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Late For Work 5/31: Jets Did ‘Hard Knocks’ Per Newsome’s Advice

Plus the key to solving the Ravens’ running game and Bulger in Miami could make sense.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 9:23 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Jets Did ‘Hard Knocks’ Per Newsome’s Advice

For the six teams that have turned down HBO’s offer to be featured on the television series “Hard Knocks” (and for those who will receive an invitation), here’s an interesting point from Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum:

The television show made their teams better.

In fact, Tannenbaum said he never would have considered HBO’s offer if it weren’t for Newsome’s advice.

“I was probably the last person on board to do it and I called Ozzie Newsome, the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens, who I respect immensely, and he said just from a football standpoint he felt like they got better practices because the cameras were around,” Tannenbaum said during an interview with ESPN 101 in St. Louis via The Star-Ledger. “Everybody was giving their ‘A Game,’ every day and our decision was we thought we had a great story to tell.”

With that in mind, maybe ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio was onto something when he wrote an elite team needs to step up and volunteer to be on the show.

“The chronic inability of NFL Films to line up a willing participant soon will rise to the level of embarrassment,” wrote Florio. “Out of respect for everything that NFL Films has done for the sport over the past five decades, one of the truly elite teams, a team that NFL Films wouldn’t even dare to ask, needs to stand up and welcome the assignment.

“Whether it’s the Steelers, Patriots, Giants, or Packers, a franchise of that stature needs to take one for the good of NFL Films, and for the good of the game.”

Key To Improving Ravens Running Game

Here’s a fun lockout exercise: sit down and list all the questions that surround the Ravens’ offensive line.

There’s at least one crucial question involving every position except for one: left guard, occupied by Ben Grubbs.

  1. Can Michael Oher excel as a left tackle?
  2. Is Jared Gaither’s back healthy enough to play all 16 games? Will he return to Baltimore?
  3. Can Matt Birk’s 34-year-old body hold up for a 14th NFL season?
  4. Can rookie Jah Reid be a starting right tackle?
  5. Will Marshal Yanda be a restricted or unrestricted free agent? Can Baltimore retain him? Can he return to his more natural guard position?
  6. Will Chris Chester be a restricted or unrestricted free agent? Can Baltimore retain him? Will he have to be used as a starting right guard again or can he serve as an insurance policy to Birk or a guard that could unexpectedly go down?

It’s no wonder USA Today’s Gary Mihoces said the key to improving the running game in 2011 is “continuity and improvement up front in the offensive line.”

Forget the fact that the status of running back Willis McGahee and fullback Le’Ron McClain are in question. Oh, they are still important factors that need resolving too, but even with the two Pro Bowlers and featured back Ray Rice on the roster in 2010, the running game dropped from fifth in the league in yards per attempt (4.7) to 25th (3.8).

Thus, solving the rushing puzzle is more complex than simply filling the holes that McGahee and McClain could leave behind.

“The job of pumping up their running game, which slumped in 2010, isn’t nearly so simple,” wrote BaltimoreRavens.com’s John Eisenberg. “There are multiple moving parts, numerous issues and complex subtleties to weigh. The task reminds me of the message on the passenger-side mirrors of cars: objects are closer than they appear. Yes, trickier than it looks.”

It will be tricky, yes.

But tricky or not, the key to improving the running game remains the same.

“The Ravens will have to find a way to get some solidification [on the offensive line],” Mihoces definitively concluded.

In an in-depth look at the Ravens, Mihoces also explored four other questions the team will face when its 2011 campaign begins:

  1. Can the Ravens get over the hump against the Pittsburgh Steelers?
  2. Can quarterback Joe Flacco become one of the league’s elite?
  3. Can the defense put more heat on the passer?
  4. How much does linebacker Ray Lewis have left?

Does Bulger To Dolphins Make Sense?

The speculation on where Ravens pending free agent quarterback Marc Bulger could land next season continues.

With the Bulger-to-Cardinals talk going cold, one of the newest ideas is to put Bulger in a Dolphins uniform.

Both NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora and Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero agree that is a possibility.

The last time Salguero saw Bulger play was in 2008 as a St. Louis Ram, and at the time the columnist thought Bulger looked worn down and maybe even done with the game. But La Canfora shed a little light on the 10-year veteran’s current disposition.

“I have some pretty good sources on the Ravens,” he said. “When I talked to people there they were very impressed with Bulger. They told me when he’s on the field and running the offense, the ball often doesn’t hit the ground … They believe he’s going to be a very good quarterback in 2011. They would love to keep him in Baltimore as the backup but they think someone will sign him to┬ácompete to start or be a bridge quarterback and a pretty good one at that.”

If that’s the case, Salguero sees how Bulger could be a boost to the Miami offense.

“Bulger makes sense for Miami because he does have plenty of experience,” he wrote. “He has had time to recover from the beating he suffered in 2008-2009. He won’t require draft choice compensation. He won’t be extremely expensive to sign. He is not exclusively a West Coast offense guy like McNabb and others. And the last time someone took a chance on a seemingly washed up former St. Louis QB [Kurt Warner], it paid off handsomely.”

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