Ask Mud Dog Anything 1
Ask Mud Dog Anything | Chris Schisler
Anyone who knows me knows that there are two modes to me. I have the regular Chris Schisler for the mundane routine life. And then there is the football Chris. I call this Chris Mud Dog. Mud Dog was my old high school football nickname. Mud Dog likes football to the extreme. This is where the passion comes from. In this new CSF series of articles “Ask Mud Dog Anything,” I will answer your football questions with passion, deep thought and complete focus. So here we go!
Question 1: @lissalisa29 asks “With the changes to the 53 man roster, that the Ravens have done, do you see this shake up of better things to come for this team?
Answer: Absolutely. I think that this is a big statement from the coaching staff. Anytime you cut veterans like Michael Huff and Marcus Spears you send shakes through the organization. Marcus Spears was probably cut due to being banged up. Huff was cut because the Ravens did not need the dead weight on the roster. Huff, who was benched after 1 horrific game in Denver has been a non-factor and John Harbaugh said enough with it. This move to me, holds everyone accountable even veterans signed in the off season. A football player’s first priority is to keep his job. Huff needed to contribute on special teams to keep his job. He didn’t and he faced the consequences. The players still on this roster will be motivated by the cuts, even if it’s out of fear. The new signings are interesting. The signing of Bernard Scott was interesting. He is a runningback and has experience. This may be a signing to bolster special teams or to add a third down back who has experience in pass protection and passing routes in a similar Cincinnati offense. There are no major additions. This is a good thing however. This is a vote of confidence for the players kept. The players added will help on the little things.
Question 2: @MarylandGirl89 asks “Since Ray Rice said this week off has definitely helped him, do you see him playing a bigger role on Sunday?”
Answer: Ray Rice should always be a part of the winning blueprint. The Ravens know this. The problem has not been all Rice; the offensive line has played horribly. This is problematic for backs for multiple reasons. First it restricts the frequency we can use our backs in the passing game because they need to block the blitz. Secondly there is just nowhere for Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce for that matter, to go. I imagine the Ravens coaching staff spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the running game cranked up during the bye. I would imagine the Ravens give Ray Rice a bigger role. They need to get Rice 20 touches a game between runs and receptions. Whether this leads to bigger production or not is up to the offensive line. I have been saying it for a while but the Ravens need to be a 2 back based offense. If we want Rice to help in the passing game, we need another blocker in the backfield.
Question 3: @Tracy_Cole65 asks “With Ravens having next to no injured players now…do you see big changes in the starting lineup Sunday?”
Answer: Well Tracy, have changed drastically with the potential season ending injury of Kelechi Osemele. Osemele may not have played wonderfully but he was clearly the best guard not named Yanda on the roster. Shake ups of the offensive line never ever help. I would get Wagner in at guard and let A.Q. Shipley takeover Gradkowski’s job at center. The Ravens have to make a change on an already struggling offensive line. It is clearly a rough situation. There will also be changes on special teams. There has to be. The Ravens did not make any moves before the trade deadline. The Ravens believe in the receivers they have. I would look for Tandon Doss to get even more playing time.
Question 4: @MattyBoh10 asks “Will the Ravens finish on a 9 game winning streak and finish with a 12-4 record?”
Answer: Man, I want to say yes. I really really do. I have faith in the Ravens but they have given me no reason to think we can go on a 9 game winning streak. The injury to KO hurts a lot. I think the Ravens go 7-2 down the stretch. It’s been a season that has been frustrating, where everything that could go wrong has. I do think the Ravens repair many of their problems and I do think it becomes less frustrating. To win 9 consecutive games you need to be consistent and you need to get some good luck. The Ravens have been very inconsistent and have had absolutely no luck this season. The Ravens have the talent. They can do it. That is why we still need to be excited for the rest of the season.
Question 5: @Frezeal33 asks “What will the 2nd half of the season look like?”
Answer: I think the Ravens will be much better in the second half of the season. I think the offense will be more balanced. I think the running game will improve just enough but the offensive line will continue to be our biggest hindrance. I think the Ravens have to put the games on the shoulder of Joe Flacco and I really believe he will deliver. Pitta coming back will be huge. Defensively I believe the problems we have up front will be resolved. There is no excuse for this defense not to be dominant. Matt Elam will improve in coverage as the year continues. The pass rush will dominate. This is why the Ravens are in good shape to win the division still. The Ravens have to cracks at the Bengals which ultimately define the 2013 Ravens. The Bengals struggle to protect Andy Dalton, who can be a turnover slot machine. The Ravens have problems. We can fix a lot of them. Some of these problems will linger all season. The second half of the season is about overcoming the problems, the issues, the injuries and the frustrations of a 3-4 start. I think Baltimore will be proud of another playoff team.
Question 6: @Frezeal33 asks “What does the loss of KO mean to the Ravens?”
Answer: Victor, this is the worst possible kind of injury for the Ravens. It is time for a A.Q. Shipley to step up. The Ravens may not find the answer to this problem for a while. The Ravens fortunately are coming out of the bye and were likely prepared for this. The Ravens were already struggling with scheme changes, the last thing they need is to shuffle the offensive line. I am high on Ricky Wagner as a guard. I like him a little more than Shipley. If Ryan Jensen can be healthy I have strong hopes for him at center. I thought all season we needed to get Gradkowski off the field; Jensen may be our only hope. Long story short the Ravens offensive line already sucked and now they may be in deep trouble. The Ravens playcalling has got to be able to make up for poor offensive line play.
Question 7: @FootballandWine asks “What is wrong with Ravens fans that Harbaugh has 5 winning seasons and a Super Bowl; Ozzie has had such success with personnel, Flacco has been fantastic and all we do as fans is criticize and because Spears etc. didn’t work they worry Ozzie has lost his touch! Good Greif!”
Answer: Well you packed a lot into that question. In summary you are frustrated that fans do not appreciate the successes of the Baltimore Ravens and are overly critical of every little thing. And this frustration is well merited. I feel this frustration constantly as well. The Ravens are a premier organization not just in football but in all sports. It should drive you crazy when fans use kneejerk reactions to every play and want to fire people after every game. I think that every fan base has these people. The nut jobs are a lot louder than the fans with common sense. Look at how Philadelphia treated Donavon McNabb. At least Ravens fans don’t throw batteries and beer cans at men in Santa Clause suits. The nut jobs are there and local sports radio gives their idiotic perceptions an audience. The fan base is a bit spoiled because of success. Despite this spoiling I do think there are more positive and intelligent fans than buffoons who think they know better than Hall of fame tight end, and admired GM, Ozzie Newsome. I personally thinks anyone who thinks that Ozzie needs to go, or that he has lost his touch needs to be condemned to Pittsburgh. But hey, let’s just not be part of the problem. In other words we all need to get better at ignoring idiotic, spoiled and kneejerk reacting fans.