Tag Archive | "Chris McAlister"

The Mason Line

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The Mason Line

Posted on 12 June 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

The ceremonial retirement of Derrick Mason as a member of the Ravens on Monday was a chance to remember all of the positives that he brought to the team, and now with some time having passed a chance to put to bed any lingering animosity that fans may have developed toward him as his career was winding down, both here in Baltimore and elsewhere, we celebrate him. It also seems to assure us that some day soon we’ll be seeing his name raised to the “Ring of Honor” in a sappy and nostalgic ceremony. Given the inconsistent criteria of the current “Ring of Honor” inductees, it’s probably a good time to consider a few cases.

Although the criteria are, as mentioned, inconsistent I should mention that there’s one rule in weighing a player’s “ROH” merits as far as this discussion is concerned. That rule is simply that you can’t invoke Earnest Byner as a benchmark. Byner’s place in the ROH is charitable at best and based on things beyond his achievements on field as a Raven. I don’t begrudge his admission, but he can’t be used as a measuring stick for the merits of others.

 

It honestly wouldn’t have surprised me a bit if Mason had retired as a member of the Tennessee Titans, and we could certainly discuss the possibility that the absence of Jeff Fisher from that organization is as much a part of Mason’s decision to retire as a Raven as anything. For 6 seasons Mason was a Raven, through and through, but in the minds of fans, always a former Titan too. Old rivalries die hard, and the additions of Mason and Samari Rolle and Steve McNair and Lorenzo Neal may have helped to bridge that healing gap over time too. But some will always likely remember Mason as a Titan.

 

For all of his statistical achievements in Baltimore, what I’ll remember most about Mason coming here was his coming here. Apparently given the choice between the Ravens and Patriots, Mason went with the underdog organization and his leap of faith was rewarded (albeit not with a Super Bowl title). His was a misguided faith in Kyle Boller as well, and for that we can all be thankful.

 

Mason topped 1000 yards 4 times as a Raven, played on 4 playoff teams and was seemingly always the guy most on the same page with his quarterbacks. He scored 29 TDs as a Raven, or 6 more than Randy Moss in 2007 with the aforementioned Patriots.

 

His tendency to talk may have gotten him in some hot water with fans during his tenure here, but that’s all water under the bridge and truly of little consequence now. Statistically it’s a bit of a reach, but given the offensive limitations of the team during his tenure here, those stats should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Let there be little doubt, Mason will be in the ROH.

 

That said, the accomplishments of both Jamal Lewis and Chris McAlister would seem to trump Mason and just about any other former Ravens who might be lying in wait, in addition to overshadowing most of the current member of the ROH. It would have been nice to see either or both of them afforded the chance to let bygones be bygones and retire as well. In McAlister’s case, because of the nature of his departure it always seemed unlikely, but in Lewis’ case not so. Not so, that is until Lewis signed on as a plaintiff in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL.

 

Current member of the ROH, who played for the Ravens, are Byner, Michael McCrary, Peter Boulware, Jon Ogden and Matt Stover with Mason likely to follow. Todd Heap will likely be a member when he finally hangs up his cleats (hopefully as a Raven too) and Kelly Gregg should make for an interesting debate. Jarret Johnson could have a case I suppose too.

 

And what about Jermaine Lewis? Is he also a guy whose bad publicity was too much for the Ravens to ignore, or just an overlooked omission or a guy on the wrong side of the fringe? Given some of the stories of Lewis’ life lately, he could probably use a little positivity and recognition and Ravens fans would likely be happy to pay it to him.

 

There’s little doubt that Mason will be honored in the ROH as he should. The question though is should he be the next?

 

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was as if there were some in the sports broadcasting universe that wanted to remind me that the Baltimore Orioles have been struggling mightily as of late.

Sure, they’re just one game out of first place at the time I type this, but the Birds sadly appear to be in a downward spiral that unfortunately most of us expected.

I’ve been a regular “Baltimore expert” for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio since the channel’s inception, and I rotate having conversations with hosts about the O’s and the Baltimore Ravens. When I received a call last week asking me to appear on the channel, I assumed the conversation would go in the direction of the O’s, as I’ve made about four Orioles-related guest spots already this season.

But when the producer asked me if I’d be interested in talking some Ravens football, I was admittedly caught off guard. “It’s still baseball season” I thought. Just one night later I received a call from another producer on the channel, also asking me to make an appearance to discuss the Purple & Black.

So on both Friday & Saturday night of this past weekend I found myself talking Ravens football across the country on SXM. It was perhaps the single greatest reminder that in Charm City, a “June Swoon” is a great reminder that Training Camp isn’t particularly far away.

As the 2011 football season ended, there were two main narratives surrounding the defending AFC North Champs. One was surrounding the pending free agency of RB Ray Rice. The other surrounded the future of QB Joe Flacco, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens’ season ended 132 days ago in Foxborough (at least as of the time I wrote this) and yet seemingly little progress has been made regarding either situation.

It leads to the question (at least for me), “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?”

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in a recent appearance on “The Reality Check” (an excellent afternoon radio program on AM1570 WNST.net) that Rice’s agent Todd France was dead set on getting a deal similar to contracts given to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million with $36 million guaranteed) or Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (four years, $53 million with $30 million guaranteed). The Ravens are believed to be more interested in a deal similar to those recently given to Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed) or Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 guaranteed).

On top of that, a source with knowledge of talks revealed to me in recent weeks the Rice camp has a desire to see the running back’s deal exceed the overall value of Flacco’s.

A Carroll County Times report this weekend indicated the Ravens “aren’t anywhere close” to getting a deal done with Flacco. Flacco’s negotiating ability has been limited by the fact that contracts signed by quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning this offseason have been less than overwhelming financially. Manning landed a five year, $96 million deal, but if he’s healthy the Denver Broncos believe him capable of being Peyton Manning. The highlights of other QB contracts this offseason have been San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (three years, worth up to $33 million with with $16.5 million guaranteed) and Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed).

Neither deal is helpful to Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, although despite all of the goofy conversation nationally about Flacco’s standing against other National Football League quarterbacks, there simply could not be any argument either of those two quarterbacks have accomplished as much as Flacco. Humorously, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s deal is up a season after Flacco’s. There had been rumors the Chicago Bears were interested in getting a new deal done with QB Jay Cutler, a decision that could have been helpful in figuring out the parameters of a Flacco contract.

Remember when I asked “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?” Yeah, I’m aware that I’ve essentially answered my own question.

In both of my chats on SiriusXM this weekend I was asked what expected would ultimately happen with these situations. It was remarkably difficult to answer.

(Continued on Page 2)

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Rice reportedly to skip Ravens’ offseason workouts without new contract

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Rice reportedly to skip Ravens’ offseason workouts without new contract

Posted on 03 April 2012 by Luke Jones

With the start of the offseason workout program less than two weeks away, the Ravens apparently shouldn’t be expecting their Pro Bowl running back to surface in Owings Mills.

Ray Rice is not expected to report for offseason workouts without a new contract, according to a Scout.com report on Tuesday afternoon. The running back is not required to attend any organized team activities since he is not under contract.

He remained upbeat about his future with the team last season and during preliminary negotiations earlier this offseason before the Ravens placed the franchise tag on him in early March. The former Rutgers standout is scheduled to make $7.7 million under the franchise tender if the two sides are unable to reach a long-term agreement by July 15.

The 25-year-old was in New York City representing the Ravens as Nike revealed the NFL’s new uniforms for the 2012 season and told the Ravens’ official site he looked forward to attending offseason workouts before Tuesday’s report surfaced.

“If they want to get a deal done, we’ll get a deal done,” Rice said to the team’s official Twitter account.

Recent attempts to reach Rice’s agent Todd France have been unsuccessful.

The news is hardly surprising as countless players around the league who have been issued the franchise tag in the past have skipped OTAs. Should the mid-July deadline pass without a deal being struck, the real question will be whether Rice chooses to report for training camp in late July.

With veteran Ricky Williams having retired in February, the only running backs currently on the roster are 2011 seventh-round pick Anthony Allen and 2011 practice squad member Damien Berry.

Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,068 on his way to being selected to his second Pro Bowl.

“I played out my contract, I outplayed my contract,” Rice told the team’s official site. “Staying patient is key, but I do think I’m due. I’m up for one.”

General manager Ozzie Newsome has stated his desire to sign Rice to a long-term contract on a few occasions despite many pundits suggesting the Ravens should simply allow Rice to play with the franchise tag in 2012. The Ravens have a proven track record of taking care of players who were given the designation after working out long-term contracts with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2011), linebacker Terrell Suggs (2008 and 2009), and cornerback Chris McAlister (2003 and 2004) over the last decade.

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Ravens place franchise tag on Rice; make cuts of Evans, Carr official

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Ravens place franchise tag on Rice; make cuts of Evans, Carr official

Posted on 02 March 2012 by Luke Jones

After weeks of speculation, the Ravens have officially placed their franchise tag on running back Ray Rice less than two weeks before he was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

After leading the NFL with 2,068 yards from scrimmage and being named to his second Pro Bowl team, Rice will now be issued the franchise tender for running backs, reported to be $7.7 million in 2012. Playing out the final year of a four-year contract he signed as a second-round pick in 2008, Rice made only $550,000 in base salary as one of the best bargains in the league in 2011.

“Obviously, I don’t feel like I’m going anywhere,” Ray Rice said following the season. “But, it’s just one of those processes where you want to wait and see what happens, and hopefully me and the Ravens come to a great long-term deal. That’s the goal. I see myself here — I’m a Raven.”

Rice becomes only the fifth player in franchise history to receive the franchise tag, joining offensive lineman Wally Williams, cornerback Chris McAlister, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Of the previous four, only Williams failed to receive a long-term contract after receiving the designation. Given the short shelf life of running backs historically, some have suggested the Ravens should simply wait on a long-term extension for Rice and allow him to play with the tag in 2012, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has made his intentions clear when it comes to his star running back.

“We have used the franchise tag only so we can get a long-term deal,” Newsome said at the NFL rookie combine in Indianapolis last week. “We would like for Ray Rice to have a long career in Baltimore. If we have to franchise him, that would be the reason why.”

Newsome re-iterated that statement Friday.

“As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract. Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We’ve done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago.”

The Ravens will have until July 15 to reach an agreement with Rice’s agent Todd France on a contract or Rice must play the 2012 season under the $7.7 million tender. Baltimore would have the option of using the tag again in 2013, but Rice’s 2012 salary would increase by 120 percent.

Throughout last season, Rice downplayed the significance of his expiring contract, acknowledging the business side of football and never questioning the Ravens’ commitment to him. The running back could elect to hold out during training camp if the sides fail to reach a long-term agreement in July, but history suggests the Ravens will take care of the 5-foot-8 back.

Rice has rushed for a minimum of 1,220 yards in each of the last three seasons and scored a career-high 15 touchdowns in 2011.

France and the Ravens held contract discussions in Indianapolis last weekend, but negotiations for both Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco — who has one year remaining on his deal — are expected to stretch into the late spring or summer before any potential deal is reached.

“The reality of it is those [deals] are going to take a little longer,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re going to have a lot of contract conversations and different guys we’ll be talking to and even trying to get signed. Maybe even the draft will happen. Those guys will kind of overarch that whole process.

“Ultimately, I think we all believe that those two guys will be on the team for a long time.”

Ravens make cuts official

The Ravens also announced the cuts of wide receiver Lee Evans and cornerback Chris Carr, who was told Thursday about his release from the team.

The team is also prepared to release cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who missed most of last season while still recovering from a torn ACL suffered at the beginning of training camp in 2010, but the move has not been announced as of Friday afternoon.

Evans had a $5.61 million cap number for 2012, and was set to make $3.3 million in base salary and was scheduled to receive a $ 1 million roster bonus on March 18th if he remained with the club.

Evans, 30, battled an ankle injury all season after coming over in a preseason trade with the Buffalo Bills. He appeared in nine games and started two.

He caught four passes for 74 yards and, of course, faced criticism for his key drop in the Ravens 23-20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game.

Carr was released one season into a four-year contract he signed last summer.

He was scheduled to receive $2.5 million in 2012.

Newsome said those two moves were difficult for him and team personnel to make.

“Each year, we have to make tough, difficult decisions to manage our roster,” Newsome said. “Chris Carr and Lee Evans were valuable Ravens, and both helped us get to the AFC Championship game and the brink of the Super Bowl last season with the way they played and the maturity they added to the locker room.”

However, Newsome said the door is not shut on either one to return to the club.

“As we talked about when we informed Chris and Lee of these moves, this does not close the door on them coming back to the Ravens.”

WNST.net’s Ryan Chell contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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Comparisons to 2000 Ravens premature, but this year’s defense could be exceptional

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Comparisons to 2000 Ravens premature, but this year’s defense could be exceptional

Posted on 06 October 2011 by Luke Jones

We just can’t help ourselves, can we?

After more than a decade of defensive excellence in Baltimore, we always compare the latest eye-popping Ravens defense to the platinum standard of that 2000 unit. It was that group, of course, that lifted a caretaker offense — rookie running back Jamal Lewis being the lone exception — to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship.

It was a once-in-a-generation defense, yet we refuse to acknowledge that type of group won’t come along again — even if we say otherwise.

We did it in 2003 when Ray Lewis led a young group of budding defensive stars to the No. 3 overall defensive ranking and an AFC North title.

It happened again in 2006 as the Ravens finished 13-3 and first overall in both points and yardage allowed, something the 2000 group wasn’t able to do.

And the similarities were examined between that championship group and the 2008 defense – ranked second overall behind only the Steelers — coached by Rex Ryan in his final year in Baltimore before taking his antics to the Big Apple.

It sure feels a lot like 2000, doesn’t it?

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It’s not surprising the whispers have already started about the 2011 edition of Ray Lewis and company after a 3-1 start in which the Ravens rank third overall in total defense, third against the run, tied for seventh against the pass, and first in the NFL with 14 takeaways. The pass rush is improved with 11 sacks already after posting a franchise-low 27 in 2010. The Baltimore defense has already set single-game franchise records when it forced seven turnovers against Pittsburgh in Week 1 and scored three defensive touchdowns against the Jets last Sunday night.

But, are we really going to start talking about comparisons to 2000 after only four games?

For the sake of the argument, comparing the two units through the first four games of the season — one small sample deserves another if we’re going to be fair — shows the championship group with the upper hand. The 2000 Ravens allowed fewer yards (996 to 1,138), gave up fewer points (55 to 57), and recorded two shutouts while this year’s defense has yet to post a goose egg for 60 minutes. However, this year’s 14 takeaways trumps the 10 forced by the 2000 group.

Those first four games in 2000 included two of the four largest point totals surrendered by that defense in the regular season, including the 36 scored by Jacksonville in a thrilling 39-36 shootout win in Week 2. This year’s Ravens have faced only one offense currently ranking in the top half of the league (Pittsburgh is ranked 13th), but the 2000 group faced only one top-10 offense (Jacksonville was seventh overall in 2000) through four games.

As fun as it is to draw comparisons between the known and the unknown, the reality is it’s too early to determine where the 2011 defense will even rank among the many good defenses in the 16-year history of the franchise, let alone talk about any potential similarity with one of the greatest units in NFL history. The only link between the two defenses is Ray Lewis, who depends far more on his intellect as a 36-year-old than he had to as a 25-year-old wrecking machine.

Moving beyond the statistics, Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 hybrid defense is far more similar to a Ryan-coached unit than Marvin Lewis’ record-setting defense from 11 years ago. The current unit relies on deception and blitzing to create pressure, disguising its intentions until the last possible minute. Lewis, on the other hand, largely played his 4-3 defense straight up, using a dominating front four that created pressure on the quarterback and a brick wall impenetrable for running backs.

And here is where we get to the largest discrepancy that should end any real discussion between the championship group and this year’s edition.

The secondaries.

Continue >>>

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7-Next 7 Greatest Players in Ravens History

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7-Next 7 Greatest Players in Ravens History

Posted on 26 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

In honor of the “Purple Massacre” moves the Baltimore Ravens made Monday (and the chance the Charm City careers of Derrick Mason and Todd Heap may be over), today’s Morning Reaction “Tuesday Top 7″ topic was “The Next 7 Greatest Players in Ravens History.”

We say the “Next 7″ instead of the “Top 7″ because we’re in agreement that the Top 3 players in franchise history are Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden and Ed Reed.

This is a battle for spots 4-10.

Understood?

Glenn Clark’s list…

10. Haloti Ngata

ngata

9. Derrick Mason

mason

8. Terrell Suggs

suggs

7. Todd Heap

heap

6. Peter Boulware

boulware

5. Chris McAlister

mcalister

4. Jamal Lewis

jamal

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Stover Ring Of Honor No-Brainer, But Who Will Join Him?

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Former Baltimore Ravens kicker Matt Stover formalized his retirement Thursday in a press conference at 1 Winning Drive.

“Playing for the Baltimore Ravens, I think I’ve always said that it’s a privilege” said Stover. “Being in the league has been a privilege-more than you can imagine.”

Stover had not kicked for the Ravens since the end of the 2008 season, he had not kicked in the National Football League at all since spending the end of the 2009 season with the Indianapolis Colts.

Stover, 43, spent 13 seasons in Charm City after coming to the city when the Cleveland Browns moved following the 1995 season. He was the only remaining player who came from Cleveland until he left after ’08.

During his 13 seasons in Baltimore, Stover made 354 of his 418 field goal attempts (84.6%), finishing 471/563 (83.7%) for his career. He was named the AFC’s Pro Bowl kicker twice in his career, including once in Baltimore (2000), the same season he played a significant role in helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV, the only Super Bowl title in the team’s brief history.

It came with no surprise that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti announced that the team would induct Stover into their Ring of Honor on November 20th when the team hosts the Cincinnati Bengals.

“The thing about being in the Ring of Honor is that I meant to much to my team, the community” said Stover. “That to me is an awesome, awesome privilege. I can’t imagine any greater honor that an organization can give to a player, and I appreciate the Ravens doing that. I’ll be proud to do it…to retire as a Raven with some other great players.”

Stover’s on-field role would have been enough to guarantee his inclusion, but his community involvement (most notably with the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes) set him apart from other successful players in franchise history. Stover was a beloved figure during his time in Baltimore, even amongst fans who wouldn’t be considered amongst the most passionate.

Clearly Stover meets all qualifications to join OT Jonathan Ogden, LB Peter Boulware, DE Michael McCrary, Former Owner Art Modell, RB/Contributor Earnest Byner and the Hall of Fame Baltimore Colts as being featured prominently at M&T Bank Stadium to be remembered for the eternity of the franchise’s existence.

The question moving forward for me is now “who will join him?”

The Ravens have been very fortunate to have a number of great players/contributors in recent years, many of whom are worthy of consideration.

Here is the explanation of the criteria used by the Ravens when selecting players to their Ring of Honor…

“Character: The induction into the Ravens Ring of Honor represents the highest honor for a career of individual accomplishment resulting in team success. Teams constructed with character reduce uncertainty and stay on their purpose Ravens of Honor maintain direction with intense focus character is at the beginning of the cycle and takes them all the way to a successful ending.

Gratitude: Ravens of Honor carry forth a special attitude of gratitude, to those around them, they are always a fountain rather then a drain. Each is different but all keep those around them on the path of progression. Their basic ability to enjoy their talents and gifts of others help them to continually contribute as opposed to contaminate.

Vision: Fueled by self-knowledge, great character and an appreciation for everything available to them. Ravens of Honor visualize short and long term successes in Technicolor. They are, through vision, great connectors. Those around them are energized and they use all that surrounds them to create an inspirational bigger picture.

Passion: Passionate Ravens have an unusual ability to face failure, physical setbacks and exhaustion. They have an internal tenacity that helps them get back up when knocked down. Their passion motivates teammates to join in on the pursuit of the team dream. Passion breeds conviction and turns mediocrity into excellence. With passion, we can overcome all obstacles.

Faith & Courage: Ravens of Honor stand tall in the good times as well as the rough times. They are help up by their deep faith in themselves, their teammates and their fans. Inspired by belief in a great destiny, these champions never waver from their victorious path. Faith is belief in what you cannot see. Great vision matched with unbridled passion sets up absolute faith. Faith evokes a special courage and confidence. When matched with action, faith kills worry and procrastination, the two traits which produce regular failure.

Competitive Spirit: True competitors want to be put on the line and measured. They thrive on adversity and use it to achieve a special edge. They know the easy lakes get fished out first, thus they skip the easy. Persistence, determination, tenacity and sportsmanship are the hallmarks of this warrior mentality. Ravens of Honor need character, gratitude, vision, passion and faith to become a championship caliber competitor. There are no shortcuts and they do not look for them, because their competitive fire will not allow them to.

Humility: Humility in oneself inspires the best of others and feeds our character. A vital aspect of the true leadership is the willingness of others to follow.”

Nowhere on that list does it state that a player has to have reached a Pro Bowl as a Raven, which has been believed to be a bit of an unwritten rule within the franchise. In fact, a Ravens executive told me Thursday the qualifications could really be stated as “extraordinary contributions to the NFL, the Ravens and the community.” The same executive was willing to admit however that “it will be more difficult to make our Ring of Honor if the player was never recognized as a Pro Bowler, but it could happen.”

There are a number of current Ravens whose inclusion in the Ring of Honor seems to be as simple a decision as Stover’s. LB Ray Lewis, S Ed Reed and TE Todd Heap all seem to be easy choices after their careers conclude. WR Derrick Mason certainly has an argument. LB Terrell Suggs and DT Haloti Ngata have laid the groundwork for what could ultimately become Ring of Honor careers.

Perhaps a bit more interesting in the list of former Ravens who have not yet been honored. RB Jamal Lewis, CB Chris McAlister, DT Tony Siragusa, OL Edwin Mulitalo  and former Coach Brian Billick (full disclosure-Billick is now a part owner of WNST.net) have all moved on from their careers but have not been honored. General Manager Ozzie Newsome would seem to be a potential future honoree, and LB/contributor O.J. Brigance was the subject of a recent Facebook campaign seeking his induction.

There is an argument as to why any of the above names should be in. The reality is that in the next ten years, the team’s Ring of Honor could grow exponentially.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with being an organization that has a number of great players/contributors afforded significant recognition. An argument could be made that it simply reflects the greatness of the organization to have such an expansive number of ROH honorees.

At the same time, the Ravens do face a dilemma as they consider the future of the way they recognize players. In thirty years, these names will all represent the finest players/contributors in franchise history. The organization must at least be willing to ask the question “will this player’s inclusion still make sense when we look back in 30 years?”

It is a more significant honor than the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame, where a player is simply noted on a tough to find outfield plaque at Oriole Park at Camden Yards after honored at a pregame ceremony and luncheon. Fans don’t have to stare at the names for decades and debate the merit of their inclusion during games the way fans do at M&T Bank Stadium.

We’ve all experienced the moment where someone sitting near us says “did they REALLY put Earnest Byner in the Ring of Honor?” The answer is yes, and we’re all equally uncomfortable about despite our great respect for Mr. Modell.

As the team considers other candidates, they must keep in mind those questions. “Is ______ really in the Ring of Honor? Didn’t he only play here for like four seasons?” “You guys put ______ in the Ring of Honor? Did he ever even get to the Pro Bowl?”

They’ll be relevant questions that Ravens fans will have to answer.

The team doesn’t want to make the requirements for induction more stringent, as they want to be able to make their own decisions about who to induct instead of limiting themselves by instituting additional requirements.

Make no mistake. Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister, Brian Billick, Ozzie Newsome and Todd Heap really should all be in no matter how the team defines the requirements. Ravens fans should always be see those names honored for the greatness they contributed to the franchise and city.

But as far as the others are concerned, the team will have to truly make difficult decisions.

Hear Stover’s press conference-including comments from Bisciotti, Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net! Stover joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Friday on AM1570 WNST, that chat is in the Audio Vault as well!

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Live From Owings Mills: Panic, Risk Surround Ravens’ Choice of Colorado’s Smith

Posted on 29 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Does anyone remember what I said about Baltimore Ravens LB Sergio Kindle in my lede following the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft?

“In the case of Kindle, the number of red flags rivals the number that will be assembled in the corners of every pitch at this summer’s World Cup.”

As many inside the Ravens’ 1 Winning Drive facility will tell you, the story on Kindle is far from finished. Yet in the first 12 months, the first chapter has been far from what the team had hoped for. The 12 months included a fractured skull stemming from a fall at a house party in Austin that forced him to miss the season, admission to suffering from narcolepsy and a DUI arrest.

So when the name of Colorado CB Jimmy Smith was tossed around by NFL Draft analysts in the months following the end of the 2010 season, I found myself shaking my head over the idea of adding a player with the history of Smith. Smith’s rap sheet is…well…lengthy.

Smith’s history includes three failed drug tests (one of which he had admitted was codeine), two alcohol violations as a minor, an assault arrest, and two abortions paid for by the families of women he impregnated. (Rap sheet courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Even after the disappointment of their first pick in 2010, the organization’s decision makers said they were unconcerned about the troubles surrounding Smith-leading them to use their first round selection (which turned out to be the 27th overall) on the former Colorado corner.

“We put him through a process” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “Even more so than we do some of the other players. We came away feeling that he would be able to come here and continue to be the type of player and person that he’s been for the last couple of years.”

“We all spent a great amount of time with him” added Head Coach John Harbaugh. “We think he’s got a good heart, we think he’s very committed to being a great football player. We’re going to do everything we can to help him be that. As a head football coach I’m excited about this pick.”

In a conference call immediately following the selection, Smith said it had been more than two years since he had run into trouble. He also said he was committed to not replaying his past in Baltimore.

“The things that I did were old mistakes and bad decisions that I made when I was younger and immature” said the 2010 All-Big 12 corner. “It’s in the past now. I’m just trying to best player and person off the field for the Ravens that I can possibly be.”

In other words, the first 60 minutes following the team’s selection of Smith went better than the ten minutes leading up to the pick.

I can’t help but to come back to the fact that when the Ravens were faced with the choice of selecting the former Buffaloes star at 26th overall or trading out of the pick, the Ravens decided to trade out of the pick.

That decision doesn’t exactly stand tall next to the wonderful things the front office said following Smith’s selection.

Newsome confirmed an ESPN report that the team had an agreement with “another NFL team” to deal back from the 26th pick. ESPN reported the trade partner as being the Chicago Bears-which the Ravens would not confirm following the Draft. (The Bears later confirmed they were the guilty party and offered apologies to the Ravens). Newsome said the Ravens made the agreement to trade out of the pick, but their partner never received approval from the league. The panic surrounding the dissolution of the exchange allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to step in and select Pitt WR Jon Baldwin with the 26th pick, forcing the Ravens to jump back in and select Smith 27th.

In a deal with the Bears, the Ravens likely would have moved just three spots back

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Counterpoint: Bordick not amongst Orioles’ best, but I’m fine with induction

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Upon hearing that former SS Mike Bordick had been elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame Saturday morning, I will admit that at first I thought to myself, “huh?”

But after a few minutes of thinking about it, it struck me that Mike Bordick is a fine choice for what isn’t a particularly significant honor.

Many Baltimore sports fans are particularly disappointed when they look towards the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium and see the name Earnest Byner listed with the young franchise’s best players (Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary); the man who returned football to Charm City (Art Modell) and the players who represented the Baltimore Colts franchise that captivated this city for over 30 years.

Earnest Byner was a marginal contributor for two seasons and an assistant coach for a few years after that. It is well known that Modell wanted to honor Byner and decided the Ring of Honor was the way to do just that.

When Ravens fans in ten years see the names of Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister, Matt Stover and Brian Billick honored at their “Purple Palace”, Byner’s inclusion will seem out of place at best, but could be somewhat embarrassing when opposing fans visiting town ask “Byner? Why don’t you go ahead and put Kyle Boller up there too?”

The reality of Bordick’s induction to the Orioles Hall of Fame is that the honor itself isn’t significant enough to warrant such opposition. The Orioles honor their greatest players in franchise history by retiring their numbers and featuring them with figures outside Orioles Park at Camden Yards and commemorative signs inside OPACY as well.

As an organization, the O’s do a good job of separating the all-time greats (Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken) from those who simply warrant a “thank you” for their time in orange and black (BJ Surhoff, Harold Baines, Rick Dempsey, Mark Belanger).

Make no mistake. Mike Bordick does not deserved to be remembered in the same way as some other Birds who have received Hall of Fame status. Ken Singleton, Boog Powell, Dave McNally, Mike Flanagan and others had a much more significant impact on the franchise than Bordick.

Instead of being featured prominently at The Yard, Bordick will only receive mention on a small Eutaw Street wall plaque. The Orioles will hold their annual luncheon and pre-game ceremony for fans to thank Bordick, then he will mostly be a name on a list.

They’re not trying to compare Bordick to Ripken-even if Bordick was the player to replace the “Iron Man” at shortstop.

With the only criteria for induction being that the player must have played for the team for at least three seasons, Bordick (parts of six seasons) qualifies. He’ll be remembered for his All-Star Game appearance in 200 and a stellar defensive season in 2002. He’ll be remembered by myself as being the piece that brought Melvin Mora to Baltimore from the New York Mets.

For these reasons, I applaud Bordick’s election. It will be nice for me to clap for one of the few players I have enjoyed watching during these dreadful 13 seasons of Orioles baseball.

-G

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The ‘fall’ of the Ravens defense started many Aprils ago

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The ‘fall’ of the Ravens defense started many Aprils ago

Posted on 17 November 2010 by Luke Jones

If you’ve been wearing out your Greg Mattison dartboard over the last several weeks, you’re probably not alone.

After all, the current Ravens defensive coordinator is solely responsible for the fall of a once-dominant unit all the way to 10th in the NFL, right?

(As an aside, how spoiled are we to be frustrated with a unit still better — statistically — than 22 other defenses in the league?)

From eliminating the submissive three-man rush to playing tighter, press coverage in the secondary, Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, or Rex Ryan would be coaching this defense to the elite level it enjoyed over the last decade instead of the mortal status it currently holds.

If only it were that simple.

Placing blame on a few individuals is common practice (Mattison, maligned cornerback Fabian Washington, and, until recently, “overrated” linebacker Terrell Suggs are popular targets these days), but the defensive problems run far deeper.

Personnel issues, aging stars, a key injury (anyone remember Domonique Foxworth?), and — perhaps — coaching shortcomings have left the Ravens with an above-average defense pursuing ghosts of dominance on the M&T Bank Stadium turf.

Truth be told, the current deterioration of the Baltimore defense began years ago, even while the unit was enjoying perennial elite status.

Anyone who’s followed Ozzie Newsome’s 15 years in Baltimore knows organizational success begins and ends in April. Shrewd trades and a sprinkling of free-agent signings have contributed over the years, but the Ravens have traditionally made their money with the NFL Draft, especially on the defensive side of the football.

Ngata
(Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)

And herein lies the problem with the current defense.

Since the Ravens drafted Suggs with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newsome has used only one first-round pick on a defensive player, tackle Haloti Ngata in 2006.

By no means is that an indictment of Newsome, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, and the scouting department in Owings Mills. The Ravens had no choice but to address the offensive side of the football in hopes of reaching the pinnacle of the NFL.

If defense alone truly wins championships, the Ravens would have a showcase full of Vince Lombardi Trophies in the lobby at 1 Winning Drive, but Baltimore has fallen short with a number of elite defenses, all because of offensive units that couldn’t get out of their own way.

As a result, the team has used five of its last six first-round picks on offensive players, including quarterback Joe Flacco (2008) and current starting linemen Ben Grubbs (2007) and Michael Oher (2009). Meanwhile, the defense largely maintained the status quo, carrying the mantra of dominance for years.

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Perhaps seeing leaks last season, the front office emphasized defense in April, drafting Sergio Kindle from Texas and the mammoth Terrence Cody from Newsome’s alma mater of Alabama. Ultimately, a draft’s success cannot be gauged for a few years, but the short-term return has been negligible halfway through the 2010 season.

In fairness, if you could have predicted Kindle’s fall down two flights of stairs in late July, forget about running an NFL front office; I’m asking you for this weekend’s winning lottery numbers.

Cody, on the other hand, still has time to contribute in the short-term and has played better in the Ravens’ last two games after a slow start to his professional career.

But one draft was not going to fix a philosophical shift in recent years that focused on offense with defensive upgrades taking a backseat. A simple look at the defensive picks in the Ravens’ first three rounds since 2004 shows the underwhelming results (the round in which the player was selected is noted in parentheses):

2004: DE Dwan Edwards (2nd)
2005: LB Dan Cody (2nd)
2006: DT Haloti Ngata (1st), CB David Pittman (3rd)
2007: None
2008: LB Tavares Gooden (3rd), S Tom Zbikowski (3rd)
2009: DE Paul Kruger (2nd), CB Lardarius Webb (3rd)
2010: LB Sergio Kindle (2nd), DT Terrence Cody (2nd)

Far more alarming than the lack of first-round selections is the volume of players who failed to make an impact as higher selections. Dan Cody (injuries) and Pittman (ineffectiveness) barely made it on the field in their brief time in Baltimore, and it remains unknown whether Kindle will ever play again, let alone contribute at a high level.

Other players, such as Edwards before signing with Buffalo last offseason, Gooden, and Kruger, have been little more than role players, contributing at times but failing to make a significant impact, though recent draft picks deserve more time to develop.

In contrast, a look at the Ravens’ defensive selections in the first three rounds from 1996 to 2003 shows a much different picture:

1996: LB Ray Lewis (1st), CB DeRon Jenkins (2nd)
1997: LB Peter Boulware (1st), LB Jamie Sharper (2nd), S Kim Herring (2nd)
1998: CB Duane Starks (1st)
1999: CB Chris McAlister (1st)
2000: None
2001: CB Gary Baxter (2nd)
2002: S Ed Reed (1st), DE Anthony Weaver (2nd)
2003: LB Terrell Suggs (1st)

The number of players chosen is similar (11 defensive players chosen in eight years compared to the 10 defenders selected in the seven drafts since 2004), but every player on the latter list started multiple seasons — many of them at elite levels — except Jenkins, who was largely considered a bust in his four years with the Ravens. Of course, the six first-rounds selections paid the largest dividends, but their other picks made significant contributions as well.

Looking at their draft record since 2004 and comparing it to the franchise’s first eight years in Baltimore reveals that in addition to the front office using fewer first-round picks on defensive players, it hasn’t been nearly as successful finding defensive talent in the second and third rounds, especially at cornerback where the unit currently struggles.

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