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The Byrne Identity: Ozzie Newsome Explains Decision Behind Trade

Posted Oct 4, 2013

Gannon predicts a bounce-back game for Flacco. Olympian Michael Phelps as a kick returner.

Ozzie Addresses Trade

With his job as the chief architect for the Ravens’ roster, Ozzie Newsome plays 3D chess. Every move dictates another move for today and the future. That’s what happens when you have a hard salary cap like we do in the NFL. The ripple effect of every move you make multiplies. 

So, for the Wizard to make the trade for left tackle Eugene Moore, the eighth-overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, with the little cap room we have, is impressive. We gave up a pair of third-day draft choices, and we, potentially, grabbed our left tackle of the future. Of course, this will depend on Eugene playing well for us and then signing him to a long-term contract. 

Why make this trade now? 

“Our No. 1 goal is to win the AFC North – get to the playoffs – and Eugene can help us do that,” Newsome explained. “With the changes we’ve made and the injuries we’re dealing with, we’re still in a good spot in the division. That’s fortunate. We need to improve, and I think we will, and fight to make the playoffs. Then see what happens in January.” 

Newsome compared the season to a run. “If the season is a mile, we’ve just completed the first 440 yards. What these first four games have given us is a real look at what our strengths and weaknesses are. We’ve had a chance to see a lot of our young players under fire. We’ve seen whether the veterans are improving or declining. Our coaches and scouts know what we have and know what we could have once we get a little healthier – and, hopefully, we will. We can’t control that. 

“Eugene can help us right now. That’s what we’re dealing with first. What happens beyond this season in unknown today,” Newsome said. 

If Monroe, who has played well for the Jaguars, helps the Ravens run the ball better and gives Joe Flacco cleaner pockets and more time to throw the ball downfield, we’ll all continue singing the “In Ozzie We Trust” song. 

Five Interceptions: Say It Ain’t So, Joe 

We all saw it. Joe Flacco threw five interceptions last Sunday at Buffalo, where we lost, 23-20. (It’s amazing we still had the opportunity to tie or win the game on our final drive after turning over the ball that many times.) 

But, Joe took complete responsibility for the loss. “My interceptions were the main reason we lost the game. I can’t do that. You live with it, and then you have to move on. We now have to go to Miami and find a way to win there.” 

That will be hard. The Dolphins are 3-1, and “That’s a really good defense you’re playing,” Rich Gannon, a Super Bowl quarterback and three-time Pro Bowler who is broadcasting the game for CBS-TV, said. 

Gannon, who knows Flacco well, has studied every play from the loss at Buffalo. “First, five interceptions is not indicative of the way Joe plays and who he is as a quarterback. When you really study the five plays, only one bothers me. That was the first one. He was aggressive there, and he didn’t see the two-deep corner,” Gannon said. “You have to give the Bills some credit. They had some guys make plays. You could say Joe should have thrown the ball six more inches to Torrey (Smith) in the end zone, but the corner makes a heck of catch there.” 

Gannon explained that Flacco is adjusting right now: “I can’t speak for Joe, but I can speak for myself as a guy who played a lot of quarterback in the NFL. When things change around you – there’s no Anquan (Boldin) and no Jacoby (Jones); Ray Rice and (Bernard) Pierce have been hurt; (Dennis) Pitta is not there – guys like Joe step up. I know the feeling. You feel like you have to do more, take a shot there. Win the game on your own. Certainly, Joe has to be better. So do those around him. Will it get better for the Ravens? I think so,” the 16-year NFL veteran said. 

NFL Coordinators Call Him ‘Unflappable Joe’ 

“The best thing, along with physical gifts, about Joe is his confidence. I talk to coordinators around the league. They say Joe is unflappable. He plays every play and will make the throws he knows he can, even after he’s been knocked down or had a ball picked,” Gannon continued. “You know, you win like the Ravens have and succeed like Joe has – and the team invests in you – there will be roster changes. Winning teams have to pay key people to stay, and they lose important components along the way. Knowing Joe, knowing the support he has there … knowing Harbs, there is no panic in Baltimore. They’ll rebound from a setback. They have and will handle this well.” 

For Joe, we all respect how he has handled himself this week. He certainly doesn’t appear to be letting last Sunday’s game and loss get to him. On Wednesday, he was having fun with his teammates and the media. “I’m a confident person, and I’m as confident as ever in myself and our team. I love where we’re headed. A lot of guys have gotten a lot of work because of our injuries. When we get Jacoby and maybe Dennis back … Marlon Brown is getting better every day. Tandon (Doss) and Deonte (Thompson) and Dallas (Clark) are fitting in. We’ll get there,” Flacco promised. 

How About Chris Canty? 

Chris Canty has been an important and impressive addition to the Ravens. Heard a local reporter ask him if the trade for Monroe was a panic move by the Ravens. “It’s not a sign of desperation. It’s a sign that this football team wants to win now. That’s one of the reasons I came here. We’re not going to accept anything less than a championship performance. Hopefully, he comes in here and helps us be in a better position to win games,” Canty replied. 

You’re the man, Chris. 

Olympian Michael Phelps As Kick Returner 

The most decorated athlete in Olympic history, Baltimore’s Michael Phelps, came to practice last week. He brought fellow Olympian Conor Dwyer with him. Dwyer, who joined Michael on the 4x200 meter freestyle gold medal-winning Olympic squad, caught some kickoffs after practice. While it appeared Dwyer had not played much football, his athletic skills showed as he caught each one, some just inches off the ground. Phelps was challenged to catch one of the kicks, which were being sent from a Jugs machine 65 yards away. Standing near the ball launcher, I said to Coach Harbaugh, “He won’t catch it.” John smiled and said, “I think he will.” 

Harbs was right. Not only did Phelps catch the ball cleanly, he ran up to grab it on the run – like a real kickoff returner. Now, Phelps may have a little dent on his chest from the effort, but he did it. 

Time for us to step up. Let’s beat the Dolphins. 

Talk with you next week,


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