Lions Squash Tampering Speculation Against Ravens
Less than 24 hours after Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti made "seemingly harmless comments" to PSL ticket holders about the possibility of reuniting with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, the Detroit Lions "squashed" speculation about potential tampering chargers, says WNST's Luke Jones.
Bisciotti told season ticket holders on a conference call Wednesday night that he wouldn't rule out a return of Ngata after he was traded to the Lions because the five-time Pro Bowler could be a free agent next offseason.
Media headlines quickly emerged about the Lions potentially filing tampering charges against Bisciotti and the Ravens. The NFL's anti-tampering policy states that teams can't make any statement of interest about another team's player to his representative or to a member of the media.
Per ESPN, Bisciotti believed he was talking only to fans and the forum moderator, and his intention was to explain to the fan base that there was no animosity after Ngata turned down the Ravens' contract extension offer.
The Lions decided not to file tampering charges, and released the following team statement:
"The Ravens have reached out to us concerning the comments made yesterday by Steve Bisciotti regarding Haloti Ngata. We appreciate both the Ravens' professionalism and the context in which Mr. Bisciotti's statements were made.
"We consider the matter to be a non-issue."
Harbaugh Ranked As One Of Most Aggressive Coaches
With Head Coach John Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman teaming up, don't expect the Ravens offense to come off the field very often in fourth-and-short situations next season.
That's because the two men were ranked as some of the most aggressive head coaches in the NFL last year, according to Football Outsiders' annual Aggressiveness Rankings. The site's goal is to quantify just how often teams "go for it," and Harbaugh was high on the list as the fourth most aggressive coach in the league.
Trestman was even more aggressive than Harbaugh with his Chicago Bears last season, coming in at No. 2 only behind New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. Is it a coincidence that Harbaugh's former offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell, was No. 3 on the list during his first year as the Lions head coach?
"All you had to do was watch John Harbaugh's decision-making to know that he loves leaving the offense on the field in fourth-and-short, and all you had to do was follow me on Twitter to know how much I enjoy that," wrote The Sun's Jon Meoli.
Below are the top 5 coaches last year, along with their aggressiveness index:
1) Sean Payton: 2.01
2) Marc Trestman: 1.8
3) Jim Caldwell: 1.6
4) John Harbaugh: 1.31
5) Ken Whisenhunt: 1.3
Harbaugh's 1.31 aggressiveness index means he was 30 percent more aggressive than the average coach. Trestman was 80 percent more aggressive. Last season, the Ravens went for it 11 times in 97 qualifying opportunities, an 11.3-percent attempt rate.
A qualifying situation is on fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2, and fourth downs between the opponent's 31- and 37-yard line. It is not factored into the equation when a team is trailing and goes for it out of necessity.
"With the Ravens' offensive line, a quarterback sneak weapon like Flacco, and whatever the Ravens end up having at running back behind Justin Forsett, I can't imagine there will be many fourth-and-shorts that won't look appetizing to Harbaugh and Trestman," wrote Meoli.
"That's certainly not a bad thing."
Schein: Ravens in Super Bowl 50? Do Your (Draft) Thing, Ozzie
One of the few analysts who thought the Ravens could be a legitimate threat in the playoffs last season was NFL Media's Adam Schein.
He proved to be correct as the Ravens took down the favored Pittsburgh Steelers, and then gave the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots their biggest scare in the divisional round. Before the game, Schein said " is New England's worst nightmare." All Flacco did was throw four touchdowns and gave his team two 14-point leads, only for the defense to surrender them to Tom Brady.
Now, Schein is pumping the Ravens again. Yes, already in April.
"Some see the calendar flipping to April as a real sign of spring. Flowers bloom. The sun shines. Life is good," Schein wrote. "That's nice. In the NFL world, the advent of April means it's Ozzie time.
"Don't be fooled by veteran defections. Baltimore is one of the few AFC teams poised to make a run at Super Bowl 50. Do not sleep on Ozzie and his Ravens."
Geez, a Super Bowl prediction already? That's bold.
But Schein isn't making the prediction based on the Ravens roster as it looks now. He's basing it on Newsome's ability to put together a successful team by the time the season starts, and Harbaugh's culture of winning.
"While 'offseason winners' annually dominate the headlines in March, when free agency owns the day, the Baltimore Ravens operate on a different timetable," he wrote. "General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Assistant GM Eric DeCosta, Head Coach John Harbaugh and the rest of this brilliant staff establish a consistent culture of winning by owning the NFL draft. Their collective scouting savvy – and clear-eyed decision-making – shapes good teams into great ones.
"It's truly a work of art."
Schein listed wide receiver Torrey Smith and pass rusher Pernell McPhee as two players that should be considered biggest free-agency risks. And he believes that Ngata's best days are behind him, stating it was smart to get two draft picks out of him after already drafting his replacements in Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams.
What about wide receiver and pass rusher replacements?
"Whaddya know, two of the deepest talent pools in the 2015 NFL Draft are wide receiver and pass rusher," Schein wrote. "Baltimore will draft Smith's replacement – in fact, I expect Ozzie to double-dip at receiver – and find some pass-rush help to atone for the loss of McPhee. With Dennis Pitta's status still up in the air, the Ravens will grab a tight end. … Simply put, they'll crush it. And by next month, you should be looking at the Ravens as serious title contenders.
"The Ravens' continual success isn't luck. It's the residue of amazing design. It's the wizardry of Oz."
Schaub Is NFL's 10th-Most Expensive Backup QB
Matt Schaub is the league's 10th-most expensive backup quarterback in the league, with a $2 million base salary and $1 million in incentives, according to Hensley.
That's the highest-paid Ravens backup since Marc Bulger reportedly received $3.8 million in 2010.
Below are the top-10 paid backup quarterbacks in 2015, per Hensley:
Mark Sanchez (Eagles): $4.5 million
Chase Daniel (Chiefs): $3.75 million
Chad Henne (Jaguars): $3.5 million
Shaun Hill (Vikings): $3.2 million
Matt Hasselbeck (Colts): $3 million
Ryan Mallett (Texans): $2.5 million
Drew Stanton (Cardinals): $2.45 million
Charlie Whitehurst (Titans): $2.25 million
Christian Ponder (Raiders): $2.25 million
Matt Schaub (Ravens): $2 million