Ozzie, Harbaugh Aren't Messing Around
It's not too often that a head coach calls out players like John Harbaugh did Monday, telling his secondary to "step up" if they want to play.
"Nobody is given anything," Harbaugh said.
He wasn't joking.
The next day, Harbaugh and General Manager Ozzie Newsome cut cornerback Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks followed a few hours later.
In place of Brown and Franks, the Ravens promoted undrafted rookie free agent Tramain Jacobs from the practice squad and claimed Danny Gorrer off waivers after he was cut by the Detroit Lions.
Gorrer played in 11 games with the Ravens,* *but was cut in 2012. At the time, the competition was much stiffer in Baltimore. The roster was bursting with starters, or future starters, in Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams, Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham.
"How times have changed," wrote WNST's Luke Jones, speaking to the thin cornerbacks corps now.
The question begs to be asked: How much of an improvement will these moves make in the secondary?
"The necessary moves made by the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday improved their secondary. It's just not a significant upgrade," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The Ravens knew their coverage wasn't going to get any better with [Franks and Brown]. It was time to cut both of those cornerbacks."
Jacobs was undrafted out of Texas A&M in May, and chose to sign with the Ravens after considering the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and New Orleans Saints. Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has given Jacobs very high praise, but just felt he needed time to develop.
"Jacobs likely won't be pushed into action right away even though the Ravens have only two other healthy cornerbacks," wrote Hensley. "Jacobs became a favorite of the coaching staff during training camp. The Ravens believe Jacobs has great upside as a cover corner. His biggest problem is reducing penalties, which were a problem in the preseason."
Gorrer, 28, has been on three teams since he left Baltimore after the 2011 season. He spent most of this season as the nickel back in Detroit this year, which has the No. 5 pass defense in the NFL. He played 174 snaps in six games, allowing 10 catches for 119 yards.
"Ravens were impressed with how Danny Gorrer played for the Lions, had him in mind as soon as he got cut Monday," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
"I'm definitely glad to be back, I'm going to go out there and give it my all and approach it as a business," Gorrer told Wilson last night. "My job is to cover the receivers and just be there and make plays for the defense. I hope to help get this team going in the right direction.
"They basically had one bad game. I'm just going to be myself and everything else will take care of itself. I just want to do my part to help the team win games."
Gorrer has graded out better than Franks in their playing time this season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Franks: 203 snaps, -3.0 overall grade
Gorrer: 174 snaps, -0.7 overall grade
"The Ravens are hoping Gorrer* *can be a better stopgap in the starting lineup until Jimmy Smith recovers from his foot injury," wrote Hensley.
When Will Jimmy Return?
As the Ravens make moves at cornerback, the question that still looms is when Smith will return.
After he sprained his foot against Cincinnati, the Ravens didn't give a clear timeline. But Hensley says it might not be too much longer.
"Smith, the Ravens' top cornerback, is expected to be sidelined for Sunday's game with a sprained foot but may have a chance to return following next week's bye," he wrote.
That would bring Smith back in time to face two high-flying quarterbacks in the Saints' Drew Brees and Chargers' Philip Rivers.
Could Reed Make Harrison-Type Comeback? Uh, No.
As Newsome was busy making moves to improve the defensive backfield, a tweet like this was bound to pop up:
"Ed Reed is still out there, Ravens. Just saying," tweeted ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg.
Fans have been clamoring for the future Hall of Famer to return ever since he was let go by the Houston Texans last year. Now, the argument is that things can't get much worse after giving up six passing touchdowns to Pittsburgh last week.
And then, after watching Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison come out of retirement and have a huge game against Baltimore, the fan buzz started up again.
Hensley brings those fans back down to earth.
"He showed last season with Houston and the New York Jets that he's not close to being the same playmaker," the ESPN reporter wrote. "There's little chance that Reed is going to make a James Harrison-type comeback."
That said, Hensley does think that Baltimore is suffering from what he calls the "Ed Reed aftereffect."
"Quarterbacks have been looking for the big play against the Ravens ever since Ed Reed stopped patrolling their secondary," he wrote. "For all of the risk-taking and freelancing that Reed did, he struck fear in quarterbacks because of his ability to pick off passes and return them for touchdowns. But there has been no second-guessing for passers these days when throwing deep against the likes of Matt Elam, Darian Stewart, Terrence Brooks or whoever else the Ravens line up in the back end."
Hensley noted that in Reed's 11 seasons, the Ravens only allowed 19 completions of 40 yards or more. In 25 games without him, the Ravens have given up 12 (the most in the NFL during that span).
Week 10 Power Rankings
The Ravens took another step back in the power rankings after the blowout loss to Pittsburgh, and in some cases they took a couple steps back.
ESPN: No. 14 (dropped one spot)
"Joe Flacco couldn't handle the Steelers' blitz. Flacco finished 12-of-23 with an interception against at least five rushers, averaging a season-low 4.0 yards per attempt, and was sacked three times."
SportingNews.com, Vinnie Iyer: No. 16 (dropped two spots)
"Terrell Suggs and the defense lost their cool in Pittsburgh, and it cost them in terms of being listless against Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers. The Ravens find themselves in a muddled middle again after having control in the AFC North."
Fox Sports, Dan Schneier: No. 16 (dropped five spots)
"The pass defense unraveled and the injury to top cornerback Jimmy Smith played a major role, but the Ravens have looked out of sync over the last two games."
ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio: No. 12 (dropped two spots)
"Two straight losses hurt. Two straight division losses can be fatal to a playoff push."
CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco: No. 17 (dropped five spots)
"The impact from the loss of corner Jimmy Smith showed up in a big way at Pittsburgh. Losing two in a row has them at the bottom of the division."
NFL.com, Elliot Harrison: No. 17 (dropped two spots)
"In the game of football, you try to stop the other guys from making catches in the end zone. If you are on the road, generally speaking, those other guys will be wearing dark or some kind of colored jerseys. Also, the goal of your pro football team is to protect your passer, so that he can throw the ball to your guys in the end zone. #fail"
SI.com, Peter King: No. 14 (dropped five spots)
"The Ravens might be out of the playoff hunt before their secondary gets healthy enough to be a force."
Schmuck: One Very Bad Night Won't Sink Playoff Hopes
While the Ravens are dropping in the power rankings after a horrific night against the Steelers, The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck warns against putting too much stock in one very, very bad night.
"That ugly loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers … was not a symptom of some irreparable flaw in the team or the organization," Schmuck wrote. "It was just another manic NFL Sunday."
The columnist pointed to the San Diego Chargers, who were atop the NFL power rankings a few weeks ago and then were crushed, 37-0, by the Miami Dolphins for their third straight loss. The Indianapolis Colts sit atop the AFC South, but were also torched by the Steelers for 51 points. The Steelers were beaten by the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs a few weeks ago, the Bucs' only win of the season.
"Call it parity if you want, but it's more complicated than that. The Ravens clearly have playoff-caliber talent," wrote Schmuck.
"The playoff equation remains a simple one, however. If the Ravens win more games than the Bengals, the Steelers and the Browns the rest of the way, they will finish — at worst — in a tie with the Steelers for first place in the AFC North. The way each team's remaining schedules lay out, that is far from out of the question."
Women Love Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith
Women in the state of Maryland love themselves some Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith.
Dick's Sporting Goods compiled a list of the leading jersey sales among women, and broke it down by state, per the graphic below.
The fact that Flacco leads women's jersey sales in Maryland was not lost on the Ravens quarterback.
- The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec: "CB issues were bound to hurt Ravens sooner or later. Allowed corners who played well for them (C.* *Williams, Graham) leave in back to back yrs. They also haven't taken a corner in first four rounds of the draft since they drafted Jimmy Smith first in 2011." [Twitter]
- "The addition of Cody could mean reduced playing time in the rotation for DeAngelo Tyson, who has struggled for most of the season," wrote Hensley.
- "Supernaw, who played 22 snaps on special teams Sunday night, is expected to head back to the practice squad after playing the last two games," wrote Hensley.
- Center Jeremy Zuttah on his personal foul Sunday night: "Three dudes were around Marshal getting in his face and they were pushing him. If the refs aren't going to protect him, I'm going to protect my guys." [The Baltimore Sun]