How will Ravens replace Lewis and Reed?
There are lots of hours to fill on the NFL Network and space to eat up on NFL.com, so they end up doing things like listing the most underrated and overrated players all-time for each team. We didn’t happen to catch the Ravens’ version the first time around, but it was being featured at NFL.com Wednesday morning.
And the answers are: Ray Lewis and Jamal Lewis. You can probably figure out who’s which.
Dave Dameshek goes strictly by the version of Ray Lewis we saw in the last seasons of his career to tag him as the franchise’s most overrated player. Now, no one is going to argue that the No. 52 of the final years was the same search-and-destroy linebacker from earlier in his career. But Ravens fans would likely find Dameshek’s assessment a bit harsh.
“At his best, in his prime, he was unlike any middle linebacker I’ve ever seen,” Dameshek said. “Sideline to sideline, the speed was like nothing else, a guy that size could chase down anybody any size, any skill position.”
Uh-oh, now here it comes.
“But the fact of the matter is, in the waning years of his career, Super Bowl ring notwithstanding … he was not an especially effective football player. He was good in the locker room before the game. He was good for the inspirational, rah-rah stuff. Once it got in between the lines, all he was doing was dancing, and I didn’t see a whole lot else.
“He was, in fact , a liability.”
Dameshek’s partner, Adam Rank, gives him a chance to backtrack, asking if Dameshek thought he would stick with that view in a few years.
“The entirety of his career, no,” Dameshek said. “The last five years of his career, yes.”
A liability for five years? Seems to me there were an awful lot of big plays still in those last five years.
As for most underrated, Rank has a better point in choosing Jamal Lewis. Outside of Baltimore, how many people even remember he had a 2,000-yard season (2,066 in 2003)?
“When people talk about the best running backs of the past 10-15 years, not a lot of people go with Jamal Lewis,” Rank said.
Jamal Lewis’ stature was hurt because of time lost to injury and his legal problems, but he was a rare combination of size and quickness and for a handful of seasons, as effective as any runner in the NFL.
“Make no mistake,” Rank said, “Jamal Lewis was one of the best running backs of his era.”