The Ultimate Conspiracy Theory: Ozzie Hoping to Re-Write Giants Script with a New Name?
Oh, the quick-to-forget memory of we, the Baltimorons. How quickly we replace memories of confetti falling in NOLA with standing watch at the Bay Bridge, waiting for the first person to fall into the waters of the Chesapeake wearing their Anquan Boldin jersey.
At our best, we forget 15 straight years of utter embarrassment and pack the Yard on consecutive October nights. At our worst, we call for the King of the NFL Draft’s head after he trades a guy he was about to cut for a 6th round draft pick (more on that in a bit). Somewhere in between, we forget about this Joe Flacco pass against Denver after this Joe Flacco pass against Denver just a few weeks later.
We’re like the person who finds out their significant other is cheating on them, only to take them back and have them cheat on us again. Naive enough to forget — or forgive — at the drop of a hat.
But the object of our affection isn’t a repeat offender in the infidelity department. It’s Sports Illustrated’s top-ranked front office in the NFL. The same front office that put together a team that managed to win a Super bowl despite a season filled with injury, mutiny, plague, and famine. Where are the pitchforks and torches that a year ago were ready to bear down on the castle after the departure of Ben Grubbs, Jarrett Johnson, and the now team-less Tom Zbikowski? Kelechi Osemele, Courtney Upshaw, and James Ihedigbo did just fine, didn’t they?
It’s easy to see where the intense emotions come in. We wanted Grubbs, Johnson, and Zibi back because they were our guys. Homegrown, draft picked, (in the case of JJ) out-of-nowhere contributors for us. And it’s not fun to see them go. We picked these dudes out of college, why do these bottom feeder franchises who skipped over them years ago get to have them now?
This year it’s the same story — products of the Ravens system getting plucked away. Kruger and Ellerbe were our picks, Williams was a practice squad guy who caught on with us, Pollard went from simply killing Patriots in the regular season to killing Patriots on the way to the Super Bowl. And though we didn’t draft him, it was Q who informed the world just a few weeks ago that he was a Raven for life, and he’d head off into the purple and black sunset with Ray if released.
But the pain is even worse this time around. These guys weren’t just Ravens products — they were key contributors to bringing the Lombardi home to Charm City. And if Ed Reed is, as many suspect, the next one out the door, we’re not just losing a homegrown recent Super Bowl star. We’re losing, in my opinion, the two greatest Ravens of all time in the same offseason. I always envisioned a retirement press conference of Ray and Ed sitting at a table with the Lombardi in between them.
What in the name of Elvis Grbac happened?
The past week has been a lot to swallow, but let’s step back and take a look at the Super Bowl champs that directly preceded us: Eli’s G-Men. The only team to win multiple Super Bowls in the 2000′s next to ours truly, the Pats, and the Steelers.
Before their championship in ’12, the Giants played David to the Patriots Goliath in 2008, ending an undefeated season and Bradychek’s bid for ring #4 with that fateful David Tyree ball-to-the-helmet grab and some Eli late-game “Peyton who?” heroics.
After the big win, the franchise’s face of the defense, Michael Strahan, retired in full championship glory and moved onto a career in TV. Sound like anyone else we know?
The similarities don’t stop there. In the ensuing offseason, the Giants lost Kawika Mitchell, Gibril Wilson, and Reggie Torbor via free agency. All defensive players who had started for them in the Super Bowl. A middle linebacker, an outside linebacker, and a free safety.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Just one year later, they lost even more players who had started for them in the Super Bowl XLII win: a #1 wideout, a starting cornerback, and a safety. Plaxiglass was behind bars, Sam Madison called it quits, and James Butler chased the money out of town. Once again, does any of this sound familiar? (Okay, okay, Q didn’t shoot himself out of Baltimore — or did he with the aforementioned retirement proclamation? Was Ozzie’s plan to cut him an attempt to call his bluff only to realize he’d reneged thereby resulting in the last second trade?)
Oh and one year after their Super Bowl win, the Giants made Eli the highest paid QB in the NFL. Yeah, the guy people called boring and dull and personality-less. The QB that everyone doubted for his regular season play that didn’t produce the most gaudy numbers. Sound like another Super Bowl MVP QB you know?
Just one full season and two offseasons removed from a Super Bowl win, the G-Men lost six starters on defense and their top receiving threat and gave their QB a massive contract. Not too different from what our Baltimore Ravens are currently experiencing. We’re just getting it over with in one offseason.
The Giants went young in their next few drafts after winning Super Bowl XLII, spending 18 of their 31 picks on defensive players, including 3 of 4 first round picks on D, all before winning another Super Bowl in 2012. (The other first rounder was spent on Hakeem Nicks — not a bad replacement for Plax while waiting for Victor Cruz to drop out of undrafted heaven a year later.)
What exactly are the Ravens doing that is precluding any of this same storyline from applying to them?
Re-building to some extent is natural for any team in the league from top to bottom.
The Ravens have 12 picks in the draft this April. Do you really expect the Wizard of Oz to stray from the script?
Let’s back track to the 6th rounder we got for Q from the 49ers. Call it insignificant, but Ozzie Newsome has drafted the following in the 6th round: ultimate utility man Adalius Thomas, longtime long snapper Joe Maese, complementary back Chester Taylor, all-time Madden legend Clarence Moore, Pro Bowl QB Derek Anderson (yes, you read that right), and Mr. Coffin Corner himself, Sam Koch.
I’m not saying any of these guys defined their positions or that the pick gained from the Boldin trade will have ramifications of divine proportions, but if you can slip another pick into Ozzie’s pocket, why wouldn’t you? He’s gotten more production out of his sixth round guys than Matt Millen did from most of his first-rounders.
The shock and doubt surrounding the way this offseason has unfolded is no doubt justified. No one knows how the draft will work out or how the guys on the roster being asked to step up will pan out. But we have 12 chances to get a few things right this year, and next year’s draft is shaping up nicely in the form of compensation picks that will be coming our way from the losses of Kruger, Ellerbe, and Williams.
Nevermind the fact that Ozzie, in his infinite wisdom, has thus far only signed players cut by other teams, which means our compensation picks won’t be reduced as a result of our signings.
We may not have so much luck finding the next Jason Pierre-Paul at pick #32 this year. But hey, we could always tank it and grab Jadeveon Clowney next year — just ask the Colts how that Andrew Luck guy worked out after one bad year and the loss of the face of the franchise.
The Giants won a Super Bowl in 2008 and did so again in 2012. Only 19 of the players from the first championship were on the roster for the second. That’s a turnover rate of over 60% in just a few seasons.
No one knows how big the gap is for the Ravens between 2013 and the next ring or how many more players will come and go, but in light of what the Giants went through between rings, is there really any reason to not be, dare I say it, optimistic about where the Ravens are headed?