When will we see No. 8 back on the field and how will the offensive coordinator find ways to win playoff games with a set of skill position players that are unproven? Luke Jones tackles the Baltimore Ravens for Christmas.
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Luke Jones, Dennis Koulatsos
Dennis Koulatsos 00:02
Welcome back. My next guest is our very own Luke Jones here Baltimore positive wn S T and all that great stuff Luke, welcome in. Dennis How are you my friend? Merry Christmas Happy Holidays. Thank you my friend. I’m fantastic. Merry Christmas to you and your family and happy holidays as well. North no shortage of storylines to talk about at least parts particularly when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens right? There’s some good stuff. Pro Bowl players, six of them, I believe. But the injuries continue to mount Devin do are they now up for the season, ravens were able to snag one Sammy Watkins off the the free agency, their roster. So tough press conferences for John hardball. Greg Robin and company fan base up in arms, you would think this team is five and nine right now Luke versus nine and five? No question I was just going to say to you, you have to keep reminding yourself, they’re nine and five. And they’re going to make the playoffs. They have what 10 different scenarios this week. And keep in mind, there’s two more weeks after that. So they’re going to be in the playoffs. There are still things to like about this football team. However, I think it also would be disingenuous to ignore some very real concerns about this football team and where they’re going. And, you know, starting with the fact that, you know, there was national reports at the start of the week of optimism with Lamar Jackson,
Luke Jones 01:22
you know, targeting this week to return and unless we see him practicing extremely late in the week, which then you start to question, are you going to put them out there after only a practice or only a walkthrough? No. It’s looking like he’s going to miss another game, which I think is fine in the sense of you want to be careful. But when you start hearing reporting, suggesting he’s coming back, okay, is it gamesmanship from the team? Very well possible, but wouldn’t be the first time John Harbaugh or others in the organization have done such a thing? But you also wonder, is everyone on the same page in terms of return timetable, we’ve talked about it with Lamar Jackson, and I wrote at Baltimore positive.com, the week of the injury that it serves no one’s best interest for him to rush back, just knowing what his game is all about the business aspects of this for either side, quite frankly, where you need to look at this. And if anything, err on the side of caution, and because of what I just said, they have scenarios they can clinch this week. They can clinch, you know, even if they don’t this week, they can clinch next week. And certainly they had the final week a team battle with Cincinnati, which you know, you’re hoping is for the AFC North championship. But you still need to be smart, smart here in a big picture sense not just for the rest of the season, but certainly for Lamar Jackson moving forward. So now it just it begs more questions. I think the first couple weeks him missing everyone expected. Now you’re into that territory? Of course. Okay, what’s the deal? Was it this week? Is it next week? Is this injury more than the Ravens have LED on? My goodness wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done that. Right. So So you just you start to ask a few questions. You don’t want to be too cynical about it. But I think some healthy skepticism is understandable in that sense. And in the meantime, you’re trying to get right on offense, you know, you feel pretty good about the defense. I mean, came up 13 points last week, you know, wasn’t wasn’t their best showing from a run defense standpoint, but they gave up 13 points that’s good enough to win, or it should be good enough to win. So you expect Justin Tucker to bounce back? I don’t I don’t think anyone’s too concerned about that. But you look at the offense. And as you mentioned this latest injury to Devin DuVernay, which I know, he we’ve even mentioned hadn’t looked right for a few weeks, whether he had a foot issue before or not. I don’t know. You know, I asked Chris Horton on Wednesday, what happened because we saw during the viewing portion of practice as local reporters out there, he wasn’t doing much. But I’d be lying if I if I saw anything happened to him. So I didn’t know if it was something lingering from the game or he heard it before we were out there or whatever. But he’s one of those guys you pointed to in terms of trying to think about this thing from an upside standpoint, right? You know, if this offense gets right, if it’s going to be explosive, if it’s going to be able to make some hay and, and, and make a run in January. I think we all assume Devin DuVernay would have something to do with that, you know, in terms of his versatility in running the ball and things of that nature. And and now that’s out the window. So, as you mentioned, you bring in Sammy Watkins, which I think most of it was just a product of overall frustration. But you’re not going to do better than Sammy Watkins at this point, assuming Odell Beckham was not healthy. And I think that’s the assumption everyone is making at this point, or he’d already be a Dallas Cowboy. The way the way that Jerry Jones talked about this thing six weeks ago. So if it’s not Beckham, Watkins knows the offense. He made a handful of plays for them last year. I kind of put them into the Deshaun Jackson category. Could he Flash and make a play for you at some point. Sure, why not? Do I think he’s going to move the needle in any meaningful way? No, because just like to Sean Jackson, even though he’s not as old durability concerns, but at the same time, He knows your system, he can be brought up to speed more quickly. Is he better than some of the incumbent wide receivers they have? Well, it’s an extremely low bar, but I’d say yes, so I wasn’t anti that move. I don’t think it has any downside. I just don’t think it has much upside to it either. But the ravens are desperate. Dennis we talked about throughout the offseason, the wide receiver position and after Marquis Brown was traded, we kept kind of asking is that it? Is that it? Is that it really? Well, here we are now with Bateman done for the year and now Devin DuVernay done for the year, I guess there was some small chance that the Ravens would make it all the way to the Super Bowl that maybe he could be in play to play them. But I think we just you kind of have to recognize where they are and hope for the best. And I think in the meantime, you put aside the concerns about the passing game that are going to persist even when Lamar Jackson comes back. But you look at your opponent, much like last week. This is an Atlanta defense that struggles to stop the run. But unlike last week, you’d like to see the Ravens run, run the ball, run some more, until you absolutely force Atlanta to stop it and make you pass. So they the ravens, They didn’t abandon the run entirely last week, but they certainly could have run more. I think that’s even the kindest way of putting it, especially looking at that drive with 11 minutes to go in the fourth quarter where ravens came at came out and just through and through and through some more, but you got to run the ball. And I think an extra, you know, a late week development that’s worth monitoring here. Tyler Huntley showed up on the injury report on Wednesday with a shoulder issue limited. I’m at this point, I’m not necessarily suggesting he’s in danger of missing the game. But you now have a quarterback who wasn’t exactly playing at a very high level, who threw 30 times, yards per attempt was extremely low, much lower than their yards per carry running the ball. You got to go out and run the ball make deep, a DNPS defense who Yeah, he might have a little bit of a better idea of how to slow this. So you go back to when he was Tennessee’s defensive coordinator, but you’ve got to force the Falcons to stop the run on Saturday because this is not a very good football team that they’re playing. They’re starting a rookie quarterback. I mean, Desmond Ritter, he’s got he’s got some skills. You know, the, if you watch the game last week, he’s got a good arm. I don’t think he knows where it’s going at this point. And he’s making a second NFL star. You know, this is a game that two months ago, if we were talking about this, and this set of circumstances, I would say this is the game I feel like the Ravens should win by three touchdowns. But considering the current state of affairs, certainly not anticipating that, but it’s a game they have to win. I mean, if you don’t win this game, boy, all the whether you’re talking about Tyus Bowser on Instagram or, you know, different questions during press conferences, the players and coaches trying to say the right things, but not exactly knowing if they’re, if you really believe what they’re saying. All heck breaks loose if they lose this game on Saturday, and then you’re talking about Steelers coming to town, and then go into Cincinnati. That’s when things really start to tighten up in terms of looking at those playoff scenarios and saying okay, still need to get in and need to get Lamar back, but you need to qualify. So it’s just a lot there. There’s a lot going on right now that again, going back to what we said at the beginning, they’re nine and five. All is not lost the season is not over even if you’re not overly confident that it’s going to be a deep playoff run or anything of that nature. But they need to write themselves and coming out there Saturday, running the ball at a high level in the way that they have the last couple of weeks and playing really good defense. That should be enough and get the win. Get out of there. Enjoy your holiday and then come back next week and hope that Lamar Jackson at that point has ready to go with the Steelers coming to town.
Dennis Koulatsos 09:20
Well, this is almost shades of last year Luke when they were eight and three Lamar Jackson goes down with with an ankle injury he’d week to week and we didn’t realize that week was going to be a season ending injury. So to me any information coming out of the castle doesn’t hold a lot of water at this point. He’s been week to week and we don’t know this again. Once again, it’s a season ending injury for him. But even with him in the offense loop as constructed particularly with Rashad Bateman out and Devin DuVernay out this offense the this team is built to win close games. The problem with that is when you’re playing And bad teams like the Broncos, the Jaguars and now the Falcons. It allows them the browns, it allows them to hang around. And when these teams get a lead on you like like the browns, it makes it very difficult to come back with this offense as constructed.
Luke Jones 10:14
Yeah, no question about it. I think that’s why, as we kind of talked, and we probably didn’t emphasize it in our discussion last week, but I feel what similar about this game is, he got to start fast. And that’s in terms of I don’t mean you jump out to a 20 to nothing lead. Unless the Falcons are really bad on Saturday, and we see a Ravens offensive. Frankly, we haven’t seen in at least a month and a half if not way longer than that. They’re not going to do that, but at least get an early lead. I think the last thing you want to happen is you know algae or pops or long run or Desmond Ritter finds Drake London downfield and Brandon Stevens busts the coverage or something I don’t want to pick on Brandon Stevens, but he is going to be filling in for Marcus Peters. And that’s notable even if it’s not exactly an explosive, Atlanta passing game, to say the least. But there are a team that’s built to just like the browns, if you give them an opportunity to grab a lead. They don’t lean into that. And we saw that with Cleveland. I mean, Dayton Deshaun Watson, it’s not as though he was that good. He made a handful of plays here and there. They made some plays in the passing game when they needed to, they put together one really good long touchdown drive, which was aided by the Justin Houston facemask penalty. But beyond that, they leaned into their running game. And that’s what’s tough when you allow a team to do that in the same way that the Ravens did that against the Steelers the previous week. It makes it tough even for a really good run defense. You know, a great would have been a great run defense since about week seven for the Ravens this year. So you know, you let them get an early lead you know, there’s a special teams miscue if something along we saw some of that last week, and we’re gonna have a Ravens are gonna have a new return specialist. So that’s going to be worth monitoring. So you make a mistake, you give them a chance to grab an early lead. That’s the kind of run game that a lean into it. And it’s a very good run game. Yeah, the Ravens run defense, which is not is not going to have class Campbell up front, most likely, it just makes things you don’t want to pump up the concerns about this game. But if you’re looking for a path for this game to be dangerous for the ravens, there you go, you let Atlanta get an early lead and they can do what they do best then and keep the ball out of Desmond Raiders hands or let him run run around a little bit because he does have some athleticism. But the idea is you want to jump out to a lead you kind of take them out of their game. And then it’s a rookie quarterback trying to make plays against a good defense. Whether you think the Ravens defense is great or not. That’s not the issue. It’s a good defense at the very least. And it’s an Atlanta passing game that other than Drake London done doesn’t have a lot of firepower right now. You know, they’re missing their standout tight end, who’s you know, of course, last for the year. And I mean, it’s the formula should not be complicated for this game. DENNIS I, I think there are lots of people who are Film Junkies and they’ll they’ll tell you so much about personnel groupings and different formations, different alignments, all of that. And that’s great. This game shouldn’t be complicated. This really should be a game where the Ravens go out there, whether it’s Tyler Hundley, or whoever’s at quarterback, run, run, run, run some more, run even more after that, until Atlanta absolutely stops it. And you get to a point where they’re stuffing it. And then you say, All right, yeah, now you need to make some plays in the passing game. And then you cross that bridge when you get to it. But this idea of, if you’re envisioning game script, and what this game is going to look like Tyler Huntley, or Anthony Brown, or even if Lamar Jackson does play on Saturday, notions of any of them coming close to 30 or 35 passes, that should be a fireable offense, unless Atlanta does wake up on the right side of the bed and they shut down the run. And they force you to throw the ball should not be a situation where you’re coming into this game thinking oh, we’re going to be really balanced. They know. You should be thinking this is the kind of game that if it goes the way you want it to you’re, you’re running the ball 4550 times over the course of a 60 minute ballgame. Now we talked about Greg Roma’s sometimes looks like he he lacks feel for certain situations feel for the game. I remember two years ago against the Tennessee Titans when JK Dobbins was a rookie and he would just he want you could just tell he wanted the ball he was running well. They stopped feeding him the rock and here come the Titans back with Derrick Henry took the radio into deep water and drown them and they had plenty of time in the fourth quarter against the browns and it’s not like they were getting five yards of clip they were getting 25 and 37 they were getting chunk plays. Why not score? We saw the bangles against the buccaneer Sunday night, looking listless in the first half
Dennis Koulatsos 15:00
now 17 Nothing Bengals Come on, we bout Buccaneers come out. They turn the ball over three or four, it’s third quarter. And here come the Bengals storming back. So my point is headache kept running the ball, put some pressure on Cleveland’s offense, the deep, which was playing well. And then for John Harbaugh to make excuses, it wasn’t in on that deal. And what are you in on? I mean, it’s one thing to be the CO head coach and whatnot and give your, your assistants a lot of rope. But at some point, it’s your ship, and you must have your water on your ship. And then you have a timeout, and you come out and you get a delay of the game penalty and you blame the headsets. It just can’t happen that way. Look, he just I don’t accept it. I think it’s baloney no matter how you slice it. And a lot of that a lot of the blame for that loss of the Browns fall squarely on the shoulders of that coaching staff for for JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards had one carry between them in the fourth quarter. I don’t know how it happens.
Luke Jones 15:57
Yeah, I mean, and let’s be clear on the very last drive that the Ravens had, I get that at that point, then time was really an issue. But that was the next the last drive when they took over with 11 minutes to go. No question. I mean, it’s as simple Dennis and I, how many times have you heard me talk about us a really simplistic comparison here. I’ve said that the passing game, generally speaking is more valuable than the running game. Because why you look at your average passer yards per 10%, that is going to be much higher than a team’s yards per carry. However, that was not the case on Saturday for the Ravens Tyler Huntleys yards per pass attempt was markedly lower than what the Ravens were averaging in terms of yards per carry. There are three longest plays of the day pass or run. Were all runs when you had 11 minutes to go in. And to be clear, I’m not even saying that the Ravens had to come out and run the ball every single play either. But you get into second and for like the Ravens were in on that drive. And then you throw three straight times. What are we doing here? I mean,
Dennis Koulatsos 16:59
let’s not forget Luke that they were at what to Davian clowny went out. So one of our best defenders right who we’ve seen him be a game record. And this is a very poor run defense. Now you take him out of the equation, How much easier would have been to gain more yards, try plays 1215 2030 yards at a time. So perhaps you score in two or three minutes or four minutes or five, it wouldn’t have mattered that needed to get a touchdown in that situation. Look,
Luke Jones 17:23
right. And that’s where you come back to and you hear you heard horrible, you heard Roman talk about this. And to I don’t want to even say to their credit, because it’s not it’s such a no brainer kind of thing. They both acknowledged they could have run more, but at the same time, okay. Normally, under normal circumstances where you’re talking about an offense that’s functioning at at least an average level on whether you’re talking run or pass Yes, throwing the ball is going to be more time efficient. However, Tyler Huntley and maybe the shoulder, was it a factor? You know, it was a windy day as well. I mean, Deshaun, Watson wasn’t exactly pushing the ball down the field a whole lot either. But those drinks and dunks for four yards that you’re completing, you’re not stopping the clock unless you’re working the sideline and getting out of balance in those situations. So again, time efficiency normally is a valid at rationale for throwing in that situation. But when you have a passing game that is broken, to the degree that the Ravens passing game is broken, just doesn’t fly. So I hear you. And again, as you mentioned, it should be on clowny say what you want about his sack totals and being injury prone, whatever, when he’s out on the field. And right, he’s an excellent run stopper. And as you mentioned, that was not a good Cleveland run defense. That’s why bringing it back to the Falcons. This is another team that doesn’t stop the run particularly well. So my goodness, forced them to stop the run. And one thing I will mention that Greg Romo noted, and I actually do agree with him. And I think it is something that we’ve talked about throughout the season, they have run the ball extremely well between the 20s. They’ve got to figure out a way to run the ball better inside the redzone it is something that is still noticeable when they they run the ball down the field. And yes, there are times where they start, they throw it and you say okay, they shouldn’t throw it. But there have also been times where they’ve tried to run it inside the red zone and it hasn’t looked at so that’s something they have to be able to do better. There’s no question about that. However, ever. It’s not as though your passing game has looked great inside the red zone. So to say that doesn’t mean that suddenly you should start throwing it inside the redzone either. It just means in general, they have to be much better inside the redzone. We’ve talked about this for the better part of five years now. Right? I mean, going back to 2018, even when Marty morning was still running the show when the Ravens pivoted from an injury Joe Flacco to a Lamar Jackson. Run heavy play defense time of possession even though I still think that’s an element that people overrated a little bit but it’s still a factor. I’m not gonna say it’s meaningful.
Dennis Koulatsos 19:55
It’s a factor when you score touchdowns, right? It’s not it’s not a fact. Right? Well against you. If you’re kicking field goals, we’re getting blocked field. So, so you have to tie in actly. And you’re not on the same page on this one time of possession is great as long as you’re converting into touchdowns.
Luke Jones 20:11
And that’s the key here. They were what I think it was, was an eight for 10. In the redzone. Their first three games, it was something very high, I can’t remember off the top of my head normally. All these numbers I’ve been looking at as far as how bad things have gone, or I guess clouding my memory a little bit. But
Dennis Koulatsos 20:28
if I’m off in the corner, if my team scores 40 points, and we end our time possessors 20 minutes and we went 40 to 20, I’ve done my job, I can care less about to tip that a W, it’s not an automatic W, especially when you’re not going according to points.
Luke Jones 20:43
Well, and this lends itself to a point you mentioned, and it’s been an ongoing thing, and it was an issue the last few years. But when you score at a higher rate, you you’re a little more forgiving about it. The play clock issues, you know whether you’re talking about having to take a timeout whether you’re talking about a delay a game, even times where you get the play off, Dennis, are you in an optimal state at that point in time to execute the play when you’re rushing? You don’t just like you said about time of possession, you don’t get a bonus point because hey, good job, guys. You’ve avoided a delay a game? No, you need to execute the play. So I mean, you just look at this thing. And that’s where, look, I don’t by no means do I think this is all Greg Romans fault far from it, because I’ll point the finger at Eric the caster and the organizational philosophy, but because of the lack of focus and urgency and making the passing game better, for example, and wide receiver so But that said, when you look at the operation on a week to week basis, and where this thing is trending, where Lamar Jackson is as a player, where he is contractually speaking, the status quo can’t go on. And look, I you know, I even asked John Harbaugh about the possibility of making changes internally with the staff and who’s calling plays and things of that nature on Monday. And, of course, he shot that down and that’s fine. I didn’t expect him to throw Greg Roman under the bus and and personally speaking, yes, I asked that question, because that’s what fans have been asking. And I think I would be doing a disservice to what my profession is, if I didn’t ask that question. Personally speaking, the current state of the Ravens right now, as we’re talking, going into Christmas, and where they are personnel wise, and the fact that you’re not going to fix things overnight. I still think Greg Roman is the best for where they stand right now. I don’t think there’s anyone else on staff that there’s not a Jim Caldwell that you’re just going to slide over. So I’m fine with that. I think what they need to do is they’re, I think they’re struggling to balance the macro of needing to be better as a passing offense, with the micro of you need to win that day’s game. I think that was a big problem for them against Cleveland, you hope it doesn’t repeat itself in Atlanta. But I think just where they are right now, I think you just have to know, it’s not the same as Brian Billick in 2000. Because, you know, I, I don’t have near the optimism that you can win that way. And certainly this, I think this is a good defense, I’m not at all ready to call it a great defense, you know, because you continue to see lapses at the wrong time, you know, again, thinking about 13 points, I’m not putting it on. And we’ve talked about the offense, our entire conversation. But the point is nothing else about this team is currently great enough other than maybe Justin Tucker last Saturday aside, to really feel like that’s gonna get you to the promised land. But boy at some time, at some point, you just have to recognize what you are and just say, You know what, this might only give us, you know, maybe our best chance to win one playoff game and probably not going to get further than that. But, you know, we can’t keep trying to think we’re going to become something that we’re just not from a personnel standpoint, from a coaching standpoint. And we just need to lean into running the ball and running the ball and running the ball some more. And that’s what one thing I asked Greg Roman on Wednesday, was flat out from a physical standpoint, are JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards at a point now, where they can take on a bigger workload, meaning they can carry the ball more. And now he Roman kind of gave up, you know, half, half answer. He said, I hope so. It’s that time of year where it’s really important to be able to do that they’re getting better every week. You know, I had my questions about JK Dobbins. I mean, there’s still it’s fascinating to watch right now. Right? I mean, he’s, boy, so good. His vision looks excellent. He looks at it. I’ve used the comparison talking to some people this week, Dennis, that it almost reminds you of a car that’s just lacking its highest gear where he really tries to, you know, couple these plays where he’s broken into the open field, and he really tries to accelerate. It’s like he just, you know, he blows out a tire or something. Not that he not that he’s injured, but he just doesn’t have that gear. And I don’t think it’s a conditioning issue. I think it’s as nice I think it’s just
Dennis Koulatsos 24:58
I agree I think it’s a two year injury come back from you know, so hopefully he he suffered no more damage to the knee and he had another offseason to strengthen it and they put all the stabilizers around it. I do think it’s a two year injury come back from
Luke Jones 25:11
Yeah, no question. So that’s where I think it is fair to at least question physically. Yes, JK always wants to rock. I mean, my goodness, I remember him tweeting and clapping back at Ian Rapoport in mid July about the fact that, you know, wants it, he wants it. But Rapoport was right. And it wasn’t even. No, he wasn’t hating on me. It was information he got from the team, which was correct, by the way. So he’s not going to tell you that he’s not. He’s not going to tell you that he isn’t ready for a bigger workload. Or the Ravens trying to protect him and Edwards to some degree. Is that a factor? That’s why I asked and yeah, right. Greg Roman didn’t really didn’t really,
Dennis Koulatsos 25:49
he still had a you had a fresh Justin Hill, and I’m sure who’s still the most burst on the team. Right. And I know he fumbled a couple of times and just say some ball security issues, too. Sure. But you know how Coach Harbaugh looks at that, but, but quickly, we’ve talked about the wide receiver position nauseam. This team looked a lot better at early in the season where Sean Payton was playing he was a difference maker they drafted him to be and you and I talked at nauseam about them, not replacing Hollywood brown. Now, when when when the Ravens pick day what a job Oh, I was thrilled he was still there, but I’m thinking he’s not going to help them this year. Their immediate need is a wide receiver. And I’m not saying that I would have traded up to pick up George Pickens, you know, because we have the you know, the luxury of hindsight, right. But to watch George Pickens, you know, get the jump balls over Marlon Humphrey and David a job with my very well have a much better career and long term that George awakens. He could and he could not but But you and I talked about it. This team went all in on Rishard Bateman, Devon DuVernay, James crochet stepping up tylan Wallace stepping up right and I forget who else but he doesn’t matter and that we have fans clamoring about Andy Isabella. I mean, Andy Isabella hasn’t I mean, come on now. He hasn’t done anything and it’s late to prove he belongs on a starting 53 man roster. But so what does air to cost to do this offseason looks unsafe the panic can’t draft a wide receiver. Does he trade a first and a third for approval by the receiver that can catch the damn ball? You get a wide receiver one you hope Rashad Bateman can can stay healthy. And now at least you have two potential wide receiver ones. And you give this this offense whether it’s Greg Roman or somebody else running it, and whether it’s Lamar Jackson quarterback or somebody else again. Yeah, who know everything is up in the air, right. But they have to get this offense into the modern era.
Luke Jones 27:43
They do. And I mean, and it doesn’t mean that it has to look exactly like other offense is but you can’t. I wrote it earlier this week. The ravens are at this point in time they are towing a very fine line. And I don’t even know if they’re towing it. I think they’ve fallen off that fine line between zigging while everyone else sags and being in denial. Now, the passing game is too important in the modern NFL and, and to some degree, it’s always been important, even if it wasn’t as important in the 1970s. Right. I mean, the Steelers ran the ball ton they still had Terry Bradshaw quarterback right. I mean, they still had Lynn Swann, they still had Johnson Stallworth, you know, like, it’s not as though they didn’t make plays in the passing game. But yeah, it’s beside the point.
Dennis Koulatsos 28:30
You’re talking back in the late 70s. Luke stock was in the squad could could they could catch jump balls that were flooding. The bangles Tyler boy T Higgins Jamar Chase. Joe burrow is a very good quarterback. I get that. But he also has tremendous athletes at the wide receiver position. Well, Lamar Jackson look better if he could just chuck it up there in anywhere near those guys, and be historically good quarterback.
Luke Jones 28:56
He calls I’d sure like to find out before I give them $200 million, or whatever it is, right. I mean, I’d like to find out I’d like to find out what he looks like with a different offensive coordinator with an offense
Dennis Koulatsos 29:07
in Baltimore. Versus someplace else, right. I’d like to find that out here in Baltimore, then in Tampa Bay or, or New York or wherever his next destination may be. And that’s the thing. The one thing we also saw it look at was that it was Lamar Jackson’s fault that the plays were getting off late. It was not the quarterback. It was the coordinator. It’s the offensive, whatever you want to call it, but it’s amazing that he and Tyler Huntley and whoever else you put in there is going to have the same lack of success and getting the ball off in time.
Luke Jones 29:40
Yeah, I there’s something I totally agree. Something I want to go back that you mentioned about Eric to Costa, and there’s lucky there are lots of things that he’s done well,
Dennis Koulatsos 29:51
and I liked the cost. I liked I liked I do I did Sure. We’d love to write which for people listening you know, this is not a I hate on the Ravens. I’m a fan that you know, I love them. Luke loves him. We’d love covering him. But there’s some obvious flaws that anyone can see.
Luke Jones 30:07
Well, it’s just like you just said, I mean, hey, if you have a family member that’s not doing things the way they should be doing it. Sometimes you have to have a tough talk, right? I mean, because you care about them. But something about Eric Acosta that has bothered me, and, you know, look, we can do the Ravens drafts constantly get praised by national types. And before it’s, we know, the unknown, whatever, you know, put aside all those things. Something that has concerned me and we’ve talked about this, this isn’t gonna be something new that I bring up to you, Dennis, is, I look at how each of the last three off seasons have played out. And the Ravens have made a trade and each of those three off seasons, a notable trade and each of those three off seasons, and to be very clear, they’ve gotten good value in each of those traits. However, go back to the offseason leading into 2020. The Ravens traded Hayden Hurst now is Hayden Hurst an All Pro tight end? No, of course not. I’m not suggesting anything of that nature. However, when you look at how the Ravens profiled in 2019, they had their three headed monster at tight end, they had one wide receiver that they really liked in Hollywood Brown, but that was Hollywood, Hollywood, brown and Mark Andrews one in one day, however, you wanted to describe them in the pecking order. And you know, maybe Andrews one, Hollywood two. And Hayden Hearst was probably the closest that they came to a third option that you’d like, you know, then again, I think he caught 30 passes. It wasn’t like it was this massive production. However, what did we talk about then over the course of the 2020 season, as much as you liked Marquis Brown and Mark Andrews, they kind of lacked that third guy, I mean, remember, they bring in Dez Bryant, you know, Willie Snead, at times could be that guy, but, you know, that’s fleeting with those types of guys, that we really said that they kind of missed that dynamic that they had. So they made a trade of Hayden Hurst they got good value. Let’s be clear about that. What I believe it was the Dobbins wasn’t Dobbins, someone they drafted with one of the pics they got, I think I could be wrong about that. And again, I’m just going off my memory. But so you had that last year, they treated Orlando Brown, they got good value, regardless of the fact that adopt a oh wait at this point is not looking like he’s, you know, not a first round pick that you’re encouraged by at this point. If we’re calling a spade a spade, good value. What was one of their fatal flaws last year, left tackle and the lack of depth and not having a plan B for Ronnie Stanley and Alejandro de la nueva really tried hard but he wasn’t the guy for that. So they made that trade and they opened up another hole come to this year. Again, considering where Marquis Brown was with his demands. Considering where he was going to be contractually. I never at all thought that the Ravens should sign him him as an individual to that long term extension for a wide receiver. I didn’t think he was the right player for that specific contract. However, traded them got great value got a first round pick, right Tyler Linder bomb? I think looks good. You know, I’m not ready to say it’s an all time great ravens draft pick, but he looks like he’s on the right track. And that’s fine. Well, you still you opened up another hole. I feel Eric to Costa at times, is looking through such a long term lens for this football team. That it’s becoming detrimental in the present for them a little bit too much than you’d like it to see. You know, it’s kind of like that rebuilding franchise not that the ravens are rebuilding. But news baseball is a perfect example. The Orioles are a great example of this right now. You know, there was so much excitement about how they finished 2022. And you know, Mike Elias Santa, famously saying at the trade deadline, lift off from here, all that. And then you’ve heard him talk this year at the at the league meetings, the winter meetings and kind of walk that back a little bit sand, we don’t know if we’re really quite ready to really compete and win the ALCS we want to go compete for a wildcard. But we don’t know if we’re ready to really go toe to toe with the Yankees and look deep down. That’s probably true if we’re being realistic about it. However, why people are so skeptical of these long term plans is teams you know, and I’m not saying I’m not saying Eric Acosta is doing this in any kind of a way that to the detriment you know that he’s willing willingly being detrimental, for he’s that sabotaging them. Let’s be clear about that. But when people were skeptical was if you’re always planning for the future, the future always stays out in front and you never really get there. Yes. And that’s where I kind of, you know, in some ways, I feel that’s where the ravens are from the standpoint of Lamar Jackson’s rookie contract is done now.
Dennis Koulatsos 34:51
Yep, they missed the window. They’re really they’re gonna be really
Luke Jones 34:53
excited. Whether you whether you tag him, whether you extend him or if it comes down to eventually your Moving on from him, it doesn’t feel like you’ve taken advantage of that the way that you should have. And I think some of these moves that have been made with such a long term view might turn out great for you. But sometimes your draft picks are, you know, let’s be clear, getting great value, like you, like you mentioned, talking about the layup games and time of possession and things of that nature. Getting great value at the end of the day doesn’t guarantee wins, you know, and when you’ve had some of these players, like in Orlando Brown, and I get it he requests to trade, but sometimes you can just tell the guy, Hey, you’re under contract toss. Regardless, the point is, if you’re so focused out on the long term, that sometimes you’re going to leave yourself short, you’re going to continue to leave yourself short in the present. So I think Eric Acosta has had a little bit of a struggle with that at times. And that doesn’t mean I think he should be fired doesn’t mean I think he’s a lousy GM. You know, I think he’s a pretty good GM. You know, I, I think he’s a good GM. I don’t know where he ranks, I don’t think he’s the best in the league. I certainly don’t think he’s the worst or anything like that. He’s, he’s also a young GM, you know, from the standpoint of, you know, he was his right hand, man for years. But it’s different. When you’re in the captain’s chair, I think anyone who’s in a leadership position would tell you that. So I think it’s something hopefully, going back to your question about wide receiver, they need to address this thing, because I would even say, and this is, even from a very pro Lamar standpoint, I want to see what Lamar Jackson looks like in an offense with a different coordinator. That doesn’t mean it changes dramatically, I still think the run is still going to be something that’s really important to them. But my goodness, you need to be a more productive passing game. And I want to see him as a passer take a step forward. From the standpoint of Dennis, he’s had a lower body leg injury, each of the last two December’s now and he’s not looking like someone who’s necessarily an extremely fast healer in that way. And I don’t mean that as a knock at Lamar, and I don’t think he’s suggesting he’s shaking it or anything like that, you know, but he’s 25, he’s going to be 26 next month, that that issue is probably gonna, not gonna get any better at the very least, it might stay the same. And look, I still think Lamar is gonna be really fast and really athletic for at least a half a few more years. But what does he look like at age 29? If he’s not going to take a step forward as a passer? What does that look like at age 31? You know, I mean, it’s, that’s where you kind of look at this thing is, before I, before I commit that kind of a long term extension, I’d like to find out and that’s why this year feels like such a disappointment in that way. This is the year to really find that out and look, some lousy luck losing Bateman. But you they weren’t prepared either. You you can’t tell me that any team loses their top wide receiver, that it’s okay that you then become what they become, which is in terms of passing efficiency. DVOA they’re 29th in the NFL since the first three weeks of the season. That’s efficiency that’s not talking about passing volume. That’s efficiency. That means given games, game script and down and distance and all those different things. How are you doing on a play by play basis, they’ve been one of the absolute worst in the league. Look, if you lose your top wide receiver, I don’t expect you to be still to be a top three passing game. But I don’t think you should fall to know much more than maybe middle of the pack. I mean, look at how Cincinnati did with without Jamar Chase. You know, it’s not as though they fell apart without him. And
Dennis Koulatsos 38:33
Tyler Boyd, again, we’ve talked about Harry Roseman the job he’s done with Philadelphia, you got a quarterback under his rookie contract. Yeah, not only do you draft the Vontae Smith, you go and trade for AJ Brown. Sure. And you also have bulls daughter, Dallas Goddard, you got Bobby miles standards in the backfield. And the kid takes the next step. Right. So you put the pieces around him to have a shot to host the NFC Championship game and hopefully get to the Super Bowl. Now the Ravens have drafted Well, we have a couple of really good draft classes back to back. So I think they can go out and get some veterans next year. cap space. I know they have some headache with Lamar Jackson’s contract you got ro Quan Smith, but at this point, I would like to see draft picks traded for a wide receiver one. I don’t know. I think if they don’t if they don’t do that, just that I think their offseason is going to be a disaster.
Luke Jones 39:27
I mean, it just comes down to Nestor and I argue about this all the time. And when I say argue in good fun, but you just get to a point where and I’ve written this I’ve talked about it in a broken record, you know, there’s nothing I’d like more to not have to talk about wide receiver that’s why I was encouraged at the end of last season that they had Marquis Brown and Rashad Bateman.
Dennis Koulatsos 39:50
But, but look at Tom Brady, but the great Tom Brady was was was pitching up a storm up in New England because he felt like the GM was towards Bill Belichick wouldn’t give give him enough tools. This is Tom Brady, right? He’s a goat if Tom Brady’s thinking that way, why would Lamar Jackson think that way? You know, who am I? Who am I throwing it to? You lessening my talent, you make me look that you cost me money, because I have no one to throw it to. Yeah, no question about a human being and, and I’m not suggesting he’s thinking that way. But you know what, it’s not a stretch to say, well, maybe in a different offense. I can maximize my talents, my income, having fun, you know, Hollywood brandwood it out because he wasn’t having fun in this office. And who could blame him? Sammy Watkins, you know, he doesn’t look about coming to Baltimore. Right? He he gets to come to Baltimore to do what block for Gus Edwards. happens right?
Luke Jones 40:40
Although as although a savvy pointed out, he was happy because he has a job. I mean, let’s face it, that Green Bay offense was lacking wide receivers. So it’s kind of beggars can’t be choosers for either party to
Dennis Koulatsos 40:51
shrug to your right, not not. And again, you don’t have Anthony Brown and Snoopy throwing the ball to you in a run first offense. So that’s my point that at what point do we start having fun and built this team to maximize that? I mean, they missed a window that’s that’s that’s obvious.
Luke Jones 41:10
And that’s what’s frustrating, and that’s where you kind of you look at this thing. Something’s got to give. And that’s not that is not at all me suggesting that you blow it up entirely. But
Dennis Koulatsos 41:20
you can go back it’s fair to go back to Joe Flacco. You gave the guy you know, the Brinks truck, but you you gave him Chris Whelan, Michael campanero and company wide receiver, what did you do to help Joe Flacco?
Luke Jones 41:32
You backed up the Brinks truck Forum and the first thing you did was trade his top wide receiver. So no, I hear you upset
Dennis Koulatsos 41:40
right who does? It’s frustrating.
Luke Jones 41:43
But what you just mentioned, I think that’s what makes this a very fascinating offseason. Dennis. Look. I’m not going to speak for Lamar Jackson. No one in the media speaks for Lamar Jackson. We’ve talked about how he keeps a famously very close to the vest, very tight inner circle to the point where I don’t think the Ravens know what he’s thinking half the time and whether that’s good or bad. It is what it is. However, if you and I are recognizing all of this, Lamar and the people around him that he does listen to whoever they might be. They’re seeing this to Dennis, this is gonna be a heck of an interesting offseason assuming the Ravens aren’t raising the Lombardi in early February and Lamar is not going on a Joe Flacco like Ron which let’s face it, Joe Flacco had a quad bolted and Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitt.
Dennis Koulatsos 42:30
He did he had he had he had some weapons that Matt McKinney left tackle playing in they they want to vote Yeah, different different story. This
Luke Jones 42:39
this team, this team has an offensive line and a running game other than that, you know, and Mark Andrews if there wasn’t so much attention being devoted to him. So assuming they don’t, assuming they don’t go on that run. And look, I’m not exactly betting my stock of Christmas presents on it this winter. Why is mine? So assuming they don’t? It’s going to be a really interesting offseason. Dennis. It really is. And I think Greg Romans kind of the obvious one. I mean, I I’d be very surprised if he’s back. And I don’t know that with any inside information. I think you just have to look at this and say, the status quo can’t go on. And again, I don’t think I don’t think it’s remotely all Greg Romans fault. But everyone else yeah, he didn’t.
Dennis Koulatsos 43:18
He didn’t know he’s not doing the drafting, right. Sure. If he had had he had his weight, they wouldn’t. He wouldn’t have drafted a an injured defensive end right. In the second round. He wouldn’t have to wide receiver one potential. So it’s not his fault. But you know the staleness the same thing with with Martin nearly a year ago. Something had to give and we don’t wish anything bad on the guy. Hopefully to figure it out. For his sake, his family’s sake, but it’s hard to imagine him being back next year.
Luke Jones 43:45
Yeah, I think so. So but what does that mean in terms of hiring another offensive coordinator? When okay, you have Lamar Jackson, but he’s not signed long term. You look at the weapons and you say, well, there’s not a whole lot in this passing game to hang your hat on other than Mark Andrew throwing the ball to mark Andrews and Okay, Rashad Bateman is coming back said to injury plague seasons to start his NFL career. So, who are you going to entice? And the big question here? And you know, I’m just posing a question here. That doesn’t mean that I’m predicting this, or I’m anticipating this, but what’s to say that Lamar Jackson has the same level of confidence in the organization at this point, and you throw in the fact that potentially a franchise tag dentist, there’s a lot that can happen this offseason and a lot that could be not so good for the Baltimore Ravens. So it’s tough. It’s where we as we finish up our conversation because I know I’ve gone long in my time here but we always do. We do and it’s fine. And I enjoy it to be very clear, like but this is where we write remind everyone, they are nine and five. They are in a position still to make the playoffs that I fully expect them to make the playoffs. I don’t think they’re gonna lose the final three games here. I do still think Lamar Jackson is going to come back even if I thought maybe it might be the Last week, but, boy, it’s tough not to look into this offseason and really kind of race yourself at the very least, I’d say buckle up, because it’s going to be interesting. You know, I don’t think this is going to be as seamless as, oh, you know, everything’s fine. And Lamar is just going to sign on the dotted line. And we’re just going to proceed as we had the last few years, I, you know, I think we’ll see some changes in terms of offensive coordinator, you know, maybe a coordinator coming in with, hopefully, maybe some assistance, you know, with them with some new ideas. And again, I I know, the one thing that’s tough that, I don’t want to say it’s tough, because it’s a blessing to do what I do, and to have the access I do, but, you know, I see these as human beings, you know, Greg, Romans, a human being, you know, these coaches are human beings, these players are human beings. And yes, they’re well compensated. And yes, they’re in a very cutthroat, high demand, results oriented business. There’s no question about that. And they all signed up for that. Let’s be very clear about that. But when you do look at this thing, and you just kind of say, Is this really going in the right direction? I mean, my goodness, it was a historic offense in 2019. Boy, it was fun. And boy, that was a special team. But from the moment they lost to the Tennessee Titans, you know that that’s why I wasn’t quite as all gung ho as people that were trying to, and you know, everyone’s just trying to cope with it. Right. And everyone said, Well, they’re a year ahead of schedule.
Dennis Koulatsos 46:27
I was I made that made that comment. Forget, I’m not I’m not picking on to be clear. But the league catches up with the league. The league catches up, right? No matter how revolutionary you think you are, these offensive coordinators that get film on you, you know, the league catches up to everyone, and then you have to adjust again, it’s not a bad thing. It just it’s fact. Yeah.
Luke Jones 46:48
Sure, and it’s looking more and more like that 2019 team truly is a lot like that 2006 team that went well, that went What 13 and three that year, and lost the Indian the divisional round. And a year later, Brian Billick was gone. And to be clear, I’m not even saying that about John Harbaugh. I’m just saying that sometimes you’ve you’ve got some really golden opportunities in this league. And if you don’t, you don’t catch you don’t catch lightning in a bottle. It’s too late. And I feel for as the ravens are presently constructed with a Greg Roman offense. This idea of you know zigging while everyone else sags and running the ball, and we don’t care about wide receivers, and not that they don’t care that they’ve drafted receivers, but not clearly not putting the same level of resources into the wide receiver position that other teams have with quarterbacks on a rookie contract, but you kind of just look at this thing and Something’s gotta give. And I don’t know how dramatic that comments going to become. I mean, like I said, if Lamar Jackson comes in the day after the season and says, I want out yep. That’s devastating change. Would I be? Would I be shocked by that?
Dennis Koulatsos 47:59
No, at that point, now, if you get three first and two seconds for me, so you know what, okay, you know, we blow this thing up on the offensive side of the ball, you franchise ro Quan Smith, and you just they have a contingency plan, Luke and it keep rolling with that. But look, it’s going to be a very volatile offseason for sure. Yeah.
Luke Jones 48:17
But even with that scenario, and again, that’s the that’s the worst case scenario at this point, right. I mean, I you know, even with that scenario, boy, they need to learn their lesson. They didn’t learn their lesson at the end of the Joe Flacco era to the way that they need to the degree that they needed to, and they haven’t learned their lesson this time around because and even for those people that are more skeptical and critical of Lamar and saying you know what, he really fully take advantage of having a number one wide receiver you know what, I’d want to find out at the very least and then you know, you don’t then you know, it’s investing in a long term deal probably isn’t a great investment in his
Dennis Koulatsos 48:52
size him, give them a wide receiver one and see what you have. The other thing is Lukas, they need to realize that just because you have a bunch of great wide receiver doesn’t mean you don’t run the ball. The Eagles to run the ball with Myles Sanders, the Bengals run the ball with Joe Mixon. So the Ravens could have two three wide receivers that are really good and still have JK Dobbins Gus Edwards, it doesn’t know who you are, it just makes you better.
Luke Jones 49:15
Right? And that’s what ticks me off because I feel it’s become such a disingenuous argument against where people are like, well, Lamar shouldn’t be throwing the ball 45 times. No, that’s not what anyone has said. And anyone who’s saying that it again, you’re either being disingenuous or you’re being obtuse about it, because no one has ever said that. Let’s be clear, I’m not sure that that’s not the formula for anyone other than maybe Patrick mahomes, who is in a class of his own. At this point in time. You need balance. There’s no question but your balance doesn’t. I mean, it’s just Oh, you’re trying to
Dennis Koulatsos 49:49
get frustrated. You’re trying to score points. I think that’s what people miss. You’re trying to score points that by any means necessary. Ground air, it doesn’t matter, right. It doesn’t matter. Long drives short drives. What matters is are you putting up points on the board on your possessions? Pier? Yeah, we watched we watched the last year we watched the the bills, seven straight, touchdown drives against the Patriots right? Who cares how they how they did? I can’t tell you if if Josh Allen threw for four touchdowns and they ran for the three, it doesn’t matter. What matters is they scored on seven possession seven straight possessions. They came up with seven freaking touchdowns. Who does that? Who cares?
Luke Jones 50:30
Yeah, and hey, the Ravens did a lot of that in 2019. But that was three years ago. We can’t keep talking in terms of like that. This offense is just going to become that again. Marshall Yan is not walking through the door don’t go down the list of guys that aren’t walking through the door. And as you mentioned, the leaks caught up to so this is where the Ravens need to pivot doesn’t mean you change dramatically. But you have to adjust
Dennis Koulatsos 50:51
100% look always great having you on you and I always go over we should probably weigh over a kill switch or a buzzer but I appreciate you. Please tell our listeners all the great stuff you do for wn st in Baltimore positive?
Luke Jones 51:04
Absolutely. I encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter at wn St. You can follow me personally at Baltimore Lu because I’ll be downtown at the stadium ravens trying to improve tenant five, potentially clinching a playoff spot with a win and a little bit of help. So plenty of excitement in that regard. Check out my blog at Baltimore positive.com sponsored by coons Baltimore Ford, the latest 12 ravens thoughts five predictions for Sunday. Also my postgame reaction a little bit of a different schedule with Christmas coming up here over the coming days so but plenty of great coverage as the Ravens try to clinch their spot in the playoffs try to get Lamar Jackson healthy and try to finish off the season with what is still looking like a potential AFC North championship game in week 18. You want to be on the wn St. Baltimore positive.com tech service sponsored by coons for the Baltimore game day in actives final injury report any other significant injury updates any significant roster moves. Any notable local sports news sent directly to your mobile device via the wn St. Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by coons Baltimore Ford, and of course anything throughout the week on AM 15 Seven eat with Nestor, ravens players and coaches interviews from Owings Mills. And of course postgame reaction check out all of that at Baltimore positive.com. And Dennis, Merry Christmas to you and have a great holiday and as we reconvene next week hopefully we’ll be talking about a tenant five ravens team and hopefully getting Lamar Jackson back on the field because, hey, he’s their best player. He’s the most exciting player. I think everyone misses him at this point.
Dennis Koulatsos 52:31
Absolutely the Merry Christmas to family. Luke is particularly your sister, your brother in law. I know it’s a special special Christmas for your family.
Luke Jones 52:39
Thanks a lot, Dennis. Be well Happy Holidays to you and we’ll talk next week.
Dennis Koulatsos 52:43
You got to my friend. There it goes. Luke Jones here 1570 Am wn St. We’ll take a quick break and come back right after this.