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Ravens’ Reluctance to Move On From Dickson is Puzzling

Street Talk Ravens’ Reluctance to Move On From Dickson is Puzzling

Posted in Street Talk
8+ Comments ravensean509@gmail.com says Is the guy from UMD, Scott Fursterberg on the roster? He ran under 4.7 at last years combine. I've never quite figured out why the ravens haven't utilzed a spot

Sometimes admitting a mistake, cutting ties with said mistake and moving on is the best way to succeed in the NFL.

In recent years, the Baltimore Ravens have successfully admitted their mistakes sooner than later. They cut a rookie draft pick – cornerback Marc Anthony – during the final cuts of 2013 training camp, realizing he may not have been worth a draft pick, moving on and getting rid of the mistake.

In the 2012 draft, the Ravens used draft picks on safety Christian Thompson and wide receiver Tommy Streeter. Before the midway point of the 2013 season, neither was still in Baltimore.

It hasn’t required much effort for the Ravens to part with draft busts over the past two years, but perhaps some of the longer-tenured picks have led to different viewpoints for the organization.

The trend of moving on from mistakes hit a road bump when the Ravens had a standing one-year offer for Michael Oher prior to his departure for the Tennessee Titans.

Now, the Ravens have an offer on the table for free agent tight end Ed Dickson.

Seriously?

This should be a no-brainer for the Ravens (granted, the terms of the offered contract are not available).

Let’s just put this plan and simple: Dickson was a bust, never fully developed and at this point in his career, won’t likely begin to rapidly develop. What Dickson is now is likely what he’ll be for the rest of his NFL career.

Four years into a once promising career, Dickson’s continuous drops – particularly in 2013 – made him more of a punch line than a legitimate weapon in Baltimore’s offense.

A former third-round pick in 2010, Dickson joined the Ravens the same year as fellow tight end Dennis Pitta. Of the two, Dickson had immense potential, while Pitta figured to have the lower ceiling.

Now here we are: the tight end the Ravens picked after Dickson – Pitta – just cashed in on a five-year contract worth over $30 million, while his counterpart – Dickson – is still searching for work.

When the two were rookies, this situation never seemed to be a likely scenario.

But when a four-year veteran causes an interception on throws right into his hands like this, it’s easy to see why he is still unsigned.

Right now, Dickson’s athleticism is the only thing keeping him afloat as an NFL tight end.

He can still produce after the catch with breakaway speed, which is an asset that can’t be taught.

But that’s just about where Dickson’s value ends.

Let’s be blunt: Dickson’s hands proved to be a liability last season, and his blocking is painful to watch more times than not.

As unfortunate as it is to say, Dickson’s is one of the NFL’s worst blocking tight ends.

For a Ravens team that just gave a hefty payday to a tight end in Pitta who isn’t a traditional blocker, bringing back Dickson makes little sense if the desire is to have a balanced offense.

Baltimore’s offensive line didn’t do Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce any favors last season. The linemen often receive most of the blame for the run-game woes, but Dickson was often just as much a culprit as any lineman.

Athletic tight ends such as Dickson typically aren’t supposed to be traditional in-line tight ends, but he was forced into the role in recent years as Pitta occupied the slot often.

As a four-year veteran, Dickson should have at least been to the point last season where he could be adequate in the run game.

He didn’t need to be a lineman-like, imposing blocker in the form of Rob Gronkowski; he just needed to hold blocks long enough to let plays develop.

Instead, Dickson easily got pushed around, and his functional strength was yet again exposed. It was rarely a tough task for opposing defensive linemen to shed Dickson with ease before the run play fully developed.

Dickson simply wasn’t strong or violent enough as a blocker to overcome the deficiency, and if he couldn’t do it last year or in 2012, it’s highly unlikely he suddenly develops the ability to constantly hold down blocks.

It wasn’t just Dickson’s blocking strength that was his demise, it was also who he didn’t block.

Let’s use a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 as an example.

Dickson swings across the line on a run play.

With the offensive line holding off the defensive linemen, Dickson can pull across and seal off the oncoming defensive back from the outside, giving running back Ray Rice an easy lane up the middle.

He briefly looks at the defensive back, but opts to pass him and turn upfield (where there is no unblocked Steelers defender to be found), leaving Rice wrapped up for no gain.

It’s hard to justify what Dickson was doing on this play.

Being a tight end in today’s NFL still ultimately comes down to receiving before blocking, and if Dickson were a viable pass catcher, his blocking wouldn’t be as big of a problem.

But with his inability to ever fully assert himself as quarterback Joe Flacco’s go-to tight end, his blocking becomes more of a focus. At the very least, a struggling receiving tight end needs to block in order to extend his NFL career.

Billy Bajema has nine NFL seasons under his belt, after all.

When a tight end as deficient in the blocking department as Dickson rolls around, justifying his roster spot isn’t easy. Dickson once had promise, and maybe one day he’ll begin to develop in the way some thought he would.

But to think that turnaround could happen in Baltimore is more than wishful thinking at this point. Perhaps a change of scenery could be the best thing for Dickson’s career.

Admitting wrongdoing eases the construction of NFL rosters, and the Ravens need to employ that tactic with Dickson.

A one-year “prove it” deal with little guaranteed money could make a Dickson-Baltimore reunion justified. If Dickson can get anything more than that elsewhere, let him walk and move on.

 

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Kyle Casey

About Kyle Casey

Kyle's love of pro and college football stems from his passion for the Baltimore Ravens. He has held season tickets in section 542 of M&T Bank Stadium since 2004. He is a junior Mass Communications student originally attending Towson University but currently on a year-long exchange at the University of New Mexico. More from Kyle Casey
8 comments
ravensean509@gmail.com
ravensean509@gmail.com

Is the guy from UMD, Scott Fursterberg on the roster? He ran under 4.7 at last years combine. I've never quite figured out why the ravens haven't utilzed a spot for a true, traditional blocking TE since Terry Jones jr who was quite good at it. I'd rather have a guy like that than a 3rd TE who is neither a reciever or, really, a blocker like bajema. Standard NFL philosophy= 2 guys who can move and catch including one who is above average AND a guy who can block and play a key role on special teams. I'd rather have edgar jones (a converted LB) than a substandard blocker. FB "juice" has the ability to play an HBack role..........or we wasted a draft pick. I'm not as hard on dickson as some and it's sad pitta is actually worse at blocking but not to have an inline TE to aid the running game and not tip our hand is a big plus.

Joshua
Joshua

Why is it "puzzling?" We have only two tight ends on the roster as of today in Pitta and Furst. Also, Dickson is still young and might serve well as a complement to Pitta in an entirely new offense. And there is no guarantee that a TE prospect we like will fall to us in the draft.

bensmotorcyclehelmt
bensmotorcyclehelmt

A good read. Dickson had a productive season two years ago. I imagine his high upside, coupled with a new OC that loves the TE, and a potentially low price tag means the Ravens would give him another shot. My quesiton is, what WERE Dickson's actual drop numbers and reception rate? Were they so much worse than the league average? OR was Dickson the subject of unfortunate timing- making a bad drop when the Ravens needed a catch the most? Those drops can be more costly in the long run. I'm just curious if his real numbers support all the criticism he gets.

John P
John P

Great article, Kyle! But I'd say last year was Dickson's "prove it" year. A contract year where he became the #1 tight-end by default and he still stunk up the joint. Time to move on. Best of luck, Ed.

KO
KO

I remember at the beginning of last year there was a fan movement to cut Jimmy Smith - because (in spite of the Super Bowl) - the internet warriors claimed he was a grade A bust. The personnel evaluators knew better. Arguably, going into the last year of his rookie deal - Jimmy Smith is playing at an All-Pro level. Ed was a third round pick with VERY inconsistent play. Perhaps there is something there that the coaches like - and at this juncture worth an incentive laden contract. I trust them. If it is not working, they can dump him in training camp.

KW
KW

We typically take 3 TE's into the season and maybe 4 with Kubiaks offense. I don't think they offered any more than the vet minimum, which if you can get him for that why not? As much as Dickson is to blame for his poor play with drops and head scratching plays - the offense and coaching staff have to share some of that blame. As you briefly mentioned, you don't take a guys whose biggest strength is his athleticism and ability in space, and make him your in-line blocker. Sure Pitta showed more promise in the slot, but the good offensive coaches find a way to maximize talent. His concentration isn't great, and hes not the most physical - so why the heck would you continue to run him consistently up the seam and over the middle? Move him around - split wide, in the back field... use him on screens, quick slants, etc. He admittedly is somewhat limited, but theres no doubt in mind he can be an asset in the passing game when in space with the ball in his hands. So design some plays specifically for him and get him 4-6 touches per game. He'll come very cheap, provides depth, and if used properly can be effective in a limited role. It wont be a great signing, but putting an offer on the table isn't a bad decision. It wont stop us from signing someone else or drafting a TE.

izvoodoo
izvoodoo

We currently have one TE on the roster, and that's Pitta who has some injury history. Just because they offer him a contract doesn't mean he'll make the roster.

HotInHere
HotInHere

The only explanation I can come up with is Kubiak. Maybe he thinks he can do something with Dickson in more of an H-back role.

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