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Not in My Back Yard

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Week 15 of the NFL season brought about a heavy dose of perspective and a number of reality checks for teams that rightly appeared to be primed for the playoffs just a week ago. While frustration, part and parcel to any NFL season, isn’t easy to accept, it’s still far better than the alternative…apathy.

Sometimes seeing your own favorite team regularly and up close and for all its warts and blemishes makes it tough to mesh that perspective with the “bird’s eye” view that we get of most teams through highlights and limited national TV exposure. That said, fans in cities from Green Bay to Indianapolis are up in arms over the weekend’s action and could all probably use a healthy dose of perspective.

While the Ravens are far from perfect or infallible, they’re the devil we know, and for that I’m both happy and hopeful. As for the devils that we don’t know, here are 10 of the most interesting NFL storylines that I’m glad to be seeing from the bird’s eye view, as they’re undoubtedly entertaining for fans, but probably best appreciated from afar.

Here are the Top 10 NFL Storylines That I’m Glad Are Playing Out in Someone Else’s Back Yard.

Storyline #10- Suck for Luck


For the first 5 or so weeks of the season there were anywhere from 5-10 interested and interesting looking candidates in the Luck sweepstakes. By mid-season it was down to 2, and as Matt Moore and the Dolphins tried against hope to rally around coach Tony Sparano, only Indianapolis was left in the Luck conversation. That invited a number of other conversations regarding Luck’s potential and Peyton Manning’s future with the Colts. Last week’s win by Indy may have reignited hope in both St. Louis and Minnesota as potential Luck destinations.


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The 15-7-0 > The BCS

Posted on 05 December 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. Oklahoma State looked REALLY good Saturday night. It’s a shame it didn’t really matter at all.

I tried explaining to everyone it wouldn’t matter if the Cowboys blew out Oklahoma Saturday night in Stillwater. Every time someone asked a question like “what if the Pokes win by a score of 50-0?” I responded with a simple “it won’t matter.”

I was right. Louisiana State will face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game and OSU will get to watch after playing Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.

It’s a shame, as Oklahoma State certainly looked like a team capable of making things interesting in New Orleans on Saturday night. The shame is that their Bedlam rivalry win was marred by 13 fans being injured when they rushed the Boone Pickens Stadium field. It’s also a shame the Big 12 Champs aren’t Bayou bound because we’d all like to see more of Mike Gundy dancing…

2. With that in mind, does anyone think LSU is losing in the BCS title game?

It’s not that I don’t think highly of Oklahoma State (or Alabama), it’s just that the Tigers have been pretty dominant. See Badger, Honey.

It appears as though Tyrann Mathieu’s punt return TD shouldn’t have counted, and he actually had another return later in the game that didn’t result in a TD that was more impressive. But this was still a lot of fun to watch him run all over the Georgia Dome field in the SEC Championship Game.

It’s awfully early, but I’ll go ahead and call a Tigers win over the Crimson Tide in the title game. Just going out on a limb without having to at all. All balls, that Glenn Clark. At least that’s what my 4th grade teacher always said.

3. Tim Tebow is in first place. Since he won’t say it, I will. “Suck it, haters.

I picked the Denver Broncos to beat the Minnesota Vikings on “The Friday Football Frenzy” this week; but I gave myself an out. “If Von Miller doesn’t play the Broncos lose” I said.

What I didn’t know is that the great Tim Tebow had the “throw a 41 yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas while running out of bounds” in his repertoire…

Tim Tebow is better than you. And thanks to an Oakland Raiders loss we’ll get back to later in the game, he’s in first place in the AFC West.

Some Tim Tebow haters won’t give it up, including Merrill Hoge. He told the New York Post that Tim Tebow hasn’t proven anything because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Yep. That’s solid analysis. Well done sir.

Since we’re here, here’s this humorous picture of Matt Willis and Willis McGahee.

And also, this is apparently a photo of a fetus (or unborn child if you will) Tebowing. If you don’t want to look at it, don’t. I have no idea what I’m looking at myself.

4. Through one week, everyone who said “TJ Yates will be fine because he has Arian Foster” is right.

Of course, I was not in that camp so I feel like a bit of a silly goose.

The Atlanta Falcons had a great chance to make a move in the NFC Wild Card race, but they couldn’t contain Arian Foster in a loss to the Houston Texans.

I don’t have any (legitimate) highlights of the Texans’ win, but I DO have a video of Tommy Lasorda dropping a TON of F-Bombs in an old interview. Does that interest you???

5. I believe the pythagorean theorem somehow helped deliver West Virginia to the Orange Bowl. Clemson got there the old fashioned way.

The Mountaineers barely held on to beat South Florida Thursday night in Tampa Bay, claiming part of the Big East title-apparently the part that gets you to Miami.

Clemson on the other hand finished a season sweep of Virginia Tech (we’ll get back to them) in the ACC Championship Game. They totally earned their spot in the BCS. It’s a neat change of pace.

The Tigers and ‘Eers will get together in an Orange Bowl showdown that absolutely no one will be interested in. Except maybe this girl…

But I don’t really think of her as much of a sports expert when you think about it.

Oh-and apparently the appropriate way to celebrate a Clemson ACC title is to “fromble.” I had a lot of beers when I was in college. I didn’t know a damn thing about this…

6. Perhaps Chris Johnson really was worth a ton of money after all?

CJ2K has gone over 100 yards three times in his last four games, a feat he accomplished just once in in his first eight games.

That would be better if you were confused while playing along at home.

It was 153 yards and two TD’s Sunday as the Tennessee Titans topped the Buffalo Bills, a team I SWEAR had been good at some point during their existence…

Things get a BIT more difficult for the Titans next week, as they battle the Saints in Nashville. They find themselves still alive in the AFC South race but also still in the AFC Wild Card mix. AND they’re in the mix for the Cotton Bowl. Or something like that.

7. I don’t think much of the New York Jets, but I enjoy watching anyone beat the Washington Redskins.

The Jets scored 3 TD’s in the final five minutes of Sunday’s game at FedEx Field and got big plays from Aaron Maybin to avoid the upset.

A few things to giggle about here.

One-If the Skins manage to win two of their last four games this season, Mike Shanahan will manage to tie the great Jim Zorn’s record through the first two seasons! Big stuff!

Two-Washington’s Fred Davis and Trent Williams are suspended for the next four games for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. I don’t think the substance has been officially announced, but I think I have a guess…

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Take A Good Look At The 15-7-0, It’s On A Boat!

Posted on 14 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 is a win away from a CAA Championship? The Towson University football team is a win away from a CAA Championship.

Terrance West ran for 265 freaking yards as the Tigers beat the New Hampshire Wildcats Saturday. They’re now a win over Rhode Island next week away from claiming the CAA title…

This can’t be right, can it?

2. Tom Brady hasn’t lost three straight games since 2002. Holy hell.

I don’t know what’s more embarrassing for New York Jets fans-the fact that Mark Sanchez was eaten alive by some dude named Rob Nankovich or that Deion Branch owned Fireman Ed after catching a touchdown…

Rob effing Nankovich. A dude named Rob Nankovich just played hero for the New England Patriots. Maybe Bill Belichick really is better than the rest of us.

3. Still think the San Francisco 49ers haven’t proved themselves?

It’s crazy how much the Niners are different under Jim Harbaugh. Justin Smith is playing like a Defensive Player of the Year, Carlos Rogers is playing like a capable National Football League cornerback and Alex Smith…wait, Alex Smith is still playing semi-respectable football? No way…

I’m trying to put a Ravens-related spin on some of the things in the 15-7-0 this week. For example, the 49ers are a GOOD team, so when they play the Ravens on Thanksgiving we can be certain the Ravens will win, right?

4. Brandon Weeden was brilliant and Kansas State/Texas A&M was incredible. Ladies and gentleman, your weekend in the Big 12.

After a big performance in Oklahoma State’s rout of Texas Tech Saturday, Weeden’s Cowboys are now two wins away from the BCS Championship Game…

The Wildcats and Aggies played a four overtime thriller IN Manhattan. It was way more fun to watch than the game I was at Saturday night…

5. After a disastrous week for everyone at Penn State, almost everything that happened Saturday in Happy Valley was positive.

The Nittany Lions fell short against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but this pre-game moment will probably be more memorable…

Elsewhere in the Big Ten…you know there wasn’t all that much going on elsewhere in the Big Ten. Well, Goldy Gopher DID attempt to frog splash Bucky Badger through a table; but not much else.


6. The Dallas Cowboys might have just put more points on the Buffalo Bills.

Let me get this straight. The Cowboys beat the Bills 44-7 and after the game the only thing anyone was talking about was the ONE Bills TD???

The story is that Bills WR David Nelson caught a TD and then gave the ball to his girlfriend Kelsi Reich, who is a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. This is a fantastic reason for me to post a picture of Kelsi Reich…


7. The Chicago Bears defense scored more fantasy points than a number of quarterbacks this weekend. 

Included in the Bears’ huge NFC North win was (inexplicably) ANOTHER punt return TD for Devin Hester…

What’s the worse idea? Predicting the Orioles will sign a significant free agent or kicking the ball to Devin Hester?

With things clearly not going their way, the Detroit Lions started fighting with the Bears. It’s weird because nothing about the team made me think they’d do something like that for no reason.

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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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Small stature, giant impact: Ravens’ Rice, Jaguars’ Jones-Drew drive respective offenses

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The two shortest players on the field at EverBank Field in Jacksonville will have the biggest impact when the Ravens face the Jacksonville Jaguars in a primetime meeting on Monday night.

It’s the same story every week for the 5-foot-8 Ray Rice and Jacksonville’s 5-foot-7 Maurice Jones-Drew as they’re each the most dynamic player on their respective offenses. Rice is responsible for 38.1 percent of Baltimore’s offensive production while Jones-Drew accounts for 41.4 percent of Jacksonville’s total yardage.

Both will be opposed by defenses familiar with going against a small-statured back every day in practice, but Jones-Drew will deal with the third-ranked rush defense while the 1-5 Jaguars only offer the 19th-best unit when it comes to stopping the run.

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“They are facing our defense — a great defense,” Rice said. “We get to face them. Regardless of their record, they have a great defense, we all know. You sort of have a little battle — myself vs. Jones-Drew. Let’s see who comes out as the better running back that day. It’s just a nice game, nice Monday Night Football game. It doesn’t matter what anybody’s record is, [on] Monday Night Football, a lot of great players and legacies have been made.”

Jones-Drew ranks third in the league in rushing (572 yards in seven games) and second in attempts, all while defenses key on him exclusively since Jacksonville possesses the worst passing offense in the NFL. The sixth-year back ran for 96 yards on 22 carries against Pittsburgh in a narrow 17-13 loss at Heinz Field last Sunday and gathered 85 rushing yards two weeks ago against Cincinnati, who possesses the second-ranked defense in the league.

Jones-Drew’s recent production against two AFC North rivals was more than enough to grab the Ravens’ attention in a game that otherwise appears to be a mismatch on paper.

“They’ve got a premier running game with one of the very best backs in the National Football League,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Major tackle-breaker. This guy breaks them, he’s elusive, he makes you miss. [I] had a chance to work him out when he was at UCLA, way back when, when he came out and he’s really a great young man, too.”

Rice has benefited from playing in a more balanced offense as well as utilizing his own skill set that includes catching more passes out of the backfield. Of Rice’s 700 total yards of offense for the season, 302 have come via the air while catching screens and check-downs or even splitting out as a receiver on a number of occasions.

In contrast, Jones-Drew amasses yardage with a more physical style between the tackles. Even when defenders are able to spot the diminutive runner behind a massive offensive line, bringing him to the ground can be a different challenge entirely.

“He plays the game very hard,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “He runs the ball very hard. And one thing you do see on film, more than anything, is you see him making a lot of people miss, because people are really just bouncing right off him. Some people are squared up right in the hole — you watch the Pittsburgh game that they played last week — and he broke a couple tackles just right in the hole. That’s just his leverage. He’s one of those smaller backs that can get behind those linemen and hide and get up out of there. I just think, overall, he’s a complete back.”

Rice has faced off against an impressive list of backs through the first five weeks of the season, but going up against Jones-Drew will present the latest personal challenge for the Ravens’ dynamic playmaker. The two spent time together at the 2009 Pro Bowl, cultivating a friendship and competitive rivalry they’ll be able to continue on Monday night — even if the game winds up a mismatch.

The Ravens star back isn’t losing perspective on what’s really important, but the competitor in him wants to continue the early-season trend he’s started against the likes of Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson.

“You want to do well, because he is a great running back,” Rice said. “He has proven [himself] in this league. Arian Foster was the guy last week — he was the NFL’s leader in rushing last year. You want to kind of have that battle to get you up, but at the same time, the overall goal is to win the game.”

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Ravens-Titans: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 17 September 2011 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will take on the Tennessee Titans franchise for the 17th time in the regular season. The teams are deadlocked at 8-8, though Baltimore holds the 2-1 edge in postseason meetings. Baltimore is 4-4 when playing on the road in the regular season against Tennessee.

Of course, the two are old rivals from the now defunct AFC Central. Since NFL realignment took place in 2002, the Ravens are 3-3 against Tennessee in regular-season games.

Without further ado, here are five predictions for what to expect in Week 2 …

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1. A pick-six gives the Ravens their first defensive touchdown of the year. Perhaps the only stat more surprising than Pittsburgh’s seven turnovers in the Ravens’ 35-7 win last week was that none of those takeaways resulted in defensive touchdowns with the Baltimore defense’s reputation for turning turnovers into instant points. Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tossed 34 interceptions over his last two seasons with Seattle and likes to take chances from time to time. With the Titans likely falling behind as the game progresses, Hasselbeck will be forced to take more chances in the passing game. Cornerback Cary Williams was a seventh-round draft pick by the Titans in 2009 and would be an appropriate candidate for a defensive score against his old team.

2. Joe Flacco throws a touchdown pass to a rookie wide receiver. With Lee Evans’ left ankle continuing to be an issue, you have to wonder how effective he’ll remain as a decoy in stretching the opposing defense. Teams aren’t going to respect a deep threat without the breakaway speed. The Ravens need bigger contributions from receivers not named Anquan Boldin currently on the roster, as no other wideout caught a pass against the Steelers. The return of second-year player David Reed throws another name in the equation, but Torrey Smith is the best bet to break through against a Tennessee pass defense that ranked 29th in the NFL last year.

3. The Ravens only lead by one score in the third quarter. Head coach John Harbaugh was defiant on Friday when dismissing the notion of a letdown in Tennessee. Despite posting a 5-3 road record in 2010, the Ravens won on the road by more than one possession only twice last season. Road blowouts just don’t happen very often in the NFL, no matter how confident fans — and media members — might be. With the Titans playing their home opener and their fans remembering Baltimore’s past postseason triumphs at LP Field, it figures to be a hostile atmosphere that could boost Tennessee early in the game. A big play or two from Chris Johnson or Kenny Britt certainly wouldn’t hurt the Titans’ chances, either.

4. Ray Rice eclipses 100 rushing yards for the second straight week. The Titans allowed 163 yards on the ground last week in Jacksonville while the Ravens ran for 170 against Pittsburgh’s stout run defense. Rice accounted for 107 of those on 19 carries before giving way to backup Ricky Williams late in the game. With Evans not 100 percent and left guard Ben Grubbs doubtful with a toe injury, Baltimore may remain more conservative than normal. Then again, if you can run all over an opposing defense and control the clock, it’s far more intelligent than it is conservative when playing on the road.

5. The Ravens pull away in the second half, winning 27-10. Say what you want about the Titans playing the Jaguars close in a road game, but the unheralded Luke McCown was making the start only days after starting quarterback David Garrard was released by Jacksonville. The Baltimore ground game will wear down an underwhelming Tennessee defense in the second half and win this one comfortably. While it’s true the Ravens must keep Johnson off the edge and Britt in front of them, the pair’s big-play ability won’t be enough to keep the Titans from falling to 0-2. Baltimore improves to 2-0 to stay atop the AFC North.

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A Note to Chris Johnson, Casey Hampton, Etc: “Quit Yer Bitchin”

Posted on 16 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was the summer of 2000. I was between my junior and senior years at Perry Hall High School. I was on a leadership camp trip in the mountains of Pennsylvania, playing volleyball and hanging out with friends.

It wasn’t a very big group of us there, in fact the group was small enough that we were all staying in one vacation house. As we were all still not even 18 years old, the guys on the trip were staying on one floor while the girls on the trip were staying on the other.

Upon coming home from swimming (or some other activity), the group of guys on the trip noticed one of the girls was using the bathroom on our floor-which we were all trying to use to take showers. As boys that age are known to do, we immediately began hassling the girl from outside the bathroom.

It was at about that moment when the leader on the trip (who we all respected) walked into the hallway and proclaimed loudly, “BOYS! QUIT YER BITCHIN’!”

For some reason, that moment was always stuck with me.

As I’ve read comments from Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson and members of the Pittsburgh Steelers defense (including DT Casey Hampton) this week about various things related to the Baltimore Ravens, the term “quit yer bitchin'” has come back to mind.

Johnson told reporters in Nashville this week that the Ravens-particularly LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed and DT Haloti Ngata-were “trying to hurt” him in their January 2009 AFC Divisional Round playoff matchup. Johnson ultimately was forced to leave the game with a sprained ankle, but all parties involved agreed the player popularly known as “CJ2k” was injured on a clean play.

Hampton (and other Steelers defenders) complained this week about illegal cut blocks and chop blocks from Ravens Offensive Linemen (namely RG Marshal Yanda) in the Ravens’ Week 1 35-7 victory at M&T Bank Stadium.

(A note to Ravens fans: be prepared to see a lineman called for SOMETHING during Sunday’s Week 2 contest with the Titans. It’s usually how things like this work in the NFL.)

Perhaps there’s some truth to some of the accusations made by Johnson and the Steelers. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Ravens players said to themselves in 2009 “we’ll have a much better chance of beating this team if the dude from East Carolina isn’t running for 200 yards.”

But unless Johnson could point to a play when Reed or Lewis offered a Hulk Hogan style “Atomic Leg Drop” on him after the whistle, his claims of foul play are largely without merit. Football players are historically known for being scrappy even after a play. There’s no doubt in my mind that many High School football players in the area have suffered Indian Burns, eye pokes or other simple injuries at the end of a play.

It’s part of the game.

Similarly, the Steelers’ complaints about cut blocks and chop blocks may be relevant to some extent. Blocks below the waist are often a part of football, whether safe or not. It’s a thin line as far as determining when someone is in front or in back of you, whether the block hit at or below the waist, where the block was meant to hit before a player moved/flinched/fell or whether you were truly engaged in a block with the player or not.

It’s a lot to determine. It’s even more when you consider these plays often end in piles of players, as was the case on Ray Rice’s game opening 36 yard run-a play Yanda was excused of throwing an illegal block during.

Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he threw a block that could have been argued as illegal without having any illegal intent. Maybe he had the intent to throw an illegal block but actually landed a clean one based on how the play developed.

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Titans’ Johnson one of many “casualties” of Ravens defense over years

Posted on 15 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have been fortunate not to face Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson over the last two seasons in which he’s rushed for a combined 3,234 yards — 2,006 of those coming in 2009.

The last time the two teams faced was the 2008 playoffs when Johnson ran all over the Ravens in a 72-yard first-half performance in an eventual 13-10 defensive struggle that sent Baltimore to the AFC championship game. If not for an ankle injury that sidelined the rookie running back late in the first half, the Titans may have been the ones taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week.

Rex Ryan’s defense had no answers for the lightning-fast tailback, who also compiled 28 yards receiving out of the backfield, prior to being sidelined.

“I’m happy he left the game, because he was on the verge of breaking over 200 yards on us, I think,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “He did really well in that first half, and I think it was a good thing he went down.”

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The memory of that disappointing loss for the Titans — the No. 1 seed following the 2008 season — has resurfaced this week with Johnson still believing the Baltimore defense used questionable tactics prior to his exit in the second quarter. The ankle injury forced Johnson to miss the Pro Bowl in what was his rookie season.

“They were trying to hurt me a little bit,” Johnson said to The Tennessean on Wednesday. “But the play I actually got hurt on, it was a fair play, somebody landed on my ankle the wrong way and I fell back the wrong way. It was a fair play when I got hurt.”

Johnson took issue with a play in which his body was twisted backward — with his legs secured — as the whistle blew (see below). However, the injury occurred a few plays later near the sideline, according to safety Ed Reed.

It isn’t the first time the rugged Baltimore defense has been accused of dirty tactics, but the Ravens maintain their innocence while defending their physical style of football against their opponent.

“Nothing is ever intentional to try and take any guy out,” Reed said during a conference call with the Nashville media on Wednesday. “My game has never been like that, and I know these guys don’t play like that either.”

While Johnson said he holds no grudge against the Baltimore defenders, he will be motivated to recapture his past success against the Ravens, especially after he was held to a paltry 24 rushing yards on nine attempts in the Titans’ season-opening loss in Jacksonville.

Preventing Johnson from getting to the edge will be a challenge for the defense, one that is very much a priority with Tennesee starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck still getting fully acclimated in offensive coordinator Chris Palmer’s offense. The big-play capabilities of Johnson and wide receiver Kenny Britt figure to be the Titans’ best chance of pulling off an upset in an otherwise lopsided-feeling matchup.

“We have to contain him,” said safety Bernard Pollard, who played against Johnson twice a year as a member of the Houston Texans in 2009 and 2010. “He’s an explosive weapon on the field. You can use him in the passing game or the running game, outside, in the middle, it does not matter. I think he’s explosive whenever the ball’s in his hands. We have to contain him as a defense.”

While an interesting subplot in an otherwise mundane matchup — especially with long-tenured coach Jeff Fisher no longer in charge of the Titans — what happened over two years ago won’t figure to noticeably impact Sunday’s outcome. The Baltimore defense will continue playing its brash, intimidating style of defense as it has for over a decade.

If teams find it dirty or unsportsmanlike, that’s their problem to deal with at the end of the day.

“It’s how we roll,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. “It’s our brand of football. It’s straight up, it’s clean, it’s physical. We try to impose our physical and mental will on everybody. There’s going to be some casualties. That’s just the way we play.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Chuck Pagano, Haloti Ngata, Bernard Pollard, Cam Cameron, Jerry Rosburg, and Bryant McKinnie right here.

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The Ravens, Ray Rice & the Chris Johnson Effect

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The Ravens, Ray Rice & the Chris Johnson Effect

Posted on 02 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

It appears that the Ravens can now officially start worrying about Chris Johnson. Johnson agreed to a 4-year contract extension with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, ending his holdout and putting him on course to be ready (they hope) for the beginning of the season, and therefore for the Titans week 2 match-up with the Ravens.

Johnson though, by ending his holdout may be causing sleepless nights for a number of Ravens not because of the prolific skills he brings to the field but because of the money he’s set to earn, and because that will somehow establish the basis on which Ray Rice will likely begin negotiations with the Ravens at season’s end.


At the very least the contract might influence the franchise tag number if indeed the Ravens decide to use the tag to retain Rice. I say might for two reasons. The first being that we’re still playing catch up with the new CBA and its specifics. The second, and probably most important as it relates to Rice is that what Johnson signed is simply an extension, one that will take effect in the 2013 season. Johnson as a first round draft pick in 2008 signed an initial 5-year deal, and the extension he just signed picks up where that contract leaves off. As yet I haven’t seen any reports as to how much of the new money (if any) he’ll see before 2013.


Side Note: We have long been conditioned to believe that the only guaranteed money in the NFL is bonus money. That has led teams in an effort to puff out their chests and the media in sensationalizing the contract details to refer to all bonus money as guaranteed money. That however isn’t the case. The only guaranteed money is signing bonus money. The money that teams have already paid players is guaranteed, any money players are waiting for the club to pay at a future date is not guaranteed whether that money is salary or roster bonus. Roster bonuses only get paid if you are on the roster.


As this relates to the Johnson signing, the guaranteed money that Johnson will get is whatever the Titans agreed to pay him now (if anything) for signing the extension. If Johnson suffers a career ending injury before the 2012 season is over he’ll see nary a nickel of the $53.5 million we’re hearing about including the “guaranteed” $30 million, minus whatever new money he collects this week. The bottom line being that the Titans may have appeased Johnson to the extent that it took to get him back into camp, but if they decide to waive him after 2 more seasons worth of wear and tear under his rookie contract, he’ll have gained nothing (and still lost a year toward free agency because of the holdout).


Ray Rice on the other hand, as a second round pick in 2008, signed a 4-year contract and will be getting paid (actually paid, not just promised to be paid) beginning next season. The Ravens or any other team negotiating with him will do so, now based on the framework of a very expensive Chris Johnson price tag as the jumping off point, that Johnson himself may never actually get. This happens though as the trend for forward thinking NFL teams has been to address their running back situations on the cheap. LaGarrette Blount, Chris Ivory and Arian Foster wowed us all last season, but in so doing may have shown progressive thinking GMs the blueprint for savings in the modern salary cap NFL.


Ray Rice is going to get paid soon. The question is whether or not it’s the Ravens who do the paying. Chris Johnson may or may not yet get paid ever, but for now he’s at least shaking up the market.

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Navy Announces 2011 Football Recruiting Class

Posted on 30 June 2011 by WNST Staff

ANNAPOLIS, Md.-Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo released the names of the 2011 Navy football recruits on Thursday evening as 52 prospects representing 16 states went through induction ceremonies and began plebe summer.

“We are very excited about the group we have coming in this year,” said Niumatalolo. “If they work hard and do the things they are supposed to do in Bancroft Hall, in the classroom, in the weight room and on the practice field they have a chance to be a part of something special.”

The state of Florida produced the most prospects with eight, while six incoming recruits hail from Texas.  Georgia, Tennessee and California produced five prospects each.

Navy football season tickets are currently on sale at the Ricketts Hall Box Office, by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY or by logging on to the web at www.navysports.com. Navy opens the 2011 campaign on Sept. 3 against Delaware.  The Mids will play five games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this fall, including an Oct. 1 date with Air Force, and will play host to Army at FedExField in Landover, Md.

Name                          Position            Hgt.            Wgt.            Hometown/High School
Kody Akers                QB                   5-10            190            Delaware, Ohio/Rutherford Hayes
Colin Amerau             PK                    6-2            185            Alexandria, Va./Mount Vernon
Adrian Barnaby                        DL                    6-1            275            Deltona, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy
DJ Beard                        DB                        6-0            180            McDonough, Ga./Ola
Pablo Beltran              P/K                   6-2            200            Humble, Texas/Atascocita
Jimmy Britton                        DB                        6-2            210            Togers, Ark./Heritage
Greg Bryant Jr.                        QB                   6-2            185            Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt
Allen Caldwell                        DL                        6-3            250            Crestview, Fla./Crestview
Joe Cardona                        LS                    6-3            200            El Cajon, Calif./Granite Hills
Ruben Carson              SB                    5-8            170            Hoover, Ala./Hoover
Noah Copeland                        FB                    5-10            205            San Antonio, Texas/Brandeis
Kyle Cregge              OL                    6-2            279            Alpharetta, Ga./Milton
Aaron Davis                DL                    6-0            265            Manvel, Texas/Dawson
Jordan Drake                        OLB                        6-4            210            Douglasville, Ga./Chapel Hill
Brendan Dudeck             QB                   6-0            188            Hamilton Square, N.J./The Hun School
Chris Ferguson                        DB                   6-2            195            Angier, N.C./West Johnson
Tanner Fleming                        OL                    6-2            260            Deltona, Fla./Deltona
Parrish Gaines                        DB                        6-2            185            Smyrna, Tenn./Smyrna
Daniel Godkin              DL                    6-4            230            Las Vegas, Nev./Palo Verde
Bradyn Heap                 OL                    6-3            265            South Jordan, Utah/Bingham
John Hendrick                        QB                        6-1            185            Tampa, Fla./Sickles
Sam Holguin                        WR                        6-3            195            Pacific Palisades, Calif./Saint Monica
Dale Howard             DL                    6-0            275            Baxley, Ga./Appling County
George Jamison             DB                   6-0            190            Memphis, Tenn./Evangelical Christian
Chris Johnson                        OLB                        6-1            205            Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral
Eric Johnson             SB                    5-10            185            Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt
James King                 WR                  6-2            195            Orinda, Calif./Miramonte
Anthony Lewis                OLB                 6-0            210            Salt Lake City, Utah/Cottonwood
Carrington Lewis             OLB                 6-3            197            Helena, Ala./Pelham
Marcus Lewis                SB                    5-8            170            Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers
Austin Marshall                        OL                    6-3            300            Rossville, Tenn./Evangelical Christian
Isaiah McElrath                        DL                    6-2            280            Milton, Fla./Pace
Brice Musgrove                        DL                    5-11            275            Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill
Chris Nurthen             DL                    6-3            226            Phoenixville, Pa./Great Valley
Nate Otto                        OL                    6-2            265            Houston, Texas/Clear Lake
Togasii Peko                        DB                        6-0            177            Henderson, Nev./Bishop Gorman
Maika Polamalu                        FB                        6-0            200            Pottstown, Pa./Pottsgrove
AJ Pouncy              DB                   6-1            190            Humble, Texas/Atascocita
Paul Quessenberry            DL                    6-2            230            Carlsbad, Calif./LaCosta Canyon
Lonnie Richardson            DB                   5-11            195            Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven
Vinny Rider                DL                    6-4            260            Athens, Ohio/Athens
Dan Ring                        DL                        6-2            270            Lighthouse Point, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons
Shakir Robinson                        DB                        5-10            190            Brunswick, Ga./Brunswick
Quinton Singleton            FB                    6-0            190            Manning, S.C./Scotts Branch
Will Strauss              OL                    6-5            245            Brentwood, Calif./Heritage
Josh Tate                        DB                   5-11            180            Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood
David Thurston                        LB                    6-1            225            Broomfield, Colo./Arvada West
Obinna Uzoma                        OLB                        6-3            215            Wake Forest, N.C./Knightdale
Kody West                 QB                   6-2            195            Murfreesboro, Tenn./Riverdale
Geoffrey Whiteside            SB                    5-10            177            Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley
Ryan Williams                        SB                    5-8            170            Helena, Ala./Pelham
Jake Zuzek               OL                    6-0            290            Brookhaven, Pa./West Philadelphia Catholic

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