Amongst the Jets Super Bowl favorites talk, and Mike Tannenbaum getting way too much credit, Ozzie Newsome somewhat quietly put together one heck of an offseason. In fact, he showed us exactly why he is one of the elite GMs in professional sports. Baltimore is widely regarded as a team that should be in the playoffs. I am not going to write a pro-Ravens article because I feel they do have their flaws, mostly in their secondary. But take a look at Ozzie's draft, and how the Ravens positioned themselves. Look at the Jets, and what they did.
Stengths: Very good young QB with lots of promise
Excellent Rushing Game
Very Solid OL. Excellent tackles
Weaknesses: Shutdown Corner
Interior of the OL
NY Jets: 9-7. Won Wild Card Position to enter playoffs. Lost to Indianapolis Colts 30-17
Strengths: Young QB with lots of promise
Excellent Rushing game
Perhaps the most complete OL in the league
Great MLB duo
Special Teams, except the punter
Weaknesses: Lito's Penalties
WR corps inconsistent
Now, I know that there are some who aren't on the same page as I (you know who you are) but even they would have to agree that our team shares similarities to the Ravens. Both are legit playoff threats. Both have a great running game, lines, and young potential franchise QBs. Jets have Revis... or so we hope, and the Ravens may have Ed Reed a little longer. Ravens have Koch, Jets will probably try out another dozen punters.
Now lets compare some of the moves that helped build both teams the past two years. First we'll start with the Jets.
1. Probably the most important move in Tannenbaums career he moves up to draft USC QB Mark Sanchez. As we know Sanchez starts from day one and shows flashes of being a franchise QB but also makes some costly mistakes in the learning process.
2. Next Tannenbaum lets Eric Mangini go and decides on Rex Ryan as the new head coach, this hiring will lead to other moves we'll get to in a second. But in his first year Rex leads the team to the AFC championship game behind the best defense in the league and a running game few can match.
3. Mike and Rex bring in multiple Ravens in free agency that are familiar with Rex's system the two most important who are Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard. Both become leaders of the defense and while Scott seemed to fade a little down the stretch, Leonhard put in a very good season at safety.
4. The jets attempt to improve the receiving corps by trading for Braylon Edwards and this year Santonio Holmes. Edwards still has a strong case of the drops and that will probably keep him from being the elite receiver he was in 2007. Holmes brings a new deep threat to the offense, who average 16 YPC last year for the Steelers, but he'll miss the first 4 games and one more screw up could land him with a year suspension.
5. Now the Draft, always a fun subject with the Jets. Tannenbaum has certainly had his hits and misses but let's just stick to the last two. In 2009 the Jets GM traded up to grab potential franchise QB Mark Sanchez, and then traded up again for Iowa Running Back Shonn Greene. Both players played a integral part in leading the team to the playoffs. In the 6th round with their last pick the Jets took Matt Slausen, who could become a starter in his 2nd year with the team. In 2010, the Jets had few picks again because of trades but they would attempt to make the most of them. Cornerback Kyle Wilson in the 1st round has loads of potential and with the Revis holdout could be thrown into the 1st team opposite recently acquired Antonio Cromartie. With their 2nd round pick the team took Vladimir Ducasse, a offensive lineman out of UMass, who could end up starting in year one with the departure of Alan Faneca. With only 2 picks left the Jets took Joe Mcknight out of USC, they would later trade Leon Washington and draft Tony Richardsons heir John Conner, FullBack from Kentucky.
Ozzie Newsome Notable Moves.
1.The Draft: The year before Newsome struck gold finally landing Baltimore a franchise QB in Joe Flacco, and in 2009 he found the man to protect his Blind Side for the next 10 years in Michael Oher, with the 23rd pick the Ravens drafted the tackle who would start on the right side in his first year and is expect to move over to the left in his 2nd year. In the 2nd round of 2009 the Ravens grabbed Paul Kruger a pass rusher from Utah, Kruger was a bit of a disappointment early in 2009 but started to find his stride near the end. In the third round they selected cornerback Ladarius Webb who did not see much action until halfway in to the season because of injuries. With their final three picks the raves took Linebacker Jason Phillips, Tight end Devon Drew, Running back Cedric Peerman.
The 2010 Draft saw the Ravens address what few weaknesses they had, they traded out of the first round and selected Texas OLB Sergio Kindle, what looked like a great value pick turned unfortunate as Kindle suffered a very serious non-football injury. With their 2nd pick they drafted Alabama DT Terrence Cody, who could have also gone in the 1st round but serious work ethic questions destroyed his stock. The next two picks they attempted to find Todd Heaps replacements in Oregon's Ed Dickson, a TE that can stretch the field but like many pass catching TE's coming out of college need improvement in blocking, a round later they took BYU TE Dennis Pitta. Their last 3 picks were Utah WR David Reed, a DE Syracuse Arthur Jones who fell to the 6th round because of durability concerns, and Offensive Lineman, Ramon Harewood.
2. Much like the Jets the Ravens have needed to improve their receiving corps and did so through free agency and trades. With Derrick Mason on the last legs of his career the Ravens brought in suspended wide out Donte Stallworth as a low risk high reward type player. They also brought in disgruntled Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin to give young QB Joe Flacco a legitimate #1 receiver.
3. Also in 2009 the Ravens solidified their offensive line by signing veteran Matt Birk. Even though Birk is 34 he has played very well especially lined up with the Ravens young lineman Oher, Gaither, and Grubbs.
4. In July of 2009 Newsome locked up Linebacker Terrell Suggs, one of the top pass rushers in the league to a 6 year contract that will make him the highest paid linebacker.
So both GMs have had similar success in 2009. But will they have similar fates in 2010?
Mike Tannebaum has tried to build a Super Bowl contender, but has done so while thinking about the bottom line. It is my humble opinion that Alan Faneca should have stayed with us this season as Ducasse is a project who can be dominate. Leon Washington's skill set is more polished at this point than Joe McKnight. McKnight has yet to prove anything except he has anxiety issues. McKnight brings youth, and gives Sanchez familiarity but I can't justify the draft day logic. Clearly there were other options.
The Jets post draft concerns:
Revis hold out, Mangold's concerns, and David Harris having only one year on his contract.
Brodney Poole's durability to play 19 games.
Our defensive ends. Devito in my opinion is like a 4th outfielder in baseball. Gholston is backing him up. Ellis' age. Jenkins considered retirement.
Braylon Edwards' consistency and Santonio Holmes discipline.
Will this be Dustin Kellers year?
Shonn Greenes durability and effectiveness of the backs behind him
Mark Sanchez. Can he breakout this year, or will it be another conservative year for the sophomore. His backup???
Will the special teams come through?????
Baltimore's post draft outlook:
QB situation looks great. 2 QBs who can get the job done.
Ray Rice may be one of the best in the game in overall skill.
WRs have the talent. Do they have the chemistry?
Todd Heap is there. Two rookies with upside to compete to be his heir.
OL looks to be good. Birk's age and effectiveness? Solid depth.
DL looks to have very great depth. Their DL could be very fresh for the post season.
LB. Johnson and Suggs are a great combo. Kindle's freak accident gives them less depth. Ray Lewis is Ray Lewis.
Secondary. Their biggest concern in my opinion. But with that DL and LB, they don't need to rush as many to create pressure.
The Jets have put their eggs in one basket. Baltimore through value in the draft, and smart signings may have themselves better positioned for the future. They also will have a 2nd round draft selection in 2011 and depth is not a big concern. Suggs was resigned. Their 2011 draft needs look to be a guard, and secondary help.
The Jets have 3 elite players that need to be signed. It wouldn't surprise me to see our 2011 draft needs to be a free safety, running back, pass rushing OLB, DE or two, a slot receiver and possibly a nose tackle. Kicker and punter too but our record drafting a place kicker isn't very good. Perhaps Tom Tupa will come out of retirement for us. I think Mike's draft aim was off this post season, and if he is serious about building a contender, be loyal to your own players. Oh and since this article's premise was that the Ravens positioned themselves better, yes for this season, I think they have a lot less question marks.