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Ravens just can’t seem to escape malaise of mediocrity

Posted on 17 October 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens just couldn’t shake it in a 27-23 loss to the New York Giants, another winnable game that wasn’t won.

Yes, the injuries are piling up and the rest of the AFC North is conveniently a mess, but those factors only deflect from the reality that’s becoming more apparent every week, especially after three straight losses to cancel out a 3-0 start.

The Ravens are stuck in a malaise of mediocrity that’s rapidly becoming their identity. Truthfully, it’s what they’ve mostly experienced since Super Bowl XLVII, going just 26-28 with one playoff appearance over that time. Their 2014 campaign that included a postseason win and a trip to the divisional round used to be the norm, but it’s been Baltimore’s ceiling since raising the Lombardi Trophy four years ago.

Look no further than Sunday being the Ravens’ 20th game decided by a single possession since the start of 2015. They’re not terrible, but they’re not particularly good, either. Especially after last season’s 1-6 start, the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” routine is starting to fall on deaf ears with close games becoming the norm in the NFL.

The Ravens are what their record says they are.

“We’re a .500 team. We’re 3-3 in tight games,” safety Eric Weddle said. “We’ve won some, we’ve lost some. You could easily say we could be 5-1, 6-0 or we could be 0-6 or 1-5.”

Everyone deserves blame, from the coaching staff to the players to the front office.

The Ravens entered Week 6 tied for 22nd in the NFL in penalties before adding 15 more for 111 yards against the Giants, several of those short-circuiting offensive drives like we’ve seen all too often this season. Coaches and the players themselves need to be accountable for the weekly routine of shooting themselves in the foot.

Baltimore entered Sunday ranked fifth in pass defense and held the Giants to just seven points and 133 yards in the first half, but the absence of No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith led to Eli Manning throwing for 296 yards after halftime, most of that going to Odell Beckham Jr. Losing Smith obviously hurt, but allowing passing plays of 75, 43, and 66 yards in one half is inexcusable.

Of course, a pass rush that continues to be nonexistent beyond the occasional flash from the now-injured Terrell Suggs hasn’t helped one bit. With Suggs and Elvis Dumervil both sidelined, the Ravens continue to wait for their young pass rushers to step up.

With three starters missing on Sunday, the offensive line played about how you’d expect, but opposing defenses aren’t going to feel sorry for the Ravens. They’ve got to figure out a way to make it work in the meantime.

On Sunday, John Harbaugh received too much criticism for going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to begin the fourth quarter — that was the correct decision in a game in which his pass defense was rapidly falling apart — but he’s deserved plenty of blame for bizarre choices in recent weeks. During a losing streak, a head coach needs to find solutions and not be part of the problem as has been the case over the current three-game slide.

The coaching issues go beyond simply firing offensive coordinator Marc Trestman last week.

Even Joe Flacco — who generally receives too much blame during tough times — played his worst on the final drive of Sunday’s game when the Ravens still had a chance to win, missing a wide-open Mike Wallace and making some questionable decisions with the football. The franchise quarterback isn’t high on the list of current problems, but he’s only been OK and not much better than that this season, which isn’t good enough from the highest-paid player on the roster.

It’s certainly not helping Flacco that we’re again asking who the play-makers are on this roster, something that’s become an annual question for longtime general manager Ozzie Newsome and the front office. Steve Smith still being the Ravens’ best receiver is both a compliment to the 37-year-old and a clear indictment of the front office.

The Ravens received much praise for the Weddle signing this offseason, but even that came after wasting early draft picks and making bad free-agent signings at the safety position over the last few years.

The Odell Beckhams of the league don’t grow on trees, but when are the Ravens going to find a special player or two — on either side of the ball — to make the difference in these one-score games? Ed Reed had a Hall of Fame career of doing exactly that, allowing Baltimore to snatch numerous victories from the jaws of defeat.

The Ravens’ current list of injured players includes five over the age of 30. This is an aging roster short on high-impact young players, which is why the Ravens find themselves stuck in neutral.

They’re springing too many leaks to inspire much confidence, especially with a difficult second-half schedule looming. Even when they begin fixing an issue such as the special teams playing better in Week 6, another pops up elsewhere with the defense collapsing in the second half of a winnable game.

Yes, there’s plenty of football to play and the AFC North is wide open with Cincinnati two games below .500 and 4-2 Pittsburgh losing Ben Roethlisberger to a knee injury for the time being, but that doesn’t change the truth about the Ravens.

From top to bottom, it just feels too mediocre.

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 15 October 2016 by Luke Jones

Two teams already at a potential crossroads in the 2016 season.

After their first 3-0 start since 2009, the Ravens have lost two straight and fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman on Monday. Meanwhile, the New York Giants have dropped three in a row after a 2-0 start to their season.

Injuries are a major story as six key Ravens players are listed as doubtful or worse for Sunday’s game, but Baltimore doesn’t have time to waste with two straight road games before the Week 8 bye and Marty Mornhinweg trying to breathe life into the NFL’s 22nd-ranked offense. The Giants won’t feel sorry for the Ravens as first-year head coach Ben McAdoo needs a win to reverse his own team’s fortunes.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens play the Giants at MetLife Stadium for the first time ever. Baltimore is 3-1 in the regular-season history and won the last regular-season meeting between these teams, a 33-14 blowout at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 23, 2012. Of course, the Ravens also defeated the Giants by a 34-7 margin in Super Bowl XXXV.

Below are five predictions for Sunday:

1. The Ravens will rush a season-high 30 times with Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon each gaining at least 50 yards. Everyone has clamored for Baltimore to run more, and Mornhinweg will do just that with a banged-up offensive line going against the league’s 17th-ranked defense. The Giants will key on West with his 5.0 yards per carry average, so this might be the time to show different looks with Dixon, who didn’t play after the first quarter against Washington. The Giants have allowed only 3.5 yards per carry this season, but the Ravens have to stick with the run if this game is close.

2. The Giants will match their full season total by sacking Joe Flacco four times. Five-time Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda and rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley are inactive, and Rick Wagner is no sure bet to start even if he’s active on Sunday. Even if the Ravens commit to the run and use designed roll-outs and waggles to keep Flacco away from the pass rush, the Giants still have the tandem of Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon that will create problems for Alex Lewis and James Hurst. If Baltimore falls behind and needs to throw, it could get ugly in this department.

3. Mike Wallace and Odell Beckham Jr. will each catch a touchdown of 30 or more yards. If they run as much as we expect, the Ravens should find some opportunities to take more shots down the field as so many offensive players wanted under Trestman. The Giants will also be without starting free safety Nat Berhe, which will give Wallace a greater chance to shake free. The Ravens secondary has held up well, but there were coverage breakdowns last week that Washington failed to exploit in windy conditions at M&T Bank Stadium. Beckham shaking free will result in a different outcome.

4. Matt Judon will collect his first career sack despite the Ravens not getting enough pressure on Eli Manning. Elvis Dumervil is out and head coach John Harbaugh didn’t make it sound as though we’ll see the veteran again until after the bye, meaning the Ravens must start getting pass-rush contributions from younger outside linebackers. Judon has been inactive for the last two games, but he posted three sacks in the preseason while second-year linebacker Za’Darius Smith hasn’t shown much so far. The rookie fifth-round pick will flash, but creating enough pressure off the edge will remain an issue.

5. The injury-depleted Ravens will compete, but the Giants will prevail in a 25-17 final. The change at offensive coordinator was already challenging enough for Sunday, but the Ravens are likely to be without top receiver Steve Smith and as many as three starting members of the offensive line on the road. Meanwhile, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is doubtful to play, which will compromise a run defense that’s been superb in 2016. The Ravens still have a reasonable chance to win considering the Giants aren’t very good, but there’s too much unknown and too many injuries to pick them this week.

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Johnny Manziel should be the first player taken in the draft. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

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Houston, there’s no problem: Johnny Manziel is the No. 1 pick

Posted on 06 May 2014 by johngallo

I really wanted to dismiss Johnny Manziel as the top pick.

I wanted to justify knocking him down a few rungs on the board because he’s a “running quarterback,” and you know what running quarterbacks don’t do? Win Super Bowls. I heard Manziel’s name, and I thought of Michael Vick – a guy who will get your team on ESPN’s top plays but not a Lombardi Trophy.

I thought it was just too risky to take Manziel No. 1 because that’s what history told me. Since 1990, 14 quarterbacks have been taken first overall, yet just two – Peyton and Eli Manning – have won the Super Bowl. But what’s even more glaring is that eight – Tim Couch, David Carr, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford and Cam Newton – haven’t won a playoff game. That leaves Drew Bledsoe, Vick and Jeff George and Andrew Luck as top picks who have won at least one playoff game, though in fairness, Luck likely won’t be on this list long.

Super Bowl winners Joe Flacco (18th), Ben Roethlisberger (11th) and Trent Dilfer (sixth) weren’t even the first quarterbacks taken in the first round in 2008, 2004 and 1994, respectively. Aaron Rodgers was picked 24th overall in 2005. Drew Brees was picked in the second round in 2001. Tom Brady went in the sixth round, after 198 players had been selected. Hell, Kurt Warner wasn’t even drafted and would have taken $6 an hour if a team offered, which would have been 50 cents more than he was making an hour stocking shelves at the Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

I read about Manziel’s celebrity lifestyle and thought he’s too busy being the man off the field to be the man off it, much like I did when Mark Sanchez thought he was the biggest thing to hit New York since King Kong.

But then I did some research, looking past Manziel’s highlight-reel plays and ability to hang with so many hot chicks that he’d make Hugh Hefner envious.

Manziel’s running fuels his passing. Without his legs, Johnny Football would be just plain ol’ Johnny.

There’s a difference between being a “running quarterback” and one who uses his speed to extend plays.

Consider: Manziel had 521 more rushing yards and 27 more first downs on scrambles more yardage than any quarterback from a BCS automatic qualifying conference – ACC, American Athletic, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 – in the past two years. He had 29 rushes for at least 20 yards, which led the SEC, the nation’s best league, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“I don’t know really who you would compare Jonny Manziel too,” George Whitfield, Manziel’s personal quarterback coach, told ESPN during an interview on May 6.

Try Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. As a senior at Wisconsin in 2011, he led all BCS automatic qualifying conference quarterbacks with 416 rushing yards on scrambles, including 18 that went for at least 10 yards.

All Wilson has done since entering the NFL as a third-round pick is win a Super Bowl and more games than any other quarterback the past two seasons combined.

Maybe Manziel is really Wilson’s long lost twin who just lives a vastly more public lifestyle? It’s scary because the statistical comparison is there.

“I don’t see them as an exact match, but I definitely do get it,” Whitfield told ESPN. “Russell Wilson came into the league seasoned, mature and played an awful lot of football and played a lot of baseball and Johnny looks up to him. I just don’t know if those two are carbon copies.”

Maybe not carbon copies, but very, very close, according to measurements.

Height: Manziel: 5-11¾; Wilson: 5-11

Weight: Manziel: 207; Wilson: 204

Hand size: Manziel: 9 7/8; Wilson: 10¼

Arm length: Manziel: 31 3/8; Wilson: 31

40-yard dash: Manziel: 4.68; Wilson: 4.55

Broad jump: Manziel: 113 inches; Wilson: 118

Vertical jump: Manziel: 31.5; Wilson: 34

Three cone drill: Manziel: 6.75; Wilson: 6.97

I wasn’t too high on Russell entering the 2012 draft. Maybe it was because I thought – and still do – the Big Ten is inferior to the SEC. Or maybe, it was because I never saw him win a big game since the Badgers lost to Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon. And maybe, it was because Wilson didn’t carry the Badgers.

Regardless, I was wrong.

But I’m right about Manziel.

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The 15-7-0 has a better defense than the Washington Redskins

Posted on 16 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

I heard that before settling on “Daniel”, Mr. and Mrs. Flacco were seriously considering “Fifteensevenoh” as their son’s name. I’m sorta surprised they didn’t stick with it.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Someone is going to end up beating the Denver Broncos, but right now it’s really hard to imagine someone beating the Denver Broncos.

My favorite Peyton Manning audible is the one where he finishes his bowl of soup.

Apparently Trindon Holliday thought he was playing the Ravens.

The Brothers Manning seemed a bit awkward postgame.

Which is weird because earlier they were…making out?

This was Phil Simms doing…Christ, I don’t know…during the game broadcast on CBS.

2. I should be excited about Maryland being 3-0 for the first time since 2001, but I’m actually a bit depressed that Maryland went 12 years without starting a season 3-0.

Things went really well for Randy Edsall in his return to Connecticut. Enjoy these highlights of the Terps’ win before we get to the crappy part.

The crappy part is that Dexter McDougle becomes the second Maryland CB to go down, and we know McDougle will miss the rest of the season. I’ll just assume Shawn Petty starts playing corner next week.

Again, we follow bad stuff with good stuff; so here’s the plane the Terrapins flew to Hartford on. It’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever see ever.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia Tech is going to wear this next week because they know they’re awful this year anyway.

3. Johnny Football is good at football. Alabama football is better at football.

Oh my Bear Bryant. Manziel threw a 95 yard TD…

And then Oh my Saban this is how he celebrated.

Unfortunately for Manziel, he also threw a TD to Vinnie Sunseri-who plays for Alabama. His attempt at a tackle left a bit to be desired.

I know Manziel is an “effort” guy, but I’m not sure he needed to truck his own security.

Look, I know Alabama won the game. But they’re just really GOOD. Johnny Manziel is really INTERESTING.

Okay, TJ Yeldon was interesting too.

4. The Miami Dolphins would like to remind you of why it is that everyone was saying the Miami Dolphins were a sleeper to make the playoffs in the AFC.

But TY Hilton REALLY looks good.

5. The Kansas City Chiefs would like to echo those sentiments…you know, except about them.

Unfortunately for Sam Koch, the road to the Pro Bowl just keeps getting tougher.

Dez Bryant did awesome things.

It is probably worth pointing out that this guy attended the game.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game-Ravens/Giants

Posted on 25 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 33-14 win over the New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Anquan Boldin 39 yard catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & 19 (2nd quarter)

4. Omar Brown sacks Eli Manning for nine yard loss (3rd quarter)

3. Brendon Ayanbadejo sacks Eli Manning for seven yard loss (2nd quarter)

2. Torrey Smith 6 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco on 3rd & goal (1st quarter)

1. Ray Rice 27 yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco (2nd quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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We interrupt this blog so Flacco and Harbaugh can tell you to “stick it”

Posted on 23 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

I’ve been saying this all season and today, in Baltimore, it was all on full display once again.

The NFL is completely nuts.

Week-in and week-out, you have no idea who’s going to show up and who isn’t.

Take Sunday for instance — the Giants laid a gi-normous egg for the second straight week and the Ravens rebounded from an unthinkable two-game home losing streak to walk-in-the-park their way to a 33-14 victory that secured the team’s second straight AFC North crown.

Remind me again which of those two teams came in as the defending champs…

Week to week in the NFL, it’s a complete crapshoot…and week to week with the Ravens, it’s that way too.  Joe Flacco had a terrific first half against the Redskins back on December 9th, then went missing in action for seven quarters before reappearing on Sunday to direct a suddenly-potent offense.  Torrey Smith caught more colds than passes over the last month, but he rebounded in a big way against New York with a handful of electric catches.  The Ravens defensive front has basically been useless for most of the season, but they showed up in a big way vs. the Giants, holding New York to sixty seven rushing yards and pressuring Eli Manning from the opening whistle.  And the much-maligned Baltimore offensive line – with a major boost from a returning Marshal Yanda- held off the normally-fierce Giants pass rush all afternoon.

Flacco=potent.  Torrey Smith=electric.  Ravens defense=stingy.  Ravens offensive line=reliable.

Like I said, “the league is nuts”.

This was precisely the kind of game John Harbaugh needed to see, for it gives him the opportunity to open his Monday morning meeting with the team by saying, “If we play like that over the next month, we’ll be in New Orleans in February.”

A lot of the fans might still be skeptical, but Harbaugh and his staff sure aren’t.  And if the head coach can get the players to believe in themselves and follow that belief with the kind of execution we all witnessed on Sunday, who knows what lies ahead?

From a playoff standpoint, a lot could still happen for the Ravens.

They’ll either play host to the Bengals or the Colts in the first round of the AFC playoffs the first weekend in January.  That much, we know for sure.

But the Ravens might host that game as the #4 seed or, if they win and New England loses next Sunday, the #3 seed.

After that, assuming they win, the Ravens might visit Houston or Denver, depending on whether or not they — oh, forget it, there’s just too many variables to break down.

You get the picture, though.  The Ravens get a home playoff game for the second straight year and they won’t have to face Tom Brady until the AFC Championship Game.  That’s a double bonus right there.

One game remains in the regular season and it’s the rarest of outings.  It matters, but only a little bit.  In a league where every single game can turn your season around, it’s a true oddity when a game comes around that doesn’t count for much.  Harbaugh indicated after Sunday’s win over the Giants that he’ll go to Cincinnati with winning in mind, resting only those players who are “obviously injured”.  He has to play it that way, for securing the #3 seed if New England loses would be much better than being the #4 seed.

Just a week after getting embarrassed at home by a much better and much healthier Broncos team, the Ravens turned the tables on the Giants Sunday, humbling them in a manner more befitting of their New Jersey neighbors – the Jets.

I didn’t expect it.

I assume most of you didn’t, either.

But that’s the NFL, where no team is safe and no outcome is predictable.

Just ask the Texans, who got slapped around at home by the Vikings on Sunday.

Or you can ask the Steelers, who saw their playoff hopes dashed in Pittsburgh by the Bengals.

The Giants would be another prime example, as they buzzed into Charm City trying to stay alive in the NFC East playoff race, only to get pounded on both sides of the ball.

Defending champs?

More like “defending chumps”.

As for the Ravens, that 3-game losing streak is now a thing of the past.  They just beat the Giants like a drum.

And “if they play like that next week and in the playoffs…”

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Ravens-Giants: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 22 December 2012 by Luke Jones

Two teams each going in the wrong direction in recent weeks will clash at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday as the Ravens take on the New York Giants for the fourth time in their regular-season history.

Mired in a three-game losing streak and needing a win to clinch their second straight AFC North title, Baltimore takes on the 8-6 Giants, who are in need of two wins in their final two games to have the opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title in January. Having lost four of the last six games it’s played, New York has been even more inconsistent than the Ravens this season, looking like arguably the best team in the NFL in dominating wins over San Francisco and Green Bay and turning in terrible road performances at Cincinnati and Atlanta.

The Ravens hold a 2-1 all-time record over New York in the regular season and, of course, own a victory in the only postseason meeting between the teams, which occurred in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens will look to finally lock up the division title and secure a home playoff game after failing to do so the last few weeks …

1. Ray Lewis will not play against the Giants, but the returning Dannell Ellerbe will pay dividends for the Baltimore run defense, which will hold New York to less than 110 rushing yards. Maligned all season despite allowing the ninth-lowest yards per carry average (4.1) in the NFL, the rush defense has struggled immensely in the last two weeks as Washington and Denver have run all over the Ravens. The Giants rank 15th in rush offense, but the shifty Ahmad Bradshaw has been hampered by knee and foot injuries. Ellerbe is expected to be a game-time decision, but he practiced all week on a limited basis and the Ravens didn’t promote inside linebacker Nigel Carr from the practice squad to take injured Jameel McClain’s place on the 53-man roster, an indication that they may feel confident in Ellerbe’s status against the Giants. The fourth-year linebacker ranks third on the team with 78 tackles despite beginning the season in a reserve role and missing the last three games with an ankle injury. His presence will help in slowing the Giants’ rushing attack.

2. Giants tight end Martellus Bennett will catch a touchdown and produce 75 receiving yards against the Baltimore pass defense. The Ravens’ struggles against tight ends have been overblown this season as Brent Celek, Jason Witten, and Heath Miller are the only three opponents to have more than 60 receiving yards in a game from that position. However, the middle of the field has been vulnerable and the Giants have been happy with their return for Bennett, who has 50 receptions for 584 yards and five touchdowns in his first season in New York. Ellerbe is regarded as the Ravens’ best linebacker in pass coverage, but he would be playing at less than 100 percent and has struggled to use the backpedal. Baltimore linebackers take too many false steps to account for the run and don’t get enough depth in coverage, which will lead to the talented Bennett getting open in the intermediate portion of the field as the Ravens secondary is focused on stopping Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Domenik Hixon in the passing game.

3. Ray Rice will collect only his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season. With Joe Flacco and the offense sputtering in recent weeks, new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell must rely on his unit’s biggest strength and that’s Rice. Though on pace for his lowest rushing total since his rookie year, Rice’s 4.5 yards per carry average doesn’t reflect a poor season, but his 263 projected carries would be his lowest amount since 2009. Marshal Yanda’s expected return will allow the Ravens to run effectively to the right side as they normally like to do, and the Giants have allowed 4.6 yards per carry, which is 26th in the NFL. New York’s front seven is filled with plenty of big names, but the group hasn’t performed well this season and Rice will receive plenty of opportunities as the Ravens try to control the tempo of the game. The uncertain status of rookie Bernard Pierce will likely force the Ravens to rely more heavily on Rice than normal, which won’t necessarily be a bad thing as they need production from their best offensive player.

4. The Giants’ play action coupled with the the Ravens’ ineffective pass rush and undisciplined secondary will lead to a long touchdown to Victor Cruz. Paul Kruger and Arthur Jones have been the only consistent contributors to the pass rush in recent weeks, but the biceps injury to Terrell Suggs now makes you wonder if teams will begin turning more attention toward Kruger as they did early in the season when he rarely was able to make an impact. New York has allowed just 16 sacks all season, so it’s difficult to envision the Ravens putting much heat on Eli Manning. The Giants quarterback loves using play-action passing, and the Ravens secondary has been burned all season due to miscommunication and biting on double moves. Cruz leads the Giants with 79 catches, 1,019 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns. He’ll add a 10th to those totals on Sunday to bounce back from his poor performance in Atlanta last week.

5. I trust Manning more than Flacco and the Ravens offense, and it will be the difference in a 27-21 win for the Giants. Both teams have flaws on each side of the football, but it’s difficult to overlook Flacco’s six turnovers in the last three games. Manning has been inconsistent as well and has similar season totals to the Baltimore quarterback, but his pedigree and track record for playing well when his back is against the wall should give the Giants confidence in these final two games. Flacco was playing exceptionally well at home this season until the last two contests at M&T Bank Stadium when he posted absolute duds. The Giants will be a desperate football team after being thoroughly embarrassed in Atlanta last week, and I can’t bet against a two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. It will be the difference in Sunday’s game as I just can’t put any faith in Flacco, Caldwell, and the Ravens offense at this point. The group lacks confidence and won’t do enough to overcome a banged-up defense and an opponent needing a win even more than they do.

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Can we please stop stating the word Elite in regards to quarterbacks, including Joe Flacco

Posted on 08 November 2012 by BaltimoreSportsNut

I am tired of hearing people state Joe Flacco is not elite or wow Andrew Luck is already an elite quarterback….STOP!!!

This is an easy discussion, as long as you define elite properly. When it comes to quarterbacks in the NFL, I define elite by one thing, Super Bowl Championships. Thus currently you have Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger as elite quarterbacks. Yes, I am saying Joe Flacco, Phillip Rivers, Andrew Luck, Michael Vick, and the all mighty Tim Tebow are not elite quarterbacks, with the latter being a joke of a quarterback anyway.

Ok, so you could come at me with so Trent Dilfer and Doug Williams are elite quarterbacks? Yes they are, they were able to lead their teams to a Super Bowl victory, I am not saying they are Hall of Famers by any stretch of the word as a Hall of Fame quarterback is another level of classification.

On the other side, I have been fronted with many arguements that “so you are telling me that Dan Marino is not an elite quarterback?” Yes that is exactly what I am telling you, he could not win a Super Bowl, now again he is by far a Hall of Fame quarterback, which in my opinion is the only classification a quarterback really wants.

I am sure a lot of you disagree with me, which is the beauty of sports, let’s hear it!

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All of this talk about “elite” is getting us away from the real issue…

Posted on 22 October 2012 by Drew Forrester

Elite.

“Is Flacco elite?”

Elite, elite, elite.

I’m making a decision, right now, on October 22:  I am no longer using that stupid word – elite – to judge a quarterback, particularly the guy in Baltimore.

Mind you, I’m not one that throws that “E word” around much as it is, but it’s always the big argument in football.  Is so-and-so an “elite” quarterback?

It’s 10-minutes of filler for ESPN and all of the other talking heads.  “Is he elite?”…blah, blah, blah…

So, from this day forward, I’m going to use a new word to discuss and analyze any and all quarterbacks in the NFL.

It will be a non-negotiable word.  One you can’t possibly argue.  And right now, in the league, there are only six of these kind of quarterbacks.

They’re called “championship quarterbacks” and they are, in no order, Brady, Roethlisberger, Brees, Rodgers, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning.

No one else in the league is worthy of inclusion on that list.  And that includes Flacco.  And Matt Ryan.  And Michael Vick.  And Matt Stafford.  And RGIII.

You’re either a championship quarterback or you’re just a quarterback.

In the other words, there’s only one way to be an “elite quarterback”.  You must have a ring.  There are a few very notable exceptions over the last 30 years.  Guys like Dan Marino and Jim Kelly and Warren Moon are Hall-of-Famers and they don’t sport flashy jewelry.  But those are three very rare exceptions to the rule.  And that rule is:  “If you want to be elite, you better have a ring on your finger.”

At this point, Flacco is a good quarterback.  Is he better than Ryan or Stafford?  Some games, yes.  Some games, no.  But he’s not better than Brees.  Or Brady.  Or Roethlisberger.  Or any of the guys with a ring.

We love to argue about whether or not the quarterback is “elite”.  For whatever reason – mainly because he’s usually the guy who makes the most money – it’s always the quarterback we throw under the super-microscope and try to come up with a word to define him.  These days, that word is “elite”.

But how do we determine what makes a guy “elite”?  Is it winning?  Championships?

We better be careful saying, “you can’t be elite unless you have a ring” because we’d then have a certain linebacker and safety in Baltimore who can’t be considered elite…since both Suggs and Reed are sans jewelry.

So, let’s get rid of that word, elite, when trying to define our quarterback in Baltimore.

You’re either a “championship quarterback” or you’re a quarterback trying to become one.

Let’s just worry about the only thing we should be worried about…and that’s WINNING.  Yes, he’s been the quarterback of the team that has made the playoffs four straight seasons.  Yes, he has a post-season victory in each of those four seasons.  And, honestly, I’m glad Flacco is the quarterback in Baltimore.  I’m in the pro-Flacco camp, if such a group exists.

But let’s just settle this debate about Flacco – and any others in the league who are good but haven’t won anything yet – and call a spade a spade.  He’s not a championship quarterback.  Yet.

When (not if…but when) Flacco does win a title, he’ll be considered “elite”.

For now, he’s not elite.

No disrespect, but that’s just the way it goes when you haven’t held up the trophy.

 

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A Dirty Dozen for the Defense

Posted on 02 August 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Earlier in the week I posed the question, “Are the Ravens set up for success on offense?” While the answer is absolutely subjective, I’d venture to say that the real answer is that they better be. In hindsight we can see that whatever shortcomings we perceived in the Ravens offense in 2011 have to be viewed through the filter of the gamut of high caliber pass defenses that they had to deal with along the way. This year it appears that the shoe may be on the other foot, or more aptly, on the other side of the ball as the Ravens look to have to deal with a lot of scary offensive propositions in 2012. If there ever were a good time to have to deal with the defection and absence of defensive talent that the Ravens have recently undergone, 2012 certainly doesn’t appear to be it.

Here’s a look at the 12 scariest players that the Ravens defense will have to contend with in 2012:

 

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

 

Quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III, Andy Dalton

 

Running Backs: Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Lesean McCoy, Ryan Matthews, DeMarco Murray, Willis McGahee

 

Pass Catchers: Jermaine Gresham, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Aaron Hernandez, Dwayne Bowe, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Wes Welker, Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd

 

 

#12 – Peyton Manning (DEN) – There are no offensive stats to base this on from last season and Manning’s health is still a huge question, but the reputed Ravens killer is a scary proposition until he proves that he isn’t. There are some serious questions about how easily he’ll find his way in a new offense and on a new team, but make no mistake, if Manning is healthy and surrounded by 10 warm bodies he’ll likely be tough to deal with for the Ravens as usual.

 

 

#11 – Darren McFadden (OAK) – It’ll be week 10 before the Ravens cross paths with McFadden, and history suggests that there’s a decent chance McFadden could be hurt and/or on the shelf by that time. That might be the Ravens best hope at containing him. When healthy McFadden is a scary combination of speed and muscle. He’s explosive inside the tackles and outside and at his best McFadden has a skill set that’s eerily similar to Maurice Jones-Drew who had a field day against the Ravens last season.

 

 

#10 – Philip Rivers (SD) – Whether you agree that Rivers is worthy of being regarded as a top 5 to 7 quarterback in the league or not, it’s hard to argue that last year was a disappointing one for both he and the Chargers. Still, in the midst of all that struggle, Rivers and crew had their way against the Ravens in San Diego last season. Traveling coast to coast is never easy in the NFL, and neither is facing Rivers and co. in the final weeks of the season. All of that could make for a scary storm of circumstances for the Ravens as they travel west to San Diego in week 12.

 

 

#9 – Trent Richardson (CLE) – The profile and value of the NFL running back in general has taken a substantial hit in recent seasons, evidenced perhaps no better than in the love (or lack thereof) that ball carriers have gotten on draft day. When it comes to Richardson however there was no hesitation from NFL execs in casting him near the tops of their draft boards. Of course as a rookie there’ll be no shortage of question marks and growing pains for the young, prospective bell cow, but in having to see him twice the Trent Richardson fear factor goes up exponentially.

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