Tag Archive | "Carson Palmer"

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Ravens-Cardinals: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 25 October 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens normally relish a prime-time game to show the country just how good they are.

But there’s nowhere to hide on Monday night as they limp into Arizona with a 1-5 record to take on a Cardinals team atop the NFC West.

To say John Harbaugh and Baltimore don’t have a shot would be silly — it’s the NFL, after all — but there’s not much reason for optimism looking at this matchup on paper or if you’ve simply watched the Ravens play this season. Making matters worse is the health of the secondary as cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring) and safety Kendrick Lewis (knee) are both questionable for the league’s 27th-ranked pass defense that will try to slow Carson Palmer and the NFL’s ninth-best passing attack.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens meet the Cardinals for the first time since 2011, a game that produced the largest comeback victory in franchise history. Holding a 4-1 all-time record against Arizona, Baltimore will be playing its first game at University of Phoenix Stadium while the Cardinals seek their first win over the Ravens since a 1997 contest played at Memorial Stadium.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens attempt to win their fifth consecutive game against the Cardinals …

1. Justin Forsett will touch the ball 25 times and score a touchdown with more than 100 yards from scrimmage. If you’re looking for a weakness on their defense, the Cardinals have been underwhelming stopping the run as they’ve allowed 4.1 yards per carry, ranking 21st in the NFL. The Ravens will surely want to keep one of the most prolific offenses in the league on the sideline as much as possible, so controlling the clock and trying to play field position would figure to be the best way to do it. With Patrick Peterson likely clamping down on Steve Smith for much of the night, the Ravens will need Forsett to keep them in third-and-manageable situations to make this one close.

2. Joe Flacco will throw an interception to Tyrann Mathieu that will set up an Arizona score. The Cardinals rank fourth in the NFL with 13 takeaways and have intercepted opponents a league-leading 11 times in six games. This is bad news for Flacco, who has thrown seven interceptions so far this season. With little fear of the Ravens beating the Arizona secondary deep, the free safety Mathieu will have a chance to display his ball-hawking skills and that will pay off with a pick and a long return to put the Cardinals on a short field. General manager Ozzie Newsome needs to find more explosive weapons for his quarterback, but that doesn’t excuse Flacco from committing costly turnovers this year.

3. Jimmy Smith will do a solid job shadowing Larry Fitzgerald, but John Brown and Michael Floyd will catch touchdowns against the Ravens secondary. Webb figures to return to action, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees will still be faced with the dilemma of how to handle the nickel package with neither Kyle Arrington nor Shareece Wright inspiring trust. It makes sense to allow Smith to take on the 6-foot-3 Fitzgerald, but Brown provides a speed threat that the Ravens will need to account for and Floyd also brings good size inside the red zone. Baltimore can hope Brown’s hamstring issue limits his speed, but there are just too many weapons for a poor pass defense to neutralize.

4. Jeremy Ross will catch his first touchdown pass as a member of the Ravens. He’s not a long-term fix, but the former Detroit Lion has five catches for 58 yards in limited snaps over two games compared to Marlon Brown’s 10 receptions and 84 receiving yards while playing extensively in six contests. In other words, it’s time to see what Ross and others such as Chris Givens and Darren Waller can do with Brown being so unproductive. Ross brings some experience at receiver from his days in Detroit and adds much-needed speed to the equation. That will pay off with Flacco throwing his first touchdown to a wide receiver not named Smith or Kamar Aiken this season.

5. Palmer will become the latest quarterback to burn Baltimore in a 31-17 final. There’s a mixed history between Palmer and the Ravens, but none of that means anything with this defense being a shell of what it used to be and the veteran revitalized with a flash group of weapons to throw to. Baltimore will compete for a large portion of this game, but the Cardinals are just a much better football team right now. All five of the Ravens’ defeats this year have been by six or fewer points, but that streak will come to an end with a double-digit loss. It’s difficult to recall the last time there was so much pessimism while previewing an upcoming Ravens game, but that’s what happens when you’re 1-5.

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Arizona possesses what Ravens lack in 2015

Posted on 22 October 2015 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will look across the field on Monday night and see exactly what they’re lacking in 2015.

Playmakers on both sides of the ball have led the Arizona Cardinals to a 4-2 record atop the NFC West as well as the best point differential (plus-88) in the NFL. Baltimore’s shortage of playmakers has contributed to the worst start in franchise history and five defeats all decided by six points or fewer.

Offensively, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has a trio of talented receivers — future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald, second-year speedster John Brown, and former first-round pick Michael Floyd — on which to rely. That combination of experience, speed, and height has helped Arizona produce the league’s seventh-ranked passing game and 33.8 points per game.

In contrast, Joe Flacco has a 36-year-old Steve Smith playing at a high level and a group of unheralded receivers behind him who have struggled to make a meaningful impact. Making matters worse, the Ravens offense will be facing the league’s ninth-ranked pass defense than includes Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson and hybrid safety Tyrann Mathieu in the secondary.

The Cardinals often-explosive offense has lacked consistency — evident by a Week 4 home loss to St. Louis and last week’s 25-13 defeat in Pittsburgh — but it’s not easy envisioning Baltimore’s 27th-ranked pass defense being able to keep up with Arizona’s speed. Even pedestrian offenses have picked apart the Ravens secondary this season, so what will a top 10 unit be able to do?

And given how slowly the Ravens offense has started most games this season, Monday night could get ugly if we see a similar opening act.

Return game progress

One of the few bright spots from the Week 6 loss to San Francisco was another good performance by returner Jeremy Ross, who broke a 41-yard kick return late in the first quarter.

A second look at the return, however, indicated that Ross could have made it even better had he cut behind a block from rookie Nick Boyle toward the right sideline instead of shifting inside where three tacklers were waiting. His special teams coordinator agreed with that sentiment on Thursday.

“We honestly should’ve gotten more out of it than we did,” Jerry Rosburg said. “We didn’t finish it very well, but at least we got it set up. So, we’re making progress. I like what he has done. He has been working really hard on the reads and ball security. He has gotten a lot better.”

In addition to averaging 29.5 yards per kick return and 10.0 yards per punt return, Ross has caught five passes for 58 yards in limited action as a receiver in two games. Given the lack of big-play ability the Ravens have shown on either side of the ball, would Rosburg encourage the speedy Ross to be more aggressive taking kicks out of the end zone like Jacoby Jones was in his three years in Baltimore?

“It depends on what kind of deep kick it is,” Rosburg said. “There are different kinds of deep kicks — high-hanging deep kicks. Even Jacoby didn’t have a green light. Sometimes, he ran the red light.”

Wright bouncing back?

Head coach John Harbaugh didn’t mince words in criticizing the newly-acquired Shareece Wright after he was burned for two touchdowns in the 25-20 loss to the 49ers, but the Ravens will likely be counting on him again this week.

Starter Lardarius Webb is expected to return from a hamstring injury, but defensive coordinator Dean Pees prefers using Webb inside in the nickel package. This leaves the Ravens with Wright or Kyle Arrington to play on the outside opposite Jimmy Smith, and Arrington has also struggled when asked to play on the outside this season

“I really liked the way he responded this week,” said Pees of Wright. “It was going to be interesting to come out here and go through the film with him and come back out here and watch and see how he responded this week. So far, he has responded great. Now, I’ll tell you again Monday night after we get done [playing].

“Sometimes it takes [failure]. We all learn by mistakes, and hopefully that will be his case.”

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game – Ravens/Raiders

Posted on 13 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Carson Palmer “sacked” by Paul Kruger for 4 yard loss on 4th & 1 (1st quarter)

4. Jacoby Jones 47 yard catch from Joe Flacco (2nd quarter)

3. Paul Kruger tips, intercepts pass intended for Derek Hagan (2nd quarter)

2. Ed Dickson 40 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 10 (1st quarter)

1. Ray Rice 7 yard touchdown run (2nd quarter)

(Ryan’s plays on Page 2…)

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Suggs hoping to continue progress against old foe Palmer

Posted on 07 November 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Terrell Suggs hasn’t taken the field at M&T Bank Stadium since last January, but when he makes his 2012 home debut on Sunday, he’ll be looking across the line of scrimmage at a familiar opponent.

It will mark quarterback Carson Palmer’s first game against the Ravens since he was traded to the Oakland Raiders last season, but Suggs remembers the longtime Bengals quarterback as a thorn in his team’s side for years. Palmer owns a 9-4 record in his career against the Ravens, including some last-minute heroics on a couple occasions in Baltimore.

“He is one of those underrated quarterbacks that can make every throw, especially if he gets in a groove,” Suggs said. “You all saw it when he was in Cincinnati. I remember vividly games I thought we had won, and Carson Palmer got in his groove and he torched us. He is a really good quarterback, and he knows us pretty well, too.”

Palmer erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Ravens in 2004 and also marched the Bengals 80 yards for the game-winning touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell with 22 seconds remaining in their 2009 meeting in Baltimore.

At 32 years old, Palmer doesn’t display the same rifle that prompted the Bengals to draft the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner with the first overall pick of the 2003 draft, but the Raiders quarterback has thrown for 2,355 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions this season. Never considered a mobile quarterback, Palmer has never had too many issues with Suggs over the years as the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker has collected just four sacks in the 13 games they’ve played against each other.

Of course, many of those games came with Cincinnati’s capable left tackle Andrew Whitworth keeping Suggs in check. The Raiders will entrust Jared Veldheer to protect Palmer’s blindside from the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year.

“You still have to play the game, but this is one of the more dangerous quarterbacks because he doesn’t scramble,” Suggs said. “He’ll stand in the pocket and make the play and make the right throw.”

With Oakland running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson both suffering high ankle sprains in the Raiders’ Week 9 loss to Tampa Bay, Palmer will likely be expected to throw at will after attempting 61 passes and tossing four touchdowns in the loss to the Buccaneers.

Meanwhile, Suggs hopes to continue to build on his comeback from a partially-torn Achilles tendon after a quiet performance against Cleveland in his second game back. Sunday will mark the first time that Suggs will have played games in two straight weeks, and the pass-rusher admits he is still working his way back to pre-injury form.

How close he is to being 100 percent is anyone’s guess, but Suggs did not appear to take a step forward in Cleveland after a strong debut that included a sack in the Ravens’ Week 7 loss in Houston.

“The only thing that can really determine that is my play,” Suggs said. “As I get better, I can get some of my explosion back and, not only that, my game-time wind. We pretty much evaluate after every game.”

Disappearing tight ends

Entering the season with high expectations, tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson haven’t taken the steps forward the Ravens had hoped to see through the first half of the season.

Pitta started fast this season, catching 18 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns in the first three games of the season, but the third-year tight end has caught just 14 passes and no touchdowns in the last five games.

Even more concerning has been the disappearance of Dickson, who has only 10 receptions for 85 yards in eight games. The former third-round pick caught 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns last season as it appeared he and Pitta were emerging as one of the most dangerous tandems of tight ends in the league.

“The tight ends can be more productive,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s something that they are working really hard. [Tight ends coach] Wade Harman is doing a great job coaching them, but I’d like to see a few more plays out of them, and I know they feel the same way.”

Dickson has struggled to catch the football, a problem he dealt with last season, while Pitta has had trouble getting open against man-to-man coverage.

Pitta believes the reduced number of opportunities has been a factor for the lack of production at the tight end position. After he was targeted 30 times in the first three games of the year, Pitta has been targeted by quarterback Joe Flacco 20 times in the last five games.


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Raiders Game is a Must Win

Posted on 07 November 2012 by jeffreygilley

Discounting the Texans game, the Ravens have been competitive in every game thus far.  After all, they are six and two.  But this team has been through some tough times.  The defense has been terrible and the offense cant produce on the road.  That said, I think this Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders is a must win.

Make no mistake, this will not be an easy game.  The Raiders bost a respectable running game (when McFadden is healthy), and have a track team the Raiders call wide receivers.

If the Raiders want to win this game, Carson Palmer will have to make plays and he has done just that against the Ravens.  When Palmer was a Cincinnati Bengal, he faced the Ravens thirteen times and won nine of those games.  In those thirteen games, Palmer has thrown for just over 3,000 yards and has thrown fifteen touchdowns to eleven interceptions.

Those are pretty good numbers for a Ravens defense that used to be elite.  So what can Palmer do against a depleted Ravens defense that was struggling with their star players?

Jimmy Smith should play a large role in this game.  He is a good player and has a lot of potential but has a tendency to bite on double moves, especially double moves out of play action.  With the speed the Raiders have on the outside, Smith will have to stay at home and be fundamentally sound.

Tackling will also play a big role in this game.  Thus far, the Ravens have been a poor tackling team.  If the defensive backs play too far off the line to respect the Raiders speed, the Raiders will run comeback and slant routes to attack underneath.  If the Ravens dont tackle well, one of those short routes could go the distance.

This game is a must win because of the remaining schedule.  After the Raiders this Sunday, the Ravens must travel to Pittsburgh and San Diego before returning to Baltimore to play the Steelers for the second time in three weeks.  The Season ends with a four game stretch against the Redskins in Washington, the Broncos and Giants at home, and the Bengals on the road to end the regular season.

This schedule scares me as it should scare most Ravens fans.  Facing the Manning brothers two weeks in a row is brutal and Peyton always seems to beat the Ravens at home.

Personally, I see the Ravens getting to ten wins and earning a playoff spot.  The AFC is wide open.  Many teams can win the conference to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, I just hope the Ravens get that privilege.

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MobTown Sports Blog - Tue 12/6

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MobTown Sports Blog – Tue 12/6

Posted on 06 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look ahead at the Tuesday agenda for the MobTown Sports Beat. It’ll be a late start today as “Monday Night Live with Brendan Ayanbadejo” will air from 10 until 11 am, but we’ll be getting it in after that.



Guest Lineup


Jason Butt from CBS Sports and the Baltimore Guide will join us at 11:30 to talk Ravens.


Luke Jones will provide the Ravens intelligence with a Ravens report at 12:30.


Ravens Reaction


A thankfully uneventful foray in Cleveland in the books the Ravens look ahead to a toothless Colts team. We’re always open to Ravens rap.


A Nickel and a Nail


Five topical conversation starters and a nail for someone who deserves it. Share your thoughts:


#1 – Unlikely MVP Candidates


As the season winds down and as we set the countdown to declare Aaron Rodgers MVP of the league, who else might deserve to be in the conversation albeit under unlikely circumstances?


Peyton Manning who proved his value even more in his absence than with the impressive body of work that preceded it. Tim Tebow who has delivered the Broncos from 1-4 to the top of the AFC West despite no organizational support and the trade of the team’s best receiver on the day Tebow got the job. Matt Moore who has rescued the Dolphins from the throes of winlessness and played them right out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Maurice Jones-Drew who has put together a terrific campaign despite being on a team with no other offensive weapons. Matt Forte and Frank Gore who literally carried their teams to unexpected success (Forte’s value may become more apparent in coming weeks too via his absence). Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster and Darren McFadden are all probably worth a mention too.


#2 – The Miami Heat of Baseball


Given the season the Eagles are enduring, carrying the title “Miami Heat of” anything is probably an unwelcome harbinger of struggles ahead. As the newly anointed Miami Marlins go about making their splash into big market baseball though, most recently by heaping money on Jose Reyes and now looking to pique the interests of Albert Pujols, this rapid reconstruct looks much more like the Heat than even Philly’s football version.


Forget for a second that Reyes’ career season and the timing thereof couldn’t have been better for him personally as it came just ahead of free agency, and color me cynical if I see a 28-year old Dominican and immediately assume there’s at least a chance he might be a tad north of his listed age. The fact that Reyes and current “face of the Marlins” Hanley Ramirez both play shortstop and like LeBron James and DeWayne Wade’s skill sets the move seems justifiable yet glaringly redundant. Adding the best player in the game in Pujols would cement the Heat persona for this team…perhaps by design.


If so, it’s probably worth noting that while the Marlins were looking to the Heat for their blueprint for success they should have been careful to notice the white slipcovers that cover the empty American Airlines Arena seats in a feeble attempt to disguise the problem these Marlins know all too well…even a team full of superstars is a tough draw in a city full of lavish beaches, tropical locales and loads of other entertainment options. If the Heat’s Big 3 can’t draw in Miami during the winter months what’s to keep folks interested in the Marlins on beautiful summer nights…Pujols or not?


#3 – Tough Luck Contenders


They’re still in the thick of their respective conference playoff pictures, but that’s about all that’s gone right for the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears this season.


The Texans lost Mario Williams for the season early, Arian Foster for most of the season’s first quarter, Andre Johnson for a handful of games along the way yet were still firmly positioned atop the AFC South when the bottom fell out on Matt Schaub…and then Matt Leinart immediately thereafter. A game TJ Yates showed well in his trial by fire win against the tough Falcons on Sunday but lost Johnson again along the way. They still have a 2 game lead over the Titans who are the only team in the division able to catch them mathematically, and would be well positioned in the wild card even if they faltered away the division. With dates @CIN, vs. CAR, @IND & vs. TEN left the Texans look like a lock for the playoffs no matter who they have to rely on to get them there, the question is what they’ll be able to do once they finally reach that long awaited summit.


The Bears on the other had started slow as quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz struggled to get on the same page and with an apparent lack of talent on the offensive line. They were able to right their ship and ride Matt Forte into wildcard contention in the only division in football seemingly salted away (by the Packers) in week 6. Hoping for the best from Caleb Hanie at quarterback, the Bears were dealt the worst possible blow on Sunday (as were all of my fantasy teams) with the loss of Matt Forte possibly for the season. With dates remaining @DEN, vs. SEA, @ GB and @ MIN and clinging loosely to the 1st NFC wildcard spot at present the Bears road to the playoffs is much more in doubt.


The Raiders can probably fairly count themselves in this group too, losing Jason Campbell and spending mightily to replace him with Carson Palmer only to lose Darren McFadden immediately and indefinitely upon Palmer’s arrival. They’re in a dogfight for the AFC West / 2nd AFC wildcard with dates remaining @GB, vs. DET, @ KC and vs. SD.



#4 – BC-Mess continued


I vented on this topic here yesterday and won’t rehash that argument again. I will however add a couple of things.


First is that the BCS title rematch is a result (in my opinion) of media arrogance above all else. As 5 of the 7 computer rankings had Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama for the BCS’ second spot but the human side of the ledger tipped the balance to Alabama. As the media ordained Alabama the best team in the country through most of the season, their willingness to shake that notion was evident as the talk of a rematch began before the first game was even played. Much like the writers who bought into the Eagles dream team persona in the lead up to the NFL season and as a result were calling the midseason games of a sub .500 and floundering team the “beginning of the Eagles playoffs”…really?!?!?!?


Would the media be so quick to put LSU back in a rematch if the shoe were on the other foot and Alabama had beaten them at home? I doubt it. And while the human element seems just and justifiable as part of the formula, who amongst the voters have actually watched all of the BCS’ top 25 in multiple games this season…and how many watch 3 or 4 marquee games per week and take the word of the media and the assembled highlights of SportsCenter and other highlight shows to form their opinions about the others? How does that make sense? And how does anyone who tried to “work the vote” by putting Oklahoma State 4th or 5th on their ballot ever hope to keep a ballot for the following season?


Second, since we’re all in agreement that LSU is the unquestioned #1, and since the real debate begins at #2 and #3; why not let Alabama face Oklahoma Sate in a bowl, crown LSU the champ and showcase them against Boise State, Oregon, Clemson, Wisconsin or some other conference champ with no real shot at beating the Tigers?


Crown LSU the champ and settle the debate surrounding #2. We’ll see who’s smarter, the voters or the computers, once and for all. As it stands now, if LSU loses to Alabama in the BSC title game, theirs’ (LSU’s) will still be the better overall body of work with a better out of conference schedule, a win in Alabama’s building and an extra win in the SEC title game, yet the Tide will be the BCS crowned and titular champion.



#5 – Lions Melting Down


Who will be to blame if the Lions miss the playoffs? After an encouraging start, the Lions can’t get out of their own way and seem to be more caught up on winning the battle or the fight than the football game. Is any of this attributable to head coach Jim Schwartz’ ugly episode around the handshake after losing to the 49ers? Is their reputation too far gone to rescue this season to any real success?


And the Nail Goes to … Jason Garrett


Not just for icing his own kicker on Sunday, but that’s surely a part of it. The offensive genius that Garrett was touted to be once upon a time has yet to emerge and Garrett is surely feeling the heat after Sunday’s debacle on top of the debacle of a season that has preceded it as well.


I was a big Garrett critic when the Ravens were wooing him but backed off of my criticisms after he seemed to turn the Cowboys around after taking over mid-season last year. He lost me again (maybe just as a bitter Felix Jones owner) when he helped the Cowboys blow an apparently safe late lead and called snap after futile snap from the shotgun inside of the 10-yard line amongst other things in rolling over for the Jets.


Below is what I wrote here about the Ravens pursuit of Garrett prior to the 2008 season. Thanks for making me look smart Jason Garrett…that isn’t always easy.


With the benefit of hindsight it’s unbelievable that the Ravens were more interested in Garrett than he was in them…laughable even. Thanks Garrett (and Jerry Jones) for saving us from ourselves on that one too.


Jason Garrett’s Professional Mentors:


As a Player:


Princeton University – played under Ron Rogerson and Steve Tosches


Columbia University – played under Jim Garrett (Jim Garrett resigned after 0-10 season and allegations of verbal and physical abuse)


San Antonio Riders – played under Mike Riley


Ottawa Rough Riders – played under Dave Ritchie


Dallas Cowboys – played under Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey


New York Giants – played under Jim Fassel


Tampa Bay Bucs – played under Jon Gruden


As a Coach:


Miami Dolphins – QB coach – under Nick Saban


Dallas Cowboys – Offensive Coordinator – under Wade Phillips
Hiring a guy with Jason Garrett’s limited experience would be considered a gamble in most cases, yet somehow Garrett has managed to create a bidding war for his services. What Garrett lacks in pedigree he must make up for in potential. He comes from a football family, but his dad coached in the Ivy League and guided Columbia to an 0-10 season in 1995. Garrett jumped from Princeton to Columbia to play for his dad, and then back to Princeton after his dad was fired.
Garrett lasted for a long time in the NFL, presumably on brains more than physical gifts, and played for the Cowboys dynasty in the 90’s and on the Giants Superbowl team in 2000. Although he has played on successful teams, he certainly didn’t come up under a who’s who of coaches. He played for Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey in Dallas, Jim Fassel in New York and Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay. He played 4 years of Ivy League ball, and a few years between the WLAF and CFL. Although Garrett was on successful teams and was said to have mentored Kerry Collins in New York, he wasn’t coming up under Knute Rockne or Vince Lombardi by any means.
Garrett’s coaching credentials are even more suspect. Two years with the Dolphins as QB coach, during which he oversaw 5 different starters at the position. And then one year with the Cowboys in which he did a good job, with an offense that was good before his arrival. Garrett was presumably brought in to fix whatever caused Dallas to meltdown in the last 4 games of 2006 and to fizzle in the playoffs. His offense was in the top 5 in both scoring and yardage, but again melted down in the last 4 games of the season and fizzled in the playoffs. Garrett’s second half play calling against the Giants in the playoffs has to be among the worst called halves in the history of the game.
What may be more troubling than the limited amount of time that Garrett has had as an NFL coach, are the coaches under whom he has learned. Before spending this season in the shadow of the legendary Wade Phillips, who is so highly regarded that he may be fired in favor of Garrett before this all plays out, Garrett spent his previous two seasons learning his craft from the icon Nick Saban.
Garrett may or may not have learned much about the game of football from Saban, but based on the way that he is handling negotiations so far, he must have learned something from Saban. Saban, who left LSU fresh off of a national championship, for a big payday with the Dolphins, and then turned tail and ran back to the college ranks as soon as someone else came along with money. That kind of puts a different perspective on Garrett’s negotiations so far, doesn’t it?
John Harbaugh may be quickly emerging as a favorite now. Interestingly enough, based on the way that the coaching trees are assembled, Harbaugh would probably not be on Bill Walsh’s tree, even though it was Ray Rhodes who gave him his first NFL coaching job. It looks like coaches whose fathers were coaches too, were assumed to have learned their philosophies at home. Count Rex Ryan among the coaches who don’t come from the same 3 trees.
I probably like Harbaugh the best of all of the serious candidates, mostly because he isn’t a retread, and he isn’t a coordinator riding the momentum of a big season, and a talented team. If John Harbaugh is being interviewed, they must really like him, because he doesn’t have a top 5 offense or defense to boast of. In fact, he doesn’t have an offense or defense at all, he’s a position coach. So he must bring something else very impressive to the table if he is getting serious consideration.
Looking at the current head coaches in the NFL, of those who have actually won Superbowls, only Mike Holmgren did it with the first team he coached. Bill Bellichick, Mike Shannahan and Tony Dungy were all fired by their first employers, and Jon Gruden left Oakland before winning it all in Tampa. All of those coaches seemed to learn from previous failures, and excel when given another opportunity. Hiring a retread seems to be a bad PR move, but is usually a safer way to go.
I have suspected all along that Bisciotti’s ego has been driving this whole process. He is out to put his stamp on this team and this organization. Art Modell didn’t look like a good owner to me when he first came to town. He was seemingly broke, and didn’t have another lucrative business outside of football as most owners do. Then along came Bisciotti with the money, and proved me, and lots of other doubters wrong. Hopefully he’ll do it again. I’m not ready to write him off as an owner just yet; hopefully this will be just a bump in the road. For now though, things aren’t looking so good.
Maybe Bisciotti’s quest to put a stamp on his legacy goes beyond finding a hall of fame coach. From the list of candidates, he looks like he’ll be trying to start a hall of fame coaching tree. If Garrett is indeed to be that seed, let’s hope that this apple fell far from the trees under which he’s grown up


The Big 3 Questions


Call it the Miami Heat of radio segments and tweet talk, 3 random questions. Hit me with your answers on Twitter @Thyrl or @WNST, by email thyrl@wnst.net, or at 410-481-1570. Whatever you do, get back @ me.


#1 – Are you taking the #Packers or the field to win the #SuperBowl as of now? #NFL


I’ll still reluctantly take the field.


#2 – Do the #Ravens have an issue at kicker?


I hope not…


#3 – Which #NFL QBs would you trade Joe Flacco for today?


Rodgers, Brees and that’s it for me. Disagree (I’ll bet you do) call me on it.



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The 15-7-0 Is Feeling Rather Presidential This Week

Posted on 28 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. The Towson University football team didn’t play a game this weekend, but somehow it will likely go down as the greatest of their lives.

The scene at the Towson Center Saturday afternoon rivals some of the most incredible I’ve seen in Charm City sports history, but sports had very little to do with it.

The most special moment of the visit from President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama (Michelle’s brother Craig Robinson is the head coach of the Oregon State team that crushed the Tigers Saturday afternoon) came at halftime.

Athletic Director Mike Waddell introduced Head Coach Rob Ambrose & the CAA Champion football team, who were enjoying a week off as they prepared for their FCS playoff showdown with Lehigh next Saturday at Unitas Stadium. The President walked out to greet the team, then posed for a picture to the absolute delight of the young men.

It was the type of moment that induces chills. Wow.

2. I’m really jealous of the Cincinnati Bengals for having AJ Green on their roster.

Oh, and Jermaine Gresham too.

They duo (and Cincy QB Andy Dalton) were vital in the Bengals’ come from behind win over the Cleveland Browns Sunday in a game that judging by the attendance no one in the Queen City knew was happening…

Can’t help but notice a few empty seats in the background there, gang. This is a team fighting for AT LEAST an AFC Wild Card spot, not completely out of the AFC North race. This is the best you can do? Maybe “Los Angeles Bengals” has a nice ring?

Since we’re here, here’s a picture of Colt McCoy Tebowing…

3. Rob Gronkowski is not the only reason the Patriots are good, but something tells me there’s a correlation between 11 TD catches and a 6’6″ frame.

To be fair, the way New England was playing Sunday it’s possible a 4’6″ receiver could have caught a TD from Tom Brady Sunday at The Linc…

Vince Young threw for 400 yards in the defeat, basically because he had no choice but to throw the football every time the Philadelphia Eagles had the ball.

That SHOULD put the final nail in Philly’s “Dream Team” coffin. Andy Reid’s has been sitting open for awhile now outside the City of Brotherly Love. Will it be nailed down as well? We’ll see.

4. Robert Griffin III’s injury might be just enough to default the Heisman Trophy back to Andrew Luck somehow.

The other candidate in the mix (and perhaps the frontrunner) is Alabama RB Trent Richardson, but we’ll get back to him.

After an incredible performance a week earlier against Oklahoma, the Baylor QB might have been one more spectacular performance away from locking up the chance to hear his name called in New York in two weeks. Unfortunately, RG3 was taken out of the game in the second half (probably for a concussion) and had to watch the second of the Bears’ win over Texas Tech from the Cowboys Stadium sideline…

So…Stanford QB Andrew Luck (the preordained winner of the Heisman before the season) was back in the picture with the chance to lock the thing up. Luck was good but not great in the Cardinal’s win over Notre Dame and left the thing up for grabs again.

As I searched YouTube for a recap video of Luck’s final game at Stanford Stadium I believe a Fighting Irish fan summed it up well by channeling M*A*S*H…

I don’t even know what that means!

The (regular) season is over for Richardson so he won’t have another chance to make a statement. Luck’s Cardinal don’t get another chance either since Oregon won the Pac-12 North. Baylor will play host to Texas next week in Waco, but Griffin’s status is up in the air due to his injury.

If none play again, I think I’d vote Luck. Someone will yell at me for that. Go ahead.

5. Houston is a Conference USA Championship Game win over Southern Miss away from playing in a BCS Bowl.

Fourth on the list (of three) candidates to win the Heisman is Cougars QB Case Keenum, who shredded Tulsa Friday in a manner similar to the way he’s shredded everyone else he’s played this season.

If the Cougars top the Golden Eagles in next week’s C-USA title game, they’ll become the first ever team from the conference to make a BCS bowl. Teams from the WAC and Mountain West have played BCS buster, but never C-USA.

Someone will call the occasion “historic”. Those people won’t really know what the word historic means.

6. Another reason why I like Tim Tebow? Sabermetricians would hate him.

He effing did it again, huh?

You know what’s the ONLY THING IN THE WORLD that could make us not spend the entire week talking about the Denver Broncos’ QB? How about a picture of San Diego Chargers kicker Nick Novak peeing on the sidelines at Qualcomm Stadium?

Thanks CBS!

7. Mark Sanchez also really pissed off a lot of haters Sunday.

The New York Jets’ QB threw for four TD’s, including a game winner to Santonio Holmes in their win over the Buffalo Bills…

We’ll of course remember the game as the time Bills WR Stevie Johnson insisted on making a complete ass out of himself…


Dan Marino was asked about what he thought of Sanchez Sunday, but he was too busy checking out Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge’s boobs to respond…

And here’s my cue to post another VS picture of Aldridge…

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The Reality Check Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week:  32)

Indy fans are giggling like a-holes over the thought they might get Andrew Luck. I pray to God this somehow backfires.

31. Washington Redskins (LW:  28)

Do they have a third quarterback? They might want to think about playing someone at another position as quarterback. It’s that bad.

30. Cleveland Browns (LW:  24)

Please keep losing. We need more Mike Polk.

29. St. Louis Rams (LW:  31)

Finally won a game that was started by Sam Bradford. What do you think Steve Spagnuolo will be doing this time next year?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW:  26)

They’ll probably be closer to the bottom of the list in the future.

27. Miami Dolphins (LW:  30)

Cue Major League. “Let’s win the whole f***ing thing.”

26. Carolina Panthers (LW:  25)

I have to stop giving them the benefit the doubt because of Cam Newton. They were terrible Sunday.

25. Arizona Cardinals (LW:  29)

If they somehow win another (they won’t), John Skelton will keep his job.

24. Seattle Seahawks (LW:  27)

I don’t truly believe they’re suddenly turning into a good football team.

23. Minnesota Vikings (LW:  23)

Not a whole lot of team look good at Lambeau Field.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (LW:  21)

It’s just about over for Andy Reid.

21. Kansas City Chiefs (LW:  18)

Tyler Palko playing almost assures they’ll be falling down the list in the coming weeks.

20. Denver Broncos (LW:  22)

Who can complete two passes and win a football game? Tim Tebow can!

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW:  15)

They’re in a ton of trouble in the NFC playoff race. Now two games behind Wild Card leaders.

18. San Diego Chargers (LW:  16)

My gut tells me this will ultimately still be your winner in the AFC West. My gut also tells me that Norv Turner has no business coaching this team.

17. Buffalo Bills (LW:  14)

Hard to think of them as a good football team after the last couple of games.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 15 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-UFC 139: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson (Saturday 9pm from San Jose, CA live on Pay-Per-View), Strikeforce Antwain Britt vs. Lumumba Sayers (Friday 11pm from Las Vegas live on Showtime), Bellator Fighting Championships 58 (Saturday 7pm from Hollywood, FL live on MTV2); Soccer: Team USA @ Slovenia (Tuesday 12pm from Ljubljana, Slovenia live on ESPN2/ESPN3.com); MLS Cup: Houston Dynamo @ Los Angeles Galaxy (Sunday 9pm from Carson, CA live on ESPN); College Soccer: NCAA Tournament-Xavier/West Virginia @ Maryland (Sunday 5pm Ludwig Field); High School Soccer: MPSSAA Boys & Girls Finals (Thursday-Saturday UMBC Stadium); Boxing: Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Peter Manfredo (Saturday 10:30pm from Houston live on HBO); Women’s College Basketball: Towson @ Maryland (Wednesday 7pm Comcast Center), Maryland @ UMBC (Saturday 7pm RAC Arena); High School Football: MPSSAA Regional Finals-4A North Catonsville @ Poly (Friday 7pm), 3A North Aberdeen @ North Harford (Friday 7pm), 2A North Chesapeake-Baltimore County @ Edmondson (Saturday 4pm Poly HS), 1A South Surrattsville @ Dunbar (Saturday 1pm Poly HS), 1A North New Town @ Overlea (Friday 7pm CCBC-Essex), 1A East Cambridge @ Perryville (Friday 7pm); College Field Hockey: Final Four-Maryland vs. Old Dominion (Friday 4:30pm from Louisville, KY live on NCAA.com), NCAA Championship Game (Sunday 12pm from Louisville, KY live on NCAA.com); Canadian Football League Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals-Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Sunday 1pm from Winnipeg live on ESPN3.com), Western Conference Finals-Edmonton Eskimos @ BC Lions (Sunday 4:30pm from Vancouver live on ESPN3.com)

10. Hank3 (Wednesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Airborne Toxic Event (Thursday 7:30pm Rams Head Live), Brett Dennen (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live), Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live), Five Finger Death Punch (Monday 6:30pm Rams Head Live); Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Tuesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Bob Schneider (Sunday 8:30pm Rams Head On Stage); Owl City (Wednesday 5:30pm 9:30 Club), Mike Doughty and His Band Fantastic (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), The Kooks (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Ray Davies (Tuesday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Kid Rock (Wednesday 8:30pm Fillmore Silver Spring), LMFAO (Thursday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Warren Haynes (Saturday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Straight No Chaser (Saturday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Drake “Take Care” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I start with Brett Dennen, whose tune “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” I play regularly on “The Reality Check”-a fine radio program that airs Monday-Friday 2-6pm on AM1570 WNST.net. You should really be listening…

Then there’s Robert Randolph. Holy hell I have no idea how many times I could possibly post this video. It’s just…it’s just…it’s just amazing.

Bob Schneider’s “Honeypot” is one of the most underrated songs of 2011…

Does the Chris Robinson Brotherhood play Black Crowes songs? I’ll bring my lighter…

9. Cirque du Soleil Quidam (Thursday-Sunday Verizon Center); Russell Brand (Thursday 8pm Patriot Center); Tony Rock (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Bob Marley (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); “Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tide” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Tuesday)

Instead of Russell Brand doing stand-up in Fairfax, is there any chance we could get a concert featuring Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow???

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The 15-7-0 Of The Century

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. If you have to make a trip to Orono, Maine you might as well go ahead and get a victory.

Which is what I guess the Towson Tigers figured they would do to move back into a first place in the CAA…

Terrance West ran all over the Black Bears, much like he’s done to everyone else in the conference. Towson has a completely legitimate chance to win the conference. I almost can’t believe I’m typing that.

2. Julio Jones did something Sunday you’re not capable of.

The Atlanta Falcons traded away many things to get this man on their team. If he keeps playing like he did against the Indianapolis Colts it will go down as one of the greatest decisions in National Football League history…

As far as Indy in concerned, things have gotten so bad that at one point QB Curtis Painter threw two forward passes on the same play. No really, this actually happened. He wears the same number as Bert Jones. That’s where the similarities end.

3. Remember when the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers swapped Eli Manning & Phillip Rivers? The Giants put another point on the scoreboard Sunday.

There were many amazing things about the Giants’ come from behind win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, notably the plays made from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard to win the game. But NOTHING I could share with you would be as good as the footage of Michael Strahan celebrating the win while the cameras were “off” at FOX…

During the Sunday Night Football halftime show, Bob Costas pointed out that Ballard’s number (85) was the same number worn by David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. Pretty good.

(Puts on “Superfriends” announcer voice)


Phillip Rivers nearly figured out a way to beat the NFC (and NFL)’s best team. The reason why he “nearly” figured it out is because part of beating the best team in the the league is NOT repeatedly throwing the ball to them.

I feel like Aaron Rodgers is getting dangerously close to “so good we can’t possibly like him” territory by the way.

4. You only get to win a “Game of the Century” every now and then, so I’m pretty LSU doesn’t care how ugly things were Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

And now we deal with the fact that we might well have to see the Tigers face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game if Oklahoma State and Stanford falter.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a great game even if it wasn’t always beautiful to look at. LSU now has the fast track to a national title and it’s hard to imagine anyone not named Alabama beating them.

5. While Kellen Moore has done no wrong, Andrew Luck can clinch the Heisman Trophy next week against Oregon.

Kellen Moore wasn’t necessarily brilliant, but he surpassed Colt McCoy as the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history in Boise State’s win at UNLV…

Kellen Moore’s season only remains interesting however if Luck begins to stumble. Their national TV (ABC) game Saturday night against Oregon will be Luck’s chance to follow up on his performance against USC with a “clincher”. Probably. He had some early struggles, but was good again Saturday against Oregon State…

Trent Richardson remains third on my list-but he’s currently third on a list of two. Case Keenum heads the “others receiving votes” category.

6. Tim Tebow we love you again…at least for now.

Tim Tebow by no means beat the Oakland Raiders on his own (Denver Broncos teammates Willis McGahee, Eddie Royal & Eric Decker certainly helped), but what the hell do we care about anyone who plays in the Mile High City not named Tim Tebow?

By the way, the Broncos are only a game out of first place in the AFC West. And thank God the Raiders solved all of their problems by trading for Carson Palmer.

7. The New York Jets have bounced back well enough that Rex Ryan should say something idiotic any moment now.

The Jets kicked the Buffalo Bills’ asses Sunday in Orchard Park. Instead of showing the highlights, let’s all laugh at Mark Sanchez flinching when lined up out wide against Drayton Florence…

That’s more humorous than Ashton Kutcher on “Two & A Half Men.” But then again, what isn’t?

There’s a mess atop the AFC East, as these teams and the Pats all have three losses. I hope they all end up with six personally.

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