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Harbaugh: “Our defense has to step up and play like the Ravens play”

Posted on 21 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — John Harbaugh didn’t mince words in assessing a defense that allowed 37 points in Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders to drop the Ravens’ record to 0-2.

The performance was out of character for a franchise known for its defensive tradition over 20 seasons in Baltimore. The eighth-year head coach put his players and coaches on notice that the defense needs to be fixed quickly as the Ravens now try to become the 25th 0-2 team to bounce back to make the playoffs since 1990.

“If we’re going to have a chance to be a successful football team, our defense has to step up and play like the Ravens play,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the expectation. That’s where the bar is set, and we’re going to have the guys out there that do that. And it’s on us as coaches to put the right guys out there, teach them to do the right things, and have the right schemes in place.”

Not only were the Ravens playing an Oakland offense that was shut out by Cincinnati through three quarters the previous week, but they was feeling confident about a defense that didn’t allow an offensive touchdown against future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and a talented Denver offense in the season opener.

Against the Raiders offense, however, everything went wrong as second-year quarterback Derek Carr threw three touchdown passes and Oakland accumulated 448 yards of offense. The Ravens collected just one sack and Pro Football Focus credited them with 11 missed tackles, their highest total since last year’s Week 9 blowout loss in Pittsburgh.

“We had missed tackles. We had missed assignments. We had breakdowns in coverage. We had missed alignments,” Harbaugh said. “We played about as unsound as you can play in a lot of different ways. We had effort for the most part, but I’ll even say we didn’t have the kind of effort we need to have on defense — the kind of all-out, flying-around effort that we expect from a Ravens’ defense.”

Playing without the injured Terrell Suggs, the Ravens struggled to create any semblance of consistent pressure on Carr as Elvis Dumervil played his highest number of snaps (62) since his days with the Denver Broncos and Courtney Upshaw didn’t capitalize on more opportunities to rush. As a result, Carr had a career day through the air with his 351 yards.

Harbaugh was quick to point out that Oakland designed plenty of short passes to neutralize the rush, but he did not forgive the inability of linebackers and defensive backs to neutralize those throws.

“When a team is determined to get the ball out fast, then you’re not going to get a lot of quarterback hits and you’re not going to get a lot of sacks,” Harbaugh said. “What you have to do is defend those quick throws, and we didn’t defend the quick throws as well as we need to because of the missed tackles and some of the missed alignments.

“If you force those throws to be no-gains, one gain, minus-2, 3-yard gains, when the ball is coming out fast, then you force them to hold the ball a little bit longer and to gain some yards and you get to the quarterback. That’s the No. 1 issue there.”

Though there’s truth to Harbaugh’s point, the Ravens didn’t get to Carr when he took deeper drops either, further making the decision to deactivate veteran newcomer Jason Babin puzzling after he was signed to provide more depth behind Dumervil, Upshaw, and rookie Za’Darius Smith.

Against an underwhelming offense, the Ravens showed no sign of being close to figuring out their pass-rush equation without Suggs.

“I think he had way too much time on the [bootlegs],” Harbaugh said. “He was able to stand back there on the keepers and boots almost forever and throw the ball. We have to figure out how to get that changed. But from a pass-rush standpoint, those are the two situations — the quick throws and the boots.”

Penalties on final drive

Two critical penalties hurt the Ravens on Oakland’s game-winning touchdown drive as defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan committed a senseless roughing-the-passer foul that marched the Raiders into field-goal range and safety Will Hill was flagged for holding before he made what looked to be the game-clinching interception with under a minute remaining.

Harbaugh offered a strong opinion on each one, with one player being chastised and the other forgiven.

“The Timmy Jernigan one was a foolish penalty — really inexcusable,” Harbaugh said. “There was no reason for that whatsoever at any time during the game, but especially in two-minute. But that was just a way late hit, and I don’t understand that one. It hurt us.

“The other one, I’m still looking for it. I don’t see it on tape, so I’m not sure what to tell Will on that. It looked like a good play to me.”

Second long trip out west being reconsidered

After previously saying they planned to stay out west for the week between their Oct. 18 game at San Francisco and Oct. 26 contest at Arizona, the Ravens are now reconsidering those plans.

Harbaugh said it would be a “no-brainer” to stay in Phoenix if the week were shorter between games — the second game takes place on a Monday night — but critics will understandably wonder how much the results of their first extended trip between the Denver and Oakland games will factor into a decision expected to be made in the next few days.

“If we stay [out there], it’ll be because we and the players feel like it would be the best thing,” Harbaugh said. “And if we don’t, it would be because we’d rather get back here and be in our home confines. [We’ll decide] which is best, especially in a long week.”

No word on Perriman

Injured rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) was seen doing some light running during his pre-game workout on Sunday, an increased level of activity shown from previous weeks when he was restricted to making catches from a stationary position.

The Ravens coach added no clarity when asked whether that was a sign of the first-round pick being close to finally returning after he sprained his knee on July 30.

“Not that I’ve been told,” Harbaugh said. “I have no update on it.”

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A bit of an airplane hangar but it's got the best air conditioning in MLB...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 21 Arizona Diamondbacks

Posted on 19 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Arizona – You can’t really keep Milwaukee and Phoenix apart on this list because they both play in virtually the same stadium. As Curt Schilling pointed out on WNST recently, it sure is nice to come inside and play baseball when it’s 114 outside and 72 inside. But it’s a big, hollow, chilly (well, from a mojo standpoint) place and other than the pool in right field it’s a generic building that feels almost abandoned when no one is in the seats on a weeknight. It’s a nice enough building but it’s hard to find anything unique here besides the heat on the outside. Oh, and whatever they were thinking in changing the color scheme of the uniforms was very short sighted. The new uniforms and logos suck. I attended a Throwback Thursday night. I’m glad the Diamondbacks weren’t wearing the maroon of their football cousins in Glendale.


On Sept. 8-9-10, I will be releasing an extensive essay documenting my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit journey of 2015. You can read it and all of my work here: http://wnst.net/author/nestoraparicio/

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ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 29: Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens looks on during a pre-season game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on August 29, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Rams beat the Ravens 24-21.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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Ravens to remain out west for both sets of back-to-back road games

Posted on 18 June 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Faced with two sets of back-to-back games out west during the 2015 regular season, the Ravens have decided to cut down on substantial travel time by remaining out west for both trips.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed his team will travel to the Bay Area following the season opener against the Denver Broncos on Sept. 13 and will remain there for the week before a Sept. 20 meeting against Oakland Raiders. The Ravens will then repeat that practice after their Oct. 18 game at San Francisco by traveling to Phoenix for the week leading up to their Monday night contest against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 26.

“We spent a little bit of time with some of the science on it,” Harbaugh said. “But really, what it came down to was a gut decision and talking to the players.”

Before the 2015 schedule was released in late April, Harbaugh and the Ravens had lobbied the NFL to play the road games against the Raiders and the 49ers in consecutive weeks in hopes of staying in the Bay Area to eliminate a cross-country flight. That request wasn’t granted, but it appeared the NFL may have done the Ravens a favor by bunching their other long-distance road games together.

Quarterback Joe Flacco was pleased that players were asked for their opinions on the matter and feels the strategy will give the Ravens a better chance during a difficult stretch of five out of seven games on the road to begin the 2015 season.

“I feel good about it. Us, as players, we’re part of that communication,” Flacco said. “John asked us and looked for input, and I’m one of the guys that was directly involved in making that decision. I’m happy about it. I think it’s going to be a good thing for us.”

Asked how the lengthy road trips might impact his wife, Dana, and three young sons, Flacco acknowledged she might not love the decision as much as him.

“I’m thinking that’s going to be a week off from being ‘Dad,'” said Flacco as he laughed. “She probably is going to be in for it a little bit. That’s just part of being an NFL quarterback’s wife. That’s why you’ve got to get a strong one.”

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Showalter leaving door open for ninth-inning options besides Johnson

Posted on 16 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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BALTIMORE — With the Orioles returning home following a deflating three-game sweep at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the question on everyone’s mind was who would take the ball in the ninth inning for manager Buck Showalter.

Having blown his last three save opportunities to run his total to a league-worst nine for the season, closer Jim Johnson told reporters in the Orioles clubhouse that he remains confident and that Showalter continues to express confidence in him. And while it’s true that the Baltimore manager maintained Friday that Johnson was still the best option on the team, he also provided himself wiggle room to make a change if he feels it to be necessary.

“I think we have a lot of options and he’s one of them,” Showalter said. “We’re lucky to have all those options. Different guys have failure. I know the finality of it and I know the questions should and need to be asked and it’s frustrating for Jimmy and me. I’m frustrated for him. There’s some things we haven’t done in other innings, too, but I understand the finality of that inning.”

Johnson still leads the majors with 39 saves, but the embattled right-hander is just 9-for-16 in one-run saves as many have pointed to the Orioles’ horrendous 56-9 mark when leading after eight innings and an underwhelming 14-21 record in one-run games after going a remarkable 29-9 in contests decided by one run last year. Those ugly realities have led most to the conclusion that the Orioles need to make a change at the closer spot — at least temporarily.

Showalter has repeatedly expressed his confidence in Johnson this year — including when the 30-year-old reliever blew four of five save chances in late May — but that loyalty is now appearing to contradict the ultimate goal of winning enough games to qualify for postseason play. If Showalter is planning a change, it comes as no surprise that he isn’t broadcasting that for both competitive reasons and respect for the 2012 All-Star closer.

Some have suggested even just giving Johnson a mental and physical respite for a number of days to see if that straightens him out for the stretch run, but the club has already tried to do that at a couple points this season, according to Showalter. If the next save opportunity comes Friday or later this weekend or even next week, the Orioles aren’t tipping their hand whether it will once again be Johnson or somebody else trotting to the hill in the ninth inning.

“If we decide to do that, there’s not going to be some big announcement,” Showalter said. “It will be something I’ve talked to people about and you’ll probably know about it when the gate opens. There are a lot of things that have to be done for us to get 27 outs before they score more runs than we do.”

Even Showalter’s biggest supporters have questioned the sanity of continuing to use Johnson in the ninth inning, a reality not lost on the manager as the Orioles start an important nine-game homestand to take them to the final days of August.

He’s very aware that the Orioles have lost some games that they shouldn’t have won, but Showalter’s intense loyalty to his players that is typically viewed as his greatest strength looks much more like a weakness at this point.

“I’m a fan, too. I get frustrated. We’re all fans of the Orioles,” Showalter said. “I’m a fan of the Orioles and I want us to win. If there are adjustments that need to be made along the way, I understand the sense of urgency with 42 games [left]. But I also know we’re still in a position to do what we set out to do this season and we won’t give in.”

No timetable for Adair’s return to club

As the organization did in announced Rick Adair’s personal leave of absence on Friday morning, Showalter remained respectful of his privacy and would not divulge any details about the circumstances with which the pitching coach is dealing.

Bullpen coach Bill Castro will assume the duties of pitching coach while former Orioles left-hander and minor-league instructor Scott McGregor will serve as the interim bullpen coach. Castro has major league experience as a pitching coach after previously serving in that capacity with the Milwaukee Brewers as recently as 2009.

Many reacted to the news by immediately speculating that this was a polite way to dismiss Adair, but the Orioles have been emphatic that the reason for the leave of absence isn’t related to his job performance. We could eventually learn there is more to this story, but it’s also important to remember coaches and players are also human beings with everyday trials just like anyone else.

“We all have some things in our lives we need to take care of that are more important than this, believe it or not,” Showalter said. “We’re just fortunate to be in an organization that is willing to do those things, and we’re fortunate to have people like Billy and Scott that can make it seamless. It has nothing to do with the job Rick is doing. Rick’s been doing a good job. Just some challenges we all have that we need to take some time and take care of.”

Showalter held a team meeting Friday afternoon to inform them of the shuffling along the coaching ranks and to address any rumors that might hear about Adair’s absence. Castro met with Orioles pitchers individually prior to the series opener against Colorado.

Gausman dealing with arm soreness

After top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy underwent Tommy John surgery earlier in the season, the last thing Orioles fans wanted to hear Friday was that 2012 first-round pick Kevin Gausman was skipped in the Triple-A Norfolk rotation with some soreness in his right arm.

Showalter made it clear that this isn’t considered to be anything serious, but the club also presented a similar prognosis when Bundy first complained of forearm discomfort. Of course, pitchers frequently deal with sore or tired arms and it doesn’t mean Gausman is facing any type of long-term issue at this time, but it will be something the Orioles will monitor for the time being.

“He feels good. He’s not happy about not pitching, but just had a little soreness,” Showalter said. “[It will] probably be the last time he ever tells us about it. That’s usually how it goes. They don’t seem alarmed about it. There was some give and take about whether they were even going to do it.”

The good news is that Showalter acknowledged the extra rest would benefit Gausman in terms of his workload and referred to the likely scenario of Gausman helping out the major league club in September and beyond.

Gausman last pitched on Aug. 8 when he allowed two earned runs in five innings of work for the Tides.

Changing it up

For the second time over the last week, Showalter flipped first baseman Chris Davis and right fielder Nick Markakis in the batting order as Davis was hitting third and Markakis fifth in Friday’s lineup against the Colorado Rockies.

Showalter admitted there were a variety of reasons for making the change, ranging from a desire to get Davis more at-bats to simply wanting to shake things up in hopes of jump-starting the offense. With both Davis and Markakis swinging from the left side, the change keeps the lineup in order in terms of making it difficult for a bullpen to match up in the late innings as Showalter frequently alternates right-handers and left-handers.

“Nick doesn’t care if he hits ninth, first, second, third, twelfth. He would probably have a problem with hitting twelfth,” Showalter quipped. “It’s just something we feel like is a good approach for today. We’ll see where it takes us.”

While Davis is in the midst of an MVP-caliber year, Markakis’ .282 batting average, .335 on-base percentage, and .372 slugging percentage are all career lows, making an easy argument against the right fielder remaining in the No. 3 slot in the lineup. It will also be interesting to see what it means for Davis with Adam Jones hitting directly behind him in the order compared to either Matt Wieters or J.J. Hardy as we’ve seen for most of the season.

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“The Reality Check” Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 03 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (32)

I like what I see from Weeden & Richardson. You need more good players to win though.

31. Indianapolis Colts (30)

I still can’t believe they lost to Jacksonville at home.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

I’m convinced they’ll ultimately be #32.

29. Miami Dolphins (31)

It’s a shame they couldn’t make that effort from Ryan Tannehill stand up.

28. New Orleans Saints (28)

They showed a little bit in Green Bay…wins are coming.

27. Kansas City Chiefs (25)

This doesn’t mean the Ravens will just coast Sunday.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24)

Not much to offer defensively on the Redskins’ final drive.

25. Oakland Raiders (22)

Defense is a MAJOR issue.

24. Carolina Panthers (23)

They’re better than this. They’ll improve, but it might not be enough.

23. Tennessee Titans (21)

In the short term, perhaps they’re better off with Matt Hasselbeck.

22. St. Louis Rams (26)

Now with pesky Los Angeles rumors!

21. Detroit Lions (18)

Just an absolute mess. This could bury them.

20. Buffalo Bills (19)

But Scott Chandler is a nice target.

19. New York Jets (14)

I’ve heard the words “you know who” a lot this week.

18. Seattle Seahawks (17)

You can’t follow up a win over the Packers with a loss to the Rams.

17. Dallas Cowboys (16)

They’re not as bad as they looked Monday night. At least I don’t think so.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 26 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (32)

The only thing I’m certain about in the NFL is that the Browns have been the worst team thus far.

31. Miami Dolphins (31)

But if Dan Carpenter could make a kick they wouldn’t be here.

30. Indianapolis Colts (26)

If you’re going to win a few games you’re probably going to have to beat the Jaguars at home.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)

In my heart of hearts, I still think they’re worse than the Browns. But as a reminder, the Ravens really liked Cecil Shorts III.

28. New Orleans Saints (17)

I knew it would be a struggle. NO ONE knew it would be this much of a struggle.

27. Washington Redskins (21)

You REALLY think it’s a good idea to keep letting RGIII get hit like that, Kyle Shanahan?

26. St. Louis Rams (24)

So…if Jay Cutler stinks and you lose to him, that means?

25. Kansas City Chiefs (30)

They’re not going to go winless. That’s a start.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

Every time you think they might be making progress…

23. Carolina Panthers (19)

Is the league figuring Cam Newton out a bit in year two?

22. Oakland Raiders (29)

That was a damn gutty victory.

21. Tennessee Titans (25)

They’ll need to be able to win a few without so many miracles.

20. Minnesota Vikings (27)

That was a really impressive performance. Not a whole lot more you can say.

19. Buffalo Bills (20)

A win over the Browns is a win, just unlikely to be a win that will make me give you a whole lot of credit.

18. Detroit Lions (12)

But at least they have quarterback issues!

17. Seattle Seahawks (23)

As Drew Forrester says, they’re 2-1*!

(Rankings 16-1 on Page 2…)

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Todd Heap tells Nestor he flew back to Baltimore honor Art Modell

Posted on 11 September 2012 by WNSTV

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Orioles acquire starting pitcher Saunders from Arizona

Posted on 26 August 2012 by Luke Jones

After showing interest at different times going back to last winter, the Orioles have acquired left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders from the Arizona Diamondbacks to aid in their playoff push.

Also receiving cash in the deal, the club has agreed to send right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom and a player to be named later to the Diamondbacks.

The 31-year-old Saunders is 6-10 with a 4.22 earned run average over 21 starts this season. In 130 innings of work, Saunders has struck out 89 and walked 31 while allowing 17 home runs.

Saunders is 75-62 with a 4.17 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and Diamondbacks.

Lindstrom was acquired along with starting pitcher Jason Hammel in the Jeremy Guthrie trade in early February. He was 1-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 36 1/3 innings of work this season despite being sidelined in early May with a finger injury that would keep him out for six weeks.

Saunders’ numbers aren’t exactly overwhelming, but he does bring a veteran presence to the mix as the Orioles try to continue the push for their first postseason appearance in 15 years. Lindstrom pitched well for the club, but he had largely become an afterthought in high-leverage situations after returning from the disabled list in June, making him expendable.

The Orioles also announced prior to Sunday’s game that right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta has been recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

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Loyola adds G Rashford to incoming hoops class

Posted on 26 July 2012 by WNST Staff

Canadian Standout Rashford Joins Men’s Basketball Team

BALTIMORE – Damion Rashford (Pickering, Canada/Westwind Prep [Ariz.]) has joined the Loyola University Maryland men’s basketball program for the 2012-2013 season after an outstanding senior season in Arizona.

The 6-foot-5, 200-pound guard played his senior year of high school at Westwind Prep in Phoenix after coming to the Valley of the Sun from the Toronto area.

At Westwind, Rashford earned All-Arizona Division I honors from The Arizona Republic and helped the Warriors to a 17-9 record in 2011-2012. He averaged 18.8 points and 6.5rebounds in 2011-2012.

Prior to making the move to Phoenix, Rashford played AAU basketball in the Toronto area for Triple Balance and was coached by Loyolaalum Shane James ’07. He will be the third Canadian player to suit up for the Greyhounds since Head Coach Jimmy Patsos came to Loyola in 2004, following in the footsteps of James and All-MAAC performer Michael Tuck ’08.

“Damion is a versatile player who can score off the dribble and with a jumper,” Patsos said. “We certainly knew about his abilities from Shane who coached him, and (assistant coach) Greg Manning recruited him in Phoenix. It’s great to bring another player in to the program who has a connection to one of our alumni who helped build a foundation for us.”

Rashford is one of five freshmen who will play for theGreyhounds this year, joining Josh Forney (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances Academy), Jarred Jones (Havre de Grace, Md./John Carroll School), Eric Laster (Smyrna, Del./Polytech H.S.), Will Rassman (Takoma Park, Md./Gonzaga College H.S.) and Sean Tuohy Jr. (Memphis, Tenn./Briarcrest Christian H.S.).

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Arizona claims Orioles pitcher Bergesen off waivers

Posted on 20 July 2012 by Luke Jones

After being designated for assignment for the second time this season earlier this week, Orioles pitcher Brad Bergesen has found a new baseball home in Arizona.

As first reported by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, the Diamondbacks claimed the right-handed pitcher on waivers after Bergesen was removed from Baltimore’s roster on Wednesday to make room for starting pitcher Tommy Hunter. The Orioles hoped Bergesen would clear waivers like he did back in May, but the Diamondbacks will place him on their 40-man roster.

Pitching for Triple-A Norfolk this season, Bergesen was 4-3 with a 4.03 earned run average and one save in 22 games that included 10 starts. He allowed 90 hits, struck out 41, and walked 23 in 80 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old did not appear in a game for the Orioles this season.

Bergesen’s best season for the Orioles came in 2009 when he went 7-5 with a 3.43 ERA in 19 starts as a rookie. However, a line drive off the bat of Kansas City’s Billy Butler struck the pitcher’s shin on July 30 of that season, ending his rookie campaign. That incident coupled with an offseason shoulder injury led to little success the next two seasons as Bergesen bounced back and forth between Baltimore and Triple-A Norfolk.

He ends his Orioles career with a 17-24 record and a 4.68 ERA in 83 games and 59 starts.

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