Archive for the ‘Ravens’ Category

Susan Lucci has nothing on the Ravens
January 5, 2009

Examine each case individually and logical arguments can be made. 

Matt Ryan went 11-5, reached the playoffs, and threw for more than 3,400 yards.  Ergo, Offensive  Rookie of the year.

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan

Mike Smith took over a complete debacle in Atlanta.  Mike Vick derailed the franchise and Bobby Petrino bailed on the Falcons in their hour of need.  Smith then led the Falcons to the post season.  Again, a very deserving Coach of the Year trophy for Smith.

Mike Smith / NBC Sports Media

Mike Smith / NBC Sports Media


James Harrison was the best player on the top ranked defense in Pittsburgh.  16 sacks and seven forced fumbles make for a nice resume, so again, the argument seems grounded.

James Harrison / newpittsburgh post courier

James Harrison / newpittsburgh post courier

But let’s zoom out and see the big picture.  Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco offered a similar resume to Ryan’s but didn’t enjoy the luxury of knowing he would start from week one.  Ryan took all the first team reps through the mini camps, training camp, and the preseason.  Flacco thought he would ride pine his entire rookie season.  Then the injuries came during preseason to Kyle Boller and Troy Smith forcing Flacco into the starring role.  He never backed down, and never gave anyone else the chance to reclaim the prize.

Joe Flacco / NY Daily News

Joe Flacco / NY Daily News

John Harbaugh’s case for Coach of the Year comes up a little short of Smith and Miami’s Tony Sparano (a close 2nd place finish to Smith).  Sure he turned around a 5-11 team to 11-5 with a rookie quarterback (and after the first week of the playoffs is the only rookie coach still coaching), but I get why ultimately the award went elsewhere.  


But he couldn’t get a single vote?  Not one.  Nobody made the case he did the best job.  Don’t forget, he took over and immediately Steve McNair retires.  Jonathan Ogden followed a few months later in June.  And his locker room was fractured.  Harbaugh convinced a bunch of veteran defenders to get on board in a totatlly different way.  That’s not worth a single vote?

And finally, the case against Ed Reed.  Wait,  I can’t think of one.  Not a single defensive force made more of an impact this season.  He also returns punts.  James Harrison, when asked to perform a secondary role, long snapped a ball over the head of his punter for a safety.  That’s not versatility.  Reed scored three touchdowns in the regular season, led the NFL in  interceptions, and did it all with an injured neck.


Reed finished 3rd in the voting.

In reality though, Ravens fans should be thrilled.  The “Nobody respects us” card is free to be played over, and over again.  The snubs provide further galvanization. 

It’s all coming together, beware the scorned Raven evermore.

I chatted about the Ravens with several of you Monday afternoon. You can read the Q&A <a href=””><B>here</B></a&gt;.


Who are these guys?
November 3, 2008

Left a little loopy from the Ravens recent run of offensive excellence?  Or dumbfounded?  Or stuck with a politician’s perma-grin? 

Hard not to be left in wonder as a team with such a rich tradition of the three yard pass on 3rd and five rides a three game stretch in which they’re averaging 31 points per game. 

Adding to the confusion is the collection of guys tearing it up for the purple and black.  Joe Flacco, a rookie from 1-AA football, Ray Rice from Rutgers (you know that powerhouse in Jersey), and LeRon McClain whom no coach before Cam Cameron thought worthy of regularly carrying the ball.

Who could have seen this coming?  I predicted five wins for the season for the precise reason that these were the guys upon which the Ravens might be forced to rely!  Now they sit in 2nd place, on the verge of first with five wins in the first half of the season.

The growth and excitement from these guys is great and sets the foundation for a serious run of fun.  But before playoff tickets are purchased, take a close look at the schedule.   Four games against the NFC East remain, another date with Pittsburgh, and at Houston this week.  John Harbaugh said today all they’ve guaranteed is a 5-11 record.  He offers the reality check that nothing has really yet been accomplished.  So sure, you can’t earn a spot in the playoffs after eight games,  but you can absolutely lose one.  Thus far, they’re well in the hunt.  What a pleasant surprise.

October 23, 2008

God bless you Terrell Suggs.  You’re consistent ability to say things that leave your coaches and teammates cringing keep you at the top of the list for favorite players to invterview.

Commenting on a syndicated radio talk show this weeks Suggs hit the daily double.  He claimed the Ravens have a bounty out for Steelers receiver Hines Ward.  For the uninitiated, that’s a mega no-no in the NFL.  And then went on to say he wishes Troy Smith was the Ravens starting quarterback.  Again, in case you did not know, the Ravens already have a starter.

The comment that best described the situation today at Ravens headquarters in the media room went like this.   “It’s as if he’s living in the 1950’s, completely unaware that what you say in one city can be heard in another.”  Can’t remember who exactly who painted that picture, but it was one of the Marks from Comcast Sportsnet.  I guess they’ll have to share credit.

It was dead on though.  Suggs has done this before.  Last summer he told a KTVK-TV in Phoenix that he would love to play for the Cardinals.  And get this, somehow word of that interview made its way all the way here to Baltimore.  Suggs backtracked from that idea saying how he’d love to end his career with the Ravens.

He tried to smooth things over once again after his latest team sport gaffe, but the damage in the mind of John Harbaugh and maybe Joe Flacco (although honestly Joe seems to care so little about what anybody else thinks it won’t be a point of contention) is a distraction that must be dealt with.

I don’t think Suggs means to agravate those in his world.  His transgressions come from wanting to please others rather than take anybody down.  But how he can’t see the headaches coming is amazing.  It’s like lending money to people that can’t afford it and then being amazed when they go belly up.  How could that ever happen?

Suggs of course will be completely forgiven for a few interview comments so long as he plays like he did Sunday against the Dolphins.

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.

Not on your life
June 23, 2008

Oh, the temptation is strong.   All the reasons the Ravens drafted Joe Flacco; the rocket arm, the Marino-esque release, the willingness to study and work, they’ve all been on display.  And compared to his competition, there is no question who gives the offense the best chance to score points, or at least who will with a little experience.

John Harbaugh has to want to start him.  How can he not?

Six weeks ago Harbaugh said it was highly unlikely that Flacco would start from week one, that he would have to be so far ahead of the others, that he would have to blow Kyle Boller and Troy Smith away.

Harbaugh’s tune, at least to the media, has not changed.  But watching the workouts and the steady progression of Flacco leaves you knowing the temptation grows. 

Oh dear.

Don’t do it.

Just say no.

No matter how solid Flacco looks the benefits from starting week one against Cincinnati can’t come close to the possible damages inflicted.  An offensive line that will have zero players starting in the position they played last season, a schedule ranked 4th toughest in the NFL, and the last time an NFL team started a rookie in week one was Kyle Boller. 

76 days till the opener with the Bengals.  Here’s to Flacco making enough bad decisions on the field to keep John Harbaugh from making what might be a catastrophic decision for the future of the franchise.

Harbaugh’s Joy
May 2, 2008

I’m sure John Harbaugh will tell you the most joyful events in his life involve the birth of his daughter, the marriage to his wife, things of that nature.  But I can’t imagine anyone feeling more joy than does he as the Ravens head coach.

His mini camp practices are run with military precision, but also with the youthful exuberance of a teenager given the keys to his father’s car for the very first time.  He loves running the show, but for not for the ego of being in charge, simply for the chance to share all that he’s learned about the game. 

Towards the end of practice today, 2nd year returner Yamon Figurs made a rather bone headed play as he fielded a kickoff near the sidelines marker and couldn’t stay inbounds.  Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg was none too thrilled, making it abundantly clear to never, never, never do that again.  He sounded like a football coach.  The play also happened right in front of Harbaugh.  But rather than verbally accost Figurs as I and everyone I spoke that watched the play expected, he walked up the youngster, put his arm around him explaining how to avoid a mistake like that.  He ended the conversation with a pat on the back and the drills continued.

I wasn’t sure if I was watching the NFL or little league. 

He treated Figurs with patience and respect after a mistake that Figurs in no way should have made. 

I asked Coach Harbaugh about that after practice, if that’s how he always coaches.  He explained that he only yells at players for a lack of effort or if they are disrespectful to either teammates or staff.  Then he thanked me for noticing, offering a fist pound. 

Combined with the other early on impressions of Harbaugh, how he always looks you in the eye during a conversation, his childlike excitement to be in Baltimore, I was left thinking how fortunate he is to have found a calling he so thoroughly enjoys.  And how fortunate the Ravens community is to have found him.

I still have no idea if he’ll succeed as a head coach.  They don’t send you to Canton for being a nice guy, otherwise Ted Marchibroda would already be enshrined.  But in looking for signs one way or the other,  nothing negative has come to light.