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Ravens' front office makes Eagles look foolish- NFL Unfiltered Wild Card Edition

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Each season, fans and media spend six months dissecting as much NFL minutia as possible, but once the playoffs begin, all the statistics, front office leaks and locker room drama that make the regular season palpable, becomes irrelevant.  All that matters is winning and it’s a concept the Baltimore Ravens understand as much as any organization in the league.  photo credit: Zimbio.com

Certainly, they’ve had their share of pitfalls. Ray Lewis’ fateful night outside a club in Atlanta in 2000 and Ray Rice’s behavior in Atlantic City last summer come to mind.  

Still, general manager Ozzie Newsome deftly builds the roster, head coach John Harbaugh continues to show us he is better than his younger brother, and quarterback Joe Flacco becomes flawless seemingly every January.

Yet, somehow we’re surprised.  

In a league known for copying competitors, it’s fascinating more is not made of Newsome’s success. With two Super Bowl championships, and 10 playoff appearances in 19 seasons in charge of player acquisition, Newsome is far and away the longest-tenured and most successful front office executive of the salary cap era. Not bad, considering no black man had ever held the job of GM before Newsome took the job in 2002.    

Yet, Newsome quietly goes about his business seemingly in obscurity.  Perhaps it’s his outwardly unassuming nature. Or, maybe talk radio, television and social media make all general managers less interesting.  Either way, it is obvious Newsome is more interested in winning football games than gaining political favor.

Conversely, the Eagles just finished a nonsensical front office restructuring that illustrates how they made so many blunders the past two off seasons.  

If you’re keeping score, the birds fired a guy (Tom Gamble) who mattered little, promoted another (Howie Roseman) without giving him any real responsibility, and added a title to a third (Chip Kelly) who’s job description didn’t change. That’s the kind of dysfunction which leads to drafting players like Marcus Smith.  

Unlike the Ravens, the Eagles front office is an atmosphere of distrust and backdoor politics.  And this latest episode makes it clear owner Jeffrey Lurie still isn’t as savvy as some of his peers, despite occupying the big chair for 20 seasons.  

But that’s the point.  The Ravens understand their front office roles and execute far more often than not. Are there large egos in Baltimore? Most likely, but Newsome, with the full support of owner Steve Bisciotti, sets the tone.  

Instead of searching for the next flavor-of-the-month head coach, teams ought to look for the next Ozzie Newsome. The results speak for themselves.  

 

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Wildcard Edition

-In a league that focuses most of its energies on offensive production, it’s mind-boggling they haven’t created rules designed to prevent guys like Ryan Lindley from playing.  One idea, is to make the starting quarterback an uncapped position. Everyone agrees he is the most important player on each team, so why not make him exempt from the salary cap?  If you’re wondering what happened to quality backups and third-stringers, the $18-million dollar quarterback killed them.

-Looked like Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin had his charge all lathered up for a physical game against the Ravens.  So much so, they committed a couple of costly personal foul penalties.  C’mon, you know somewhere deep inside Tomlin is little more than a great motivator, à la former Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes.

-With this latest loss, head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton set a record for consecutive playoff losses. One narrative says Lewis added stability and made the Bengals relevant again, and another centers on Dalton and how his 0-4 record isn’t all his fault.  Both of those are true.  But the real question is, can these two lovable losers combine to become winners?  No, unless you think Dalton is good enough.  And I don’t.  

-Credit to quarterback Cam Newton, head coach Ron Rivera and the Carolina Panthers.  It is easy to say that’s a game they should have won because Arizona had to start Lindley, but NFL playoff history shows teams don’t always win when they’re supposed to. One recent example: the Chargers and Bengals in last year’s AFC Wildcard game.  

-If the Indianapolis Colts are serious about winning the Super Bowl, they ought to leave the roof of their stadium open all season.  That’s because dome teams playing in cold weather in January is annually the biggest disadvantage in the playoffs.  Football is an entirely different sport outside.    

-Lost in the furor surrounding the non-pass interference call is the fact Detroit’s defense shriveled when it counted. The Cowboys ran 11 plays on the go ahead drive, which is plenty of opportunity to prevent them from scoring. Great defenses find ways to get stops when they need them most.  

-Colin Kaepernick has twice as many playoff wins as Dalton, Nick Foles, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan combined. Goodness knows he has his issues, but you cannot rank him below any of those quarterbacks.

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Photo: Zimbio.com