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.