Archive for July, 2008

Unwanted Comparison
July 30, 2008

This will not go over well with Ravens fans. 

This will not go over well in Baltimore period.

But here goes.  The 2008 Ravens remind me of the 2008 Orioles.

How can that be you wonder?  The Ravens have won a Super Bowl within the last decade while the Orioles have not even earned a winning season.  The Ravens went to the playoffs in 2006.  The closest the Orioles have come to the post season was first baseman Kevin Millar introduced his former Red Sox teammates at the 2007 ALCS. 

Despite the real and the perceived gaps in the organizations, these two teams have too many similarities to ignore.

In baseball you can’t consistently win without starting pitching.  No matter how much talent lies elsewhere that is a proven truth.

In football, you can’t win without a solid offensive line.  With the retirement of Jonathan Ogden, the injury to Adam Terry, and the lack of depth that has a pair of should be practice squaders right now manning the tackle positions, this team is in trouble.  To many mistakes up front will lead not only to a lack of points but will consistently put the defense in bad positions.  This Ravens defense will be great once more, but it was great last year too.  And when the o-line repeatedly put the defense in the shadow of its own end zone, greatness finally gave.

I’m not sure how the front office for the Ravens, which has routinely proven itself as one of the better staffs in football, allowed for such little depth and experience, but it’s very hard to imagine this team overcoming the injuries and the inexperience while at the same time learning a new system with every starter from 2007 playing a new position in 2008. 

There is however another comparison to the Orioles, one that’s more favorable.  The Birds finally seem headed in the right direction.  Peter Angelos is allowing a good baseball man in Andy MacPhail to make decisions based solely on what’s best for the future.  That is wholly new.

The Ravens also made change at the top and will allow time to see the fruits of those changes.  Better yet for the Ravens, the time frame for change in football is far smaller than in baseball.  You don’t have to take years to build up a farm system.  With the salary cap leveling the field, you just need one or two good drafts and to hit the free agent pool. 

But in 2008, it may be too late for revival.

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Training Camp Kickoff
July 22, 2008

The first practice of training camp of the John Harbaugh era is in the books.  Hope you’re not sick of the phrase John Harbaugh era.  I use it as a crutch with neither reserve or remorse.  It’s like Justin Timberlake hosting the ESPYS and using his effeminite voice when things hit a dull spot.  I just can’t help myself.

Anyway, on the field it looked an awful lot like mini camp.  Makes sense, only rookies, quarterbacks, and returning injured veterans have reported.  There were so few bodies on the field that Harbaugh himself jumped in at cornerback during some drills.  The quarterbacks were quick to praise his efforts after practice, but let’s just say there’s a reason his football career was so short lived.

The rest of the team reports for duty Thursday night then pratices for the first time Friday morning.

So with little to examine, all eyes went to the quarterbacks.  The three-way open competition between Kyle Boller, Troy Smith, and Joe Flacco has seven weeks to work itself out, and really won’t get going till Friday.  With no pads and no veterans with which to play, it would be foolish to try and evaluate performances from today. 

Color me foolish.

Kyle Boller looked the best in drills against a defense.  He was accurate and decisive.  Joe Flacco wasn’t far behind.  He missed a few more throws, but made no serious mistakes.  Even in such low intensity drills he is fun to watch.  The ball leaves his hand so quickly we are forced to pay much greater attention when standing on the sideline.  He might just put one upside your head in the blink of an eye.

Troy Smith however did not enjoy such a smooth morning.  Three passes were picked off including a ball that went directly into the stomach of secondary coach Chuck Pagano.  John Harbaugh said he wouldn’t evaluate till Friday, but that sure, anytime you see something it gets filed away.  Smith hopes he files that one far, far away.

They’ll practice again this afternoon at 3:30.