Confessions of a Ravens Worry Wart

Me Worry

Ravens fans barely had a chance to bask in the glow of a second Super Bowl win before the team was seemingly dismantled, right before our eyes.

After Joe Flacco signed his cap-friendly contract, I had visions of the Ravens extending Anquan Boldin, resigning Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, and Bryant McKinnie, and cutting Vonta Leach, Brendan Ayanbadejo, Jameel McClain and Mount Cody, all the while bidding a fond farewell and best wishes to Cary Williams, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis and Matt Birk.

Only the last four transactions happened.

Not only that, but Boldin was traded, Ellerbe went to South Beach, Bernard Pollard was cut, and Ed Reed signed with a conference rival that the Ravens will meet in the 2013 season.

WHAT??

Over the past several weeks, callers to sports talk shows have been giving their best Dr. Phil imitations, soothingly advising the listening audience not to fret .  Trust in Ozzie.  Don’t worry.  Be happy.

Not me.

No Ellerbe, no Kruger, no Ed, no Ray, no Williams, no Pollard.  No defense.

As Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine would say, What, Me Worry?

Yep! Damned right I’m worried!

The logical, left side of my brain understood that changes had to be made on a defense that ranked in the upper 20’s for most of the season.  The defense made a spectacular goal-line stand in the Super Bowl after being pushed around by the 49ers for most of the second half. But that last gasp is deceiving.  Things had to change.

Taken one at a time, the losses don’t appear to be that great.  Kruger was a two down linebacker, Ellerbe couldn’t stay healthy over the course of a season, Williams played with his back to the ball and gave up gobs of yardage, Reed wouldn’t tackle and hung his CBs out to dry, and Bernard Pollard, a real banger, was probably one more helmet-to-helmet shot away from a suspension.

But like a very wise man once said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Apologists can talk all they want about trusting in a front office that rarely misfires, but the fact is that the Ravens have lost six (6) starters from their Super Bowl winning defense.  And those six players contributed to a synergy that let the Ravens defense bend, but not break, and keep most offenses out of the end zone.

Now I admit those losses have been mitigated by the addition of Chris Canty, Marcus Spears, and a gift from the team that keeps on giving, whether it’s on the field or in the front office, in the person of one Elvis Dumervil, late of the Denver Broncos.  These moves will bolster a defensive line that was pushed around far too much last season and will punch up the pass rush.  The addition of Dumervil, in particular, was a steal.

But holes remain.  We need a left tackle, a slot receiver, two inside linebackers and two safeties.   Is Ozzie still bargain hunting? I hope so.  There’s several million left in available cap money that could be used for a potential left tackle (McKinnie?) and safety (Michael Huff?)  Work it, Ozzie.

The Ravens have 12 draft picks and, as a Baltimore Sun sports writer so aptly put it, Ozzie has to nail this draft. I  think he will. This draft is talent rich in positions the Ravens need to fill, such as linebacker and safety and we have enough selections to be creative.

As long as he doesn’t draft a wide receiver in the 1st round.  Travis Taylor and Mark Clayton, anyone?  Newsome’s record there, is abysmal.

Work your magic, Ozzie.

Finally, I have to comment on the fiasco that has the Super Bowl winning champion Ravens opening on the road due to a scheduling conflict with their parking lot neighbors, the Baltimore Orioles.

At first I was more than happy to pile on the O’s for refusing to budge and give the Super Bowl Champions their chance to open the season at home, with no competition.

But I was wrong.

Leave the Birds alone.  The details of the negotiations are well-known by now and they’re well within their rights to stand their ground.  In fact, I applaud them for trying to work things out.

I SEE THE FINE HAND OF NBC IN ALL OF THIS.  The excuse not to play on Rosh Hashanah is a ruse and pure, unadulterated bull.  The NFL played a full slate of games just last year on the first day of the Holy Day on Sept 16, 2012 and nobody – that I know of – raised a peep.

I think the Peacock Network didn’t want to screw up their precious Wednesday Night programming by playing a football game.  Pure and simple. And since they’re paying the freight, what they say goes.

And shame on Steve Bisciotti for not standing up to, as Tony Lombardi so aptly coined, Commissioner “Greedell” and NBC for not demanding the game be played on Wednesday Sept 4. The Ravens and their fans deserved that game and now we’re not going to get it.

I think it’s time for another pin for my Roger Goodell doll………

6 Raves on “Confessions of a Ravens Worry Wart

  1. True on said:

    Ozzie goes out and he gets the players that want and know that they’re going to the superbowl and winning it. I’d say Suggs and Ngata want to come back and win it one more time. Canty has already one it, maybe twice. I can’t remember his stats but we have a team that’s accomplished a life long goal. Dumervil and Spears need to get one but we definitely need some young, talented, dedicated players on defense to go all the way. Another left tackle and Da’Rick Rogers would get us there.

  2. richieG on said:

    Re the safeties: why are you seemingly totally discounting Ihedigbo, Thompson, & Brown – didn’t Ihedigbo play well when given the opportunity; Wasn’t Thompson highly thought of when drafted; didn’t Brown show some potential? You make it sound as if a new safety, whether drafted or signed as an UDFA, will be better than these “veterans” just by being a new face. Not saying you are wrong…just want to know your evaluation thought process.
    And, what about Bynes as an ILB – didn’t he flash some ability last year?
    RichieG in Dallas

  3. Jerry M on said:

    You are right RichieG But the 2013 draft has a boat load of very talented defensive prospects and to add 3 or 4 of them guys world be very smart don’t ya think?

  4. RichieG on said:

    Absolutely yes Jerry M…just sayin’ this article makes the current Ravens in these positions sound like chopped liver (which is why I was asking for FTV’s opinion/analysis). And, they might turn out to actually be CL; however, they are on the roster, have played at least adequately, and they very well could be the “nextmenup”…ChristianThompson was drafted last year and could possibly be better than any safety in this year’s draft. Ergo, their positions might be less of a need, allowing the draft to flow in a different manner…left tackle?!?
    RichieG

  5. Fran the Fan on said:

    Thanks for the comments, guys. I know Ozzie has a plan. I know the plan was probably conceived before the Super Bowl. I think they were stung only once, by the money the Dolphins threw at Ellerbe, but otherwise I think the front office pretty much anticipated and planned every other move. But to lose six starters all at once, from a defense that helped win a Super Bowl, was a pill too large for me to swallow.

    James Ihedigbo and Chykie Brown did indeed show flashes last year; Since Chris Thompson was IR’ed by midseason, I can’t form an opinion on him yet. But if either Ihedigbo or Brown can step up at either free or strong safety, that will be one less hole to fill. We have weeks of free agency to go through and the draft is still a month away. Let’s see what happens.

    I feel a lot less anxious than I did about 10 days ago.

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