THE WATER COOLER: Tension Between Scouts and Coaches?

Harbs Ozzie

Not since the days of Oniel Cousins has a Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman been beaten as consistently as Gino Gradkowski. No less than once per game, Gradkowski doubles up on a man either while run blocking or in pass protection while an A-gap blitzer runs clean to the ball carrier or Joe Flacco.

It’s as if Gino is wearing blinders.

And it begs the question, “How much worse does Gradkowski have to play before the Ravens make a change?”

The cynic might reply, “Gino is the best they’ve got!”

But is that true?

Last year AQ Shipley started five games for the Indianapolis Colts, the Ravens Wild Card Game opponent in January, 2013 – a game in which AQ did not start.

In those five contests during which AQ did start, the Colts won four times against the Packers, Jaguars, Chiefs and Texans. The only loss was at the hands of JJ Watt & Company during the first of two contests against the Colts division rival.

With Gradkowski struggling so mightily, wouldn’t it make sense to move Shipley to center and try Jah Reid or Ryan Jensen or Ricky Wagner at left guard? Could it really get any worse?



Reid is a player that the Ravens draft war room was ecstatic about landing during the second day of the 2011 draft, claiming that a few other teams attempted to move up in the draft before the Ravens called Reid’s name with the 85th overall pick. To say he’s been a disappointment to the scouts is an understatement.

The former University of Central Florida Knight has dressed for just 28 games in his 2+ year career and only 12 times since his rookie season.

So is it a coaching issue with Reid? Does he lack heart? Does he not love the game enough? Is he unwilling to put in the extra work in the gym, classroom or on the practice field?

Or maybe the Ravens’ scouts (and the other teams allegedly interested in him) overestimated his ability.



Speaking of the scouts, the Ravens 2013 NFL Draft, touted by many to be an excellent one, is off to a rather slow start. First round pick Matt Elam hasn’t really found his groove just yet while second round pick (and a player the Ravens said they would have been happy to select in round 1) can’t seem to get on the field all that much, regularly losing snaps to Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes.

Third-round selection Brandon Williams, despite productive play when given the opportunity, didn’t dress against the Bengals last Sunday. Kyle Juszczyk can’t get on the field despite Dallas Clark’s struggles. John Simon, a player that according to owner Steve Bisciotti was a pick that triggered a loud cheer in the draft war room, has only dressed once since the Ravens win in Miami on October 6.

Ricky Wagner has played sparingly; Ryan Jensen hasn’t dressed this season; Kapron Lewis-Moore is on IR as is Aaron Mellette and Marc Anthony was cut and is now in Tampa.

One has to wonder if the scouts are on board with the way the coaching staff is operating and/or if the coaches aren’t particularly enamored with the talent the scouts have harvested. Or might the coaches be afraid to play the youngsters?



LaQuan Williams is in the news for all of the wrong things. The newest receiver for the New England Patriots is facing a civil lawsuit of up to $8 million in damages stemming from charges of assault and battery outside of a DC strip club called Stadium Club that allegedly took place back on June 23, as reported by the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson.

If true the incident is very out of character for the mild-mannered Williams who is a close friend of Torrey Smith and is generally viewed as a community-centric and gentlemanly player.



Lastly, we’ve all wondered about the Ravens hiring of Juan Castillo. Rumors suggest that John Harbaugh outbid a couple of other teams for Castillo’s services, one of which was the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s not surprising given Castillo’s connectivity to Andy Reid.

Unsubstantiated numbers for Castillo’s services are 2 or more years at $1.1 million annually.

It gets worse.

One source has indicated that there’s been tension between Castillo and incumbent offensive line coach Andy Moeller along with running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery. We can expect Castillo to take a much more subservient role for the balance of the season after which the Ravens will try and find a new home for the oft-criticized and one-of-a-kind Run Game Coordinator.

If not for the embarrassing results and the extreme amount paid for said results, the Ravens would probably dismiss Castillo today. Instead they will for all intents and purposes sweep Castillo under the rug until the dust settles in the offseason.

Expect Ozzie Newsome and Bisciotti to think long and hard before they allow John Harbaugh to make such an expensive investment when that investment happens to be one of Harbaugh’s coaching pals.

And for what it’s worth, Steve Bisciotti’s annual paycheck is $100,000 lighter than that of Castillo.

28 Raves on “THE WATER COOLER: Tension Between Scouts and Coaches?

  1. Robert on said:

    I don’t understand the obsession that people have with rookies starting IMMEDIATELY. Elam obviously hasn’t found his groove yet, since he’s a rookie being forced to play out of position. When he eventually takes over as the starting SS, he’ll improve vastly. I’m sick of people saying “why hasn’t A. Brown been able to beat Jameel McClain and Josh Bynes?”, because he’s not being groomed to replace either of those; he’s being taught to replace Daryl Smith, who has been one of our best players this year. You can’t compare Juice to Dallas Clark… they play different positions. Brandon Williams has played well. You can’t jump to conclusions after one game of inactivity. Marc Anthony was undoubtedly a disappointment, but are you really knocking Jensen, Lewis-Moore and Mellette for being injured?? They can’t control that, and it doesn’t reflect the coaches view on them at all (except perhaps Mellette, who could have been one of those guys they try to stash on IR).

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      Dallas Clark hasn’t lined up as an H-Back? Juszczyk wasn’t drafted as a tight end? He can’t play H-back? McClain and Bynes have done exactly what to keep Brown on the sidelines? Why does Daryl Smith have to go? Why isn’ Brown being groomed to replace McClain and/or Bynes?

      And no one said is was Jensen’s fault for being injured. You might question why he’s occupied a roster spot. Lewis-Moore, clearly drafted as a project.

      Glad we agree that Williams has played well. So why inactive? Deonte Thompson clearly was a better dress that day, right?

      And no one said anything about starting IMMEDIATELY or even this season for that matter. I’d just like to see them play and I’m sure the scouts would too, hence the potential tension between scouts and coaches… the original point if I’m not mistaken.

      • wickedsolo on said:

        Why sign Bernard Scott and then not dress him?

        Why do they have anymore than 4 receivers on the active roster? It’s not like they use anyone else.

        From what I’ve seen thus far in the past few years, I just don’t think they’re making great personnel decisions come game day.

      • Robert on said:

        Clark has lined up as an H-back, but his natural position is as a receiving TE. Juice’s envisioned role is different. McClain and Bynes are used as run-stuffers, while I believe the FO envisions Brown as a coverage ILB, the role currently occupied by Daryl Smith. Not saying that Smith “has to go”, but he’s not a long term answer, and we will need a replacement for him sooner rather than later. As for Williams being inactive, who can say why? All I know is I’m not gonna read into it unless he gets benched this week too without explanation. I agree that it’s frustrating not to see the younger guys play, but it’s just Harbaugh’s style not to trust young guys. The man only started Flacco in ’08 because Troy Smith AND Kyle Boller were injured. So I don’t think it’s indicative of any tension, just of Harbaugh’s veteran-happy style.

    • Jim on said:

      Everybody hating on harbough and not making any sense. Yall weren’t hating on him last winter. Were still not out of it. John Harbaugh is the best coach in the NFL. Some Ravens fans are just to spoiled to see it right now.

      • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

        “Hating” is an overused expression these days IMO. When you criticize and correct your kids, is that hating. The criticisms directed towards Harbaugh for the most part have similar intent.

        As for Harbs being the “best coach in the NFL”, C’MON MAN!

      • John P on said:

        Harbs has lost us two games all by himself (some argue the Denver game too, but I don’t buy that theory). Name another coach that has done that.

        As far as “hating on him”, I wouldn’t say I “hate” on him. He made a couple good in-game decisions (read: the safety). But I still can’t say I was happy with him when the confetti fell. The team won the Super Bowl because Bisciotti had enough of Harbs’ antics and forced him to fire Cam Cameron.

        The mutiny also forced him to take a step back and self-evaluate. I think he needs to do that again this year too.

  2. Voice of Reason on said:

    I have also been wondering why we haven’t seen any of our draft class on the field except for Elam and occasionally Brown. But we have yet to see Kyle Juczczyk who was suppose to be a TE/H-Back/Fullback. Where is John Simon, Brandon Williams, Ricky Wagner and others? Matt Furstenburg should be promoted since our TEs are almost non-existent. This has not been a productive draft. I look at other teams like the Seahawks, the Patriots, the Packers and others who have really drafted well and find use for drafted players in their games. What really stings is that we released Anthony Allen and Bobby Rainey at a time when we really need some fast, healthy running backs. You are right, the coaching staff and scouting staff are on two different pages and it shows on the field of play.

    • Joshua on said:

      Allen and Rainey are fast? Allen was a seventh pick, while Rainey went undrafted. Allen is currently a free agent, while Rainey was cut by CLEVELAND and played only 11 snaps Monday night AFTER Tampa Bay’s starting running back left the game.

  3. Tony J on said:

    Good article. This confirms what my eyes have been telling me since Harbaugh took over. Rookies don’t play immediately unless (a) they play special teams, or (b) injury to the incumbent (with the exception of Michael Oher). Harbaugh is not adept at outscheming or game planning his opponents, and looks to win by employing a risk averse strategy (hence the lack of trust in rookies) and simplistic, vanilla offensive and defensive schemes. That’s fine when you have All Pro talent throughout the roster, but it can be disastrous when there is a dearth of playmakers on the team.

  4. wickedsolo on said:

    IMO, it seems as iff JuiceCheck is predominately thought of as just a full back.

    Makes very little sense to me and it is something that I’ve been super disappointed with. He’s just under 6’2″ in height, but he’s got excellent quickness and hands. I’m just really surprised that they can’t use him somewhere in the offense. This is a kid that had 89 receptions, over 1200 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns his final two seasons at Harvard. Granted, he was playing at Harvard, but is JuiceCheck really (REALLY?) unable to run a route, get open and make a play? I just have a hard time thinking that.

    Regarding Simon, I’m not surprised. He is a mix between Suggs and Upshaw. I think Simon was a pick for next year, not this season. The same can be said of Kapron Lewis-Moore and Aaron Mellette.

    Matt Elam is interesting. I think he’s played pretty well all things considered. The thing I see with Elam is that he is playing out of position. He’s not really a free safety, which is where he is playing. Elam is more of an in-the-box strong safety, which is where Ihedigbo is playing right now. I think the Ravens envisioned Michael Huff as the free safety and Elam would eventually be the strong safety. It just didn’t work out that way.

  5. JerryB on said:

    Great stuff, Tony! Count me among those who believe that Harbaugh is loathe to play rookies like “Juice” and Simon anywhere but Special Teams. Remember, Special Teams is Harbaugh’s….DNA! Then too, they’ve got Matt Furstenburg, the TE from Maryland, on the practice squad getting more money than any other PS member because they didn’t want another team to grab him! If they think that highly of him, given the dearth of talent at TE, why not give the kid a shot? As for Castillo, enough of the Harbaugh cronies already! And, if the owner has to constantly intercede, maybe Harbaugh’s not the right guy despite a winning record! To change blocking techniques/schemes given ALL the roster changes, injuries, etc. was ill-timed and ill-advised!

  6. Big Perm on said:

    I can’t remember the last time I read a positive article on here. It seems likes its all bashing lately. Anyone else think RSR has gone way downhill?

    • Horribaugh on said:

      Frustration just pure and simple. There is “bashing” because the team is way under-performing. Flacco is all over the place, the O-line is terrible, and much of the poor play comes down to personnel decisions, and game planning; i.e. coaching decisions that don’t make a lot of sense.

      Tony you are right on the mark with your questions regarding personnel. The drafted players do not relate to the fielded roster. There is no reason not to play Art Brown over McClain…with the lack of effective play by Ngata there is no reason not to play Williams, and Tyson more. We already had two John Simon’s on the roster, and we could have used a receiver in the draft. Why is Gradkowski even on the team? That choice drove me crazy on draft day, and it continues to suck. If the coaches cannot see there are better options for center, and guard they must be blind or on psychotropic drugs.

  7. chuck on said:

    nice informative article , (unlike the one where your man bashed the heck out of 1570, I still wont read anything he writes) ,,,,, this one gives a fan like me on what really is the feel at the castle, evidently the ship isn’t sailing all to well,,, but then a gain we are 4-5 and not 7-2,

  8. Joe on said:

    Arthur makes an impact almost every snap he plays. He should be playing but coaches have allegiance to Bynes and McClain. He’s clearly better than those 2. He can play next to Smith.

  9. SDot on said:

    I just want to know why the hell McClain is even starting?? When had he ever warranted a garunteed starting spot? Brown needs to start immediately. Our scouts have been with us for a long time, longer than Harbaugh has. And talent has always been a gr8 strength of ours. Until Recently. There are some players drafted during Harbaughs tenure that have panned out well but I don’t think we’ve ever used our players to their maximum potential the way Rex Ryan has.

  10. joe d on said:

    Nice write up Tony. Let’s face it Ozzie’s offensive line picks over the last 7-8 years have been abysmal. Other than Grubbs and Yanda, both of who were taken in the same draft, his offensive line picks have been
    horrible. Ricky Wagner 5th round, Ryan Jensen 6th round, Gradkowski, 3rd round, Reid 3rd round, Harewood, 7th round, M. Oher, 1st round, O’Neil Cousins 3rd round, David Hale 4th round and least we forget the great Adam Terry, 2nd round. Ozzie even traded up to select some of these guys. Granted it is too early to judge Jensen and Wagner and Harewood being a 7th round pick isn’t a surprise but players taken in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds should have been solid contributors.

  11. Dan on said:

    I agree with the headscratcher of the ravens coaches to stick with Gino as the starter. A former NFL GM said that undersized centers (AQ and Gino) need to operate with superior technique since they do not have the physical tools to compensate. Do you see that?

    I think everyone needs to remember that health is a major factor in playing. Didn’t Reid end last year on IR? And didn’t he start this year off with a hamstring strain? Wasn’t there a calf strain there along the way? Arthur Brown strained a peck in the second game of the year – to what degree we don’t know. Could haven been significant, one outlet reported it might be season ending. So his playing time is impacted. Fair to surmise? Elam is slowly developing. Are there any rookie safeties from Rd1 in the draft lighting it up statistically this year? I thought Simeon’s woes started after he drew a penalty or two on special teams. Isn’t it Harbs’ style to bench someone a while for that?? I can’t explain why Juice isn’t seeing more playing time. Surely he has more speed than he’s displaying on the bench.

    Go Ravens!!

    • SDot on said:

      Man many of the safety’s from round 1 and 2 are lighting it up and should make the pro bowl, the saints Safety and the 49ers safety are studs, even the Houston Texans safety is having some success

  12. Anonymous on said:

    I also think this is a bit of selective history. Pierce didn’t really light it up until late last year, Osmele was a disappointment until the playoffs when he moved to guard, so there is no need to panic about this years class yet.

  13. PG County Raven on said:

    Only the best players should play: veteran or rookie PERIOD. It would be great if the 1,2,3rd rounders of any draft could make immediate impact but that’s just not the case if they can’t grasp the pro game quick enough. Tension between coaches and scouting department: Oh yes! We’ve got a bunch of 3-4 year projects on the team it seems and that is hurting us on the O-line and WRs! We’re also suffering from our success: drafting at the bottom of each draft round annually and therefore after the 2nd round it’s a crap shoot for who we select thus the best player available concept. Jah Reid is the perfect example: 85th player selected in 2011; it’s his 3rd year and he still can’t get on the field – That speaks volumes! Tension between Castillo, Moeller, and Montgomery – hell yes! It’s all on Harbaugh. The O-line wasn’t broken so why did it need fixing? Harbaugh talks so much about the military and how we do business, well he should just set the conditions for the team and delegate to Caldwell run the offense. Hell he got us a Super Bowl working with Moeller and Montgomery and the other offensive coaches. Harbaugh screwed up inserting a run-game coordinator when it wasn’t needed: too many cooks in the kitchen and our bread and butter has been a disaster! Admit the error in adding more cooks and just go back to the old recipe while giving Caldwell the flexibility to run the offense as necessary. Cut slingload now with Castillo and move on. You did it with Cameron last season, finally, then brought in Monroe and shipped out McKinnie, Spears, and Huff. That’s why you don’t hired your friends!!!

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