THE WATER COOLER: Harbs Tells Dickson to “Go Play Ball”

Street Talk THE WATER COOLER: Harbs Tells Dickson to “Go Play Ball”

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Great to see Deonte Thompson on the field against the Buffalo Bills (4 catches for 50 yards) this past Sunday! While he does need to play like his hair is on fire in the return game, he did have a productive 2013 debut as a receiver. It very well could be that until Jacoby Jones returns, the receiving posse of Torrey Smith-Marlon Brown-Deonte Thompson is the best that offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell can field.

By the way, Brown’s TD catch on Sunday was very reminiscent of former Raven Anquan Boldin during the AFCC and Super Bowl…just sayin’.

Jacoby Jones will return to practice this week but it may be too much wishful thinking for him to be up this Sunday in Miami. More than likely he’ll be a go for the October 13 game when the Ravens host the Green Bay Packers.

When Jones does return, the Ravens will have 6 healthy receivers but only 4 somewhat healthy corners. On November 10 cornerback Asa Jackson is eligible to come off suspension. He’ll provide much needed depth at the position and he provides solid return skills. Look for him to take Tandon Doss’ spot on the roster when the Ravens take the field against the Bengals at The Bank.

Speaking of players returning from suspension, safety Christian Thompson is eligible to return this week after his four game leave without pay. Thompson didn’t show much in preseason but he is a former fourth round pick from 2012 and he does have some practice squad eligibility remaining having played in only seven games as a rookie. The bet here is that the Fort Lauderdale native gets a chance to stand on the sidelines in his hometown this weekend.

Entering the 2013 season many who cover the NFL thought that the Ravens had one of the best Tight End tandems in the league with the one-two punch of Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Pitta messed up his hip and is on the shelf for most of the season while Dickson is just a mess period, and most observers would like to see him on the dusty end of the shelf indefinitely.

Just 2 years removed from a 54-catch season, Dickson looks like he’s trying to snag a slippery eel with oil-covered hands when Joe Flacco throws the ball his way. He has the size and he possesses speed uncommon for a tight end but clearly lacks the mitts and the confidence to be successful in the National Football League.

“He’s not the same player right now that he was [in 2011], obviously”, said John Harbaugh during his weekly press conference yesterday.

“Ed just needs to go catch the ball. He needs to run fast, get open and catch the football, put it away and get up field. That’s all he needs to do. And if he’s thinking about anything besides that, he’s doing himself a disservice. If he’s lacking confidence for some reason, that’s on him. [If] you’ve got that kind of talent and those kinds of gifts – go play ball. Go show everybody what you’re capable of doing. That’s what I expect to see from Ed.”

We’ll see how Dickson responds – provided he’s given the chance.

Run Game Coordinator Juan Castillo has been the target of much criticism for the Ravens inept running game. He’s also been the butt of jokes tied to his tenure as the Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach. The story goes, “After 12 seasons managing the Eagles O-Line, Castillo was so good Andy Reid made him defensive coordinator.”

Maybe John Harbaugh is feeling old friend Andy a bit here, eh? Harbs brought good buddy Juan to Baltimore in January, made sure he got some Super Bowl bling and then let him take control of the ground attack, which has run face-first INTO the ground. Now ball coach has zippo confidence in the rushing attack and issued the directive to not run the ball in the second half against the Bills.

“That’s my call all the way. I just felt like we weren’t running the ball well enough to win the game running the ball. Looking back on it, I feel the same way. After watching the tape, I feel we did exactly the right thing to try to win that game.

“So, no second-guessing myself on that. That was my decision, and that’s the way we went with it. If you feel like we should have run the ball more in the second half, then I definitely respect that opinion, but it didn’t look that way to me. So, that’s what we did.”

WHERE’S THE JUICE? The Ravens burned a fourth round pick on Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk yet he only sees the field on special teams despite a tight end who puts the struggle in struggling. Let’s stop being enamored with Dickson’s measurables and focus on a player who can catch. Juice’s hands are arguably the best on the team.

And finally, conspiracy theorists must be happy that Terrell Suggs has thrown Commissioner Roger Goodell under the bus, accusing him of playing favorites and for ordering the Code Red – aka the Super Bowl power outage.

Some in the media have scoffed at Suggs’ notion, “rationalizing” that the NFL doesn’t really care who wins?

Now I’m not going to say that the “Code Red” was real but here’s a newsflash – the NFL DOES care who wins! The more popular the team in a big market, the larger the audience. And a larger the audience means more of something that the NFL loves beyond anything else – MONEY!

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of and 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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