Shan Shariff of 610 Sports talked with Eric DeCosta, Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel, this week going over all things Kansas City Chiefs. As Shariff said, DeCosta is a "straight-shooter" and tells it like it is. For example, he says losing Matt Stover after the 2008 season probably cost them some games last year.
DeCosta hit on a number of topics but was well aware of the type of matchup this would be for the Ravens and was very complimentary of the way the Chiefs are built (as most personnel folks are). Key points I took away are that the Ravens feel the Chiefs running game is a touch matchup, their offense has been inconsistent and getting pressure on Cassel is a priority for them.
Here are a few highlights of the interview and listen to it at 610Sports.com.
Losing Jared Gaither hurt. The Ravens lost their offensive tackle before the year and DeCosta cited that as one of the problems the Ravens faced this year. He says it's affected both the running game and the passing game (but, looking at the stats, both parts of their game are still doing well).
"We've gone back and forth." DeCosta mentioned several times the inconsistency of the Ravens this year. That's evident in their passing game this year as they haven't thrown for over 200 yards in the last month. The passing game was more explosive earlier in the year and seems to have slowed down a bit. The running game looks solid but, like the passing game, has shown some inconsistencies. Let's hope the Chiefs catch the Ravens on a down day.
The biggest surprise on the Ravens. Kicker Billy Cundiff kicked a little bit for them last year and he came in this year, went to a Pro Bowl and tied the NFL record for touchbacks. This is important to keep in mind as we talk about special teams as an important part of this game. He also said losing Matt Stover probably cost them a couple of games this year.
"They're a very physical team, obviously. Their running game is outstanding. The play-action passing game is very, very good." DeCosta hit on all the major key points when breaking down the Chiefs -- Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Moeaki (who he said was a great draft pick), Eric Berry and Tamba Hali.
"They're a tough matchup for us." He said the Chiefs do some things in the running game that make this a tough matchup for them. It's funny because, from a Chiefs perspective, I'd say the same thing. He talked about the Chiefs interior offensive line as a strength and that's an area where I think the Chiefs could be exploited this weekend.
"He's extremely efficient." Talking about Matt Cassel, DeCosta says they have to get some pressure on him. If Cassel can sit back there without pressure, they're going to have trouble. He says if they can get to Cassel and make him uncomfortable, "we have a chance."
"He's a guy that can win you a game." Shariff asked him if Cassel is like Trent Dilfer at all and he didn't think so. He says Cassel can make all the throws and he does a lot of things well, especially when he has time.