The Most Under-Discussed Factor on the Ravens' Recent Draft Classes
It happens every year on cue, and it's usually widely reported.
A couple NFL teams fire their general managers, then subsequently request to interview Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta. He declines. Baltimore keeps its GM-in-waiting along with Ozzie Newsome. All is well
But there have been plenty of other changes in the Ravens' scouting department, and they've been underreported. The effect that The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec says those changes have had on the team is evident to many, but few have connected the dots.
"[T]he most under-discussed factor in the Ravens' falling into the throes of mediocrity — they are 40-40 in the regular season since their Super Bowl victory — is how many quality talent evaluators they've lost in recent years," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "The trend started before the Super Bowl as teams would come every offseason and look to pluck from one of the more well-respected front offices in the NFL.
"However, the departures have seemingly taken a toll and could go a long way in explaining why the Ravens haven't drafted as well lately under General Manager Ozzie Newsome."
A number of those talent evaluators have gone to the Philadelphia Eagles, as Garrett Downing points out in the video to the right. It includes Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Weidl and Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham. They also have T.J. McCreight, a player personnel executive.
Douglas was with the Ravens for 15 years and had a hand in drafting players such as Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Pernell McPhee and Lardarius Webb. Over an 11-year span, Weidl scouted Kyle Juszczyk, Haloti Ngata, Arthur Jones, Torrey Smith and Timmy Jernigan. Last year, Douglas nabbed the two other former Ravens scouts on his staff in Cunningham, who spent nine years in Baltimore, and McCreight, who was here for eight.
Zrebiec points out the Ravens have also lost NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah and Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage.
Speaking of Jeremiah, he commented just yesterday about how good the Eagles have become at adding talent and paid them the ultimate compliment.
Some notable moves the Eagles have pulled off the last two years since Douglas has joined their staff include drafting quarterback Carson Wentz and pass rusher Derek Barnett, and trading for running Jay Ajayi and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. They also were aggressive in stockpiling free agent wide receivers, signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith last offseason.
"The Eagles' ascent this season provides a reminder of how many good scouts the Ravens have lost," wrote Zrebiec.
"The Ravens certainly have other strong evaluators, but it's never easy to lose so many scouts who are familiar with the attributes that the front office and coaching staff are looking for in players."
Jeremiah Passes on Calvin Ridley and Picks Tackle Orlando Brown for Ravens
In his first mock draft of the year, Jeremiah chose to strengthen the Ravens offensive line even though he knows the need at wide receiver and the top-rated pass catcher was still on his board.
But Jeremiah cited howthe Ravens have historically addressed that position as his reason for passing on Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Instead, he gave Baltimore offensive tackle Orlando Brown.
And if that names sounds familiar, it should.
The Oklahoma product is the son of Orlando Brown Sr., who played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98, and then again from 2003-05. It's hard to forget a behemoth like that, especially when adding his big personality.
"The Ravens need to address the wide receiver position, but they have a good track record of filling that void with veteran players in free agency," Jeremiah wrote. "Brown would immediately start at right tackle for Baltimore, just like his father did a little more than a decade ago."
While the exciting pick would be Ridley, the Ravens really can't go wrong with adding any talent on the offensive side of the ball. And if Brown is anything like his father, he will have a long and successful NFL career.
Brown Jr. is even taller than his father, standing in at 6-foot-8, 345 pounds. His dad was one inch shorter, but 15 pounds heavier by the end of his career.
As for Ridley, Jeremiah has him lasting until pick No. 24, where the Carolina Panthers select him to add to quarterback Cam Newton's arsenal.
Todd Haley Goes From Calling Plays in Pittsburgh to Cleveland
It looks like Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley will stick in the AFC North.
The Pittsburgh Steelers decided not to renew his contract after a six-year run that included four seasons with a top-10 ranking in points scored. Word is that he and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger butted heads.
It didn't take long for Haley to find a new job, and he won't have to travel far either.
The Cleveland Browns hired Haley to be their offensive coordinator, according to NFL Network's Michael Silver, and he's expected to take over play-calling duties from Head Coach Hue Jackson.
Haley won't have the talent he had in Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell, but the cupboard isn't bare and Haley will likely get some new toys from the draft.
"Cleveland doesn't offer that brand of star power, but the Browns boast a talented offensive line, a handful of playmakers and a boatload of valuable draft picks," wrote NFL.com's Marc Sessler. "Haley is likely to be working with a rookie quarterback if (and when) the Browns select one with the first- or fourth-overall pick in the draft.
"The question here is what sort of scheme we can expect from the Browns. Will it be Haley running Jackson's offense, his own playbook or a mixture of both? Cleveland went without a coordinator over the past two seasons largely because Jackson – an experienced play-caller – was brought in under the assumption that he alone could rescue the offense."
Jaguars Complaining About Officiating vs. Patriots
Many people are pointing out how odd it was that the New England Patriots were only flagged one time in the AFC championship game.
It's the fewest penalties called on a team in the playoffs since the Patriots played … you guessed it … the Ravens in the 2011 AFC championship game.
While the Jaguars didn't blame the loss on the officiating, they made it clear they weren't happy with the discrepancy of flags doled out to each team. The Jaguars were penalized six times for 98 yards. And the optics weren't good when a referee congratulated quarterback Tom Brady after the game, although that sort of thing isn't unheard of.
"Interesting," linebacker Myles Jack said of the discrepancy, per ESPN. "My thoughts on that is ... yeah, that's kind of self-explanatory. I didn't know that. I'll just say that's self-explanatory. Interesting. That's all I'm going to say."
Cornerback A.J. Bouye was more specific about the calls with which he didn't agree.
"I was pissed because I seen [Danny] Amendola head-butt the hell out of Gip [Tashaun Gipson] in front of the ref and you all don't call nothing?" Bouye said. "It don't make no sense man; it's a lot of stuff that don't make no sense. I have a lot of respect for these people in this locker room. They kept fighting, we all kept fighting. We knew there was stuff we couldn't control, and we kept it close."
Bouye was also called for a controversial pass interference before end of the first half that helped lead to a Patriots touchdown with 55 seconds left on the clock.
"I just got to watch the tape," Bouye said. "I need to go look at the rule book on [pass interference penalties], because you're telling me the receiver can have his hands on me the whole way down the field, but if I look for the ball and try to protect myself from being pushed, it's a flag?
* *"Like I said, I just have to be better. I can't put my team in that situation. It's a flag, I got to own up to it, find a way to get better at it."