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Late For Work 12/22: Pagano Interested In Head Coach Job … Later

Is Ravens defense overrated? Should Lewis rest? McShay sees Ravens drafting a tackle.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 at 9:14 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Pagano Interested In Head Coach Job … Later

Ravens Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano acknowledged yesterday that he is interested in a head coaching position.

That said, he believes any good coaching assistant should aspire for that role.

So it doesn’t mean he’s looking for it now.

“Not at this point,” Pagano said when asked if he is looking for a head coaching job, per MASN’s Dan Kolko.  ”I remember going all the way back to when I was a kid growing up, my dad being a football coach. He asked the same question of all the assistants that he ever hired – ‘Is your goal to be a head football coach?’ He always said if somebody had answered him, ‘Not really. I’m OK just being a position coach,’ then I don’t think he really wanted him on his staff. Because he wanted ambitious guys.

“I think if you ask anybody they’d say, ‘Yeah, that would be something you always work for and towards.’ [But right now] my focus and our focus is on the Cleveland Browns. Period.”

After the Browns and the playoffs, however, the chatter will increase once again.

Remember, with the exception of Greg Mattison, every previous Ravens defensive coordinator has gone on to become an NFL head coach: Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan and Rex Ryan.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs understands there is a real chance other teams may try to lure his defensive coordinator away from him. That’s why after the Ravens’ win over the Colts two weeks ago, Suggs tried to get teams in the market to look elsewhere.

“Chuck Pagano, if anybody is trying to hire a head coach, if they ask, I’m going to say he sucks,” Suggs jokingly said. “He’s terrible. He’s a terrible coach. His players don’t love him, and he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he’s calling a game.”

Is Ravens Defense Overrated?

After allowing a season-high 34 points in San Diego last week, some are asking if the Ravens defense has been overrated this year.

It’s a fair question, says CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg.

But for him, the answer is no.

It’s not fair to dismiss the defense as fraudulent on the basis of one bad performance, even if it was spectacularly bad,” wrote Eisenberg. “The unit has played a lot of great football this year, with stout performances against playoff-bound opponents such as the 49ers, Steelers and Texans. Those games counted, too. It’s still a fact that few teams play defense as consistently well as the Ravens.”

That said, Eisenberg believes the Raven did show where they are susceptible.

Teams that want to beat Baltimore’s defense in the future should attack its young cornerbacks. While they have had an overall strong season, much of that credit can be given to a strong run defense that puts quarterbacks in tough third-and-long situations and to a strong pass rush.

So what are the lessons learned from the Chargers’ dismantling of the defense?

“One, the Ravens’ defense is much more comfortable against offenses that depend on running the ball at least somewhat to move it,” wrote Eisenberg.

“Two, when the Ravens next face a pass-happy offense led by a veteran quarterback, possibly in the playoffs, they need to pressure him, period. If their pass rush is blunted, they’re in trouble. Their young cornerbacks can’t be expected to thrive, or even survive, without help up front.”

Should Lewis Rest?

Linebacker Ray Lewis said he came out of the Chargers game “totally healthy” after a month-long layoff due to a turf toe injury.

And even though the defense stumbled, Pagano said Lewis played “excellent” and “didn’t skip a beat.”

So why is ESPN’s Jamison Hensley advocating that the Ravens rest Lewis (and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) for the final two weeks of the season?

It’s obvious that Lewis is still bothered by a toe injury,” wrote Hensley.

“The Ravens and Steelers have a better chance at making serious playoff runs if their star players are healthy. Until the playoffs start, Lewis needs to go back to being a coach on the sideline (where TV can get their usual 100 on-camera shots of him).”

Hensley acknowledged the final two games of the season are critical for the Ravens, as they will have a major impact on the final AFC seeding and home-field advantage.

“This is why it’s not an easy decision to rest Lewis and Roethlisberger,” wrote Hensley. “It is, however, the smart one.”

McShay Sees Ravens Drafting A Tackle

ESPN’s draft guru Todd McShay released his NFL mock draft, revealing two beliefs he has about the Ravens.

First, giving the Ravens the 27th-overall pick in the 2012 draft, McShay is predicting the Ravens will exit the playoffs before the Steelers (28th pick), Saints (29 pick traded to Pats), 49ers (30), Patriots (31) and Packers (32).

Second, McShay sees the tackle position as a big need, as he envisions Baltimore selecting tackle Mike Adams from Ohio State with their top overall pick.

Starting right tackle Michael Oher is likely to be a staple on the offensive line for years to come, but the same can’t be confidently said for 32-year-old Bryant McKinnie, who reportedly has one more year left on his Ravens contract.

“The Ravens have several offensive linemen headed toward free agency, plus other issues still to be sorted out on defense,” wrote McShay. “Adams is quick and long enough to ride pass rushers past the pocket, and he has the ability to get into position and wall off defenders in the running game.”

One More Way Ravens Can Clinch First-Round Bye

You already knew that the Ravens could clinch the AFC North with a win on Christmas Eve coupled with a Pittsburgh loss.

But did you know that Seattle, Jacksonville and the mystical Fu Manchu can affect the Ravens’ chances of clinching a first-round bye this weekend?

You better believe it, says ESPN’s Flem File.

Here’s how it all shakes out

Baltimore clinches a first-round bye with:

1. BAL win + PIT loss + HOU loss, AND
2. BAL doesn’t have to play SEA or JAX again, AND
3. Turf toe doesn’t do to Ray Lewis what it did to Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, AND
4. Joe Flacco and his awesomely bad, and some say mystical, Fu Manchu ‘stache don’t retire from the NFL to play bass guitar on the Kansas reunion tour.

Quick Hits

  • AdamSchefter: NFLPA announced [$1 million] bonus and a vote of confidence for Exec Director De Smith, whose contract expires in March. [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: Chargers outside linebacker Antwan Barnes named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his four-sack game against Baltimore. [Twitter]
  • Flacco was given a C-minus for his “chilly” performance in San Diego. [ESPN]
  • Baltimore is the 79 percent favorite over the Browns after AccuScore’s 10,000 simulations of the matchup. [ESPN]
  • Cory Redding had his right ankle heavily taped and was absent from Wednesday’s practice. But as far as the Ravens defensive end is concerned, he intends to play against the Cleveland Browns on Christmas Eve. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Former Ravens receiver Derrick Mason joins the “No Huddle” crew to debate which AFC team coming off a loss has the best chance to make a run in the playoffs. Mason believes the Jets are in trouble and has to defend his faith in the Ravens. [NFL.com]

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