Tiger Woods! Yeah, there was some pretty decent basketball this weekend. Yeah, UMBC became the first 16 seed to knock off a one seed since 2004, when, Lisa Fink knocked off Jennifer Lopez in the ’64 hottest women alive’ bracket, hosted in my basement.Continue Reading …
The upheaval of the Ravens’ wide receiver room has begun. On Wednesday night, the team announced that it had reached agreements with two pass-catchers: former Cardinals burner John Brown and former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant. However, as the new league year officially began on Thursday afternoon, a surprising turn of events left Grant’s contract null and void. The 6’0” wideout failed his physical with the Ravens because of an ankle injury that doctors later revealed was suffered in the final week of the regular season. Interestingly enough, though, this may have proven to be a blessing-in-disguise for the Ravens (and some fans even believe the results were calculated, but more on that later).
The signing of John Brown is simple enough; it makes sense. The Ravens were looking to get faster on offense, improving their big-play ability while finding more reliable targets for Joe Flacco. When healthy, Brown is a home-run hitter. As Newsome claims, he can run the entire route-tree efficiently and can track down a deep pass well. The key for Brown, as it has been for many receivers, is to stay healthy, which is why he was seeking a 1 year “prove it” deal at $5M. Brown is a boom-or-bust signing with the potential to oust former 1st-round pick Breshad Perriman as the primary deep-threat on the current roster. The talent is there, as Brown is 2 years removed from a 1,000-yard, 7 touchdown season. The main question will be whether or not he stays on the field enough to replicate those numbers.
The controversial signing is Ryan Grant. Despite Grant’s strong hands and impressive route-running ability, the Ravens would have inked him to a shockingly pricey contract at 4 years for $29M. Many questioned whether the cost matched the productivity. For instance, Grant has never had a 100-yard receiving game in his career, and he failed to significantly impact a Redskins offense that needs wide receivers itself. And, somewhat unsurprisingly, fans criticize owner Steve Bisciotti, citing his prediction that the franchise would “make a splash” in free agency. So far, after whiffing on high-profile receiver Allen Robinson and even the mediocre Donte Moncrief and Marqise Lee, Ozzie Newsome has failed to do so. Still, Ryan Grant would have provided a young, controllable receiver that would have acted as a building block for Baltimore’s new offense. While most critics looked at Grant’s contract and believed that he was meant to be the new #1 receiver, this was not the case. Rather, Grant would have likely been a secondary receiver, with reliable hands to help move the chains. The Ravens were not done, and Newsome supported this at Friday morning’s press conference by stating that the Ravens would have continued to pursue receivers after signing Grant.
Now, here’s where the previously-mentioned blessing-in-disguise comes into play. On Thursday afternoon, the Oakland Raiders signed former Green Bay Packer receiver Jordy Nelson and subsequently cut wideout Michael Crabtree. From the get-go, Crabtree – who has since stated that he grew up a Ravens fan – was linked to Baltimore, and he quickly scheduled a meeting with the team. On Friday, the two sides committed to a 3 year, $21M deal, noticeably more favorable than the one they gave to Grant. Even though Crabtree is slightly older than Grant, he is equally reliable and provides a more daunting red-zone target (Crabtree caught 25 touchdowns in his 3 years in Oakland). The Ravens will hope that Crabtree will replicate these statistics in Baltimore, where he’s had success in the past. Crabtree has caught 4 touchdowns in their last 2 meetings, including a game-winner in the back of the end zone in 2016.
The main reason that Crabtree’s signing is so beneficial for Baltimore, though, is that it gives the team considerable flexibility moving forward. While Grant’s contract may have left Baltimore with room to make 1 last signing, Crabtree’s likely means that the Ravens could add 2 more players. One of these targets appears to be another cap-casualty, former Lions TE Eric Ebron. A strictly pass-catching tight end, Ebron could be a dynamic target over the middle of the field and provide explosiveness that the Ravens have severely lacked at the position. He currently has visits to three other teams lined up, though, so Baltimore will have to make an enticing offer for him to don purple next year. While it is also entirely possible that Newsome decides to add to the offensive line with the remainder of the team’s cap, I will stick – for the sake of this blog’s title – to name offensive players that team brass could be interested in.
The most obvious choice is Mike Wallace. The 31-year-old has garnered little excitement thus far, and as a result, his price could drop right into the Ravens’ range. What’s more, Wallace has already established a rapport with Flacco, meaning his fit in the offense would be seamless. Pairing Wallace with Crabtree, Brown, and a draft pick would give the Ravens an interesting group.
Another option is former Brown and Redskin Terrelle Pryor. One year removed from a breakout season, Pryor bet on himself with a one year deal in Washington only to watch himself lose snaps to guys like, well, Ryan Grant. While a reunion with Cleveland appears imminent, Pryor would give the Ravens a potentially dominant outside receiver opposite Crabtree.
At tight end, Baltimore’s options are somewhat limited, but Martellus Bennett and Julius Thomas are intriguing options. Both have had up and down careers, but when used frequently have put up impressive numbers. Flacco loves to throw to tight ends, it’s quite possible that he could get the best out of them.
Baltimore is likely to make at least one more move to improve the offense before the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s only a matter of whether or not that player is at wide receiver or tight end. Regardless, by adding speedster John Brown and Anquan Boldin-esque receiver Michael Crabtree, the Ravens have started their revamp nicely. If the rest of the offseason is handled well, the purple and black could find themselves back in contention next winter.
On this week’s podcast, Jerry and Jason had the privilege of speaking with UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the inspirational star of this year’s NFL Combine. Griffin, who lost his left hand at age 4, has persevered through unimaginable circumstances throughout his life, continually finding himself undervalued and overlooked as he pursues his goal of playing football in the NFL. Now, Griffin’s dream appears likely to become a reality. After shocking scouts by bench-pressing 20 reps despite a prosthetic hand, Griffin ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker in Combine history, posting a 4.38 mark. Further, Griffin exhibited tremendous character in team interviews. No doubt, his draft stock has risen significantly. Griffin’s success has me thinking about the Ravens, who have a somewhat under-the-radar need at linebacker.
While defense will surely come second in this year’s draft, Baltimore could use both a pass-rusher and a counterpart to CJ Mosley inside. And, despite heavy attention being paid to offensive playmakers, the Ravens have a number of options at different points in the draft. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised – or frustrated, for that matter – if Ozzie Newsome grabbed a stud at one of these positions in the first round.
At pick 16, it appears increasingly unlikely that a skill-position offensive player will make sense. Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley may not be available, and Maryland wideout DJ Moore is likely more of a second-round prospect. While an offensive lineman could certainly be in play, there are a few players that would be quite intriguing if available. First, if the Ravens want to pair Mosley with a fast, athletic linebacker and create a scary duo in the middle of the defense, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith fits the bill. A sideline-to-sideline defender, Smith would be an excellent complement to Mosley and would fill what is likely the defense’s largest hole. Other options at ILB are Alabama’s Rashaan Evans and Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. Both are similarly exciting talents, and Vander Esch continues to see his stock climb, though neither are receiving quite as much praise as Georgia’s Smith.
At EDGE, Baltimore would have to seriously consider pouncing on UTSA lineman Marcus Davenport if he were available. Davenport has a rare blend of size and speed, and could immediately provide an heir to Terrell Suggs’ throne. However, because of his immense potential, Davenport is probably the least likely of these prospects to be on the board at pick 16. So, Baltimore could look to bolster their pass rush by selecting Boston College standout Harold Landry. After an outstanding 2016-17 season, Landry took a step back this past year and suffered an injury that left some wondering if his NFL potential was declining. But, after an impressive Combine and a seemingly successful recovery, Landry is firmly planted as a first-round selection and has rejuvenated the excitement that was following him the year prior. What’s more, it is very likely that Landry will be available when the Ravens pick, and though many think he is more fit for a back-end selection, if Baltimore feels that he is a strong choice, don’t be surprised if his name is on their card.
Beyond the first-round of the draft, Baltimore has a few options to solve the pass rush (this year’s draft is somewhat dry in that area), and a plethora of options at ILB. The most obvious choice if Baltimore elects to take an EDGE player is LSU’s Arden Key. Key, an extremely talented player with a first-round grade, has seen his stock drop because of off-the-field issues. He reminds me a lot of last year’s pick Tim Williams, and if he fell to Baltimore in the third-round, I would support his selection. Another option on day two is Oklahoma’s Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Undersized for his position, Okoronkwo has seen his draft stock slide despite impressive numbers in 2017-18. However, the pass-rusher could follow in the footsteps of a former Raven and Bronco, the similarly undersized Elvis Dumervil; his productivity makes him worth a mid-round pick.
At inside linebacker, the Ravens could find multiple mid-to-late-round names appealing. In rounds 2 or 3, Vanderbilt’s Oren Burks possesses impressive coverage and ball skills that would make him an intriguing option alongside Mosley. Other day-two names include Iowa’s Josey Jewell, whose production overshadows his physical gifts, and South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard, a Senior Bowl player who has a knack for getting behind the line of scrimmage. In the later rounds, the most intriguing name – in my opinion – is Virginia’s Micah Kiser. A 6’0” linebacker, Kiser is a hometown product of Gilman. While he doesn’t possess the speed of some other ILB prospects, Kiser is an instinctive and willing tackler that would improve the Ravens run defense. Another option at ILB is a more developmental player: Florida State’s Matthew Thomas. A player with special physical gifts, Thomas is 6’4” and fast. Unfortunately, his first-round potential is dampened by his apparent lack of awareness, which will likely make him a day three selection. Still, the Ravens have a track record of producing successful linebackers seemingly out of nowhere, and Thomas’ physical traits would leave the defensive coaches with a lot to work with.
However, despite all the names I just listed, the most intriguing prospect – and one who could possibly play either position – is this week’s guest Shaquem Griffin. At Central Florida, Griffin produced consistently impressive numbers that were backed by his awe-inspiring Combine performance. Aside from his on-the-field potential, though, Griffin would be a surefire leader in a Ravens locker room that – as many fans have discussed before – has lacked one since the departure of Ed Reed and retirement of Ray Lewis. Griffin’s story is inspiring, his play on the field is exciting, his potential is immense, and I would love to see him wearing purple come September.
The Baltimore Ravens are rumored to be one of the favorites to land WR Jarvis Landry via trade. With an obvious need for a dynamic, chain-moving pass-catcher, the move would excite many fans and could bring the offense closer to where it needs to be. This rumor has a fair amount of legitimacy, too. After all, Baltimore attempted to trade for Landry at this year’s deadline, and one could assume that they might still hold interest. In addition, Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome have both stated that the top priority for Baltimore’s offseason is to bring playmakers into the locker room. Newsome added fuel to the fire at this weekend’s NFL scouting combine, when he suggested that the wide receiver group will receive a complete overhaul. Still, how likely is it that the Ravens pull the trigger on a trade? And, if they do, would it even be worth it?
Landry signed his franchise tag with the Miami Dolphins this week, giving him a $16 million cap number if the Ravens decide to take him on. While this number would strap the team against their budget for the offseason, it would likely be restructured into a long-term deal. If the Ravens do not feel confident that they could sign Landry to a multi-year contract, they will not commit to a trade. Regardless, Jarvis Landry will command a sizeable contract. The Ravens will have to love his talent and feel he will instantly revamp the offense. This brings our attention to his skillset.
Jarvis Landry has arguably been the most successful slot receiver in the NFL since he entered the league in 2014. Averaging just over 100 receptions per season, Landry would certainly provide a safety blanket that QB Joe Flacco could trust. However, the primary knock on Landry is his lack of YAC (yards after the catch). Last season, the wideout averaged 8.8 yards per reception, meaning his after-the-catch playmaking ability – something the Ravens desperately need – is lacking. Is such small productivity worth $16 million? Likely not. What’s important to remember, too, is that Baltimore will not only have to cough up the money for the 6-foot wideout, but it will also have to complete a trade with the Miami Dolphins to acquire him in the first place. And, judging from similar trades in years past, their price tag could be high. For example, the New England Patriots acquired WR Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints last offseason. They exchanged him for a first-round pick. While Cooks is more prolific a target than Landry, Miami could demand a second or third-round pick. Considering the plethora of pass-catchers in those mid-rounds in this year’s draft, I would rather have the opportunity to select a real dynamic player – perhaps Maryland’s DJ Moore or Memphis’ Anthony Miller – than bring in Landry.
There’s no question that Jarvis Landry would improve the Ravens’ passing attack; he is a reliable target with good hands and strong route-running skills. To that point, I would support his acquisition if Baltimore was able to trade for him without draining their few mid-round draft picks. If Miami would part with Landry for a 2018 5th-round pick and a 2019 4th-round pick, I think it would behoove the Ravens to agree. Baltimore could subsequently look to extend Landry on a $12-14 million contract, allowing them to make a few smaller moves in the offseason. Trading for Jarvis Landry would be quite the statement; it would bring in a young receiver with All-Pro potential. However, trading for Jarvis Landry would not be an immediate fix for the numerous holes in Baltimore’s offense. They would still need a big, red-zone target and deep-threat at receiver, as well as a pass-catching tight end. Landry’s contract would likely force the Ravens to address each of these needs in the draft. For this reason, Jarvis Landry – in my opinion – is not worth the investment.
Spring Training is upon us! My favorite time of the year to listen to sports radio to hear the idiot callers complain about how the Orioles lost to the Reds 7-3 in a B team scrimmage, therefore they have no depth and have no chance at winning more than 60 games. It’s overreaction season and it’s quite entertaining. A couple of years ago, the Orioles lost their first ten games of spring training and sports radio was losing its freaking mind. ‘Buck has lost dees guys, they can’t even win a game down ere spring, how day gonna beat dem yankees?” Or another caller, ‘I paid good money to fly my mistress and my dying son down ere Sarasota, and his last wish was to see Chris Davis play ball. Chris Davis ain’t even play and now my son is deader den a snitch on the police force.’ Well sir, I’m sorry about your son but maybe you should have taken his mother on the final trip instead of your son’s third grade teacher who you have been, ‘ meeting with to discuss how to make his last year in school comfortable. ‘It’s not Chris Davis’ fault that your son’s dying wish was to see him take third strikes. It’s not Chris Davis’ fault that you had been putting a tablespoon of antifreeze in all of your son’s Gatorades for the last 5 months. It’s your fault for thinking that spring training is about anything else but getting ready for opening day.Continue Reading …
The Baltimore Orioles kicked off their 2018 Spring Training campaign in a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday afternoon. As fans energetically packed Ed Smith Stadium, the birds stepped back onto the diamond for competition once again, hoping for better results than last season, which ended in a 75-87 record – good enough for last in the AL East.
The main story of this exhibition – as the case will be for most of them – was the performance of a fringe starting pitcher hoping to crack the MLB roster as the 5th member of the rotation. Mike Wright, a familiar face for O’s fans, took the ball first, pitching 2 innings of 1-run ball. Wright started the game surrendering a walk, single and sac-fly to give Tampa Bay an early lead, but quickly buckled down, orchestrating a 1-2-3 inning – with a strikeout – in the second. While he finished the outing strong, Friday afternoon was a microcosm of Mike Wright’s time with the Orioles: glimpses of brilliance clouded by more-frequent showings of inconsistency. Wright will continue to get a look, though, because there is no question that he has the physical tools to succeed on the major league level. He will have to show that the mental makeup – consistency, composure, poise – is there.
Another pitcher looking to prove himself and make the 25-man roster – Chris Lee – followed Wright in the 3rd inning. Lee, whose fastball sat around 94 mph, has also struggled with consistency; he will have to prove that he can regularly throw strikes. His first inning was shaky, allowing a double, single and walk to load the bases before recording a single out. Impressively enough, however, Lee orchestrated a 4-6-3 double-play and a groundout to Machado to limit the damage. In his second inning, Lee recorded 2 strikeouts before allowing a double. He got out of the inning unharmed, though, forcing a pop out to retire the side. Lee will likely start the season at Triple-A Norfolk, but – with the talent very much there – could provide a lift if he sorts out his inconsistencies.
As for the position players, little came of the projected starters as the O’s were shut out until their last at-bats in the bottom of the 9th inning. Tim Beckham – yes, the 3rd baseman – led the game off with an infield single, but all other returning starters were held hitless. Anthony Santander, a rule-5 pick that the Orioles will need to keep on the roster for 44 games if they want to keep the outfielder, laced a double into the right-centerfield gap. A favorite for the 4th or 5th outfielder spot, Santander will solidify his position on the MLB team if he continues to show potential as a hitter. MLB Pipeline considers him the Orioles’ 8th-best prospect. Two other outfielders who are big league hopefuls, CF Cedric Mullins and corner-outfielder DJ Stewart, replaced starters in the 6th inning. Mullins, who burst onto the scene in Sarasota last year, left 3 men on-base after going 0-2 with a K. Stewart, however, singled in the bottom of the 9th inning, scoring on Chance Sisco’s 3-run homer that followed a Ryan Mountcastle double. This sequence was an energizing end to a slow game, showing the potential that lies in the Orioles minor league system. While Stewart and Mountcastle may start the year in Double-A Bowie, Sisco is vouching for the backup catcher role. The home run will certainly help his case.
Friday’s game was somewhat sluggish, especially as the regulars struggled to get on-base, but the excitement around the team is still there. No matter how promising this 2018 season looks to be, the return of baseball is always welcome in Baltimore, and personally, I can’t wait to get back out to the Yard. Let’s hope it’s to see a winning team.
On Thursday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles announced that they have reached a 2-year agreement with free agent starting pitcher Andrew Cashner. The first major league signing of this stagnant offseason, Cashner will make an average of $8 million each season, a relatively cheap contract considering his experience in the MLB. The reaction has been mostly positive, especially from major media outlets, and it appears that the O’s have finally begun addressing their biggest roster hole.
Cashner has bounced around the league over his 8-year career, spending time with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres, Miami Marlins, and Texas Rangers, but is coming off one of his strongest seasons. With a 42-64 record in 137 career starts, Cashner has pitched to a respectable 3.80 earned run average. In 2017, the right-hander went 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA in Texas’ hitter-friendly ballpark. Traditionally a ground-ball pitcher, Cashner has the repertoire of pitches to acclimate to the similarly small Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Baltimore desperately needed starting pitching, as the only returning starters are Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. And, while the addition of Andrew Cashner has certainly improved the rotation, there is still plenty of work to be done. Two rotation spots remain, and though the Orioles may have internal options to fill the holes, most – if not all – of these candidates were given a chance to prove themselves last season. The names have become all too familiar: Mike Wright, Gabriel Ynoa, Alec Asher, Chris Lee; the list goes on. To provide competition, Dan Duquette and company have brought in RHP Michael Kelly and Rule-5 southpaw Nestor Cortes.
Another move that appears increasingly likely is the return of Chris Tillman, who posted a dreadful 7.84 ERA in his walk year. For the O’s to have success in 2018, at least one of these seven names will have to provide consistent innings at the back-end of the rotation, and those innings will have to supplement an even more consistent front three in Bundy, Gausman, and Cashner.
Another option – and one that most Orioles fans would love to see come to fruition – that Duquette could pursue is signing a second upper-level arm. Of those available, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb are the most enticing. While a reunion with Arrieta would certainly be a heartwarming coup for the Orioles, it is rather unlikely because of his contract. Even though Baltimore signed Cashner to a relatively cheap contract, the O’s are a medium-market team and Arrieta is demanding top dollar. Still, Cobb and Lynn would be welcome additions with the potential to immediately slot into the “Ace” role in the Orioles’ rotation. Theoretically, if Baltimore landed one of these two arms in addition to Chris Tillman, their patchwork rotation could be strong enough to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive AL-East. Here’s what such a rotation could look like:
- Lance Lynn (RHP)/Alex Cobb (RHP)
- Dylan Bundy (RHP)
- Kevin Gausman (RHP)
- Andrew Cashner (RHP)
- Chris Tillman (RHP)
Of course, Baltimore could benefit from a left-handed arm somewhere in the mix, but let’s face it, beggars can’t be choosers. If this was the rotation the Orioles wheeled out in April, the average career ERA would be 4.01 with Alex Cobb and 3.98 with Lance Lynn. Neither number is outstanding, but considering Baltimore’s recent years, anything close to this ERA would be more than welcome.
The Baltimore Orioles have a long way to go before they can be recognized as a potential contender in 2018, but the first step towards this reality is addressing the rotation. Signing Andrew Cashner this week was a strong start – he will be a much-needed innings-eater in the middle of the rotation – but two vacant spots still need to be filled. The slow-developing offseason has allowed Baltimore to wait things out, but Dan Duquette better have done his due diligence. If the Orioles enter the season without making another MLB-level addition to the pitching staff, they better get results or else – as their NFL counterparts like to suggest – “the pitchforks will be out”.
In last Friday’s State of the Ravens press conference, owner Steve Bisciotti acknowledged the lack of playmakers on offense, suggesting that the Ravens will find the cash to “make a splash” in free agency, if the right situation presents itself. Interestingly enough, Bisciotti also mentioned that Kevin Byrne needed to remind him to remain wary of “tampering,” or contacting players who are still officially under contract. These comments sparked significant excitement about the team’s plans for this offseason, especially considering the number of needs on offense. However, two players have received the most attention in these rumors: TE Jimmy Graham and WR Jarvis Landry.
Bisciotti’s clear desire to address last year’s stagnant offense certainly hints towards an aggressive pursuit of these players. After all, both are elite players at their position and have a proven NFL track record; each would fill a significant hole. Landry, who is currently under contract with the Miami Dolphins, is a 3-time Pro Bowler and a reliable target in the middle of the field. He is explosive after the catch and would bring a new dimension to a Ravens offense that has lacked consistency for the past few seasons. He has garnered interest from Ravens fans since the offseason began, and it appears that he has caught the eye of Ozzie Newsome as well. It appears that Landry was on the block at the trade deadline this past season, with the Ravens one of the teams heavily involved in talks. If this is the case, it can be assumed that Baltimore continues to hold interest and could pounce in free agency.
Graham, who has spent the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, is a dominant pass-catching tight end, though his most impressive seasons were with the New Orleans Saints. Jimmy Graham would also provide a reliable target over the middle of the field, particularly in the red-zone. In 2013, when Graham was a first-team All-Pro with the Saints, he caught an incredible 16 touchdowns, a nod toward his immense potential. Joe Flacco has held a strong rapport with multiple TEs in the past, namely Todd Heap, Dennis Pitta, and Benjamin Watson. For this reason, many believe that Baltimore is a logical landing spot for Graham. No question, he would be a welcome addition, a new safety blanket for Flacco.
Both players would fill immediate needs, and both would bring the offense closer to where it needs to be. If choosing between the two, the Ravens really can’t go wrong. So, who is more likely to be donning the purple and black in September? That, like most things these days, will come down to how much Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh value the player when compared to his price tag.
Jarvis Landry is the best receiver in free agency this offseason, and as such, he will demand a large salary. As of now, Landry is projected to land a 4-year, $58 million contract. This number, averaging $14.5 million a year would significantly restrict the Ravens. They would have to restructure at least one contract to make this happen, and any hope of resigning C Ryan Jensen or G James Hurst would be gone. Graham would present a cheaper option, perhaps cutting Landry’s number in half. Of course, this is only logical, as Graham is in the late stages of his prime at 31 years old and plays a position that is quite simply less expensive.
This brings us to the choice the Ravens should end up making this spring: signing TE Jimmy Graham. While Landry would provide more long-term cover, the team has too many holes to commit to his salary when a position of similar need has a free agent demanding nearly half as much money. Signing Graham will leave the Ravens more flexibility in free agency, allowing them to make one or two minor signings while still making a notable addition. More, as I have written about before, there are exciting prospects at both positions in this year’s NFL Draft. Baltimore could heavily address the WR corps there, while drafting one of the mid-round tight ends as an heir to Jimmy Graham.
Simply put, Jimmy Graham offers Baltimore the flexibility they need to address an offense that, at this point, resembles a block of swiss cheese. Though Jarvis Landry may better resemble the “splash” signing that Steve Bisciotti hinted at, one player will not fix a multitude of problems. The Ravens must be careful not to act rashly. Graham is a reliable, cheaper option who, especially in Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, should shine.
So, that’s a wrap on the NFL season. I’m sure you all watched the game so there is really no point in me discussing it. I won a very small amount of money so I guess it turned out the way I wanted it to. Blah Blah Blah. Eagles won…Patriots lost….cool. Justin Timberlake did the halftime show and Pink sang the National Anthem. Tony Dungy and whole bunch of Eagles gave all the glory for their hard work and perseverance to an entity that had nothing to do with any of it. Philly fans set some shit on fire and broke into Macy’s. Gronk got naked and chugged light beer after the game. Darrell Green fittingly delivered the Lombardi Trophy to the Eagles? I was too drunk to remember any of the commercials. People who get excited for commercials during the Super Bowl are solely responsible for poor people not being able to afford a good steak. I would know. I can’t afford a good steak. Nick Foles has a nickname that every man is envious of. He now has a big ring and a big thing. I’d prefer the nickname to a Super Bowl ring any day of the week. Except Sunday, because that is the Lord’s day and walking into church with his nickname is slightly disrespectful. No one has a bigger one than Jesus. They call me BSF. Big Stink Fink. While I’m slightly proud of it, I’d still prefer Nick’s nickname. But, I’m sure my ex girlfriends and random ladies of the night would do interviews with the New York Times refuting any truth to that. My current girlfriend would lie and say it’s true just because that’s the protocol. She’s a champ. Not a Super Bowl type champ but more of the type of champ that is really good at settling with and praising mediocrity. The reverse touchdown pass to MVP, BDN was an enjoyable play to watch. Tom Brady not catching the pass intended for him was more enjoyable. Failure is more human than success and if anyone represents the average human struggle, it’s Tom Brady. You have to wonder if the absence of Alex Guerrero (Tom Brady’s body Guru) had a lot to do with Tom not catching that pass. Furthermore, you have to wonder if Malcolm Butler not playing had something to do with Tom Brady not catching that pass, which, in turn is because Alex Guerrero wasn’t allowed around the team. Even furthermore than that, you have to wonder if Malcolm Butler not playing, Tom Brady not catching that pass and all of the Patriots’ coaches leaving to be head coaches of other teams, therefore not being focused for the game, resulting in a loss, had something to do with Alex Guerrero not being around the team. And if you really want to dig deep you have to wonder if God was mad because he is friends with Guerrero and Butler therefore gave Nick Foles a big thing and allowed the Eagles to win their first Super Bowl. I’m not saying that any of this is for sure, but you just can’t help but wonder. And there you have my Super Bowl recap. But I’m sure you all already thought of all of this because, just like everyone in the World besides butt hurt anthem truthers, you watched the game too.
Continue Reading …
On Friday afternoon, Steve Bisciotti hosted the long-awaited ‘State of the Ravens’ press conference, nearly a month after the season’s end on New Year’s Eve. Since the franchise’s crushing loss to Cincinnati, Bisciotti has received criticism on two subjects: for delaying the conference in the first place, and for electing to hold the meeting on his own for the first time in years. However, by 1:30 PM that afternoon, Bisciotti was poised and clear in his opinions about the direction of the Baltimore Ravens. Media members fired questions on a variety of subjects, from fan experience, to Joe Flacco’s future, to the upcoming NFL Draft. Bisciotti gave fair, rather predictable answers on each front, but dropped a bomb when addressing the status of the Ravens’ staff. After acknowledging that “it was a thought” to fire John Harbaugh, Bisciotti announced that Ozzie Newsome will be stepping down from the general manager position after the 2018 season.
After the Ravens’ second consecutive season in which a last-second collapse cost the team a playoff spot, many fans demanded sweeping change. Well, while ‘sweeping’ certainly isn’t the right word – Bisciotti stressed that continuity was still central to his vision – a regime change of sorts is on the horizon. Eric DeCosta, a member of Ozzie Newsome’s staff since the team’s conception in 1996, has always been considered the surefire replacement once Newsome decided to call it a career. Still, the nature of this shift is notable, as it will not signal Ozzie’s retirement, but rather a rearrangement of the scouting department. In 2019, Newsome will assume a role as “the highest paid scout in America”. Of course, the change is not immediate, but perhaps this minor turnover will reap major benefits, as fresh eyes may bring an exciting brand of football back to M&T Bank Stadium.
We have yet to see what Eric DeCosta’s personal plan is for the Ravens squad moving forward, and his influence will not be fully uncovered for a few years. However, one can speculate on the potential changes he could make early in his new role. The first is easily the most crucial: the release of Joe Flacco. I have written on this prospect before, albeit under the impression that Ozzie would hold the reigns for the foreseeable future. Cutting Joe Flacco after the 2018 season will save them $20 million, and considering that I believed it to be inevitable with Newsome at the helm, the emergence of DeCosta in 2019 will only increase its likelihood. To that point, as the Ravens scout the mid-round quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, could Ozzie Newsome permit DeCosta a selection of his choice this year? After all, the players taken in April’s draft will be part of the foundation Eric DeCosta inherits. That’s just a thought, though, and I expect that the draft will unfold with little adjustment.
Where the biggest source of hope lies is in the Ravens’ primary focus for this offseason, and likely those in the years to come: the search for offensive playmakers. Steve Bisciotti referred to the first-half offense as “ugly,” and later stressed the importance of hitting on offensive players at skill positions. It appears increasingly likely that Baltimore will take a pass-catcher early in the 2018 Draft, making the decision paramount for the team’s improvement. As we already know, however, Ozzie Newsome’s Achilles heel has been drafting wideouts. Perhaps Eric DeCosta will be able to provide the remedy. The Ravens won’t find out for at least a year, but they had better hope so.
Eric DeCosta has been Ozzie Newsome’s understudy since the franchise’s birth. Therefore, in all likelihood, little will change in terms of the Ravens’ identity. DeCosta should provide a fresh mind leading the scouting department, which will be beneficial, but as Steve Bisciotti stated on Friday afternoon, the change was made simply because “it was time.”