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Eisenberg: Ozzie Newsome Already Knows He Has Work To Do On Offense

Posted Mar 18, 2017

The Ravens general manager still has six months to fill offensive holes, and he will likely use draft assets to help do it.

If I had an ounce of artistic ability, I would use an editorial cartoon, not words, to make my point here.

But my artistic ability peaks with stick figures and silly faces, so I’m going to have to stick with words to describe the cartoon I’m envisioning after the Ravens’ signing of cornerback Brandon Carr.

The cartoon is dominated by a large depiction of GM Ozzie Newsome. You know what he looks like. Big guy. Played a pretty good tight end in his day. Currently reconfiguring the Ravens’ roster.

Two smaller figures are perched on Newsome’s shoulders, one on either side.

On one shoulder, in miniature, is Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees, whose unit has been significantly bolstered in free agency by the signings of safety Tony Jefferson, nose tackle Brandon Williams and, now, Carr. The cartoon mini-Pees is grinning broadly and saying, “Thank you, Ozzie, thank you!”

The figure on Newsome’s other shoulder is a miniature Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. He’s on his tiptoes, leaning into Newsome’s ear and gently jabbing the GM with an index finger as he says, “Hello? Ozzie? I’m over here! Remember me? The offensive guy? Hello? HELLO?”

Get it? While showering the defense with additions, Newsome has bestowed only one “new” gift on Mornhinweg’s unit so far – running back Danny Woodhead. Meanwhile, the offense now needs four starters to replace those who have either retired (receiver Steve Smith Sr.), signed elsewhere (tackle Rick Wagner, fullback Kyle Juszczyk) or been traded (center Jeremy Zuttah).

It’s almost enough to make you wonder if Newsome has, in fact, forgotten about the offense.

Except, of course, he obviously hasn’t.

I mean, I understand why some fans are getting worked up, but I don’t think the Ravens GM suddenly put his hand to his forehead today and exclaimed, “Oh, I completely forget about the offense! Doh!”

Sorry for stating the obvious, but Newsome is well aware he has offensive holes to fill. And I’m pretty sure he’ll fill them by the start of the 2017 season, which, ahem, is still about six months away.

How he ends up filling them might seem like a thorny issue right now, but outside of wide receiver, where the Ravens passed on adding interesting free agent options such as Terrelle Pryor and Brandon Marshall, the Ravens’ decision to focus on defense to this point hasn’t really cost them.

Yes, they’ve got a tough situation at right tackle, where Wagner had a strong season in 2016 and got paid for it. The Ravens have pledged to build a better line, but no tackle available internally or in free agency constitutes an upgrade.

Nonetheless, I’m guessing the Ravens will be able to find a right tackle. A year ago, they found a starting-caliber O-lineman on the third day of the draft when they took Alex Lewis.

At center, they clearly parted with Zuttah not for salary-cap reasons, but because they think they can do better – a bold move that indicates to me they have an idea in mind. Is it Nick Mangold, the seven-time Pro Bowler formerly with the New York Jets? I like the idea. I don’t know if the Ravens do. I guess we’ll see.

Of all the holes, fullback is the least concerning. Woodhead is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, and Mornhinweg could get creative with the blocking duties and give them to, say, tight end Nick Boyle. One way or another, the Ravens can fill that hole.

That leaves receiver, seemingly an eternal need. I loved the idea of adding Pryor, who is just 27 and could have addressed the Ravens’ shortage in electric playmakers. He ended up being relatively affordable, going to the Washington Redskins on a one-year deal that could be worth $8 million.

But the Ravens didn’t get him, so what now? I’m sensing a possible shift in their draft priorities. I had them taking a cornerback, but now Carr is here and a cornerback widely linked to them as a first-round target (Washington’s Sidney Jones) has suffered a torn Achilles. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them take a receiver.

No doubt, it’s a lengthy to-do list. But there’s still plenty of time for Newsome to get to everything. In the end, I’m pretty sure the mini-Mornhinweg in my cartoon won’t need to jab him and remind him to fix the offense too.

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