Late For Work 8/7: Why Ravens Are Envy Of So Many NFL Teams


Why Ravens Are Envy Of So Many NFL Teams

Want to know why so many NFL teams envy the Ravens?

It's the "four pillars" of the organization.

  • Steve Bisciotti
  • Ozzie Newsome
  • John Harbaugh
  • Joe Flacco

The stability of those four talented figures, at four critically important positions, is what in large part makes the Ravens a consistently winning organization. That's how and Sports Illustrated scribe Peter King sees it.

"How does a team remain good for the long term?" he asked. "The Ravens have undergone a massive makeover since their Super Bowl win in February 2013 but have stayed solid where it matters most—with an owner, GM, coach and QB all committed to the same goal and on the same page."

King, who continues his glowing commentary on the Ravens this offseason, was at the Under Armour Performance Center watching practice last week and he couldn't help but notice how strikingly different the personnel looked from just two seasons ago.

There are newcomers playing key roles all over the field with receiver Breshad Perriman catching passes instead of Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Maxx Williams and Crockett Gilmore are manning the tight end position with Dennis Pitta on the sidelines.* *Defensive tackle Carl Davis is looking like the steal of the Ravens' draft. Newcomers Kyle Arrington and Kendrick Lewis are patrolling the defensive backfield in place of the great Ed Reed. And C.J. Mosley has taken over for legendary Ray Lewis in the middle.

A whopping 17 of 22 starters of that Super Bowl XLVII-winning team are gone.

That means of the 90 men on the roster today, only five starters lifted the Lombardi trophy two-and-half years ago:  Flacco, guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw.

Newsome tried to be humble, telling King that the Super Bowl opponent that year has had a lot of turnover, too.

"True," wrote King. "But not as much—the Niners have seven of 22 starters from the Super Bowl in training camp this summer.

"And there's one other big difference: The Ravens are in position to contend for the Super Bowl. The Niners will be hard-pressed to make the Super Bowl this year. San Francisco is a great example of a very good team hitting a bump in the road and struggling to keep the car out of the shop."

And then King revealed his vision for the Ravens.

"This is year eight of a run that just might have five or six prime seasons left," he wrote. "That's what's so special about what this franchise has built."

Yup, he said it.* *Five or six prime seasons ahead.

He said it despite losing defensive leader Haloti Ngata and pass-rushing monster Pernell McPhee this offseason. Along with Lewis, Reed, Smith and Boldin, there are also key pieces of that championships squad who have moved on. Arthur Jones, Corey Graham and Dannell Ellerbe are all gone, gone, gone.

The Ravens aren't afraid to say goodbye because of their "four pillars."

King says 1) an owner that empowers, 2) a GM that can navigate turnover, 3) a coach that can command a room and 4) a quarterback in his mid-prime and stays healthy, are the four common factors in any consistently good team.

"But there's something else," King wrote. "It's something important, and it has torn asunder relationships on teams that looked to have the four important men at the top. It's about staying in your lane. One major factor on teams that have a strong coach and quarterback and have remained good for a long time is that people take care of what's asked of them and don't worry about other people's responsibilities."

Steelers fans gave King a lot of heat when he compared Harbaugh to Chuck Knoll, who won four Super Bowls in Pittsburgh and coached the team for 23 years.

"I cannot say that Harbaugh will be in Baltimore for 23 years," King wrote. "But I can say that he stays in his lane. I have seen him doing so—and I have seen others in Baltimore stay in their lanes when Harbaugh gets bull-headed about something that he feels is important. And ultimately, they all get along well—and seem to genuinely like each other."

Ravens Hold Off On Signing CB Chris Cook

After being released by the San Francisco 49ers Wednesday, the Ravens brought in free-agent cornerback Chris Cook for a visit and physical, according to The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.

But Baltimore doesn't have immediate plans to sign the five-year veteran, per the report, because he is still rehabbing a hamstring tear that limited him to just six games last season.

During the offseason, Newsome promised to never to allow his team to be put in the same position as last season when the secondary was decimated by injuries. So even though Newsome already brought in Arrington and Cassius Vaughn, and it looks like the Ravens GM is still scouring the market to build depth.

"Cook could be an option later this summer if he proves that he's 100 percent healthy," wrote Zrebiec.

Cook was a 2010 second-round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings. He has the size that you like in a corner at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, but he has yet to be able to capitalize on his build with a scant 29 starts over five years.

Pollard Would Like To Re-Join Ravens

Former Ravens Super Bowl-winning safety Bernard Pollard joked that he feels like the league is treating him like an 80 year old.

He landed on injured reserve last year for the first time in his career after rupturing his Achilles tendon. And while he is a nine-year veteran, he is only 30 years old and says he's 100 percent healthy.

After being cut by the Tennessee Titans in March, Pollard is still waiting to be picked up by another team. Would he ever consider re-joining the Ravens, especially after depth at safety was hurt when Matt Elam suffered a season-ending biceps tear?

"[The Ravens] have to make that decision, but for me, this is a place where I had so much fun," Pollard told Glenn Clark Radio. "I was blessed to be able to win a Super Bowl with that organization and great teammates. And I know that that team is not far off. I would be more than willing to return and help. I want another ring. I could play a good three or four years.

"I want another Super Bowl championship and I know Baltimore has all the pieces that can make it happen. I know I could be another piece of the puzzle that can help bring that there."

The Ravens seem set with starters Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill, and Pollard has been a starter his whole career. Asked whether he could accept being a role player, Pollard didn't say "no," but he felt his play would eventually force him into a starting role sooner or later.

When Pollard left the team, rumors swirled about ending his relationship with Harbaugh on a sour note. He didn't exactly deny the rumors, and admitted that if he were to return to the Ravens, he and Harbaugh would probably need to have a chat.

"Coach and I will talk," Pollard said with an interesting laugh. "It was some things that a lot of people made it bigger than what it was, but obviously him and I will have a conversation. There's no ill-will for me towards him. I hope there is none from him to me. I wouldn't come back there to try to rehash anything. I'm not there to try to run anybody. I'm there – I want another Super Bowl ring.

"I say just talk it out as men. If there's a problem, I'll tell you. Or if there is a problem, I would want him to tell me. So talk it [out] as two grown men, and then let's go out there and play football."

Commercial Highlights Urschel's Genius And Funny Side

How does Ravens guard John Urschel, a published mathematician, stack up against the average 23-year-old male?

Well, this hilariously scripted video from Mashable's The Watercooler, starkly points out the differences.

And in case you were wondering, despite the similar hair and lack of accomplishments, the underachieving white guy in the video is NOT my colleague Ryan Mink. At least, that's what he says.

Ray Lewis Starts #ShowMeYourRay

He's been retired for two seasons, but Ray Lewis still looks the part of a starting NFL linebacker. He tweeted a picture of himself doing 15 reps of crazy-man weight.

And he wants you to tweet pictures of you looking like him with the hashtag #ShowMeYourRay.

"I have to say, I really don't want to do that, especially if it's being compared to Ray holding two 125-lb dumbbells," wrote Russell Street Report's Tyler Lombardi.

Mmm, good point.

But it's a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle, so keep it up Ray Ray.

Quick Hits

Who's hot … who's not? "HOT: Look out for Quinton Pointer. He's played better than Asa Jackson who has struggled often during camp. Pointer had two picks yesterday," wrote Tony Lombardi. "DeAndre Carter made some nice catches on short to intermediate throws, successfully toe-tapping the sidelines … Will Hill was a beast in coverage, defending 3 consecutive red zone throws by Flacco. He had 5 total passes defensed during the session … Brent Urban was menacing, batting balls (2) and pressuring the quarterback … Joe Flacco looks strong, confident and accurate. NOT: Asa Jackson's technique is sloppy. He is too physically talented to be playing so poorly … Arthur Brown was beaten badly by Justin Forsett on a wheel route. His coverage skills look shaky." [Russell Street Report]

*Pass rush firing: *"With Elvis Dumervil back to full health, the Ravens pass rush was monstrous Thursday," wrote Jon Meoli and Zrebiec. "An offensive line missing starting guard Kelechi Osemele and, at times, right tackle Rick Wagner, couldn't handle the outside speed in 11-on-11 drills. Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw, and Dumervil all got pressure. Harbaugh was very happy with their performance." [The Baltimore Sun]

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