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Ogbuehi, the “Next Man Up”

Ogbuehi
Photo Credit: Reggie Hildred, Seattle Seahawks
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Yesterday the Ravens signed former Seahawks RT Cedric Ogbuehi. The 29-year-old Ogbuehi was the Cincinnati Bengals 2015 first-round pick (21st) overall, out of Texas A&M. Ogbuehi has played in 58 NFL games during his 6+ seasons spread unevenly amongst the Bengals, Jaguars and Seahawks. Ogbuehi got the starting nod in 30 of those games.

Entering the 2015 NFL Draft, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared Ogbuehi to Eugene Monroe (Keep an open mind). DraftAce.com submitted the following overview on Ogbuehi:

Ogbuehi played guard and right tackle early in his career before finally taking over at left tackle as a senior. His performance at left tackle was disappointing, to put it mildly, and he was shifted back to the right side towards the end of the season. He lacks the strength to play guard, potentially making him a one position lineman which severely hurts his value if he isn’t viewed as a guaranteed future starter (his 2014 performance indicates he shouldn’t be). Factor in the injuries, and it’s almost impossible to see him as a first-round pick despite high expectations entering his senior year.

To make room for Ogbuehi on the practice squad, the Ravens released veteran safety Jordan Richards.

Kicking The Tires

According to The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, Ogbuehi isn’t the only player working out with the team.

The long snappers, punters (Maggio is a local kid from Monkton, MD who went to Wake Forest) and a kicker on the surface, are all curious workouts, but if history is any indication, this is likely an effort on the Ravens’ part to build up intel in the event of emergency. Let’s face it, COVID remains a part of our lives.

Don’t Count on a Homecoming

As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Raiders have released former Ravens WR Willie Snead who according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus, asked for his release because “he wasn’t playing much.”

Rosenhaus believes there will be a market for Snead and as popular as he was in Baltimore, don’t expect a reunion.

Losing The Edges

Speaking of former Ravens who went on to Vegas to play with the Raiders, Yannick Ngakoue is making some noise in the desert and opposing quarterbacks hear it loud and clear.

Last season in 10 games with the Ravens, Ngakoue had 3 sacks (2 v. the lowly Jaguars) and 26 pressures. During his last season in Baltimore (2018), former Raven Za’Darius Smith had 8 ½ sacks and 60 pressures. The next two seasons in Green Bay, Smith averaged 14 1/2 sacks and 72 pressures. Last season in 14 games with the Ravens, Matt Judon had 6 sacks and 39 total pressures. Through 7 games in New England, Judon has 7 sacks and 29 pressures. All stats are per Pro Football Focus.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale asks more of his edge defenders than coordinators who run more traditional defenses. Maybe he even asks them to do things that they aren’t as good at in order to create deception, such as dropping into coverage. And these days when I see the Ravens best pass rusher, Odafe Oweh, drop into a zone only to have the pass completed anyway, it’s a bit frustrating.

Photo by Kevin Moore

Creating Cap Space

Among the things Brian McFarland and I discussed in our podcast, The Front Office, were ways in which the Ravens could create some cap space. The options are very limited but one is to create voidable years in specific player contracts. But there’s a danger in the approach, because in essence voidable years free up cap dollars now in exchange for dead cap money in the future – kicking the can down the road, if you will.

As an example, let’s say a player is set to make $9M in salary this season, his final year of his contract. Let’s then assume that the team adds two voidable years, converts the $9M of salary into a bonus and then spreads it out over 3 years. The $9M in salary then drops to a $3M cap number in the current year. However, it becomes due the following season in the form of $6M in dead money.

So far the Ravens have resisted the strategy, opting instead for basement bargains like Ogbuehi. Brian and I discuss another bargain basement option in the podcast to help the Ravens boost their offensive backfield.

Bengals Blitzkrieg

Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Clark break down the Bengals defensive strategy against the Ravens and they walk away pretty impressed. It was quite the game plan.

Some of the tools to help thwart the strategy include an efficient screen game to keep blitzers honest, the installation of specific audibles to counter unfavorable looks and running some no huddle offense.

Screens plant the seed of doubt in the minds of defenders and quiet the aggression of blitzers. Unfortunately, the last time the Ravens ran screens effectively, they were the Cleveland Browns. Audibles are nice tools, but you have to get your offense up to the line of scrimmage with more than 10 seconds left on the play clock. The Ravens are regularly slow to the LOS. As for the no huddle, it is a great tool for limiting sub packages, disrupting an opponent’s execution while tiring opposing pass rushers.

Just some food for thought.

“It’s Not Pretty, But It’s Us!”

Yesterday I wrote a piece that looks back on previous seasons when the Ravens started (5-1) but ultimately fell to (5-2). It historical look provides optimism but at the same time, the Ravens never make it easy. It almost seems like a rite of passage. It almost seems like a box of chocolates, like it has so many times in the past.

The World Series

I have no strong rooting interest in the Series although I do hope the Braves win it. Not that I’m a fan, it’s just that rooting for the Astros is like rooting for the Patriots. My Single Friend is watching the Series’ games from an Astros bar. He said the girls there don’t care if you cheat!

I do find it to be a struggle to stay awake during the games. I get that when your team is in it you hang on every pitch. But my team isn’t in it so the hanging usually defines my head over the arm of the sofa. Can’t they start these games a little earlier? Do they really think so many on the west coast care if the games start at 4:30 Pacific Time?

More Blitzkrieg

Check out this amazing play as seen on SportsCenter. Here’s hoping that Patrick Queen or DeShon Elliott or Chuck Clark or Tavon Young feel inspired.

More Fun Stuff From Around The Web

The Late, Great Tom Petty

Last week here on RTT I mentioned that I was going with my son to see the Tom Petty documentary, Somewhere You Feel Free. The doc takes you through the creative process of Petty and his bandmates who worked on 30+ songs over an 18 month period to craft the album that Petty calls his best – Wildflowers.

The album is a personal favorite of mine and as my friend and local musician Dennis Shocket often reminds me, Wildflowers is Petty’s “White Album”.

I’m sure the movie will be available On Demand soon enough and if you’re into music on any level, to watch the arch of the creative process is riveting. For an artist to take an idea, create a chord structure and complementary lyrics, layer it with instruments to create just the right sound, and to then have it adored by millions – WOW! Just wow…

That said, the title track to Wildflowers was created in ad lib fashion – musical improvisation if you will. As shared with Paul Zollo, the author of the book, “Conversations With Tom Petty”, the Gainesville, Florida native explained how the song was born, as told by the Ringer.

“I swear to God it’s an absolute ad-lib from the word ‘go.” In the next three minutes, Petty waxed poetic about love and freedom, heart and home while the reels on his recorder spun around in a steady rotation. When the song came to its seemingly natural conclusion he reached over his guitar and clicked the stop button.

“Then [I] sat back and went, ‘Wow, what did I just do?’ And I listened to it. I didn’t change a word. Everything was just right there, off the top of my head.”

Starbelly

I mentioned Dennis Shocket earlier. Almost immediately after Petty’s tragic passing, Dennis played a four-hour gig doing nothing but Petty originals. I’m sorry I missed that show. Here’s the talented Mr. Shocket performing during an interview I did with him a couple years ago. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

Until next week…

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

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