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  1. #1
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    The Foundation of Development.



    I wanted to focus on Coaching with this thread, both in philosophy and implementation. There have been some talking points by certain posters, that have brought up interesting evidence about other teams finding UDFAs and late round 'gems' as they are often called. Here, the Baltimore Ravens have been known to find some of their own along the defense.

    However, there is one major element to developing such talent that is missing from the equation in Baltimore with the offense. In any profession or discipline, in teaching and in training, a pupil must have a focus and a set direction. That is a significant aspect of the foundation of developing a player. Of course, the player must also have the will to develop, willingness to be coached and acumen to execute what is being taught. Collectively, this is that foundation as a whole.

    In Baltimore, one reason why we've been able to find those players, defensively, is due to the Hall of Fame talent we had in Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. However, what also played a role in making the defense great was, that it always had a set philosophy and focus. From the Defensive Coordinator, down to the assistants and onto the players, there was always a philosophical symmetry in motion. Everyone understood what identity they wanted the defense to take on, what the key pieces were and what was needed to add to their impact as a whole. When Marvin Lewis was here, the Ravens played a more basic 4-3 defense. In certain spots, such as Middle Linebacker and Cornerback, they relied on younger cornerstones with great combinations of athleticism and field awareness, in Chris McAlister, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Around them, particularly before Ed arrived, they relied on veterans around them who were highly intelligent on the field and still very hungry and motivated to fend off father time. Their intent was to first make an opposing offense one dimensional. From there, it was to play their assignment and strike with authority whenever the play entered each player's particular vicinity. The idea was that few teams had good enough passing offenses, to successfully pass on the Ravens defense for four quarters. The entire infrastructure of the defense was streamlined. Streamlined and proven. From there, they were able to key in on the specifics of what they needed from each of the 11 positions, and were able to plug in serviceable guys in some spots and maintain dominance, because they'd already created a well oiled machine. You can put a Gary Baxter across a Chris McAlister. You can put a Will Demps beside Ed Reed. You can find those UDFAs to put beside Ray Lewis, because the roles that you wanted them to play were already clear.

    Even as the Ravens changed Defensive Coordinators, the engine continued to run, because new Defensive Coordinators continued to follow the own model, but with their own changes to alignment. Mike Nolan came in and saw a great deal of athleticism at Linebacker that began to exceed the quality of pieces along the defensive line. Which made it so easy for him to transition to a 3-4. Which made it so easy to choose Mike Nolan as a successor to Marvin Lewis. Like Lewis, his schemes were more basic, but they had such athleticism and field intelligence put together that it didn't have to be complex at all. It was still dominant. From Nolan, Rex Ryan became the Defensive Coordinator, keeping the 3-4 in place, but making it more complex. The attacking nature that had been established years prior, remained. Rex was then able to identify a versatile piece in Adalius Thomas and even made him into an All Pro.

    In New England, much is talked about how they can sometimes put anybody in that offense around Tom Brady and keep the machine running. It is largely due to the fact that they have a long established philosophical foundation on offense. Late round or not, Tom Brady was drafted by New England, because he fit the system they were already running. Over the years, they made certain tweaks, but each year the focus of what they wanted to accomplish offensively and how to do it, was clear. Pittsburgh had an offensive system with Bruce Arians where they found a Mike Wallace to take advantage of Ben's ability to break tackles in the backfield and his propensity to hold the ball while looking for the big play. Meanwhile, they had a Heath Miller, a Hines Ward and eventually a Santonio Holmes to be his shorter outlets. The focus was so clear that they could get away with an aging Miller and an aging Ward. Even when Haley was brought in, his philosophy and focus were clear. From him, all the way down the chain of command.

    Offensively, the Baltimore Ravens just haven't had that same symmetry. As scary as it sounds, with Cam Cameron, they at least had that, even if his time with the team became stale. Even then, they weren't targeting the right pieces for what Cameron wanted to accomplish until near the end of his time here. However, even with Cameron, they had a Coryell based Coordinator and a West Coast based Quarterbacks Coach. We've seen a Man Blocking based Offensive Line coach together with a Zone blocking based Offensive Line coach. Now, we have a pass happy Offensive Coordinator, with a run happy Run Game Coordinator. We have Coordinators being forced to run the systems and schemes of the predecessors.

    The reality of the situation is that much of the talent is at a lost, doomed from the beginning, because they don't even have the basic foundation on that side of the ball. This offense has been schizophrenic for years. So, while we may look to other teams who can find an Antonio Brown, or a Marques Colston, or a young Victor Cruz, or an Antonio Gates, it's not so cut and dry as to use them as examples as to why what the Ravens are trying to accomplish isn't far from the approach of the entire league, because the teams that those guys joined had very solid philosophical foundations on that side of the ball. Everyone knew what the offense wanted to do, what it was going to do, how it was going to do it and what pieces needed to fit where.

    When I look at the horrid infrastructure of this offense, compared to others in the league, its sometimes amazing that they are even as successful as they are in some games. Meanwhile, the poor performances don't surprise me. When I look at other teams, again, every coach from the Coordinator down is of the same philosophy and on the same page. Everyone is coaching with the same principals in mind. That creates symmetry with the personnel and their ability to execute the strategy on the field.

    Waiting until the later rounds and UDFA period to find Linebackers worked, because the defense had such a strong philosophical foundation that they knew exactly what they needed and why they needed it. When you combine that with the cemented Cornerstone pieces such as Lewis, Reed, McAlister and Suggs, you get more examples of players who exceed expectation here, get big money elsewhere, don't perform as well and are replaced here by guys in the exact same role who perform just as well here as their predecessors.

    More than a dynamic WR, or dual TE, or quality offensive line, this foundation is what's been missing from the offense. Unfortunately, I don't see that changing this year, but hope that we can see that change in the future. If they had that, with pieces like a Joe Flacco, Marshal Yanda, you can add a piece like a Ronnie Stanley, perhaps one dynamic pass catcher and THEN add a veteran piece around them or try to develop a late round pick around them. However, as of right now, they don't even have the basics. They don't even have the basic foundation. That, in my opinion, is the main reason why they've struggled to develop talent on that side of the ball. Honestly, the only guys they've truly developed are guys that we could all see being successful from a mile away, as they say. Flacco, Rice and Yanda. Pitta was that mid-round pick we knew wouldn't be an Antonio Gates, but a guy who would run the route and catch the ball consistently. Nobody has come on as a surprise in this offense. Until they build that foundation. I don't think that's going to change.

    I'm not saying this to do more complaining or 'Pees has to go' or anything like that. This is just an observation I've come upon a while ago and gradually thought through, choosing to share my thoughts with the board for discussion.
    "Please take with you this final sword, The Excellector. I am praying that your journey will be guided by the light", Leon Shore





  2. #2
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    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    Not only do we have a Pass heavy Offensive Coordinator paired with a Run-heavy 'Run Game Coordinator', but they are both of different blocking styles up front. It is very concerning. Especially, with the Ravens lack of history showing that they can make this sort of thing work.
    "Please take with you this final sword, The Excellector. I am praying that your journey will be guided by the light", Leon Shore





  3. #3

    The Foundation of Development.

    We don't have a scheme where we can get more than one guy open on a play call.


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  4. #4

    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    This post hits perfectly on the frustration that we have had since Joe Flacco was a young player. It seems as if under Cameron we tried to establish the super star coaching line ups w/ Jim Zorn, Al Saunders for Joe Flacco third year in 2010. Flacco has his best year and we respond with firing Saunders and Zorn so Cameron gets more control despite Flacco cursing him out on the sideline in the playoffs. Flacco speaks his displeasure to the media about it and we still let a coach he likes go. It is frustrating because you see Brees, Manning, Brady are BFF with their OC and our QB had a lot of friction.

    The thing that frustrates me the most regarding Flacco career is he is clearly a no huddle rhythm QB. The 4 games Joe had in his entire career in that offense w/ above average talent for that system he set playoff records. How do we respond? Make up a coaching spot to adjust the offense and trade his best weapon. That is one thing I will never understand. Why did we change that offense at all after the super bowl and why don't we keep a no huddle playbook around for the new OCs.





  5. #5
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    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    You bring up some good points Ex.

    I am of the mindset that John Harbaugh is who he is. He values "keep the ball in front of you" defense and "ball control" offense. He's a good coach, but he's old school. I also don't think his valuations of coordinators is very good. I think the whole nepotism theory is a load of bunk, but I do think that he's just not good at evaluating his coaches. The defense has been inconsistent since Chuck Pagano left and while they may be towards the top of the league in some categories, they've by and large lost more games in the past 5 seasons than the offense has.

    I also think the development aspect is interesting, but then again, it isn't like we've had a ton of players suck here and then go onto their next teams and become all pros there. Any recent Ravens player that left and went to another team either stunk or was already a good player here.


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    Disclaimer: The content posted is of my own opinion.

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  6. Re: The Foundation of Development.

    Isn't this kinda what you get when your HC has never been a coordinator on either side of the ball and your front office has shown it values defense more than offense and is much better at scouting and drafting defensive talent than offense?
    Will Die A Ravens Fan!!





  7. #7

    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fanatic View Post
    Isn't this kinda what you get when your HC has never been a coordinator on either side of the ball and your front office has shown it values defense more than offense and is much better at scouting and drafting defensive talent than offense?
    You're playing my song. Harbs is a fine administrator/delegator, and that does have its place in an organization. But the coaches to whom he delegates are not up to the standards required for continuing success.
    Not much really matters, and the rest doesn't matter at all.





  8. #8
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    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    Quote Originally Posted by ravens1991 View Post
    This post hits perfectly on the frustration that we have had since Joe Flacco was a young player. It seems as if under Cameron we tried to establish the super star coaching line ups w/ Jim Zorn, Al Saunders for Joe Flacco third year in 2010. Flacco has his best year and we respond with firing Saunders and Zorn so Cameron gets more control despite Flacco cursing him out on the sideline in the playoffs. Flacco speaks his displeasure to the media about it and we still let a coach he likes go. It is frustrating because you see Brees, Manning, Brady are BFF with their OC and our QB had a lot of friction.

    The thing that frustrates me the most regarding Flacco career is he is clearly a no huddle rhythm QB. The 4 games Joe had in his entire career in that offense w/ above average talent for that system he set playoff records. How do we respond? Make up a coaching spot to adjust the offense and trade his best weapon. That is one thing I will never understand. Why did we change that offense at all after the super bowl and why don't we keep a no huddle playbook around for the new OCs.
    That's why I truly believe Harbaugh has stunted Flaccos growth much like Dan Reeves did to Elway. I wish Billick would have been allowed a mulligan for his 5-11 season. I would have loved to see him work with an actual NFL franchise QB. The sky would have been the limit and the team would have been built more evenly around Joe





  9. #9
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    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    I would like to make one edit in that Reed came in with Nolan as the Defensive Coordinator.
    "Please take with you this final sword, The Excellector. I am praying that your journey will be guided by the light", Leon Shore





  10. #10
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    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    The point about the Sugar huddle is a good one. Of course, it's not something that can be sustained for a full game. However, it is clear that Flacco is much better in an up-tempo offense with more control at the LOS. It just seems to get his juices flowing.

    I mean, if I have a QB who can lead my team on that type of postseason run, and I see that, that isn't even his ceiling, because he's only doing it with slightly above average talent around him, I'm milking him for everything he's got. I might not pull Julio Jones type trades, but I'm following the Pittsburgh/Atlanta model, because I'm going to win more games through him than otherwise. I'm going to win more games with him scoring 35 points than with hoping that he can muster 25 and the defense can save the day.
    "Please take with you this final sword, The Excellector. I am praying that your journey will be guided by the light", Leon Shore





  11. #11

    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goode05 View Post
    That's why I truly believe Harbaugh has stunted Flaccos growth much like Dan Reeves did to Elway. I wish Billick would have been allowed a mulligan for his 5-11 season. I would have loved to see him work with an actual NFL franchise QB. The sky would have been the limit and the team would have been built more evenly around Joe
    Ive bounced that before to my family and my Uncle always loves to one up me and say what if Billick could have admitted Boller was a bust in 2005 and we take Rodgers over Clayton. Gotta love the what if game when it comes to football.





  12. #12

    Re: The Foundation of Development.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Excellector View Post
    The point about the Sugar huddle is a good one. Of course, it's not something that can be sustained for a full game. However, it is clear that Flacco is much better in an up-tempo offense with more control at the LOS. It just seems to get his juices flowing.

    I mean, if I have a QB who can lead my team on that type of postseason run, and I see that, that isn't even his ceiling, because he's only doing it with slightly above average talent around him, I'm milking him for everything he's got. I might not pull Julio Jones type trades, but I'm following the Pittsburgh/Atlanta model, because I'm going to win more games through him than otherwise. I'm going to win more games with him scoring 35 points than with hoping that he can muster 25 and the defense can save the day.

    Even with our below average weapons this past year the one game Flacco opened up he went 36/47 381 yards and 4 TD against a playoff team in the Dolphins. I will never understand why we don't do it more often.
    I've always wondered is Harbaugh against the one that is not letting Flacco have control of the offense. I would think any OC would love to have that uncle/nephew kind of relationship some QB have with their coaches and come to a compromise regarding how often a QB can audible. It seems like Caldwell is the only guy who let Flacco audible. I think it is odd that we are batting 1 out of 5 with OC who allow audibles when high schoolers can audible. Another thing I find odd is our OC have had top 5 offense elsewhere but have came in and all have been flops except for Kubiak who seemed to have been given free reign on the offense from the owner.





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