Jeremy Zuttah was 2014’s best UFA signing.

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens

The upgrade from Gino Gradkowski to Jeremy Zuttah is the most fruitful roster of the off-season.

This started out as my essay pick for this week’s Cheddar Bay and graduated into a short post.  That’s because the Ravens are a story that no one is talking about yet and I love bringing the news first.  I noticed this when I re-did the 603POWER rankings today.  The Ravens are on top and on top by a lot.  In the four categories of LOS domination (pass block, run block, run defense, and pass rush) that are the primary determinants in the 603POWER grades, the Ravens are a sigma to the right in bell curve in all four.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 10.14.21 PM

Green shading means ‘greater than one standard deviation above mean.’ Ravens only team with five green boxes.

Even Flacco looks good.

Anyways,,, how my Cheddar essay read.1

5.  ***Ravens +1 at Bengals

No really, Ozzie lost nine starters after the SB. Could NOT have been the plan.

I gave Ozzie Newsome a healthy ration of shit after winning the Super Bowl.

Look at your fucked up salary cap! How’d that ‘make Joe Flacco earn his contract’ strategy work out? Good luck replacing nine unsigned starters!! Har, har, har… repeat.

I even wrote up a post pretty much ridiculing him and the Ravens for losing Ellerbe and Boldin.  I mean he lost nine starters off the 2012 team — it wasn’t great planning — but he was getting total ball-washed by the punditry.  I didn’t publish it, though, both because I got bored talking about Cary Williams and I think the Ravens were winning.  They were 8-8 last year, not horrible, and fuck an A: 2012 Super Bowl win.  But no really, the post was pretty baked.

Welp.  He’s good.

I was coveting Ricky Wagner via TV screen caps going back to the 2011 Rose Bowl.

While Joe Banner stockpiled 4th round picks in the 2013 draft, Newsome was using his fifth rounder to draft a 6-6/310 Wisconsin o-lineman.

But the position that burned Ozzie in 2013 was at center.  He did not get away with Gino Gradkowski and after this year’s draft, I thought he’d been burned again.  I thought sure he wanted Richburg in the second when the Giants snagged him four slots before him.

Who knew Jeremy Zuttah would turn out to be this season’s best FA signing?  Now Zuttah might not be a top five center, but when you consider the Ravens’ center was dead last last year and now Zuttah is playing in the Ryan Kalil zone… and is doing so for 6.5M gtd… just,, well fuck me.


Center play was effectively addressed in the Ravens’ offseason.

Guy gives away Anquan Boldin and Elvis Dumervil drops in his lap. Better lucky than good, I guess but I’m starting to think that the old Hogan saying applies (The more I practice, the luckier I get.)

Meanwhile in Cincinnati AJ Green’s toe is still bugging him and Andy Dalton showed he’s still Andy Dalton when playing playoff caliber teams. Three sacks, 126 yds in the Colts shutout last week, but no gif-able moments to add to the collection so maybe that’s a win for Dalton, hard to say. Yeah, Cincy won at Baltimore in the opener. All the more reason to expect a multiple TD victory Sunday. Damn, I wish I had my POTY back.

Anyway yeah sure, I love the Ravens over the Bengals.  But when I look at an o-line that won a Super Bowl with Oher-Reid-Birk-Yanda-Osemele lost three of those five, and inside of two years you can say the line of Monroe-Osemele- Zuttah-Yanda-Wagner and  is improved over 2012?

It’s worth a mention.

And we haven’t even gotten to the linebacker upgrades from 2012 to 2014.  Suffice it to say:  first round pick CJ Mosley is a major contributor.

Jump on the Ravens now before everyone else does.  Browns better have their act straight if that last game in Baltimore is for a playoff spot.


  1. This is not my official Cheddar essay for this week.  I want to hold off designating it until Saturday. [back]
  • Dave Kolonich

    Late to the game here – but this is a classic Ozzie “in transition/about to be really good again” Ravens team. However, in the meantime – this probably translates to 9-7 or 10-6….and probably good enough to bounce the Patriots in the playoffs again.

    So……did anyone else feel the universe folding in on itself last night? McCoy v. Weeden on Monday Night????? This has to be a sign the Browns are winning the Super Bowl this year – right? And now Josh Cribbs wants back in??? Life is so wonderful sometimes.

    Also, doesn’t my Trade Manziel after Week One to the Cowboys vision look really great right now? Romo getting weekly epidurals = Weeden burning the whole thing down. Don’t you think Head Coach Jerry would have given up a Ricky Williams haul for Manziel??

    • actovegin1armstrong

      We need the Herschel Walker haul.

      • Dave Kolonich

        How fitting that would be. I was waiting for the implosion to begin and Monday Night was just about perfect.

  • jpftribe

    The Steve Smith signing will prove to be huge for them. The guy is a complete high maintenance jerk on the field and a beast of a player. Perfect fit for the Ravens.

  • Bluedog93

    I’m sorry, but you use a phrase I don’t understand with regard to Mosley in the next-to-last paragraph: “first round pick… is a major contributor.”

    I’m a Browns fan. Can somebody tell me what this means? I’ve been told over and over again that first round picks must develop, can’t be judged by their performance on the field, don’t play well during their first year and can’t be expected to play at all, what does it mean that a first round pick is a “major contributor”? How can a first round pick contribute in a major way? Does he donate a lot to charitable causes? Does he in practice help the starters by effectively playing the part of the opposing team? You surely can’t mean that he contributes by play on the field on Sunday, because we all know that rookies can’t do that. Haven’t we been told as much by the last thirty-four front offices of the Browns?

  • trashycamaro

    Essay: Dolphins -6 over Jaguars

    So, the lesson I learned last year was that essays count more than anything else. I know, it’s obvious from the scoring. But the point is the investor’s mantra – above all don’t take a loss. I used my essays in last year’s competition to highlight pick I thought were smart or different from the pack or special. And I hit something like 20%. This year I am over 50% on my essays because I am taking the easy plays that make sense and avoiding traps such as road favorites for my extra points.

    So, after that intro, I am taking a road favorite here. I want the Browns to be good, but I think they have basically earned their record at this point. Without a couple of unforced errors last week, the Jags win doesn’t look anywhere near as good as it did on the scoreboard. Before last week this line would have been pushing double digits. It says here is should be double digits (and I still would have probably taken the ‘phins).

    You know what sucks when you are rookie QB (32nd in QBR) with a really bad offensive line (27th in run blocking/31st in adjusted sack rate) and Denard Robinson (slightly below average) as you starting RB? Facing a really good pass rush (7th in adjusted sack rate) is a good way to get killed. This is such a mismatch that the Dolphins offense (11th in DVOA) vs. the Jags defense (#13 in DVOA) doesn’t matter, and neither does the ineptitude of both team’s special teams (MIA 32, JAX 24).

    TL;DR in Bold

    AP: Packers +1 over Saints I do not think the AP should be measured by essays, it should be measured by how many people do not want to bet it because it is a well-crafted line that is not easy to pick one side over another. Despite the Packers recent dominance and the Saints recent struggles I think this will achieve a close to 50-50 split. But I have to go with recent performance. And I do think I would have played this game absent the AP designation.

    College: UCF -8.5 over Temple Ignore my college picks for all that is good and holy. They are almost pure dartboard.

    Vikings +3 over Buccaneers Don’t like riding with Bridgewater…but the Bucs anemic pass rush keeps him upright. Another road team for me. Too heavy on my slate.

    Ravens +1 over Bengals Give me the team that is playing really well with a solid pass rush over the team missing its top 2 receivers.

    Colts +3 over Steelers Some screwed up when they made this line. The Colts are in a different tier of ability than the Steelers this year. The Steelers o-line is 29th in adjusted sack rate while the Colts pass rush is number one in adjusted sack rate.

  • actovegin1armstrong

    For the Best in the NFL Ravens to beat the lowly Browns there was a need for some “That’s So Raven” magic.
    The Browns committed 12 penalties and Gabriel gets tackled by a marauding turf monster.
    The Browns missed a field goal and had another one blocked.
    The first shot in The Great Shanahan Rebellion was also fired with that middle school trick play. I am the dummest guy I know and even I saw 4 things illegal about that play. How can Shanahan not know these things, (but that is for another day, post Rebellion).
    The Ravens may be the best team in the NFL, but only in a league where no one knows what is going on from week to week.
    Shall we revisit this Ravens Coronation in about 8 weeks?

    • even mary kay cabbage will be able to tell you the ravens are a 13-3 team in eight weeks. we set the bar higher here.

      just watch the annihilation in cincy sunday.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        If they can be 13-3 in 8 weeks it will be the most amazing performance since Ishtar.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        “just watch the annihilation in cincy sunday.”
        I will, the Ravens are going to get crushed. The NFL is operating under The Costanza Principal, whatever you think will happen, pick the opposite.

  • zarathustra

    Oh ye of little faith. If only you had trusted my supernatural encounters you too would own ravens 40-1 futures (though you also wouldn’t have an irresponsible amount invested in bears futures. Sad trombone*). You also would have known that the Bengals are a 6 win team this year(if they lose this week their implosion will gain significant momentum).
    All kidding aside, this is really good and your power rankings are great.

    *sad, sad, sad trombone. Curse you Jay Cutler!

  • They were talking best teams on the NFL Network this morning and Eric Davis was pushing pretty hard for the Ravens. With everything else going on they have been flying under the radar and all of a sudden they are 5-2 and can almost wrap up the division if they win this week against Cincy and next week at Pittsburgh. Crazy.

    Makes the game against them that the Browns let slip away even tougher to stomach.

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