Joe Flacco, The Offensive Line And Salary Cap Issues
Sports Fan Insider
Vinny & Rob show, LIVE from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, are joined by Greg Cossell of NFL Films. He sits down with the guys to discuss what the Ravens have and what they need moving forward to next year.
The first topic, one that’s been on everyones mind as of late, is the re-signing of Joe Flacco. Flacco’s representative will be meeting with the Ravens’ management to discuss the contract this weekend at the NFL Combine. Cossell says right off the bat that he’s “been a Joe Flacco fan for a long time.” He also knows that Vinny hasn’t always been his no.1 fan due to some inconsistencies at times, which they joke that Cam Cameron WAS the inconsistency. Cossell goes on to say that Flacco has the “strongest arm in the NFL and he’s willing to make difficult throws.” He gives Joe a lot of credit since his receivers aren’t always doing the work to get open. He has to throw the ball in tight windows and players like Boldin have the ability to make the difficult catches in traffic.
Vinny then brings up the fact that, through the late season and into the playoffs, Flacco “showed some ability to stretch a play and move around in the pocket.” Cossell called it “functional mobility.” He explained that to mean Flacco isn’t exactly a runner or one that people should even worry about taking off on an RG3 style sprint down the field but he can move, when he does feel the pressure, and get out of the pocket, roll out and still make throws and plays downfield.
The one thing that signing Flacco to a long term deal means is that they have needs on the offensive line to make sure their investment is protected. Especially now with the announcement of Birk’s retirement. Now, Center and LT need to be addressed pre-draft.
First on the block is Bryant McKinnie. Cossell calls him a “talent issue and a money issue.” He’s not getting any younger, he has had weight issues almost every year. Granted he is an All-Pro LT, but it’s really going to come down to a question of money with him. Otherwise they’re going to have to find someone else to fill in that position in the draft. Michael Oher doesn’t appear to be a viable replacement.
Vinny claims Michael Oher “has no punch.” Cossell backs him up, saying that “for some reason when he plays LT I feel like his kick-slide is slow. I think it’s quicker on the right side.” Cossell also feels like in the summer if you go into training camp and practice and declare him as the LT again that that would be a big mistake on the Ravens part. He’s obviously more valuable on the right side, since Osemele doesn’t think he can play Tackle.
Kelechi Osemele was a great performer this past year. He played many games at Tackle but really came into his own at the Right Guard position. Vinny and Cossell both agree he has great feet, yes he was a former LT in college, but he’s ideally a guard. And at 330 lbs he has potential for a Pro-Bowl Guard at that.
The big questions start with who can the Ravens afford to let go.
Vinny asks “Cap-wise, can they get by getting rid of Vonta Leach?” Cossell responds simply “Yes.” The offense has developed and morphed into a “a very effective one back three wide offense. That’s where they had their most success down the stretch.”
Jacoby Jones is the next topic of conversation. He has always been a number 3 receiver. He’s always returned punt and kickoffs for touchdowns. He’s just done those things in bigger games than he has in the past. Houston wanted him to step up into the no. 2 Wide Receiver spot, he couldn’t and that’s why he fits in so well in Baltimore. They don’t need him at 2, they like him right where he is at no. 3. The big play ability may be deceiving to some fans, Cossell explains, people think he’s a bigger part of the team because he made such big plays in the spotlight.
When asked to rank Ed Reed, Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, in terms of importance to the Ravens as a team. Cossell says no.1 is Ellerbe. 2 is Kruger and Ed Reed has to be no.3. He explains that he’s not in the locker room and sure he’s a future hall-of-famer, there is no doubt. But what value does he provide the team on a daily basis is the real question. How much moral boost does he provide the team? How much can he continue to perform at a high level? These are all questions that Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens staff will have to have answered.
The guys also discuss Suggs and Ngata. They both had injuries and played through them. Cossell talks about them being less effective this past season and not up to par with their performance in previous years. Whether or not that slip in performance is due to the injuries they suffered or not, the Ravens will need them back in peak performance next year, on a defense sans no. 52, Ray Lewis.