LOMBARDI’S WAY: ROLLE WITH THE CHANGES

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: ROLLE WITH THE CHANGES

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Many have taken exception to the Samari Rolle comment, “This year, I refuse to let any coach tell me anything about playing cornerback.”
 
Sure, on its own that comment looks strikingly similar to something you might hear Randy Moss say.  But I’m here to tell you that to allow that comment to stand on its own, removed from the context in which it was said is an injustice to the player, the coaches and the fans of Baltimore.
 
Prior to making that statement, Rolle explained that so many coaches were giving him advice last season when he struggled, even those on the offensive side of the ball.  When that happens, it’s only natural for a player to question himself – to doubt himself and to eventually lose confidence.  And confidence is a huge part of being successful in the NFL, particularly at cornerback where mistakes are about as obvious as Lindsay Lohan’s social ills.
 
Rolle is simply trying to reclaim that confidence – to rediscover a mojo in limbo and to eventually get back to his game which made him the team’s best corner in 2005.
 
Rolle played the role of a good teammate when he addressed the media.  He humbled himself before the press and appeared sincere in his efforts to get his game back on track.  He didn’t make excuses.  He didn’t pass blame and from my vantage point standing right next to him his words were those of a man focused and on a mission to reclaim his reputation.
 
Rex Ryan was quick to point out that he has challenged Rolle to get back to the Pro Bowl.  Ryan also didn’t hesitate to point blame at others besides Rolle when the play in the secondary broke down in ‘06.
 
“When [Rolle] is supposed to have help he needs to get help.  It’s not Samari.  It’s obvious when a corner gets beat.  It’s not obvious when a tackle gets beat.”
 
Ryan added, “Two years ago [Rolle] was as good a corner as there was in this league.  You know it’s unfortunate.  The one that jumps out at everybody is the Carolina game where the guy should have been doubled.  That wasn’t Samari’s guy.”
 
Good morning Mr. Reed.  This is your wake up call.
 
Speaking of waking up, Kyle Boller looks almost identical to the Kyle Boller of the past four seasons.  Those enamored with his physical tools and those who cut him slack because he willingly accepts blame, deflects praise and is a good teammate long for the proverbial light to go on for this former No. 1 pick as he enters his fifth season.  And while it’s early, his performance in OTA’s looks no different than those in previous years.  He will dazzle an observer with a “Wow!” throw and on the next play leave the same observer wondering, “What is he thinking?”
 
Perhaps Boller is destined to be a back up in the NFL.  And from his perspective, there are worse things for sure.  Some backups have had great careers from a monetary standpoint.  They can build tenure in the league and they set themselves up for life after football.  Sometimes career decisions and personal long-term goals can shape how a player approaches the game.
 
Boller might still believe that he can be an effective starter in the NFL.  But those seeds of doubt must linger particularly when he’s surrounded by players in the locker room whose own doubts about Boller have fertilized such seeds.  Sometimes flying below the radar and hanging on isn’t such a bad thing particularly for a player who seems to perform better when expectation levels are low.
 
Given the structure of the Ravens organization and how it has been reshaped by an owner who knows a thing or two about building an organizational hierarchy and improving communications, don’t expect the Ravens to be caught with their pants down if a key member of their staff or front office moves on.  With the Ravens there’s always a plan.
 
Recently the Ravens lost Daniel Jeremiah, one of their west coast scouts.  The team believed such a move was possible and as they normally do, they create a contingency play.  Why did they anticipate such a move?  Jeremiah has a long standing relationship with Phil Savage and for a few more bucks and a new title, Jeremiah too followed that fairly developed path from Baltimore to Cleveland.
 
While we’re on the subject of a few more bucks and a new title, there is some mild concern within the walls of One Winning Drive about a successor for Rex Ryan who is more than likely not long for Baltimore.  Ryan has a very keen eye for talent and an even keener sense of how to leverage the unique skill sets of his players to optimize their individual talent without sacrificing the overall performance of the unit.  That is why there isn’t a heightened sense of loss from the departure of All Pro Adalius Thomas.
 
Fortunately for the club, Ryan is still around but his days as a Raven appear to be numbered.  The team knows it and they aren’t sticking their collective head in the sand.  Vic Fangio is in the mix but there are concerns about his ability to interact with players.  He isn’t exactly Mr. Congeniality.
 
Donnie Henderson has paid a friendly visit to Owings Mills and he could be a consideration.  But Henderson is thought of as a coach who can get players to play with more intensity.  He’s a guy who will happily get in the grill of a player who is underachieving and get him to reach down and play to his potential.  But his strengths seem to lend themselves to a less experienced unit without the defensive pedigree of the Baltimore Ravens.  A transition from the likable Ryan to a confrontational Henderson might be as delicate as performing a circumcision in the back seat of a Pinto while navigating the streets of Bagdad. 
 
As we’ve witnessed, much can happen in the NFL within the course of a year.  Here are a few names to keep in mind as a possible successor to Rex Ryan – Marvin Lewis and Jack Del Rio.
 
Go ahead — read between the lines.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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.

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