#FakeNews: Harbaugh v. DeCosta

Lombardi's Way #FakeNews: Harbaugh v. DeCosta

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Lot of talk about John Harbaugh and Eric DeCosta not getting along. Do you expect this to be a problem for the Ravens going forward? ~ Darrell in Owings Mills

Seems to me like nothing more than desperate local sports talk show hosts’ lack of imagination and need to stir things up just to spike ratings in order to justify their seats beside microphones. It’s a poor attempt to connect the dots that lead to the reasons behind the delay in Harbaugh’s contract extension. #FakeNews

Consider Harbaugh’s resume and then think of Jon Gruden’s. Harbs’ is a much better one, right? Particularly in the last decade, yet Gruden has a 10-year, $100 million deal. Now granted, the contract is an outlier but if you are representing Harbaugh, couldn’t that be a starting point for contractual discussions? And naturally that could slow down the bargaining process. Agree?

As for DeCosta, he has had several opportunities to leave Baltimore to accept GM positions in other towns with quality organizations. Yet he has stayed because he loves the one built by owner Steve Bisciotti. If Eric didn’t get along with Harbaugh or thought for a second that the Ravens’ skipper would make his GM job difficult, would he have stayed?

I can tell you this, DeCosta was a big supporter of Harbaugh’s hiring. The two are bright, hard-working, determined men and by nature that has the potential for some head-butting. But good organizations are ripe with people who challenge each other. The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts.

I think that’s what you will see as the years ahead unfold.

will the bank always be the Ravens home

An overhead view of the field of play at M&T Bank Stadium and an NFL football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.

Hey TL,

It was great to see M&T Bank Stadium filled at the end of the season. What do you think it will take to get the games back to capacity crowds and bring back the energy that use to be there?

Thanks, George from Maryland

George, it really was great to see the energy back in that building that we took for granted for so long. There are many reasons why it has dipped but if the stretch drive towards the AFC North title is any indication, winning is a big part of the cure-all.

But let’s not dismiss the energy that Lamar Jackson delivers. If you think about it, the Ravens have a dearth of playmakers but he’s certainly one of them. Winning and a few more of those dynamic athletes will keep The Bank on high voltage!

Hey Tony, why does anyone believe the Ravens can fix LJ’s accuracy issues during the off season. I believe you are either an accurate passer coming out of college or you are not. His career completion % at Louisville was 57%. I went and looked at all QBs drafted since 2002 whose completion % in college was less than 58.5%. There was a total of 31 such QBs including Kyle Boller (53.7%), Rex Grossman (57.1%), Chad Henne (58.3%) and Patrick Ramsey (57.1%) to name a few.

While some had decent success as backup QBs, the only QB who I found that had a decent career as a starter was David Gerrard at Jacksonville. If Gerrard is the gold standard for such QBs the Ravens are in trouble. With Greg Roman as the new OC, do you think the offense will improve any next season from what we saw in the last half of this past season? ~ Joe of Bel Air

Joe, nice research and your work hardly paints a bright picture.

Lamar is a unique talent with a great work ethic and a thirst to be great. If he fails it won’t be from a lack of effort, but more to do with his lack of accuracy and arm strength. I think the Ravens are rolling the dice banking on Lamar and Roman together. I love what Roman has done to the rushing attack but he’s struggled as a coordinator in the passing game. I hope they prove me wrong.

As for the accuracy, outside of refined fundamentals, the Ravens can try to improve it through their play calling and by placing Lamar in position to succeed. He completed 68% of his first down throws, so perhaps they can review why the success rate jumped on those plays and build upon it for other down and distance situations.

Lamar Jackson throws the football.

photo: Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Why do you think the Ravens were unable to anticipate the Chargers had options to change their defense from the game just two weeks before? The Patriots made Gus Bradley’s genius (which is what he was called) defense look very average at best. While the Ravens were completely befuddled. Didn’t they ever think the Chargers would find a way to stop the Ravens run (they did using 7DBs) and make them pass. Saw no passes to backs. ~ Mel Vogelsang

Mel, the fact that the Ravens essentially said through their lack of adjustments, “Stop us if you can” wreaked of arrogance. And their inability to adjust in-game smacked of ignorance. Clearly, they were outcoached and it probably cost Marty Mornhinweg his job. Well, that along with other teams that allegedly came calling for Greg Roman’s services following the game.

The Chargers plan worked against the Ravens and it was a plan used in part to negate Lamar Jackson’s speed and the Ravens north-and-south running style between the tackles. While effective against the Ravens, the Patriots had an advantage of a game of film to study, and with a vastly different personnel group, not to mention the best quarterback to play the game, Belichick & Co. had answers.

New England ran effectively, clearly used their tailbacks in the passing game (James White with 15 receptions) and employed play action after establishing Sony Michel on the ground, to open up huge throwing windows for Tom Brady.

TL, please share your thoughts on the likelihood that the following players will return to the Ravens in 2019: Za’Darius Smith; Brandon Carr; Michael Crabtree; Alex Collins and Terrell Suggs. ~ Robert from Ellicott City

Let’s start with what I believe are the easiest roster decisions among those you’ve listed…

Alex Collins was removed from the mix because his style clashes with the Lamar-led RPO offense. He’s gone. Brandon Carr had a very good season – far better than 2017 and for $6M you’d be hard-pressed to find a replacement of his ilk. He stays. Michael Crabtree could go either way. If the Ravens cut him loose, they’ll save $4.67M in cap space. But who would they replace him with and at what cost? There isn’t much available at the moment in free agency and to expect a rookie to replace him, well, we’ve seen what the draft has produced for the Ravens at the position. I think he’s 50-50.

I’d love to see the Ravens figure out a way of keeping Za’Darius Smith but I have my doubts. The organization will look to the “Next Man Up” and that could be Tyus Bowser or Tim Williams. But they aren’t the same type of different players and even if either someday steps up to the level of play commensurate with their draft positions, I don’t see them providing the inside push that Z-Smith has. I think price will drive him out of town like it did with Pernell McPhee.

And that leaves Suggs. I think Sizzle will chase the biggest pay check and just like Ed Reed before him, that pay check will have a signature on it that isn’t Steve Bisciotti’s.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com. His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. 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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