Posted on: October 9, 2009 11:40 am
And I mean EVER! From present day back to the turn of the 20the century. Tell me who you think is the best in history!
Posted on: July 20, 2009 2:03 am
Coming into 2009 Joe Flacco had exactly one reliable target to continue on his success this year from last. Derrick Mason (with the unfortunate and untimely death of his long time friend Steve McNair) has decided to hang it up after 13 productive seasons - 4 with Baltimore. He's a 36 year old ballplayer; the Ravens organization should've been prepared for this eventuality. He suffered a shoulder injury requiring surgery, he has a few milestones and the management won't give him any back-up. In any event, if he chooses to stay retired, its well deserved.
Without a suitable replacement the Raven's start the season with a depleted receiving corp. The starting receivers would likely be Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Kelley Washington, and Marcus Smith. The first two have the greatest experience, but the last two have untapped physical potential. Further down the ladder is Wheelwright, Ed Williams, Justin Harper, Eron Riley and Isaiah Williams who are just in reserve/futures contracts. Tight end is similarly depleted with Todd Heap, LJ Smith and Quinn Sypniewski all ailing and prone to injury. Futher, Isaac Smolko and Davon Drew are not ready to be the new Heap.
This off-season the Ravens have let potential deals with Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards, Brandon Marshall, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Torry Holt, slide possibly relying on the continued presence of Mason to be leader of an underachieving and inexperienced receiving squad. Without him the house of cards falls flat in a way tha could take the Ravens back to the Billick/Boller days with the sole offense coming from Jamal Lewis.
Plaxico and Owens are for obvious reasons excluded from serious consideration. Boldin and Edwards were clearly the best options and much would've been sacrificed to get them in a purple and black jersey (likely a 1st nd 3rd draft picks). T.J. was a big question mark and Holt was...well...washed up? But Holt was 2 year younger than Mason? What about Marshall? He possesses $10 million hands, but a 10 cent head, butcan Harbaugh control him? More than 57% of Ravens fans polled think so and favor signing him. And these are fans who by and large don't suffer fools; a testament no doubt to their faith in the new head coach. Marshall could be the biggest Baltimore aquisition from Denver since Shannon Sharp.
Now there is Matt Jones, the embattled and troubled college QB turned pro receiver from the Jags, who apparently will not be suspended for 2009. Matt Jones? The one with all the leagal troubles and disappointing performances in Jacksonville? Yeah, that's the one. He's available and reportedly having trouble landing a deal. While he may not be Mr. Right, he could be Mr. Right Now. Sign him to a heavily incentive laden deal for a year. He has the physical attributes and 4 years pro experience. Let him prove himself like he started to do last year in a contract year with the heat coming down on him. He's definitely got something to prove.
The last option is to overpay Mason to come back. Mason is a great player; solid, dependable, the epitome of a possesion receiver. However, he's not a game breaker, nor should he try to be. Adding a big end zone target to the team would've made the passing game. Now without him, anyone of these other players merely makes up for the deficit left in his absence.
Unless one of the current team member steps up in a major way the Ravens will be in serious trouble this year and Flacco's precarious progress could suffer. Will Clayton step up? Will Demetrius nail down his routes? Will Washington or Smith become the dark horse receiver with which Flacco develops a rapport? If not, the door hasn't closed on Marshall and Matt Jones could be a surprise for 2009.