KUBIAK EMERGES IN OC HUNT
After reports surfaced over the weekend that the Ravens OC hunt had been narrowed down to Kyle Shanahan or Jim Hostler, things got very interesting late Sunday into Monday, as the “mystery candidate” not only emerged, but emerged victorious in the job hunt.
The candidate on Sunday night was reportedly former Houston Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, and shortly after that information was determined, it was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Gary Kubiak was the new favorite to land the job.
It was made official on Monday afternoon, as the Ravens held a press conference, with John Harbaugh announcing Kubiak as the OC, and Dennison as the QB Coach.
Kubiak is known for his strong running games the past few seasons with Houston, and had some very good offenses before the regression of quarterback Matt Schaub in recent years. Dennison worked with running back Arian Foster and Houston’s zone blocking scheme, and was very successful in recent seasons. Dennison may be able to breathe life into what was a dead running game in Baltimore last season.
In the past, the Ravens have normally promoted from within to fill open positions, with recent examples being defensive coordinator Dean Pees and former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, as well as former offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell. However, Harbaugh himself was a good hire from outside of the organization in 2008, and was relatively controversial at the time because many players and fans wanted then defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to become the head coach. Kubiak is a great offensive mind, and will help the Ravens improve from being a bottom-five offense in 2013.
KIPER REVISITS RAVENS 2013 DRAFT
After the NFL draft each season, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. issues a grade for each of the 32 teams in the league and then revisits the grades at the end of the season. Immediately following the 2013 draft, he gave the Ravens an A-minus, which tied the Cincinnati Bengals for the highest mark given to any team in the AFC North. Kiper felt that Baltimore had found playmakers who could help a team coming off an improbable championship run.
With a season underway, the rookie class was recently re-assessed by Kiper earlier this week. He lowered his grade to a B-minus which may actually be generous, as none of the Ravens draft picks outside of safety Matt Elam who was the 32nd overall pick, even saw the field for very long. While Elam was not immediately a game-changer, he played adequately out of position and appears to have a bright future in the secondary whether it be at free safety where he played in 2013, or at his original position of strong safety.
In Kiper’s re-assessment he posed the question of whether the Ravens would have been better off drafting safety DJ Swearinger and linebacker Manti Te’o instead, as both players went after Elam and the team’s second round pick linebacker Arthur Brown. Brown played limited snaps on passing downs, but showcased good athleticism – hopefully he can find the field more in 2014.
Kiper didn’t feel strongly that Elam and Brown were subpar, saying “Elam and Brown could be just fine, but grading early returns, you might prefer the other pair, which was an option.”
The Ravens will draft either 16th or 17th this upcoming draft depending on the outcome of a coin flip, and will need to load up on solid young talent to rebound from a down 2013 season.
TUCKER JUST SHORT OF PRO BOWL VICTORY
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker had an impressive season as he won multiple AFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards, and also took home AFC Special Teams Player of the Month in November and the award for Most Valuable Raven. He set the Ravens single-season record for most consecutive field goals made and his 61-yard game-winning field goal in Detroit with under a minute remaining last month was arguably the highlight of the season for Baltimore.
Tucker almost became the hero of the Pro Bowl Sunday night as well, as he came up just short on both field goal attempts to finish at an official 0-for-2. Both kicks came from over 65 yards though, as he was just short form 66 yards out at the end of the first half, and then was just short again from 67 as time expired in the game. Had he made the second kick, Team Sanders would have avoided the close 22-21 loss to Team Rice.
The NFL record for the longest field goal converted was set earlier this season by Broncos kicker Matt Prater from 64 yards, so either of the kicks would have been extremely impressive. Given how Tucker’s season had gone up to the game however, it seemed almost inevitable he would be spectacular yet again.
The other two Ravens representatives also played on Team Sanders and neither factored greatly into the outcome. Guard Marshal Yanda played in the second half but did not play especially strong as the defensive lines on both teams dominated, combining for nine sacks. Linebacker Terrell Suggs made four tackles including one of Team Rice quarterback Drew Brees near the goal line early in the game that prevented a touchdown. Brees was intercepted a couple plays later.
RAVENS PLAYERS MAKE CAMEOS AT GRAMMYS
Pepsi had the commercial of the night at the Grammys Sunday night, as the soda corporation put together a 150-second commercial that was full of NFL stars from both the past and the present with the goal to give musicians a halftime show similar to the ones that musicians play during NFL games.
Ex-Ravens Deion Sanders and Shannon Sharpe appeared, as did current Ravens players tackle Michael Oher and wide receiver Torrey Smith. Sharpe impersonated rapper Kanye West and was with New York Jets center Nick Mangold who posed as West’s wife Kim Kardashian. Oher was a disc jockey and combined with Detroit Lions quarterback to play electronic music.
Sanders opened the commercial with an auto-tuned solo before Terry Bradshaw offered a more country-type of music. Then Sharpe took the stage before Oher and Stafford appeared. The commercial finished with a relieved Torrey Smith shortly after former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka was crushed by a wrecking ball.
The commercial was very funny, and if you have not seen it yet, you need to as soon as possible.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzKRC8Lz6g8
Oher took to twitter to share how happy he was to be part of the Grammys, and Ravens fans should appreciate his part as much as they can while they still can, since he is unlikely to be brought back by the Ravens for the upcoming 2014 season.