DON’T PANIC ABOUT DECOSTA
Earlier today, the Miami Herald reported that the Miami Dolphins have reached out to Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta about their opening at general manager. DeCosta has been a popular general manager candidate for years, as he has learned under one of the best in Ozzie Newsome.
The Ravens have made it clear in the past how much they value DeCosta as he was promoted two years ago to his current position of Assistant General Manager. DeCosta is also the heir apparent to General Manager Ozzie Newsome whenever Newsome decides to step down.
While Newsome currently has no plans to retire, DeCosta has been very patient in the past. DeCosta was contacted in 2009 for an opening with the Seattle Seahawks but turned it down, and has since turned down the Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, and Chicago Bears when they wanted to interview with him.
DeCosta is expected to turn down the Dolphins and remain as Newome’s right-hand man in Baltimore. It is more likely the Dolphins will turn their focus to other candidates such as Ray Farmer of the Browns or Lake Dawson of the Titans.
Many Ravens fans are unhappy with the organization after a disappointing 8-8 season that ended in the franchise missing the postseason for the first time in six years. Regardless, the Ravens have already set their sights to the draft this April, and with Newsome and DeCosta, the Ravens have to feel good about all drafts in the foreseeable future.
In 2013, quarterback Joe Flacco’s 22 interceptions almost doubled his previous career-high of 12 and he was sacked 48 times, good for second-most in the NFL and also the most of his career. And while Flacco did set a career-high in passing yards at 3,912, it was largely because he attempted 72 more passes than his previous career-high in 2011.
While Flacco clearly took a step back in those categories, owner Steve Bisciotti said during the team’s annual “State of the Ravens” press conference on Wednesday, that he felt Flacco improved the most on the sidelines, surprisingly enough. Bisciotti felt that Flacco made great strides in communicating more than he had in the past.
“I thought he did. I think I saw that a little bit more,” Bisciotti said. “The fact that he is sitting on the sidelines gathering thoughts, and watching the play and wondering what he is going to do, it’s just his way of doing things. I’m used to him being that way, so I didn’t see him regressing. Actually, I was seeing him do a little bit more [communicating].” (link 2)
Flacco undoubtedly had a down season, but if the Ravens are going to bounce back next year they will need their quarterback to improve not only in communicating but also in the stat sheets. Flacco has proven resilient in the past, and this writer believes he will be able to defy his critics yet again.
BISCIOTTI SPEAKS ON POTENTIAL RULE CHANGES
Owner Steve Bisciotti also made it known this week that he supports the recent strides being taken to attempt to make the current replay system better, faster, and more accurate. Bisciotti is in favor of sending all replays to an official review outside of the stadium to be examined more closely.
Bisciotti said Wednesday, “I think it’s easier for a nonpartisan guy in New York to overrule himself or his teammate, so to speak. So, I’m all for the New York thing. I think it would make it better, it would make it more efficient.”
Another potential rule change Bisciotti offered his support for is the motion to give each head coach an extra challenge. Under the current rules, coaches receive two challenges, and if both are used and successful, they are given a third challenge. Bisciotti said, “I really think that we need to make it fairer for the refs—not easier for the refs.”
Bisciotti gave these opinions and then added, “If I can kick their [butts] a little faster, I certainly will. But, I’m not on the Competition Committee.” He then gave a small pat on the back to general manager Ozzie Newsome, who is, in fact, a member of the NFL Competition Committee.
REEVALUATING THE 2013 DRAFT
One of the effects of having such a good front office with Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, and Eric DeCosta is that the Ravens’ draft classes are notoriously expected to be among the best in the league. Head coach John Harbaugh was recently asked to give some opinions on players who were drafted last year.
Free safety Matt Elam was the 32nd overall pick in the draft, and the only first-round pick for the Ravens last year. On Elam, Harbaugh said, “Matt Elam should be a really, really good safety in this league. He’s fast, he’s physical and he’s going to understand the expectations a little more.” He later added, “He didn’t make too many mistakes or a guy who played that many repetitions as a safety, so it’s a good start for him.”
Second-round pick Arthur Brown had limited playing time as a rookie, and Harbaugh said, “Art Brown did a really good job in our nickel packages. Art is a guy who’s learning a lot of football. He bounced [between defensive positions] a little bit in college. And football, understanding the complexity of defensive schemes in this league-at this level- is going to take him to a starting role.”
One other interesting thing Harbaugh expressed was a strong desire to get 4th round pick Kyle Juszczyk on the field more in 2014. “Kyle played great on special teams… But we’ve got to get him into the mix more. Kyle has got to be a huge part of what we do going forward.” This quote suggests that Vonta Leach’s future with the Ravens is ominous at best, as he plays the same position and makes a much higher salary.