I wrote about Joe Douglas recently and mentioned that he is likely to want guys that are big, strong, tough and physical. A few people wondered if that wasn’t the same thing Chip Kelly wanted. You know, big people beat up little people. There is a definite difference.
Kelly loved size. He loved measurables. I think Douglas is more about attitude. Think about the difference in Connor Barwin and Terrell Suggs. Think about the difference in Anquan Boldin and Miles Austin. The Ravens didn’t just want guys with size. They didn’t just want guys with strength. They wanted people who would literally beat up other guys. They wanted guys who played with an edge.
Size without attitude is just a number.
Ravens players are tough. They have an attitude. The Ravens might praise a player they liked as “a blood-and-guts, relentless guy”. That description was for LB John Simon, a player that Douglas and Andy Weidl coveted. He didn’t pan out for the Ravens, but kept grinding and became a good LB for the Texans.
Effort, toughness and attitude are key traits. Players must be highly competitive. Douglas is that kind of guy himself.
It comes as no surprise that Douglas is extremely competitive, especially in football. “I am not an outwardly screaming kind of guy, but I do whatever it takes to win the game,” he says.
That’s the same type of drive the former NFL football scout looks for in his players — people who hate to lose more than they enjoy winning. “I look for that desire to win. That mental toughness,” he says. “The NFL will humble everybody. You have to be able to pick yourself up when the going gets tough. I’m looking for guys that love football, that make great teammates and that hate to lose.”
On a May afternoon following the 2007 NFL Draft, several Baltimore scouts were meeting in the office of Joe Douglas, who at the time, was in charge of cross-checking all offensive line prospects the Ravens deemed draftable.
Without notice, then-director of college scouting Eric DeCosta walked into the room and made a silent, yet attention-striking statement.
Picking up a Dry Erase marker, DeCosta quickly scribbled something on Douglas’ whiteboard. Never uttering a single word, he then turned around and exited the office – leaving behind a message that had his scouts beaming.
YANDA = TOUGH-A**
DeCosta’s declaration came fresh off his return from the Ravens’ first offseason rookie minicamp. In practice that day, a young Marshal Yanda had made an immediate impression – one that began validating the Ravens’ decision to utilize a third-round pick on the promising Iowa Hawkeye.
Receiving high grades from every Ravens scout who evaluated him for months, Yanda exhibited outstanding intelligence, an exceptional work ethic, a desire to excel, and most importantly, a level of toughness that went beyond extremes.
Recalling Baltimore’s initial evaluation of Yanda, Douglas states: “We knew we could win with this guy on our offensive line.”
Yanda will battle you on the field, but he would also out-work you off the field. He will do anything to win. That’s the kind of relentless, tough player that Douglas wants. Toughness can be physical, mental or emotional.
I have mentioned a time or two the need for stability. That has been a huge part of the Ravens success over the years.
The NFC personnel director states, “What Baltimore does, they play a certain way, and they find pieces that fit the way they play. They don’t re-sign guys above the value they’ve assigned them, and they find players who fit roles, even if some of those guys have issues. They feel like they can work those out because they have a strong locker room. Ozzie knows what he wants in a player, and he goes and gets it. They miss like everyone else, but they have a plan and they’re good at executing it. … Everyone there is so clearly on the same page, and that’s key. They work well together, they’re consistent in what they’re looking for and they haven’t changed much. They just find people that fit, and when guys move on, they find other people to fit in.”
The Ravens and their continuity in their front office leads me into my next point, head coaches and general managers should be allowed to play out their vision. Teams hire these guys and then sometimes they’ll end up being fired two years into the job, which doesn’t even really give players time to buy into the coach’s system or the coach time to fill the roster with the kind of players he needs to succeed.
In short, the Ravens have a vision and they stick to it. They play the long game. They are patient. That fits in to what Howie Roseman talked about earlier in the week and it is the smart philosophy for this team. Howie, Douglas and Doug Pederson are on the same page in terms of how to build the Eagles.
That plan won’t do them any good if they can’t find the right players. Knowing how competitive Douglas is, you can bet he will do anything and everything he can to find some tough guys and turn the Eagles around.