Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was one heck of a player as a tight end for the Cleveland Browns. Most long time Cleveland fans would probably give him a high grade based only his performance on the football field.
Today’s a new day, though. Newsome is no longer on the receiving end of the football — he’s now in the front office.
With that being said, the bigger question is how would one grade Newsome’s performance as the Ravens general manager. Especially, with the roller coaster season the team just had.
It’s no question that Newsome earned himself a high grade after a picture perfect journey to a Super Bowl ring in 2013. Not to mention his history of great selections in the draft, savvy acquisition in free agency and managing the team’s salary cap down to a tee.
Since we’re talking grading though, we must not be oblivious to the fact that Newsome’s “GPA” as GM took a slight hit after what we saw from the Ravens last season.
Some questionable moves in last years offseason and a playoff absence caused some people to question Newsome’s ability to run the front office. However, he’s made it clear he did his homework since then. With a solid 90-player roster and some fresh offseason moves, it looks like Newsome did his job this offseason.
The Ravens front office took a lot of flack for getting rid of San Francisco 49er, Anquan Boldin, after he helped lead Baltimore to a Super Bowl in the 2012-2013 season. It’s safe to say that Newsome’s response to that flack was bringing veteran receiver, Steve Smith Sr., to Baltimore.
The Ravens have also been respected around the league as a strong defensive squad, which changed at times last season. By drafting four defensive specialists with high ceilings in this years draft, Newsome appears determined to regain that respect and get back to their defensive ways.
The offensive line was another big let down last season, but after re-signing left tackle Eugene Monroe — who’s in the prime of his career — and trading for Jeremy Zuttah, that doesn’t have to be the case.
Looking closely at this year’s roster, Newsome has transitioned from a team of aging veterans, to a younger team that still with maintains some veteran leadership.
Newsome’s track record as GM speaks for itself. If one were to give him a pass, it would make a lot of sense to do it now. After all, it’s not like the Ravens didn’t come close to the playoffs last season with a drastically different team from their Super Bowl winner a year prior. A record of 8-8 was arguably an over-achievement for that team.
It seems safe to say that Ravens fans can sit back this season and enjoy the “comeback,” if you’ll even call it that. For many teams, a .500 record is a cause for pride. With that being said, that doesn’t change the fact that Newsome’s biggest test is still yet to come. Going from a Super Bowl title to blowing up the roster and not making the playoffs for the first time in six years has created a major test for the Hall of Famer.
The Ravens will surely have their share of adversity this season with the installation of a new offense and looming suspension for Ray Rice. But at the same time, things are looking better for them going into this season compared to last.
Those who follow the Ravens will obviously be waiting to give out grades once the season is at its midway point, but if a grade for Newsome were given out right now, he should be granted a B+.