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Ravens catching a break in New England ???

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Ravens catching a break in New England ???

Posted on 06 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Yes, I’m quite aware of the Baltimore Ravens schedule of regular season matchups, and this week features a visit from the Denver Broncos. It’s the second home game of the year and John Harbaugh’s squad is reasonably favored by 7 solid points.

I don’t look ahead ….. and I’m certainly not looking beyond Josh McDaniels’ very capable passing attack.

Heck, I would take Denver and the touchdown, if I gambled on football. That said, I still think the Ravens will win the game.

But, beyond this week, a very interesting matchup looms. Just one week from today, the Ravens and every individual who covers, follows and supports the team will be focusing on the New England Patriots.

While I know many observers are relying on last season’s playoff beatdown of Tom Brady as a means for justification in counting on a WIN in the upcoming trip to Foxboro, a proportionate number of us are little more cautious.

Regardless of what happened just 9 short months ago, things can and will change …..

Tom Brady is one of those ELITE quarterbacks we like discussing, when proposing the future aspirations of Joe Flacco. Brady possesses a methodical technique to spreading the ball around, while picking upon vulnerabilities of a defense.

Back in January, Brady’s options were far less numbered than usual. His new tight end options, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, were still in college. Newly acquired running back, Danny Woodhead, was part of Rex Ryan’s depth chart, in New York. And, Randy Moss was hobbled by injury – as the game against the Ravens clearly demonstrated.

Oh yeah, and this guy was done for the season.
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I’m not suggesting Wes Welker would’ve turned the table in that loss to the Ravens. John Harbaugh had his team prepared to play and they simply beat New England in every facet of the game.

However, in just 11 short days, the scene could appear differently ….. MUCH DIFFERENTLY.

And, it could end up benefiting the Ravens.

Last night, rumors regarding Randy Moss started circulating. Specifically, the information indicated Moss might be returning to the Minnesota Vikings, via trade.

This morning, the rumors are becoming more concrete and several sources (including the WORLD WIDE LEADER) are confirming a trade will be completed today. Of course, it hinges on Moss getting a contract extension – and more money.

Such a deal makes sense on many levels.

The Vikings desperately need to find a capable set of hands for the landing end of Brett Favre’s passes. And, a deep threat would be icing on the cake. Oh yeah, and Moss obviously knows the Vikings organization.

Perhaps, some mitigating reasons are at play, as well …..

I think many of us can envision a scenario where Favre packs up his Minny-circus for good, especially if the team is languishing below the .500 mark when November rolls around. And, given the underachieving play of the highly touted Green Bay Packers, the Vikings brass might sense an opportunity opening up.

Indeed, I can reasonably foresee a trade of Moss being beneficial for both organizations, especially if the Patriots yield some young defensive depth in return. Although, it would be a textbook Patriots move in simply collecting high draft picks in return.

Of all the reasons contemplated for predicting a trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings, the most daunting is undoubtedly tied to this mad scientist …..
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The entire football world knows Randy Moss is unhappy with his contract situation. It’s the same unprofessional load of crap that resulted in his ugly divorce from the Vikings, following the 2004 season.

Moss became a distraction for the Vikings. He undermined the mission of the team and his coach, Mike Tice.

The same situation appears to be blossoming, in New England. He’s getting louder and louder about his contractual bitterness. He didn’t catch a single pass in Monday’s victory against Miami, and he reportedly had “words” with Bill Belichick, yesterday.

That’s a bad move ….. unless, of course, the intent was to expedite a deal.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the New England Patriots, I think everyone with a CLUE realizes who really runs, controls and commands that organization. Bill Belichick is without a shadow of doubt, the H.M.F.I.C. of that team.

Nobody challenges his authority. And, if someone commits such an act, they’ll receive a departure ticket out of Logan Airport pretty quickly. Just ask Deion Branch or Adalius Thomas.

As I write this blog, many syndicated voices are flushing the collective 2010 competitive chances of the Patriots directly down the toilet …..

I’m not buying that bill of goods.

I’ve watched, too many times, as ELITE quarterbacks have introduced talented wideouts as overnight rockstars. Do you really think Austin Collie would be a top performer in Tennessee, Cleveland or Seattle? Would Marques Colston be a premier threat in Arizona, Carolina or Buffalo?

The key to the New England Patriots remains the same as it has for the last decade …..
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Tom Brady has ushered a far lesser talented receiving corps into a Super Bowl and won it. Just look at the 2004 edition of that team. (RIGHT HERE)

Without Randy Moss, it’s fair to say the New England Patriots cache’ of receivers is every bit as talented as the Indianapolis Colts’ crew. Is anyone counting them out?

This situation is simply reflective of what happens when a guy disrupts the environment of Bill Belichick’s team. Nothing more, nothing less …..

While I still respect the Patriots as a contender for the AFC crown, I’m pretty upbeat about the Ravens chances in next week’s trip to New England. And, if Randy Moss is no longer there, I’m even more optimistic about the Ravens chances.

While the Ravens are only 4 games into the regular season schedule, they’ve luckily avoided any ELITE quarterback/deep threat combinations. Indeed, the trip to New England serves as a formidable test for Greg Mattison’s secondary unit. With the reported, impending departure of Randy Moss, the gameplan will undoubtedly be a little simpler, right?

I’m certain the Moss situation is a distant consideration for John Harbaugh’s staff. That’s right, they’re squarely focused on Kyle Orton and the Denver Broncos. The Ravens will not be looking beyond this Sunday’s game.

But, when next Monday arrives, they might be really happy to see Randy Moss playing on Monday Night Football ….. for the Vikings.

And, wouldn’t you know it, that game is against the Patriots’ divisional rival; Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. Indeed, that’s CLASSIC Belichick.

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Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

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Blog & Tackle: One-liners on the NFL through Week 3

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Chris Pika

Week 4 is the first week that byes take place in the NFL, so this is a great time to take short stock of each of the clubs through three weeks. And by short, I mean one line on each team — some stats, some observations and some conjecture.

First up, the AFC teams by division. Records are through Week 3:

Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

AFC East

New York Jets (2-1): Despite crippled Revis Island on defense, brash Jets are only team in AFC East with perfect division record (2-0).

New England Patriots (2-1): QB Tom Brady (8 TD, 109.1 passer rating) is back to form as Patriots have AFC’s highest point total (90) and highest TD total (12) so far.

Miami Dolphins (2-1): Even with deep threat WR Brandon Marshall and RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins have same amount of TDs (5) as Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills (0-3): Another lost year for Bills, which have scored fourth-least points (47) in AFC and have given up most points (87) on defense in the conference.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0): The question for head coach Mike Tomlin is if the Steelers are 4-0 after a win over Baltimore in Week 4, why change QBs to Ben Roethlisberger?

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1): Bengals, despite record, have struggled on offense as QB Carson Palmer (12th rated AFC passer at 71.3) hasn’t found rhythm with T.O.cho Show.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Defense, led by MLB Ray Lewis, continues to carry a team expected to score much more in 2010 (44 points; 2nd-lowest in AFC), despite breakout game by WR Anquan Boldin (3 TDs) last week.

Cleveland Browns (0-3): Browns are led by Peyton … not Manning, but RB Hillis (220 yards, 3 TDs) as Browns gave popular AFC Super Bowl pick Ravens much trouble in Week 3.

AFC South

Houston Texans (2-1): Texans got over the hump of beating the Colts, but Houston is not the best team in state of Texas after bad loss to Cowboys.

Tennessee Titans (2-1): Titans defense has allowed fourth-fewest points in the AFC (42), and the Tennessee offense has RB Chris Johnson (4 TDs), but continuing issues at quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts (2-1): Despite loss to Houston, Colts still have potent passing attack with QB Peyton Manning and are arguably still best club in the AFC.

Jacksonville Jagaurs (1-2): Jaguars have worst scoring differential in AFC (-43), and Jack Del Rio could be the AFC’s first fired coach.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): Most surprising number for unbeaten Chiefs is that defense has allowed least points in the AFC (38), and in weak AFC West, KC might have enough to win the division.

San Diego Chargers (1-2): Special teams burned for two scores at Seattle, and Chargers QB Philip Rivers (AFC-high 4 INTs) is missing a suddenly resurgent RB LaDainian Tomlinson, now with the Jets.

Denver Broncos (1-2): Broncos getting decent offensive production from QB Kyle Orton, but overall have a minus point differential (-4; 61 PF, 65 PA).

Oakland Raiders (1-2): High-priced K Sebastian Janikowski could have made Raiders a 2-1 team with made kicks at Arizona, but Raiders need more than 3s (4 TDs, tied for lowest in AFC with JAX) to be competitive in up-for-grabs division.

Now for the NFC:

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): The Eagles have gone from a transitional season with QB Kevin Kolb to division title hopes with QB Michael Vick, who might be a legit NFL MVP candidate down the road.

Washington Redskins (1-2): Opening victory over Dallas doesn’t look as good after defense was shredded in last two weeks and Cowboys’ struggles.

New York Giants (1-2): A minus-30 scoring differential (55 PF, 85 PA) is third-worst in NFC, and head coach Tom Coughlin is starting to feel the heat.

Dallas Cowboys (1-2): Cowboys avoided 0-3 start in Week 3 with big win over Houston, and Dallas has the personnel to rebound in a wide-open NFC East race.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (3-0): Most unlikely last remaining 3-0 team in NFC gives head coach Lovie Smith some breathing room as O-line tries to keep QB Jay Cutler upright in Mike Martz offensive system.

Green Bay Packers (2-1): Despite mental miscues in Week 3 loss at Chicago, popular Super Bowl XLV NFC pick has plenty of offensive weapons for QB Aaron Rodgers, but need run game to be re-established after Ryan Grant injury.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2): QB Brett Favre looks very old right now, and Vikings best chance to win is to get away from pass-first mindset to get the ball into Adrian Peterson’s hopefully sure hands more often.

Detroit Lions (0-3): Injury to QB Matthew Stafford put dent into head coach Jim Schwartz’s immediate rebuilding plans, and Lions don’t get a break in Week 4 against Packers.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (2-1): Falcons posted most-impressive win of Week 3 as they marched out of New Orleans with a OT win, and Atlanta has NFC best-tying +31 point differential.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): AFter 2-0 start, Bucs ran into Steelers’ buzzsaw in Week 3, and Tampa Bay is staring at possible 2-3 record with games vs. Cincinnati and New Orleans after bye week.

New Orleans Saints (2-1): Saints run defense was exposed in loss to Falcons, and defending Super Bowl champs need fast starts in order to avoid same fate against strong run teams going forward.

Carolina Panthers (0-3): Winless Panthers have least TDs in NFC (3), and head coach John Fox may be running out of rope with owner Jerry Richardson.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks (2-1): Head coach Pete Carroll sidestepped Southern California mess and he has put Seattle in early position to make headway in weak NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals (2-1): Despite record, Cards have minus-29 point differential (48 PF, 77 PA) and would be 1-2 if Oakland made a field goal or two in Week 3.

St. Louis Rams (1-2): Rookie QB Sam Bradford will have to grow up in a hurry, but the shame is that the Rams can’t play Washington every week.

San Francisco 49ers (0-3): Head coach Mike Singletary used the next-to-last bullet in his gun after firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, and the last one might be used by 49ers ownership at end of the season if disappointments continue.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is sacked by Baltimore Ravens Haloti Ngata during the second half in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 13, 2010. The Ravens won the game 10-9. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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Blog & Tackle: Week 1 NFL scoring struggles

Posted on 14 September 2010 by Chris Pika

If you thought the amount of scoring in the NFL’s Week 1 games was less than usual, you were right in a big way. A total of 21 teams scored less than 20 points in the 16 games — that number was the highest total of Week 1 sub-20-point team scoring since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, according to research through Pro-Football-Reference.com.

The 2010 teams under 20 points? Minnesota 9, New Orleans 14, Cleveland 14, Tampa Bay 17, Miami 15, Buffalo 16, Denver 17, Atlanta 9, Pittsburgh 15, Oakland 13, Carolina 18, Detroit 14, Chicago 19, Arizona 17, St. Louis 13, San Francisco 6, Dallas 7, Washington 13, Baltimore 10, New York Jets 9 and San Diego 14. The league, as a whole, averaged just 18.3 points per team in Week 1.

Here are the year-by-year teams scoring 19 points or less in Week 1 from 1970-2009 (via Pro-Football-Reference.com.

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is sacked by Baltimore Ravens Haloti Ngata during the second half in their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, September 13, 2010. The Ravens won the game 10-9. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The 21 teams was a far cry from last season’s Week 1 total of only 14 teams. In the decade of the 2000s, 153 teams scored under the 20-point mark in Week 1, an average of 15.3 per season. Since the NFL expanded to 32 teams and eight divisions in 2002 for 16 opening weekend games, the average was 15.25 per season from 2002-09.

There are a lot of factors at play in why this was the case in this particular opening weekend. Better defenses, weather issues and injuries to key players certainly played a part. But one other factor might also be in play.

The last time most clubs play their starters for an appreciable time in the preseason is Week 3. Most clubs hold out starters or play them very little (one or two series) in the final week in order to look at players fighting for the final spots during the remainder of the game.

It’s almost a bye week for the starters on both sides of the ball, since they will not face live competition for two weeks until the regular season starts. So, when the starters get back on the field in Week 1 of the regular season, the timing is off when it needs to be at its sharpest.

Here are the year-by-year totals of Week 1 teams at or under 19 points in the decade of the 2000s.

Total Teams Scoring 19 Points or Less in Week 1 (2000-09)
2009: 14
2008: 17
2007: 18
2006: 19
2005: 15
2004: 15
2003: 14
2002: 10
2001: 15
2000: 16

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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SEATTLE - DECEMBER 20: T.J. Houshmandzadeh #84 of the Seattle Seahawks straight arms Sabby Piscitelli #21 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game on December 20, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Buccaneers defeated the Seahawks 24-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Blog & Tackle: How TJH was used in 2009

Posted on 07 September 2010 by Chris Pika

The Ravens acquisition of WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh yesterday gave the club a tough receiver who will help Baltimore in the short term by giving QB Joe Flacco another target in the expanding passing game.

What kind of numbers will the about-to-be 33-year-old TJH put up in 2010? It’s obviously hard to say as the Ravens will have to get him up to speed on offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s playbook and Flacco’s passing style. But, we can look back on how he was used in Seattle last season, thanks to STATS, Inc.

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 20: T.J. Houshmandzadeh #84 of the Seattle Seahawks straight arms Sabby Piscitelli #21 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game on December 20, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Buccaneers defeated the Seahawks 24-7. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The Seahawks targeted him 61 times (31 receptions) on first down, 39 times (28 catches) on second, 31 times (18 receptions) on third and four times (two catches) on fourth down. Of all game situations of down and distance, he was thrown to the most on first down and between 8-10 yards to go — 58 targeted passes.

He averaged over 10 yards per catch, regardless of the down, and had six plays of 25 yards or more. Of his 79 catches, 52 resulted in first downs, a 65.8 percent rate.

After a two-touchdown day at Arizona in mid-November, he did not catch a touchdown the remainder of the season. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. He was targeted almost the same in each half of the season — 68 targets/41 receptions/417 yards in the first eight games; 67 targets/38 receptions/494 yards in the final eight games.

Seattle threw to him the most between the 40s (43 targets/29 receptions/311 yards) and also from their own 20 to their 39-yard line (40 targets/23 receptions/249 yards).

In the red zone, the Seahawks targeted him 19 times, and he caught just four passes for 19 yards and two scores. The four red zone catches were his lowest total since 2002.

Inside the opponent 10, he was targeted 10 times, and he made three receptions for six yards and one TD.

Where did Seattle throw him the ball, direction-wise? Mainly to the right side of the field with 36 targets to the right (23 catches), and 40 (21 catches) to the right sideline. He also caught as many balls behind the line of scrimmage (eight) as he did over the middle in 2009. But, interestingly, 13 of his 16 receptions caught on the left side of the field went for first downs, an 81.3 percent rate, while eight of his 11 catches to the left sideline moved the chains (72.7 percent).

The Seahawks looked for him the most in three-receiver sets (67 targets/34 catches/3 plays of 25+ yards/23 first downs) and in four-receiver sets (45 targets/31 receptions/2 25+ yard plays/17 first downs).

One oddity was that despite playing just four games on grass in 2009, TJH averaged more yards per catch (15.7 to 10.0), had more catches go for first downs by percentage (76.2 to 62.1) and had more 25+ yard pass plays (4 of 6) on the real stuff.

Finally in yards after catch, he averaged 3.6 per reception, which was 102nd in the NFL. Bookending him at 101 was Ravens TE Todd Heap (3.7) and former Baltimore WR Kelley Washington (3.6). TJH’s average was better than Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco (3.3), Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (3.2) and now-former Ravens (and current Rams) WR Mark Clayton (2.6).

TJH was tied for 56th in the league in total yards after catch (284) with New England’s Kevin Faulk and Denver’s Jabar Gaffney. His YAC total was better than four players with at least 1,000 yards receiving — Derrick Mason (273), Carolina’s Steve Smith (246), Ochocinco (239) and San Diego’s Vincent Jackson (228).

While not one of his best overall statistical seasons, Houshmandzadeh led the struggling 5-11 Seahawks in both receptions and receiving yards in 2009. While he won’t be counted on to lead the 2010 Ravens in those two categories, he can still be an important part of Baltimore’s passing game as someone opposing pass defenses shouldn’t forget about when checking on Anquan Boldin deep and Ray Rice coming out of the backfield.

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How Much Is The Fox Worth ?

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How Much Is The Fox Worth ?

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Rex Snider

On Friday morning, I packed up a week’s worth of wares and officially brought my vacation to an end, as I departed Dewey Beach. While driving north, thru Rehoboth, my Blackberry sounded with a message from the trusted WNST Text Service …..

“Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth tears ACL in his knee”

While I certainly expected the obvious medical diagnosis – GONE FOR THE YEAR – I did not expect the onslaught of doom and gloom, and occasional panic, that would ensue throughout the afternoon. As much as many Ravens fans have chosen to feast upon the pre-season hype, a proportionate number also greeted Foxworth’s injury with a feeling of insurmountable loss.

Really?

While I’ll agree he was the best cornerback on the active roster, as Friday’s full camp opened, I’ve never really considered Domonique Foxworth to be among the irreplacable realities of a Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher and Haloti Ngata. Indeed, if one of these players tears his ACL, you can push the PANIC BUTTON.

Let me start by saying I liked Foxworth’s play during the final stages of the 2009 season and he was certainly going to be relied upon for carrying a more significant role as a season opening matchup with the New York Jets neared. But, irreplacable? Sorry, I just don’t see it.

Some optimists might point out his perceived lackluster coverage in the early stages of last season. Indeed, Foxworth appeared to struggle against bigger, physical receivers. Does anyone recall the game in San Diego …..
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However, in true fairness it’s also quite rightful to point out the Ravens’ surprisingly substandard pass rush, last season. In fact, it’s just an absolute truth. Domonique Foxworth had very little support from Terrell Suggs and company, when it came to pressuring the likes of Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Carson Palmer.

And, as we all know, pressuring the quarterback, consistently, can make ROCK STARS out of formidable cornerbacks. Conversely, failing to achieve that same attack can make the same cornerbacks look like they’re not doing their jobs.

Welcome to the NFL.

So, as we look back on 2009, did we really have so much of the upcoming season’s potential and promise vested upon the shoulders of Domonique Foxworth? Sure, the injuries to Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb have compounded and magnified the value regarding a player of Foxworth’s caliber.

But, can he be satisfactorily replaced? While Washington and Webb move closer to regained form, can someone step up and cover?

Is it Cary Williams or Travis Fisher? Will Chris Carr play even BIGGER? Who knows …. but a group of collective players have undoubtedly hungered for THAT CHANCE to prove themselves. And, this is that chance …..

After all, who was talking about the potential impact of Danelle Ellerbe, at the beginning of last season’s camp?

Does the Foxworth injury impact other facets of the Ravens defense? Sure. And, one particular name comes to mind …..
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So long as Terrell Suggs doesn’t spend another season producing like a member of the Orioles, the pass rush is likely to improve. Given the increased vulnerability of the secondary, I’ll imagine Greg Mattison is already formulating a way to make his attack more dynamic.

The reality is the season-ending injury to Domonique Foxworth just sucks. He’s a damn good cornerback and obviously committed to the “team first” philosophy. But, his injury an ultimate loss is a defining factor of everyday life in the National Football League.

He won’t be the last member of the Ravens lost to injury. And, don’t worry about the bad luck abstaining from other franchises. Every NFL team gets a bite of this sandwich. It’s already hit the Steelers (Willie Colon), Cowboys (Dez Bryant) and Broncos (Knowshon Moreno). The Patriots, Colts, Jets and Chargers will suffer their losses, too.

Speaking of the Patriots and Colts, what will they do if faced with the loss of a vital player? We keep saying the Ravens must beat the great teams, if they’re going to rise to the next level. Well, those great teams lose FRANCHISE players, like Tom Brady and Bob Sanders to injury, yet, they still find a way to win.

And, that’s the challenge facing the Ravens.

There are no “silver linings” to the loss of Domonique Foxworth. Yet, his injury could’ve occured at a more inconvenient time. The Ravens have six weeks to address it. Last season, they had less than six days to address the loss of a starting cornerback …..
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Injuries, while detrimental, also create opportunities ….. especially in training camp. I don’t think the value of such a competition can be overlooked. A handful of young, marginal players are going to be afforded the chance to prove they’re more talented than the depth chart suggests. And, some “old dogs” are out to prove they can still hunt.

I suppose Friday’s bad news really serves as a reminder that pre-season predictions aren’t worth a bag of rotten crab shells. Who could’ve guessed Domoniqe Foxworth would tear his ACL or Sergio Kindle would be in a Texas hospital, while recovering from a fractured skull? You can’t …..

Of course, every purple-blooded loyalist couldn’t resist the accolades. The Ravens have been lathered with a layering of “favorite” in the AFC-North. And, while this supposed indestructible Baltimore football machine has spent the past week proving there is no such distinction, a divisional rival has been stealing headlines, for positive reasons, since last Tuesday.

Meet the new AFC-North favorites …. the Cincinnati Bengals.

The good news is their hype is every bit as fragile as the Ravens. They, too, haven’t played a single game, yet. But, that hasn’t stopped the World Wide Leader and others from forecasting a lethal passing attack – especially with the addition of a soon-to-be 37 year old wide receiver.

As a sports community, we’re so damn fickle. On one hand, we wanted nothing to do with Terrell Owens, because he’s known to be a cancerous plague within a locker room – and he’s beyond his most productive years. On the other hand, we fear the addition of the GREAT T.O.’s arrival, in Cincinnati. Remember, he’s the same exact guy nobody wanted in a Ravens uniform.

Yet, we figure up the loss of Domonique Foxworth, coupled with the addition of Owens, in Cincinnati, and the result is DOOM & GLOOM.

The crippled Ravens secondary will never stop these guys …..
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Don’t forget Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham or Jordan Shipley. Heck, don’t forget Cedric Benson – who really bulldozed his way thru the Ravens defensive line, twice, last year.

Yet, it’s Owens that instills this uneasiness in Ravens fans, while also rallying those in media to annoint the Bengals as the team to beat. Don’t buy into it. There is a distinct reason why the Ravens didn’t want him, along with 30 other teams.

In fact, don’t get caught up in any of the extreme impressions, one way or another, caused by injuries, additions or anything else.

The Ravens lost Domonique Foxworth for the season. That’s a fact. If their aspirations and Super Bowl hopes were tied to one player of Foxworth’s caliber, then this 2010 team really isn’t as good as many people might think.

Relax.

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New Beginnings .....

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New Beginnings …..

Posted on 13 January 2010 by Rex Snider

Have you noticed all the high profile job openings that have been created and filled over the past couple weeks? From the revolving door in D.C. to the “late night mess” in Hollywood, recent headlines have been dominated by HIRINGS and FIRINGS.

Sure, early-January becomes a “Silly Season” of sorts for passengers on the NFL coaching carousel. However, in these first couple weeks of 2010, we’ve witnessed an usually high number of tumultuous incidents in the sports/entertainment industry – beyond the customary head coach slayings.

Just look at all the action …..

Mike Leach FIRED at Texas Tech
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What does TEN bowls in as many seasons get you? Canned – if you’re gonna be less than honest with your superiors about discretionary incidents.

By now, everybody knows the roundabout details. But, if you’ve spent the past month on Gilligan’s Island or LOCKED IN AN OUTDOOR SHED, I’ll provide a quick review of the incident leading to Mike Leach’s departure from the Red Raiders program …..

Adam James is a quirky, unmotivated third stringer on the Texas Tech football team. James acquired a concussion; we’re not certain how third stringers get injured, but he did. Mike Leach evidently ordered assistants to lock James in the unofficial “Texas Tech Concussion Chamber” (aka – outdoor shed) during practice.

In turn, Adam James told his dad about Leach’s treatment. Former NFL player and current ESPN analyst, Craig James, is Adam’s dad. He made a stink about the incident. Leach was reportedly untruthful with administrators. He was ultimately fired.

Pretty low, huh?

But, guess what? I’d hire Mike Leach to replace this guy, right now !!!!
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Sure, tell me it’s about the money. We all know that. But, I’ll guarantee Mike Leach can OUTCOACH Ralph Friedgen any day of the week – regardless of what Adam James and his dad say.

In fact, if Mike Leach became Maryland’s new coach, he would probably make the football team the school’s TOP sports program within three years time. But, you’ve gotta PAY for such results and leadership.

I’m pretty sure the above statement will get my name booted from Glenn Clark’s Facebook Friends List. But, it’s accurate, right?
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American Idol FIRED By Simon Cowell
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Okay, I’ll admit it ….. I spent last night with one eye on the Maryland vs. Wake Forest game and the other eye on the TRAINWRECK ROUND of Amercan Idol. That’s right, the most popular show in American television made it’s season debut, last night.

And, it made the splash amid some stirring controversy. NO !!!! Paula Abdul is not returning.

But, another judge is leaving.

FOX has announced Simon Cowell will be leaving ‘Idol at this season’s end. But, don’t feel badly for him – he’s starting FOX’s new reality show “X Factor,” which begins airing in the fall of 2011.

Don’t get me wrong, FOX tried to persuade Simon to do both shows – and reportedly offered him $50 million, but he turned it down. Did you hear that? $50 million, YEARLY, to be brutally honest with people. Can you imagine what $50 million, yearly, buys …..
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That’s right !!!! You could pay nearly TWO A’Rod’s …..

You could pay nearly THREE Derek Jeter’s, FIVE Brian Roberts’, THREE Ryan Howard’s, FIVE Joe Mauer’s, SIX Carl Crawford’s, NINE Hanley Ramirez’s, TEN Grady Sizemore’s, FIFTEEN Ryan Zimmerman’s, FIFTY Kendry Morales’, SEVENTY FIVE Tim Lincecum’s, NINETY Josh Hamilton’s, NINETY FIVE Jay Bruce’s and ONE HUNDRED Jacoby Ellsbury’s with the yearly salary offered to Simon Cowell.

Unreal.

In fact, you could pay these Baltimore Ravens with Simon Cowell’s offered salary …..
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And, you think pro athletes are overpaid? How in the heck can a network afford to pay a guy $50 million and still make a profit? I suppose this really serves as an example of how much money can be made from shows about normal people trying to become stars.

Hmmm ….. I wonder if Simon Cowell has any additional skills, beyond the ability to tell the truth? To quote the great Don King, “Only In America …..”
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Lane Kiffin Hired At USC
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There was a time when I thought Lane Kiffin was the VICTIM ….. of a bad situation with Al Davis. Now, I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m suspecting the two guys were brought together by a common trait.

And, perhaps, their divorce was more indicative of two ALIKE people not getting along with each other – you know, the “opposites attract” argument …..

In case you missed it – while we were sleeping last night, Lane Kiffin jumped at the chance to escape ‘Ole Rocky Top for the beaches of Southern California. That’s right, he accepted the job as Head Coach at USC, amid the reality he was no higher than 5th on the school’s list of prospective successors to Pete Carroll.

This sucks.

In fact, it’s probably the single most daunting thing I dislike about college sports. Many of these coaches have no allegiance beyond the value of money. There is no INTEGRITY, PRIDE or COMMITMENT. All three of these qualities are vital in sports competition – yet, the men tasked with instilling them in impressionable student athletes fail to live the LIFE.

Regardless of championships and WIN/LOSS records, the character of these coaches is quite questionable …..
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Of the above coaches, Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban blurred the lines between the NFL and NCAA programs. But, they still shafted franchises for nothing more than their own selfish gain.

Where is the honor and credibility with a guy like Lane Kiffin? How can he walk into a kid’s house and make promises? The truth is HE CAN’T ….. and, if he does, it’s worth NOTHING. After all, he’s shafted the kids at Tennessee and created some friction by starting turmoil with other SEC powerhouses, like Florida and Alabama. Thanks, Lane.

I hope Glenn Clark is sitting down – IF he’s reading this …..

God bless Gary Williams. For all the jesting shots I’ve taken at Gary, he’s loyal to his kids and the University of Maryland. He could’ve undoubtedly parlayed his success following the 2001 NCAA Championship, into a bigger program. But, he didn’t.

I’ll never question Gary Williams’ integrity. And, on a day like today, he looks even better in my eyes.
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IN With Jay, OUT With Conan …..
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Admittedly, I like the late night shows – following my local news, of course. And, while I’m partial to David Letterman, I’ve always liked Jay Leno’s schtick.

He’s genuinely funny …..

He’s pretty modest and self-depricating …..

And, he’s a noted NASCAR fan …..
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On the other hand, I’ve never really found Conan O’Brien very funny.

I’m not a fan of the dry humor or inate references requiring deep thought. If I’ve gotta figure it out – it ain’t funny. Keep it simple, stupid.

Oh yeah, and I really hate that part in Conan’s HAIR …..
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That said, it does seem odd that Conan O’Brien had only seven months worth of rope to hang himself or pull up the ratings. Obviously, the latter didn’t happen. I have no concept of what’s acceptable or not as far as ratings go. When Howard Stern bolted for satellite radio, in 2006, his replacement, David Lee Roth, lasted just 3 months.

I guess networks can’t be too patient – after all, they’re paying some guys up to $50 million, per year, for being truthful and snarky. In fact, the rumor is Conan O’Brien will be leaving NBC with his $30 million salary, intact.

That’s a pretty costly mistake.
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Mike Shanahan Comes To D.C. ….. And Brings His Kid With Him
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Are we really surprised to see a new Head Coach for the Washington Redskins? Indeed, they’re among the most tumultuous organizations in professional sports – and they’re owned by a man with a penchant for trying to win a Super Bowl with a dimwitted Fantasy Football philosophy.

Redskins’ owner, Danny Snyder, has a proven track record of less patience than the dudes who call the shots in the “Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien” Puppet Show.

In the DECADE since purcahsing the Redskins, Snyder has spearheaded the ill-advised signings of Deion Sanders, Mark Carrier, Jeremiah Trotter, Mark Brunell, Bruce Smith, Jeff George, Adam Archuleta, Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd, and most recently, DeAngelo Hall and Albert Haynesworth.

Fantasy Football signings, right? It’s pretty fair to say Dan Snyder is enamored with “quality of name” over “quality of play” …..
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It doesn’t stop there, either. Mike Shanahan is the 7th Head Coach to serve under Dan Snyder’s 10 years of ownership. That’s right, the AVERAGE Redskins Head Coaching tenure is 22 games.

To put it in perspective, John Harbaugh, has coached 10 more regular season games than the typical Redskins Head Coach – under Dan Snyder.

And, there is ANOTHER factor. Only 800 police officers in Anne Arundel County will get this – but, it’s common knowledge that SNYDERS and SHANAHANS cannot work together. It’s impossible. In fact, the prospect of putting a SNYDER and SHANHAN in the same situation, is predictably combustible …..
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You know what I mean?

I can’t speak for Mike Shanahan – he coached an organization located 1523 miles from my front door. But, lets just say if the accomplishments during his coaching tenure vaguely amounted to …..

A – changing the team’s uniform colors

B – bringing in a couple inexperienced female coordinators to run the Offense and Defense

AND

C – leaving the place a virtual mess

I wouldn’t be surprised.

In getting back to the “REAL” Mike Shanahan, he has the increased pressure of hiring his son, Kyle, as the Offensive Coordinator. I mentioned this factor in one of last week’s blogs – I cannot seriously fathom the self-imposed pressure in having to possibly FIRE one’s son.

Additionally, if the Offense struggles, will fan perception undermine the Redskins mission – and, most notably, Dan Snyder’s patience? God knows he acts like a fan and listens to their popular consensus.

I’m betting we won’t see this face on the Redskins sideline, in 2013.
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Just remember ….. 22 games.

HAVE A GREAT WEDNESDAY !!!!

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Blog & Tackle: Week 17 AFC clinching scenarios

Posted on 28 December 2009 by Chris Pika

We know that if the Ravens win, they are in the AFC playoff field for the second consecutive season. The New York Jets are in the same spot win and in. But in the interest of laying out all of the possibilities, here are the AFC clinching scenarios coming into the final week of play, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau and NFL.com.

CLINCHED:

Indianapolis — South division and home-field advantage.

San Diego — West division and first-round bye.

Cincinnati — North division.

New England — East division.

 

ELIMINATED:

Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland, Buffalo, Tennessee.

 

Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening. Jacksonville and Miami cannot make the playoffs with a tie.

 

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Baltimore clinches a playoff spot:

1) BAL win

 

NEW YORK JETS

NY Jets clinch a playoff spot:

1) NYJ win

 

DENVER BRONCOS

Denver clinches a playoff spot:

1) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie

2) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + PIT loss or tie

3) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + HOU win

4) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + PIT loss or tie

5) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + HOU win

6) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss

7) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss

8.) PIT loss + BAL loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss

9) PIT loss + HOU loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss

10) MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

 

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot:

1) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie

2) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss or tie

3) PIT win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

 

HOUSTON TEXANS

Houston clinches a playoff spot:

1) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie

2) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

3) HOU win + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Jacksonville clinches a playoff spot:

1) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss

2) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + NYJ loss

3) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss

4) JAC win + PIT loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss

5) JAC win + NYJ loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + BAL loss

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Miami clinches a playoff spot:

1) MIA win + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

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holliday

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/17/09)

Posted on 17 December 2009 by Jack McManus

9:37-

Sean Salisbury now makes his weekly appearance. Salisbury begins by talking about his former team the Cowboys. He thinks his preseason prediction of 9-7 may end up being accurate. He bemoans the team’s annual December swoon. He states that we might as well face the fact that the team does not perform late in the season. He also says that he believes that if Dallas does not make the playoffs, Wade Phillips will no longer be head coach. Salisbury next talks about one of the more confusing teams in the NFL, the Denver Broncos. It appears as though the Broncos will be able to sneak into a wild card spot. Salisbury has been impressed with how the team has rebounded after their losing streak. He calls them a team that could be very dangerous in the playoffs if they get hot. Sean next compares Tiger Woods’ situation to his own confrontation with Deadspin.

9:24-

Glenn and Drew discuss the Orioles for a few minutes. The team signed two players last night. Mike Gonzalez is a lefty reliever and Garrett Atkins is a 3rd baseman. There are also rumors floating around about the Orioles’ interest in free agent outfielder Matt Holliday.

holliday

9:08-

Dan from Fallston calls in with some questions about the horse racing issue. He talks about how the politicians in the state have cost the people. By delaying slots, blame has been shifted to the sport of horse racing for the lack of revenue generated.

8:47-

Mike Gathagan from the Maryland Jockey Club is next up. He is on to continue to talk about the hot topic of horse racing in Maryland. He talks about how Maryland has tried to continue to compete with neighboring states that allow slots. He also states that if slots are put at Arundel Mills, Laurel Park will be hard pressed to remain open. Moving on to the horse racing schedule, Gathagan explains that the next meet will start On January 1st. He also states that it is in his best interest for the slots bill in Anne Arundel County to not pass.

8:31-

Ed Joyner, coach of the Hampton basketball team is now on with Drew. The Pirates will face Towson in a couple days. He talks about his team’s poor record at the start of the season. Hampton has lost many close games early in the year. Joyner emphasizes the importance of improving before the MEAC schedule starts. He next talks about how he and the team have attempted to deal with the tragic loss of one of their players before the season.

joyner

8:14-

Brian Billick is next up. He states he is excited to be calling the Ravens-Bears game this weekend. He also says that he thinks the Ravens have a great shot at the playoffs. Brian next discusses the possibility of the Steelers giving up on the season before their game against the Ravens. Drew quickly mentions the breaking news that Vinny Cerrato has resigned from the Redskins. Brian talks about now that the general manager is gone speculation about Jim Zorn’s job will increase. Drew asks Brian what he would do if he was the coach of an undefeated team. Brian explains that he would do whatever maximizes the team’s chances of going to the Super Bowl. This could vary from team to team. On the other hand, some fans clamor for teams to purposefully lose games at the end of the season when eliminated from the playoffs. Brian emphatically states that in all his years of coaching no one has ever suggested that a team not give 100%.

billick

8:11-

Merton from Indianapolis joins Drew before the Colts play tonight. He reminds us all that the Colts-Jaguars game tonight has a large impact on the Ravens’ playoff chances.

colts

8:01-

Drew follows that up with a shot at the people who complain when horse racing is discussed on the air. He explains that he has received many e-mails asking why he is talking about racing. Drew makes it clear that he cares about horse racing in Maryland. Without racing in the state many jobs and a great deal of revenue will be lost. He states that you must be “smarter” than to say that no one cares about horse racing in Maryland.

7:46-

Glenn kicks off “Cheap Shots From the Bleachers” by calling out Time magazine for not putting Chesley Sullenberger on its list of possible Men of the Year. Sullenberger was responsible for the moment of the year when he landed a plane in the Hudson River and saved 150 lives.

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The 1st Day Of Christmas .....

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The 1st Day Of Christmas …..

Posted on 15 December 2009 by Rex Snider

Yesterday, I laid out my plans for the next 12 days …..

It’s Christmas, and I’ve got some “WISHES” to hand out. Deserving souls? I’d like to think so ….

There are some good deeds and decent people that need recognition. And, yeah, there are notable folks on the other end, too. We’ll all get our DUE, thru next Friday.

As promised, I plan on including EVERYBODY.

Today, it’s those who need a little bit of LUCK for Christmas – and as we greet 2010 …..

GOOD LUCK – Arthur B. Modell


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The former Ravens/Browns majority owner is back on the list of finalists for Hall of Fame induction. This has been Art Modell’s plight for the 6th time in the past 7 years. Obviously, the NFL pioneer needs a little bit of luck – and he needs it very soon.

The current list of finalists will be paired down to 15, on January 7th. And, the 2010 inductees will be announced prior to the Super Bowl, on February 6th, in Miami. Thus, it’s about to get very tough for Art.

As we know, Tony Grossi, is getting ready to mount his high horse, in Cleveland. He’s been successful in soliciting opposition to Modell’s enshrinement in football’s class of immortality. Here’s to hoping Art Modell finally avoids the ill-will and personal disparities of the past.

He’s Hall of Fame worthy and I hope he’s lucky enough to realize it – SOON. I wish Art the very best of luck, this holiday season – and early, in 2010.
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BAD LUCK – Tony Grossi

Whenever he gets a chance, Tony Grossi puts the BAD MOUTH to Art Modell. He can say it’s not a “personal mission.” Bullsh*# …..

Tony Grossi is a ONE MAN GANG and his bullying is themed at depriving Art Modell of a serious whiff at election into the Hall of Fame. At some point, Tony, you’ve gotta let it go. Trust me, you’ll feel better.

Everybody knows your stance. We’ve heard it more times than Mycheal Miller’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. What gives, Tony? Has something changed? Can the committee just listen to your recorded remarks from a couple years ago?

Or, has Art Modell done some additional heinous acts to Cleveland and YOU, since his last stint as a finalist?

I understand Tony Grossi’s frustration.

I think P. Thomas Shanahan singlehandedly squashed the immediate future of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. The agency is worse off, because of his 8-year stewardship, as Chief. It’s my opinion and I’ve been vocal about it. But. I’ve also let it go.

Heck, I hope he Facebook’s me.

And, I hope Tony Grossi gives it a rest, when Art Modell’s name gets bantered around be committee members. If he doesn’t, then I’ll simply wish lots of bad luck on him …..
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GOOD LUCK – The Soprano’s Cast




It’s hard to believe it’s been more than two years since we last saw Tony Soprano fading from our TV screens to the sound of Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believin’ …..

I’ll be honest, I’m a junkie for anything connected to The Sopranos. Thus, I was really disappointed to see the show end. Personally, I felt more storylines existed – and this was really just about James Gandolfini’s reluctance to take the show any further.

And, Tony always gets his way, right?

Meanwhile, the careers of most of the mob-cast have gone nowhere – and, I mean NOWHERE.

Where is AJ, these days? Hmmm ….. how about Meadow, Janice and Carmine? A fair number of the show’s actors have been pretty scarce since the finale’. Ahh well, I guess that’s the way this biz goes …..

Michael Imperioli (Christopher) and Vince Curatola have realized some mild success with roles on ABC’s Life On Mars – which was canceled earlier this year. Drea De Matteo is enjoying some sitcom credibility, with a part on Desperate Housewives. And, Edie Falco is portraying a micro-managing, pill addicted health care provider, in Nurse Jackie, on Showtime.

Yeah, I’m being selfish. I wanna see the cast back together, in a MOVIE or a renewal of the series. Yeah, I know it’s not happening. But, I can always hope. Meanwhile, I wish good luck for all these actors.
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BAD LUCK – James Gandolfini

Yeah, I’m being selfish. But, I figure the only way I’ll ever see a reunion of The Sopranos will be if Jim Gandolfini needs it. If he doesn’t, we won’t …..

As with many TV actors, I think Ole’ Tony got way too big for his britches. He’s in Hollywood, now. And, as a result, we’re absolutely STUCK on Sunday nights.

Thus, I’m wishing bad luck on Gandolfini’s career. I’m being extremely selfish – and, I’m hoping he doesn’t see this blog. I don’t want my bullet-riddled body unearthed at the Glen Burnie landfill …..

GOOD LUCK – The Baltimore Ravens

They need LUCK. And, they need better clock management …..

Heck, they need fewer informal coaches on the sideline, and more STARTERS back on the field.

The Ravens have put themsleves in this spot – 3 games to go and they still must hope for help from the Dolphins and Broncos. We’re a far removed distance from that #1 ranking on the ESPN polls, huh?

Bears – WIN

Steelers – WIN

Raiders – WIN

And, lets just cross our fingers. Then again, if we lose just one more game, we can start talking about baseball – and how nice it would’ve been to see this guy in an Orioles uniform …..


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BAD LUCK – See Below ……






Get the picture ???
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GOOD LUCK – A Few Underdogs

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The luster is starting to wear off. It’s abasolutely “PUT UP” time. Junior’s doubters are increasing and it’s starting to look like he might not be among NASCAR’s elite talents. I wish him luck and hope he has a GREAT 2010.
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Erin Andrews – She’s had a very tough year. Nobody should have their privacy invaded – especially to the extremes Erin Andrews was subjected. Lets hope she has a good 2010 – God knows I’d like to see more of her on ESPN.
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Brian Billick – I wouldn’t say he’s an “underdog,” but this is the most fitting place to express my wishes for The Coach. Before he ever became affiliated with WNST, I was one of Brian Billick’s staunchest supporters. I’m a fan …..

Since his departure from the Ravens, I think many Baltimoreans have enjoyed access to the “Real Brian.” He’s approachable, modest and generous with his time and shared thoughts. I really hope we see him on the sidelines, again, soon.

Here’s to wishing Brian Billick good luck, in 2010. But, if he gets another coaching gig, I’m gonna really miss those Coors Light commercials …..
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Samari Rolle – Aside from football, I hope Samari is doing well. I wish him the very best and hope he has a great 2010. I wish him luck in whatever he does …..
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Steve Johnson – This kid has seen baseball’s impersonal, business side way too many times in the past couple years. Honestly, I think he really needs some stability and a single zip code, for an entire season.

I hope he proves the Dodgers wrong. I hope he makes the Orioles think twice about not protecting him. I hope he makes it BIG TIME, in the “City By The Bay.” Good luck, Steve.
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BAD LUCK – These Guys Need It

Jimmie Johnson – No offense, but I’ve had my fill of Jimmie Johnson. He now has 4 consecutive NASCAR Championships and he’s tied with Jeff Gordon for career titles. NASCAR’s “Chase For The Cup” program stinks. Jimmie Johnson is a good racecar driver – but, he can’t carry Jeff Gordon’s jock ….
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Kanye West – If I had to burn every bit of BAD LUCK on one person, it would be Kanye West. He deserves it. He’s beyond being a bumbling buffoon. He’s an idiot and a radical, hateful dude. I can picture him with Vanilla Ice and Jose Canseco, on a reality series in a few years. I’m wishing him luck to start that downfall – NOW.
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New Yankee Stadium – The Steinbrenners should be ashamed of their “Bronx Bandbox.” There’s nothing like homefield advantage, huh? Now we know why they insisted on breaking bank with Mark Teixeira’s LEFT HANDED STICK.

Here’s a surprise, the newly acquired Curtis Granderson throws righthanded, but he bats LEFTHANDED. Wow, say it ain’t so !!!! I’m wishing bad luck on Yankee Stadium – I’m hoping the ghost of ANYBODY jinxes the joint …..
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Daniel Snyder – I don’t think the guy really GETS IT. He’s bad for the game and his core values really undermine what’s decent and good. But, this generally happens to the “silver spoon” generation.

I think rich dudes who really worked for their fortune possess a humility rarely found in the tycoons who inherit or luck into their wads. Heck, it’s the determining difference between these people …..


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Dan Snyder is a trainwreck owner. His teams will never succeed, because they’re led by a man who doesn’t really lead. Mark my words, Jim Zorn will be a successful head coach, in the NFL. But, it won’t come in Washington.

I don’t need to wish Dan Snyder bad luck – he screws things up on his own accord. But, what the heck, he’s getting a bad luck wish, anyway.

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At long last, welcome back to the Unassisted Triple Play. You may have noticed my absence over the past several weeks. Probably you didn't, but I'll pretend that you did. Anyway, my inactivity has been largely the result of...

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And We’re Back

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Sam Angell

At long last, welcome back to the Unassisted Triple Play. You may have noticed my absence over the past several weeks. Probably you didn’t, but I’ll pretend that you did. Anyway, my inactivity has been largely the result of moving from Baltimore to Hartford, CT, where I now work in the sports information department at the University of Hartford, covering the men’s basketball team among other sports.

While I await my triumphant return to Baltimore to take on UMBC in an America East tilt on January 14, I’ve been keeping up with all the action from afar.

OUT NUMBER ONE

There was a moment last night when I thought to myself “a team that loses to a third-string quarterback has no business being in the playoffs. At least I won’t have to work myself up into an ulcer the rest of the season.”

Well, my health insurance at the new job just kicked in, so bring on the gastric acid!

I think any Ravens fan holding out hope for this season probably has a frame of mind similar to mine – the team hasn’t lost any games it shouldn’t have, and with the possible exception of the second Cincinnati game, they have been right in every game all year. Give me a second chance at the Patriots, the Colts, the Vikings…give me a third shot at the Bengals…I’ll take my chances.

That said, despite the fact that many fans and experts anticipated a Ravens blowout with Dennis Dixon in there, the Ravens needed a game like last night. They needed a do-or-die situation against the team they simply seemed incapable of getting over the hump against. They needed to prove that they aren’t seemingly the most snakebitten team in the history and get over the hump in one of those games. And they did it.

Now we know that Joe Flacco can win a game in the last five minutes if he has to. For all the greatness of his first 29 NFL games, he had yet to do that. A blowout would have been nice for our collective psyche, but going into last night, it didn’t matter if they won in overtime on a field goal or were resting the starters by halftime – it would just be one win, and they might very well need another one in Pittsburgh in late December to shore up a playoff berth.

That game will likely feature Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and Chris Kemoetu, which has to be the hardest-to-spell trio on any inactive list in NFL history. The chances of the Ravens going into Pittsburgh and blowing the doors off the place are slim, but it is a strong bet that they will be in the game. If the Ravens find themselves down late in the game, they can look back at last night and know that they have a quarterback (and a running back) capable of moving the ball and getting them what they need to extend drives and seasons. If that hadn’t happened yesterday – even if the Ravens had won handily – that knowledge would not be in the back of their heads going up against the Super Bowl champs in a hostile environment. Now it is, and that will prove invaluable down the stretch for a team desperate to win and move on.

At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself for the sake of my health. In the meantime, Dennis is no Juan. And thank God we got the better half of the dynamic surveying duo.

OUT NUMBER TWO

With the Patriots and Saints underway tonight in one of the most hyped games of the season, and the Ravens and Steelers extending the best rivalry in the NFL right now with another classic last night, this week’s prime time games may end up bailing out the NFL for an embarrassment of a Thanksgiving opening course. Now, I won’t blame them for the clunker that Giants-Broncos ended up being. No one could have known that Eli was still more serious about his squash career than the Giants’ playoff hopes. But to pair the Cowboys with the Raiders, especially when the laughingstock that is the Detroit Lions had to be featured somewhere, was inexcusable.

The league has two teams locked into Thanksgiving every year. No one in their right mind could have counted on the Lions for a decent showing, even in a storied rivalry game. There’s only so much you can do with them, but that should have left the schedule makers pouring over the Cowboys’ home schedule trying to set up one of the best possible games for Thanksgiving.

So they look at who might be good coming into the season. in addition to their star-studded NFC East rivals, the Cowboys play Golden Boy Matt Ryan (who is no Chris Redman, mind you) and Philip, LT, and the Chargers in the Taj Mahal of football this season. So naturally, in the search for a marquee matchup, the NFL picked……..the Oakland Raiders?!

If the game on the field featured Jerry vs. Al in a tete-a-tete, then I could see it as fantastic holiday viewing. But that football game was more of a snorer than the tryptophan. Congratulations NFL, you’ve ruined Thanksgiving.

Of course, just like every other problem the NFL has experienced over the past 15 years, I’m sure they will find a way to Blame Baltimore. If the Ravens hadn’t ruined Jerry’s finale for Texas Stadium, maybe he wouldn’t have had to push for such a patsy on Thanksgiving. We knew that Le’Ron McClain was a power back. We didn’t know his footsteps would still be causing ripples eleven months later.

OUT NUMBER THREE

Normally I use this space for something irreverent and funny. Not today. Today I have something very serious to talk about with all of you. That, of course, was the mysterious disappearance of my Orioles and Ravens car magnets from my back bumper over the weekend. To whoever took them – assuming a Connecticut hoodlum reads random Baltimore sports blogs – I want them back. Put them back where you found them (the dirt outline of the “O” and the Ravens oval sticker are still there, so you should be able to do that no problem), and all will be forgiven. Otherwise, I will have you traced, and will send members of the UConn basketball team to steal your computer.

In the meantime, if any of my loyal readers have extra “O’s,” Ravens stickers, or any of the other things I’ve been missing from back home (Natty Boh, Berger cookies, Utz crab chips, Barry Glazer commercials, etc.), I would be forever in your debt.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

No bigtime musicians born today, so today’s Happy Birthday goes to Simonetta Stefanelli, a.k.a. Apollonia from the Godfather. No one mastered the days of the week quite like her, and she still ranks in the top 50% of women drivers. And much like this blog, when she hit you with the thunderbolt, you were not going to forget it anytime soon.

Glad to be back everyone, talk to you all again soon.

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