Byrne Identity: Observations, Thoughts And Opinions

The hot topic around the facility, Shannon Sharpe on the Ravens’ best free-agent signing, more.

Posted by Kevin Byrne on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Categories: Byrne Identity

Some observations, some thoughts and some opinions:

  • The media world focused on the absence of Ed Reed from our mandatory minicamp. That’s understandable and expected. That’s what happens. We deal with that. What’s difficult for us is that while we attempt to communicate with Ed privately, our business is very public, and reporters and fans want more information. It won’t come from us. But, we clearly understand why people outside the Ravens’ immediate family want more info and want to talk about it. Here’s my prediction: Things will work out, and Ed will be significant to every win we earn this season. In the end, Ed is an honorable, giving person and a Hall of Fame player. Opponents have to game plan against him every week.
  • While the buzz among reporters was about Ed not being here, the talk in our building – the Under Armour Performance Center – was about Joe Flacco’s practice. Like the Ravens’ defense, the rain during Tuesday’s practice was relentless. And, with the wind, the rain volume was going sideways at times. Without being prompted, John Harbaugh, Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin each mentioned how well Joe passed through that mess. Reminded me of Cam Cameron’s comments after the Ravens put Joe through a private workout on a cold rainy day before we selected Flacco in the first round in 2008. “That’s an AFC North quarterback,” Cam said at the time. “He threw new NFL balls through the rain and wind like it was a nice summer day. Big hands gripping a wet ball. Big arm. Big man. We have to get him.”
  • It’s good to see Terrell Suggs, despite the fact that he’s wearing a boot to protect his repaired Achilles. “Sizzle” adds energy to the building, and he’ll be helpful to our young players as he rehabs his injury. No doubt that we will miss Terrell. There are only a handful of defensive players in the league who can change a game like Suggs. But, I believe our defense will still be outstanding in his absence. First, Dean Pees, the new defensive coordinator, is very good and highly respected by our players. Look at the Patriots’ defenses under Dean. They were better than they were under heralded D-coordinators like Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel. Second, and this is a mark of teams assembled by Ozzie Newsome, we have big-time corners. Some teams don’t have one stopper at corner. We have three capable of playing at the highest level: Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith. When your secondary can play tough man-to-man – in other words, when you don’t have to scheme to hide the deficiencies of your corners – you can attack quarterbacks. As usual, we will be aggressive in getting after offenses up front because our backside – the secondary – can take care of itself. Third, we have a lot of good players up front. Haloti Ngata will be a candidate to be defensive player of the year. Terrence Cody is really good. Paul Kruger is ready to step up, and Courtney Upshaw looks like the real deal. … And then add guys like Arthur Jones, Pernell McPhee and Sergio Kindle. We’ll be OK.
  • Loved how Coach Pees answered the question about what it takes to play his defense. He said a player had to have three attributes:
  1. “You’ve got to be tough. It’s a basic to playing defense.”
  2. “You’ve got to know your assignments. You have to know what to do.”
  3. “You’ve got to give great effort.”
  • Note that Dean didn’t mention anything about talent. Well, add our “talent” to that mix – Ozzie, Eric DeCosta and Co. are very good at bringing in talent – and you have something that can be special once again.
  • I enjoyed what “I’ll Have Another” trainer Doug O’Neill said before the horse broke down before the Belmont. A New York reporter asked O’Neill: “You look like you’re having fun with all the notoriety you’ve received in winning the Derby and Preakness. What stands out for you so far?” O’Neill said: “Having lunch with John Harbaugh. He was so cool. I wanted to ask him all about football, but he kept asking me about my business. I mean, it was the head coach of the Ravens at his practice place. That was neat.”
  • We were all excited to see Derrick Mason earlier this week when he announced his retirement from the NFL. As you know, “Mase” wanted to retire as a Raven despite playing eight seasons with the Titans and six with us. What was clear in Derrick’s message is that he wanted to make his announcement here, because, as he said, “They always treated me like a man.” Mason added: “When Ozzie released me, he didn’t call my agent or tell me over the phone. He said, ‘Come see me, Derrick. Let’s talk.’ And then he was honest with me. I was angry, and I didn’t agree with his decision, but I appreciated his honesty and the way he did it man-to-man.” Mason is the leading receiver in our history. He has fantastic numbers that will get him into the Hall of Fame conversation. Here’s the stat I love: There are three players in NFL history who produced 11-consecutive seasons with at least 60 catches: Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, Tony Gonzalez and DERRICK MASON.
  • At the Mason announcement, Ozzie Newsome said that because of the six seasons Derrick played for us, you could argue that Mason was in the mix for being the best free agent signing in Ravens history. As soon as Ozzie said it, I thought: “Here comes the call from Shannon.” Sharpe didn’t call. He texted: “If Derrick was Ravens top fa ever, what was sharpe, woodson, adams and mccrary. How soon we 4get.” Then Shannon placed the “smiley face” sign. You gotta love Shannon.

Talk to you soon.

Kevin

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