Not since the days of Oniel Cousins has a Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman been beaten as consistently as Gino Gradkowski. No less than once per game, Gradkowski doubles up on a man either while run blocking or in pass protection while an A-gap blitzer runs clean to the ball carrier or Joe Flacco.
It’s as if Gino is wearing blinders.
And it begs the question, “How much worse does Gradkowski have to play before the Ravens make a change?”
The cynic might reply, “Gino is the best they’ve got!”
But is that true?
Last year AQ Shipley started five games for the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens Wild Card Game opponent in January, 2013 – a game in which AQ did not start.
In those five contests during which AQ did start, the Colts won four times against the Packers, Jaguars, Chiefs and Texans. The only loss was at the hands of JJ Watt & Company during the first of two contests against the Colts division rival.
With Gradkowski struggling so mightily, wouldn’t it make sense to move Shipley to center and try Jah Reid or Ryan Jensen or Ricky Wagner at left guard? Could it really get any worse?
THE OTHER REID
Reid is a player that the Ravens draft war room was ecstatic about landing during the second day of the 2011 draft, claiming that a few other teams attempted to move up in the draft before the Ravens called Reid’s name with the 85th overall pick. To say he’s been a disappointment to the scouts is an understatement.
The former University of Central Florida Knight has dressed for just 28 games in his 2+ year career and only 12 times since his rookie season.
So is it a coaching issue with Reid? Does he lack heart? Does he not love the game enough? Is he unwilling to put in the extra work in the gym, classroom or on the practice field?
Or maybe the Ravens’ scouts (and the other teams allegedly interested in him) overestimated his ability.
COACHES, SCOUTS ON DIFFERENT PAGES?
Speaking of the scouts, the Ravens 2013 NFL Draft, touted by many to be an excellent one, is off to a rather slow start. First round pick Matt Elam hasn’t really found his groove just yet while second round pick (and a player the Ravens said they would have been happy to select in round 1) can’t seem to get on the field all that much, regularly losing snaps to Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes.
Third-round selection Brandon Williams, despite productive play when given the opportunity, didn’t dress against the Bengals last Sunday. Kyle Juszczyk can’t get on the field despite Dallas Clark’s struggles. John Simon, a player that according to owner Steve Bisciotti was a pick that triggered a loud cheer in the draft war room, has only dressed once since the Ravens win in Miami on October 6.
Ricky Wagner has played sparingly; Ryan Jensen hasn’t dressed this season; Kapron Lewis-Moore is on IR as is Aaron Mellette and Marc Anthony was cut and is now in Tampa.
One has to wonder if the scouts are on board with the way the coaching staff is operating and/or if the coaches aren’t particularly enamored with the talent the scouts have harvested. Or might the coaches be afraid to play the youngsters?
SAY IT AIN’T SO LAQUAN!
LaQuan Williams is in the news for all of the wrong things. The newest receiver for the New England Patriots is facing a civil lawsuit of up to $8 million in damages stemming from charges of assault and battery outside of a DC strip club called Stadium Club that allegedly took place back on June 23, as reported by the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.
If true the incident is very out of character for the mild-mannered Williams who is a close friend of Torrey Smith and is generally viewed as a community-centric and gentlemanly player.
CASTILLO TO GO?
Lastly, we’ve all wondered about the Ravens hiring of Juan Castillo. Rumors suggest that John Harbaugh outbid a couple of other teams for Castillo’s services, one of which was the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s not surprising given Castillo’s connectivity to Andy Reid.
Unsubstantiated numbers for Castillo’s services are 2 or more years at $1.1 million annually.
It gets worse.
One source has indicated that there’s been tension between Castillo and incumbent offensive line coach Andy Moeller along with running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery. We can expect Castillo to take a much more subservient role for the balance of the season after which the Ravens will try and find a new home for the oft-criticized and one-of-a-kind Run Game Coordinator.
If not for the embarrassing results and the extreme amount paid for said results, the Ravens would probably dismiss Castillo today. Instead they will for all intents and purposes sweep Castillo under the rug until the dust settles in the offseason.
Expect Ozzie Newsome and Bisciotti to think long and hard before they allow John Harbaugh to make such an expensive investment when that investment happens to be one of Harbaugh’s coaching pals.
And for what it’s worth, Steve Bisciotti’s annual paycheck is $100,000 lighter than that of Castillo.