensive asset this season. At the very least he has shown to be one of our best special teams players. That, in itself, makes him one of our game day players most weeks.

TL: Defenders seem to play better when they become Ravens. Why do you think that is?

ED: Good players impact lesser talents. There is a type of peer pressure that takes place where the new guys feel the necessity to step up their game. The other factor is that good players can cover up holes. A good example would be where you have two relentless pass rushers like Mathis and Freeney in Indy. They can cover up more marginal talents at other spots (like corner) because they make it easier for those players to perform their jobs.

TL: What did Walt Harris and Ken Hamlin show you in their workouts and during OTA's that convinced you that they are a good fit for Greg Mattison's defense?

ED: Both guys are smart and have a history of Pro-Bowl play. They will provide top quality camp competition.

TL: Back to Coach Mattison again, after the bye last year the defense played much better. Talk about the nuances involved in adapting to and then becoming familiar with a new style and approach to defense.

ED: It is really all about gaining a comfort level with the scheme and figuring out how you use your players so that they can best perform. Certainly, our defense improved over the course of the year. Another reason, however, had something to do with the quality of quarterback that we faced in the first half of the season. Good players play well. When you face players like Rivers, Brady, Favre, and Manning, there are bound to be some hiccups.

TL: Why has the team decided that Michael Oher is a better left tackle than Jared Gaither?

ED: I don't think the team has decided that Oher is a better fit at left tackle than Gaither. Training camp and the preseason games will determine that.

TL: The coaches seem to have an optimistic outlook for Oniel Cousins. Fans would beg to differ. What can you share with fans about Cousins' development that may put their minds at ease?

ED: Players improve. Lots of people thought that Dwan Edwards and Chris Chester could not play through their first two or three seasons. Cousins started several games last year. Two were encouraging, the third, against Pittsburgh, not as good.

We see an athletic player with long arms who has toughness. We also have, in my opinion,
two of the best offensive line coaches in the entire league. So we are optimistic about Cousins.

6 comments :

Jerry B said...

The team enters this season with very high expectations, which often leads to disappointment. These are two guys who can be a huge help, particularly Cousins, who may have to play in place of the recalcitrant Jared Gaither. As for Oher moving to "the blind side", that's his natural position........

Phil from Frostburg said...

TL - c'mon man, you only had 10 minutes with the guy and you ask about Cary Williams?? How about more important questions like:
* Who's odd man out in the QB derby?
* What's the real (no BS, please) timetable for the return of Webb, Washington, and Reed?
* How disappointed are the front office and the owner about Suggs missing OTAs?
* Are you looking at adding even more depth at CB and OT?
* Barring injury, seems like no room on the team this year for Clayton and Demetrius since they don't play special teams very well. What's the front office view?
* Is there a new DL scheme planned with all these new space eaters on the team?
* Look me in the eye, Eric. What the hell is going on with Reed? Reconstructive surgery in April when the official Ravens statement was he just had a hip procedure? Can't you guys be a little hones about injuries in the offseason?

Tony Lombardi said...

@ Phil...to your questions:

*** Who's odd man out in the QB derby?

Why would he answer that? Really, how would this benefit the organization and the competitions in camp? What if Bulger goes down? How would answering such a silly question at this stage be of value?

*** What's the real (no BS, please) timetable for the return of Webb, Washington, and Reed?
I think they’ve answered this to the best of their abilities many times. Should they keep answering until you hear what you want to hear?

*** How disappointed are the front office and the owner about Suggs missing OTAs?

What’s the point of answering that now? Let’s wait and see what happens in camp. Since when does publicly undressing your highest paid player result in performance on the field? Might that not shoot their investment in the foot?

*** Are you looking at adding even more depth at CB and OT?

You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t, now can you Phil? Are they supposed to create the depth? Maybe the Ravens can build a player or two the way you do in Madden?

*** Barring injury, seems like no room on the team this year for Clayton and Demetrius since they don't play special teams very well. What's the front office view?

They will tell you that Clayton has a legit chance to be No. 3. Demetrius? Not so good. But we all knew that already didn’t we? Why not let camp determine this. After all there’s nothing to lose and no signing bonuses to be concerned about. Both are restricted free agents and if they are cut or traded, no monetary loss.

*** Is there a new DL scheme planned with all these new space eaters on the team?

Yeah, I’m sure Greg Mattison would be happy to publicly describe his strategies because that would benefit whom?

*** Look me in the eye, Eric. What the hell is going on with Reed? Reconstructive surgery in April when the official Ravens statement was he just had a hip procedure? Can't you guys be a little honest about injuries in the offseason?

Reed is torn about his future career given his injuries. Good friend Samari Rolle has encouraged him to retire yet the guy, for the love of the game, wants to keep playing. I’m sure that your compassionate approach (yes that is sarcasm you see dripping here) would overwhelmingly endear Ed Reed to the Ravens’ organization and inspire him in such a way that he’d be willing to disregard all medical advice and risk permanent injury just to get a ring and appease fans like you.

Ever think about taking up marital mediation Phil?

Joe said...

I have to agree with Tony on this one...look, Eric is one not to BS you, that's the feeling I get whenever he talks. But he's also not going to just drop things that would tip our hands or throw someone under the bus...

A lot of the questions Phil asks are more TC/Coaching questions. From the front office view, they've been adding pieces they feel give the team good depth and competition. It's now up to the coaching staff and TC to determine the right pieces for the season.

So Questions 1, 5, and 6 all get answered during TC. The injury ones are tough to answer. They've tried to answer it without leaving themselves with a quote that someone can use against them later. Both Webb and Washington are cleared to participate in some individual drills to the side. At this point, it all depends on the nature of the injury and the healing process. Could be 2 weeks, could be 3, 4, more...Just no way to know until Tessendorf and his staff clear them for full practices. And given that Eric probably doesn't want to BS you, he's not going to give a set date. He's going to say he hopes both are ready for TC, but we've made moves in case they are NOT ready to go. Reed's injury is even harder to discuss timetable for, but it's not a straight up injury, it's a degenerative condition. Basically, this is Ed's body slowing down to the point that one day soon, he's done playing football. So Ed has to weigh playing on this team and risking further injury against his range of mobility for the rest of his LIFE. My guess about his situation is Reed has some serious problems, the gamer in him wants to come back, but most likely, this will be his best chance for a SB and I think he calls it quits after this year. His condition is getting worse and I can't see him continuing to risk his health for football after this season.

For the depth question, I'm not sure your angle there. The Ravens have added 3 vet DBs since the draft ended in Hamlin, Walt Harris, and Travis Fischer. Not to mention a coupld of UDFA CBs. At OT, they have Cousins, Moll, and Harewood. Don't see how adding a street FA gives them anything more right now.

Phil from Frostburg said...

My angst at the Reed injury has to do with the misinformation from the Ravens org this offseason, not anything Reed did himself. I have no issue with Reed. If he needs reconstructive hip surgery, then he needs it, but the team looks foolish when the truth comes out in a radio interview. The truth was already out. Why not ask Eric to elaborate and provide more detail. I don't pretend my questions are the best. Not my job. But I do recognize softballs when I see them. TL could have done better with this opportunity.

And yes "Joe", with Cousins, Moll, and Harewood as primary OT backups (not to mention the flakier by the day Gaither as a starter), I think asking about general depth on the OL is a legit question, even if I could have phrased it better.

Anonymous said...

@Phil...if something happens at ot, the Ravens would likely move Yanda to RT and play Chester at OG. Both have a season worth of starts at those spots...