Chat with Jamison Hensley
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN NFL Nation Baltimore Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley stops by to chat and answer all of your Ravens questions.
Hensley joined ESPN.com in 2011 after covering the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun for 11 years. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he lives in the Baltimore area with his wife and son.
Send your questions now and join Hensley Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:01 PM)
Thanks for joining the chat today. I see we have a lot of questions, so let's get to them.
Do you think the Ravens should make some coaching replacements during the season? Replace Caldwell, Pees, or at least Castillo? If not during the season, should we expect a coaching overhaul in the off-season? I can't help but think that Harbaugh will be on the hot seat for his crony-like system of hiring/keeping coaches, all of which have proved to be bad at their job.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:03 PM)
I don't see any coaching changes during the season. Harbaugh won't pull a Cam Cameron move again. I honestly don't think he'll change much this offseason either. Juan Castillo, the run game coordinator, is in the first of a three-year contract. Caldwell looked like a genius only nine months ago. And Pees is much better than what fans give him credit for. While the faces may not change, I can see some responsibilities changing within the staff.
Chase (Severna Park)
With our secondary continuing to struggle, is there any thought the ravens might sign Nnamdi Asomugha? Or at least try him out?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:04 PM)
Ravens have less than $2 million in cap room. Can't afford him.
PFF says that Gino Gradkowski is turning the corner after a rough start. If that is so, is he still the Ravens' center of the future or do they have to go out and get somebody else?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:05 PM)
Gradkowski had his best game Sunday in Cleveland. It's going to take more than that to be considered the center of the future for this team. As I've mentioned before, there is a lot of buzz about Ryan Jensen. He's a rookie who looks to be recovered from foot surgery.
Nick Valentine (Glen Burnie)
How many of the recent issue is Flacco to blame for?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:06 PM)
He has to share some of the blame for the slow starts. He has looked awful early in the games this year. This past game was his worst of the season. It was even worse than his five-interception performance. That's why I wrote he's become part of the problem now instead of being the solution.
What's with Ray Rice lately?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:07 PM)
I believe he's still dealing with that hip injury. Rice insists he's healthy, but I just don't see it on the field.
Hi Jamison, real bummer last week! That said I feel better, will Torrey Smith break out against Cincy this weekend - how does Cincy typically defend him and will they continue that approach? - (if it were me I would take at least 3 deep shots down the middle or hash lines to Torrey each game - he has shown an ability to adjuct to underthows etc so why not try to hit your game changer) thanks
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:09 PM)
I agree that the Ravens need to take more shots down the field. The problem is, Flacco has struggled getting the ball deep this year. I've never seen him underthrow so many receivers. It makes you wonder if there is something going on with his arm at times.
What's with Sam Koch this season? He seems to be struggling at getting other teams pinned down deep in their own territory and has shanked a few punts. This follows a less than spectacular postseason last year. Do you think Ozzie will look elsewhere for a punter next year?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:11 PM)
Harbaugh didn't seem to happy with Koch after the game. He's been one of the most consistent punters over the past six or seven years, so he deserves some slack. But Harbaugh doesn't stand for repeated mistakes, especially when it comes to special teams. Harbaugh did make the point that Koch looks good in practice. He's not carrying it over into games. If Koch continues to struggle, the Ravens will be forced to bring in competition next year.
do you believe the division still wide open or should the ravens start preparing for next season?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:13 PM)
Sunday's game will determine this. If the Ravens lose, the division will be lost. The Ravens would fall three games back of the Bengals and their division mark would be 1-3. But the Ravens would still have a shot at the last wild-card spot. The Jets are currently 1.5 games ahead of the Ravens.
Rich (Glen Burnie)
I agree with all of your midseason report grades... might downgrade Flacco to a C- for a lack of pocket awareness and his inability to hit receivers in stride. What about passion, hunger and some of the more qualitative factors? I hate to side with national media but has the loss of Lewis and Reed really left us without an emotional leader or is it just Super Bowl hangover?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:15 PM)
I kept the grade of 'C' for Flacco because I also took into account how everything else around him has fallen apart: run game, pass protection, dropped passes. The last game was the one where he really hurt the team with his inaccuracy. If there is one quality to question, it's toughness. I thought the Ravens undervalued the toughness that Anquan Boldin and Bernard Pollard gave them.
Evan (Washington DC)
Is it time to draft high for rb and WR?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:17 PM)
No one drafts running backs high anymore, and it depends on what WR would be available when the Ravens draft. I like the starting duo of Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown. The depth is what you have to question with Tandon Doss and Deonte Thompson.
Kevin (Baltimore, MD)
Will Ray Rice top 1000 rushing yards this season?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:18 PM)
No way that's going to happen. Rice would have to average 92.6 yards per game over the next eight weeks to reach 1,000 yards. I'm not sure Rice is going to reach 700 yards rushing this year.
Hey Jamison, Lots of talk about Ray Rice and of other running backs who have had great runs only to hit a wall out of nowhere. I get we have issues on the OL, but with the fewest broken tackles of any RB in the league and a lack of burst I'm just not buying the injury. Could Ray Rice be done as a top back in this league?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:21 PM)
Andy, I still feel that the injury is affecting him. You have to remember that he gained over 100 yards rushing in two of his last three full regular-season games. He also ran for 131 yards in that OT win in Denver in the playoffs. I can't buy that he suddenly lost it from 10 months ago.
Bill Bono (Dagsboro)
It feels like Cincinnati is beating us at our own game, draft wise. They have been taking the BAP lately and seemingly hitting on all of them. What's the deal
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:23 PM)
The Bengals have been drafting higher than the Ravens, but your point is well taken. The Bengals have one of the best young teams in the NFL right now. Their only big miss lately is CB Dre Kirkpatrick. There's no disputing that the Bengals have a better young core than the Ravens.
I am one of Flacco's biggest defenders but, as you said, he has started to become a part of the problem. When/if Pitta returns do you believe the offense will open up more? I think we could see some mismatches and more opportunities downfield, but I'm not sure it will equate to wins. Basically what I'm asking is can Pitta be our Gronkowski in a sense.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:25 PM)
I wouldn't put Pitta in that class right now, and I honestly don't know what kind of physical shape Pitta will be in when he comes back. Pitta is a playmaker, but Gronkowski is a game-changer. I think we can all agree that Flacco is a better quarterback with Pitta than without him.
While Flacco hasn't played great, I think we should cut him some slack given his receiving options. While Larry Fitz seems like a dream, could you see the Ravens going after either Eric Decker or Hakeem Nicks in the offseason?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:25 PM)
I don't see the Ravens going after any FA receiver who will cost money. The Ravens don't have the luxury of that much cap room. If the Ravens add an impact WR, I think it will be in the draft.
Kevin (Baltimore, MD)
Harbaugh said that TE Dennis Pitta is "closer than ever" to returning to practice. If the Ravens continue to slide (lose) this season, do you think they'll let Pitta sit out the rest of the year, so as to not risk him coming back too soon?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:27 PM)
I think it becomes Pitta's call. He is a free agent at the end of the year, and he may want to show everyone that he's healthy enough to play regardless of the Ravens' record. It may be in his best interest business-wise.
Mike Baltimore [via mobile]
A few weeks ago I asked if you thought the Ravens will make the playoffs. With the mediocre AFC do you think they have a shot at the Playoffs.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:28 PM)
The Ravens are 1.5 games behind the NY Jets for the last playoff spot in the AFC. But, from what I saw in the first half, the Ravens look like an 8-8 team to me. I believe most people would agree with me on that. It's up to the Ravens to prove everyone wrong in the second half of the year.
How has Eugene Monroe done this season with the ravens? And seriously what is going on with ray rice?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:29 PM)
Monroe had a good game Sunday in Cleveland. I know it's difficult to think that an offensive lineman had good moments in that game. It's in the Ravens' best interest to sign him to an extension. I don't see a better option (especially at his price) in free agency.
Thanks for the answer JH. One more, simpler question. You covered the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for several years. Do you have a favorite memory of/with the team during that time?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:33 PM)
That's a difficult question for me because there are so many. A lot comes from the 2000 season, which was my first on the beat. The one that comes to mind was when the Ravens beat the Titans in the playoffs in 2000. You could see in the players' eyes that they were convinced they would win the Super Bowl after that game.
What has happened to this teams identity? There is no energy, swagger, passion, wanting to impose our will or physicality. Steve and Ozzie consistently talk about wanting to be a passionate and physical team even Harbaugh says it. But whether it was Harbaugh or not all the players that epitomized that philosophy are gone. What we are left with is just a shell. Is there an internal struggle or is this the new direction of the franchise?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:35 PM)
The Ravens thought their identity would be a pass-first team and a top-10 defense. The injury to Pitta affected that, and the defense has not played up to expectations. I get the sense that the players are a little shell-shocked at where they are right now. We'll find out about the leadership on this team this month.
Hi Jamison,This team is too flawed for a quick fix, but what do you see as the key to a turnaround? Man blocking? Pitta returning? Rice breaking tackles? Or are we DOOMED?!
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:36 PM)
The key is getting something -- anything -- out of the running game and getting turnovers from the defense. Those are two of the areas holding this team back the most.
Will either Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce be the starting running back on opening day a year from now? Rice hasn't looked good all year and showed his mileage in stretch run last year, and Pierce seems to always be nicked up, and hasn't done any better this year. Thoughts?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:38 PM)
Pierce is too cheap to let go. He'll definitely be back. The Ravens are going to have to decide whether Rice is worth it at $8.75 million salary-cap number.
Greg (Westminster) [via mobile]
With Lardarius Webb showing decline and Jimmy Smith playing inconsistently should the Ravens draft a corner this year?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:40 PM)
I don't see CB being a big priority for the draft. Webb is going to be better next season. You can't judge him too harshly in his first year back from an ACL. The Ravens are still committed to Jimmy Smith for next year.
Jamison Hensley (ESPN) (2:40 PM)
Thanks for all of your great questions. I really appreciate it. Let's do this again next week. Hope you enjoy the rest of the week and Sunday's game.