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coldrolled
04-11-2013, 09:18 PM
Baltimore Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome making all the right moves

By Adam Schein
Columnist, NFL.com
Published: April 11, 2013 at 01:46 p.m.
Updated: April 11, 2013 at 05:22 p.m.

It's the Baltimore Ravens' world, and we're all just living in it.

That's not hyperbole, folks.

The Ravens just won a Super Bowl after a regular season during which nobody thought they were the NFL's premium team at any point. They were dominant -- and, most significantly, supremely clutch -- in the playoffs. In the ensuing offseason, they've lost two icons and a number of other signature starters. Yet somehow, Baltimore comes out smelling like a rose, looking more entrenched than ever as the ruler of the AFC North, with a legit chance to be right back in the Super Bowl hunt.

The reason the Ravens are a contender every year is that they back up a great coaching staff with the best front office in the NFL. Ozzie Newsome is the best general manager in football. He's been doing it at a high level for a long time, building teams that produce double-digit win totals, make the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl, year after year. Newsome believes in building through the draft and supplementing via free agency. It's clearly a philosophy that works. And Newsome also believes in surrounding himself with bright people and creating dialogue. Eric DeCosta has been Newsome's right-hand man for years, formerly as the stellar head of college scouting and now as the powerful assistant general manager. They work incredibly well together, forming the best 1-2 front office punch in the NFL, and bright football people/scouts want to work for them. Many teams crave a chance to make DeCosta their general manager, but he has legit power with Newsome, and owner Steve Bisciotti makes sure he's happy. Speaking of Bisciotti, he is fantastic. He's created a stable environment that's conducive to success.

Think about the challenges facing the team this offseason: The Super Bowl champs had to balance paying their franchise quarterback, jettisoning his security blanket, managing the salary cap and making tough decisions about impact players -- all while staying competitive as an elite team. Not to fret; Baltimore has a plan. The Ravens don't flinch.

In the wake of Ray Lewis' retirement, there was public pressure to bring back another future Hall of Famer, Ed Reed. He's worth the money for the Houston Texans -- they need to learn how to prepare and win in December and January -- but the 34-year-old veteran had already peaked in Baltimore. Reed will have his number retired by the Ravens one day, but it wasn't worth paying him the requisite salary-cap figure this year.

Paul Kruger played his best when it mattered most: in the playoffs. He was a true sack artist in January, putting together the single greatest stretch of his Ravens career, and he wasn't even an every-down player. The Cleveland Browns offered him a boatload of cash. Thanks for the memories and the title -- good luck in the future. Meanwhile, I believe the Ravens wanted to keep Dannell Ellerbe. I also believe they believe that the $35 million deal he got from the Miami Dolphins was insane. Cary Williams had a really strong and surprising year at corner after Lardarius Webb went down, but allowing him to walk (and sign with the Philadelphia Eagles) made sense. Webb is a really good player; there's no debating who will be better in 2013 and beyond.

Now, I loathed every angle of the trade that saw Anquan Boldin shipped to the San Francisco 49ers. He's the epitome of toughness. Joe Flacco was at his best in the playoffs when he was finding Boldin in key situations against the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and 49ers. But on the flip side, Boldin, like Reed, is an elder player. And with the money the Ravens saved from the Boldin deal and others, they got better in many areas.

After Fax-gate in Denver made Elvis Dumervil available, Baltimore jumped in with an offer that trumped what the Broncos were willing to pay him, knowing that was the only way to get it done. That's savvy. Dumervil is better than Kruger. I love the Michael Huff signing, too. The Oakland Raiders' roster has been a wasteland where talent goes to die. Ravens fans should be excited about Huff playing in their system. Rolando McClain was an abject failure on and off the field with the Raiders, but Newsome knows what his fellow Alabama product was supposed to be. They are banking on their structure.

Terrell Suggs will be healthy for a full year. Haloti Ngata is a beast. Those two -- not Reed and Lewis -- have been the best players on the Baltimore defense of late.

Lastly, Flacco rightly got rich, but his cap number for this year is team-friendly. His contract was deserved and counts as a win-win.

And this is all before the NFL draft, something Newsome and DeCosta work to perfection. They have a simple philosophy: Draft the best players available. They did it with Courtney Upshaw last year after trading out of the first round, as Upshaw was on their list of four players to draft with their initial pick. They did it when they drafted Delaware center Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round, too, knowing veteran Matt Birk wouldn't be around much longer. (Birk retired this offseason.) They did it in prior drafts with Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. Nobody runs the war room like the Ravens.

This year's draft is very subjective, but you know Baltimore is going to get a player. If they don't like their options at No. 32, I'll bet they trade out of the first round; don't be surprised if they fleece a quarterback-starved team that eschewed a signal-caller in the top 10 and is overly nervous about dealing with a run on QBs early in the second round. You know Baltimore will find a way to make an impact with the last pick of Round 1 -- precedent says so.

Look around the rest of the division, which one might think is competitive. It really isn't.

The Cincinnati Bengals have talent and good coordinators. But both head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton have a lot to prove in terms of good decision-making and good play in the playoffs.

I wrote about the Pittsburgh Steelers' mess earlier in the offseason. They are a barren, seven-win team with major issues at running back, O-line, receiver and every level of the defense. People are blinded by the proud history of this franchise, but Steelers fans should be very concerned. I'm interested in seeing if the team matches the Pats' offer to restricted-free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who is very talented and well-rounded. Bottom line: The gap between the Ravens and Steelers has never been more pronounced.

The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, are the Cleveland Browns.
Sure, you can say teams like the Broncos, Patriots and, heck, even the Texans are better on paper. Want to reference the past two postseasons? I picked against Baltimore in the playoffs every game this past season! This team just has a unique ability and a unique toughness. Baltimore has a culture, a knack that was established by Newsome, and is enforced by coach John Harbaugh and his staff.

Lewis won't be doing the squirrel dance anymore; Reed isn't walking through that door. But the championship foundation is there. Ray Rice is a star. Bernard Pierce continues to develop.

With the moves they've made this offseason, Baltimore is better off for 2013 and -- most especially -- way beyond that.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

Big T
04-11-2013, 09:43 PM
I stopped reading after "Adam Schein"... Dude has always been a Steeler hater.

NYCsteelersfan
04-11-2013, 09:50 PM
I stopped reading after "Adam Schein"... Dude has always been a Steeler hater.

His Steelers analysis is still accurate.

LatrobePA
04-11-2013, 10:24 PM
I've said it a hundred times! Ravens built their team to beat us and its worked. This offseason has been spent watching them retool while we just keep letting players walk! Tomlin doesn't play rookies so the draft doesn't excite me!

Big T
04-11-2013, 11:23 PM
Can we stop with the "Tomlin doesn't play rookies" **** please?

07: Both Timmons and Woodley were both contributors (though Woodley moreso than Timmons, Timmons still played in all 16 games and spelled Foote on some passing downs). Matt Spaeth played in 14 games, starting 5 of them, 3 TDs on the season. Sepulveda was the starting punter. William guy played in every game.

08: Mendenhall was the primary backup to a Pro Bowl running back and put on IR after his first start. Sweed was given every opportunity to show he deserved more playing time, playing in 11 games. Was Dixon supposed to get playing time over Ben? How about Mundy over Troy and Clark? Mike Humpal over anyone in that insanely good LB corps?

09: Hood got WAYYYY more playing time then he should've since Aaron Smith went on IR, playing in all 16. Craig Urbik was absolutely putrid. Mike Wallace was extremely productive as a 3rd receiver behind Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, starting 4 games and finishing with over 700 yds and 6 TDs. Keenan Lewis was awful. Even Joe Burnett played in 15 games even though most was on special teams. **** even Frank Summers was the starting FB before he went on IR for like breaking his back whiffing on a block.

10: Maurkice Pouncey day 1 starter, All-Pro in his rookie year. How much playing time was Worilds supposed to get behind Woodley and Harrison? He still played in 14 games. Emmanuel Sanders was the 3rd receiver and played on special teams. Antonio Brown was the 4th receiver and primary return man later in the year. Stevenson Sylvester was a special teams terror.

11: Cameron Heyward is one that should've seen more playing time. But they still had Aaron Smith (before being out on IR again), Brett Kiesel, and Hood who was still a recent 1st round pick. Heyward still played all 16 games. Marcus Gilbert was the starting RT and ranked as the 13th best tackle in the NFL in terms of pass protection in 2011. Curtis Brown was leapfrogged on the depth chart by Cortez Allen who, as a rookie, was tasked with guarding Rob Gronkowski one-on-one against NE and did a damn fine job.

12: David DeCastro was slated as the day one starter at RG before going down with a knee injury. He was still placed in the starting lineup once he got healthy. Mike Adams was slated to start at LT before he got hurt in the preseason. Starks took over the job and held onto it. Adams then took over the starting RT Job when Gilbert went down and gave our running game a pretty big boost. Sean Spence was on IR, Ta'amu was arrested, and Rainey was the primary return man and got decent playing time on offense.

What more do you want? Tomlin isn't going to play rookies just for the sake of playing them. Especially late round guys. This whole notion about rookies not playing under Tomlin simply isn't true.

LatrobePA
04-11-2013, 11:26 PM
Did you just say primary back up and should of while trying to convince me he starts rookies??????? Lmfao bro come on, pour the fn juice out they're serving you it's tainted!!

Big T
04-11-2013, 11:30 PM
Did you just say primary back up and should of while trying to convince me he starts rookies??????? Lmfao bro come on, pour the fn juice out they're serving you it's tainted!!

First of all, the post was about rookies playing, not necessarily starting. You said Tomlin doesnt play rookies and i posted facts disproving that notion. Secondly, was Tomlin really expected to start a rookie RB over a RB fresh off a 2 consecutive Pro Bowl years? Come on now. That's ridiculous. Apparently you want rookies to start no matter who is already in the lineup.

jdehoff83
04-12-2013, 07:31 AM
Wish steelers had money to burn like the rats do.. i still dont get how they could lose all these players then go get some pretty credible ones. I mean are they ever going to have cap problems? Or do they not have the dead money issues??

cmerrifield
04-12-2013, 07:40 AM
Wish steelers had money to burn like the rats do.. i still dont get how they could lose all these players then go get some pretty credible ones. I mean are they ever going to have cap problems? Or do they not have the dead money issues??

Their cap issues are coming starting nexr year. Flacco's deal had such a small cap hit this year, it gave them 10 extra million. Next year and the following its about double this year's and after that its about 1/5 of their cap space. Next year for them 5 players take 53 percent of the cap, or something pretty close to that.

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coldrolled
04-12-2013, 07:41 AM
I've said it a hundred times! Ravens built their team to beat us and its worked. This offseason has been spent watching them retool while we just keep letting players walk! Tomlin doesn't play rookies so the draft doesn't excite me!

The next two years tomlin will be playing a lot of new players.. he has run out of cowher players...

I hope they load Ben up with talent now or it may be a long two years, i would rather lose scoring alot of points than lose scoring under 13 points a game. We watched Cleveland play the zero offense game for years, it is ugly.

cmerrifield
04-12-2013, 08:07 AM
Here is my favorite part about the article, the Ravens have given themselves 3 years to win. After that Flacco's money takes too much of the cap to stay competitive. They have hurt their long term chances to try and win now and nobody is calling them out for that. Also, if they are so great at drafting, why didnt he mention the Kindle and Cody draft. Those guys are Superstars. This is somebody who has a column who has drank the koolaid and some of you are so frustrated with the Steelers you buy it, but then if we talk positive about the Steelers, we get called out as a homer, or koolaid drinker. There are some question marks this year, and they have made some mistakes this offseason, but guess what, they can be fixed. We are setting ourselves up to win long-term. We are under the cap next year without any restructures and can generate 15 million in cap space by cutting Troy and Ike. We pulled ourselves out of win now mode, to long term mode and that is always painful, but worth it.

steelchamp204
04-12-2013, 12:24 PM
Ozzie > Colbert, thats what it comes down to. I still dread it when he signed Leach to a contract, dude is a beast, around that time it would have been nice for the Steelers to get him, but we didnt need a fb then :evilshake:

LatrobePA
04-12-2013, 12:31 PM
Ozzie > Colbert, thats what it comes down to. I still dread it when he signed Leach to a contract, dude is a beast, around that time it would have been nice for the Steelers to get him, but we didnt need a fb then :evilshake:

Same as Doom, McClain, Huff, hell even Boldin, I'd given up a 4th for him and he only got a 6th.

Clevelandsux
04-12-2013, 09:36 PM
Schein is a douche, and a steeler hater, raven ball washer.

LevonKirkland99
04-12-2013, 11:00 PM
Did you just say primary back up and should of while trying to convince me he starts rookies??????? Lmfao bro come on, pour the fn juice out they're serving you it's tainted!!

You know BigT always defends Tomlin......I think The HC is clueless, but I hope I'm. Wrong in 2013.

FlatsSteeler
04-13-2013, 08:42 AM
You know BigT always defends Tomlin......I think The HC is clueless, but I hope I'm. Wrong in 2013.
I couldn't agree more Tomlin is clueless.....All Wind and No Rain....His game day coaching is pathetic.......

TarlsQtr
04-13-2013, 10:17 AM
I couldn't agree more Tomlin is clueless.....All Wind and No Rain....His game day coaching is pathetic.......

The same thing everyone said about Cowher until he won the SB. Realistically, if we ranked current head coaches Tomlin would come in somewhere in the area of 10-15, not one of the best but far from pathetic. (Actually, head coach ranking would be a good thread.)

I edited this to reflect ranking current head coaches. It was a little unclear to whether I meant current or all time.

connecticutsteel
04-13-2013, 10:42 AM
half of the steeler fans are clueless when are we gonna relize that the family that owns the team doesn't sign big free agents this is the same wishful thinking every goddamn year wah the ravens are better than us (not true ) we beat them with a 4000 year old quarterback and nearly won a second time with leftwich plus i know if ben doesn't get hurt we run the table and take the division from the shitbirds. as far as tomlin goes i think the rooney's know how to hire a quality coach just look at there record knoll,cowher,Tomlin 6 lombardi's but again if we don't dominate the world every season the team sucks the coaches suck the rooney's need to get a clue some fans make it sound like we are rams fans or jax fans.disgusting

Stone
04-13-2013, 02:16 PM
Now I know how the Cowher haters used to feel. I don't have much confidence in Tomlin

Stone
04-13-2013, 02:23 PM
The same thing everyone said about Cowher until he won the SB. Realistically, if we ranked current head coaches Tomlin would come in somewhere in the area of 10-15, not one of the best but far from pathetic. (Actually, head coach ranking would be a good thread.)

I edited this to reflect ranking current head coaches. It was a little unclear to whether I meant current or all time..
It's tough to evaluate Tomlin,

He had success with someone else's players/mindset....could have been him ....or not!

The Steelers image is getting slightly tarnished under him. Fact!

The Steelers play like he talks.....chest thumping and losing leads!

But he's been successful statistically................................

ice cream glove
04-13-2013, 02:24 PM
Ozzie > Colbert, thats what it comes down to. I still dread it when he signed Leach to a contract, dude is a beast, around that time it would have been nice for the Steelers to get him, but we didnt need a fb then :evilshake:

Sad but true.

ice cream glove
04-13-2013, 02:27 PM
I couldn't agree more Tomlin is clueless.....All Wind and No Rain....His game day coaching is pathetic.......

His game day coaching is among the worst in the NFL.

TarlsQtr
04-13-2013, 03:46 PM
His game day coaching is among the worst in the NFL.

Based upon what?

Tomlin is usually ranked top 10 by sportswriters, etc. Not that I put much stock in what they say but it is a far cry from "among the worst."

NFL.com-Tomlin 6 http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000157180/article/bill-belichick-tom-coughlin-sit-atop-current-nfl-coach-rankings
TSN (2012)-Tomlin 4 http://aol.sportingnews.com/nfl/story/2012-05-24/nfl-coach-ranking-tom-coughlin-bill-belichick-mike-mccarthy-mike-tomlin

I think both rank Tomlin too high but it seems unlikely that they are THAT far off and you are correct.

jdehoff83
04-13-2013, 05:12 PM
Their cap issues are coming starting nexr year. Flacco's deal had such a small cap hit this year, it gave them 10 extra million. Next year and the following its about double this year's and after that its about 1/5 of their cap space. Next year for them 5 players take 53 percent of the cap, or something pretty close to that.

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Thanks for reply