Tag Archive | "Eli Manning"

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Not Earth Shattering: Ravens Not Super Bowl Contenders If They Play Like This

Posted on 19 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

CINCINNATI, Oh. — The Baltimore Ravens (1-1) had plenty of chances to beat the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) in Sunday’s 15-10 loss at Paul Brown Stadium.

Twice in the final five minutes of the game, QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense got the ball back needing just one score to win the game.

Clearly neither of those possessions resulted in points. Or even one single first down for that matter.

The Ravens struggled offensively throughout Sunday’s loss, producing just 259 yards of total offense and 14 first downs en route to defeat. More troubling? They also turned the ball over four times, all Flacco interceptions.

Amazingly, the Ravens actually outgained their AFC North counterparts (Cincy managed just 253  yards of total offense) and the Bengals only racked up 14 first downs as well.

Not as if any of that mattered.

Not scoring points wasn’t the only problem for Baltimore’s offense. Two of Flacco’s interceptions gave the Bengals the ball immediately in Baltimore territory, and the Bengals were able to cash in both times with Mike Nugent field goals; accounting for six of the team’s 15 points.

20 points in two games probably wasn’t what GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh had in mind when they acquired WR’s Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmandzadeh in the offseason and added former Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn as QB coach Jim Zorn to help the development of Flacco.

(I thought about putting quotation marks around the word “development” in that last sentence. I immediately thought better of it.)

It is true that the Ravens have opened the season on the road against two of the Top 5 defenses in the NFL from 2009. It is also true that they had to play the second of those games off a short turnaround, having opened the season in New York on Monday Night Football.

But to win a Super Bowl, teams often have to play in less than desirable situations.

It doesn’t excuse poor decision making from Flacco. Flacco said of his second interception (a play where he had targeted Boldin), “I threw it right into a crowd.” He also said the Bengals were running their base defense for most of the game, adding “I don’t think they were doing anything that we didn’t expect them to do.”

That’s not good news.

Flacco wasn’t the only problem for the Ravens offensively Sunday. The team struggled upfront; with OL Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Michael Oher, Ben Grubbs and Chris Chester taking turns missing assignments along the offensive line. Houshmandzadeh looked lost at times in his return to the Queen City, admitting after the game that part of the offensive struggles were “his fault.” He added “I can’t believe I didn’t make those plays…(I) just gotta do better.”

He’s right. He’d be right to say the same thing about the rest of the offense too.

The Baltimore Ravens were a popular preseason pick to not only win the AFC North (the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers have sole possession of first place at 2-0), but to reach the Super Bowl. If they can’t overcome adversity and perform better offensively, they won’t have to bother making travel arrangements for Arlington.

Since Brad Johnson won Super Bowl XXXVII for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the last 7 titles were won by QB’s named Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton and Eli Manning. In the same time frame, QB’s who have LOST the Super Bowl included Brady, Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb and Matt Hasselbeck. Only Jake Delhomme and Rex Grossman (who each lost) stick out as QB’s who are not in the range of “great” to “elite.”

The Ravens simply cannot dream of winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy with poor offensive performance. The era in which a team could simply survive offensively and let their defense carry them to a title has ended in the NFL, likely thanks to how dreadfully boring it was to watch Johnson and Trent Dilfer lead the Bucs and Ravens respectively to Super Bowl titles.

If the Ravens are going to live up to their lofty preseason expectations, they’re going to have to improve offensively. That was why the team invested time, money and NFL Draft picks into offensive upgrades.

The good news is that two weeks does not make a season. Flacco and company will have a full seven days to prepare for a matchup against the division cellar-dwelling Cleveland Browns in front of a home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium in Charm City. Flacco put things into perspective by saying “You just move on. You have to take it game by game. I don’t think anyone feels good about it.” He added, “we just have to make sure we bounce back and get ready to go. I think everyone will.”

If they do, the Ravens still have a chance to reach considerable heights in 2010.



NOTES: Hear from Harbaugh, Flacco, Houshmandzadeh, LB Jarret Johnson, LB Ray Lewis, LB Terrell Suggs and CB Lardarius Webb following the game in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net. Lewis had some particularly choice words for the officiating, which you can hear RIGHT NOW courtesy of WNSTv!……

……TE’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta each recorded their first career NFL catch in Sunday’s game……LB Tavares Gooden injured his shoulder late in the first half and was unable to return. The team had no update following the game, but Gooden is scheduled for a MRI Monday……the Ravens return to Baltimore tonight, they will meet at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills Monday, Harbaugh will address the media at 4pm.

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Preseason week three: NY Giants vs. Ravens

Posted on 28 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Somehow I doubt that tonight’s game will conjure memories of Unitas handing off to Alan Ameche to win the greatest game off all-time (1958 NFL Championship game), but it is a rematch of that game in a way. At the very least, it’s Baltimore vs. the Giants…okay in reality it’s preseason week three. As I wrote earlier in the week, I think the fact that Eli Manning is playing tonight will be a good thing for the Ravens. This is the preseason game that teams play as close to a regular season contest as is humanely possible. Most starters will probably see action into the third quarter for both teams, which then leaves a rapid-fire rotation of reserves that’ll go in and out to close the game. Nevertheless, my point is that if you’re playing this game similar to regular season, you want to truly see what you’ve got. The last thing the Ravens would have wanted would have been to see some backup QB that might not give them a proper test. The one area in which the Ravens are currently struggling a bit is the secondary; Manning’s the type of quarterback that’ll test that secondary. While you don’t want to get blown out of the stadium, at the very least you want to see what you need to work on.

Offensive line depth could be an issue tonight, with Jared Gaither, Oniel Cousins, David Hale, and David Sanders are not expected to suit up. Geeze, is it even worth playing Joe Flacco since he might not be as well protected?! Flacco’s a tough cookie, so I have no doubt that he’ll be able to handle whatever’s thrown his way. Furthermore with a new receiver in Anquan Boldin, it’s important that Flacco get as many reps in as possible so that the two of them can gain rapprt together. Defensively, the Ravens will be without Terrence Cody and Brandon McKinney on the line. None of these injuries are expected to impact the team come September 13th when they play the Jets on Monday Night Football, however they will play into effect tonight. If the Ravens can get through this game without any serious injuries, they should be in good shape heading into the season opener. While next Thursday’s game at Atlanta still looms, most starters will be used very sparingly if at all.

This week is key for many different reasons, not all of which are on-field. With camp breaking last week, this is the first time when the coaching staff and players have gone through a semi-regular work week with regard to game planning, practices, etc. Most players and coaches claim that they don’t game plan for preseason games. While I don’t think that they plan nearly as much as they do for regular season games, I still find this hard to believe. The NFL is such a competitive league that if you go into any game (exhibition or regular season) without some sort of game planning, you’re going to get embarrassed. So let’s not kid ourselves; the Ravens have seen some tape and scripted some plays this week going into the game, as have the NY Giants. Speaking for myself, I’ll be keeping an eye on that secondary while the starters are in the game. As I said, Manning’s a quarterback that’ll have no problem testing out that secondary, so look for the Giants to go for some home run balls early if they can. However the key to protecting a potentially weak secondary is getting a pash rush against the QB…no problem there, right?!

The Baltimore Colts moved away when I was three years old, so I don’t have any memories of them. However my Dad was a Colt fan, and I’ve made a point in learning the history of all the sports that I follow. I feel that it’s my duty as a fan to know from whence we’ve come, and to know the legends of yesteryear such as Unitas, Sonny Jurgensen, Bill Russell, etc. So with that said I’m a bit of a traditionalist; I was very happy to hear that the Ravens are “Ravenizing” the lyrics to Let’s Go You Baltimore Colts, and making that the new Ravens’ fight song. The roots of football in Baltimore are deep, and there’s absolutely no doubt that the city and it’s people have a unique relationship with the Colts/Ravens, as well as the Orioles, that most cities don’t have. The Colts leaving town should not be looked upon as a black mark on the city or the fans, but moreso on the legacy of a drunken hack that owned the team at the time. However the new/old fight song fuses the two teams together into one, uniting old and new. Go figure, they’re premiering the new/old song at tonight’s preseason game against the Giants, the team that the Baltimore Colts beat to win the NFL title in 1958 in the greatest game ever played.

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Eli’s in for the Ravens

Posted on 25 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Two weeks ago NY Giants starting quarterback Eli Manning required 13 stitches to close a gash to his head in the Giants’ first preseason game against the NY Jets. Manning sat out last week’s 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but is planning on starting this Saturday night when the Giants come to town to play the Ravens. If this were a regular season game I would have been chomping at the bit to have a quarterback like Manning not playing in the game, however I was happy when I heard that Manning was going to play. While the Ravens have a ferocious defense, let’s keep in mind that Eli Manning’s a Super Bowl champion and a darned good quarterback. I’d rather see the Ravens play against one of the best to see how they stack up during preseason rather than draw Jim Sorgi or Rhett Bomar (the Giants’ third stringer, who played the entire game last week against Pittsburgh).

There’s definitely a rhyme and reason to the preseason, even given the fact that many fans like to complain about the watered-down, vanilla games. Week three has traditionally always been the game where the starting team gets to play most of the game (generally into the third quarter, if not three full quarters). Come the fourth quarter, we’ll probably see second and third stringers rotated in and out of the game in rapid motion so as to give everyone a fair amount of playing time. Come next week against the Atlanta Falcons, we’ll see the starters for perhaps one drive of the game on each side of the ball, and the rest of the game will be given to second through fourth and fifth stringers who are trying to earn a spot on the team. However, week three of the preseason has always been the “money game” so to speak because it’s as close to a regular season game as you’re going to get. Training camps broke last week, so now all teams are actually going through the normal motions of a week in terms of getting ready for a game. Again, there’s a rhyme and reason to each game in the preseason in my opinion; while some people like to say that all it means is that the starters play more, there’s also more than meets-the-eye. To this point, Joe Flacco’s seen action in the first and second quarter of games. It’s always interesting to see how your starting QB comes out and essentially warms up again to play after halftime. Furthermore, we’ll also see John Harbaugh having to make in-game adjustments at halftime, as the Giants’ starting team will also presumably be coming back out as well, led by Eli Manning.

Many of the above-mentioned ideas flow into my reasoning for being excited to see Manning play this week. I can’t say that I would have blamed the Giants for resting Manning for the remainder of the preseason, however everyone needs to get their work in at this time of year. However had the Ravens starting defense played against a second or third string quarterback for three quarters on Saturday night, first off I think we probably would see a blood bath. However it would also give the Ravens and the fans a false sense of security or superiority. The fact is that the Ravens probably have a top three defense in the NFL; anyone who doubts that fact doesn’t know football or perhaps even sports in general. However you could probably take the worst NFL defense in the league and put them against a high powered high school team and the NFL guys would run over them. If you see your team play against competition that’s so much more inferior to you, you don’t get a fair look at what you have.

One weaker link in the defense has been the secondary, and Manning’s a quarterback that’ll put that to the test. Obviously there’s a chance that the Ravens might give up a big play or two, as they did at Washington last week. (Although in that case the defense seemed to tighten within the red zone.) And if that happens, the defensive coaches will then have a better idea of how to scheme and protect against that kind of thing moving forward. If you’re not into preseason football, then I would say at the very least you might still want to check out this week’s games since they’re the crème de la crème of the preseason so to speak. The intensity of the Ravens/Giants game (along with other games around the league this week) will still not compare with what we’ll see on September 12-13th, however my attitude is that bad or weak football is still football.

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Best Of The Best: My Top 20 QB’s cont.

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Joe Giglio

10. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Beltway Joe is my guy. We often talk about young QB’s gaining experience by repetitions in pressure packed games. I don’t believe any 25 or under QB in the league right now has had the kind of on the job training as Flacco. He has already won 3 road playoff games in two seasons under center, and has been at least among the final four in the AFC both times. His completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns all rose from his rookie to sophomore campaigns, while his INT’s remained the same despite significantly more attempts. He might have the biggest arm in the league- I dare you do find me someone who throws the out pattern better than him. With Boldin, Stallworth, and a pair of young pass catching TE’s in Pitta and Dickson, Flacco has the weapons to lead Baltimore even deeper in the postseason.

9. Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings

Why only 9th after the season he had last year and the weapons on the Minnesota offense? Health and desperation. Brett Favre is tough as nails, but at some point all of these surgeries and injuries are going to cost him valuable regular season starts, which could cost Minnesota a trip to January. Also, I think Favre’s urgency to win another title erodes his decision making abilities in big spots. Letting the game come to him was never a strong suit of his, but I’m less and less convinced he can win a title every day.

8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

Say what you want about his style, backwards hat, and too cool for school smile…Tony Romo can play. The back to back wins over Philadelphia in Week 17 and Wild Card weekend took away the biggest bullet that anti-Romo guys had in their arsenal. “He chokes in the big spot” was erased by his play down the stretch in wins over New Orleans and Washington, along with his picking apart of the Philly defense. He has show over the years an uncanny ability to slide within the pocket, doesn’t need a “true” #1 WR to put up big numbers, and has matured in his decision making when the game is on the line. If Dallas is to play a home Super Bowl, it is because, not in spite, of Tony Romo.

7. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

It took a full season for Aaron and I to see eye to eye. I didn’t like the hype machine centered around him and the Packers big pre-season numbers, was embarrassed for him when he let Jared Allen abuse him on Monday Night Football, and was loving it when his INT to lose the game in Tampa put the Packers at 4-4. Things started to change after that. The yards, touchdowns, and wins started piling up week after week. His performance on Wild Card weekend in Arizona sealed it for me that this guy could play. Can Green Bay win a Super Bowl with that style playing in the cold, snow, and wind of Lambeau? I’ve always thought it was more conducive to dome and warm weather teams (St. Louis, New Orleans, Arizona), but Green Bay has a chance because Rodgers can go point for point with anyone if he gets time in the pocket.

6. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

I realize that the “numbers” are better on Phil’s resume than #5 or #4 on my list, but I’m beginning to wonder if all that regular season dominance will ever translate into a Super Bowl trip. There seems to be a new excuse every year in San Diego. Whether it be the incompetence of Norv Turner, injuries to Tomlinson and Gates, simply running into a better team like Pittsburgh or New England, or the hottest defense in NY…this team and QB can’t finish the job. I was convinced that Rivers would win the MVP last year and get San Diego to a Super Bowl, but the guy came up small in January. I know he is tough and plays through injures, but if he wants to be a Top 5 guy in the league and crack the Top 2 of the Class of ’04, he needs to play in the Big Game.

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Can’t stand the guy, but respect the player. If it wasn’t for one great drive vs. Arizona a few years ago he would be so many spots down this list. But that drive did happen and Ben does have two rings on his fingers. If the Steelers can get through his four game suspension at 2-2, plenty of fans will peg them as a sleeper in the AFC. More interesting to me than the team is how the city responds to him when he returns. Not many two time Super Bowl winning stars get booed in their home stadium, but Pittsburgh and Ben might be the exception to the rule. The relationship in Pittsburgh might be irreparable, but if I need to win a title, there aren’t many guys I’d rather have.

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants

Look at the talent levels, production, off the field issues, and past performances in the biggest games and tell me why you would put anyone else in this spot. Eli is no longer Peyton’s younger brother or the QB that got hot for a Super Bowl run. Lost in the Giants wretched finish to 2009 was Manning’s ascension to the top of the rung of NFL stars. Over 4,000 yards behind an aging offensive line, non-existent running game, and a slew of neophyte receivers was quite impressive. He had to come out of his play action comfort zone and operate out of the shotgun more than ever because of the opponent lighting the scoreboard up on his porous defense. Eli is now not just the leader of the Giants, he’s the best player on the field for them.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

His Super Bowl victory launched him into the #1 or #2 spots for some fans in our poll, but it simply inducted him into the club on my list. He’s no longer a distant third after the untouchable 1-2 of Manning-Brady (or Brady-Manning for some). I now look at the Big Three on this list as 1-2-3. They are all elite, can all lead a team to a championship, and all give defensive coordinators nightmares. Brees ability to release the ball quickly and keep seemingly every single WR on his roster involved in the offense is superb. He revived a fan base, helped revive a city, and is carving out a plaque in Canton as each game passes.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Don’t sleep on Brady. 28 TDs and nearly 4,400 yards the first year back from major knee reconstruction surgery is incredible. The Patriots have become flawed in almost every area outside of Brady. The shine has come off the pretty car the Pats had become prior to their Super Bowl loss to the Giants. Last year’s playoff beat down in their building at the hands of Baltimore was a shock to the football community, but Brady and New England shouldn’t be counted out. If knee injuries truly take two years to come back to full strength, watch out for Brady in 2010. If I need to win a Super Bowl I still want a guy that has more than anyone else on this list.

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

The best I have ever seen. Over 4,000 yards in 10 of the last 11 seasons. Mark him down for 11-13 wins a season. I have never seen an athlete take over a game mentally they way Peyton does. He dissects defenses as if he is watching film of their previous games in his head as the play happens. I know his loss to Brees in the Super Bowl makes these Top 3 very close, but when I add in durability, making those around him better, smarts, will to win, work ethic, and consistency, there isn’t anyone better for my money. If I absolutely need to win, Peyton is my guy.

Agree with Flacco at 10? Who would you have put at #1? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Mailbag: Thursday the 8th of LeBron

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Mailbag: Thursday the 8th of LeBron

Posted on 08 July 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

There’s been some mail, and a few on air discussions cut short that I’ve been meaning to catch up on. And since some of it at least is timely, there’s no time like the present, so here goes, the first edition of Thyrl’s Mail Bag. And if you have a question, comment or idea, send it to me at thyrl@wnst.net.  


With all of the NBA’s free agent buzz, a caller off air asked who the highest paid NBA players were in 2009-10.


It’s an interesting list, and leads you to wonder where some of the teams spending big might find themselves on the tail ends of these monster contracts, especially with a new collective bargaining agreement on the near horizon too.


Here’s the top 10, from hoopshype.com for 2009-10:

1. Kobe Bryant $24.8 mil

2. Rashard Lewis $20.5 mil

3. Kevin Garnett $18.8 mil

4. Tim Duncan $18.7 mil

5. Michael Redd $18.3 mil

6. Pau Gasol $17.8 mil

7. Andrei Kiralenko $17.8 mil

8. Yao Ming $17.6 mil

9. Gilbert Arenas $17.7 mil

10. Vince Carter $17.3 mil


For all of the grief baseball gets, there top 10 looks much better. Here are the MLB rankings from CBSSports.com for 2010:

1. Alex Rodriguez $33 mil

2. CC Sabathia $24.2 mil

3. Derek Jeter $22.6 mil

4. Mark Teixeira $20.6 mil

5. Johan Santana $20.1 mil

6. Miguel Cabrera $20 mil

7. Carlos Beltran $19.4 mil

8. Ryan Howard, Carlos Lee & Alfonso Soriano $19 mil


And USA Today’s top 10 NFL salaries for 2009:

1. Philip Rivers $25.5 mil

2. Jay Cutler $22 mil

3. Eli Manning $20.5 mil

4. Kurt Warner $19 mil

5. Kelvin Hayden $17.4 mil

6. Matt Schaub $17 mil

7. Julius Peppers $16.6 mil

8. Chris Long $16.5 mil

9. Greg Jennings $16.2 mil

10. Antonio Smith $15.5 mil


Jeff, who didn’t identify where he was from wanted to know who has the biggest potential among this year’s crop of free agents to be a bust?


For the money Jeff, Chris Bosh seems a bit too willing to concede the driver’s seat to another superstar. Although he’s a willing second fiddle, he doesn’t seem to be a willing #5 in the NBA, and therefore probably lacks the toughness a superstar would need in the paint. If winning the Eastern Conference means solving Dwight Howard, I like A’mare Stoudamire’s chances much better than the pick and pop game of Bosh. But the even easier answer is Darko, again.


Kevin in Fallston heard me say – in a moment of weakness perhaps – that the O’s might be close, and wants to know exactly how close.


Kevin, I’d say not quite as close as the ’06 Rays or even the ’03 Tigers, but still much closer than the ’46 Cubs. Or so I hope.


And Adrian in Essex wants to know what I expect LeBron will announce tomorrow at “The Decision”.


The Knicks fan in me wants him to go to New York, the closet Nets fan growing inside of me wants New Jersey, my humanitarian side wants him to stay in Cleveland, but more than anything, I want to see it drug out a little further. I’m hoping to see LeBron at a table, flanked by World Wide Wes on one side, Simon Cowell on the other, and a parade of teams auditioning to win the judges and America over. After that we’ll have a nationwide vote, and Shaq can emcee the results show. I’m almost afraid to see it all end, so are a lot of teams, I’ll bet.





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Accomplishment of 2nd Straight Playoff Trip Can’t Go Unnoticed

Posted on 03 January 2010 by Glenn Clark

I understand why the excitement isn’t what it was a season ago.

A season ago, the Baltimore Ravens began the season with a rookie QB, a first year head coach and no expectations; which made a return to the playoffs particularly sweet for fans throughout Charm City.

But entering this season, last year’s run to the AFC Championship Game lead many fans to adopt a “Super Bowl or bust” type motto. Amazingly, the Ravens will be one of just 12 teams who will be alive in the race for the Vince Lombardi Trophy come Monday morning-despite the “I’m not sure they even belong” attitude a number of fans have adopted.

There’s reason for the less than enthusiastic emotions that fans in town have adopted. This Ravens team has been less than overwhelming this season-beating just one playoff team (San Diego in Week 2) en route to clinching a Wild Card berth against the Raiders Sunday in Oakland. The Ravens finished the season with 6 straight losses against teams who qualified for postseason play, and mixed in a loss to the Steelers-who will miss the playoffs despite posting a record equal to the 9-7 mark the Ravens posted this season. Joe Flacco appeared to regress in his 2nd season, and John Harbaugh made the type of mental mistakes that coaches probably SHOULDN’T make in their second season. The Ravens’ Wide Receivers have been troubling, and their secondary has been terrible at times.

The remarkable thing about all of this is that all of the problems the Ravens have been forced to overcome have happened during a season in which they reached the playoffs for a 2nd straight year for only the 2nd time in franchise history.

There’s a slew of players and coaches around the NFL who aren’t going to be participating in a 2nd straight postseason. The list includes Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, Tony Sparano, Brett Favre, Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Marvin Lewis, Tony Romo, Wade Phillips, Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, Jeff Fisher, Chris Johnson, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Drew Brees, Sean Payton and John Fox. (Others-like Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Singletary and more will fail to reach even a single postseason over the 24 month span.)

Get the point?

Reaching the postseason in back to back seasons is a MAJOR accomplishment. The Ravens will be able to make money, gain exposure and build on their franchise history over at least the next week if not the next month. It will be remarkably difficult for them to go to Foxborough and beat the Patriots, but they might. Whether or not they do, they will have had an outstanding season.

It doesn’t change the problems this team faces. They will still need to overhaul their receivers in the offseason-but they will be doing it in an offseason where they are coming off a 2nd straight trip to the playoffs. The Steelers can’t say the same thing about their secondary overhaul this offseason.

It’s a big deal.

It’ll be a bigger deal if they’re still alive in 7 days.


(If you’d like to join us at Gillette Stadium next Saturday, click the “Trips” tab at WNST.net)

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Tuesday Morning’s Purple Crabs and Beer

Posted on 08 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

Ravens Report Card:

Quarterback: D-

Joe showed some signs of life in the 3rd quarter-which means I can’t give him a failing grade (as others will be inclined to do). Other than that, it was a miserable performance from Joe-his lowest point during his tenure as quarterback.

Running Back: C-

Ray Rice’s early fumble really hurt, but he also showed TREMENDOUS effort the rest of the way. I’m just not a fan of using Willis McGahee at the goal line; even if he scored a touchdown the first time. I think he’s a candidate to lose 2 yards every time he touches the ball.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B-

I thought Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington each gave a TREMENDOUS effort. And while I seriously doubt Demetrius Williams would have caught either of those passes, he was a real plus for this team in drawing two big penalties. Todd Heap made a nice catch early, but Derrick Mason was a non-factor. Credit Dom Capers for sliding Charles Woodson into the nickel to help take away the 8-12 yard range Mason loves.

Offensive Line: C+

Michael Oher struggled MIGHTILY, and Ben Grubbs had a few tough plays in there too. Jared Gaither played pretty well, but the unit lacked cohesiveness at times.

Defensive Line: C+

It’s hard to fault the effort that Haloti Ngata and Dwan Edwards gave-and Kelly Gregg too for that matter. But without Terrell Suggs, the Ravens again failed to get much pressure on Aaron Rodgers. The front four just haven’t done it.

Linebackers: C-

It was a mixed bag from this unit. Tavares Gooden was pretty bad at times, but Dannell Ellerbe really made some plays. I thought Ray’s ankle was again a factor in slowing him down; and this unit struggled to drop back to make plays in pass coverage.

Secondary: D

Lardarius Webb played okay. The pass interference call on Domonique Foxworth was COMPLETELY bogus. Tom Zbikowski had an interception…..if only his game could have ended there. It was just a tough night all around from a unit that has had a very tough season.

Special Teams: C+

Sam Koch was solid again, and the coverage wasn’t that bad after Jordy Nelson’s initial long return. Lardarius had another big return (although there was really no reason he shouldn’t have taken that one home-which would have cut the game to 24-21), and looked pretty good on others. Even Chris Carr moved the ball a little bit. The short kickoffs were absolutely BIZARRE.

Coaching: D-

John Harbaugh’s time management philosophy is absolutely laughable. There are kids playing Madden 2010 today that understand timeout strategy better than a NFL head coach. YOU CAN STOP THE CLOCK ON OFFENSE WITHOUT TIMEOUTS! YOU CAN’T DO THAT DEFENSIVELY! While the offensive gameplan appeared solid early on, adjustments weren’t made well when the Packers answered the Ravens’ tries to run. Jerry Rosburg will have to try to give us an idea of what they were thinking about on the short kickoffs, and Greg Mattison again failed to dial up much pressure.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Glenn Clark thinks Harbaugh/Cam Cameron/Hue Jackson may have put too much trust in Flacco too early in his career

Drew Forrester says Packers beat Ravens ‘in trenches’

And the best from the rest of the world…..

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says without Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed, Ravens couldn’t take down Packers

The Official Site’s Ryan Mink says Domonique Foxworth, Frank Walker, Lardarius Webb, Dawan Landry, Derrick Mason all hit with pass interference penalties in loss

The Official Site’s Sarah Ellison says defense really hurting without Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Fabian Washington, Haruki Nakamura, Brendon Ayanbadejo

The Official Site says John Harbaugh told media afterwards Ravens ‘fighting for (their) lives right now, but still breathing’

Packers Official Site says Mike McCarthy thought ‘penalties were unbelievable for both sides’

Packers Official Site’s Mike Spofford says teams combined for 310 yards-most combined yards in Packers history

Packers Official Site’s Mike Spofford says Nick Barnett thought win ‘beautiful’ despite how ugly it looked

Packers Official Site’s Tom Fanning says 4th quarter interceptions from Tramon Williams, AJ Hawk wrapped things up

Packers Official Site’s Tom Fanning says Jermichael Finley abused Zbikowski for 2 TD’s

The AP’s Chris Jenkins says Packers improved to 8-4 with win, maintained good position in NFC Wild Card race

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Flacco thought INT in endzone ‘stupid decision and even worse throw’

The Sun’s Mike Preston gives harshest criticism to Flacco

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Donald Driver also caught TD for Packers in win

The Sun’s Edward Lee says despite early INT, Ravens won’t ‘pass mantle’ from Reed to Zbikowski after tough performance

The Sun’s Mike Preston ‘doubtful’ Flacco will ever reach level of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but thinks he COULD be as good as Eli Manning or Phillip Rivers

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says 17-0 deficit matched biggest deficit of season in losses to Vikings, Bengals

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Harbs thought Flacco was being a ‘competitor’ when he threw pick in endzone

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Billy Cundiff (concussion), Mark Clayton (hamstring), Jared Gaither (foot), Kelly Gregg (shoulder strain) all injured in loss

The Sun’s Ron Fritz says even ESPN analysts Gruden, Jaworski couldn’t figure out what Ravens were doing offensively in first half of Monday Night Football loss

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Derrick Mason showed ‘lack of control’ as Ravens tried to make 2nd half comeback

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Charles Woodson ‘owned’ Derrick Mason

The Sun’s David Zurawik thinks ESPN analysts correct in criticism of Ravens in MNF broadcast

The Sun’s Justin Fenton says Candace Williams claims Terrell Suggs knocked her down, spilled bleach on her after argument

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Flacco was trying to throw across body to Demetrius Williams when he was picked off in endzone

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says NFL ‘monitoring’ T-Sizzle situation under personal conduct policy

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Paul Kruger made first NFL start in place of Suggs

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson gives harshest criticism to Flacco in loss

Green Bay Press Gazette’s Pete Dougherty says Ryan Pickett, Cullen Jenkins, Johnny Jolly, B.J. Raji controlled line of scrimmage in Packers’ win

Green Bay Press Gazette’s Mike Vandermause says Aaron Rodgers ‘continued stellar play’ in win over Ravens

Green Bay Press Gazette’s Rob Demovsky says Finley, Packers exploited Ravens’ loss of Ed Reed

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein says Jermichael Finley ‘hero’ for Packers in victory

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Lori Nickel says Tramon Williams did ‘just enough’ in place of Al Harris

Wisconsin State Journal’s Tom Ziemer says over 70,000 at Lambeau Field saw Packers get past Ravens

Wisconsin State Journal’s Jon Masson says OG Daryn Colledge thought Finley ‘extremely important weapon’ for Packers in win

Wisconsin State Journal says teams combined to tie for 2nd most penalty yards in NFL history

USA Today’s Sean Leahy says Ravens feel further behind in race for AFC Wild Card spots with loss

USA Today’s Sean Leahy says Kevin Byrne reported Suggs plans to ‘tell his side of story’ in incident with alleged girlfriend

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer thinks Aaron Rodgers has proved himself as ‘elite’ quarterback

Sporting News’ Clifton Brown has Ravens 14th in power rankings

CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman thinks Walt Anderson’s crew had ‘one of the worst officiating performances in league history’

ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert says Nick Collins thought Packers’ defense ‘phenomenal’ in win

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens lacked urgency, gave Rodgers too much time to throw, saw Flacco struggle, were undisciplined, didn’t give Flacco enough time, and hurt playoff chances (is that all?)

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens now 1 game behind Jaguars, tied with Steelers in playoff race


-The Terrell Suggs story is strange, and would be particularly troubling if we find out it is true. Even if it isn’t true, Terrell’s reputation will be hurt just by having the story reported. Terrell MAY have never put his hands on the woman, but there will be female football fans in Baltimore that will say “I just can’t root for Terrell anymore.” It will be interesting to see how the story plays out in the coming days.

Talk to you tomorrow.


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Posted on 05 October 2009 by Glenn Clark

You get props……

1-Melvin Mora

I can only imagine how the conversation went when Andy MacPhail told Melvin Mora they wouldn’t be exercising his option for 2010…..

AM: “Mel, I gotta be honest with you; given how we’re financially preparing for the future around here-I’m not sure you’re going to really fit into our plans.”
MM: “That’s too bad, Andy.”
AM: “But Mel, we want you to know how much you’ve meant to us; we’re sure this is really difficult for you.”
MM: “I get to go somewhere else, right Andy?”
AM: “Yes, but I know how much Baltimore has meant to you….”
MM: “I think I’ll be okay.”

In fairness, if you looked up “good soldier” at Dictionary.com, I believe there’s a picture of Melvin. Well, maybe not, but there CERTAINLY isn’t a picture of this guy……


When the hell did Bachman join the Army, anyway?

2-Alexander Semin

NHL season is underway for real, which means Flyers fans…..well……are right back to stabbing each other????

What the hell, Philadelphia?!?!?!

Why don’t you guys go back to what you do well?


Yeah, this is pretty much the only thing I can think of…..


3-Peyton Manning and Eli Manning

Why is it that for every AWESOME commercial Peyton Manning makes (I posted the Sony commercials last week)……

There’s another that just sucks……

4-Tony Stewart

It’s not that I’m not a fan of the man who won this weekend’s NASCAR race in……ummm…….Burlington? Canada? Jupiter?

It’s just that I find it more interesting to talk about Kimberly Stewart……


Is it weird that when I look at this picture, all I can think is “gee, that’s a weird belly button!”

5-Tyrod Taylor, Montel Harris, Riley Skinner, Demaryius Thomas and Mikell Simpson

Wanna know how to make ACC Football look better? Have ACC teams play OTHER ACC TEAMS!

Of course, that didn’t make North Carolina look better……but this does……


6-Matt Forte, Rashard Mendenhall and Ronnie Brown

And in honor of Ronnie Brown; let’s talk about Fins cheerleader Lilly Robbins….of course, by “talk about” I mean “check out sexy pictures of”……


(Editor’s note: For those of you who want to point out that The Big Lead did the same thing yesterday……you’re right. You see, I enjoy The Big Lead; but didn’t even notice it until after I had already posted this. Believe it or not, I’m not the only blogger in the world who hears “Miami Dolpins” and thinks “tits”.

7-Homer Bailey, Nelson Figueroa, JD Drew, Alex Rodriguez, Prince Fielder, Randy Wells, Victor Martinez, Wade LeBlanc, Jake Peavy, Eric Byrnes, and BJ Upton

And after 3 straight pictures of hot chicks, I feel like I should do something for the ladies since A-Rod hit a couple of homers the other night……


You know what, maybe that one was for us too…….

8-Mike Easton and Kris McCray

Not much from the world of fights this weekend. If you went down and checked out UWC at Patriot Center; you kick ass. If you didn’t, maybe you’ll enjoy this just as much……

9-Rodney Harrison

Did the officials cost the Ravens against the Patriots? No.
Is Tom Brady a bitch? Probably.

Thanks to Rich From Westminster for passing this one along, apparently he was able to find the NFL’s OFFICIAL definition of “roughing the passer”……..



Dude, if Common DIDN’T know Brady Quinn was in the crowd-this story isn’t quite as cool. But I’m gonna assume that Common DID know Brady Quinn was in the crowd; because in general-Common kicks ass……

AND……Brady Quinn deserves it, trust me……


11-The FBI

Yeah, way to go Federal Bureau of Investigation! We CANNOT have our nation’s sideline princesses be at risk of crazy stalkers filming them through hotel peepholes!!!!!


(Edit from GMC: Oh wait, they’re not reading this? WHAT THE HELL FBI?!?!?!? You arrested an American hero!)

12-Triple H & Shawn Michaels

They won a match at WWE’s “Hell in a Cell” Pay-Per-View. I believe they defeated Bruno Sammartino and Bill Goldberg. But I’m not certain. Anyway, I remember when these guys did this, which was really funny. (Editor’s note: Language NSFW. Unless you work at Wal-Mart. You can pretty much do anything you want there.)

13-Fenway Park dining


Look. Boston stinks. Their team is named after an article of clothing. Their mascot is a Wall. Everything about their existence is just awful. But after scarfing down a Lobster Roll Saturday night, I almost washed my face with the clam chowder. It was HISTORICALLY good.

14-Foo Fighters

To think-I just proclaimed Maxwell as the greatest song of 2009-3009, but we have another early challenger!!!!!!!


Did anyone go see this flick? It actually looks pretty good. Or at least better than “Whip It.” But “Julie and Julia” looked better than “Whip It.”

You think there will ever be another movie that comes out that you say “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO SEE THIS” when you see the trailer?

I mean, BESIDES this one……

You got lucky……

1-Ralph Friedgen and Ken Niumatalolo

Coach, I love you. But 4th and 1 from YOUR OWN 29?!?!?!? I thought Don Brown was this team’s new coordinator, not Norv Turner…….

In Annapolis, Navy needed overtime to get past Air Force. I tend to root for Navy because…..well……


2-Miguel Cabrera

Your team’s in a battle for the final playoff spot……and you’re out getting drunk and having your wife scratch your face up????

Nick Harper is unimpressed.

But if you think you’re the most disappointing athlete in Detroit Miggy; you owe these guys a BIG thank you for returning to form Sunday…..


3-Jim Zorn

Although the rest of us maybe weren’t as lucky……


I mean, do you think we would have missed any Washington fans??????

4-Jay Haas and Matt Kuchar

In an event that LITERALLY only Drew Forrester cared about, Jay Haas won the Champions Tour event at Baltimore Country Club.

Rumor has it Tom Watson thought he could have used a better caddy on Sunday…….

5-Rio de Janeiro

In the end, I think this was an easy decision.

Rio offered Adriana Lima………


Chicago offered Dennis Franz……


I mean, no offense NYPD Blue fans……

6-Rod Barajas


I swear to God that gal looks exactly like I remember this one 5th grade teacher from Chapel Hill Elementary School. And Rod Barajas looks like he’s pulling off a move that only EVERYONE I went to 5th grade with attempted to pull off at some point accidentally.

“Oh, Ms. Miller, I dropped something on the other side of the playground wal…….WOAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!……….”

I guess this joke isn’t quite as funny these days as it was back before teachers started sleeping with students. Of course, it’s still cool when female teachers sleep with their male students, right?

7-Everyone who hasn’t felt sick yet this Fall

Because-good lord-you’re going to need it. Walked outside in the morning recently? I’m pretty sure I’ve already beaten off 3 colds since October started, and definitely beaten off the flu at least twice. And if you’re heading to the WNST Neighborhood Tour with us anytime soon; please don’t be freaked out when I order a Jack and Airborne.

But no need to freak out about the change in weather or anything. Unless you’re the Baltimore Ravens……


You’re a zero…….

Glenn Clark: Fantasy Football Owner


I got Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston. They got me ONE win in the first three weeks. Then they had a bye. And Mark Sanchez did his best impression of Kyle Boller.

We’re 1-3 in the Glenn Clark compound. If Maryland hadn’t won this might’ve been it for me.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…..


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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (9/23/09)

Posted on 23 September 2009 by Jack McManus


Victor Rojas from MLB Network is now on to talk some baseball. The first topic is the American League playoff picture. Rojas calls the Texas Rangers a team of overachievers. He explains that his provides hope for the future of the team. He moves on to the Boston Red Sox pitching situation. The group’s inconsistency could be a problem in the postseason. On the National League side, Rojas states that the Phillies are the front-runners. Rojas next talks about the AL Cy Young competition. He agrees with Drew that Zach Greinke will win the award, particularly after his performance last night. In the NL, Rojas thinks the award will be given to either Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter, teammates on the St. Louis Cardinals.   


Now, Fergus calls in. Fergus will be playing at the Baltimore Country Club in the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Fergus talks about the use of the long putter in golf. He argues that for many this is the most effective way to putt. He goes on to talk about the quality of the course at the Baltimore Country Club. He also mentions how thankful he is for the opportunity to play on the senior tour and prolong he career.    


Keith Fergus, a professional golfer appears next is not reachable, and will therefore not be on the show.


Newsday columnist, Bob Glauber is the next guest. He starts off by stating that a Giants-Jets Super Bowl in extremely unlikely. He goes on to talk about the impressive performance thus far of Eli Manning. He believes that the Giants are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. He also thinks that the NFC has more quality teams than the AFC this year. The topic next moves to Rex Ryan. Glauber explains the positive impact that Ryan has made on the media, players, and fans. The players have totally bought into Ryan’s system. He moves on to Mark Sanchez. He states that Sanchez has had not had a difficult time adjusting to being in the largest media market in the country. He next talks about how just because a team is currently 0-2, judgements should not immediately passed. Drew and Glauber agree that Drew Brees could very well be the best quarterback in the league. However, Glauber states that he would not trade Joe Flacco straight-up for any other QB in the league, while yesterday Drew named a number of players better equipped to win now.


Glenn is up with a Ravens report. He talks about the roster moves the team made yesterday. The team traded LB Prescott Burgess to the Patriots for a 7th round draft choice. In a corresponding move, the team signed TE Tony Curtis. He will provide insurance for the thin TE group and also contribute on special teams. Also, the Browns confirmed that Brady Quinn will the starting quarterback against the Ravens this week.


An Orioles fan calls in to talk about the bullpen’s recent problems and the organization’s handling of Michael Aubery. Another caller brings up how Gary Thorne discussed the attendance problems in Toronto for the Orioles game last night. He points out how Thorne would never bring up the Orioles similarly small attendance.


Donald Hill-Eley, head coach of the Morgan State football team is next up. He starts off by explaining how the new-found success of the sports teams at Morgan have greatly improved the morale around campus. He next talks about his quarterback Carlton Jackson. He explains that Jackson’s decision-making skills have greatly improved this year. However, Hill-Eley states that the running game must improve in order to have more offensive success. Finally, he describes the importance of the game this weekend against Towson and its importance to the local sports scene.


Towson’sfootball head coach, Rob Ambrose calls in to talk on the show. He discusses how he became very animated towards the officiating crew on Saturday. He says he later had a conversation with the head referee. He goes on to talk about how the Tigers have multiple players that can play different positions. Next he talks about the “buzz” in the stadium during the game. He felt that all the fans were very excited and truly believed the team could win the game. This is important to the success of the team, because Rob admits that the road to having a strong team may be rocky.


Mike Gathagan, a spokesman from the Maryland Jockey Club makes and appearance on the show. He talks about the upcoming Jim McKay Maryland Million day at Laurel Park. He also describes the Two Rings for OJ event held on OJ Brigance’s 40th Birthday. For more information on giving to this charitable cause, click here.

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