Feb 22, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome speaks at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
While a lot of fans of various NFL teams suffer from questionable draft choices, bad contracts, and awful coaching hires year after year, the Baltimore Ravens faithful really have it made. Steady ownership and great coaching is part of their continued success, of course, but one of the biggest catalysts of the team’s annual contention lies in their star GM – Ozzie Newsome.
It’s why Ravens fans love the term “In Ozzie We Trust.” They most certainly don’t always agree with the moves he makes (especially in the offseason), but they take solace in the fact that the man knows what he is doing. And his system works, year after year. The Ravens might take a temporary step back every now and then (2013, for example), but they always bounce back.
It’s that kind of leadership that makes Ozzie Newsome one of the NFL’s best general managers, and he has been recognized as such by Rotoworld in their annual “NFL’s Best GMs” column. For the second straight year Ozzie has been named as the second best GM in the NFL, behind only Bill Belichick. So I guess you could say that he is really the best, since Belichick’s job title is head coach (technicalities, I know).
Patrick Daugherty’s logic is pretty sound in his selection.
"When the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens missed the playoffs in 2013, it wasn’t Newsome’s failure, but an unfortunate byproduct of his plan. Newsome refused to sacrifice his team’s future for a one-year reload, so the band was broken up. Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin and Paul Kruger were parted with, and the short-term consequence was an 8-8 season for a team that averaged 11 wins between 2008-13. But like Belichick, Newsome isn’t interested in the short term. He takes the long view, a view that meant it didn’t take long to get back to the playoffs. In 2013, Newsome inflicted pain on his roster. In 2014, he went 10-6, coming within two games of the Super Bowl. That’s the norm for a franchise that’s won a playoff game in six of the past seven years, and waved goodbye to no shortage of stars whilst nevertheless remaining amongst the league’s elite. Newsome is at it again in 2015, letting Pernell McPhee and Torrey Smith walk for contracts that can only be described as “questionable.” Maybe it will hurt his team for one season. More than likely, it will help keep it near the top for 2-3."
Hard to argue with that. Ozzie’s biggest flaw, perhaps, is his inability to uncover wide receiver talent. Which is exactly the same problem that Belichick has. For all the amazing defensive talent both have uncovered in later rounds of the draft over the years, neither has much of an eye for pass catchers. Alas, it’s a futile bone to pick since they do so much right.
Another notable characteristic about Ozzie Newsome is that he doesn’t hand out bad contracts. People may whine about Joe Flacco’s deal, sure, but it was never meant to last the duration. Even other star GM’s like Seattle’s John Schneider have made horrible mistakes like handing Matt Flynn $10 million and giving up a first round pick and $14.5 million guaranteed for Percy Harvin.
So it’s hard to argue with Ozzie’s rightful place at the top of the NFL’s GM list. Until the day he decides to retire, he will likely stay there. Not only because he is a smart man with an eye for talent, but because he remains stubbornly dedicated to his system. A system that frustrates fans at times, but it works, year after year.
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