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Help is on The Way

Bowser Ojabo
Photo Credit: Baltimore Ravens
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Bowser, Ojabo In, Boyle Out?

When the Miami Dolphins prepared their game plan for the Ravens in 2021, then head coach Brian Flores apparently found a weakness in the Ravens offense that he sought to exploit. Flores’ scheme worked wonders against a quarterback who had shredded the Dolphins defense to the tune of 59 points just two seasons prior. The Dolphins defenders held the Ravens to 304 total net yards on their way to a 22-10 victory. The majority of the Ravens offensive total (167 yards) came during the game’s final 7:40 at which point the Dolphins had a 15-3 lead and opted to prevent explosive plays.

The NFL, being the copycat league that it is, emulated Flores’ tactical maneuvers and for the balance of the season when taking on Lamar Jackson. He was never the same for the balance of the season.

Questions lingered the entire offseason as to whether Jackson could successfully combat a multi-faceted blitz scheme. So far in 2022, Lamar has shown that he has answers to the pressure packages opponents are dialing up.

Hurst’s Revenge?

Former Ravens 2018 first-round draft pick Hayden Hurst paid a visit to his old stomping grounds as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday night. Hurst had a solid outing against his former mates (6 catches, 53 yards) including a 19-yard score that showcased his athletic prowess.

But for me, good memories of Hurst will be forever tarnished by the play below where Lamar Jackson hit Hayden in stride (actually his head), for what would have been a touchdown, to keep the Ravens in a Divisional Playoff game against the Titans. Further tarnishing the Hurst feel-goods were his demands to be traded after just two seasons in Baltimore. Word is he didn’t want to stand in the shadows of Mark Andrews and clearly Hurst’s draft classmate, despite going two rounds later, was and still is the superior player.

So let’s get this straight. Hurst wants out, gets his wish and then when he returns to Baltimore he wants revenge? His end zone celebration certainly suggests as much, mockingly waving to fans in the stands after his score. Kind of a douche-baggy move, don’t you think?

That said, all is well that ends well and when Eric DeCosta, devoid of any real leverage, landed Atlanta’s 2nd-round pick in 2020 for Hurst, all things considered, it was a stroke of genius for the Ravens GM. That second round pick would become J.K. Dobbins. Oh, and the Ravens won that so-called revenge game on Sunday night. So there’s that too…


TONIGHT, TONIGHT, TONIGHT

Blackbird Singing, where football and music collide!

Watch it live on our Facebook Page Ravens 247 or on the Russell Street Report YouTube Channel beginning at 6PM. Please tune in, send questions, make fun of us or all of the above. Or if you can, join us at Uncle’s Hawaiian Grindz in Fallston as we get you primed for Thursday Night Football!

Blackbird Singing


Pass Rush

For the past few seasons, fans have longed for an improved pass rush from the Ravens defense. Help just might be on the way!

Yesterday Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo returned to the practice field. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the defensive reinforcements will have an immediate impact but it’s safe to assume that by early November the Ravens and more specifically, defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, will have an opportunity to tinker with an edge rotation that includes the aforementioned Achilles twins and Odafe Oweh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Houston.

A defense that can disrupt the quarterback by sending just four players after opposing signal callers, presents challenges as we saw during the Ravens Sunday Night win over the Bengals. Joe Burrow, a player who absolutely destroyed the Ravens and their former dice rolling DC, Wink Martindale in 2021, was a bit perplexed by the Ravens altered approach in Week 5.

If the Ravens can keep high-powered offenses like the Bengals at or around 20 points, it bodes well for the balance of the season.

EDC

Eric DeCosta has been the target of criticism, particularly from the Harry and Lloyd afternoon tandem on 105.7 The Fan. His draft choices have been questioned; the dearth of talent at the position of edge rusher has been debated; his thrifty spending on wide receivers, condemned; and the inability to get Lamar signed to a long-term deal, lambasted. Those who subscribe to this nonsense, long for the days when Ozzie Newsome sat at the control panel of the team’s personnel decisions.

Weinman and LaCanfora

What these critics don’t get is that these decisions are oftentimes collaborative, just as they were during Ozzie’s reign. If you don’t think that DeCosta was heavily involved in the lauded picks of Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, Matt Judon, et al, you’re really naïve. And if you don’t think that the scouts, coaches, even Ozzie weren’t involved in the heavily criticized draft class of 2019, you are equally naïve.

But if you insist on playing THAT game, let’s not forget that Ozzie signed off on first-round picks like Travis Taylor, Matt Elam and Kyle Boller. Let’s not forget that EDC was the engineer behind the trade to move back into the first round in 2018 to land Lamar. Let’s not forget the clever trades that brought Marcus Peters, J.K. Dobbins, Odafe Oweh and Tyler Linderbaum to Baltimore. Let’s not forget that EDC landed a 5th-round pick for a punter/kicker who is no longer in the league.

The Ravens are in excellent hands. Maybe a longer view might benefit those who want to summarily dismiss the exec’s work. There’s a reason his peers named him Executive of the Year in 2019. He didn’t suddenly forget all that inspired such accolades.

[Related Article: No John Harbaugh Didn’t Learn His Lesson]

Boyle-ing Over

Nick Boyle reported to OTA’s during the spring in the best shape of his career. The Ravens coaching staff talked glowingly of the offseason work the 2015 5th-round pick put in to prepare himself for the 2022 campaign. But during training camp, the former Delaware Blue Hen didn’t look all that great. Boyle regularly dropped passes. But those balls that hit the ground weren’t all that concerning. After all, Boyle’s value is in the running game where he has excelled as a destructive blocker in the team’s high-end ground attack.

Apparently those days are over.

Nick Boyle

Boyle has been active for just the past three games during which he has taken just 4 offensive snaps, all against the Patriots. Since that game Boyle has just 18 special teams snaps to his credit. None on offense. He has been cast aside by OC Greg Roman, even in 12 and 22 personnel sets, in favor of Josh Oliver.

Boyle took a pay cut to play in 2022. In 2023 the 8-year vet is scheduled to make $5M. Unless things change, that’s not going to happen. We very well may be witnessing the end of a very special player and equally special man in Baltimore.

5 Responses

  1. Tony, glad your voice is out there. I wonder about Nick B, but have never considered Oliver or how the 2 compare for this year. Likely looked like superman in the pre season but looks a little Milque toasty now. All in all this team looks good and getting better. If the knees and heels can hold up, I think we’re in it till the end. And yes you can thank EDC for a lot of it.

  2. Always a good read, Tony.

    But the “long view as defense” of EDC’s draft abilities misses one crucial point. That is, he covets a plethora of draft picks but only occasionally mines real gems with them. Of course, no GM/scouting department will ace a particular draft, but its close rate should be well better than 30% (and that’s being generous that they’ve even hit on that many).

    The other issue for which EDC is responsible is the salary cap. Wasted money on players such as Boyle, a ton of cap tied into MAndrews, Stanley, and Humphrey…all these things are what prevent the Ravens from pursuing bona fide FA acquisitions every year (or even signing one of the game’s most electric players to an extension he’s rightfully earned). It’s always “do it on the cheap.”

    Perhaps it’s a chicken/egg type scenario. That is, the team is always cap-strapped (its own doing) so it must covet double-digit draft picks to build a contending roster that way. Okay, I’ll admit that contending nearly every season is nice.

    Championships are better.

    EDC’s draft approach reminds me of an eatery’s ambitious menu where there are too many choices. The establishment can’t possibly do everything extremely well. Pare down the options and create memorable dishes.

    In his case, use all his cherished draft capital to make more in-season trades (like the Peters haul) that can help this team immediately. And for the draft picks that remain, make them count (Hollywood, Boykin, Hurst, OBJ et al, I’m looking at you).

Comments are closed.

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