We love NFL fans, particularly those who don the colors of purple and black.
We admire the passion and the devotion and how for 3 hours on Sundays in the fall, regardless of our differences, we are one within Ravens Nation.
We second-guess the play calling, John Harbaugh’s clock management and Joe Flacco’s decision making — many times with good reason.
But then there are times when some fans, Twitter know-it-alls and message board “superstars” lose all sensibility, driven by the competitive fire that burns within.
And that lost sensibility almost always rears its ugly head during the NFL Draft.
If Twitter and fan forums are any indication, the Ravens had a really bad draft this weekend. Here’s a sampling of the irrational chatter:
“What is Ozzie doing?”
“Worst draft ever!”
“Weird, strange picks.”
“Ozzie should be fired on Monday.”
“I give [this draft] a S+ rating right now, Sucks +”
“It might be time for a new head at GM after this year.”
“I think it’s time for Ozzie to retire and take his ridiculous “BPA” strategy with him.”
I’m not making this up.
Somewhere, Ozzie Newsome has to be laughing at this…
But before we jump in with all fours, let’s first take a step back.
Draftniks will pour through online and print publications; watch NFL Network and ESPN; study mock draft after mock draft and use the digested, sometimes regurgitated data to form their opinions. They treat the accumulated data on college players as if it was the gospel on such draft-eligible talent.
But where does this data come from?
It comes from media analysts!
Fans are basing their own opinions on the opinions of people who don’t scout the collegiate talent for a living. These media types haven’t seen the players at practice; understand how they interact with teammates; poured through the medical reports or Wonderlic scores; interviewed the respective head coaches and positional coaches.
Yet so many fans will use the media’s evaluations as THE standard. When teams pick players that don’t measure up against this flawed standard, criticisms zip around like flies on a horse farm.
And the horse farm probably smells better.
GM Ozzie Newsome played in the NFL for 13 years and has been a front office executive for 20 more. Assistant GM Eric DeCosta has been with the Ravens for 18 years and like Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz who has been with the club since 1998, is a graduate of the Ravens “20/20 club”.
George Kokinis has been a front office exec since 1991 and was once a GM in Cleveland. The Ravens employ 8 area scouts each with resumes steeped in player evaluations. They scour the country for 9 months studying players, coaches and systems looking for players who blend in with their team’s coaching philosophies.
Each year the front office assesses and reassesses the scouting process, analyzing where they were successful and why. And perhaps more importantly they study why they failed in certain situations.
What players continue to mature while in the NFL and which peak at the collegiate level? Is there a body composition that lends itself to further development or plateauing?
Do the skills sets of players under consideration complement those already on the team’s roster? Can the players adapt to the Ravens brand of football and how do these players embrace coaching and use the lessons to better their play on game day?
Sixty hour work weeks from dozens of men with eons of experience working together towards a common goal – to get better. And somehow, fans will dismiss those scholarly assessments, preferring instead to base their own opinions on flawed information from the less informed.
And then they’ll call for Ozzie’s head.
Here’s a man who is among 32 in the world to hold the title of NFL General Manager and one who is regarded as among the best of those 32.
Yet Joe Blow on the message board calls the Ravens 2014 draft class the “worst draft ever.” He’ll scream at the TV for the Ravens to draft T Morgan Moses not knowing that he’s stiff and not equipped to be an effective zone blocking tackle and isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.
It’s kind of like being pretty good at Guitar Hero and then telling Eric Clapton how to play.
That’s the world of the armchair GM.
But we still love ya!