Baltimore Bullies Return?

Lombardi's Way Baltimore Bullies Return?

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It’s the dawn of a new era – Eric DeCosta has accepted the proverbial torch from Ozzie Newsome and is now the General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens.

Yet Ozzie Newsome remains.

And that’s a good thing for the organization.

When questioned about Ozzie’s role and how the two will continue to work together, DeCosta had a very interesting and thoughtful response.

“As far as Ozzie is concerned, people that really know me really well know that I’ve probably seen ‘The Godfather’ 250 times, and I kind of go back to Michael and him having his father as his consigliere, and what an advantage he had to have the best in the business advising him day to day. And, that’s what I think Ozzie can do with me. Who better to help me make decisions and to navigate than Ozzie Newsome?”

DeCosta presser

Other Takeaways From The DeCosta Presser

Harbaugh v. DeCosta

DeCosta was determined to clear the air about the presence of any friction between him and John Harbaugh, a notion repeatedly served up by 105.7 The Fan’s Vinny Cerrato.

“I’d like to recognize coach [John] Harbaugh and thank him for his friendship, his vision, his conviction, his humility and his passion. We’re neighbors in this building, and believe it or not, we’re actually neighbors in life. We live about 100 yards apart from each other, and I can tell you this, John is the only coach I want to work with.”

DeCosta would later address the erroneous allegations perpetuated by the blathering Cerrato.

“Yes, it did bother me. There’s a word I like to use sometimes – I was an English major – and it’s called subterfuge. I would see that, and I would read it, and all I would think to myself is, ‘We have enemies out there who are trying to create divisions and cracks and fissures and things like that.’ I get it. It’s what we do around draft time. I stand up here at draft time and tell you guys things, and sometimes I have an agenda. So, I get it. But it did upset me a little bit, I think, because it just wasn’t true, and it was a personal thing. It wasn’t work-related; it wasn’t a game or something that would affect the outcome of a game or strategy. It was personal, and it was simply not true.”

This may be somewhat speculative on my part but I am familiar enough with the situation that
I can connect the dots to the origins of Cerrato’s apparent disdain for DeCosta – an emotion probably driven purely by envy.

Back in 2008 when the Ravens interviewed for Brian Billick’s replacement, I asked DeCosta why the Ravens were entertaining guys like Harbaugh and Brian Schottenheimer as head coach. He told me not to sell Harbaugh short because John had interviewed extremely well.

Meanwhile, Rex Ryan was pretty confident that the job would be his, so much so that Rex parked his truck in the parking spot marked “HC”, for head coach during the interviewing process. The Ravens were aware of Rex’s maturity issues and I don’t believe his candidacy was ever really seriously considered.

Time would prove the Ravens right about Rex (see Jets and Bills). But one source shared that Rex held a grudge against those involved in the interviewing process, DeCosta included.

Not long ago when John Harbaugh’s status was in question, Rex was asked on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown about John Harbaugh’s possible extension in Baltimore and how he might work with DeCosta. In so many words, Rex quipped that DeCosta was simply riding Ozzie’s coattails, essentially dismissing DeCosta as insignificant. Perhaps in Rex’s mind, this was payback time.

Then consider this. Rex and Cerrato are boys.

See the connecting dots?

Vinny Cerrato, April 2012. Photo Credit: Jonathan Newton, Washington Post

On Tuesday I was told by an RSR staffer that Cerrato explained on air, that he looked forward to DeCosta’s presser wondering, “Will he be arrogant and cocky, because he is.”

If anyone is arrogant and cocky, it’s the GM flunky from 10-2P on 105.7 who will never get another job in the NFL. DeCosta is honest, sincere and likeable, descriptions that are never applied to Cerrato.

Eric & Ozzie: Different But Aligned

There’s an old business saying that if two people always agree on everything, then one of them isn’t necessary. The thought being that it’s healthy for people to challenge each other in any organization. A challenge, within the confines of a company or team, heightens the competitive spirit which produces greater achievement. It paves way to the notion of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. It’s a balance that the Ravens seek to achieve.

“He and I don’t always see players the same way. But, I think what I’ve learned over the years – and this started with Ozzie and coach [Ted] Marchibroda, and Ozzie and coach [Brian] Billick, and then with Ozzie and John – is it’s healthy to have disagreements or to see things differently. You have to make the best decision for the organization, and you do that by talking about things, not running from them, not closing your door. You talk about these things. You confront the issue. You confront the evaluation or the player or the decision, and you come to an agreement that’s the best decision for the organization. Yeah, we’ve never always been aligned on every single issue or every single player. But in the end, I always feel like we’ve always made the best decision, regardless.”

Financially Responsible

The Ravens have made some questionable decisions that have negatively affected their cap. A few times they’ve kicked the can down the road, preferring to deal with a bloated cap number assigned to underperforming players at a later date. I think you’ll see less of that from DeCosta and I think you’ll see more good players signed to extensions prior to the end of their current deals when they are free to negotiate with other teams. A couple such candidates could be Matt Judon and Tavon Young.

[Related Article: Ravens 2019 Salary Cap Preview]

Bullies

DeCosta shared his vision for the Ravens.

“I think we’ve done a lot of really good things in the past, and we would be foolish to just change things overnight. I think we always want to be a physical, big, fast, aggressive, disciplined football team. We always want to play with passion. We always want to have the ability to impose our will on our opponents.”

In a previous interview with Garrett Downing from BaltimoreRavens.com, DeCosta expressed the desire for the Ravens to be “bullies”. And that’s exactly what the Ravens have been for most of their days in Baltimore.

And then the notion got me to thinking. If defenses across the league are being engineered to stop the pass, wouldn’t that be the opportune time to build an offense that can “impose their will” upon opposing defenses by running it down their throats?

REEEEEEEEEED

On Saturday it will become official. Ed Reed will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His playmaking ability is sorely missed – skills that we all grew so accustomed to that they were taken for granted. Here’s a look back at some of his career highlights. You will likely be redirected to YouTube because unlike MLB videos that provide website friendly embed code, the NFL Gestapo won’t allow it.

Congratulations Ed. How blessed we were to be able to watch you and Ray play on Sundays in the Fall and Winter.

Roger The Dodger

How appropriate is that nickname for NFL Commissioner Goodell. He sure has mastered the art of responding to questions at length without saying a damn thing.

Here’s a response to a question about a more expansive use of replay from his annual Q&A during Super Bowl week:

“We have worked very hard to bring technology in to try to make sure we can do whatever’s possible to address those issues,” Goodell said. “But technology is not going to solve all of those issues. The game is not officiated by robots, it’s not going to be. But we have to continue to go down that path.

“Specifically, on Sunday night I think Coach Payton spoke to Al Riveron, our head of officials, immediately after the game. Al told him that that’s the play we want to have called. I have spoken to him, Troy Vincent, the head of football operations, has spoken to him. I’ve spoken to [Saints owner Gayle Benson]. Coach has also spoken to the competition committee, Rich McKay, the chairman, so there’s been a great deal of communication in making sure that they understand that.”

The only thing I understand from that response is that “The Dodger” once again, sidestepped a question.

Hey Rog, how about a little common sense when using the technology? If 300 million people saw the same thing and the guy who counts the most didn’t, shouldn’t it be pretty simple to correct such an egregious mistake? Even the perpetrator admitted that he interfered with the receiver.

Interesting consequence of the Rams backing into Super Bowl 53…many are rooting for the Patriots because they don’t believe that LA is a worthy participant.

Super Bowl Prediction

This game will be won and lost by the way the Patriots handle the Rams interior defensive linemen. If Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh get untracked and collapse the pocket that Tom Brady so adeptly climbs, the Rams will win SB53. But we all know, that with 2 weeks to prepare, Bill Belichick will scheme things up to neutralize this frightening tandem. Consequently, I see the Patriots winning their 6th Super Bowl, tying the Steelers for the most Lombardi’s (other than my family). Let’s call it 27-23 New England with a dark horse MVP – Sony Michel.

January 30, 1969

Fifty years ago, yesterday, The Beatles took to the rooftop at Apple Records on 3 Savile Row in London, to give their final live appearance as a band. The 42-minute extravaganza took the neighboring businesses by surprise and the concert was eventually stopped by the local authorities.

And when the police pulled the plug on the gig, Maureen Starkey (Ringo’s wife) cheered enthusiastically. At the end of Get Back on the album Let it Be, you can hear Paul McCartney respond to Maureen’s ovation with a simple “Thanks Mo”. A few seconds later John Lennon quipped, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves. I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

Here’s a look at that concert.

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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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