Your Monday Reality Check: Look, I love Brandon Stokley and all…

August 12, 2013 | Glenn Clark

Your Monday Reality Check: Look, I love Brandon Stokley and all…

I love Brandon Stokley, but I can’t be unrealistic about what I’m expecting from he and TE Dallas Clark, both of whom signed with the Ravens this weekend.

In the Summer of 2010, I introduced a “Players We’ve Heard Of Theory” for Baltimore sports fans on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” on WNST. During that particular summer, the Ravens added free agents like CB Walt Harris, S Ken Hamlin, QB Marc Bulger and K Shayne Graham. Calls flooded the morning show (of which I was a part of at the time) along the lines of “now you can tell just how serious the Ravens are about winning the Super Bowl.”

My reaction started as giggling but got angrier when I realized those callers really believed what they were saying. That group of four players would go on to start a combined zero games for the team. Only Hamlin would ever get into a game for the Ravens (he actually got into seven) and the combined impact of the quartet was about on par with the impact Luis Exposito had on the 2012 Baltimore Orioles.

I’ve seen some strikingly similar reactions from Ravens fans to the team’s recent pickups. I understand we had all heard of Stokley, Shiancoe and Clark when they were signed by the Ravens. I just don’t understand why we think they’re still the guys they used to be.

Want to see the “reality” up close and in your face? Let’s look at the last three seasons for all three players, courtesy of NFL.com. We’ll start with Stokley.

How about Clark?

And finally, Shiancoe.

So what do I do with all of this ticker tape I had already purchased? You may have already seen the far-too-realistic Tweet I sent out Sunday afternoon before the Clark signing was official.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that you’ve heard of a player. Don’t allow that to cloud your judgment about who they are. And don’t feel bad if you’ve been fooled. Even Buck Showalter was fooled into being excited about the arrivals of Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome in the last couple of years. It happens to the best of us.

I’m aware of the reasons why the Ravens’ additions were good ideas and perhaps necessary. After losing TE Dennis Pitta for the season, the team was already thin. TE Ed Dickson’s hamstring injury could linger towards the start of the regular season as well. The team was never particularly deep at wide receiver, with Torrey Smith the only particularly known commodity.

Combine those issues with Stokley’s familiarity with Baltimore and he and Clark’s familiarity with Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell going back to their days with the Indianapolis Colts and the moves seem reasonable.

Of course, so did acquiring TJ Houshmandzadeh a few years ago…or Lee Evans two years ago.

The truth is that the moves lead me to think more about “desperation” than “solution.” Perhaps this group of players has enough left in the tank collectively to make a difference in 2013. Head Coach John Harbaugh noted after Sunday’s Training Camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium that none were guaranteed anything roster-wise and that they would be competing with younger players like Deonte Thompson (who is also a bit of a question mark with a sprained foot), Tandon Doss, David Reed, LaQuan Williams, Aaron Mellette, Tommy Streeter and Matt Furstenburg at their respective positions.

The Ravens might have a better roster today than they did Friday. That’s not a certainty. It’s a possibility. And if they do, that speaks as much to the moves they’re making now as the moves that were or were not made during the offseason. The trio of Shiancoe, Stokley and Clark will likely come in south of the $6 million the Ravens declined to pay former WR Anquan Boldin this season, but I wonder how many people around the game would prefer to have the Ravens’ group than the now 49ers pass catcher?

When the Ravens decided to trade Boldin away, I said then I was okay with the move if they made further appropriate moves at receiver/tight end. These simply don’t fit the bill for me.

I like Visanthe Shiancoe-who I’ve been able to get to know a little bit because of his connection to Morgan State. I’ve never talked to Dallas Clark. But you’re not getting me to celebrate these moves today. Instead, I’m scratching my head and hoping for the best.

Oh and did I mention? I love Brandon Stokley.

-G

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8 Comments For This Post

  1. Chuck Says:

    Thanks. This is a very well written piece.

    It’s a shame you had to waste so much time and space on qualifying your respect for Stokley. His contribution to Baltimore’s suceess is well known. But a lot of people in this town who walk around like zombies saying “In Ozzie We Trust” probably need that just to cope with the criticism.

    The simple fact is had Pitt or NE signed these players we’d all today be mocking Belichik or Kevin Colbert, two individuals with success that equals or exceeds that of Ozzie’s (a great GM). These are marginal at best players.

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Bouldin trade looming large already. I still can’t help but believe that the real reasons for getting rid of him had nothing to do with his salary demands or ability but his attitude in the club house and with Harbs in general.

    Brandon and Clark are old but both have a lot of post season work and they can catch. Evans and TG had dropsy all through their careers. It’s a patch for 16 games. I do like that number 80 will retire as a Raven he should have never been let go years ago.

  3. John In Westminster Says:

    What these moves do is add some potential depth and experience for the younger receivers. The average fan understands there is a reason why these guys were available in August. I think the move for Clark was very telling about how management feels about Shiancoe and Dickson. And does anyone think Doss, Thompson, Reed, Williams (the best of 2nd tier guys), or any of the other backups are better than Stokely right now? Not saying I’m ready to purchase our Super Bowl tickets yet, but we are now a better team than what we fielded in Tampa last week.

    Also, per Ozzie’s comments, the Boldin trade bought us a lot of defenders (Dumervil, Canty, Smith, Huff) at good value.

  4. Gil From Perry Hall Says:

    Note to unitastoberry: Without going into depth and without me having the benefit of being in the locker room,I suggest to you that the published payroll information speaks loudly to the reason that Anquan was released. The savings (real and cap) due to his release put him number 1 on the list by far. He and the team evidently could not agree on a restructure plan, so the team walked the financial gang plank. I am not saying I know best or better, the numbers are glaring.

    Glenn, with respect to the Shiancoe and Clark acquisitions, I think this is Ozzie and the organization at their best, making the necessary roster moves to fill a need.

    With Stokley it is a bit of a disappointment. I too love Brandon Stokley but I thought the crop of young talent was going to produce the necessary component(s) for a dynamic, proficient offense. This move seems to send a signal that either receiver development is not progressing as fast as anticipated or that a talent/work ethic limit has been reached.

    Coach Harbaugh is becoming famous for his sayings from which many people derive much. I feel sure it is no coincidence that this past Sunday at the open practice at M & T, Coach Harbaugh’s shirt was embalazoned for all to see “ABILITY IS GOD GOVEN”

  5. kevin from churchville Says:

    i saw a stat that stokley had the highest catch percntage of all slot receivers in the league last year. he and dallas clarke have great hands and they know jim caldwells offense quite well.who else is out there?keep up the good work.have not seen your dad at mountain in a while. hope all is well.

  6. unitastoberry Says:

    @Gill Speculation my friend just speculation.You have vets on this team who could have re structured to keep Bouldin. Why didn’t he show up at the White House ring ceremony? Leech did and they kept him in the dark until last week.

  7. matt Says:

    clark still has it, tho injury prone. bad year with freeman last year because freeman sucks. shiancoe and stokley dont have it. stokley does have a shot at making some plays though.

  8. Joe in Fells Point Says:

    At least we have a QB that can make the necessary passes. Let’s hope a couple of the unproven or retreads can catch a few of Joe’s passes.

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