Thursday, May 20, 2010

16 Random Thoughts About the Offseason!

1. Myron Rolle: I hate that he was black balled because football is not his only option, especially given the NFL’s emphasis on player conduct. Myron Rolle is the poster child for how players should behave and instead of touting him as such the NFL acted as the hypocrites they are and held it against him.

2. Jamarcus Russell: Russell will go down as the biggest bust in NFL history, finally taking the title away from Ryan Leaf and it will not be because Leaf was the 2nd overall pick and Russell was the 1st. It will be because Russell is out of the league after just 3 seasons and it is not due to an injury. Some people are optimistic that an NFL team will give Russell another shot, I am not one of them but even if they did I do not believe Russell would take the opportunity. I don’t think he has the desire to continue playing and why should he? His goal was to get paid and the Raiders handed it to him on a silver platter. If a team called Russell right now and asked him to join them in training camp, he’d turn them down faster than you can say “the NFL needs a rookie pay scale”.

3. New Draft Format: I do not like the 3 day draft format and I did not skip the NBA playoffs to watch it. I also did not like that late round prospects were invited to the draft. By the time Brandon Ghee, the last guy out of the green room, was selected ESPN had stopped covering the podium and switched to analysis. I don’t even recall seeing a shot of Ghee at the podium when he was selected.

4. Players Making Picks: I enjoyed seeing former and current players announcing picks. I think the NFL should make it a regular feature of the draft. My suggestion, though, is for the NFL to use the Ed Block Courage Award winners for each team in the future.

5. ESPN Crew: The ESPN crew was horrible and had zero chemistry during the draft. In fact, they were the main reason that I opted to focus most of my attention on the NBA playoffs and check back periodically on the draft, instead of vice versa.

6. “SHE SAID NO”: As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I absolutely loved the “SHE SAID NO” chant that rain downed on radio city music hall every time the Steelers were on the clock. I think that mantra will follow Roethlisberger the rest of his career.

7. Gerhart/ Race Card: I loathed Toby Gerhart implying that race and not his playing style was the reason he wouldn’t be a higher pick. The truth is there is no place for backs with Gerhart’s playing style in the NFL anymore. His style does not translate well to the NFL and it is in short demand. No GM in his right mind would use a 1st round pick on a player who will be nothing more than a short yardage bull dozer. I’ll go one step further and say that the 2nd round was too high for a situational player like that.

8. Pre- Pick Player Reactions: Going back to draft coverage for a moment. I hated seeing the player reactions prior to the pick being announced. It takes away all suspense. A better format would be to show the players reaction after his name has been called but that might be too much like right.

9. Prospect Privacy: The NFL needs to do a better job of protecting the privacy of NFL draft prospects. I think it is ridiculous the amount of personal information that gets leaked. I couldn’t imagine being Sergio Kindle or Jonathan Dwyer, and information about my medical history that I provided during a job interview was leaked to the media. I understand that a lot of these guys just come out and tell the media about it but I view that as a preemptive strike. They know the teams are going to leak the information, so they do it themselves to get any questions about it out of the way.

10. HGH: The Dr. Galea/HGH situation is a sports scandal in the making, unlike anything we have ever seen before. And I don’t think the NFL will make it out of this with its image intact. It has recently been revealed that Sanatana Moss of the Washington Redskins was one of Dr. Galea’s patients. I believe that this case has just scratched the surface and in the end will prove that the use of HGH is more rampant in the NFL than anyone realizes.

11. RFA: The number of restricted free agents who have yet to sign their tenders is alarming. The number of them that didn’t trade teams is even more alarming. I don’t think the NFLPA has enough evidence to prove collusion on the owners part but it sure does seem like there was an agreement in place that RFA wouldn’t be signed to offer sheets this offseason and that there would be no poison pill. I can only recall one RFA being signed to an offer sheet this off season and that was Mike Bell. You could argue that teams didn’t want to give up draft picks or what have you but it smells fishy to me.

12. Cushing/ AP Awards: Brian Cushing being re-awarded his defensive rookie of the year award and even gaining votes in the process, after it came out that he had tested positive for steroids during the season, made me sick to my stomach. I think the writers who carried out the act are idiots but I think the AP is the most at fault. They should have just stripped him of the award and either, gave the award to the guy with the 2nd most votes or had a revote without Cushing on the ballot. Simply put the AP had a chance to make a stand against cheating and they bungled it away by putting too much faith in the attention crazed talking heads that vote to do the right thing.

13. Pre Season Polls and Rankings: Preseason poll rankings are worthless and should cease to exist. The fact that NFL playoffs has an annual turnover rate of 50% is ignored by sports writers, except when a team like the Patriots misses the playoffs, like they did in 2008. How many of us can’t cut and paste last years playoff outcome onto a piece of paper entitled “2010 Playoff Predictions”? When sports writers do try to go out on a limb and buck that trend, they get criticized for it. For example, Peter Kings recently released preseason ranking. Is it really a big stretch to believe that the Dolphins could make the playoffs over a team like the Bengals? The Dolphins made the playoffs in 2008, they were in the very tight AFC wild card race at the end of last season, and they have upgraded some of their biggest weaknesses. Last season, was just the Bengals 2nd playoff trip in 2 decades and they finished the season on a very poor note, with back to back losses to the Jets, and a horrible record the second half of the season. That’s not a stretch, yet many people will claim that it is and have a fit about it.

14. Most Improved Team: I think the Detroit Lions will be the most improved team in the NFL next season. I like the moves they have made and I think they really helped themselves in the draft. If Matthew Stafford can make the next step, I think the Lions will cause a lot of problems for teams.

15. Biggest Loser: I think the Arizona Cardinals are the team setup to take the largest fall. The Cardinals recent success has glossed over the fact that they still have one of the worst owners in the NFL and are one of the most poorly ran franchises in all of sports. Ken Whisenhunt has proven to be a good coach, so I don’t think the Cardinals are headed back to the bottom of the barrel, just yet but I see them falling to mediocrity, which after their last two seasons is disappointing.

16. Twitter: Twitter is slowly becoming a PR nightmare for the NFL. Darnell Dockett is posting video’s of himself showering and earlier in the offseason, complaining about all the losses that the Cardinals had taken. Santonio Holmes is using it to tell fans to commit suicide and the world that he is about to smoke marijuana. Chris Johnson is using it to lobby for a new a contract. Reggie Bush is using it to complain about public service employees. And who knows what else these guys are posting. I think if players are going to be allowed to have accounts with twitter or public profiles elsewhere, they need to be advised to remain professional or taught to use the privacy settings. Some of the things these guys are saying are best said behind closed doors and to people they trust, not posted on the internet for the world to see.

But this is just one fans many opinions.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ravens Weak Secondary NOT a Liability!

Media experts and fans are poking and prodding at every NFL roster trying to find potential holes. The consensus hole for the Ravens is at the CB position because Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb are both coming off of knee injuries and may not be ready to start the season. Emphasis should be put on “may not” because from all accounts both are well ahead of schedule and at least one of them will be ready week 1. But ignore that for the moment, let’s say they both start the season on the physically unable to perform list and don’t return until week 6, what kind of trouble are the Ravens in? None and it is not because I think Ozzie Newsome is a master at filling holes, even though he is. I think the Ravens will be fine with or without Washington and Webb for a few reasons.

Assuming the Ravens bring back Frank Walker, the secondary that they will start the season with is the same one they played the last 4 games of the season with. In the last 4 games of the season the Ravens faced Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. The Steelers, Colts, and Patriots all had top 10 passing attacks last season and the Ravens walked away 2-2 in their last 4 games, including the playoffs. That’s not too shabby, for a group that most people think is terrible. In fact even in the two losses the secondary was not overmatched and they played well enough to win. At Pittsburgh, they held Roethlisberger to an average 259 yards passing before the Ravens entire team went into meltdown mode. In the playoff loss to the Colts, the Ravens offense was the reason they lost the game not their secondary. So, what does all this have to do with why the Ravens will be fine with their current backfield if Webb and/or Washington are not able to start the season? Look at the opponents the Ravens will face the first 8 weeks of the season. 4 of the 7 teams ranked 25th or worse in passing last year and none of them made upgrades that would catapult them into an elite passing game. Only the Patriots ranked in the top 5 and again the Raven beat the Patriots convincingly with their current secondary. The Steelers, who ranked 9th, will be without Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. A closer look:

Jets: Mark Sanchez was a below average starting QB last year and the Jets 31st ranking in the passing game proves that. The Jets did acquire wide receiver Santonio Holmes to bolster the passing game and help Sanchez develop but he’s suspended the first 4 weeks of the season and therefore will not play against the Ravens. Which means Sanchez’s improvement is the only upgrade to the Jets passing game that the Ravens will face. Sanchez should improve considerably, he can’t really get much worse but I doubt it is enough for the Jets to beat the Ravens through the air. Add in the fact that the Jets are a run happy team and the Ravens secondary should be fine in this matchup.

Bengals: The Bengals beat the Ravens twice last year but it wasn’t because of their 26th ranked passing game. It was because of defense and a solid run game. Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson have both lost a step and are not as explosive as they once were. The Bengals didn’t do anything to drastically upgrade their pass offense this offseason. In my opinion, Antonio Bryant equals Laveranues Coles. They did add two wide receivers in the draft but drafting wide receivers is such a crap shoot that neither can be considered a real upgrade at this point. Jermaine Gresham will be valuable to them but the Ravens were the best team in the league at defending TE’s last year. So, this isn’t a game where the Ravens secondary will be overmatched.

Browns: Ranked 32nd in passing last season. Whether it is Jake Delhomme, Wallace, or Colt McCoy, the Browns upgraded at QB this offseason but it is not enough to catapult them into an offense that can take advantage of a “weak” Ravens secondary. Besides who are the Browns receivers again?

Steelers: Ranked 9th in passing last season but the Ravens will be facing a very much watered down version of this passing game. Roethlisberger has been suspended for at least the first 4 games of the season and the Steelers, as was stated earlier, traded their number 1 receiver Santonio Holmes to the NY Jets. Hines Ward and Heath Miller, will not be enough for the Steelers to exploit the Ravens secondary, and it doesn’t matter which backup QB they use.

Broncos: The Bronco’s 13th ranked passing offense didn’t matchup well with the Ravens defense last year and without Brandon Marshall and Ryan Clady, the Bronco’s passing game has been downgraded. Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn have not faired well against the Ravens. The Ravens held Orton to 137 passing yards on 37 attempts and number 1 receiver Eddie Royal to 2 receptions for 10 yards.

Patriots: This 3rd ranked passing attack faced the same undermanned Ravens secondary in the wildcard round of the playoffs and the Ravens secondary did just fine that game.

In my opinion, the only team with enough fire power in the passing game to expose the Ravens secondary is the Patriots and again the Ravens, not to beat a dead horse, beat the Patriots with this same secondary in the playoffs last year. So, as long as Webb and Washington are ready by the week 8 bye , (wk 7 they face the 30th ranked Bills passing attack) the Ravens secondary will be fine with their current group. That doesn’t mean the Ravens are going to start the season 7-0 but the secondary will not be as big of a liability as some people seem to think. The Ravens should look to add more bodies and hope all their current guys can stay healthy but there is no need to make any drastic changes, even if Webb and Washington are not ready to go, unless their injuries will keep them out for the entire season.

Monday, April 26, 2010

An Early Guess: Ravens 53 Man Roster!

With the draft behind us, I thought I’d give the Ravens 53 man roster a crack. This is only a prediction and it’s a terribly early one at that. In no particular order, here it goes:


QB: Joe Flacco, Troy Smith, John Beck

HB/FB: Ray Rice, LeRon McClain, Willis McGahee, Jalen Parmele

TE: Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Edgar Jones

(*Note: Davon Drew heads back to the practice squad)

WR: Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Marcus Smith, Mark Clayton, Donte Stallworth, David Reed

(*Note: Eron Riley and Justin Harper back to the practice squad)

OL: Jared Gaither, Michael Oher, Marshall Yanda, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Chris Chester, O’Neil Cousins, David Hale

(*Note: Ramone Harewood to the practice squad)

Special Teams

P: Sam Koch

K: Billy Cundiff

Matt Katula


DL: Haloti Ngata, Terrance Cody, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg, Corey Redding, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger, Brandon McKinney

(* Kelly Talavou to the practice squad)

LB: Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Sergio Kindle, Jarrett Johnson, Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden, Jason Phillips

(*Note: William VanDeSteeg to the practice squad)

CB: Dominque Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, Frank Walker

S: Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura


Wide Receiver- The Ravens should carry 6 this year due to the injury history of the group as a whole. Stallworth and Boldin have been two of the most oft-injured wr’s in the NFL. Smith is coming off that horrible injury from last year. Mason has struggled with injuries at some points the last few years and so has Clayton. I had a really hard time choosing between Riley, Harper, Williams and Reed. At the end of the day, I gave Reed the benefit of the doubt being a draft pick. Although, I think Williams would probably be the best option of the 4. If it is Williams, than I see Reed on the PS and Riley getting his walking papers, because Harper is a little further along in his development at this point. Personally, I am not 100% sold that Stallworth will make the roster but for arguments sake he is there.

TE- Edgar Jones versatility and special teams play saves his job.

LB- Antwaan Barnes and Brendon Ayanbadejo are two notable absences. Not all these guys are going to remain healthy, sad but true. Barnes could sneak his way onto the roster that way. The same for Ayanbadejo. I just have a hard time keeping an ST ace over all those young LB’s. Ayanbadejo is what he is at this point and he’s not going to be much more. Some of those other guys have the potential to be much more. He also suffered that injury early and the special teams unit did not miss him. His value drastically decreased last offseason.

CB- The Ravens will add a short term stop gap, eventually. AND the dreaded Frank “illegal contact” Walker will most likely be back, as well. I went on and counted Walker in my initial 53 because I KNOW he will be back but I didn’t count the other guy, whoever it is.

Practice Squad: I threw some names out there for the PS but I have to imagine the Ravens will be looking to add some undrafted free agents from the 2010 class to it. So, some of those guys may very well have run out of time.

Overall: Not much roster turnover. Its about what you expect from a team that has been deep in the playoffs two years in a row.