Ravens offseason off to sloppy start

Lombardi's Way Ravens offseason off to sloppy start

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"You fire the quarterback coach. Usually when you fire a position coach, it’s because you’re not really happy with how that position did. And when I look back on my season and our season as a team, I mean, we won 13 games.

"I felt like I had a pretty good year and you’re firing the quarterback coach? It’s kind of an attack on me, I feel like. You know, it is what it is. It’s not that big of a deal for me to feel like it."

That’s Joe Flacco on the implications of firing of QB Coach Jim Zorn.

I get Flacco’s angst. Perhaps he too thinks that Zorn is Part II of the sacrificial feast (Part I was offensive line coach John Matsko). Kicking Zorn to the curb is on par with firing the bullpen coach and not the pitching coach when a team’s ERA skyrockets.

We all know that Cam Cameron is the guy who should have been given the Tony Soprano treatment. But he didn’t and now with a couple of scapegoats removed there will be no one else to blame if the Ravens offense is stuck in reverse once again in 2011.

Flacco’s public defense of Zorn is out of character but welcomed nonetheless and that’s the reason why his response is getting so much play. Maybe it’s the first step towards him being a more demonstrative leader. Flacco will never be a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning in that regard. It’s not in his DNA but maybe this move ticked off Joe just enough to break him from the cocoon of passivity.

Maybe the move will somehow inspire No. 5 to be more clutch than he’s been in the past. A good place to start would be against the Steelers.

Time will tell.

Speaking of time, since the Ravens folded like a Kenny Rogers’ song in Pittsburgh and ran into the offseason, their organizational behavior has been strange at best and clearly cause for concern. Normally a “together” group, the decision making so far this offseason appears as together as Cameron’s offense.

Fire Matsko and replace him with a coach a couple of drinks away from a dismissal.
 
Fire Zorn.
 
“We like Cam under fire.” (Now there’s a rallying cry for support)
 
Let’s hope the balance of the offseason is better than the clumsy start.
 
Now, on to the offseason…
 
Who knows when a new CBA will be struck? My guess is that the owners who clearly have all the leverage here will exert a little muscle and weaken the union and the union’s impression of DeMaurice Smith. Eventually they will stumble upon labor peace and have a new CBA in place sometime in May. And that changes the way the offseason is managed by teams.
 
Will teams now draft more for need and then fill in with free agents later or will most focus on the best player available and fill in for need through free agency? You can count on the Ravens going with the later approach and having the draft before free agency just might work to the Ravens’ strengths.
 
With this in mind, the Ravens offseason priorities from my vantage point are (in order of importance):
 

1. Bookend pass rusher to pair with Terrell Suggs: The Ravens can’t hold their collective breath hoping for Sergio Kindle’s cranium to strengthen to the point of being able to withstand the collisions of the NFL. They also can’t keep hoping for Paul Kruger to develop some consistency. A tag team edge rusher makes the Ravens secondary better and they’ll likely force more turnovers and win the battles for field position.

2. Offensive tackle: I’m not one to conclude that Michael Oher can’t handle left tackle. I think a predictable offense makes his job more difficult. That said, the Ravens need to find another tackle in the draft and third or fourth round projects like Oniel Cousins or David Hale are unacceptable. Convincing a motivated Jared Gaither to give it one more try is a worthy effort.

3. Speed at WR: The Ravens need to find their own Mike Wallace and that is a challenge for an organization that has failed consistently in identifying talent at the position. Back in 2000 they burned a first round pick on Travis Taylor (10) and passed on more productive players like Laveranues Coles (78) and Darrell Jackson (80) and in 2005 they opted for Mark Clayton (22) and passed on Roddy White (27) and Vincent Jackson (61). Stiffs like Devard Darling and Marcus Smith (both 3rd round picks) won’t cut it either.

4. Inside LB: Inconsistency plagues the Ray Lewis sidekick flavor of the day (Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden) and that has to change, particularly as the end draws nearer for No. 52.

5. Safety: Dawan Landry had an up and down season in 2010; Haruki Nakamura is too small to be a strong safety and Tom Zbikowski isn’t dependable. The Ravens could use a more consistent enforcer to pair with Ed Reed.

 

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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