Tag Archive | "Bernard Pollard"

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Chapter 19: The purple revolution in New England

Posted on 30 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

“You guys will write great stories and can put it in way better words than I can. We’ve always believed in Joe. For Joe to come out and have this kind of game, on this kind of a stage, three weeks in a row…[Andrew] Luck’s a pretty good quarterback, [Peyton] Manning’s a pretty good quarterback, [Tom] Brady’s a great quarterback; all those guys are great players. But Joe’s a great quarterback. He’s proven that, and he’s not just proven that this year, he’s proven it for five years.”

– John Harbaugh (January 20, 2013)

 

 

 

 

 

IF REVENGE IS A DISH best served cold, then at least the elements and the weather in New England would cooperate accordingly. What could provide a better stage for a tale of vindication in Charm City than the Baltimore Ravens returning to Foxborough for a rematch of the AFC Championship Game?

It was like a Steel Cage Match.

Tom Brady vs. Joe Flacco. Ray Lewis and The Last Ride. Bill Belichick and the Patriots with yet another chance to make America groan by going to a sixth Super Bowl in 13 seasons in New England. There were no shortage of stories to be told.

When the Ravens boarded their happy flight for Baltimore from Denver two hours after the miraculous win over the Broncos, they were unsure of their destination for the final step toward Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The Texans, who had whipped them in Houston back in October, were visiting New England the following afternoon. The Patriots, led by Tom Brady’s three TD passes, dispatched of the Texans in a 41-28 win, but lost tight end Rob Gronkowski with a left wrist injury.

A huge weapon for the Patriots was gone before the Ravens even had to assemble the game plan.

By late Sunday afternoon the travel plans were made for a trip that the Ravens knew all too well. They were heading to Foxborough. For more than 40 players and the entire coaching staff, it was back to Gillette Stadium 52 weeks later – 364 days after the most disappointing day of their lives. The Lee Evans drop. The Billy Cundiff kick. The cold, empty feeling in that locker room and Ray Lewis telling them to go make someone smile. The quiet flight home. And those long days afterward, when you just wanted to pull the blankets over your head in the morning because you still couldn’t accept that you lost that game.

It’s not one of those days you quickly forget.

Motivating players was not going to be an issue for head coach John Harbaugh this week. Calming them down, however, might be.

On Sunday night, in the middle of the Texans-Patriots game, Brendon Ayanbadejo fired the opening salvo via his Twitter page:

Are you watching the game pats vs. texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It’s a gimmick.

Then, he followed with: New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can’t really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight

Then: You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day b4 the Super Bowl

Then: In a sport that is predicated on mano y mano, “lets hurry n snap it” = bitchassness

And finally: 18-1 …a reference to the Patriots losing in the Super Bowl to Giants in 2008

Ayanbadejo is no stranger to the back and forth of social media, yet his controversial stand on social issues were always consistent and relatively polite given the forum. But, something about watching the Patriots play the Texans in Foxborough clearly rubbed him the wrong way. And with his fingers on the trigger of his mobile device, and filled with emotion given the outcome and his role, he simply fired off his thoughts.

By lunchtime on Monday, Ayanbadejo had issued an apology on Twitter:

I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization. For that I apologize.

One thing he was correct about was that the Patriots were going to try to snap the ball before the Ravens were ready. Harbaugh was more diplomatic. “They look to create advantages for themselves, and they do it with tempo a lot of times,” he said. “ It’s not just the fact that they go fast sometimes. They force you to line up. Sometimes they’ll force the defense to show their hand because you have to defend the play. If you don’t, they’ll run the play. You saw last week they got Houston in some tough situations, and it was big plays for them. It usually results in a big

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Chapter 18: Fast as _ _ _ _! The Mile High Miracle and Jacoby Jones

Posted on 29 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

“I told myself Joe might throw it to me if I haul my butt off the line,”

– Jacoby Jones (January 2013)

 

 

 

THE NFL PROVIDES PLENTY OF connectivity between its personalities, teams, cities, and rich history. The Ravens had never played a playoff game in Denver and had only faced the Broncos once in January – in the first playoff game in the franchise’s history. That was during the 2001 Super Bowl run when Trent Dilfer beat Brian Griese and Shannon Sharpe caught a miracle pass.

However, this January 2013 game would forever change how NFL fans remember Broncos vs. Ravens.

Baltimore already had plenty of history with both John Elway and Peyton Manning, who had joined forces in the Mile High City. Peyton had now gone to his second NFL outpost and dropped another vicious regular season beating on the Ravens in Baltimore. The Elway history in Baltimore had aged 30 years, but was still very real and a debt unpaid for anyone who had a true sense of local football history and the magnitude of his actions in 1983. Elway was one of the building blocks that allowed the Ravens to exist if you consider that the Colts needed to leave Baltimore before Art Modell could come.

Both Elway and Manning had richly earned villain status in the Charm City. And once again Ozzie Newsome would endure one more battle with Elway and Denver, bringing back the sick history from his Cleveland Browns days. Newsome told author John Feinstein in 2004 that the last words his father ever said to him were: “Watch out for Elway!”

The Manning history was a much fresher scab in Baltimore.

The ugly, pre-halftime Flacco interception and the 98-yard futile chase by the lumbering quarterback was 27 days old, yet still fresh in the minds of his supporters and detractors. The replay ran all day, every day the week of the game. There was that famous picture of Flacco, face down at the goal line after chasing Chris Harris the length of the field that painted a tale of abject failure. It was a well-circulated meme in social media with a myriad of Charlie Brown-like captions.

Ten days after throwing the interception, the Ravens clinched the AFC North crown for the second straight year and made the playoffs for the fifth consecutive time. Flacco came to The Grill at Harryman House in Reisterstown as the guest of Dennis Pitta for a WNST.net & AM 1570 live radio show. He addressed the Harris interception with his usual droll sense of humor.

“It wasn’t any different than any other interception I’ve thrown for a touchdown the other way,” Flacco said. “It’s not good, but stuff like that happens. I try to limit it and do all the things you want to do to make sure it doesn’t happen. But if you play aggressively, you have to deal with it.”

“The next day I was able to try to joke around a little bit about it,” Flacco said. “At least I wanted to see what everybody thought of my blazing speed trying to catch that guy,” Flacco delivered with a smile, sitting next to his best

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Chapter 14: Family beefs and “Care”frontation

Posted on 25 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

“I’ve got a rule. I never, ever hold a grudge. And I kind of a have a rule that nobody else is allowed to hold a grudge, either. There are no grudges. We’re a bunch of guys. We don’t hold grudges. Right? We move on.”

– John Harbaugh (November 2012)

 

 

 

On Wednesday, November 28, 2012 the Baltimore Ravens reported to work in Owings Mills with a 9-2 record. No matter how unimpressive the results or statistics were on either side of the ball or how fortunate their fate seemed, it would be hard not to make the playoffs. One more win and the Ravens would have a seat in the tournament and a shot at the confetti for the fifth year in a row.

And in a strange quirk of NFL scheduling, once again the Pittsburgh Steelers were next up, the second meeting in 14 days between the bitter rivals. Once again it appeared that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be unavailable with his shoulder injury but instead of Byron Leftwich, this time it would be 15-year veteran Charlie Batch lining up under center at M&T Bank Stadium for the black and gold. All of the obvious discomfort that Leftwich had 10 days earlier was the result of two broken ribs he sustained at the hands of the Ravens defense in Pittsburgh. Batch started for the Steelers in Cleveland and lost 20-14 while throwing three interceptions just a few hours prior to the Ravens’ 4th & 29 miracle in San Diego. The Steelers were fading at 6-5. The Ravens were 9-2 and on a four-game winning streak, including back-to-back road wins.Silver had been at the Ravens game on Sunday in San Diego and was a seasoned reporter who knew a good story when he heard one. Iconoclastic, inquisitive, and fully cognizant of all aspects of the coach-player-media privilege, as well as sourced throughout the NFL, Silver knows the difference between on the record and off the record.

Good journalism is all in the eyes of the beholder. One veteran sports reporter’s account of a behind-the-scenes confrontation a month earlier holds a lot of weight when no one is issuing denials, and everyone agrees it was unique and productive. Even when some personnel don’t want to put their names to quotes or information, it was clear there was substance and clarity in the story.

All was happy in Owings Mills during Steelers Week until Wednesday morning when a fascinating story appeared at Yahoo Sports. NFL columnist Mike Silver authored a piece that was widely shared via the web and social media.

Headline: “John Harbaugh kept Ravens on track despite near mutiny at meeting in October”

Harbaugh wasn’t necessarily pissed off that the story was written – Silver approached him after the joyous win and

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Ihedigbo Making Ravens Forget Pollard

Posted on 13 November 2013 by WNST Staff

 

The last second Hail Mary, tipped by James Ihedigbo, to fall into the hands of A.J. Green and send the game into overtime, could’ve been a crushing blow to the Ravens Safety.  Jimmy Smith screaming at him on the sideline could’ve forced him to lose all his confidence in himself and his teammates.  Yet Ihedigbo finished the game just as strong as he started, making the key tackle on 4th down, for a turnover on downs in overtime.

Ihedigbo PollardJames Ihedigbo is in his first year starting for the Ravens (he started for the Jets and Patriots in the past), and is finally coming into his own.  This season has been somewhat of a revelation for the journeyman safety; performing admirably in replacement of departed Bernard Pollard. 

The transition has been seamless; with his on field performance very comparable to Pollard’s in 2012’s Super Bowl run.  Ihedigbo now has 55 total tackles, 2 Interceptions, 7 passes defended and a forced fumble; numbers eerily similar to Pollard’s in Tennessee for the season. Add in the fact that Ihedigbo has not been a vocal headache for the organization, coaching staff and players, and Ozzie proved again why he is the “Wizard” of talent evaluation.

He also had the task of filling in for a former Pro-Bowler, while tutoring (and playing alongside) a rookie, in Matt Elam.  All that instead of playing with future Hall of Famer by his side (you know that guy Ed Reed), like Pollard was privileged with for his stint with the Ravens.

The Baltimore Safety may have officially turned the corner; after his great game against the Bengals (except for that one play and all), with two interceptions and key tackles throughout the game, especially the last one for the Ravens defense, on 4th and 2 in overtime. Performances like that, from unsung players, will keep the the defense amongst the league’s best.  With great pass-rushers up front, taking up a lot of opposing offenses attention, Ihedigbo should have the time to continue to make difference-making plays.

Can he continue to improve after he is about to turn 30? Maybe. Can he be that defensive leader that fans have been clamoring for? Possibly.  Can he be a playmaker in the defensive backfield? Absolutely.  With the skill set to make plays in the backfield and in pass coverage, Ihedigbo has proven to be a well-rounded safety. With more games like the one against the Bengals, he will prove to be a star…at least for a couple years.

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Baltimore Ravens 2013 Season Preview Part One

Posted on 05 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

Baltimore’s victory in Super Bowl XLVII was bittersweet. The Ravens had a reason to celebrate but it must also be put into perspective. Ray Lewis will never play for the Baltimore Ravens again. Neither will Ed Reed.

Many fan favorites are gone from Baltimore. Guys like Bernard Pollard, Carry Williams, and Anquan Boldin weren’t just great players. They were tempo setters. They brought intangibles to the team that personified the Ravens playing style and can’t be replaced.

Even with all the departures, the Ravens still stand a chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. Don’t forget, they still have number five and 27 in the backfield. The Ravens offense will live and die by Flacco and Rice this season. Both are highly regarded by their peers and are a dangerous duo when Rice is involved in the passing game.

Even though Rice remains, the heart and soul of the offense is gone. Anquan Boldin will be wearing a 49ers jersey this season and will be greatly missed. In my opinion, the Ravens received too little for Boldin who is worth much more than a sixth round draft pick. Experts say he was getting old and could not separate but what does it matter if he still catches everything thrown his way?

In the coming season, the Ravens will replace Boldin’s production with Dennis Pitta. Pitta should play a hybrid position in 2013 between tight end and wide receiver. He will line up in the slot more often, which will allow more opportunities for Ed Dickson to be a pass catching threat. Don’t forget that Dickson can be a dangerous weapon when utilized. Before Pitta broke out in the 2012 season, Dickson had nearly 60 catches and 528 receiving yards.

Having Pitta in a hybrid role would also allow the Ravens to utilize versatile rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell could have a lot of fun with Juszczyk who played fullback, running back, and tight end at Harvard last season. His versatility will cause matchup, spelling, and pronunciation nightmares.

Speaking of nightmares, the Ravens defense will cause many of them this season. This defense has the ability to be one of the best in franchise history. Possibly the best Baltimore has seen since 2006. If you have followed the team closely, that must be music to your ears.

The main point behind my argument is this. The Ravens are younger, faster, more athletic, and extremely versatile.

The trio of Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata will be a lethal combination. All three players are elite at their respective positions and can take over games by themselves. Just think of all the fun they will have!

Ngata is so dominant that he will occupy blockers on the inside. In turn, other defensive lineman like Arthur Jones and Chris Canty will have an easier path to the quarterback. Suggs and Dumervil will then face less blockers on the outside but will also open things up for Ngata, Canty, and others when offenses are forced to put more attention on them. So in a way, offenses will have to pick their poison when facing the Ravens defense.

Despite the promise I see for the Ravens, a tough season still lies ahead. Thanks to the Orioles, the Ravens are forced to open on the road against Denver. Unless Jacoby Jones and Joe Flacco have another miracle up their selves, I don’t see this game ending well.

Following a tough opening game, the Ravens return home to face the Browns and Texans in consecutive weeks. If the Ravens do not perform well, the season could easily start with two losses to the Broncos and Texans. Following the Texans, the schedule gets progressively tougher. There are weaker teams on the schedule but the Packers, Steelers, Bears, Vikings, and Patriots will test Baltimore to their limits.

The Ravens have many factors in their favor for the 2013 season. Their recent dominance over the AFC North indicates they should win the division yet again. In addition, Joe Flacco is better than most of the quarterbacks the Ravens will face this year. The only quarterbacks better than Flacco on the Ravens schedule are Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning. Flacco is also very good in clutch situations so the Ravens will have an advantage over 13 teams they will face at the most important position on the field.

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Why the Ravens will survive offseason purge

Posted on 01 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

I just finished celebrating the Super Bowl victory when the Ravens began losing players. Some were to retirement while others were just released or traded. The losses include Carry Williams, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, and Dannell Ellerbe. At first, this was troubling but Ozzie Newsome had a plan and executed it to perfection.

Overwhelming, yes. But the Ravens are set up for long term success at the right price. That is something I have always admired about Ozzie Newsome. Newsome doesn’t get attached to players and approaches football from a business aspect at all times.

I guarantee you Newsome and the Ravens front office were laughing their you know whats off when players like Kruger and Ellerbe signed with other teams. Not to say Ellerbe and Kruger are bad players but they are not worth $75 million combined. Not to mention Ellerbe has struggled with injuries his entire career and Kruger had one good season.

Replacing Kruger and Ellerbe will be Arthur Brown and Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens also have replacements lined up for Williams, Pollard, and Kemoeatu. But notice how I didn’t mention replacements for Boldin, Lewis, or Reed. No one can replace those players.

Boldin is the only loss that truly concerns me. The roster is filled with young receivers with high ceilings and raw ability but that only takes you so far. Boldin brought intangibles to the offense that personified the Ravens playing style. He was also the guy Flacco looked for in clutch situations. None of the young receivers like Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss, or Tommy Streeter can replace Boldin but maybe Dennis Pitta can.

Look for the Ravens to use Pitta in more of a slot receiver role in 2013. With Pitta in the slot, they can utilize Ed Dickson who is a dangerous weapon when given the chance. Versatile rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk could also line up across from Dickson as a second tight end.

In a way, while they have lost Boldin, the offense has a chance to be more versatile. Replacing Boldin with a wide range of young fast receivers to stretch the field which fits Flacco’s skill set.

Expect the Ravens to make the playoffs once again. The defense has improved and Flacco can carry this offense. In addition, I dont trust the Bengals to make much of an improvement and the Ravens have owned the Steelers lately.

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Rice, Flacco among Ravens players named to NFL Network top 100 list

Posted on 21 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Ravens didn’t exactly needed more respect after winning their second Super Bowl title in February, but NFL players provided it anyway through the NFL Network’s annual top 100 list.

Nine players from last year’s championship roster were selected to the list voted on by players around the league. Three of the players — safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard and wide receiver Anquan Boldin — no longer play in Baltimore, but the Ravens have six remaining members on their projected 2013 roster to have received the honor.

Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was the highest-ranked Baltimore player, voted 13th overall, while Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player Joe Flacco ranked 19th after coming in at No. 74 in last year’s edition. Flacco’s jump should be viewed as validation for what he’s accomplished in terms of wins and postseason performance in the first five years of his career despite regular-season statistics that wouldn’t make a strong argument for his inclusion in the top 20.

Reed was the third member of the 2012 Ravens to be included in the first 20 as he was ranked 18th. Others to make the list were Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (42nd), outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (56th), Pollard (87th), Pro Bowl return specialist Jacoby Jones (88th), Boldin (93rd), and tight end Dennis Pitta (100th).

Admittedly, I don’t put much stock into this NFL Network concoction nor have I paid much attention to the weekly televised specials, but it sparks interest and fun debate for fans during the offseason. Based on knowledge and conversations I’ve had about the voting process, I have my doubts over how seriously most players take the exercise, but the same could be said for virtually any list or rankings you see floating out there.

I respect players’ opinions when they do take the voting seriously, but those assessments are often incomplete since they simply don’t have the time to pay close attention to anyone besides their teammates or opponents over the course of a season. For instance, Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings — one of the best defensive players in the league — has no reason to study the players in the AFC North since he hasn’t played any team in that division since 2009.

Here’s the recap of the Ravens from last season’s team represented in this year’s list:

13. RB Ray Rice
18. S Ed Reed
19. QB Joe Flacco
42. DT Haloti Ngata
56. LB Terrell Suggs
87. S Bernard Pollard
88. KR/PR Jacoby Jones
93. WR Anquan Boldin
100. TE Dennis Pitta

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Ravens celebrate Super Bowl glory with unknown in front of them

Posted on 05 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

WASHINGTON — In the days leading up to and immediately following their Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and his players shared a similar sentiment over and over with reporters.

It would be the final time we’d see that team — the 2012 edition — together as some number of players, coaches, and staff members would inevitably go their separate ways. It was a reminder to all to enjoy the moment in knowing they would never all be together again, and Wednesday’s visit to the White House was a reminder of that despite the euphoria experienced in meeting President Barack Obama and touring his famous home.

Several key members of that team were missing for various reasons, including Anquan Boldin, Bernard Pollard, Matt Birk, Cary Williams, and Paul Kruger, as even the most prominent celebratory experience still didn’t look quite the same as the moments following the Ravens’ 34-31 win when the confetti fell and the franchise raised its second Vince Lombardi Trophy. However, it was the sight of two players in particular standing behind Obama at the podium that reminded you how quickly life has changed for the Ravens barely four months after their Super Bowl title.

Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, together as the former leaders of the Baltimore defense and two of the biggest icons in this city’s sports history, stood with most of their former teammates for the first time since the victory parade in downtown Baltimore.

It’s strange thinking of them in the same way as the many Super Bowl XXXV players who have returned to Baltimore from time to time for celebrations, knowing they are now officially part of the franchise’s past.

“You can’t think about Baltimore without thinking of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two of the greatest defenders who ever played the game,” Obama said. “Now, these two won’t be wearing purple next year. Everybody is going to have to get used to that.”

Because Lewis’ fate had already been known entering the postseason as he expressed his intentions to retire, Wednesday was a unique spotlight for Reed to say goodbye to the organization he called home for 11 years before signing a three-year contract with the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. It was refreshing to see Reed smile and appear to hold no ill will toward his former team after the Ravens showed little interest in re-signing the 34-year-old safety.

Reed’s decision to attend the White House ceremony as well as Friday’s ring ceremony in Owings Mills appears to quell any concerns about any significant rift between the sides, which is exactly what all parties emotionally involved hoped to see in terms of Reed’s willingness to return to celebrate the first title of his career. And you assume Reed will be back many times after his Week 3 visit to Baltimore as a member of the opposition for the first time.

While making a joke about Reed’s grandfatherly look, the 44th president inadvertently provided a reminder of why the Ravens decided to forgo a last-ditch effort at a repeat, instead looking forward to the uncertain future with a revamped roster that still includes many core players with a championship pedigree. It was a special day made to celebrate what the 2012 Ravens accomplished, but the unknown stares each one of them right in the face in different ways.

And we all know nothing lasts forever.

“Ed is getting some gray hair,” said Obama, drawing laughs from the franchise’s all-time interceptions leader. “I’m not the only one, huh? You’re like an old man. That makes me feel better.”

Reed recently underwent hip surgery and told the team’s official site that he’s unsure whether he’ll be ready to play for Houston in Week 1. It was a reminder of the side of the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year that the Ravens and fans had grown weary of in recent years as his career winds down and injuries have taken their toll.

Of course, the future Hall of Fame safety isn’t the only one undergoing change.

Lewis now looks at a new career in television as well as the opportunity to become a full-time fan watching his son playing at the University of Miami as the 38-year-old awaits induction into Canton in the summer of 2018.

Harbaugh now looks to try to become the first coach in Ravens history to guide his team to a second championship, which would not only trump Super Bowl XXXV coach Brian Billick but put him in rare territory in the history of NFL coaches.

And the remaining players on the roster welcome new veterans and rookies alike, trying to not only express what’s expected to be a member of the organization but to work toward defending their championship and advancing to the playoffs for a sixth straight year.

Sixth-year quarterback Joe Flacco tops that list of players as a Super Bowl MVP and a $120.6 million contract naturally puts more pressure on him to lead and to continue to excel behind center. The 28-year-old was singled out by Obama for his excellent playoff performance and how he was subsequently rewarded.

“Good timing with that contract up, huh?” said Obama, drawing laughter from Flacco and those gathered on the South Lawn. “That was some good timing. Capped off one of the greatest postseasons ever by a quarterback [with] more than 1,000 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions. I don’t know about you, Joe, but I would say that qualifies as elite.”

Even the commander-in-chief couldn’t resist using the “e” word, but that label brings a certain ambiguity that Flacco and the Ravens didn’t have to worry about on Wednesday.

No matter how much you’ve praised or haven’t cared for the decisions made by general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti this offseason, the future remains an unknown for all those with a piece in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII championship.

But it felt like old times for just a few moments on Wednesday, just as it will for the ring ceremony and the occasional celebrations in the years to come.

Nothing lasts forever, but there’s nothing wrong with looking back at what you’ve accomplished from time to time, knowing that it can never be taken away.

And the Ravens experienced that in all their glory, most of them back together for the first time since that unforgettable week in early February.

 

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Will the Ravens defense improve in 2013?

Posted on 01 April 2013 by jeffreygilley

Four weeks ago, everyone outside of Baltimore was skeptical of Ozzie Newsome. First, Anquan Boldin was traded to the 49ers. Shortly after, Paul Kruger signed with the Browns and Dannell Ellerbe left for Miami. Ellerbe was viewed as the top priority for the Ravens but the Dolphins were willing to pay more for his services.

But that was just the beginning. Other key players including Carry Williams Ed Reed also joined other teams. Bernard Pollard is also no longer part of the team. Pollard was released and has since signed with the Tennessee Titans.

All of these players were critical to the Ravens regular and postseason success. Despite that, I believe the defense will be better. But then again, it’s not difficult to improve when the Ravens ranked in the high teens and low 20’s in most defensive categories.

Despite these losses, can the Ravens defense improve in 2013? The short answer is yes. The reason? Versatility.

All of the free agents the Ravens have signed this offseason have the ability to play multiple positions. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears can play almost every position on the defensive line and Michael Huff can play any position in the secondary.

The additions of Canty and Spears give the Ravens a scary rotation along the defensive line. Pernell McPhee and Arthur Jones will also be vital parts of that rotation. Even Deangelo Tyson could get playing time.

With Canty, Spears, McPhee, Tyson, and Jones in a rotation at the 3-4 defensive end and defensive tackle spots, Haloti Ngata can play more nose tackle, which is his favorite position.

Add Elvis Dumervil to that equation and I would be shocked if the Ravens don’t come close to leading the NFL in sacks. Dumervil and Suggs will consistently command attention on the outside. In turn, opportunities will open up for Ngata, McPhee, and the rest of the Ravens defensive lineman on the inside.

The only question mark for the Ravens defense to me is the secondary. With Carry Williams departure to Philadelphia and Lardarius Webb’s return from injury, Jimmy Smith and Corey Graham might have to play larger roles this season.

Inside linebacker could be viewed as another area of need but the additions to the defensive line should help the middle of the defense. The Ravens could also look to the draft for a young inside linebacker. Candidates would include Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, or Florida linebacker Jon Bostic in the later rounds.

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can the “regression” talk regress now?

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Glenn Clark

Two of my absolute favorite people on the face of the planet are WNST.net’s own Luke Jones and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole.

I really mean that. They’re not just two of my favorites in the business, they’re two of my favorites in the world. I love to talk shop with those guys, I love to chat about the world in general with them and I love getting the chance to spend time with them socially.

(This type of statement always leads to a “BUT….”, right? Not exactly this time.)

Both Jason and Luke joined me on “The Reality Check” during the first week of NFL free agency and separately brought up the same word, a specific word that has been repeated to me by a number of callers and e-mailers over the course of the last couple of weeks.

The word is “regression.” If you were playing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the moderator would tell you the word was of latin origin and could be defined as “a trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state.” Perhaps the word could be used in a sentence along the lines of “After losing the players the Baltimore Ravens have lost thus far, we can expect regression from the team in 2013.”

That was essentially how both guys (and others) used the word over the last few weeks.

(You’re now CERTAIN there’s going to be a “BUT…” coming, aren’t you?)

I had to start every discussion about the term that I’ve had both on-air and off since the offseason began by accepting that Luke, Jason and everyone else who has suggested the Ravens are going to “regress” in 2013 are…well…probably right. I’m sorry. It had to be said.

They’re right because the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012 and it will be very difficult for them to win the Super Bowl again in 2013. Any scenario that doesn’t involve the Ravens hoisting a third Vince Lombardi Trophy would technically mean they had “regressed” from where they were last season.

(Okay, now it’s time.)

BUT…I was never REALLY willing to accept the notion of “regression” for the Ravens at any point. Sunday’s signing of former Denver Broncos pass rusher Elvis Dumervil re-inforces that belief, but it absolutely did not establish it. I just hope the addition of Dumervil will force others to similarly push aside the notion of “regression” in 2013.

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