Tedy Bruschi: Ravens, Not Patriots, Have NFL's Top Roster
Having the NFL's third-best roster isn't too shabby.
But the top spot is even better.
After Pro Football Focus and ESPN combined forces to rank all 32 team rosters and placed the Ravens at No. 3, ESPN analyst and former AFC rival Tedy Bruschi was asked for his reaction.
The retired New England Patriot says Baltimore isn't No. 3 … it's the best. Oh, and in the process, he gave quarterback Joe Flacco an awesome new nickname …
"In terms of talent, the No. 1 roster, I'm gonna go to Baltimore," Bruschi says in the video below. "You have a quarterback, I call him 'Flip Switch' in Joe Flacco. I mean, he can flip the switch whenever he wants when he gets to the playoffs."
"Flip Switch" Joe Flacco, I like it. I like it a lot (Jimmy Carrey voice). It gives some variety from two other great nicknames in "January Joe" and "Joe Cool."
Flacco seems to be two different players in the regular season and in the postseason. He's never been ranked among the top 10 passing leaders in terms of yards in the regular season, but he almost always gets his team to the playoffs and then he goes off. His historic 11 touchdowns to 0 interceptions during the Ravens' Super Bowl run is a prime example.
But Flacco isn't Bruschi's main reason for picking the Ravens as the league's top talent. Despite making a living on defense, the former Pro Bowl linebacker believes the offensive line is the most important unit there is in the NFL, and the Ravens have one of the best in the business.
"I'm really combining a great offensive line with a good defensive front seven," Bruschi said. "I think that is a huge aspect in having rosters and building it."
Then Bruschi literally ran out of breath rattling off all the other aspects of the roster that he could name off the top of his head.
"Steve Smith brings the toughness, you've got the solid offensive line, Rick Wagner's a young player, they've got Brandon Williams, they've got Timmy Jernigan on the defensive line, can really have a great year, that would really help the loss of Ngata, the linebackers are great," he said.
His conclusion: "I like the Ravens roster."
After the Ravens, Bruschi's top 5 NFL rosters were the Packers, Seahawks, Cowboys and Broncos.
You'll notice that the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots were not on the list. Not only are they the champs, but they drafted Bruschi way back in 1996, and he spent his entire 13-year career there. He's loved in New England similarly to the way Baltimore loves Ray Lewis.
So why not put the Pats in his top 5?
"In recent memory, I haven't seen a world champion with this much turnaround. What they did on defense with [cornerbacks Darrelle] Revis and [Brandon] Browner, and all the concepts and jams at the line of scrimmage and the flexibility that Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia had, it's gone. They're going to have a concept change. I think there may be some September panic very similar in the Patriots fans that there was last year."
So Baltimore has the best roster and you expect panic in New England.
Ravens fans will like the sound of that.
Would Ravens Sign Evan Mathis?
Three years ago, the Ravens had free-agent guard Evan Mathis in for a visit and reportedly tried to sign him to a long-term deal.
But Mathis left Baltimore without a contract, and a short while later the Philadelphia Eagles announced that they signed him to a five-year deal reportedly worth $25.5 million.
Well, there's a new sheriff in town and his name is Head Coach Chip Kelly. Kelly has conducted one of the more aggressive NFL offseasons in recent memory, and he continued that trend by cutting one of the league’s best guards Thursday.
Mathis was the No. 1 ranked guard by PFF from 2011-2013 (he was topped by Marshal Yanda last year), but the two sides haven't come to an agreement on a contract restructure. The Eagles said they've been trying to trade Mathis for the past two years, but no other NFL team made an offer. So, they finally parted ways.
Thanks for the memories Philly. — Evan Mathis (@EvanMathis69) June 11, 2015
Given Mathis' success on the field and the Ravens' interest in him three years ago, some Ravens fans were quick to suggest Baltimore should make another run at him.
Let's set expectations early, OG Marco.
While Mathis is a great talent, Baltimore isn't mentioned among the possible landing destinations by NFL.com, CBS Sports or ESPN.
That has something to do with two names: Kelechi Osemele and Yanda. The two are both under contract for 2015 and they combine to make one of the best guard tandems in the league. Mathis wouldn't bump Yanda from his starting spot, and Osemele is waaaaaaaaay cheaper because he is still playing on his rookie contract.
The Ravens are already trying to extend the two, and if they don't get it done, they will have an interesting negotiating period next offseason.
5 Under-The-Radar Ravens
It's bound to happen.
Somebody is going to come out of nowhere and surprise the world with their contributions in 2015. See Justin Forsett, Rick Wagner, C.J. Mosley, Timmy Jernigan and Pernell McPhee from last year.
Russell Street Report named five possible Ravens candidates who could do the same this season but are flying on the radar. The website adds some lofty expectations for each:
5) Brandon Williams
Expectation in 2015: 40 Total Tackles, 2 FF, 3.5 sacks. Run-stuffing machine.
4) Crockett Gillmore
Expectation in 2015: Starter. 48 catches, 540 yards, 7 TDs. Gilmore will make his presence felt in the red zone.
3) Courtney Upshaw
Expectation in 2015: 16 games played, 50 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT, 1 FF. Progresses into a legitimate pass-rusher.
2) Will Hill
Expectation in 2015: 60 total tackles, 4 INT, 3 sacks, 2 FF, 8 passes defensed, 2 TD. Pro-Bowl invite (But hopefully he won't be playing)
1) Kamar Aiken:
Expectation in 2015: 62 receptions, 715 yards, 8 TDs