LETTERS 2 TL: AN OVERDUE MAILBAG

Lombardi's Way LETTERS 2 TL: AN OVERDUE MAILBAG

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GOT GAME?
 
Hi Tony,
 
While watching that crazy game [last week @ Tennessee] I was struck by the list of no-name players who continue to step up for the Ravens in moments of need. [Last week] it was Dennis Haley, stepping in for Mike Smith, a 7th rounder, who was subbing for Ray Lewis. Haley gets called up from the practice squad ONE (1) day earlier and winds up playing in the place of an All-Pro middle linebacker – and holding his own!!
 
We’ve seen a lot this in 2006. Two UDFAs, Evan Oglesby and Ronnie Prude, stepping up and playing well in the Saints game and on special teams. Quinn Sypniewski becoming an essential part of the running game at tight end and on the special teams, and Demetrius Williams, who’s come out of nowhere it seems to be the Ravens 3rd wide out with some clutch catches over the past several games.  So I decided to break down your blog from the other day concerning the subtantial bench time some high round draft choices are getting as opposed to the low rounders and UDFAs.
 
Drafted and Riding the Inactive List Most Weeks
 
Player
Round
Year
David Pittman
3
2006
Dan Cody
2
2005
Devard Darling
3
2004
Dwan Edwards
2
2004
 
1st Day Draftees, Suited Up Most Games, But not Contributing
 
Player
Round
Year
Adam Terry
2
2005
Chris Chester
2
2006 (Ok but a beef up project)
 
2nd Day Draftees and UDFAs Who Play and Contribute
 
Player
Round
Year
Evan Olgesby
UDFA
2005
Ronnie Prude 
UDFA
2006
Mike Smith 
7
2005
Quinn Sypniewski
5
2006
Edwin Mulitato  
4
1999
Gerome Sapp  
6
2003
B. J. Sams  
UDFA
2004
Tony Pashos 
5
2003
Aubrayo  Franklin
5
2003
Jarrett Johnson 
4
2003
Ovie Mughelli 
4
2003
Mike Flynn
UDFA
1997
Matt Katula
UDFA
2005
Kelly Gregg 
Waiver Wire
2000
Sam Koch
6
2006
            
The Crème de la Crème
 
Player
Round
Year
Adalius Thomas
6
2000 (Chateau Lafite)
Bart Scott
UDFA
2002 (Grand Marnier)
Dawan Landry
5
2006 (A great future wine)
Demetrius Williams
4
2006 (Another wine future)
 
The Unbelievable
 
Dennis Haley    Waiver List    2005
 
What sticks out for me is what a total waste the 2004 draft was. Not only did the Ravens pay dearly (and in more ways than one) for trading the 2004 # 1 pick a year earlier to draft Kyle Boller, but with the exception of B.J. Sams it’s been a complete bust. It’s almost like they should have taken the day off.
 
Isn’t it odd how Ozzie and the rest of the scouting crew never miss on 1st rounders (OK – we’ll forget about Travis Taylor) and can always seem to find the nuggets in the weeds, but they have pretty much failed on their “tweener” selections on Day 1?
 
Regards,
 
Fran from Glen Burnie
 
Fran,
 
Others have written on this same topic and one of our astute visitors (Steve Hasler, see below) suggested that maybe the Ravens’ failure on Day 1 of the draft other than Round 1 may lie in the club’s inability to coach up projects who have first round talent yet are missing an ingredient that pushes them down in the draft.  It’s an interesting observation and one that I’ll have to discuss with Eric DeCosta.
 
Overall it’s hard to argue with the Ravens success in finding talent although it sure would be nice to get back that 2004 draft.  I agree with you – it was a complete disaster!
 
A Toast to Ozzie & Eric,
 
TL
 
RING OF HONOR
 
TL,
 
I’m not a member of your web board but always listen or download your show. I had heard you mention about Earnest Byner in the Ring of Honor. I was a huge fan of how EB went about playing the game, admiring his professionalism both on and off the field but realistically he doesn’t belong in Baltimore’s  Ring of Honor. I say this with no disrespect intended to EB but his name in the Raven Ring of Honor only cheapens the achievement. The Ring of Honor should be a special place for special Baltimore Ravens.
 
Take Care,
 
Eddie
 
Eddie,
 
I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve taken this thought a step further in my blog yesterday.  Check it out and let me know what you think.
 
Best regards,
 
TL
 
TAKE THE LEAP PART II
 
Tony,

I wrote you a letter that you published back on October 7th under the heading “Take The Leap.”  

If you recall it, I suggested that the Ravens were doing a great job on day-two of the draft and with UDFA’s by taking guys who were just football players, but they were struggling with second and third rounders like Terry, Chester, Pittman, Cody, Darling, etc. because these guys were more tape-measure darlings.  

Did you see Mike Preston’s story where he quotes Ozzie Newsome about their draft success:  

 
"You get to a point [in the draft] where Eric [DeCosta, director of college scouting] and I just ask, ‘Who is the best football player available?’ You have to forget all the other things you measure and weigh. Within our defense, if you do your job, you’ve got a chance to raise your game because there are so many other good players around you. Dawan [Landry] was the best football player available."
 
That pretty much affirms what I had observed about their second-day draft philosophy.  

But doesn’t it also beg the follow-up question to Ozzie, why are you waiting until the fifth round to forget about the measuring and weighing…can’t you simply start choosing the best football playeravailable, sooner?  

Because I’m not so sure the measure and weigh approach is working that great in the earlier rounds, first round excluded of course.

 
Steve Hasler
 
Steve,
 
Let’s hope that Ozzie and Eric look back to 2004 (Phil Savage’s last draft) and that they don’t repeat that horrific draft day again.  Even this year, a player like David Pittman who had above average measurables and he can’t see the field.  Maybe they didn’t account for that player’s ability to fit the Ravens style.  Hopefully in the future with rounds 2 and 3 they’ll take the best “football players” and not the best workout warriors.
Run to daylight and hit hard,
 
TL
 
YOUR REPORT CARD LEFT SOMETHING OUT
 
Tony, 
 
Great report card. Two things to note at M&T:
 
  1. How did you like Bruce Cunningham’s call of a Jamal Lewis 12 yard run and a first down; then the referee correction saying that it was a 9 yard gain and second down? He’s good for at least 3 to 5 errors per game.
  2. Also, they couldn’t seem to post any out-of town scores until the 2nd quarter of the game.
Eric in Columbia
 
Eric,
 
For the longest time that scoreboard has been the source of frustration for many that sit nearby me, particularly those involved in fantasy leagues.  That stadium has so much to offer in terms of technology to the operator that has a clue.  Apparently M&T’s operator doesn’t.  The analogy I’ve used before, “Giving the current operators that technology is like giving Grandmom having a Ferrari” still applies.
 
As for Bruce, I’m sure his spotters are to blame for some of those mistakes.  That being said, the first down call was a bit over the top.  He even faked out the officials working the chains because they started moving up field.  Just call it a home field advantage, I think.
 
Hooray for the P.A.,
 
TL
 
IT’S LIKE FLIES INTO THE HOUSE
 
Tony,
 
Great win on Sunday, next come the hated Steelers.  So, how many PSL holders are going to make us, the real fans, suffer by selling their tickets to the hoard of low class, obnoxious, towel waiving idiots, who will inevitably chant and start fights?  If you want to sell your ticket that bad, just give up your PSL altogether.  There is a list of people ready to support the team regularly, not just when it is convenient.
 
So to those who decide that going to see the 8-2 Ravens play their hated rivals, and decide to sell their ticket, may a few or all of the following happen to you….
 
  • May your house get infested by fleas or termites
  • May your mother-in-law drop by or move in
  • May all your friends start selling life insurance and see you as their biggest client 
  • May door to door magazine sellers find your house for the next 10 years
  • May every movie you go see, include you sitting next to 7 teens on cell phones 
  • May your next flight get delayed multiple times, and send your luggage to Toledo
  • May you get ED, and become alergic to Viagra
  • That should do it 
Mark Considine
 
Mark,
 
Funny stuff.  But what if it’s a girl?
 
TL
 
PAPER THIN
 
Hey Tony,
 
First, I wanted to tell you that there were a couple of things you were completely correct on (before it became the majority opinion).  This included the belief that McNair would become a real difference on the offensive side of the ball.  Next, was that the offensive line could improve in pass protection.  Last, was the quality of this years’ draft.  All spot on. 
 
One thing that I thought from the beginning was the weakness of the secondary.  You’ve pointed it out in [a recent Lombardi’s Way].  I don’t know what the problem is, but I have to tell you that my sense is that its Ed Reed.  Don’t have anything to back this up, but my thinking goes along these lines.   A couple of years ago I remember him just walking away from [Mike] Nolan on the sideline as Nolan was trying to talk to him.  Ray had to become an intermediary. (My point is that despite his ability to make big plays – this is undeniable— perhaps he also has a side that is un-coachable). 
 
Next, in last week’s game there was a few seconds after the secondary had been burned on a play, where the camera showed Ivy (I think it was Ivy) coming up to Reed with his arms out with an “what-the-hell-happened” look on his face and Reed almost stiff armed him in a gesture which seemed to me to be saying “I don’t want to talk about it.” 
 
Did you see that? 
 
This is paper thin, of course.  It’s just that my sense is that one thing that’s going on this year a lot (which also happened from time to time last year too if you think about it) is that “communication” breaks down as a result of Reed freelancing.  The real question is how can communication break down with the crew that we have out there.  Something weird is going on. 
 
What do you think? 
 
Bill in Northeast
 
Bill,
 
I think that the communication issues are directly tied to Reed.  And they really aren’t all communication issues in my opinion.  To me most of the break downs in coverage, particularly on the big plays, are directly linked to Reed freelancing and I think now teams are using his overzealousness against him.  I think Reed wants to be the playmaker.  He lives to be the playmaker.  The problem is when playing centerfield it’s hard to be that guy.  Therefore he cheats a little, a little more and just when his fully taken the bait, good QB’s are using that against Reed.
 
Lavar Arrington comes to mind.  He was once a premier athlete but he couldn’t stay with his assignments.  He was brought up as a free lance player and the boundaries of and assignment didn’t sit well with him.  As a result the Redskins ate up big dollars just to get rid of him.
 
I’m not suggesting that Reed’s issues are that dramatic, but it does bear watching.  I think he craves the spotlight and wants to make the highlight reels.  His unnecessary interception return against Tennessee is evidence of that.  His needless return cost the Ravens field position and it could have cost them 3 points and in that case the game.
 
Someone needs to get to Reed and I’m not sure anyone is reaching him right now.  The best thing that we can hope for is that he makes a big play while sticking to his assignment.  Perhaps that will get him to trust in Rex Ryan’s game plan a bit more.  Until he does, there will be other times when Samari Rolle or Chris McAlister are hung out to dry.  Let’s just hope the opposing QB doesn’t see it.
 
Living on a lighted stage,
 
TL

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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