Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RAVENS MAILBAG: You asked, we've answered...

It has been awhile since I’ve done this Q&A but recently I received several emails on a few different Ravens related topics so I thought, ok…let’s revive Letters 2 TL again!

Do you think there will be a 2011 season and if so when do you think the owners and players will agree to a new collective bargaining agreement? Joe from Parkville

There absolutely will be a 2011 season! From what I can tell, the owners have most of the leverage in these negotiations which from the outside looking in seem almost childishly petty so far. My guess is that the owners will make the players sweat a bit as part of an effort to weaken their union and eventually strike a new deal that will look like a win for the owners – and it will be.

As for when this will happen, I think sometime after the 2011 Draft (April 28-30) and before training camp. I’ll predict more specifically a Memorial Day-ish settlement.

Matt Birk is getting up in age and his effectiveness seemed to dwindle towards the end of the 2010 season. Do you think the Ravens are confident in Chris Chester if Birk retires or goes down with an injury? Mike from Pasadena

Chris Chester is a nice player to have on your roster in that he gives you some flexibility and he is athletic as far as offensive linemen go. That said, he’s undersized and I think he would crumble at the point of attack against a 3-4 defense which by the way is a defense the Steelers have featured for decades.

Do you remember when Kyle Boller was sacked during a handoff against the Steelers back in 2005? It was during a goal-to-go situation from the 2 and Casey Hampton annihilated Mike Flynn. I would expect more of that if Chester was asked to handle Hampton.

Joe Flacco wasn’t very happy about the Ravens’ firing of Jim Zorn. Do you think they will regret that next season if Flacco carries a grudge? Brian in Ocean City

A confidant is nice to have but not necessarily as your positional coach, particularly one who is the friendly, laid back type. Unfortunately that’s Jim Zorn!

Zorn didn’t challenge Joe and he needed to. He was hired to break down Flacco’s mechanics; his decision making; and his ability to study game film. From what I’ve been told, that didn’t happen and Flacco’s progression in 2010 is more a reflection of his own ability. He could use some tough love and improvements in the finer points of quarterbacking.

Flacco’s personality begs for challenges. He’s very low key and if coddled without being inspired he may never make the advances in the league that his skills sets suggest that he’s capable of.

I have heard Nnamdi Asomugha’s name mentioned as a possible addition to the Ravens secondary. Do you think this is possible and if you were Ozzie would you do it? Jason from Pikesville

Any team would benefit from Nnamdi Asomugha. Simply put, he’s a stud! But he’ll command a huge Darrelle Revis-like contract (mid $30 million in guarantees) and I’m not sure that’s a wise move for the Ravens’ cap. Asomugha will be 30 when the 2011 season starts and we’ve seen corners’ skills diminish quickly when they approach their mid 30’s. If he doesn’t perform throughout the length of the contract, the Ravens would be saddled with dead money on their cap books.

Plus I’m of the opinion that the Ravens secondary is a solid group, albeit lacking a shut down guy like Asomugha. I’d rather they find a player in the draft that can get to the quarterback. Together with Suggs that kind of tag team would improve the secondary’s play (and I would argue it was pretty good anyway considering the substandard pass rush) and it would be a more economical approach which will help the Ravens re-sign players like Marshal Yanda, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.

Who do you think the Ravens will go for with their first pick in the NFL Draft? Jim from Catonsville

I don’t think even the Ravens know that at this point. Draft boards will morph between now and the draft after the combines and the individual workouts of eligible collegiate athletes. I think overall the Ravens want to boost their team speed on both sides of the ball and become more explosive. This might sound like a cop out to your question but the best answer I can give at this point is that the Ravens will take the highest rated player on their board at one of these positions (in my order of importance): Defensive end; offensive line; wide receiver; linebacker.

Do you think the Ravens will bring back either Chris Carr or Josh Wilson? Dave from Frederick

I hope they bring back both and I think they can. Keep in mind that their positional coach who they admire and respect (Chuck Pagano) is now the defensive coordinator. Carr has been with Pagano going back to his days in Oakland and has been vocally supportive of his promotion. Although he got off to a shaky start in Baltimore, Carr has settled in to his role and has been one of the team’s most underrated performers over the pass 1 ½ seasons.

Wilson was a steal and organizationally the team would do that trade with Seattle in exchange for a fifth round pick every day of the week and twice on Sundays. They like his toughness and his competitiveness. Wilson is from the area so I think the odds are very good that he’ll be a Raven in ’11.

Any chance that Donte Stallworth or TJ Houshmandzadeh return in 2011? Jeff in Grasonville

I think the return of either is heavily predicated upon what the Ravens do in the draft. Keep in mind that they’ve signed James Hardy to a futures contract and that their scouts ranked him high during the 2008 draft. Some in the organization preferred Hardy over Ray Rice. So if he performs like they think he can, either Stallworth or Housh could be out.

Also keep in mind that the team is very high (no pun intended) on David Reed. Word is that he did a number on the Ravens’ starting DB’s in practice and some expect him to be the team’s No. 3 receiver in ’11.

And let’s not forget about the draft. If the team spends a first or second day pick on a WR, I think that will seal the fate of either Stallworth or Housh. A wild card in the mix could be Derrick Mason’s retirement but I’m not seeing that. My bet is that it’s less than 50-50 for both Stallworth and Houshmandzadeh individually. Together, let’s use the injury report vernacular – DOUBTFUL!


Jerry B said...

Not getting the three rookie receivers more playing time last year only served to delay their development. It will interesting to see how much "influence" Harbaugh will exert on Cameron given the fact that Harbaugh isn't exactly an offensive minded guru himself. And, if he (they) continue to believe that Jared Gaither is the answer to their "O" line woes, I've got some beautiful oceanfront property they can have for a "song" in.....Arizona! The guy has all the talent in the world, but has proven conclusively that he lacks the attitude needed to develop and nurture it. They best be looking elsewhere for help on the "O" line.........