Posted on 18 November 2011 by WNST Staff
Posted on 18 November 2011 by WNST Staff
Posted on 16 November 2011 by Ryan Chell
It’s been a long season, but Ravens tight end Ed Dickson finally had his breakout game of the year Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
“It was just Joe finding me,” Dickson told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Tuesday. “I ran some hard, clean routes and Joe did a good job of finding me.”
Dickson was Baltimore’s leading receiver with 10 catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns-his second and third scores of the year.
It was the first time Dickson had reached the end zone since the Ravens Week 1 win over the Steelers.
Ironically though, his first score came not from his quarterback in Joe Flacco, but from running back Ray Rice on a halfback pass in Sunday’s 22-17 loss.
Dickson said that they’ve been working on that play for weeks, and that bringing it out of the playbook was necessary in an effort to get back in the game with the team on the ropes against Seattle.
“We’ve been working on that since the beginning of the season,” Dickson told Clark. “It’s always been up in the playbook, but it was a prime time to call that play because we kind of have a run tendency once we get down that close.”
He and Rice joked back about the play.
“Some of the balls he throws…I’m like, ‘Jesus, just throw it up there.’ He’s a running back, not a quarterback so I told him that it might be wide open and just to get it there.”
That was a creative play out of Cam Cameron’s playbook, and despite some criticism of the play-calling this week, Dickson felt like he, Flacco, and the rest of the offense are at a good pace right now.
“We’re very comfortable,” Dickson said. “I think that is our strong point right now. We can do the “two-minute” anytime whenever they’re ready to call it. We run that to perfection.”
But at the same time, he understands why Ray Rice cannot be “forgotten about” in their offense.
“He’s one of our best players,” Dickson said. “However, we give Ray Rice the ball, you have to get Ray Rice the ball. You have to feed the beast.”
But to quell the “Fire Cam Cameron talk”, Dickson said it was the turnovers, missed field goals, and lack of execution that made Ray Rice non-existent-not Cameron blacking out the run plays on his play-sheet.
“The game got kind of weird because we didn’t expect to fumble two kickoff returns,” said Dickson. “It kind of put us in a bad spot, and we were playing catch-up the whole game.”
Dickson gave the Seahawks all the credit in the world for hitting the target on their backs, but now it’s their job to avoid their AFC North foes in the Cincinnati Bengals doing the same.
“Everybody wants to beat us,” Dickson said, “and that’s something we have to realize this week. Every team is going to be gunning for us, and we’ve got to give our best every week.”
And in a critical three-team race in the AFC North, they know the importance of bringing their “A” game Sunday versus the Bengals.
“Even if Coach Harbaugh doesn’t say anything this week-not even two words-we already know the magnitude of this game, and where it puts us. We’re coming off a loss, so expect a pretty scrappy Ravens team to be ready for this game.”
Dickson basically guaranteed that next Tuesday when he joins Glenn again, the mood in Ravens Nation will be the same as it was two weeks ago against the Steelers, and that Sunday was just a bump in the road.
“We want to get back to the basics,” Dickson said, “and do the things that we do well. We get to come home and play for our home fans and be very physical against this team. We want to be the Ravens team that we showed you guys when we beat up on the Steelers…and flat out win the game.”
WNST thanks Ed Dickson for joining Glenn this week on “The Reality Check” this week! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
Posted on 14 November 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
Clearly the Ravens have a myriad of issues still to work on as the season progresses if they hope to get to and ultimately win a Super Bowl. Clearly what we saw on the field against Seattle on Sunday was a far cry from elite football, and the Ravens will have to do much better. What’s not so clear at present, in the aftermath of another disappointing loss, but worth mentioning as well is that things aren’t nearly as bad as they looked on Sunday for these Ravens and that there’s plenty of time to iron out the negatives. Since the criticism of the Ravens will be plentiful and easy to come by this week, I offer instead 7 sips of the proverbial Purple Kool-Aid. It’s by no means an attempt to minimize the negative, just a reminder that there’s plenty still to be positive about.
Sip #1 – It’s Good (and hard) to Stay Humble – The NFL is a week-by-week proposition and while it’s generally necessary to play well throughout the season simply to get into the playoffs, it’s never great to be playing at your best in November. Those efforts, while encouraging at any time, are best saved for the playoffs. While adages like “taking them one at a time” and “any given Sunday” are espoused regularly in the NFL, the Ravens have lived it this season and sooner or later are bound to learn their lesson over it. It’s unlikely that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are sitting up nights in bed worrying about needing to get better, but they’ll have to (as impossible as that seems) if they hope to keep winning. This season has given these Ravens plenty of fodder for sleepless nights and hunger to improve.
Sip #2 – They’re Still a Work in Progress – Chemistry in football, and in particular between a quarterback and his receivers can take years to build. In order to win this season, the Ravens will have to do it on the fly. While words like crutch tend to paint a negative picture of what guys like Derrick Mason and Todd Heap meant to Flacco in the offense, gone now are the guys whom Flacco had a seemingly inherent understanding of where they’d be when things broke down. What’s left is a younger and more athletic group, but one full of either first or second year players in the offense with whom Flacco is still trying to assimilate. The addition of Lee Evans (if indeed it’s coming), with whom Flacco seemed to have a good sense of timing in the pre-season could mean exponential improvement in the receiving corps. His absence has provided opportunities for guys like Torrey Smith and LaQuann Williams to develop more quickly. While it’s tough to fathom from the stats sometimes, they’re getting better and more in sync every week.
Sip #3 – They Still Have 4 Home Games Left – If you’re buying the trend, the Ravens struggle on the road, and against bad teams. Four games left at home should provide them enough wins to earn passage to the playoffs. Their three remaining road games are against Cincinnati, Cleveland and San Diego. At least two of the three are tough to call bad, so the Ravens have that working for them too. They’ll have to avoid those road woes if they hope to get playoff games at home though. Hopefully they come out of Sunday’s loss with a better understanding of how important a divisional title and home games in the playoffs are.
Sip #4 – There Are No Bad Teams in the Playoffs – Maybe whoever gets in from the AFC West would qualify as bad, and as a wildcard, traveling there could be the Ravens worst nightmare. Generally though, it’s tough to take playoff games lightly or to underestimate post-season opponents. Once they get there the Ravens should have that working in their favor.
Sip #5 – Maybe they’re Keeping Ray Rice Fresh – Begrudge the number of touches he gets (or fails to get) if you like, but Ray Rice has taken a ton of wear and tear in his three plus, playoff extended NFL campaigns, and he’s not exactly your prototypical “between the tackles” type of runner. The Ravens of the last 2 seasons have been far too Rice-dependant. Not only does it put all of their eggs in one proverbial basket, but it also prevents the Ravens other offensive options from developing. If the Ravens need Rice to get 20+ touches to insure a win, they’d better be careful to keep him fresh for the playoffs. Doing so while also exploring other ways to generate offense could prove prudent in the long run while frustrating in a game like Sunday’s.
Sip #6 – Iron Sharpens Iron – And the NFL is full of iron. Say what you want about the also-rans that have upended the Ravens this season, but there’s no doubt they have talent. Pool all of the best talent from LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State (the nation’s 3 best college teams) this year and practice them together for a year, they’d still be no match for the winless Indianapolis Colts much less the Titans, Jags and/or Seahawks. Still those teams shouldn’t have been in their games with the Ravens. From here on out, the Ravens have been identified. They can play with anyone, and usually will. Teams with little else to play for will now be sure to give the Ravens their best shot. They’ll prepare and play like they expect to win and it’ll be up to the Ravens to remind them that they can’t. If the Ravens allow teams to continually hang around in games, they’ll continue to pay the price for it. Sooner or later they’ll learn from it.
Sip #7 – They Still Control Their Own Destiny – If the season ended today, the Ravens would be the 5th seed and a wildcard in the playoffs. Fortunately the season doesn’t end today and a simple win next week against Cincinnati would put the Ravens back in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the AFC. Climbing back into a tie with the Steelers and Texans over whom the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreakers, and with New England if they win too by way of common opponents (one the Ravens would maintain as long as they beat the Colts). The Bengals are banged up, losing Leon Hall for the season and possibly AJ Green for a period of time too, and are ripe to be sent back to Earth; and there’s little chance the Ravens will be able to overlook them. Stop me though if you’ve heard that one before.
Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.
I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.
All lines taken from sportsbook.com.
Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)
week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts) season: 13-12 (-20 pts)
Saints -14 @ Rams
Lions -3 @ Broncos
Steelers +3 vs. Patriots
Browns +9 @ 49ers
Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers
Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)
week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts) season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)
Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings
Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants
Bills -6 vs. Redskins
Bengals -3 @ Seahawks
Cowboys +3.5 @ Eagles
Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)
Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts) season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)
Titans -9 vs. Colts
Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans
Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals
Last week Total: 5-7-1 (-164 pts) Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)
Posted on 26 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
Having had just over 24 hours to digest (and regurgitate) the Ravens loss to the Jaguars, here are my 7 points to ponder from the Ravens disappointing performance on Monday night in Jacksonville, a veritable touchdown of takeaways in honor of the Ravens lone TD in the game.
Point #1 – This might be the best defensive performance we’ve seen from these Ravens in a long time.
Unlike their turnover driven performances against Pittsburgh and the Jets, this was smash mouth, “punch you in the face” defense. The 12 points that the Jags scored in the game were tough to come by. Ray Rice’s 1st quarter fumble set the Jags up for a 51-yard field goal if they had simply kicked it immediately on 1st down, in hindsight not a bad idea. Instead the Jags, pulling out all the stops, drove to the 1-yard line and converted on a 4th and 2 in the process before Maurice Jones-Drew fumbled the ball back to the Ravens. The ensuing possession had Sam Koch punting from his own end zone. Again, if the Jags had kicked immediately on first down, the field goal attempt would have been 51-yards from the spot where the drive started. Three negative yards, a timeout and a tough decision later, Jack Del Rio and the Jags were kicking from 54-yards and taking a 3-0 lead.
The second field goal for Josh Scobee and company, another ambitious 54-yarder, came only after a Paul Kruger running into the kicker call negated a Jags punt and improved their field position as a result.
The Jags 3rd field goal was the result of their most impressive drive in the game, a drive 16 plays in duration and one that arguably should have ended at 5 plays with a punt if not for a terrible unnecessary roughness penalty on Bernard Pollard. Another stop for the Ravens at the 7-yard line was nullified by a Brendon Ayanbadejo penalty and ejection. The 3 points they yielded on that series was ultimately a relief despite it putting the margin at 2 scores, the 8 minutes and 30 seconds they spent getting there might have been an even bigger win for the Jags.
And of course the 4th filed goal came after the decision to try and onsides kick at 2:02 of the 4th quarter and was the result of a 4-yard drive.
At the end of the day it was a shutout caliber performance by the defense, spoiled by circumstance and bad luck.
Point #2 – The Ravens were in the shotgun way too much.
The Ravens officially ran 38 passing plays and just 12 running plays against the Jags. In the aftermath of the defeat, those numbers have been heavily criticized and deservedly so. In a game as close as that one was, that type of imbalance is all but inexcusable for a team of the Ravens offensive identity. That said, that’s life in the modern NFL, and had the Ravens won, no one would have batted an eye.
That Ray Rice only had 8 “touches” has been a bit overstated though as he also had 5 catches on 8 targets in the passing game. Furthermore down and distance have a lot to do with making running opportunities available and the fact that the Ravens offense only ran 25 plays in total in Monday’s first half, 8 of which were 3rd downs explains the imbalance somewhat.
What’s tough to explain from where I sit is why the Ravens felt compelled to tip their hands out of the running game as readily as they did on Monday.
By my unofficial count, the Ravens lined up 46 times on Monday either in the shotgun formation or with Flacco under center and intending to pass (this includes sacks and penalties). Of those 46 plays, 14 snaps under center were passes leaving 32 snaps from the shotgun.
On each of those shotgun snaps the Ravens seemed to go to silent counts with no cadence from Flacco at all. Instead, Marshal Yanda would watch for Flacco’s foot pump and then tap Matt Birk on the leg. Once Birk felt the tap, he’d rock back and snap in a predictable rhythm. I say predictable, but in fairness it appears the Jags got caught jumping offsides at least twice while trying to anticipate the snap. That said, that means there were 30 other plays where they conceivably timed it correctly. Surely this had something to do with the effectiveness the Jags were having with simple 4 and 5-man rushes.
That Jacksonville generates enough crowd noise to dictate the Ravens using a silent count in the shotgun is strange (especially after watching Matt Ryan direct the no huddle in Detroit last week). That Flacco is looking less and less like a quarterback during these scenarios is debatable in its impact perhaps, that the Ravens are essentially declaring that Ray Rice running the ball (a staple of the Ravens attack) is not an option and giving the defense a timing mechanism with which to start their jump at the line is absolutely baffling.
That Flacco looked so out of sorts when trying to direct a hurried offense when the Ravens needed him to may speak to the limited control he’s given of his offense pre-snap throughout the game.
Point #3 – Home field advantage may be more important than ever this year.
The Ravens have played 3 road games against 3 very bad teams and have looked good for exactly one quarter of one game. They’ve lost 2 road games to teams that had no business playing with them on paper, and while we all know that’s why they play the games, it’s un-Raven-like to say the least.
Your glass could easily be half empty or half full regarding the Ravens road successes and failures in the playoffs in the last 3 years and concerning the path that led them there and the missed opportunities to have games at home. If the Ravens are going to have a real shot this season in the playoffs, getting there will only be half the battle. These Ravens thrive on home cooking it seems.
Point #4 – This is not the same old offense.
It may be the same old result, but it’s not the same old offense. Don’t let your lingering frustration from the previous regime cloud your point of view. This isn’t even the same offense they had last year. Much less the Billick offense or the unbalanced run heavy (literally) attack of 2008. Call them crutches, call them security blankets, call them whatever you want, but Flacco knew where Mason and Heap were going to be all of the time it seemed. This new group…not so much.
The offensive line was an ambitious experiment to begin with putting 3 of 5 opening week starters in positions that they hadn’t even played in the pre-season together spoke to the possibility of tough sledding. The number of plug-ins necessitated by injuries on the line already only serves to perpetuate that problem. That the offensive line is struggling shouldn’t be a surprise. Maybe the bigger surprise should be how good they have looked at times. Either way they project to get better as time allows them to continue to evolve.
Anquan Boldin and two second year tight ends are the long tenured members of the receiving corps already, rookie LaQuan Williams seems to be playing more wide receiver as a rookie for the Ravens than he ever did as a collegiate for the Terps and Lee Evans has been a non-factor.
It stands to reason that this offense would struggle and will again, check back on them around week 13 or so, once the weather has changed, to see how well primed they are for the playoffs.
Point #5 – There’s lots of finger pointing going around.
Harbaugh pointing at Cundiff, Suggs pointing at Cam, the fans and the media joining Suggs in pointing at Cam and at Flacco too, everybody it seems blames somebody, and everybody just might be right. For a 4-2 team though this has to be at least a little bit unnerving.
This was a lot funnier when it was coming from the Jets locker room a couple of weeks ago.
Point #6 – You can’t blame apathy again.
When the Ravens lost to Tennessee apathy could have been to blame. Whether it was actually the case or not, it was easy for everyone to simply dismiss the loss as the Ravens were riding too high after a win against Pittsburgh or that the Ravens simply didn’t come to play. On the surface you might be tempted to say the same about Jacksonville, but it simply can’t be true.
As pointed out in Point #1, the Ravens defense did come to play. It was the defense that should have and could have been riding high and resting on their laurels, but they didn’t. It was the offense that failed to perform on Monday. The offense has been feeling the proverbial heat of criticism for weeks, and while folks were surely taking the Jags as a whole lightly, no one was discounting their defense. The Jags needed a big performance to have any chance against the Ravens on Monday; everyone knew that, including the Ravens.
Apathy may never be a legitimate excuse, here it absolutely wasn’t.
Point #7 – There are deep waters in the AFC North.
The sting of Monday’s loss was surely agitated by the fact that it represented a loss of first place in the division (at least mathematically) to the 5-2 Steelers. It also puts the Ravens in a tie with the surprisingly 4-2 Bengals and just a game ahead of the 3-3 Browns. This isn’t your dad’s AFC North it seems, and the 5 games the Ravens have left in the division are looking scarier by the minute.
Posted on 28 July 2011 by Ryan Chell
The Ravens may have had to cut ties this week with veteran receiver Derrick Mason and saw the likes of receiver Donte Stallworth take his services to the Washington Redskins, but there is one receiver who is leaving Baltimore behind who not a lot of people are talking about.
And that may be the strangest part of it all. It’s because this receiver in the past has been a guy to usually get the trash-talk started.
That of course is free agent wide receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh, who by the way of a coaching change in Seattle last summer, found his way to Baltimore and was projected to be the third leg of a superb receiving corps joining the likes of Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Donte Stallworth and others.
Unfortunately, Houshmandzadeh-a catching machine for his first eight seasons in the league with Cincinnati-struggled to get himself in the mix in an offense that lacked identity at times last season, and it turned out there weren’t enough balls to go around for the many playmakers and egos in the Ravens passing game.
But Houshmandzadeh-despite his frustration at his role-was very mature about what happened and he voiced that same expression on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” with Thyrl Nelson Monday.
He was actually more displeased with the Ravens losing in the playoffs than his performance on the field.
“It wasn’t my use,” Houshmandzadeh told Nelson. “It was how the season went. My experience was great, except for not catching that last ball.”
Houshmandzadeh said he doesn’t blame the quarterback, Joe Flacco, coach John Harbaugh, OC Cam Cameron, or anyone else on the team. He admitted that wearing out his welcome in Seattle and coming into the mix in September was all on him.
“Getting here five days before the start of the season, I was behind everyone else,” Houshmandzadeh said. “We were getting ready to play the Jets, and I only had a few days to learn the plans, and for the coaches to put me in.”
Houshmandzadeh played in all 16 games last year, but as the third wide receiver behind Boldin and Mason-and being a similar receiver to those two, he didn’t get a lot of chances to make plays.
His 30 catches were the lowest total since his rookie year in 2002, and after 2004 with the Cincinnati Bengals, he saw no less than 73 balls come into his possession until suiting up in purple.
The highlight of his season came in Week 4 against the Steelers in Heinz Field, where he caught the game-winning touchdown from Flacco with just 32 seconds on the clock to put down Pittsburgh, 17-14.
It was that play in particular, and several others, that had Houshmandzadeh putting Flacco in the elite quarterbacks of the NFL, and he would know having caught passes from a Heisman Trophy winner and former top overall pick in Carson Palmer for years.
“The Ravens have the right guy in place,” Houshmandzadeh said. “It’s funny when people pick on him, because he’s cool. Joe was always the last guy to leave the facility. He puts the work in, and he’s only going to get better.”
Houshmandzadeh saw firsthand how much criticism the reserved Flacco took last season for the team’s struggles and for not being a vocal leader, and he said none of that was warranted to say the least.
“The criticism was unfair. Joe’s leadership was never in question,” the receiver said. “His style might be different, but the media didn’t understand.”
And further defending his quarterback-even if he is catching passes from another one this season-he says that the comparisons of Flacco to other elite quarterbacks in the NFL aren’t fair either because of the unique systems each signal-caller has at their disposal.
“Everybody’s offense is different,” T.J said. “Joe worked with what was given to him. It’s unfair to compare him to others’ offenses. We did a lot of different things here in Baltimore.”
And for Houshmandzadeh, it could all be different again for him in the next few weeks should a team other the Ravens give him a buzz. Given the Ravens full depth chart at receiver and Houshmandzadeh’s veteran asking price, he probably won’t be parking at 1 Winning Drive for this year’s training camp.
And he knows that.
“I would love to come back,” he said, “but they have a lot of guys there though.”
But, Houshmandzadeh has learned, especially after his time in Cincinnati and Seattle, to never burn your bridges because there’s always a chance to a return visit.
Maybe even one from Baltimore, per chance?
“I loved Baltimore. My time there was great…if the Ravens want me back, I would stay. All a team has to tell me is that they want to sign me.”
And whoever calls upon his services, he wants them to know that he’s all-in.
“Whenever the call is made, I’m ready to go,” Houshmandzadeh said. “My body feels great. I’m looking forward to what this year holds.”
WNST thanks T.J. Houshmandzadeh for joining @WNST and being a part of a great Ravens team in 2010! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
Posted on 05 May 2011 by Rex Snider
Well, it’s Thursday …. but not just another Thursday. Today is Cinco De Mayo !!!! And for those of us who look for a quick, convenient excuse to celebrate a sunset with some cocktails, it’s a GRAND EVENT.
The birds will be looking to win the series, in Kansas City, before heading home to entertain the Tampa Bay Rays for the weekend. Can they win 3 straight series? I like the chances …..
While he’s taking a back seat to the hype and dominance of Zach Britton, Orioles starter Jake Arrieta has been building a pretty formidable early season resume’, as well. With exception to his April 9th start against Texas, Arrieta has not surrendered more than 3 earned runs in any contest.
The loss against the Rangers is starting to resemble a real aberration, as Arrieta has been quite consistent over the first six weeks of the season. And, the reduced overall ERA in each successive appearance is a GREAT sign.
38 Years Ago …..
Rewind your clock to May 5, 1973 …. it will be remembered as the day a horse named SECRETARIAT took Churchill Downs by storm. In capturing the 99th running of the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat set a new record of 1:59, which still stands today.
The amazing feat? He ran faster in each successive quarter-mile of the race. The greatest ever? No doubt about it …..
A Great Guest
On today’s edition of the AFTERNOON DRIVE, we will be chatting with Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Peter is always at the forefront of NFL scoop and breaking information.
I follow him on Twitter (SI_PeterKing) for multiple updates, daily, on football. Peter will join us at 2:30pm – if you have a question for him, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also on today’s show, we will chat with experts covering the Steelers, Bengals and Browns, to see how the competition fared in last week’s draft.
End Of The Line ???
Many of us recall the Detroit Tigers amazing turnaround and World Series appearance during the 2006 season, right? One of the key figures to that team was the 21 year old fireballing reliever, Joel Zumaya.
To say he was “LIGHTS OUT” was an understatement, as Zumaya compiled a 1.94 ERA and 97 strikeouts in just 83 innings pitched. However, he has fought injuries in each season following that rookie debut.
And, he has been shut down again – for the remainder of 2011. At 26, Zumaya is at a crossroads and may very well be done. This certainly serves as a sad testament to the fragile nature of a pitcher’s career.
The Fallout (BONUS 100+ words)
When I wrote yesterday’s critical blog regarding Rashard Mendenhall’s tweets on the death of Osama bin Laden, I had a hunch his ramblings might cause some residual news. And, indeed it has …..
Mendenhall’s teammate, Ryan Clark, did an interview and attempted to defend his friend. Clark panned “social media is destroying the world”, as a means of trying to minimize the forthcoming damage. Yes …. Clark also tweeted these very feelings.
Did it help? Uh …. NO.
For his part, Rashard Mendenhall also made an effort to clarify his stance. But, the damage might already be done. Champion Athletics, Mendenhall’s only corporate sponsor is already distancing itself, as they issued the following statement:
“Our focus today is making sure that we communicate that Rashard Mendenhall’s personal opinions were not made on our behalf and do not reflect our view.,”
While Champion’s spokesman, Matt Hall, said it’s “premature” to discuss the future with Mendenhall, this incident will likely serve as an example of how mere words can be costly. Stay tuned …..
Cerveza, Cerveza, Cerveza
Today is May 5th, which means we’re celebrating Cinco De Mayo. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking …. it’s Mexico’s Independence Day !!!!
Here’s the definition of the Cinco De Mayo celebration, according to Wikipedia:
Cinco De Mayo is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride …. the date is perhaps best recognized in the United States as a date to celebrate the culture and experiences of Americans of Mexican ancestry, much as St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest.
Well, that’s good enough for me …. I’ll have an ice cold Corona !!!!
Posted on 01 May 2011 by Ryan Chell
Ashley Ambrose was a 13-year veteran corner back playing for four different NFL franchises including the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Atlanta Falcons.
The 1996 All-Pro recorded 42 interceptions in his dozen-year NFL career, and during his playing days was often tasked with covering the opposing team’s best receiver.
And since retiring in 2005, the 40-year old former CB has found his mark in the coaching ranks, and as of recently found his way to the University of Colorado coaching their defensive backs.
It was that move-and his eventual association with Ravens first round pick CB Jimmy Smith-that forced the former NFL veteran to do a different kind of defending.
Doing his best to cover the character concerns of his pupil in Smith-who’s off-the-field incidents while in Boulder include marijuana use, arrests for possession and underage drinking, assault, and impregnating several women-eventually became a common practice for Ambrose the past two off-seasons as NFL teams probed him for inside information about Jimmy Smith the man as well as the corner.
Ambrose-who recently took over the defensive backs’ coach at the University of California-joined Rex Snider of “The Afternoon Drive” Friday afternoon after the Ravens selected Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft, and he had nothing but good things to say about his former player and the situation he was ending up in Baltimore.
“I know there was a need for you guys,” Ambrose told Snider, “and I knew if Jimmy was going to fall down there that the Ravens were a possibility. I’ll tell you what…I’m happy for him. It’s a great place for him to be.”
Ambrose was probably Smith’s biggest fan Thursday night, and it began to worry him when the Ravens allowed the Chiefs to move ahead of them to make a selection because he was afraid that Smith’s rap sheet of character issues would force him to drop out of the first round and hurt his confidence.
“I read about it,” Ambrose said. “I didn’t know what was going on at first. I was nervous at first cause Jimmy’s a great kid. A lot of people go off what happened his freshman year and stuff like that.”
But he was glad to ultimately see the Ravens take the leap of faith on Smith and he assured the Baltimore coaching staff through Snider that they know they won’t regret the decision because of the man Smith has become recently.
“I said to myself that if they get a chance to see who Jimmy is as a person, they really would know what kind of kid he is being so mature now.”
Ambrose joined the Colorado program in 2008, with Smith having been a Buffalo since redshirting in 2006.
From the moment the two met, the two were inseparable and Ambrose brought with him a mentor-like approach when it came to guiding Smith down the right path and helping him become not only a better corner, but a better man.
“I really am confident in that. I was more of a mentor and a big brother to Jimmy as well as his coach,” Ambrose said. “While he was there, he did everything he was supposed to do. He was always on time. Jimmy was just really young when a whole lot of stuff happened.”
Ambrose didn’t want to make excuses, but he said a lot of young kids get themselves in similar trouble that Smith did and don’t get caught or the attention thrown their way.
“You get any kid going to high school to college, get them in a different environment, and things happen,” Ambrose replied. “Jimmy just happened to be one of those kids that messed around and got caught a few times, whatever it was. Some people go through it and never get caught, but it just so happens that he was a freshman, he got caught with it, and it was always over his head. But he’s not that kind of a guy.”
How fitting that Smith’s last known deviant act caught on the record was in 2007-the year before Ambrose joined the Colorado staff.
“I’m so proud of him. He grew up, and you’re talking about a kid who graduated from college,” Ambrose said. “Most kids like that..they’re not graduating from school. This kid was so focused about his academics that he got a degree, and I’m proud of him….and I don’t see him getting in any trouble.”
The only trouble Ambrose sees? The opposing receivers in the AFC North who have to go up against Smith.
“I wish I had the ability of this kid, and the sky’s the limit for him.”
“This kid is going to be awesome. I’ve been around the NFL for quite some time, and just being around the guy, there is no one with his size. Usually guys like that don’t have any hips, but Jimmy has very good hips. He can run, and he can be physical. It is rare to see that.”
Ambrose compared him to a similar corner in today’s game in Jets CB Antonio Cromartie-but hopefully without the off-the-field concerns as the New York defender.
And Smith’s other beneficial trait? He is eager to get better and takes learning seriously.
“I was amazed to see the things he can do just trying to teach him techniques. He is very coachable, he is willing to learn, and that’s the thing that makes him such an elite athlete because he’s ready to learn and he’s willing to do what you ask of him.”
Ambrose knows he’ll fit right in with player-coaches like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed-who hails from the same hometown as Ambrose-and he knows that those two in particular will guide Smith down the right path toward being an excellent football player and human being.
He knows so because he was forced to do the same thing several years ago.
“That’s what players do,” Ambrose said. “Ed Reed is from my hometown, and I know a lot of his family. Ed Reed is a great character person. Ed Reed is going to be the person to be there to help Jimmy out with anything. He’ll put him under his wing, and guide him in the right direction.”
“Now it is up to Jimmy to do the right things, but I think it’s perfect for Jimmy because he gets to be with a Hall-of-Fame type guy that’s doing it and leading by example on and off the football field. I think it’s a great thing, and he’s going into a great situation.”
But for now, Ambrose said Smith should take advantage of a fresh start as a Raven and be solely focused on adjusting to the speed of the NFL because for the former Mississippi Valley State star in Ambrose, that was the toughest thing to get adapted to coming out of college.
“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “Having now coached at the collegiate level, I kind of talk to these kids about it…telling them about the transition and those sorts of things.”
“You’re going to be in meetings all the time, and everyone’s going to be great players. You can’t take a week off and things like that. The thing for me when I first came out I thought I was so good at my level of college football that I could just bring it right to the NFL, and that opened up for me real fast.”
But he knows Jimmy’s ready for that change, and when he does, he should ultimately be able to kill two birds with one stone as he knows succeeding on the football field will push some of his past character-concerns under the rug.
“It’s a great fan-base, and what’s going to happen is he’s going to win a lot of fans over cause he’s going to play some good football.”
WNST thanks Ashley Ambrose for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and welcomes Jimmy Smith to Baltimore! Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for the chat with Ambrose as well as tune into WNST Monday as we talk with Torrey Smith for the first time since being drafted by the Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!
Posted on 28 April 2011 by Rex Snider
Welcome to what promises to be a pretty busy Thursday in the Baltimore sports community. The Ravens are primed to welcome their newest member of the fold and the Orioles are hoping to break out a broom on the Red Sox.
But, challenges exist.
There will be 25 obstacles standing in front of Ozzie Newsome and company and the birds lineup must deal with Boston ace, Jon Lester …. while Adrian Gonzalez and his lineup mates will face a likley easier task in figuring out Brad Bergesen.
Here’s today’s edition of “50 Words Or Less ….”
The Forgotten Piece ???
A daily conversation revolving around the Orioles always seems to regard the hitting attack or young starting pitching. I get it …. it’s “sexier” than discussing defense, baserunning and the bullpen.
But, last night served as another reminder that this team does not have a SHUT THE DOOR closer, nor do they have that coveted formidable 8th and 9th inning tandem. It’s a weakness that’s plagued the Orioles for a number of years.
Ask yourself this question …. were you comfortable heading into the top of the 9th inning with a 5-4 lead, last night?
That’s “Mr. Cover Model”
Well, Twitter certainly served as the ideal “LET’S PILEUP ON PEYTON HILLIS” social format, yesterday afternoon. As soon as news broke of the breakout back’s throttling of Michael Vick in the Madden-2012 cover matchup, the detractors and haters surfaced …..
“One Shot Wonder” …. “Overrated” …. “Another Mistake By The Lake” …. indeed, we saw and read it all. I think it’s kinda funny. A process that allowed people to manipulate results is what availed Hillis and Vick to reach final consideration in the first place.
Hey, it’s just a video game and a very popular one. Nobody buys it for the cover anyway. But, rest assured, there are some relieved souls in EA Sports hierarchy today.
Reaching Rock Bottom
Yep, today’s the day. It’s the 23rd anniversary of the one distinction the Baltimore Orioles would rather forget. On April 28, 1988, in the artificial confines of the Metrodome, the birds set a new mark for frustration and failure.
We always hear Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak and Ripken’s 2,131 consecutive game streak will never be broken. Well, you can probably toss this distinction behind both of those marks. I can’t foresee another team doing it …..
With The 26th Pick …..
I’ll say it again, NOBODY really knows what the Ravens will do during tonight’s 1st round of the NFL Draft. But, plenty of opinions exist …..
Peter King – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Drew Forrester – Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Matt Bowen – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, Temple
Glenn Clark – Mike Pouncey, C, Florida
Brian Billick – Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Who do I side with? King has NFL connections … Drew has LOCAL connections … Bowen played the game … Glenn is a “Ravens Insider” … and the coach possesses all four qualities.
I’m gonna trust Glenn. He was right on the money with Sergio Kindle, in 2010. And, he thought the Ravens would drop down to snag him. That’s money …..
Greatest Debut Album
I’ll start this rant by admitting my feelings are still smarting. One of these days, I might be considered for the MORNING REACTION’S Hall Of Fame. I’ve only been listening and contributing, in one way or another, for 7 freakin’ years …..
Regardless, I’ve gotta offer an opinion on yesterday’s conversation about the “Greatest Debut Album”. The Cars’ self-titled debut album bests the original Van Halen offering?
Come on …..
The truth in simple sports-related terms; The Cars couldn’t carry Van Halen’s jock. The Cars debut album sold 6 million copies and Van Halen’s debut has sold nearly 11 million issues. But, let’s forget sales and talk about the music …..
Would you rather listen to “My Best Friends Girl” or “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” ???
Case closed …..
Keep An Eye On …..
Yeah, I’m finishing up with more NFL conjecture. If Blaine Gabbert slips past the Buffalo Bills at #3 overall, will Marvin Lewis grab him? It’s an interesting debate, especially given the Bengals’ fractured relationship with Carson Palmer.
Many expert minds believe Gabbert is the best “NFL quality” quarterback in this class. I think they’re onto something. The talent is untapped and unrealized, but I don’t like the potential prospect of facing the next Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, twice a year, for the next decade.
So, I’m hoping Buffalo doesn’t screw this up. But, they probably will …..
Happy Thursday …. I’ll chat with you at 2pm