Tag Archive | "Detroit Lions"

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Week 4 Coach Speak

Posted on 28 September 2010 by Brian Billick

After my broadcast partner, Thom Brennaman, and I called an exciting overtime game in New Orleans when the Falcons beat the Saints, I taped this week’s edition of CoachSpeak for FOXSports.com.

I talked to the winning coach of the Atlanta-New Orleans game (and my brother-in-law), the Falcons’ Mike Smith on why he went for it on fourth down so much against the Saints and how he plans to keep his team focused this week after such a big win. I also spoke to the losing coach, Sean Payton, about how last Monday night’s game at San Francisco did to his team’s schedule, and the adjustments coaches have to make in that situation.

In my Billick 101 segment, we get a look at the Vikings check system with quarterback Brett Favre and running back Adrian Peterson through the eyes of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. We also go on the field with Ravens running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery, who shows us the keys to a proper QB-RB exchange on handoffs.

I take a look at the 49ers’ firing of offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye this week, what that might mean to head coach Mike Singletary down the line, and what new OC Mike Johnson needs to do to help turn around the 0-3 49ers fortunes.

Lastly, we check out the Never Say Never Moment of the Week, including Leon Washington’s two kickoff returns for TDs for the Seahawks.

Here is this week’s version of CoachSpeak:

Video: Coach Speak: Week 4

This Sunday, Thom, field reporter Charissa Thompson and I head to Green Bay this Sunday as the Packers try to bounce back after a tough loss at Chicago as they host Jim Schwartz and the Detroit Lions on FOX.

But before that, I will be on WNST several times to talk about what’s going on in the NFL. If you miss any of those appearances, please check out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to listen to all of the great interviews on WNST.

Talk to you next week …

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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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Steve Hauschka

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Steve Hauschka: “I Think That There Is a High Standard Out There That The Kickers Have Set, And Anything Below That Won’t Be Tolerated”

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Ryan Chell

Steve Hauschka
Everywhere Steve Hauschka has gone so far in this short NFL career, he has had to replace or has been around an NFL kicker who has been kicking clutch field goals for years.

Last year’s starting Ravens kicker for the first two months of the season had trouble replacing a hero here in Baltimore in Matt Stover, as the former NC State kicker struggled, kicking 69& of his attempts, making only 9 out of 13 attempts from last year, including a big miss in the Ravens October 18th loss to the Vikings that cost the game for Baltimore.

Hauschka beat 2008 Lou Groza Award winner Graham Gano for the starting job for the Ravens last camp after the Ravens decided not to resign Stover, who wanted a guaranteed contract going into training camp.

Hauschka said it wasn’t easy to fit into someone shoes like Stover.

“It’s not easy at the beginning, especially following up a guy like Matt Stover, whose had a real great career there in Baltimore,” Hauschka told Thyrl Nelson on Thursday.  “It wasn’t easy as a young guy. I did my best and I wish things worked a different way, but I don’t have any regrets.”

Hauschka was released by the Ravens a month after his fourth miss of the year. He later tried on with the Falcons, who signed him to a contract after trying to find a replacement for a struggling Jason Elam, and he competed with Matt Bryant the rest of the season, not seeing any attempts to prove himself or right his confidence.

Hauschka realizes and understands why his time in Baltimore was cut short. He knows he deserved it, given the nature of the position.

“I think that there is a high standard out there that the kickers have set, and anything below that wont be tolerated,” Hauschka explained. “That’s just the nature of the position.”

“It’s a really obvious thing when the kicker misses a kick, as opposed to a tackle missing a block or something like that. When a kicker makes a mistake, everyone in the crowd knows it.”

“It’s real easy to point, and I read the other day that is a ‘blame position’, along with the quarterback. Quarterback and kicker, pretty much the two blame positions where it’s easy to say they messed it up, whereas with other positions, it’s not so easy for the average fan. That puts more pressure on you, which is the nature of the position and I understand that and have accepted that. I think most of us NFL guys have.”

But Hauschka still feels like he has the physical skills to kick in the NFL, and he feels like he is a talented kicker for having only kicked professional field goals for the last seven years.

“I didn’t start till my sophomore year in college. I had played soccer and lacrosse before that. My roommate in my freshman year was a football player, and I went out one day and kicked with him. He told me that I had to come out and try out for the team. He convinced the coach to let me come to training camp, and the rest is history. I came out and won the punting and kicking job, and did that for three years.”

Hauschka said that in today’s age where there are only 32 kicking jobs out there and guys like Stover hanging in the league for so long, it makes it hard for young guys like himself to hold down and grab a kicking job in the NFL.

“A lot of factors come into play,” Hauschka said. “It’s not easy for young guys to break in. There is only a couple open spots, and those open spots are relative to, so they come with a lot of competition. So there is only a couple open spots every year. And if a rookie is put in one of those positions, they really have to show something. It’s tough coming up with that experience that guys in the NFL already have. Even a couple years worth of experience is head and shoulders over a young guy or a rookie.”

And now, he is in Lions camp with the Detroit Lions, as he is being asked to hold down the kicking position until longtime Lions kicker Jason Hanson is back and healthy as he is recovering from off-season knee surgery.

“I’ve been here about a week-week and a half now. Things have been going fine. I love the organization a lot, and I like it here in Detroit.”

Much like Stover, Hanson is a legend in Detroit. He is only the Lions’ second kicker since 1980, is the league’s 8th leading scorer, and is the only player in the league to play with his original team before the creation of the salary cap and free agency.

Unfortunately for Hauschka, Hanson has only missed one game in his 18 years in the NFL. But Hauschka knew going in that this was really just another chance to prove to all the other teams in the league that he is a capable kicker.

“He’s still the guy here,” Hauschka said of Hanson. “He’s had a great career. He really is a great kicker. I think everyone expects that he’ll be the guy this year again. I’m just trying to help the team however I can, and I know at the current moment Jason is recovering from a minor injury. That is the need for me right now. But I’m going to try and help out the team any way I can.”

And already he has turned some heads. converting four field goals and getting six touch backs on August 21st against Denver, prompting second year Lions coach Jim Schwartz to say he has that “Ernie Els” kick. He kicked five extra points against Cleveland on Saturday.

“I can probably see what he is talking about,” Hauschka said of his coach’s response. “I don’t know exactly, but I’m just assuming I’m swinging easy and that the ball goes far. Ernie Els definitely has a smooth swing. That’s kind of what I try and do out there. I ‘ve got plenty of leg to get the ball where I need to get it, so if I swing smooth, I’ll be a lot more accurate.”

But Hanson was seen warming up before Saturday’s game against Cleveland, and if need be, could have probably gone out there for the game. Hauschka knows his time in Detroit is probably coming to an end soon, but he wants to keep working on trying to be a full-time NFL kicker instead of a part-time, injury replacement.

“I’m always working on something here or there just like any guy is,” he said.  “I’m just kind of waiting for my next opportunity and putting my best out there every chance I get and taking advantage of those opportunities to show what I can do so that teams want to have me out there.”

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/16/09)

Posted on 16 December 2009 by Jack McManus


Glenn mentions that the Ravens tried out two wide receivers. He clarifies that does not indicate that this means Mark Clayton will be out for an extended period of time. Instead, the Ravens are looking to fill the open spot on their practice squad.


Ed Frankovic comes on to talk some Capitals hockey. The team defeated Colorado last night. Ed talks about how different players have stepped up in Alex Ovechkin’s absence. Now that the star has returned, the team has even more balance.



Ross Tucker, of Sports Illustrated, is now on to chat with Drew. Drew begins by asking him about Ndamukong Suh. Tucker calls Suh the best defensive line prospect in recent years. Moving on, Tucker talks about how despite the Lion’s pitiful performance against Ravens the team is on the right track. Sticking with the Ravens, Tucker states that the Ravens must come to play in order to beat the Bears this weekend. However, as long as the Ravens continue to feed Ray Rice and Joe Flacco does not turn the ball over they should be able to pick up the victory. Tucker next talks about the fall of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He explains how difficult it is for a team to repeat as Super Bowl champs. He discusses how last season Ben Roethlisberger covered up many of the teams flaws with his play-making ability. This year. Big Ben is getting tackled more easily. Finally, Tucker speaks on the Redskins. He has been impressed with the team’s defense, and the offense has looked much better in recent weeks.

big ben


Golfchannel.com writer Rex Hoggard is the next guest. Drew asks him if Tiger Wood’s current whereabouts are known. Hoggard states that he belives Tiger is still in Orlando, at one of his homes. He also explains that he does not think that many people were aware of Tiger’s affairs before the news broke. As far as sponsors go, Hoggard says that Tiger will do whatever possible to keep AT&T. On the topic of Tiger’s return, Hoggard states that Tiger will most likely not sit out all of the majors this season. Finally, Drew jokes that he hopes Rex’s name never appears on the list of mistresses.



Ed from Park Heights points out flaws in both Cordish and De Francis’ plans. He blames De Francis for some of horse racing’s problems today. He states that Cordish is too focused on business. Ed also talks about how the politicians in the state have severely damaged racing. He mentions how the original reason for slots was to save horse racing.


David Cordish, of The Cordish Cos. is on to talk about the bidding for Pimlico. He would like to respond to Joe De Francis, who made an appearance yesterday. On the topic of slots, Cordish explains that a very thorough process must be followed. The slots at Arundel Mills would be a building separate from the mall. Cordish goes on to explain how the slots will help provide revenue for the Maryland race tracks. Slots at Arundel Mills would maximize revenue for horse racing. After a short break, Cordish discusses how his company is focused on horse racing, not just development. He talks about how he will be able to effectively promote racing events. He states that he would allow people to bring alcoholic beverages to the infield if he was able to acquire Pimlico.



Pat Kennedy, head coach of Towson University’s basketball team joins Drew. He starts off by talking about how coaches must be careful how they schedule practices around exams and the holidays. He next discusses his team’s loss to George Washington. Despite this setback, Kennedy believes that the Tigers are far ahead of where they were at this point last year. Next Kennedy explains that once conference play starts, fewer players will get significant playing time. Finally, Kennedy calls Calvin Lee his team’s answer to the other start players around the conference.


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Blog & Tackle: Purple Haze Live Chat tonight at 7 pm

Posted on 13 December 2009 by Chris Pika

After you dry off from a wet day at M&T Bank Stadium watching the Ravens battle fellow Mt. St. Joe grad Jim Schwartz’ Detroit Lions, settle in with your friends and WNST hosts & personalities starting at 7 pm tonight for the Sunday Night Purple Haze live chat.

We will have Ravens news and notes, tweets from local and national media along with Ravens players, and YOUR comments and questions from pregame through halftime of the Sunday Night game.

Ravens-Lions Purple Haze Live Chat

We’re in December and the final quarter of the regular season. There will be plenty to talk about with the Ravens, the AFC playoff race and other topics that come in during the evening. It’s like your neighborhood bar with WNST hosts as your bartenders, and you can skip out on the tab at the end of the night.

Please join us and tell your friends about our spirited online live chat on WNST.net.

By the way, since I did not have a chance to write a “How I See It” column this week because of travel, my pick today is Baltimore 17, Detroit 10. We’ll see how it goes …

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Ravens Waive Ali, Move Harper to Active Roster

Posted on 12 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

The Baltimore Ravens made a roster move today, waiving FB Charles Ali (we hardly knew ye) and activating WR Justin Harper from the practice squad.

The move was almost certainly made due to Mark Clayton being listed as doubtful for tomorrow’s game against the Detroit Lions with a hamstring injury.

Harper was one of the “bubble” guys to make the roster out of Training Camp, as the 2008 7th round pick in the NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech has been known to make some nice leaping grabs in practice, but has failed to be consistent enough to play. He regularly plays the role of the number one wide receiver of Ravens opponents during practice-he dressed as Calvin Johnson this week. If he plays, he will be making his NFL debut.

At 6’3″, Harper matches Kelley Washington as the tallest WR the Ravens have. Expect Washington to start opposite Derrick Mason, with Demetrius Williams as the #3 guy. Harper and David Tyree will be the Ravens’ next options should they choose to go to a 4th receiver or in an emergency situation.


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Despite Their Best Efforts to the Contrary, The Ravens Are Still a Playoff Team…For Now

Posted on 12 December 2009 by Thyrl Nelson

Go ahead and get it out of your system now. Give it your best Jim Mora.


“Playoffs?!?!?!?! Don’t talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me?”



Yes, we are talking bout the playoffs, and for the Ravens they have begun early again this season. It was obvious 8 years ago that any mention of his team and the playoffs together, to Mora, was ridiculous and a stretch, and given the way that the Ravens have failed to answer the bell so far this season, their own current playoff hopes should seem equally ridiculous. Yet here we are with just 4 games remaining, and despite their best efforts to the contrary, the Ravens find themselves all but in the driver’s seat for one of the two AFC wildcard spots.


It says more about the state of the AFC than it does about the prowess of the Ravens that their playoff hopes are still very much intact. Still, once you get to the dance, anything can happen, history has shown us that time and again. And as it stands right now, smart money is on the Ravens to be there.


The Ravens haven’t been a proverbial playoff team this season, by any stretch of the imagination. But since the proverbial playoffs have yet to be invented, qualifying for the actual playoffs by whatever means you can is still the ultimate goal. And as bad as the Ravens have been at times, most times actually, it’s still tough to find 6 teams in the AFC that are clearly better.


The four division winners seem predictable enough, New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Diego all look like relatively safe bets. Even if we forget about Denver’s late season collapse last season, and the glimpse that they gave us of their ability to do it again in the middle of this season, and also ignore the fact that the Ravens would have the tie breaker against the Broncos or Chargers for that matter if they were to come back to the pack, even if we concede the 1st wildcard to the runner up in the west; who else in the AFC is clearly better? Who is set up better?


The Jags have the spot right now, but I doubt anyone could argue that they’re clearly better than the Ravens, or built to last. They certainly aren’t set up better. They’ll see the Dolphins this week, the Colts next week, while they may still be throttled up, and the Patriots after that. By the time they see the Browns in week 17, the Jags should already be a wrap. They could be the biggest paper tiger of all of the AFC contenders, as they have 3-point wins over KC, Buffalo and the Rams in overtime, and were absolutely smoked by both the Seahawks and Niners. Something tells me that it’s safe to forget about the Jags.


In fact, when the Jags take on the Dolphins this weekend, the proactive Ravens fan may be pulling for Jacksonville, even though they currently hold the final wildcard spot. The Dolphins certainly seem like a much more realistic contender, and are gaining momentum under young Chad Henne. They’re at Tennessee after this week, then finish up at home against Houston and Pittsburgh. All seem to be winnable games, but tougher than the Ravens’ remaining schedule for sure. If both teams run the table, it appears that the Ravens would win the tiebreaker in common opponents by virtue of the Ravens’ win over San Diego. If the Dolphins step up and claim the East however, it could spell the end for Baltimore. It’s tough to pick a dog in their fight this weekend, but I still think that a Jags win works better for the Ravens in the end.


The Jets are struggling with injuries and inconsistency, but have a very winnable game at Tampa this week. After that they’ll get the equally reeling Falcons, travel to the Colts, who may or may not still be playing, and finish against the Bengals, who also may have little or nothing to play for by then. If both teams were to run the table though, the Ravens would win a tie based on conference record. Anything short of running the table is likely the end for either team.


Houston and Tennessee, with 5 wins each aren’t dead yet either, and since both can help to bury the Dolphins, that too could wind up working in the Ravens favor.


The cherry on top is probably the fact that if the Steelers aren’t done just yet, the Ravens will have to bury them for good on their way to running the table.


Thursday’s debacle by the Steelers in Cleveland should serve as both an encouragement and a lesson for the Ravens. Although Ravens and playoffs may be tough for conservative fans to digest just yet, a playoff game against the Lions is about as ridiculous as you can get. Surely the Ravens will beat the Lions this week, and the real test will begin next week against Chicago, or the week after that in Pittsburgh. The Lions this week is all but a foregone conclusion, right? That’s probably what the Steelers were thinking about while beginning their playoff run in Cleveland on Thursday night too, and thus it ended just as quickly as it started. If the Ravens make that mistake against the Lions this week, theirs will be done too. But they’re not done just yet, contrary to popular belief, reports of the Ravens’ demise have been at least somewhat exaggerated.


And if they need any more reminders of reasons why they should take the Lions seriously this week, they need look no further than the referee. Although it won’t be Mike “Malice in his Heart” Carey, it will be his big brother Don. Not a conspiracy, just a reminder.


 Week 14 Fantasy Football Start Rankings

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Play WNST’s College Bowl Pick ‘Em


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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/10/09)

Posted on 10 December 2009 by Jack McManus


Brenda Frese is the next guest. She is the coach of the Maryland women’s basketball team. The Terps will face off against the Towson Tigers tonight. She talks about how the game between the two teams will help promote womens basketball in the area. She also discusses how facing a tough team early in the season will help prepare for ACC play. Frese next moves on to the topic of her young roster. Utilizing her young players well has led to some saying this has been her best coaching job.



Former NFL player Keion Carpenter is now is studio with us. You can check out his website here. Make sure you find out more information about his upcoming charity events. Carpenter is a Baltimore-native and attended Woodlawn high school. He talks about how despite going their separate ways Carpenter and other players from Baltimore still work together, especially in the community. Carpenter also talks about his time in Buffalo. He calls it a bad place to live especially when the team is not winning. T.O. may be experiencing this right now.



Dan Miller the play-by-play voice of the Lions joins Drew to talk about the upcoming Ravens-Lions game. He starts off by talking about how Daunte Culpepper will replace Matthew Stafford this weekend. Culpepper still wants to be a starter in the league.


Another caller has a series of questions that he wants answers to. They all involve the coaching decisions that he does not agree with that have been made recently.


A caller talks about how the Ravens overachieved last season, and that set up unrealistic expectations for this year. He also puts blame on the front office for not restocking the roster properly.


Brian Billick now makes his weekly appearance. Drew brings up the idea that Brian had lost control over the team over the last few years of his career. Now fans are questioning whether the current coaching staff is fully in control. Brian responds by saying that he does not look at it in the way of getting redemption. He next moves on the the huge amount of penalties the team has faced recently. He explains that coaches mostly focus on pre-snap penalties because they are the easiest to eliminate. Brian reveals that he will be calling the Ravens-Bears game next weekend.


Joe Matthews, the coach of Towson University’s women’s basketball team joins Drew. His team has a big upcoming game against the Lady Terps. Matthews talks about how his entire team is very excited for this big time local matchup. He also mentions some of the best other teams in the CAA. He pinpoints Old Dominion and Delaware as particularly tough teams.

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The Wednesday Wishlist .....

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The Wednesday Wishlist …..

Posted on 09 December 2009 by Rex Snider

It took me a couple years …..

But, I’ve finally learned not to take myself or my sports opinions too seriously. While I’m very passionate about the Ravens, Orioles and other hometown flavors, I’ve come to realize many fans have their own in-depth opinions and analysis.

So, while I’ll continue to show my serious side, when it really warrants, I’m also happy to lighten things up or not be so “cut and dry.” I like humor. I like sarcasm. But, I’m also a sucker for a compelling story – while hopefully motivating people to remember there are, indeed, life events more important than sports.

Today, you’ll get a little bit of everything. It’s just an old fashioned “Wish List” ……

The Orioles Go Christmas Shopping …..

Well, we’re halfway through Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings and the Orioles have done ….. NOTHING.

Am I surprised? No. Am I disappointed? Not really. In fact, I’ve grown indifferent toward many of the Orioles principles and missions, because I don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t tell ME or YOU. But, I do “WISH” the Orioles great success and I have 3 very plausible additions that could help this team.

First, let me say I don’t believe free agency is the route this offseason. That’s right, TRADES are the way to improve a team. The Yankees just landed Curtis Granderson – and their minor league trade chips are more scarce than the Orioles.

At some point, I think Andy McPhail has to realize every single member of his coveted stable of prospects is not going to achieve success on the big league level. Some of these kids are real risks – why not “SELL them on the HIGH” ???

Which ones? I don’t know – that really is Andy’s job. But, there are young major leaguers available. Their teams might be openly shopping them, but I’d bet they can be had ….. for the right price.

Here’s 3 players who could fill a void RIGHT NOW. But, it would cost some young talent in return.

Chris Davis (1st Base) – Texas Rangers

A year ago, today, Chris Davis was regarded as the Rangers next “Big Thing.” He was fresh off a rookie campaign that saw him hit .285, with 17 homers, in just 317 plate appearances. And, he was just 22 years old.

Chris Davis entered 2009 as one of Fantasy Baseball’s worst kept secrets. Unfortunately, he did not live up to the hype. While Davis continued to hit for power, he was on pace to set a new record for strikeouts, through June. He was demoted to AAA, prior to the All Star break

He returned to the Rangers, in late August. With a shortened stroke, Chris Davis cut down on the strikeouts and hit .318, with 5 homers, during the season’s final month. It was no surprise – Chris Davis has hit at every level of the Rangers system.

So, why could he be had? The answer – Justin Smoak …..

He’s the Rangers #1 prospect and he’s just about ready for a shot at “The Show.” Smoak is more highly touted than Davis. It’s really that simple. Chris Davis is just 23 years old and he’s not eligible for free agency until 2014. He’s worth a look – but landing him won’t be cheap.

Alex Gordon (3rd Base) – Kansas City Royals

I know what you’re thinking – “Alex Gordon is UNTOUCHABLE.” Don’t bet on it …..

He was freakishly touted, as he hailed from the University of Nebraska. Alex Gordon was the #2 overall pick in the 2005 draft. He was “Can’t Miss” …..

Well, Gordon has now been through 3 Major League seasons, and realized mild success. In nearly 1400 career plate appearances, he’s hitting .250 with 37 homeruns. And, he’s experienced more than one bite from the INJURY BUG.

It’s still too early to say whether Alex Gordon will “MISS” or not. But, he’s no longer a rookie or prospect and the Kansas City Royals patience may be wearing thin. There are whispers regarding Gordon’s availability, as the Royals are constantly reinventing their roster.

Gordon is eligible for free agency following the 2012 season, and he’s a Boras client. But, if he keeps flirting with injuries and normalcy, he might be one of the rare Boras birds who can be had – before hitting free agency.

The talent is there – and the Orioles need a 3rd Baseman.

Zack Greinke (Pitcher) – Kansas City Royals

I know, another “yeah right, Rex” reaction, huh?

Well, if you’re the Kansas City Royals, will Zack Greinke’s stock ever be higher? He’s the Cy Young winner !!!!

He’s signed through 2012, and due nearly $35 million over the stretch. Is he worth it? The Orioles have the cash and he’s proven.

You can bet Kansas City is not keeping him beyond 2011 and due to some personal issues, he’s not likely to be a good fit in a high-pressured environment, like New York. Given his emotional makeup, Greinke is not comfortable with interviews or verbal confrontation.

Did you see him chatting about his Cy Young?


He didn’t really participate in the All Star media events, either.

Zack Greinke needs a comfortable environment. Baltimore could be it. But, once again, the Royals will not give him away. And, God knows the Kansas City Royals LOVE prospects !!!!

Danica Joins NASCAR

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity Boys ….. Danica’s Goin’ Racing !!!!

Indeed, the WORLD’S MOST POPULAR female driver is joining the WORLD’S MOST POPULAR RACING SERIES …. albeit, at it’s “Junior Varsity” level.

Danica Patrick has signed a deal to drive for Dale Earnhardt Jrs. organization, JR Motorsports. It’s a loosely binding arrangement, as she is driving a limited amount of races in NASCAR’S Nationwide Series.

Personally, I think it’s just a PR stunt.

I think she’s going to fail – miserably. And, it has nothing to do with talent …..

If you’re a devout follower of auto racing, you understand and appreciate the commitment demanded of competitors. It’s more than a full time job ….. it’s an obsession. And, Danica isn’t willing to put in the time or effort.

Her main concentration is still Indy Cars. I don’t blame her, she’s successful on that circuit and it more than pays her bills. The NASCAR gig could be short lived. In fact, I’ll be shocked if she’s still around when the Nationwide Series makes it’s 2nd return to Dover, in September.

I’m also not convinced Danica possesses the tempermant for NASCAR and stock car racing. She has a personal history of getting visibly upset and challenging others when their car makes contact with hers.

She’s had problems keeping her cool …..

And, I’ll guarantee this guy runs her into a wall or two …..

I’ll stand by my comments – I don’t think it will work. I “WISH” Danica well and I hope she succeeds, but a long line of people have tried it this way and things didn’t work. Regardless, we’re enjoying her while she’s here …..

Hey, us NASCAR fans might be dumb ….. but, we’re not stupid !!!!

Crosby, Stills & Nash = HORRIBLE

I watched HBO’s “Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame” concert, last night. Who dug up the bodies of David Crosby, Steven Stills and Graham Nash ???

I truly “WISH” that I will NEVER, EVER hear another Crosby, Stills & Nash song, again.

They were horrible 40 years ago ….. and they’re still HORRIBLE, today.

Tigers Woods – I’ve Pretty Much Had Enough …..

Then again, nah ….. I’m okay.

Keep ’em coming ……

I just “WISH” Rachel Uchitel would hurry up and strike a deal with Hugh Hefner …..

Harbaugh Interviews For The Notre Dame Job

The MOST OVERRATED JOB in the world is available, again …..

The Fighting Irish need a new coach to replace the recently jetisoned Charlie Weis. They’re scanning the ranks of potential candidates and the entire world knows about it.

What makes Notre Dame so special? Don’t get me wrong, I salute their dedication to academics – while not compromising their educational standards in the name of athletics. To HELL with Boosters ……

But, as Notre Dame’s world turns, we’re finding that Coach Harbaugh has surfaced as a candidate for the football team’s head coaching job. No, not that Coach Harbaugh ….. it’s COLLEGE and KIDS – they need DISCIPLINE, not yellow flags !!!!

And, God knows those BOOSTERS won’t accept “John Harbaugh-like” answers …..

In fact, JIM HARBAUGH, is rumored to be interviewing for the Notre Dame job. Good for him !!!! He’s a very likeable guy and his stock is seriously high, given his recent resume’ at Stanford.

The interview is supposedly planned over the next couple days.

When it happens, I gotta feeling the board of trustees will have a unique set of circumstances on their hands. Yep, they’ll have Jim Harbaugh sitting squarely in front of the table. But, a few steps behind, they’ll hear a couple whispers ….. only to see this face chiming in :

Indeed !!!! That’s how the Harbaugh’s ROLL !!!! It’s a family affair …..

The only remaining question …..


I do “WISH” Jim well – and I hope he gets this Notre Dame gig – the MOST THANKLESS JOB in the world !!!!

Peter Gammons Leaves ESPN

Whoa !!!! Who’s gonna do the nightly Red Sox reports ???

Say it so, Peter …..

By the way, we’re still waiting for Peter Gammons to call WNST and lend his AGREED support to the “Curing Cancer ….. One Call At A Time” marathon. He’s only 154 days late. We’re waiting Pete, just dial (410) 481-1570 …..


What will the WORLDWIDE LEADER do without Gammons? Hmmm ….. maybe they’ll give more responsibility to John Kruk …..

By the way, we’re still waiting for John Kruk to call WNST and lend his AGREED support to the “Curing Cancer ….. One Call At A Time” marathon. He’s only 154 days late. We’re waiting John, just dial (410) 481-1570 …..

I understand Peter Gammons will be leaving ESPN, effectively, at the end of Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings. He wants to pursue other interests.

I “WISH” just ONE OF THOSE INTERESTS would include calling our show, this Sunday. Hey, Harbor Hospital sponsors the 11:30 block of the show – and they were the benefactor of the Cancer fundraiser. Pete, any chance you can call Sunday?

We’d love to talk with you …..

My Thoughts & Wishes For Bryant Gumbel

In case you haven’t heard, Bryant Gumbel has announced he’s battling Lung Cancer.

On Regis & Kelly, Gumbel advised he recently had surgery and said “I’m okay for the time being.”

I will always remember Bryan Gumbel as the host of the Today Show on NBC …..

And, as a kid, I was a fan of Gumbel’s NFL commentary.

That said, at times, I’ve grown disappointed in Bryant Gumbel’s presentation of racial issues. While I’ve always enjoyed his journalistic approach, there have been occasions when I thought his mission was to create a divisive atmospehere – and race was the divider.

But, that’s just my opinion.

Over the past several years, I’ve grown to appreciate “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” which has become an HBO staple, since 1995. I’m interested in the intersection of SPORTS and LIFE, and nobody does it better than Gumbel and his staff.

My heart goes out to Bryant Gumbel and his family. I know the disease of LUNG CANCER too well. I lost a parent to it. She was the kindest person I’ve ever known. She didn’t smoke or live irresponsibly.

But, it doesn’t matter.

I “WISH” Bryant Gumbel good health and I hope he KICKS CANCER’S ASS !!!! Here’s to hoping for more Christmas seasons for Gumbel and many more episodes of Real Sports …..

Happy Wednesday Everybody !!!!!

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Blog & Tackle: How I see Ravens-Packers

Posted on 04 December 2009 by Chris Pika

How do the Ravens win two straight for the first time since the 3-0 start? How does Baltimore counteract the expected cold temperatures and possible snow in Lambeau Field? Can The Ravens’ slow down defensive demon Charles Woodson enough to win? Potential answers are here.

Last Sunday, the Ravens played the Steelers without either Ben Roethlisberger or Troy Polamalu, but Pittsburgh, behind unheralded QB Dennis Dixon, took the game into overtime where Baltimore finally prevailed. The Packers, meanwhile, systematically took apart Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.

The Ravens know the Packers have Woodson trolling the defensive backfield when Joe Flacco throws the ball. But, Flacco is sailing some of his passes, a sign that he is not setting up properly on his feet to throw. So, his mobility is an issue. If the Ravens run, Woodson could move up into run coverage or blitz to force Flacco to make quick reads.

The Packers know that the Ravens defensive front will test a offensive line that was shredded for 41 sacks in the first nine games, but has held up with just three allowed in the last two games to San Francisco and Detroit.

So, Monday’s matchup has a pair of clubs fighting to stay in their respective Wild Card races. And it will come down to which team’s offensive line plays better. Here is the breakdown:

(Remember, we will host our weekly Purple Haze on Monday night, starting at 8 pm ET. Come in and join us. We’ll have news & notes from Lambeau Field, tweets from media at the game, and YOUR comments: Ravens-Packers WNST Purple Haze Live Football Chat)

Ravens offense: The Ravens finally scored a first half TD for the first time since Oct. 11. In fact, Baltimore scored the most first-half points since Week 3 vs. Cleveland. The Ravens will need early points this week, as it will be very cold (low 20s at night), and ball security on runs will a big key as the Packers lead the league with a +17 turnover margin. Baltimore will try to pound the ball often to make the game a test of wills.

The last two games, Baltimore has thrown more than run, but when the Ravens do run the ball, they will have to be better than the mid-3 yards per rush in the four games prior to Pittsburgh. If the Ravens can average 4.6 a rush, as they did last week, they have a good chance to win.

Many media are touting Woodson as a potential Defensive Player of the Year. He is as important to the Packers as Ray Lewis has been for the Ravens. Woodson has two sacks, seven interceptions and four forced fumbles, and is a punishing tackler.

Baltimore got away from the two-man game between Flacco and RB Ray Rice last week, as they tried to distribute the ball around more. WR Derrick Mason had 10 targeted passes thrown his way, the second straight week he had double digits in targets this season. WR Mark Clayton was targeted 10 times, his first double-digit game in that category since the New England game. On the other hand, TE Todd Heap has been targeted just twice each in the last two games, after four or more targets in eight of the previous nine games.

Rice is still the go-to guy in the Ravens offense, but Woodson’s presence, especially in the middle of the field, will have to be accounted for when Flacco looks for him on short tosses out of the backfield..

When Flacco throws, the Packers have allowed an NFL worst 20.1 yards per play on passes deep middle (15+ yards). Green Bay smothers passes thrown short right (less than 15 yards) averaging just 4.2 yards allowed. The Ravens can also run up the middle, as the Pack gives up 4.6 yards (22nd in the NFL).

Baltimore needs long drives to eat clock and batter the Packers defensive line. The Ravens were less predictable last week on first down, but weather conditions could force conservative calls from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Ravens defense: Lewis is still banged up, and thanks to an agressive defensive effort against Dixon in the first half, the Ravens were able to contain the Steelers passing game. In the second half, Baltimore pulled back as Dixon seemed to lock on his first receiver, and finally an interception in OT by Paul Kruger set up  the victory. This week, a much better QB with his weapons will test the secondary.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has been under siege because of the O-line troubles. But, despite the battering, he has completed over 70 percent of his passes five times, including each of the last two games. He has 22 TDs against just five interceptions, three of which came in the loss to Tampa Bay.

Rodgers will take shots downfield against the Ravens. WR Donald Driver had seven catches (on 10 targets) for 142 yards last week against Detroit, while Greg Jennings has had three 100-yard receiving games. The Ravens have to keep an eye on TE Jermichael Finley, who had 42 yards on three receptions last week. The Packers rank in the top seven in the NFL on average gain on short passes in all directions (left-6.9, middle-8.7 and right-6.1), and are in the top 10 in average gain on 15+ yard throws to deep left (16.2) and right (12.8). Rodgers is second in the NFL in completions of 40+ yards (13). Veteran Ed Reed is expected to play on Monday night, and that would help the Ravens D in pass coverage.

Only twice this season have the Packers run more than they have thrown. RB Ryan Grant has 890 yards and five TDs, while Rodgers has 247 yards and three scores when he gets out of the pocket. The Ravens have had plenty of issues trying to defend plays on the edges this season, and the Packers could spread the field and force Lewis to make plays laterally. Rushing-wise, Green Bay has run the 7th-most plays to left end (45) and the third-most to right end (54) in the league.

Special teams: Both Baltimore and Green Bay are the among the most-penalized special teams units in the league, as the Packers are first in total special teams flags, and the Ravens are tied for fourth. Baltimore kickoff returner Lardarius Webb averages 27 yards per return, while Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson has a 25.5 average. Green Bay has a solid punt returner in Tramon Williams (10.4 per return). Mason Crosby is one of the top kickers in the league, while Billy Cundiff has been a very welcome addition at kicker for the Ravens, after the early struggles with Steve Hauschka.

PREDICTION: Despite the win over Pittsburgh, the Ravens have labored in recent weeks on offense. Green Bay traditionally becomes more of a run-based team when the weather turns cold, but the temptation to test the Ravens secondary might be too much for the Packers here. The Packers have two consecutive games of controlling the ball for 40+ minutes on offense. The Ravens looked very tired on defense in the second half against Pittsburgh in a physical game, and the tackling showed it. If Green Bay controls the line of scrimmage and the clock, the Ravens might be in catch-up mode much of the night. This might be a run-fest on both sides, but Rodgers has a better chance to find his passing playmakers than Flacco does when the time comes. The Ravens will give a strong fight, but will fall short. Packers 21, Ravens 17.

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