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Ravens vs. Vikings

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Ravens (3-2) @ Vikings (5-0)

Posted on 16 October 2009 by Derek Arnold

Ravens vs. Vikings

Ravens vs. Vikes Stats

The Ravens will try to end their 2-game losing skid on Sunday in Minneapolis, the only city in which the purple and black have never played a regular season game. The Ravens lead the all time series between the two clubs, 2-1, with all three contests having been played in B’More, the last in 2005.

If I were to tell you that, one team enters this game with the 10th ranked defense and the 5th ranked offense, and the other with the 14th ranked defense and the 19th ranked offense, and one of those teams was undefeated – you would probably assume it was the 10/5 team right? Wrong. As you can see above, the 5-0 Vikings lag behind the Ravens in most statistical categories. Nonetheless, they remain perfect, while the Ravens are scuffling.

When looking around the web at all the “expert’s” picks, I was curious how so many could be going with the Ravens this week, until I looked closer at the Vikes’ numbers and schedule to date. When I thought about this game on Monday, back when the sky was falling after the Bengals loss, I was thinking something like 27-13 Minnesota. Four days of clearer thinking, along with the added optimism that comes with every impending weekend though, have me backing away from the ledge.

Let’s dive into the game a little further.

While “5-0 is 5-0,” and “you can only play the teams on your schedule,” and blah, blah, blah…closer inspection reveals that the Vikes haven’t exactly been tearing through playoff teams so far in 2009. Their victories?

Week 1: Browns (1-4)
Week 2: Lions (1-4)
Week 3: 49ers (3-2, a game they needed a miracle to win)
Week 4: Packers (2-2, and Brett’s Super Bowl)
Week 5: Rams (0-5)

I’m not taking anything away from Minnesota; just pointing out that the Ravens will be, by far, the best team they have faced this season.

Favre Waffle 1

One area where the Vikings do unquestionably dominate is in getting to the quarterback. They lead the league with 18 sacks, and DE Jared Allen has racked up 6.5 (4.5 of those coming two weeks ago against Green Bay). Allen will be a handful for either Jared Gaither (who is still trying to come back from the neck injury suffered in New England and is yet to practice since) or rookie Michael Oher. As I said a few weeks ago, I am confident in Oher 1-on-1 against pretty much anybody in the NFL – an assertion that is likely to be put to quite the test in the Metrodome.

I’d like to see Cam Cameron and the Ravens’ offense approach this contest with a similar game plan to the one they used against another top-notch pass rusher in an extremely loud stadium last season – Demarcus Ware and Dallas in Week 16. Despite the fact that Joe Flacco was sacked five times in that game, the Ravens were still able to rack up 388 yards of total offense; and they did it by showing the kind of BALANCE (30 passes, 31 rushes) that we have yet to see in 2009.

I agree completely with what Luke Jones wrote earlier this week. It’s time for the Ravens offense to swallow their pride about “we’re not just a running team any more,” and get back to the formula that served them so well in 2008 – controlling the clock and the pace of the game with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, and Ray Rice.

Favre Waffle 2

The Ravens are currently 15th in the NFL in time of possession, holding the ball 30:07 per game. In 2008, they were #1 in that category, at 33:22. While Greg Mattison’s defense tries to work out their issues, which include pressuring the quarterback, coverage in the secondary, and tackling, it would be a tremendous help to them if the offense could stay on the field 2-3 additional minutes every game.

Running the ball against the Vikings is no small task, especially inside where they feature DTs Kevin and Pat Williams. However, even those two will get tired of tackling “Pain Train” McClain at some point.

Please, Cam…we’re begging you. We know you and Joe Cool can throw the ball now if you want to…we know. So does everybody else. But right now it’s time to get back to basics and find our offensive identity – as a run-first team that can move the ball through the air when needed.

And what about that Ravens defense? The one that just had their “no 100-yard rusher” streak ended by Cedric (expletive) Benson. How in the world, if they can’t stop Benson, do they plan on stopping Adrian “All Day” Peterson, possibly the best runner of this generation? Well, if it makes you feel any better, Benson is currently the NFL’s leading rusher, while AD is #2. Peterson, though, is still averaging 4.9 yards per carry (nearly a full yard less than Ray Rice, mind you) and leads the NFL with 7 rushing scores. Keeping him in check will be no small task, but as Ray Lewis is always quick to tell us, “it’s just football.” As in, enough missing tackles – it’s as simple (and as complicated) as that. Let’s hope that Ray-Ray and company will take last week’s embarrassment and use it as motivation to prove that they are still a dominant run defense – a claim nobody will be able to dispute, should they shut down #28.

Favre Waffle 3

As far as the pass defense – well, that’s quite another story. Even assuming the Ravens are able to hold down Peterson, and force Brett Favre to beat them through the air, who’s to say that the back end will be able to hold up? Especially after the way we’ve seen them get torched by Rivers, Brady, and Palmer in recent weeks? All I can say is, I hope Greg Mattison has made some adjustments this week. For starters, Chris Carr should not be “covering” anybody – put Ledarius Webb out there as the nickel back. Perhaps convince Dominique Foxworth that he isn’t Jared Gaither, and he can, in fact, turn his head to look for the ball. And don’t just tell us that “the pass rush needs to get better,” make it happen!

Favre has thrown 9 TDs and only 2 picks so far this year. Last year with the Jets, he was at 13/6 after five games, showing that he is, indeed, accepting his role as “game manager” a bit more in his old age. We know the old gunslinger is still in there though, and he is due for one of his patented 3-pick days. Fast Eddie Reed, fresh off his best performance of the season, is just the man to help Favre get there. It all starts up front – defensive line and backers stop the run and get pressure, secondary cleans up the Vikes’ mistakes.

Not saying it WILL happen…just that it CAN.

I’m not jumping off the bandwagon just yet. The Ravens have their backs against the wall, and have no desire to take a 3-game losing streak into the bye. I believe they can, and will, respond. If not…well, I’ll see you at the ledge.

Favre Waffle 4

Ravens 24 Vikings 23

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Purple Crossroads: Time for offense to check ego and give defense a lift

Posted on 15 October 2009 by Luke Jones

Nearly every notable season in the brief history of the Baltimore Ravens has included a critical point that determined which path the team would travel.

Of course, the Super Bowl winner of 2000 endured a five-game touchdown drought before head coach Brian Billick reinvented his coaching philosophy and turned to the “Dark Side” of winning ugly with a record-setting defense and a power running game.

The 2006 Ravens posted the best regular season record in franchise history (13-3) but experienced a two-game losing streak and fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during the bye week before Billick’s play calling rejuvenated a team that would go on to win nine of its last 10 regular season games.

And only a year ago, Baltimore’s record stood at 2-3 after being lambasted by Indianapolis, 31-3, in Week 6. Instead of folding with a three-game losing streak, the Ravens earned a big victory in Miami to spark a four-game winning streak and nine of 11 victories to close out the regular season before advancing to the conference championship game.

Simply put, adversity is a part of the game—even for the greatest teams.

And it’s exactly what the Ravens face after losing two straight and traveling to Minneapolis to face Brett Favre and the undefeated Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

After an exhilarating 3-0 start, the offense now grapples with its identity, and the defense—after a decade of dominance with a variety of characters—looks very mortal after losing back-to-back games to New England and Cincinnati.

While a loss to the Vikings would not end the Ravens’ season by any stretch, it might remind doubters of the 2007 season when a 4-2 squad lost in Buffalo and then went to Pittsburgh on the first Monday night in November and…well…we don’t need to go there.

A season can fall apart all-too-quickly.

In times like these, the Ravens have always counted on the defense to provide the lift, but it may not happen this season. While still a good defense (yes, 10th in the league isn’t THAT bad, Ravens fans), the unit lacks the consistent pass rush to disguise an undersized and less-talented secondary. The jury’s still out on defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, but it’s clear he isn’t Rex Ryan, nor should anyone have fairly expected that.

In other words, it’s finally time for the offense to provide a boost to the defense after years of the exact opposite occurring.

The talent is there. Joe Flacco’s rapid development is tangible, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap are reliable targets, and the roster includes three quality running backs with diverse skill sets. The unit will never be confused with the 2007 Patriots or the Greatest Show on Turf, but it is capable of beating anyone with the proper game plan.

And that brings us to coaching. Cam Cameron is one of the brilliant offensive minds in the game—last year’s offensive production with a rookie quarterback a perfect example. Unlike Mattison, he has the vast NFL coaching experience from which to draw.

There’s no reason why this offense cannot be successful, so why the recent struggles?

It all starts with ego and a obsession with the passing game. The Ravens seem obsessed with proving they are no longer a running team, and it’s hard to understand why.

While the defense struggles to recapture its dominant past, Cameron and the offense must remember what made them so successful a year ago.

Running the football and controlling the tempo of the game.

The Ravens led the NFL in rushing attempts last season with a three-headed attack that left defensive coordinators struggling to find solutions and defenses wilting in the second half.

But now, this Baltimore offense continues to run from who it really is.

“Football has changed for the better,” Cameron said last week after running just 17 times against New England and before calling only 18 run plays against the Bengals on Sunday.

“Just look at last year’s Super Bowl. People have got to move beyond the notion that running the football leads to the championships. It doesn’t. There are times we all want to run the football, but you don’t have to run the football to win as much as people think.”

So how exactly did the Ravens make it to the AFC Championship last season?

Cameron’s statement befuddled me last week and continues to leave the impression that the Ravens are running away from themselves on the offensive side of the ball.

Think of Robin Hood trading in his bow and arrow for a slingshot and stone before heading into battle.

It just doesn’t make any sense.

Sure, the Ravens needed more balance offensively this season, but an improved passing game should not supplant your bread and butter. It should only augment your biggest strength.

For Le’Ron McClain to have only 25 touches in five games after rushing for nearly 1,000 yards last season is inexcusable. Starting fullback or not, a man of his size can absolutely punish and wear down a defense, as we continuously witnessed last season.

And for Willis McGahee—healthy, motivated, and gaining over five yards per attempt—to receive only one carry against the Bengals is a waste of his talents.

Ray Rice has clearly been one of the brightest spots of the season, averaging an astonishing 5.8 yards per carry. He is the clear starter, and no one is suggesting he receive fewer carries, but McGahee and McClain and their different styles need to be bigger factors in the offense.

When asked about their lack of carries, Harbaugh said, “We’ve got three guys. It’s hard to get them all in there at the same time.”

A true statement, but again, the Ravens made it work last year, didn’t they?

It was unconventional and lacked the sparkle of throwing the ball all over the field, but it won many football games.

The best tonic for a struggling offense and a vulnerable defense is a strong running game that controls the tempo—and the clock.

The Ravens led the NFL in time of possession last season, holding more than a six-minute advantage per game (33:22). In addition to wearing down the opposing defense, it helped keep their own defense off the field, another factor leading to the Ravens ranking No. 2 in total defense in 2008.

Through five games this season, the Ravens rank 15th in time of possession, holding the ball for 30:06 per game, a number skewed further by their 20-minute advantage over Kansas City in Week 1.

Of course, time of possession is an intermediate stat, a reflection of doing something else well—like running the football. As a result, it keeps your defense fresh for the final drive of the game when a stop is badly needed, as it was against the Bengals on Sunday.

Will it solve all of the defense’s problems? Of course not, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt and might even hide some of its deficiencies.

Harbaugh and Cameron won’t come out publicly and say the Ravens need to run the ball more.

But the balance of the season rests on this offense finding its true identity, not just for its own sake but to help a defense that carried the load for far too many years.

The answer is staring them in the face.

Will they accept it or keep running from who they are?

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Ravens Lose The Game …. But, Tom Brady Loses My Respect

Posted on 06 October 2009 by Rex Snider

As I grow older, I’m getting wiser ….. I’m absolutely convinced of it. And, as I begin to scratch the surface of the Ravens contentious loss to the Patriots, I’m glad that I’ve relied on that acquired technique of thoroughly absorbing a situation before putting my feelings in writing.

This doesn’t mean I remained stoic and silent as a potential victory bounced off the chest of Mark Clayton and through the fingers of the Baltimore Ravens, on Sunday. In fact, I suffered a behemoth meltdown of personal conduct, to the witness of several dozen Fells Point Festival Fans.

Trust me, if Andrew Dice Clay, Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci saw my very animated, yet very real explosion of emotion, they’d look at each other and say “Damn, that F@#&*ng guy can curse.”

I can’t help my weakness – watching football and rooting for the hometown team brings out an emotionally charged reaction in me and YOU.

And, this same rabid, infuriating streak – which cannot be found in the typical baseball, basketball or hockey fan – is exactly what fuels my dissection of the NFL’s hellbent mission of protecting CERTAIN QUARTERBACKS.

I’m not disparaging fans of other sports …..

We’re those same people. But, we behave differently when the passion is football. We anticipate pain. We relish defense. And, we expect brutal, hard efforts.

It’s football.

So, as I went through my normal Monday routine, I reminded myself of a custom I haven’t experienced, since January 19th ….. I stay away from everything related to the Ravens on mornings following a loss.

It’s hard to digest the bitching and griping. The negativity runs deep on a morning after the Ravens lose. It’s rarely productive and such drama usually just leads to a bad freakin’ start of the week.

As if I need a reason – the Ravens just lost !!!!

Yesterday, I was out of practice. The Ravens haven’t lost in nearly 9 months …..

And, by the time I heard the first caller pleading for a BIG TIME RECEIVER to replace Mark Clayton, followed by a Congressional Inquiry into the NFL’s preferential treatment of Tom Brady, I was ready to take hostages.

Along with this propaganda, I heard a peppering of valued insight. I have no doubt a degree of fact and sobering truth was imbedded in a couple blogs, as well as on-air disclosures by hosts and callers.

I heard and read a few visions regarding the NFL’s stance on ensuring the quarterback is protected, to the greatest extent, while in the pocket. I understand the reasoning – quarterbacks typically control the immediate destiny of a team.

I’m not certain I agree with that concept, but it’s a fair and intelligent argument. Yeah, this is my way of saying it’s not ranked with UFO spottings, pro rasslin’ results and other phony baloney conspiracy theories.

I further understand the NFL’s stake in ensuring the most marketable names are standing on two feet next week – AND enjoying their place on highlight films around the sports world.

In fact, I think the suspicion that the 32 guys comprising the POSSE (Paranoid Owners Seeking Some Earnings) care about the bottom line far more than the competitive integrity of the product is a virtual realism.

“Just Win Baby” has become “Just Sell Baby” …..

I’m sure the ownership groups representing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers have little interest in seeing Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger or the Manning brothers win another Super Bowl.

However, I’d bet they’re hoping to be in the position of one of those teams within the next decade, and they would like to ensure their most marketable name is on the field – selling jerseys and tickets.

The NFL is a different world than other sports …..

In October, 2019, the Yankees and Red Sox will be playing playoff baseball. The same can probably be said for the Lakers and Celtics and their postseason. But, ten years ago, the Colts were just enjoying their first dominating season, in Indianapolis. And, the Patriots had ZERO Super Bowl rings.

A lot of things change in a decade. So, I can see the financial hope and speculation in supporting rules that ensure the game’s biggest stars remain stars, from a marketing perspective. If the Jacksonville Jaguars land the next Peyton Manning, he could make them a viable moneymaking entity, IN JACKSONVILLE.

Okay, the Jags might head for L.A. within the next couple years. But, I’ll guarantee a quarterback of Peyton Manning’s magnitude would appeal to football fans, in Southern California, too.

I have absolutely no doubt the NFL’s owners are driven by greed and money-making potential when instituting these rules that make the quarterback nearly as insulated as the President of the United States.

Surely, I exaggerate. But, you get it, right?

I will respectfully disagree with some of my colleagues – I don’t think the owners are so inspired to protect the quarterbacks, at all costs, in the name of winning. And, I have a few examples to support my argument.

It’s difficult to imagine any team is so dependent on ONE PLAYER …..

The New England Patriots won 11 games, last year, with the hands of a kid at quarterback who never started a game, since high school. The 2007 version of the Cleveland Browns amassed 10 wins with a guy who was cut by a division rival.

A very competent veteran in Jeff Garcia has started and won games for 6 NFL franchises, over the past 7 seasons.

NFL teams don’t need BIG NAME quarterbacks to be successful.

But, the BIG NAME quarterbacks do promote the NFL product. They’re the faces of the league and the blunt reality is this ability to spawn profit is obviously more important than the integrity of what happens on the field.

If you doubt me, consider this …..

A quick glance at Sunday’s recaps evidenced ZERO “Roughing The Passer” penalties in the Redskins/Bucs & Titans/Jaguars games. Now, I’m not going to comb through every single play of every single game. But, I’m pretty sure you know where I’m headed …..

Should I simply assume no defensive players brushed-up against Jason Campbell, Josh Johnson, Kerry Collins or David Garrard? Or, maybe, these guys didn’t jump up and down like Arnold Horshack, from Welcome Back Kotter fame – while crying “he touched me !!!!!”

How masculine of Tom Brady, huh?

Instead of inspiring and rallying his teammates with a cool demeanor, he was flailing around like some baby’s mama hailing a hack, on a North Avenue corner. Real cool, Tom.

And, I’m not buying the “hey, it worked – he got the yellow flag thrown.”

After four games, I’m pretty convinced Tom Brady is very worried about that fragile knee and less worried about 45 feet of free real estate and a new set of downs. He’s doing everything possible to avoid getting hit.

There was a time when I really appreciated the surgeon-like capabilities of Tom Brady. These days, I see a guy who specializes in scolding his teammates for the world to see, while doing anything to avoid a short trip to the ground.

In wrapping this up, I’m inclined to finally clarify my feelings on the outcome of Sunday’s loss. I cannot fathom hanging the balance of any game on one single play. But, I also don’t subscribe to the suggestions the referees’ poor calling didn’t impact the outcome, either.

That’s just not accurate.

They made plenty of calls that extended scoring drives for the Patriots. This absolutely matters. The result cannot be changed, but the referees had a hand in the circumstances of this loss.

That’s it, I’m done with it. I’m ready for the Bengals.

But, I won’t forget Sunday’s debacle. I behaved like an ass. Tom Brady behaved like a baby. And, the referees ….. well, they behaved like a group of guys who’d never done their jobs, at such a high level, before.

Enough said, and lets just hope Carson Palmer hasn’t joined the NFL’s “Endangered Species” list, too ……

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Ravens vs. Patriots – It’s Not Just Another Game …..

Posted on 01 October 2009 by Rex Snider

I think the next four days will serve as that proverbial “snowball rolling downhill” as the excitement builds for Sunday’s showdown, in Foxboro.

It’s being billed with various descriptions in newspapers, website/message boards and blogs …..

“Flacco vs. Brady”

“Harbaugh vs. Belichick”

“The NEW Guard vs. The OLD Guard”

“Big Randy vs. A Bunch Of Smaller Guys …..” (Yep, I actually saw this !!!!)

If you think of a witty moniker for this game, there’s a real good chance someone else has already thought of it, and posted it – ON THESE MESSAGE BOARDS. Indeed, the week leading up to a big game is every bit as contentious as the 60 minutes spent on the field.

But, all the hoopla just fuels the collective fires burning within rabid fans of both teams.

In reality, we know what this is really about …..

It’s just another football game. It’s the Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots – a couple non-divisional opponents meeting for a regular season contest. Both teams have games the following week – and they’re equally as important. Or, are they?

In looking at both teams, if I’m going to consider any comparisons, I’m likely to point out that both organizations obsess on the TEAM concept. This town and anyone who follows the Ravens are familiar with John Harbaugh’s devotion to team unity.

And, Bill Belichick has amassed a collection of Lombardi trophies and gaudy rings by beating opponents with larger collections of “stars” on the game’s biggest stage. We can name dozens of reclamation projects utilized and optimized by Belichick, right?

Well, it’s also legitimate to admit Tom Brady has been the consistent factor on the team, as well.

The Patriots have dominated the last decade on a “next man up” philosophy. Obviously, the Ravens have that same mindset – and we’ve observed textbook examples, with Justin Bannan, Chris Chester and others. In fact, both Tom Brady and Joe Flacco were cast into their current roles through unexpected circumstances and at unplanned times.

And, the world knows neither guy let the opportunity or job title slip away …..

But, Sunday’s game is not about the legend of Tom Brady, or the emergence of Joe Flacco. Although, that’s what the cookie-cutter networks will say in their coverage. Pimping the quarterbacks has always been that “sexy selling point” with national, mainstream analysis.

I’m not suggesting Brady or Flacco will be mere bystanders to Sunday’s eventual outcome. Both guys are leaders and they’ll intimately impact what happens – as every quarterback does. But, will they have any greater effect than other Week #4 matchups, like Roethlisberger vs. Rivers, Sanchez vs. Brees or the most overblown duel, Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers & ENTIRE STATE OF WISCONSIN.

Good grief, I’ll be glad when that game is over. But, you know what I mean – the nationally syndicated media will market the quarterbacks. However, we know it’s much more complex than that.

This Ravens/Patriots game is bound to be determined by more relevant matchups and scenarios …..

• Can the Ravens Defense pressure the Patriots into hurried execution and a repeat of the unpleasant circumstances similar to that day at the Meadowlands, a couple weeks ago?

• Will the Patriots Defense finally do something the Chiefs, Chargers and Browns failed to accomplish – STOP the Ravens passing attack, which really enables the running game? They’ll have the home crowd to their advantage.

• Aside from the presence of Randy Moss, can the Patriots present difficult matchups for the Ravens secondary? Be cautious of the Patriots’ Tight Ends; they’re big and offer another option for Brady.

• Do “Blueprints For Success” exist for both teams? Specifically, did Philip Rivers reveal the Ravens vulnerabilities? And, did Rex Ryan’s Jets-D lay a similar plan for his former pupils?

• Has Prescott Burgess been spending hours under a bright light, in Coach Belichick’s office? Get the Velveeta ready …..

• Perhaps, it will come down to Steve Hauschka vs. Stephen Gostkowski. Just remember, the Ravens’ new kicker hasn’t really stepped into a “do or die” situation, yet. It’s coming …..

Let’s face it, an array of possibilities exist, as Sunday fast approaches. In reality, it’s just 1 of 16 games. But, it holds some significant potential …..

In a similar standard to the San Diego game, this contest could serve as a tie-breaker for postseason homefield, and it could also lead to an extended lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will really face a tough challenge, against the Chargers, in another game without Troy Polamalu.

To be fair, this game has important intangible factors, as well. The Patriots have a collection of Super Bowl Championships, over the past ten years. Beating them has gotta be significant for a team’s confidence. They’re also one of those upper echelon teams and the Ravens need to beat such opponents, if they wanna go to Miami, in February.

In fact, it’s absolutely fitting to suggest the New England Patriots demand that same reverence as the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. And, do these 4 teams share a common relation with the Ravens?

You bet.

The Steelers, Colts, Patriots and Giants are jointly responsible for winning the past 6 Super Bowls. In the span of the last 24 months, the Ravens have played this collection of teams 10 times.

The Ravens are 1-9 against them. Did you get that? I said ONE WIN & NINE LOSSES.

This has to change. Forget about beating the bad teams. And, forget about beating the good teams. The Ravens absolutely MUST beat the GREAT TEAMS.

The ESPN Power Rankings, Sporting News Ratings and other in-season accolades are nice. But, there are no real awards for such distinctions. The prize is coveted by every NFL team, and it’s a Super Bowl Championship.

The teams responsible for the last half-dozen trips to Disney World have dominated the Ravens. The tables must turn. Maybe, Ric Flair was right – “to be the man, you gotta beat the man.”

Indeed, this is not just another game …..

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Okay, I Will Ask It ….. Could Chris McAlister Help The Ravens ???

Posted on 21 September 2009 by Rex Snider

Okay, I’ll Ask It ….. Would You Call Chris McAlister ???

You didn’t think the next 24 hours would just quietly pass by without hearing this question, did you?

In fact, if you anxiously watched the Ravens secondary trailing and swatting at San Diego’s receivers ALL DAMN DAY, the proposition of welcoming a player with McAlister’s abilities shouldn’t seem too unreasonable.

You know – I know and everybody with a novel interest in Ravens football knows the Ravens cornerbacks are undersized and, at times, clearly overmatched. McAlister is a full couple inches taller than any cornerback currently wearing a Ravens uniform.

Exhibit #1 – Floyd vs. Foxworth

<img src=”Photobucket” alt=”” />

And, even at 32 years old, McAlister is arguably better than some of those same guys.

I’m not writing this with some warped interest in yielding a pile of responses – especially from readers who’ll think I’m just trying to sensationalize a topic, with an insane proposition.

Is it really that insane?  Why, because he has an awful attitude?  That’s John Harbaugh’s problem – not yours, nor mine.  And, even if he hasn’t been on the field in a year, I’m tempted to say McAlister could stand out among the Ravens cache’ of corners.

Indeed, I realize Chris McAlister is not the same hawking defender quarterbacks avoided just a few seasons ago. If he was still THAT GUY, he’d have a job right now. That’s right, malcontents and instigators still have jobs, if their talent is worth the trouble and risk.

Terrell Owens was in uniform this week …..

Brandon Marshall was in uniform this week …..

You get the picture, right? I’m not suggesting Chris McAlister possesses the abilities of Cortland Finnegan, Nnamdi Asomugha or even the aging Champ Bailey – who is just one year younger than the former Raven. If he still guaranteed such skills, McAlister would’ve been on an NFL field, this week, too.

Teams are willing to take risks. Teams are willing to tolerate childish behavior. Teams are willing to pacify selfish personalities ….. if the player who demands such high maintenance is worth it.

At this point, either all 32 NFL teams agree Chris McAlister doesn’t merit a tolerance for the headaches and strife he’s likely to cause, or a contending team hasn’t reached a point of such desperation, YET.

Are the Ravens likely to be that team?

Again, I’m not stirring the drink …..

I watched the Ravens luckily hold onto a 5 point win, over the Chargers. And, lets be honest, this win was equally attributable to whoever called San Diego’s final couple plays, as it was to Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Ray Lewis’ game winning hit.

We saw it – Philip Rivers had his cleat firmly pressed against the throats of the fallen Ravens secondary, and Norv Turner made him lift it off.   For whatever reason, Turner went conservative when it mattered most.

Exhibit #2 – Gates vs. Carr

<img src=”Photobucket” alt=”” />

Be assured, regardless of whatever we saw in the Meadowlands yesterday, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and their Patriots will not lack a killer instinct when it matters most. The same can be said for Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer, if they have the chance.

I’m not sitting at this computer imploring the Ravens to sign Chris McAlister. I don’t know NFL talent, with real expertise. In fact, I’ll go so far as saying most media-types possess nothing more than informed opinions, with the benefit of a forum for expressing them.

Yep, the day of the investigative reporter is waning. We’re all basically on equal ground, with our opinions.

Yet, I think such opinions are conclusively accurate in surmising the likes of Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Frank Walker, Chris Carr and Ladarius Webb will not collectively keep receivers from getting open ….. WIDE OPEN.

Exhibit #3 – Jackson vs. Foxworth

<img src=”Photobucket” alt=”” />

While the San Diego Chargers have a cohesive and formidable quarterback/wide receiver battery, the Ravens will see better units. Just wait a couple weeks …..

While bringing Chris McAlister back into the Baltimore Ravens organization would cause momentous glee with the likes of Anita Marks, its well beyond my scope of insight to suggest it would be a productive move.

But, it’s absolutely worth discussing.

In reality, only a handful of people know whether Chris McAlister could help this Ravens team. And, the same braintrust, itself, cannot really guarantee he WOULD help the team. Yep, there is a distinct difference between the potential of “could” and the promise of “would.”

It’s reasonable to say if Chris McAlister wanted to re-join the Ravens, he should’ve done things a whole lot differently over the past 12 months – even after he was released. An old boss once told me, “You’re not dead …. ‘til you’re DEAD.”

Catch my drift?

I don’t know, maybe Chris McAlister will be camping out on Ozzie Newsome’s doorstep, tonight. Perhaps, he’ll call John Harbaugh until he answers. There’s always a chance a guy finally gets IT.

Could that guy be Chris McAlister?

For months, the Ravens have denied any interest in their former star cornerback. John Harbaugh addressed it, directly, last week. The answer was a definitive “NO.”

However, that was before his team went to San Diego and revealed its true weakness for the ENTIRE FOOTBALL WORLD to see – the Ravens cannot cover legitimate NFL wide receivers. Is there a softer way to put it?

You don’t think Belichick & Brady will be looking at the Chargers attack when they’re preparing for the Ravens, next week?  The Patriots have a more lethal group of receivers – and no matter what happened yesterday, Tom Brady will pick a secondary apart – given the chance.

And, God knows the Ravens rushing attack is giving the quarterback that chance …..

Many listeners and readers will think the proposition of Chris McAlister is beyond a crazy suggestion. Fair enough.

Heck, for the umpteenth time, I’m not saying McAlister is the answer. I just think the current corps of pass defenders is not the answer either. And, after next week’s cakewalk against the Cleveland Browns, we’re gonna find out – BIG TIME.

God save ’em, ’cause Norv Turner won’t ….. at least, until the playoffs

Exhibit #4 – Jackson vs. EVERYBODY

<img src=”Photobucket” alt=”” />

Exhibit #5 – Chambers vs. Ayanbedego & Carr

<img src=”Photobucket” alt=”” />

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Blog & Tackle: NFL Week 1 review

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Chris Pika

An interesting Week 1 in the NFL had its share of big moments, surprises and injury news. Let’s take a spin around the league’s opening Sunday.

Atlanta 19, Miami 7: Not the start Miami was hoping for, by far. Several experts picked the Fins in an upset, but the Falcons took advantage of four Miami turnovers for nine points. Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez can still catch the ball and find the end zone, and Miami should have kept running the ball at the Falcons, but decided to use the Wildcat too many times. Atlanta might have a kicking problem on its hands as Jason Elam struggled, despite a 50-yard field goal. This one should have been a blowout.

Ravens 38, Kansas City 24: A tougher game than many expected was put away by a late touchdown by Baltimore’s Willis McGahee at home. The Ravens posted a club-record 501 total yards, and they needed almost all of it with two touchdowns in the final three minutes of play. Joe Flacco’s 43 pass attempts weren’t expected as Kansas City prepared for a running attack. Ravens TE Todd Heap came back to form in a big way with 74 receiving yards and a touchdown.

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Philadelphia 38, Carolina 10: Story of two quarterbacks dominates Eagles’ victory. Philly QB Donovan McNabb breaks a rib and his status is undetermined for Week 2 against New Orleans. By the way, Michael Vick is not eligible until Week 3. Jake Delhomme struggled mightily as he was responsible for five of Carolina’s seven turnovers (Eagles scored 24 points off those seven miscues), but coach John Fox is sticking with him – for now. Carolina will have to do better than 2.4 yards per play to win games.

Denver 12, Cincinnati 7: CBS announcer Gus Johnson was in NCAA Tournament form as the easily excited play-by-play man cranked into full gear on Brandon Stokley’s 87-yard touchdown off a tipped pass late in the game. Stokley then stalled at the goal line to kill the clock and the Bengals. Chad Ochocinco had just one catch for eight yards – not much to Tweet about for the Cincy WR. Denver QB Kyle Orton was a winner in his debut and the folks in the Broncos front office have to be glad he’s the QB, instead of Jay Cutler today.

Minnesota 34, Cleveland 20: Vikings QB Brett Favre’s debut with Minnesota was the focus of the national media, but RB Adrian Peterson was the real show for the Vikes with 180 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Favre was 14-21 for just 110 yards passing. Again, his greatest contribution will be to safely hand the ball off to Peterson. A lot good Browns coach Eric Mangini did with his starting QB antics – Brady Quinn threw for 205 yards, including a late TD, and was sacked five times by the Minny D.

New York Jets 24, Houston 7: Rex Ryan had a very successful debut as the Jets’ head coach, thanks to – no surprise – the defense. The Jets pounded the Texans running game, and Texans QB Matt Schaub was harassed all day. The Jets got 272 pass yards from Mark Sanchez and 107 rush yards and two scores from Thomas Jones. Not sure what this victory means to New York, but Rex has the Jets buying into his way of football.

Indianapolis 14, Jacksonville 12: The Jags missed a chance to get a division upset in Week 1 as the Colts’ defense clamped down late in the fourth quarter. Jax QB David Garrard completed half his 28 passes for 122 yards, and RB Maurice Jones-Drew had only 97 rush yards and one TD. Colts QB Peyton Manning showed that even with the offseason coaching changes, he still runs the Indy defense with 301 pass yards, 162 to WR Reggie Wayne on 10 catches.

New Orleans 45, Detroit 27: The good news for Mt. St. Joe’s Jim Schwartz in his NFL head coaching debut? The Lions scored more points than they did in ANY 2008 game. The bad news? The Saints got a club record-tying six TD passes from QB Drew Brees in a blowout that extended Detroit’s futility streak to 18 straight games. Brees distributed the ball around as TE Jeremy Shockey scored twice – his first scores since being traded to New Orleans last season. Lions rookie QB Matthew Stafford will want to forget his first NFL game – three interceptions. He and Lions will have better days – but not soon.

Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21: Cowboys QB Tony Romo successfully shook off the supposed hex by former girlfriend Jessica Simpson to throw three touchdown passes as part of a 353-yard passing day. Bucs QB Byron Leftwich probably thinks the blonde bombshell put the hex on the wrong guy, as he was battered by the Dallas defense once Tampa Bay had stop running the ball. Tampa Bay could be in for a long year as division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans have as much, if not more firepower, than the Cowboys.

San Francisco 20, Arizona 16: One of the few mild surprises of Week 1, as the defending NFC champs were beaten at home by a rapidly improving 49ers squad. 49ers QB Shaun Hill threw for 209 yards and a score, while fantasy darling Kurt Warner was picked off twice and subject to a heavy pass rush from San Francisco. Arizona was led in receiving by a running back, Tim Hightower, who caught 12 balls for 121 yards – that’s not the formula that helped the Cards go so far in 2008.

New York Giants 23, Washington 17: The Giants defensive line, sparked by the return of DE Osi Umenyiora, made life very difficult for the Skins as Washington was held to only 51 rush yards. Even without former WR Plaxico Burress, the G-Men are going to be a serious contender in the NFC because of their defense. QB Eli Manning completed 20 of 29 passes for 256 yards. Skins QB Jason Campbell was stripped of the ball by Umenyiora for a score, and DE Albert Haynesworth collected a check, but not many Giants runners in his debut after the monster contract handed out to him by Dan Snyder in the offseason.

Seattle 28, St. Louis 0: Good to see old friend Jim Mora get a victory in his opening game as Seahawk coach, thanks in part to instant replay that showed 12 men on the field for the Rams when St. Louis returned a blocked field goal to apparently tie the game 7-7 late in the first half. The penalty on the Rams gave the Seahawks new life, and Seattle converted for a late TD for a 14-0 halftime advantage. St. Louis folded their tents in the second half as Seattle got three TD passes from QB Matt Hasselbeck.

Green Bay 21, Chicago 15: This wasn’t the script Bears fans had in mind for the season opener against hated rival Green Bay. Jay Cutler threw four interceptions, and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw one TD pass, but it was a game-winning 50-yard toss with just over a minute to play. Chicago killed a lot of clock in the fourth quarter to kick a field goal that seemed to put them in charge, but Cutler’s fourth pick in the dying seconds sealed the Green Bay victory. The Bears’ loss could be costly in other ways as LB Brian Urlacher might be finished for the season with a wrist injury.

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BengalsRavens

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2009 Ravens Preview – Weeks 5-9

Posted on 09 September 2009 by Derek Arnold

Today is Wednesday, which means we are now down to three work days remaining until we get to watch our purple and black take the field for a meaningful football game for the first time since that awful day in Pittsburgh. Day 2 of our quick Ravens season preview sees the Ravens take on the other purple team in the league, a neck-bearded QB, and Bungle bookends.

See Day 1 here or here.

Of course, all of these predictions are based on rosters, teams, etc., as they stand today. Injuries, suspensions, and whatever else could easily drastically change my feeling about any or all of the games. This is for fun more than anything else, so don’t go calling your bookie on my recommendations.

Week 5 – vs. Cincinnati

BengalsRavens

Count me in the group that thinks Cincy will be a bit less bungle-riffic in ’09. Their defense finished up strong in 2008, Carson Palmer is back (back again), and Ocho Cinco looks like he’s ready to return to his Pro Bowl form, assuming he can stop “tweeting” long enough to catch a pass or 80. I think they’ll win 1st Place – Ohio Division this season, and give a lot of teams all they can handle. A lot of lesser teams than the Ravens, that is.

Chance of victory: 75%

Week 6 – @ Minnesota

VikingsRavens

The Ravens travel up North for the Purple Bowl in their final game before their first bye week since 2007. Lots of similarities here – both teams rely heavily on their running game, have very strong defenses, and think they finally have the quarterback they need to get them over the hump. The difference, of course, is that the Vikings are on a much shorter time table with their grizzled old gunslinger Brett Favre than the Ravens are with 24-year old Joe Flacco. Also, it takes three Ravens to do the damage in the ground game that the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson is capable of. Assuming both teams are at full strength, I really think this one is a toss-up.

Chance of victory: 50%

Week 8 – vs. Denver

BroncsRavens

The Ravens get two weeks to prepare for the Denver Broncos, who are likely to be in shambles by late-October. After one of the most tumultuous offseasons by any team, ever – one that saw them lose their head coach and franchise QB, and suspend their stud WR – most Broncos fans are about as happy with their team’s ownership as we O’s fans are with our baseball team’s. The bugaboo for the Ravens defense has been the big game QBs – Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger. Kyle Orton (with Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter to hand off to)? Not so much. This one’s in the bag.

Chance of victory: 80%

Week 9 – @ Cincinnati

BunglesRavens

It bugs me a bit when the schedule-makers in the NFL have teams completely finish with one divisional opponent before playing another. Such is the case for the Ravens this year though, getting the Bengals twice before facing Pittsburgh. Like I said, Marvin’s Bunch will be competitive, but the Ravens simply outclass them in all aspects of the game. “The Jungle” won’t provide enough of a home field advantage to make much of a difference.

Chance of victory: 65%

Tomorrow: Weeks 10-13


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If's And But's .... And Some Classic Baltimore History

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If’s And But’s …. And Some Classic Baltimore History

Posted on 23 July 2009 by Rex Snider


“If” Derrick Mason would’ve informed the Ravens of his feelings and potential desire to step away from the game when the inner thoughts originally surfaced six months ago, would the Ravens have pursued a certain BIG NAME talent, again?


We are led to believe the Baltimore Orioles are getting better under the leadership of Andy MacPhail – who assumed control nearly two years ago. Adam Eaton – check, Rich Hill – check, Mark Hendrickson – check, Pedro – ummm. “But,” more importantly, the Orioles record on July 23rd over the past 6 years is …..

2004/ 43-51
2005/ 50-45
2006/ 44-55
2007/ 44-54
2008/ 48-51
2009/ 41-53


“If” given a choice, would you spend next Tuesday at McDaniel College, watching the Ravens rookies OR would you prefer an evening witnessing the big league debut of Chris Tillman, at Camden Yards?

 


I’ll be on vacation next week, which means I’ll be missing young Mr. Tillman, the Ravens first few days of camp and the WWE Smackdown Event at 1st Mariner Arena, on Tuesday. “But,” this really means I’ll be missing the special cage match between Lil Wayne, umm I mean, Lil Glenn Clark and the Fabulous Moolah.


“If” I have the choice between going to a soccer game on a gorgeous Friday night, in July, OR getting my fingernails clipped, you’ll find me with clippers in hand. Indeed, I’m gonna find out if these “nail clipping sessions” experienced by the Non-NASCAR fans are really something special.


I’m with Ray Bachmann, Jim Rome, Thyrl Nelson and many others – I’m happy the soccer fans, in the Mid-Atlantic area are being treated to Friday’s exhibition at M&T Bank Stadium. “But,” I still can’t get excited about a game dominated by players from foreign cultures and with a very low scoring ratio. Alas, I’m not the only one !!!!


“If” the economy is so BAD, why is the American Idols Tour stop @ 1st Mariner Arena, on August 5th nearly sold out? No, I have never attended such a show, but it might just inspire me to attend a soccer exhibition.


Ravens fans are probably feeling pretty excited about home games against the Chiefs, Broncos and Colts. “But,” scalpers are undoubtedly disappointed the team is on the road against some pretty big names.


“If” the new Dover Downs Sports Betting Parlor lays odds on Dave Trembley returning as the Orioles manager, in 2010, I’m likely to equate the possibility to the chances of me being mistaken for Brad Pitt, anytime soon.


And, finally, today might just be an ordinary July 23rd to the rest of the world. “But,” on July 23, 1851, the first wholesale version of ice cream was manufactured and sold, in Baltimore, Maryland !!!!!

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Jack Cust

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5 W’s and 1 H

Posted on 29 June 2009 by Luke Jones

31-62.

No, it is not the Washington Nationals’ current record (22-51), but it’s the Orioles’ record against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards since 1998.

And despite what many would have you believe, the fans donning pink and green Boston hats and representing The Bandwagon Red Sox Nation haven’t hurled a single pitch or hit a single home run in those 62 losses.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as frustrated as anyone to see Camden Yards invaded by Red Sox or Yankees fans 18 times every season, but pleas to Orioles fans to buy those tickets are a waste of words.  Nothing will change until this becomes a winning organization again.

Because of their strong national following, the Yankees and Red Sox have a strong representation wherever they go, whether it’s in Baltimore, Kansas City, or Los Angeles.  The only way to contain—not eliminate—the number of Red Sox or Yankees fans is to field a winning team that fans want to pay to watch.

Just look at the Ravens’ annual war with the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.  In the years in which the Ravens are competitive and in the playoff hunt, the number of Steelers fans is considerably lower than the years in which the Ravens struggle.

It’s plain and simple; yes, Orioles fans could buy those tickets snatched up by Boston fans, but with a .333 winning percentage against the Red Sox since 1998, why exactly would they want to?

Trust me, I’ve been to plenty of these Orioles-Red Sox encounters over the last decade.  It’s typically a pretty miserable experience.

If Orioles fans are going to take back the Yard, the baseball team needs to make it something worth taking back.

Here are the 5 W’s and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who will be the Orioles’ representative(s) at the All-Star Game in St. Louis?

Remember early in the season when we thought Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis were all sure things for the All-Star Game?  Seems like a long time ago.

That’s not to say the three aren’t having good seasons, but their numbers have certainly leveled off since early May.

With no Oriole threatening in the fan voting, we’ll have to see whom Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon chooses to represent the Orioles.  Markakis or Jones would still figure to have a decent chance of being selected as a reserve, but the most deserving candidate might be closer George Sherrill.

After a rocky start, Sherrill has been outstanding, earning 16 saves while posting a 2.05 ERA.  In fact, since his blown save against Toronto on May 2, Sherrill has pitched to a 0.45 ERA and is 12-for-12 in save opportunities.

He’s my pick for the Orioles’ representative in St. Louis.

2.  What NBA trade will have the biggest impact next season?

While Shaquille O’Neal being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers stole the headlines, the trade bringing Vince Carter to the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic might make a bigger difference next season.

The Magic sent Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, and Tony Battie to the New Jersey Nets for superstar Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.  It’s hard to remember a team so close to an NBA championship making such drastic changes to the makeup of its roster.

In addition to trading these three to New Jersey, the acquisition of Carter also means the end of Hedo Turkoglu’s stay in Orlando.  The 6-10 forward has already notified the team of his plan to opt out of his contract this summer.

The Magic hopes Carter can provide the veteran scoring presence the team sorely lacked against the Los Angeles Lakers in The Finals, but will he be willing to play the strong defense expected in Orlando?

This deal smells like a high-risk, high-reward situation.  It could either bring a championship to Disneyworld, or it could kill the mojo of the Magic’s run last season.

Shaq playing with LeBron James in Cleveland will grab the headlines, but I’m not sure the big man clogging the middle will be conducive to James’ slashing style of play.  Though he had a good season in Phoenix, he wasn’t exactly a difference-maker there.

3.  Where should the Orioles turn to help their abysmal base running?

The name that immediately came to mind was baseball’s all-time stolen base king Rickey Henderson.  Rumors are circulating that Henderson would accept a framed $2 million check as compensation for his services.  Rickey won’t even cash it!

If Rickey isn’t your cup of tea, how about Ruben Rivera?

Players will just need to keep an eye on their gloves and bats—just ask Derek Jeter.  Of course, if you don’t trust Rivera, the Orioles could always contact Billy Beane in Oakland to inquire about this guy:

Jack Cust

4.  When will Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs sign a long-term contract?

With Suggs’ revelation that he is close to signing a new deal with the Ravens and hopes to report to training camp on time, fans were undoubtedly excited to hear the news.

“We are close to an agreement. We just have a few little things to work out,” Suggs told The Baltimore Sun last week. “I don’t want to go into great detail, but it’s things like the years of the agreement and incentives, but the basic framework has been done.”

Call me a pessimist, but the years of an agreement and incentives are not “little” details, especially when considering how a signing bonus will be applied to the salary cap over the length of a deal.  While I do believe the Ravens will reach a new deal with Suggs before the July 15th deadline, he might be using the media to turn up the heat on the Ravens just a little bit.

5.  Why should we care about Brett Favre?

I typically roll my eyes at any Favre speculation in the offseason, but the report of Favre being spotted seeing a doctor in Minnesota last week really grabbed my attention.

After doing some more research, I’ve discovered reports of Favre wearing Fran Tarkenton pajamas to bed, watching a Twins game on TV, and having dreams of being a Viking—just like The Simpsons’ Ralph Wiggum.

Ralph Wiggum

6.  How impressive is the career of Mariano Rivera?

The 39-year-old closer joined Trevor Hoffman as the second member of the 500-save club on Sunday, just adding one more accolade to a brilliant career.

It’s amazing that Rivera has had such dramatic success in New York—the toughest place to play in the world—and by really only relying on one pitch, the devastating cut fastball.

The closer might be an overrated role in baseball, but a dominating closer like Rivera does not fit this description.  Having been the team’s closer since 1997, his run as the top fireman in baseball cannot be praised enough—even if he IS a Yankee.

In contrast, the Orioles have had at least eight regular closers during that time period—with many of them struggling.  Rivera is the epitome of consistent domination.

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5 Ws and 1 H

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Luke Jones

I wanted to take a moment to wish all the moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.  In the sports world, we tend to overlook Mom in favor of Dad taking the kids to ballgames or coaching the little league team.

In my own childhood, my dad often had the glory, taking me to Orioles and Ravens games and coaching many of my teams, but my mom was right there at every game as my No. 1 fan.  I sincerely thank her for that.

Now, on to the 5 Ws and 1 H for the week.

1.  Who really deserves to be the Orioles’ closer at this point?  The closer-by-committee idea sounds logical, but relievers have to be effective in order for it to work.  The struggles of George Sherrill against right-handed hitting are well-documented (right-handers are hitting .378 against him), but no one else is emerging as a viable option.

Chris Ray (7.20 ERA) still doesn’t look right after returning from Tommy John surgery, Jamie Walker is really a one or two-batter pitcher at this point in his career, and Jim Johnson gave up the demoralizing three-run homer to Johnny Damon this afternoon.

Danys Baez has been the best of the bunch, but the team is hesitant to throw him into the role of pitching on consecutive days at this point.  He has done a great job filling the role held by Matt Albers last season before he went down with a shoulder injury.

Then again, the club really doesn’t need a closer when the bullpen can rarely hold a lead into the ninth inning.  One thing is for sure—the bullpen has been a major disappointment after looking like it might be one of the team’s strengths entering the season.

2.  What do you think was going through the mind of Alex Rodriguez on Thursday when the news broke that Manny Ramirez was being suspended 50 games for failing a drug test?

Was A-Rod happy to have the attention deflected away from him, or did it bring more scrutiny for his return to the Yankees lineup?

3.  Where will the Ravens go with the wide receiver position after trying out Jerry Porter, Kelley Washington, and Tab Perry this weekend?  None of the three will be a savior, but it certainly seems more crucial to find another veteran option after learning Derrick Mason could miss the preseason after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Washington reportedly had the most impressive showing of the three, but Ozzie Newsome will continue to see who else might shake loose from the other 31 NFL teams between now and late July.

Anquan Boldin’s agent Drew Rosenhaus claims he still expects his client to be traded, but don’t look for the Ravens to make the move unless they can sign Terrell Suggs to a long-term extension.  Suggs’ $10.2 million cap number makes a Boldin trade and subsequent new contract virtually impossible.

4.  When will we see the next high-profile minor leaguer in Baltimore?  Rich Hill—though not really a prospect—pitched six scoreless innings and picked up his first victory for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday.

We’ll have to wait and see on the status of Luke Scott (shoulder) and Lou Montanez (thumb) during Monday’s off day.  Nolan Reimold (.381, 8 HR, 25 RBI at Norfolk) would figure to be on Andy MacPhail’s speed dial and is more than deserving of a promotion.

Matt Wieters is now hitting .301 despite only hitting one home run this season in Triple A.  At this point, it seems the Orioles are content waiting until early June to promote the 22-year-old catcher to avoid Super 2 Status, preventing him from being eligible for a fourth year of arbitration before free agency.  The recent hot streak of catcher Gregg Zaun—hitting .478 in May—makes the situation a little easier to swallow.

5.  Why won’t Brett Favre just stay or go away?  I have no problem with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history wanting to continue his career; however, I grow tired of the drama over whether he will return or stay retired.

Here’s an idea:  simply WAIT and THINK before making a life-changing decision, and stick with it when you finally decide.  The drama that has unfolded since he retired from the Packers is more annoying than compelling.

Favre should have taken a lesson from Jonathan Ogden in handling a retirement.  Though the circumstances were different with Ogden nursing a chronic toe problem, he waited and really thought about his future before finally retiring last June.

6.  How are we going to make it to late July for the start of Ravens training camp?  This weekend’s minicamp feels like such a tease for those of us craving football season.

It would certainly help if the Orioles could play competitive baseball until then, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to enjoy watching a team that’s 13-19 and cannot pitch at all.  The promotion of young players like Wieters and Reimold will spark some interest, but will it be enough?

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