Ravens Q&A: Hey, Jamison!

November 13, 2009

Each week, Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley will answer fans' questions about the Ravens. To submit a question, e-mail sports@baltsun.com. Write Hey, Jamison! in the subject field and provide your name, the city you live in and phone number so we can verify the e-mail.

HEY, JAMISON: Two questions: 1. Do you think the Ravens regret letting Bart Scott/Jason Brown go and keeping/signing Ray Lewis/Matt Birk? 2. Not saying they're the answers, but any reason the Ravens didn't bring in Ty Law or Chris Chambers for a look?Josh Kodeck Bethesda

HEY, JOSH: Coming from Bethesda, shouldn't you be more interested in Jim Zorn, Clinton Portis and Jason Campbell? Actually, if the Ravens were like the Redskins, they would have panicked and picked up Ty Law and Chris Chambers. But the Ravens realize that neither would have been an upgrade. Law is 35 (which is AARP range for cornerbacks) and looked lost in his first game with the Denver Broncos, even as a nickel back. Chambers, who would have been just another small wide receiver (5 feet 11) for the Ravens, probably wasn't coveted by the coaching staff because he was traded out of Miami in 2007 when Cam Cameron was the Dolphins' head coach.

As for letting Bart Scott and Jason Brown go, the Ravens can't have any regrets over players they couldn't afford. It was obvious that the New York Jets wanted Scott and the St. Louis Rams targeted Brown. Scott ($48 million over six years) got more money than Lewis, and Brown became the NFL's highest-paid center (five-year contract with $20 million guaranteed). See, I would love to have a new Porsche Carrera GT. But it costs $440,000, so I just have to live without it.

HEY, JAMISON: It seems to me that in the games the Ravens lost, we were not only outplayed and outhustled, but also outcoached, particularly against Marvin Lewis, where the Ravens coaches' game plan was a disaster. What coaching adjustments need to be made for the second half of the season?Alex Kuperman Owings Mills

HEY, ALEX: My biggest problem isn't the coaching. It's the effort. What's wrong with the Ravens' pass rush? Well, the Ravens gave a $10 million signing bonus this offseason to Terrell Suggs to hit the quarterback. He needs to beat his blocker and get more than 3 1/2 sacks in the second half of the season. What was wrong with the passing game at Cincinnati? If Marvin Lewis rolled coverage to shut down Derrick Mason, it's up to the other wide receiver, Mark Clayton, to step up and get open.

It's easy to point the finger at the coordinators for their game plans when a team is struggling. But the biggest difference from last year to this one is the players' execution. After losing four of five games, the coaches aren't going to draw up new playbooks. Their challenge is getting the Ravens playing at a high level again.

HEY, JAMISON: I was wondering whether you thought the losses of key personnel guys such as Phil Savage, George Kokinis and a few others have begun to show this year. I understand the Stover decision, but a few of the other moves this past offseason have come back to haunt us, such as not retaining Jim Leonhard, the pickup of Chris Carr, and the Domonique Foxworth deal. I believe adding Foxworth was a good move, but certainly not for the money. It just seems like the front office made a few un-Raven-like decisions this year, and I was just wondering whether Ozzie Newsome might be spread too thin as he puts new cogs in place. Obviously, he is still one of the premier GMs in the business, but I know those guys had a big say in player evaluation and development. Dave Fitzpatrick Huntington Beach, Calif.

HEY, DAVE: Those moves are suspect now, and I wish I could say that I knew they wouldn't work out. But those three decisions were sound ones at the time. The Ravens couldn't pay starter money to Leonhard when they thought Dawan Landry would return to form. The team looked smart when it signed Chris Carr, too. The Ravens had to make a change at returner (Yamon Figurs just ran scared too many times), and Carr had a solid resume as a returner and backup cornerback.

The one move that did surprise me was signing Foxworth to a big-money contract. He hadn't proved himself as a full-time starter yet. But the Ravens desperately needed a cornerback who was entering his prime. Considering the other options (the other free-agent cornerbacks were Leigh Bodden, Jabari Greer and Bryant McFadden), the Ravens did get market value for Foxworth. So, the Ravens made logical decisions. They just might not be the correct ones.

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