Rest Assured There is a Plan in Baltimore

Ozzie Close

In the Dark Knight, there is an unforgettable scene in which the Joker explains his view of anarchy to Harvey Dent. He explains that when people expect something to take place – no matter how heinous in nature – order is still maintained among the masses.

But when events take place on the fly, chaos ensues.

Right now, it seems to some Ravens observers that chaos is in full effect in Baltimore as it was in Gotham City. It’s as if the general manager Ozzie Newsome has lost his mind.

Well, if you know how Newsome runs his team by now, you’ll know that he is in complete control. The moves that the Ravens have made are all part of a master plan. Is it to trim money? Is it to get younger? Is it to usher in a new group of Ravens that can help the franchise sustain its success over the long-term as opposed to a shorter timeframe?

Maybe the answer is “all of the above.” Or maybe we won’t ever know. The latter rationale is probably a better bet given how closely the Ravens keep their information to the vest.

Going forward, one thing is clear. Many of the positions that are bare on the current roster can be filled adequately through free agency and the draft. Moreover, the Ravens already have some pieces in place on their existing roster to cushion the blows. It won’t be the same level of the players that were here before—some being legends of the game. But the new group will be faster, younger and bring a new attitude to the team.

Let’s examine the primary positions that will need attention:

Safety — Pollard is already out. Reed is soon to follow. What’s left? There are a few intriguing options already on the team in Omar Brown, Christian Thompson and James Ihedigbo. One of these guys will get a legitimate shot to start next season. Thompson was ballyhooed as having tremendous physical skills so he’ll be an interesting guy to watch. This is also one of the better safety classes to come out in a while. They offer range, speed and athleticism. I expect the Ravens to invest one of their top 64 picks on one of these players.

Inside Linebacker—The Ravens need two guys here as well. I expect one of the starters to come from free agency. There is a decent group of veterans available between Karlos Dansby, D.J. Williams and even Rey Maualuga. Before you jump down my throat about mentioning Maualuga, think about the fact that his awful season came as the MIKE in a 4/3 scheme. Give him some protection and less ground to cover and he could be a better fit as a downhill rusher/crash player. In the draft, two of the more interesting linebackers are Kevin Minter and Alec Ogletree. Ogletree can run; Minter can hit. And I fully expect Josh Bynes to be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job as well.

Left Tackle—This may very well be the trickiest spot for the Ravens to fill between the draft and free agency. There are still some quality free agents available, including their own, Bryant McKinnie. Big Mac isn’t getting much action on the open market and is likely to be available during the second and third wave of market activity. The draft seems to be top-heavy in the first round with the type of tackles that can start from day one. None of the top guys will be available early enough for the Ravens to make a play. Any move aside from Michael Oher stepping back into the blind side would be ideal.

Wide Receiver—Replacing Boldin might be a matter of design as opposed to personnel. The Ravens still have some other weapons left in the arsenal. Mixing and matching tight end Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones in Boldin’s former role should be a big part of the plan. In fact, if Pitta isn’t featured more as the main slot receiver, I would be shocked. Boldin and Pitta were cutting into each other’s routes last season so it seems like a natural transition. Tandon Doss is still an intriguing player who could also be an inside, possession presence. Keep in mind, Doss was brought in for his reliable hands and his ability to catch the ball in the traffic. He needs to actually show it on the field.

Again, it will be interesting to see what Newsome and the rest of the Baltimore front office cooks up for the rest of the offseason. But you should sleep easier at night knowing that he has a plan in place and the team has been down this road before.

And if that doesn’t help, start watching highlights of the magical 2012 Super Bowl run that took place all of one month ago.

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About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh
Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens' keys to success against each upcoming opponent. Dev started modestly as a sports...more

26 Raves on “Rest Assured There is a Plan in Baltimore

  1. Justin Arn on said:

    I agree completely with this assessment. I think a lot of fans right now are forgetting some very formidable key players that are still on the roster and will be for years to come. Namely: Ngata, Suggs, Webb, Rice, Jones, and T. Smith. There was bound to be change in this roster; It’s not the end of the world. Nice write up, Dev.

    • geraldine on said:

      the problem is that the average fan just doesn’t understand the salary cap. Ozzie is the best GM in the business for a reason. Good call big perm, for a B.

      • Big Perm on said:

        in Ozzie we trust. i guess you and i are the only logical fans left Geraldine!
        I’m sure it’s all Joe’s fault too. Embarrassing!!!

        • geraldine on said:

          Embarassing is right. I am so sick of hearing people blame the cuts on Joe’s contract. That is ridiculous. If you don’t know anything about the cap, please keep your cap opinions to yourselves. We are gettting rid of alot of defensive players, and everyone please recall that our defense wasn’t very good last year. Big perm, your game is tight. I’m glad to see someone in baltimore who isn’t playing ball games.

  2. Ravens One on said:

    Dev, you are usually better than this! Where to start? Defensively, wasn’t Ellerbe supposed to be the heir apparent to Ray Lewis? He is in Miami now. The defection of Ellerbe is being down played by persons writing on this blog and fans. The other guys on the roster are not as good as Ellerbe. That’s a fact that can’t be ignored. Karlos Dansby is still a solid player. How much cash does Danby want? I don’t see Ray Maualuga on this team. Why? Maualuga is not a choir boy. Isn’t that what Harbaugh wants now? Pollard’s exit is personal. John Harbuagh wants boy scouts and Pollard is anything but that. That’s too bad—-for John Harbaugh. James Ihedigbo is a journeyman player at best and will be exposed as a full time starter.

    Offensively, the Ravens are in big trouble. Flacco looked better because McKinnie got out of the dog house. Mckinnie feels wronged by the Ravens, who took salary from him last season. Mckinnie is on record stating he will NOT give a home town discount to the Ravens. If McKinnie does not get a market value offer……good by Ravens. If I read another comment or hear another analyst (Billick) say that Pitta, Dickson or Doss can replicate what Anqaun Boldin did my head will explode! Boldin defied X’s and O’s. When used properly Boldin dominated opponents. When has Pitta, Dickson or Doss demonstrated they can dominate opponents? If you have that on tape send me a copy! The undervaluing, underestimating and marginalizing key contributors on their way out the door is ridiculous.

    I look forward to seeing Pitta, Dickson or Doss lining up on the numbers and beating DB’s 30,40 and 50 yards down the field.

    • g money on said:

      i wouldnt call ellerbe a defection. he simply got way too much money, and we are not going to overpay for a player. the guy has started 14 games in 4 years. that doesnt translate into 7 mil a year to me. I sure am glad you aren’t the GM. Ozzie has a plan, and you will see it materialize soon.

    • Jerry on said:

      You’re taking one transaction (Pollard’s release) and making a false assumption. First of all, you make it sound like the Ravens just released a bunch of thugs. Pollard may be an on-the-field thug of sorts- he certainly has the resume of 15-yard penalties to back that up- but pretty much all of the guys the Ravens lost seem like good dudes. As for the Pollard release, it probably had more to do with his weak coverage skills and a glutted safety market than anything else. If the Ravens can save a bit of cap room (be it this year, next, or both) and bring in a better coverage safety, that’s worth losing Pollard and his combination of crappy coverage, excellent run defense, and numerous 15-yard penalties.

      The idea that the Ravens are getting rid of all their “troublemakers” is absurd. Boldin signed a very reasonable contract when he got here and didn’t once publicly complain about his limited role in the offense. He put his all into everything he did and blocked the ish out of some defensive backs.

      These moves are more about the salary cap and football skills than any personal issues that you perceive to exist between certain players and certain non-player employees within the organizations.

      • FATTS on said:

        What team was you watching? Pitta played in the Slot also and had 7 less catches than Boldin with less balls thrown his way. How many catches Boldin had beating DB’s 30,40 and 50 yards down the field? Boldin struggled on the outside so how did he have all these 30+ yards catches? Boldin is nothing but a possession receiver that wasn’t worth 6 million a year. He hasn’t smelled a 1000 yard season in years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Ravens One on said:

          It’s hard to get 1000 yards receiving when you play under Cam Cameron! Would you agree? And I would argue Boldin would have had 1000 this year had someone, anyone, other than Cameron calling the plays. I have no idea what you were watching either. Boldin led the team in explosive plays of 25 plus yards. Go look it up!

          The Ravens FO and fans see Dennis Pitta as a guy that can be the foundation of a team’s passing game. I don’t! The comparison of Pitta/Dickson to the New England duo is absurd. Don’t forget Piita has concussion issues and Ed Dickson is……well Dickson…an inconsistent catcher and non-blocker. Go look at the tape. If Pitta is as valuble as some think let’s see if he gets an offer from another team! Pitta is young and capable, right?

    • ea2one on said:

      If you are paying attention to the offseason, nobody is getting the money they want. Dansby isn’t gonna command a lot of money. We need to find a LT or our line is in trouble. I believe Ozzie is waitng for the second and third wave to get good players cheap. Osi is another player that will be an inexpensive upgrade

      • FATTS on said:

        Dansy is a bum n will never be a Raven. Didn’t he bad mouth the Ravens that year we played him where Leach was killing him?

    • raven on said:

      Ellerbe was never supposed to be anything. His above average talent was always offset by his below average work ethic. I would have liked to see him stay, but not at even half of what Miami paid him.

      McKinnie is very good when he is determined, healthy, and in shape. The fact that he is not enough of a pro to motivate himself into being those things is HIS problem.

      The point about Boldin, however, is dead on. Q was always open, even when he wasn’t “open”. Of all the moves so far, the Boldin trade is the only one I disagree with. He can, and often did, change the outcome of games by dominating the man lined up across from him, repeatedly.

  3. Dev on said:

    I appreciate all of the great responses.

    A couple of things to keep in mind. As great as Boldin was in the postseason, he wasn’t a consistent peformer during the regular season. He would dominate one week and disappear the following week. Obviously he was limited by Cam. But I just don’t see his production being irreplaceable over a period of 16 games. Certainly his impact and style of play will never be replaced. He came alive during the playoffs, but you have to at least get to the dance before you can even worry about replacing his impact in that setting.

    Also, there is actually a solid offensive coordinator in place for a change which is definitely a comforting thought. With Cam, there would be no hope. Caldwell will now have an entire offseason to install his own offense. I’m excited to see what he put together.

    I truly believe that by scheme, the Ravens can overcome the loss of Boldin. The great offenses are able to do this all the time. Look at New England. They reinvent themselves. Let’s see how the Ravens fare in September after a long offseason to retool and implement a new direction.

    None of the moves the Ravens made are guaranteed to pan out. They are certainly taking their lumps. The overall issue is that they may be looking to accomplish this reconstruction of their roster now, when they have an opening. And again, I’m sure Ozzie will put his added cap space and 12 draft picks to good use.

    As Bisciotti said when he took over, he wants to have a chance to compete every season. That means being in position to make the playoffs every year. They are not hung up on how the team is going to look this season as much as how it’s going to look in 3-5 years.

    • Ravens One on said:

      Boldin was handicapped by Cameron and by extension John Harbaugh. We agree that Caldwell is an improvement. Still, I think it’s a bit of a reach to say the Ravens will game plan from week to week and say Caldwell will model after the Patriots. Younger players tend to have problems being assignment sound. After this purge, the Ravens will probably be very young. Based on my knowledge, only the Packers, Patriots, Saints and Broncos with Manning are able to game plan differently week to week. Why? They have high football IQ QB’s and talented high football IQ players around them capable of successfully carrying out said game plan.

      One more thing on Anqaun Boldin. I see and hear conflict. If he has to be replaced through scheme or by multiple players, then he was a special player that was not maximized.

      The Ravens are in re-build mode. No one is saying it but it sure as hell looks that way to me!

      • curt on said:

        Ravens One,

        None of us have any guarantees but I personally have seen this as the glass half full. We have the best drafting GM in the business and an organization that has a plan. The goal is to compete every year and we no longer get stuck on a single player. It doesn’t matter how good the player was in the previous year. It’s now only about age, value and price. Boldin is no longer valued at that negotiated price for this team at this time.

        I see Cleveland in rebuild mode but not the Ravens. We have Suggs, Ngata, Webb, Rice, Flacco & Yanda. I look forward to watching the new players (not yet on our roster) develop and the bench players from last year possibly start. And throw in a handful the quality grizzled vets who come at the right price. While you agonize over these proactive moves, I sit back and smile while thinking of two awesome super bowls and more to come.

        • Ravens One on said:

          Did you see Ray Lewis on BSPN? When asked by the host who replaces his leadership, his response “I really don’t know”. Hmm. But I digress, you mentioned players on defense. Will ever revert back to All-Pro form? What about Ngata who has not been healthy for 2 seasons? Webb is a very good player. You know players coming off of knee surgeries take at least a year to regain their explosiveness? Is Webb a CB. See where I’m going with this?

          You have more confidence in Flacco’s ability to pick right up where he left off and produce the way he did during the Playoffs than I do! Team chemistry changes from year to year but none of this will affect Flacco’s performance (sarcasm of course). Please! We do have a thing or two in common. We both look forward to those grizzled vets, players that were on the bench and drafted rookies help this team get back to the Playoffs next season.

      • FATTS on said:

        Ha HA Ravens ones said the Ravens down change game plans weekly which is false bc every team on your schedule runs a different scheme so what works against Pitt won’t work against Cleveland so you’re wrong if you think the Ravens has the same game plan each week. They play Pitts they activate more dlinemen bc of Ben and they run different pressure packages bc of Ben style n if the play the Bengals they activate more db’s bc the Bengals pass more. Same with Offense, if the game plan is running they activate more linemen running backs, if they going pass happy more WR will be activated. IT DEPENDS ON WHO THEY ARE PLAYiNG WITH GAME PLAN THEY WILL USE AND THE RAVEN STAY STUDYING GAME FILM SO YOU’RE WRONG AGAIN SAYING THEY HAVE LOW FOOTBALL IQ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Ravenwoman on said:

    I am glad that things have settled down on the boards after a few days. In life, change is the only thing you can count on happening. Truth be told, our defense in the Super Bowl was pitiful. If anyone thinks we could duplicate the same results with last year’s team is just dreaming. Every other team in the NFL is reloading, rebuilding and improving. Well, at least they are trying to improve. The Ravens have not had a major overhaul since 2002. It has to happen sometime. It may take a little time for the new defense to gel, but I am hoping Ozzie will draft enough talent and potential to overcome the lack of experience that accompanies new players. As far as leadership is concerned, leadership is something that evolves. It is not elected, it is not appointed, it just happens. Basically it is earned by performance on the field. Everyone looks up to the player that is performing and making plays. I have no doubt there will be leaders in the locker room, it just takes time. I rather sacrifice one year where we barely make the playoffs, or not make the playoffs, than to suffer five years because of salary cap purges and old aged players.

  5. Odenton Mike on said:

    If anything, most football fans here in B-more will be excited about this upcoming draft, less perhaps the opening Round since the Ravens will be on the clock o/a MIDNIGHT!! That should make for an exciting weekend!!

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