Possible Cuts, Signings For Ravens
John Harbaugh isn't messing around.
Nothing is out of the realm of possibility as the Ravens' head coach tries to turn around a team that has lost three of its last four games.
"We'll do whatever it takes," Harbaugh Monday afternoon as he met with media.
Would he trade a player?
Would he cut a player?
Would he sign a player?
And would he change a scheme?
According to Harbaugh, the answer to all questions is a resounding YES.
And he's already done so in almost all cases. He's traded for left tackle Eugene Monroe, he's sent* *Bryant McKinnie to Miami and he switched up the offensive scheme – using a spread and shotgun formation with more no-huddle – all in the last couple of weeks.
Harbaugh wants to win.
"This isn't a hollow message from Harbaugh," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "Don't forget Harbaugh is the coach who fired his offensive coordinator in the final month of the regular season, so he isn't afraid to make changes."
That's why Hensley wouldn't be surprised if more roster moves are made, and he thinks three safeties are top candidates to get released: Michael Huff, Jeromy Miles and Anthony Levine.
After signing a reported three-year, $6 million contract this offseason to help replace Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed, Huff was benched after the season opener in favor of first-round draft pick Matt Elam.
"Huff ranks among the most disappointing offseason signings for the Ravens after getting benched as a starting safety in the season opener," Hensley wrote.
Miles, a four-year veteran, committed the "unforgivable" offsides penalty when the Ravens attempted a surprise onside kick against the Steelers Sunday. Hensley named Levine as a candidate to be released, but doesn't actually see it happening because of his special teams value.
Of course, anytime you let a player go, you have to replace him with somebody else.
Hensley named three players that could help on special teams: receiver LaQaun Williams (signed an injury settlement with Ravens), running back Anthony Allen and cornerback Asa Jackson (suspension ends after Week 9).
Ravens Lose $2 Million On McKinnie
Left tackle Bryant McKinnie got the trade he wanted to Miami, and he'll happily take his $2 million signing bonus he got from the Ravens this offseason with him.
"Ravens G.M. Ozzie Newsome, who probably would make it to the Hall of Fame as an executive if he wasn't already there as a player, has earned the benefit of making a mistake or two," Florio wrote.
"The Ravens had two years with McKinnie; it should come as no surprise that he's a bit of a handful, or more. But since six-foot, eight-inch guys with a playing weight of 360 pounds don't grow on trees (and trees everywhere are thankful for that), the Ravens had to roll the dice. They did. And it came up craps."
That said, you have to look at the move in conjunction with the trade for Monroe. The Jaguars are still paying a huge chunk of the remaining reported $2.91 million left on his contract this year. The Ravens are only on the hook for $547,000 of it.
In total, it may not completely work out to be the same, but the Ravens offensive line is better because of the moves.
The trade for McKinnie was for a conditional late-round draft selection.
"The Ravens should be happy if they can get a seventh-round pick from Miami because they basically got nothing from McKinnie all season," wrote Hensley. "McKinnie was a source of frustration for most of his short time with the Ravens, from his weight issues to the party bus incident."
Offensive Line Shows Signs of Life
The Ravens changed up their blocking schemes after a reported meeting between the players and Harbaugh, and it had a big effect on the offensive line's grades.
While the Ravens still only rushed for 82 yards Sunday (the Ravens only had seven offensive possessions) the offensive line got some of its highest grades of the season from Pro Football Focus (PFF).
"It's been an ongoing struggle up front this season for the Ravens, but there were some positives on Sunday," wrote PFF's Steve Palazzolo. "It didn't necessarily manifest itself in great running numbers as solo breakdowns accounted for a number of short gains, but some of the individual performances were impressive."
The highest grade this week belonged to right guard Marshal Yanda ( 5.4 overall, 4.1 as run blocker), who had a reach block on Steelers defensive end Ziggy Wood that was a "thing of beauty."
"In addition to Yanda, the left side of the line had a good day as LT Eugene Monroe and LG Kelechi Osemele were perfect in pass protection on their way to 3.1 and 3.4 respective grades," added Palazzolo. "Osemele got into the act in the running game as he planted LB Vince Williams with a second-level block at the 9:29 mark of the second quarter."
As a whole, Sunday's grades were by far the best of the season for the starting players (Osemele left the Week 5 game with injury). It received a 12.6 as a group, while the next highest grade this season was in Week 1 when it got a -3.1.
Even though the line did a better job, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined to rush for a season-low 11 yards after contact, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Below are the season's week-by-week grades for the offensive line.
|Week||Bryant McKinnie||Eugene Monroe||Kelechi Osemele||Gino Gradkowski||Marshal Yanda||Michael Oher||Total|
- While the offensive line excelled,* *the defensive line did not. Palazzolo breaks it down: "This was not supposed to be the game that got the Steelers' running game going, but they controlled the line of scrimmage early on. DE Arthur Jones (-3.0 run def) had his struggles as he was sealed a number times, particularly in the first quarter. The linebackers were not much better, as all four starters graded negatively. Jameel McClain (-2.2 run def) struggled in his first action of the season, particularly at the second level where he was unable to get off blocks. Even the generally reliable outside linebackers Terrell Suggs (-0.8 run def) and Courtney Upshaw (-1.2 run def) were relatively quiet as Suggs overshot a gap and Upshaw was moved well off his spot at the 11:33 mark of the fourth. All told, it was a surprising effort from the usually stout Baltimore front seven." [PFF]
- Steelers blogger Neal Coolong believes the Ravens are suffering from a Super Bowl hangover. "The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens look like the champagne they consumed in the form of a league championship is causing a huge headache and massive gut rot. They look hungover. And Steelers fans should know. The last time a defending Super Bowl champion has been below .500 after playing seven games was the Super Bowl hungover Steelers of 2006." [Behind The Steel Curtain]
- The faces were new, but the physical nature of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry game lived up to the teams' normal standards. "That Ravens kicker Justin Tucker survived an onsides kick attempt earlier in the fourth] period could probably pass Vatican certification,” wrote Gene Collier. “Tucker, who'd earlier turned to the Steelers sideline and signaled ‘good’ after the first of his three field goals, was trying to recover his own kick when he was struck by a 230-pound missile named Stevenson Sylvester. Told later it appeared as though he'd [nearly killed the kicker, Sylvester said, 'I tried to.'" [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
- "The Ravens have played better as a pass-first team … but that's the thing; the Ravens' passing game isn't good enough to carry them week after week," wrote Childs Walker. "Durable and fearless as he is, Flacco hasn't been able to gun his way through games at the level of Peyton Manning or Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers. Again, that's not a knock. It's just that if the passing game is a Ravens' strength, it's not enough of one." [The Baltimore Sun]
- @BaltimoreLuke: A disgruntled caller just said that other than winning the Super Bowl last year, the #Ravens weren't that good. People are hilarious. [Twitter]
- @RavensSalaryCap: With the $1M for McKinnie, they now have $3.122M in dead $$ counting in '14 RT @rayvensfan55 how much dead $ do we have in 2014 as of now? [Twitter]
- @adamschefter: At least 3 teams have contacted Browns about deal for WR Josh Gordon; two have standing offers of a high pick and a player. Browns balking. [Twitter]
- @ryanmink: I like Harbaugh's onside kick call. Watch the tape and you'll know why. Had a 7-on-2 advantage and element of surprise. Poor execution. It's easy to second-guess when it doesn't work. But it should have. Defense had only forced 1 punt, gotten 1 turnover. PIT was eating clock. [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: I expected no one to be at @JimmysSeafood tonight but it's pretty packed...our REAL fans are the best
- @BryantMckinnie: I appreciate my time in Baltimore & winning a ring along the way, now time to move on to another chapter! #Phinsup [Twitter]
- @jamisonhensley: Here's why #Ravens trail #Bengals by two games. In games decided by four points or less, Ravens are 1-3 and Bengals are 3-1. [Twitter]
- Since it's so gloomy in Ravens land with a record below .500 this deep into the season in the Harbaugh era, please allow me to help put a smile on your face. Sure, this has nothing to do with the Ravens, but this GIF of Andy Reid as the Kool-Aid man is just spectacular. Thank you, @LSUfreek. [Twitter]
- And while we are trying to laugh a little this morning, how about this awesome video of a Ravens fan named "Real Fan Dan" shaking his big bare belly to get the crowd going. [YouTube]