It’s always a question of debate, but one that is easy to answer.
Who is the greatest Ravens player in the team’s brief NFL history?
It’s Jonathan Ogden, the team’s first-ever draft pick and Hall of Fame left tackle.
Picking Ogden stirs a debate about whether he was better than Ray Lewis, the team’s second first-round selection in 1996 and Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
Of course, Lewis played longer and had 2,055 career tackles. There are no such measurements for offensive linemen, even though both had their share of Pro Bowl appearances (Lewis 13, Ogden 11). The difference is that Lewis was the most complete Raven as the face of the organization and master motivator. He had the charisma, the style and the greatest pregame dance in the history of the NFL.
But from a pure technical standpoint, Ogden was better.
Lewis was the best middle linebacker to ever play in the NFL. What set him apart from others at that position was his speed to go from sideline-to-sideline and cover running backs out of the backfield or tight ends across the middle.
But in the running game, he usually had help in front of him from defensive tackles such as Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams and Haloti Ngata. Ogden never had that kind of help. He didn’t need a tight end or a running back to chip on a pass rusher.
Each week, the Ravens would put him on an island by himself and tell him to go block the other team’s best pass rusher. There aren’t many offenses that enjoy that type of liberty when it comes to devising a passing game.
Ogden was beautiful to watch, a player who mastered his pass set and could pound away and beat most pass rushers if he got one arm on them. He was a combination of brute force and finesse.
Lewis was just as fun to watch, but Ogden was a man among the boys.
Rosburg will be missed
The Ravens will miss special teams coach Jerry Rosburg, who retired last week after 11 years with the team.
Rosburg was a sounding board for coach John Harbaugh, but he also was a true professional. He never seemed to panic and his cool demeanor made him a favorite among the players and media.
Now, don’t get the impression that Rosburg lacked fire. When his special teams performed poorly, he let his players know about it. Surprisingly, I always thought he should have been given the opportunity to be a head coach. But in the NFL, owners think you have to sit in an offensive or defensive coordinator’s chair first before you can become the top guy.
DeCosta’s first draft
The Ravens will have their annual predraft press conference during the first week of April and it will be interesting to see how the philosophy has changed with Eric DeCosta replacing Ozzie Newsome as general manager.
DeCosta was Newsome’s No. 2 man for such a long time that he might have a similar approach, or maybe he has a new strategy. It will also be interesting to ask him about some other changes he might have made as far as scouting and evaluating talent since taking over.
No more instant replay?
This will never happen, but what if the NFL competition committee decided to just get rid of instant replay?
There are always going to be mistakes because the game is officiated by humans, and even with instant replay the referees are still blowing calls.
The NFL survived decades before instant replay, and the league could do it again. Because officials are under constant scrutiny these days, I just think it increases the chances of more errors. There is nothing quite like being second-guessed before millions of viewers.
Burfict lands in Oakland
The NFL likes to talk about keeping its image clean, but that will never happen with teams continuing to sign players such as linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
He lost his protection once the Cincinnati Bengals fired coach Marvin Lewis shortly after the 2018 season, and the Bengals waived him Monday.
But the crazy, goofy Burfict signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, one day after the Bengals cut him.
On any given day, any nut might sign with the Raiders.
Mile High Joe
Former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has to be happy in his new home of Denver.
Mile High Joe and Flacco nation T-shirts are on sale, along with Flacco hoodies. I bet Joe is feeling the love out in Colorado.
Latest Baltimore Ravens
He finally discussed publicly how “miserable” he was in Baltimore at the end of last season, and that was to be expected. The best thing, though, was that he never said anything negative about his situation at the time. He was a pro.