Ravens Offensive Coordinator candidates + Draft Needs

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 11.29.36 AM

Yesterday it was believed Kyle Shanahan or Jim Hostler were the top 2 candidates, which would be an absolute disaster for the Ravens. Our first priority is fixing the run game. We need an OC who has shown in the past they can establish the run. Jim Hostler is the Ravnes WR coach, so he will probably be left off this list. Shananhan has proven he can run the ball, but he had RG3 running the read option in 2012, and the running game in 2013 was not strong when they went with more pistol than read option. Shanahan has relied on his Pops big time for help, especially in the run game, so he should also be dropped off this list.

Gary Kubiak makes the most sense. He has never had a franchise QB in Houston. He has had a handful of good running backs and offensive linemen. The Ravens weakness in the beginning of the season was the offensive line. They played better toward the end of the year, but Gary Kubiack’s scheme should help improve the unit. With Flacco(franchise QB), Rice and Pierce(2 back system), and Dennis Pitta(blocking TE) entering next season healthy and ready to be back in the playoffs, the addition of Kubiack could take this Ravens team deep into the playoffs.

For the Draft, there are some pretty obvious needs.

Needs in order of importance:

1.) OT (Ravens need to take the best avaliable Offensive linemen with their first pick)

2.) WR ( No need to rush into a WR on day one, there is plenty of depth)

3.) OC (Ravens need to use 2 high picks on offensive line)

4.) TE (With Dickson gone, and Pitta hopefully returning, TE is an imporant spot. Kubiack likes to use multiple TE sets)

5.) DL (the DLine played well but depth is important. An OLB or DE would be a good look in the 3rd or 4th RD)

6.) S (Ihedjibo and Elam played well in the second half of the season but bringing in a Saftey in the 4th or 5th RD will create some solid preseason competition)

Mock Analysis:

The 2014 class is a good one and with atleast 3 QBs expected to go in RD 1, there should be some solid quality on the board at 16/17. I am big on taking the best player avaliable, but the Ravens have 6 core needs, so they should be able to get one of the best players on the board and address a need.

Players who could be avaliable: Taylor Lewin (OT, Michigan), Zach Martin (OT, ND), Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson) Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M), Eric Ebron (TE, UNC), and Anthony Barr(OLB, UCLA). There is a chance none of these players will be avaliable at this pick, but these guys are potential pro bowlers. I’d like to see Lewin or Martin go, but I would be okay with Ebron here, he could be the next Vernon Davis. Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins are a freaks, but the 2nd and 3rd rounds will be loaded with WR talent. Anthony Barr is a 2 way OLB who is a beast in the run game and is great in coverage. I don’t think he’ll make it to 16/17, but this guy is a must draft if avaliable here.

Players who should be avaliable: Kony Ealy (DE, Mizzu), Marqiese Lee (WR, USC), Louis Nix (DT, ND), Hasean Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama), Aaron Donald (DT, Pitt), Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU), Kelvin Benjamin (WR, FSU), and Cyrus Kouandijo (OT, Alabama). There is a ton of talent avaliable late in the first round. Ealy, Clinton-Dix, Nix, Donlad, and Jernigan are all impact players on Defense. Lee and Benjamin can strech the field vertically and would be great to pair with Torrey Smith. Cyrus Kouandijo left Bama early and is rising up the board. He’s a very atheltic OL who could contribute right away.

If Lewin or Martin are avaliable, they are must picks. With these 2 gone, it might be a bit of a reach to take Kouandijo at 16/17. Ebron would probably be my next on the list, he has a rare combination of speed, size, and strength at TE that is hard to come by.

Ravens vs Vikings Reaction

Image

 

Final Score: Baltimore 29 Minnesota 26

I had the opportunity to actually be at this game yesterday, and I have to say– I challenge you to find a better environment for football than an absolute snow day in Baltimore. It was electric. The beers were flowing, the Fireball was smuggled in, and everyone was like a giddy kid on Christmas throughout the entire game. 

Dennis Pitta being back on the field was huge. Most Ravens fans know the chemistry he and Flacco have on the field, and it couldn’t have come at a better time than the 1-yard TD catch on 4th and goal. Huge. This sparked what has been called the most insane final 2 minutes in NFL history. SIX lead changes. Jacoby taking a Kickoff back for a score. Vikings answering. Twice. 

Then, Joe cool came through to Downtown Marlon Brown for the final score of the game. This was Baltimore football. It’s never easy, but we get it done. Blue collar, bare knuckle. We’re still alive in hunt for the playoffs. 

 

PS: Adrian Peterson, yeah snowballs were being thrown. You’re playing in a football game with snow everywhere. Lighten up a little bit and build a snowman or something. 

Dennis Pitta returns to Ravens practice today

Image

Pitta should miss at least one more week. If he can come back next week after (hopefully) a Ravens win, things could start looking up. This is a huge(I cant stress huge enough) upgrade from Dickson and Clarke. He’s a good run blocker and safety blanket for Flacco, the offense desperately needs him. When healthy, he finds seems in the middle of zones and can stretch the field vertically. This is very good news for the down but not out Baltimore Ravens.

Ravens at Bears Preview

Image

Is this the week the Ravens are finally able establish some sort of run game? The Bears are allowing over 129.4 rush yards per game, which is 31st in the league. The Ravens need to run the ball on early downs and use play action to stretch the field. Bernard Pierce needs to see more carries. Not knocking Ray Rice, but Pierce has been more effective. The Bears defense is banged up, playing without Peanut Tillman, Jay Ratliff, and Lance Briggs. Flacco and company should be able to move the chains all game(SHOULD).

The Bears offense will be a tough matchup for the improved Raven’s defense. They are 8th in passing yards (261.7) and 16th (111) in rushing. Playmakers Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and TE Martellus Bennett will be a handful for the secondary and linebackers. Luckily, Jay Cutler is not playing, although Josh McCown has been decent in his reserve duties. Limiting Forte will be huge. They will go to him early and often. Shutting down Forte will allow the Ravens to keep the safeties back in passing situations, which will be help the corners with the 6’4 Marshall and 6’3 Jeffery. The pass rush should pressure McCown all game. Dumervile and Suggs should have no problem against  the Bears offensive tackles. The secondary, especially the corners, will need to play like they did last week. 

Prediction: 27-20 Ravens. Rice and Pierce combine for 120 and 1 TD. Dumervile and Suggs each get at least 1 sack. Secondary holds McCown to under 250. Forte held under 100.

Report: Ed Reed to be Released by the Texans. Come on home!

Image

(ESPNThe Houston Texans are releasing safety Ed Reed on Tuesday, a source confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Here’s the thing, I love Ed Reed. He was a stalwart of the Baltimore defense that straight intimidated offenses for years. Coaches had to gameplan around him because he’s such a ballhawk. Top 5 Safeties, all time…

But he’s 35. He’s taken and delivered so many hits on the field, his joints are held together by dental floss. The right thing to do, Ed.. is to come home. We’ll take you with open arms. Let’s give you the Marino Rivera treatment. XRays and MRI’s from every team as mementos. It’s the honorable thing to do.  I also don’t think he ever truly wanted to leave Baltimore. He gets to the Texans, Schaub is donezo. Foster is gone. Kubiak stroked out of pure disgust. Come on, Ed. We REEEEEED you.

PS: No doubt in my mind Ed becomes a secondary coach/ defensive consultant with the Ravens <2 years. Book it.

Justin Tucker hits game winning FG in OT; celebrates with cousin Terio ‘ohh kill um’ dance

Justin Tucker hits a game winning field goal in overtime and his first thought is to do the Cousin Terio- Ohh Kill Um dance? I love Cousin Terio and everything he’s about, but as a NFL Kicker, I think a simple jump and fist pump would have been sufficient.

Image

Cousin Terio’s body defies physics.

Ray Lewis and Urlacher in the New Xbox One Spot

Via YouTube Xbox One: Retirement Home

Image

Ray Lewis is a savage. Plain and simple. The man could still go out there and destroy opposing offenses and stuff the run. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually did this.. he’s one of the most intense people on this side of the earth.

PS: Do you think Urlacher likes being relegated to second fiddle here? Has to hate it, right?

Ravens vs. Bengals Preview

Image

It may be a little too early to say this, but this game could be a must win for the Ravens. The Birds are back at M&T Bank, where they have been pretty good this year. The only problem is that the Bengals are in town. The Bengals are the favorite to win this(for obvious reason), but I expect this to be a tough battle between AFC North foes.

You can read my reaction to last weeks loss for the state of the Ravens. They need to play better in the secondary and the offensive line needs to start blocking. The front 7 have been playing well all year. The offensive skilled positions have not had holes or time to get open because of the lack of blocking. Joe Flacco needs to emerge as a leader and win this team some games, even with the struggling secondary.

The Bengals enter Sunday’s game 6-3, and fresh off an overtime loss to Miami last Thursday. They have had plenty of time to recover and prepare for this weeks game. They boast 7th best passing attack and 19th rushing. Two words: A.J Green. I would suspect the Ravens to double him and/or shadow him with a safety over top. Good luck to the Raven’s corner who gets that duty. The Bengals O-line has been pretty good this year in their pass and run blocking. Andy Dalton has been improving all year and has time and weapons. They feature a 2 back system with BenJarvis Green-Ellis and rookie playmaker Giovanni Bernard who has also been getting better week by week. Marvin Williams had a 4 TD game two weeks ago and Sanu is decent, but AJ Green is their only solid WR. TEs Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert can stretch the field and block. They cause mismatches with LBs and Safeties. This is very good and balanced offense. The Ravens D needs to rely on pass rush, shutting down the run, and limiting big plays. The Bengals will pass for 300 yards, but AJ Green and Sanu need to be kept under check. They need to give up the underneath routes and play a bend but not break style defense. Let the D-Line pressure Dalton into a mistake or 2 that could change the game.

Defensively, the Bengals are one of the best in the league, 11th in passing and 10th in rushing. The loss of Geno Atkins is huge, but they have pretty good replacements for him. The Ravens will be unable to run against the front 7. Burfict, Maualuga, and James Harrison are all run stoppers at Linebacker. The D-Line includes run stopper Domata Peko, and edger rushers Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. This is a scary front 7(without Atkins). Corners Adam Jones, Terence Newman, and nickel Dre Kirkpatrick are decent but nothing too special. Safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka have been very consistant this year. The Ravens need to isolate Torrey Smith on one of these corners. Throw him slants, curls, crossing routes, and screen early. Get the ball in his hands. After repeated short attempts, get him on a double move with max protection. Utilizing Smith will be essential for a win. Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce, and TEs Dickson and Clarke should be used in the passing game as well. Burfict is the only one who can cover, so getting Rice on Maualuga or Harrison should be easy checks for Flacco. Dickson and Clarke should be able to find holes in the middle of the field.  Flacco needs to make calls and audibles at the line depending on what the Bengals line up in.

Prediction: The Bengals are too good of a team to lose this game. 27-17 Bengals. Only way Ravens win is if their RBs go for 100 and 1+TD and Torrey Smith hits 100 and 1TD(must keep AJ Green under this as well).

Ravens at Browns Preview

Image

The Ravens won week 2 vs Cleveland at M&T Bank, 14-6. Some notable changes have occurred since week 2 for the Browns, including Jason Campbell starting this week and Trent Richardson being traded to Indy. The Ravens defense has been improving each week, especially the front 7 which has been able to pressure QBs.

While it would be easy to chalk this down as a win for the Ravens, don’t forget this game is being played in Cleveland. The Dawg Pound is always rocking, regardless of the teams success, so I expect this game to be a close one. Ravens should shut down the Browns rushing game, but I’d expect Jason Campbell to have a few scrambles out of the pocket. Limiting Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron will be essential. Their explosive play ability is in the tops in the league.

The Browns defense is one of the best in the league. 6th in passing and 11th in rushing. They have also played Green Bay, Detroit, Kansas City, Cincinnati  and Minnesota(only rushing attack), all teams with top offenses. The Ravens will not be able to run the ball, so this game should depend of Flacco and the defense.  The Browns secondary is pretty good, including All Pro Joe Haden, so Flacco needs to stay calm in the pocket and make smart, quick decisions. They also have one of the better front 7 including Kruger, D’qwell Jackson, Phil Taylor, and rookie  standout from LSU Barkevious Mingo, who has 4 sacks.

This is a tough call because I think it’s really a toss up, but I’m going to guess a 20-13 Raven’s victory. Suggs, Dumervile, and Ngata apply pressure and close running lanes all game, Flacco does enough in a defensive battle to get the W in Cleveland.

Bryant McKinnie traded to Dolphins

Image

The Dolphins offensive line has been struggling all year so they agreed to send a late pick for Bryant McKinnie. Not sure if this move is going to help their offensive line situation, and its obvious the Ravens are done with McKinnie, so this is a win win for the Birds. McKinnie’s off field issues have been a major problem, and I’m not going to lie, I will miss his stories in Baltimore. Fights, strippers, drunken antics,  entering camp overweight and out of shape every year, McKinnie is always good to give us a laugh.

McKinnie’s Birthday party strippers, including ‘Sweat Pea’. The chick with the McKinnie jersey is a real keeper.

Sweet Pea