THE WATER COOLER: Unfair Criticisms From Ray Lewis

Bristol CT: Sunday, January 20, 2008 -- Sunday NFL Countdown -- .(L to R) Ray Lewis, Chris Mortensen

Last night on Monday Night Countdown Ray Lewis was asked to weigh in on the Bryant McKinnie birthday party bus tour through DC, which ended with Jacoby Jones allegedly being hit over the head with a bottle by a stripper named Sweet Pea.

Lewis questioned the Ravens’ leadership now that both he and Ed Reed are gone.

Sorry Ray, that’s a bit unfair!

A little perspective please!

Ray and Ed have been gone for a grand total of three games, hardly sufficient time for others to step up as leaders. To throw stones now seems a little self-serving.

Leadership is earned. Let’s not forget that when Ray was the de facto leader of the team, there were a few off-the-field incidents that took place on his watch – repeat offender Chris McAlister, BJ Sams and Corey Fuller come to mind.

Was Ray’s leadership questioned then?

And then there’s that infamous night in 2000 following Super Bowl XXXIV.

No I don’t think Ray was responsible in any way for what went down, despite what the court of public opinion outside of Baltimore believes. But at the very least Ray was guilty of poor judgment – no different than Jacoby or Bryant on Sunday night.

For nearly 5 years the Ravens tolerated Cam Cameron’s offensive offense. Many pointed to John Harbaugh’s over-the-top loyalty to the former offensive coordinator who tried to fit talent into HIS system instead of shaping his system around his talent. It took an intervention from Steve Bisciotti to convince Harbaugh to move on from Cameron.

This season, Harbaugh brought in another old friend in the form of “Running Game Coordinator” Juan Castillo. Let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? Castillo is the offensive line coach and like Cameron, he is taking the team’s offensive line talent and shaping them into HIS system – a zone-blocking front despite the fact that the talent screams for mano y mano schemes.

One of the reasons the Ravens offense gelled late last season was due to the marked improvement in the offensive line play. If it ain’t broke…

Should the running game struggles continue and if Harbaugh extends the same loyalties to Castillo as they were to Cameron, then duck. The “ish” is going to hit the fan!

The past two seasons Haloti Ngata has been plagued by nagging injuries. This season however, Ngata is healthy and has played well overall, despite a somewhat sub par game versus the run against the Texans this past Sunday.

The guess here is that Ngata will have a very good 2013 campaign IF the Ravens and defensive line coach Clarence Brooks have enough healthy bodies to optimize the rotations and keep everyone fresh.

This past week without Chris Canty (groin) and Brandon Williams (toe) Ngata was in for 84% of the defensive snaps. Making matters worse is Terrence Cody’s knee injury. Clearly it’s something to watch for. Canty played in only 9 games in 2012 and toe injuries for big defensive linemen like Williams can become a season-long nuisance.

Back to Ngata for a moment…

The All-Pro DT will eat up $16M of the team’s 2014 salary cap but given his bonus proration ($15M) it’s unlikely that the Ravens will do anything with Ngata next season other than to play and pay him.

The Ravens could do a post-June 1 release and take $7.5M in dead money in both 2014 and 2015. Neither is a likely scenario but if the Ravens do opt for either approach, it could be a signal that they are concerned about the real cash and not necessarily salary cap dollars.


• So the Ravens drafted Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round why?

• The Ravens defense hasn’t surrendered a single TD at M&T over the past 3 games dating back to the Wild Card Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

• The Ravens are listed as a 3-½ point favorite in Buffalo this weekend. The early forecast calls for temps in the low 70’s with a 30% chance of rain.

• Around the AFC North the Bengals are 5-point favorites over the Browns in Cleveland while the Steelers are a 1-point favorite over the Vikings in London.

• The Ravens next opponent following the game in Buffalo is the Miami Dolphins who play in New Orleans next Monday night. Currently the Phins are listed at 6 ½ point underdogs in the Big Easy.

• And last but not least, our most sincere and heartfelt wishes for a speedy and full recovery to the Orioles Manny Machado. Stay strong!


Note: Brian McFarland and Ken McKusick contributed to The Water Cooler.

10 Raves on “THE WATER COOLER: Unfair Criticisms From Ray Lewis

  1. jpugs on said:

    Nice job Tony, I agree with your observations. The only thing I’ll hesitate on is Castillo, for now. We’ve faced some solid fronts with a new scheme. If we get the same lackluster performance against the Bills, I’m joining the lynch mob.

  2. John on said:

    Tony – Ray’s right – the Ravens do lack leadership without him & Ed. Will someone step up? Sure. But as you said, they haven’t had time. So how is Ray wrong here? If the shoe fits, put it on and walk the dog.

    If Harbs doesn’t fix Castillo – I hope Bisciotti fixes Harbs. Nuff said. I don’t care that the team won the Super Bowl. Bisciotti decision to fire Cameron is the real reason we won it. It wasn’t Harbs. All Harbs did was barely avoid a mutiny.

    Juszczyk was drafted to allow us to move beyond Leach. Plain and simple. He gets his turn next year if he is up to the task. I’d have rather seen him have a bad dream and land on IR like Aaron Mellette to open a roster spot for Bobby Rainey, but it is what it is.

    • RussellStReport on said:

      I fail to see how a night on the town that goes awry is evidence that there’s not leadership on the team. The Ravens have plenty of leaders. If Ray was on the team now, would the incident have been prevented? When McAlister went on a bender in Tijuana, did the team lack leadership then? When McAlister showed up in the hotel lobby in Miami inappropriately dressed with his own Sweet Peas on his arms, was that Ray’s fault while he was the de facto leader? Of course not. So let’s not use the Love Bus as evidence that the Ravens are lacking leadership today.

  3. JerryB on said:

    Have to disagree with you on Ray’s observations, Tony. He knows these guys and how the locker room works, so fair or not, it’s probably valid criticism! Not as knowledgable about the “O” line blocking schemes as you are, but my observation is that the center is being manhandled, which is affecting Osemele and the entire line! Most of the pressure is coming up the middle and despite insisting on running between the tackles, there isn’t much daylight there. Juszczyk’s “sure hands” would be a welcome relief as would Furstenburg’s. However, based on past history, there has always been a reluctance to trust rookies anywhere but the Special Teams, which, incidentally, despite the occasional runback, are not very well coached in my opinion. But, Rosberg is another of Harbaugh’s buddies, if I’m not mistaken…….

  4. Tangela Smith on said:

    I enjoy hearing your insight! Thanks! Ray was being a bit unfair, and yes what happened to Juice. He’s on the active roster, but you don’t hear much about him. Is his play that developmental that we don’t get see him on the field…like ever?

  5. OrangeNeons on said:

    Oh and in case you missed it. R Lewis is in love with himself and likes to hear himself talk, especially when the red light is on. If Ravens win another SB Ray will claim some type of credit for the victory. Red Light Ray in action.

  6. Jeff Werner on said:

    Yesterday I talked about how I was unhappy about Ray Lewis Leadership comments, well Mike Preston, love him or hate him, came out with a piece yesterday on this. I agree about his self centered remarks, I have stated this in the Facebook groups prior to Preston’s piece coming out. Ray had his own leadership issues when he was a youngin’ with the team, remember his partying ways? He was no different and got in trouble. Thou shalt not cast stones in glass houses.

  7. Jeff Werner on said:

    There is plenty of discussion as to really gave Cameron the boot, Bisciotti clearly states that it was Harbaughs and Newsomes decision, but clearly, it was Bisciotti who put his foot down and listened to the fans who had been calling for his dismissal for the last 3 years he was here, holding Flacco back concerns in Raven Nation community was always the topic of conversation. Clearly when you are paying your O Co, over 3 mil a year, you know the Owner is going to have a say about this. However, I digress, remember when Bisciotti wanted the Cowboys head coach, he listened to Newsome and others in the hierarchy and went with Harbaugh. Clearly, this is a team team team first…Jason Garrett has been nothing but a failure with the Cowgirls, signing Harbs was a great deal.

  8. Ravcolt on said:

    How would even the most perfect leadership have prevented the McKinnie – Jones incident? It wouldn’t. What is Ray talking about? They either get it or they don’t.

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