Ray Lewis once asked for a “big guy to plug up the middle” so he wouldn’t have to do so much second-level tackling as he entered the second decade of his illustrious career.
Enter Haloti Ngata in 2006.
Joe Flacco might not have specifically asked for more protection in the wake of the Ravens 2-2 start, but he got it Tuesday night when Eugene Monroe was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ozzie Newsome invested at least $60 million in Flacco last spring — and that investment deserves the utmost protection it can get, which is exactly why Monroe is coming to Baltimore and Bryant McKinnie is likely headed to the bench.
It’s fair to note — more than fair, actually – that McKinnie hasn’t been the worst o-line performer for the Ravens over the first four weeks of the season. Not even close. But when you can pry away a guy like Monroe from a moribund franchise who appears to be in the beginning stages of a fire sale, you do it. Monroe should be the team’s left tackle of the future as long as he can be re-signed when his contract expires at the end of the season…or extended before that day arrives.
This deal, though, was as much about the team’s quarterback as it was anything else. You can’t cough up $29 million in cash and roughly $60 million over three years and then let that prized possession run around for his life Sunday-after-Sunday. It just doesn’t make business sense, let alone football sense.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if at some point over the last couple of weeks, owner Steve Bisciotti at least nudged Newsome once or twice during a game and said, “Hey…I don’t know much…but I know I wired a bunch of money into Joe’s account last April and I’d have a complete cow if he gets carted off the field with a blown-up knee because our line can’t protect him. Let’s get some better people in here…”
That’s how the guy who writes the checks thinks. And rightfully so, I should add.
Shockingly – and I assume these are folks who don’t actually look at the scoreboard when the games end – there are still folks in town who dismiss Flacco’s ability and always heap credit somewhere else anytime #5 has success. That’s fine…debate makes the world go ’round. But, one thing that can’t be debated is this: If you’re going to give a player $60 million, you then must go out of your way to over-protect him, which is precisely what the Ravens have done.
If only Monroe could also play center, offensive guard, wide receiver, tight end and cornerback.
It was only one game, but the Capitals looked “different” than I’ve seen them in previous years when they opened the season with a Tuesday night loss in Chicago, 6-4.
Call it the “Adam Oates influence” or maybe it’s as simple as the fact that Oates had an entire training camp to work with his team – unlike last season – but last night’s effort looked more polished, with more speed, more transition ability, and better puck control in the offensive end. The power play sure looked great, right up until the final three minutes when Washington couldn’t capitalize on a 5-on-3 situation. Braden Holtby let a couple of softees get by him, including the eventual game-winner with six minutes left, but his play in the 2nd period kept the Caps in the game long enough for Ovechkin and Company to rally in the 3rd period and take a brief lead at 4-3.
I still don’t know if Washington’s defense is good enough, with Mike Green always more interested in an offensive role than a defensive one — and John Erskine still being…well…John Erskine — but if Tuesday’s offensive effort was any indication of what’s to come, things might perk up at the Verizon Center this season.
That was one helluva scene last night in Pittsburgh for the Pirates-Reds wild card game.
As we saw in Baltimore last October, these cities who once prided themselves on their baseball team only to see them get ripped apart by bad ownership have a lot of pent-up energy to let loose once a game that matters rolls around.
Those people were completely nuts last night at PNC Park.
It was really cool to see.
Now…about those Steelers.