I’ve been monitoring Ravens Forums and Message Boards all day and one thing has become very clear to me. Ravens fans are currently freaking out. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is unrest in Ravensland. It seems to grip the franchise with a relentless fury every year at the start of free agency. Statements about how horrible Ozzie is and how the Ravens have lost it seem to dominate the majority of posts and if you didn’t know better, you might think that the Ravens front office was as bad as the Redskins, Dolphins or Bengals.
Lets put things in perspective a bit. The Ravens have lost five players (so far). Ben Grubbs (Saints), Jarrett Johnson (Chargers), Cory Redding (Colts), Haruki Nakamura (Panthers) and Tom Zbikowski (Colts). From what I can discern from interviews, the Ravens didn’t even offer Jarret Johnson, Cory Redding or Tom Zbikowski contracts. In other words, the Ravens were fully prepared to lose them and that was all part of the plan. Grubbs was offered a contract, a large one, but it has been clear for weeks that he wanted to test the market and was more than likely going to leave. This was not a surprise to anyone. Haruki Nakamura is a coaches favorite, Harbs brags on him all the time. But lets be realistic. Ruki’ was a special teamer and a warm body to plug in on defense. Nothing more.
It appears the Ravens have plans for replacing all these players. They are aggressively pursuing offensive lineman Evan Mathis and Eric Winston (and possibly a few more). Jarrett Johnson will be replaced by Paul Kruger who isn’t as good a run defender as JJ was, but he is a much much better pass rusher so it more or less levels out. Cory Redding almost lost his job in training camp last year to Art Jones. Pernell McPhee was a beast for offenses to try and defend. Those two guys are more than capable of filling those shoes and should actually produce more because they will have a bigger role in the defense. Ravens fans seem to be forgetting one major factor today. The Ravens are arguably the deepest team in the league. Their backups on defense, more often than not, would be starters for other teams.
I know it is hard to watch players you know and love walk out the door and sign elsewhere. but fret not Ravens fans, Ozzie Newsome almost never fails at his job. Don’t forget that Newsome is the best GM in the league when it comes to replacing talent. When Pro-Bowl center Jason Brown left for the Rams in 2008m Ravens fans lost their minds. Ozzie replaced him with a possible hall of famer in Matt Birk (who was resigned not half an hour ago to a three year deal). Ozzie will find a way to replace Ben Grubbs, regardless of what happens with Evan Mathis (which isn’t as bleak a situation as Ravens fans appear to believe). The Rest of the players the Ravens have lost were not that important.
Let’s take the names out of it for a second and be objective. Would you cry if the Ravens lost a player who only played 86 defensive snaps last season? Would you be upset if they lost a player who lost his starting job 4 weeks into the season to a player who is still on the roster? Would you be able to handle the Ravens losing a player that was almost useless on passing downs because he has lost a step, and had to come out of the game more often than he ever had in his career? Would you be upset if they lost a starter who only played about 60% of the snaps at his position, and whose production was almost matched by the 2 players that played the other 40% of those snaps?
The answer to all of those questions should be no. At the end of the day, that’s all the Ravens have lost on defense. A bunch of guys that were old, or situational players and a primary special teamer. That’s it. Ben Grubbs is an entirely different discussion but we all should have been prepared to see him walk anyway.
Free Agency has been open for 3 days and 31 minutes. It doesn’t close until January. The Ravens are not behind the ball just because they didn’t rush out and overpay for every name player on the market. Ozzie and co. will sit back, watch the market unfold and they will pick and choose their battles. It sucks that players were lost, but to be honest I would be much more upset if the Ravens had paid Redding, JJ, Ruki or Zibby what their new teams are paying for them. The Ravens cant afford it. why? Because there are so many pro-bowl caliber players on the roster that they cant afford to buy any more of them. That right there should mean more to Ravens fans. Ngata, Suggs, Reed, Lewis, Webb, Smith, Smith, Flacco, Rice, Yanda, Boldin and Leach aren’t going anywhere. I would be willing to bet that at least 25 teams in the NFL would trade their 12 best players, for those 12 Ravens. This is still an elite roster and losing the teams 2nd best guard isn’t going to change that. Ozzie Newsome understands that better than anyone. So take a deep breath, go grab some dinner, maybe take a nap, because the Ravens have this covered.
Tags: Art Jones Baltimore Ravens Ben Grubbs Bernard Pollard Carolina Panthers Chargers Colts Ed Reed Eric DeCosta Eric Winston Evan Mathis Haloti Ngata Haruki Nakamura Indianapolis Colts Jah Reid Jameel McClain Jarret Johnson Jimmy Smith Joe Flacco Marshal Yanda NEw Orleans Saints Ozzie Newsome Panthers Paul Kruger Pernell McPhee Ravens Ray Lewis Ray Rice Saints San Diego Chargers Smith Terrell Suggs Terrence Cody Tom Zibikowski Torrey Smith