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Navy, Air Force begin C-I-C Trophy series Saturday in Colorado Springs

Posted on 05 October 2012 by WNST Staff

Game 5 Navy (1-3) at Air Force (2-2)
Date and Kickoff Oct. 6, 2012 at 9:30 am MT / 11:30 am ET
Location Colorado Springs, Colo. | Falcon Stadium (46,692)
Television CBS Sports
TV Talent Spero Dedes (play-by-play), Steve Beuerlein (analyst), Otis Livingston (sideline)


Setting the Stage

• Navy and Air Force will meet for the 45th time on the gridiron when they square off early Saturday morning at Falcon Stadium (46,692).  Kickoff is set for 9:30 am in Colorado Springs (11:30 am in Annapolis).
• The game is the first leg of the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, which is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major Service Academies, and is named in honor of the President of the United States.
•  Air Force leads the series with the Mids, 27-17, and is 24-16 against Navy since the inception of the CIC Trophy in 1972.  The Falcons are 15-6 all-time against Navy in Colorado Springs.
• Last year, the Falcons beat Navy in Annapolis, 35-34, in overtime.  It was the second overtime game in the last three years between the two clubs.  Navy defeated Air Force in overtime, 16-13, in 2009.
• Saturday’s game will be televised nationally by CBS Sports with Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein and Otis Livingston calling the action.
• CBS Sports Network will air a pregame show at 11:30 AM

Scouting Air Force

•    The Falcons are off to a 2-2 start with victories over Idaho State (49-21) and Colorado State (42-21) and losses to Michigan (31-25) and UNLV (38-35).
• Air Force is the nation’s leading rushing team, averaging 396.3 yards per game.
•    The Falcons also rank 20th in total offense (500.3 yds/gm), second in net punting (44.6 yds/punt), 18th in punt returns (15.0), 17th in kickoff returns (26.8) and first in sacks alllowed (0.0).
•    Senior running back Cody Getz is the second-leading rusher in the country, averaging 170.8 yards per contest.  He rushed for 222 yards on 25 carries last week against Colorado State and has rushed for more than 100 yards in all four games this year. Getz is the first player in Air Force history to rush for more than 100 yards in the first four games of the year.  He has seven rushing touchdowns on the year.
•    Senior quarterback Connor Dietz has carried the ball 46 times for 257 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 23 of his 44 passes for 416 yards with two TDs and one interception.
•    Dietz’s favorite target is senior wide receiver Ty MacArthur, who has eight catches for 192 yards and has also rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
•    Senior linebacker Austin Niklas leads the Air Force defense with 35 tackles, three forced fumbles and two tackles for a loss, while Brian Lindsay has 31 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

The Last Time … 
AIR FORCE 35, NAVY 34 OT    OCT. 1, 2011 | ANNAPOLIS, MD.
• Tim Jefferson scored on a one-yard touchdown run and Parker Herrington kicked the extra-point to give Air Force a 35-34 overtime victory over Navy in front of 37,506 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Oct. 1, 2011.
• Herrington’s extra-point was the game-winner thanks to a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called against Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor after Proctor had scored a touchdown on Navy’s first possession in overtime.Jon Teague, who was pushed back 15 yards on his extra-point try, kicked the ball low and it was blocked by Alex Means.
• It was a topsy-turvy game with the Falcons dominating the first quarter and Navy dominating the fourth.
• Air Force jumped out to a 14-0 lead with touchdowns the first two times it had the ball.
• The Mids cut the lead to 14-3 on their second drive, moving 61 yards in 10 plays, had to settle for a 25-yard field goal.
• The Navy defense, however, could not stop Air Force as the Falcons answered with an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with tailback Asher Clark scoring from 23 yards out to give Air Force a 21-3 lead.
• The Mids made it 21-10 early in the third quarter when Proctor scored on a two-yard run.
• The Falcons looked to have put the final nail in Navy’s coffin with an eight-play, 89-yard drive that was finished off by Clark’s six-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Air Force a 28-10 lead.
• Navy, though, moved 62 yards on 14 plays with Proctor scoring from the seven to cut Air Force’s lead to 28-17.
• After the Navy defense held Air Force to a three-and-out, the Mids went 73 yards in 16 plays with Teague making a 37-yard field goal to make the score 28-20 with 2:04 left.
• Navy had to go for the onside kick and Teague pulled off a beauty as the ball took a perfect bounce into the hands of Navy wide receiver Brandon Turner giving Navy the ball at the Air Force 41.
• The Mids quickly moved down the field and scored with just 19 seconds left on a five-yard touchdown pass from Proctor to junior slot back Gee Gee Greene, who made a beautiful one-handed catch.  Navy had to go for two to tie the game and Proctor did a masterful job of running the double option, pitching to fullback Alexander Teich at the last second and Teich dove inside the left pylon to tie the game at 28.
• Air Force won the toss and elected to go on defense first.  Proctor took it in from the one to give Navy a six-point lead.
• After the play, Proctor was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct as he said something to AF safety Jon Davis after the play.

The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy
• The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy is presented annually to the winner of the football competition among the three major service academies — Army, Navy and Air Force — and is named in honor of the President of the United States.
• Navy has dominated of late, winning the trophy a Service Academy record seven-consecutive years from 2003-09 and winning a Service Academy record 15-straight games against Air Force and Army in the process.  Air Force has won the trophy each of the last two years.
• Navy has won the trophy a total of 12 times: 1973, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1981, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
• When there is no clear-cut winner,  the trophy remains with the winner of the previous year’s competition.
• The three-sided trophy stands two-and-a-half-feet tall and is engraved with the academy seals.  Reproductions of the three mascots — the Army Mule, the Navy Goat and the Air Force Falcon — are ensconced on the respective sides of this bauble.  The trophy is sponsored by the West Point Association of Graduates, the Naval Academy Alumni Association and the Air Force Association of Graduates.
• The year in which the trophy is won is engraved on AA plate gracing the respective academy’s side of the trophy.

Navy Versus The Mountain West
• Navy is 19-32 (.373) all-time against teams currently in the Mountain West Conference.  The Mids are 17-27 against Air Force, 0-3 against San Diego State, 0-2 against Hawai’i, 1-0 against Colorado State and 1-0 against New Mexico.
• The Mids beat Colorado State (Poinsettia) and New Mexico (Emerald) in bowl games.
• Navy has never played Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV or Wyoming.

Homecoming
• Navy has two players that hail from the state of Colorado.
• Senior starting left tackle Ryan Paulson and sophomore linebacker David Thurston are both from Broomfield, Colo.

Navy Nuggets
• Playing Notre Dame in Dublin and Penn State at State College was the toughest first two games in school history.
• In the last 40 years, Navy has started the year with two BCS opponents just eight times and only twice (2005 and 1982) did Navy go on to have a winning record.
• Navy lost to Maryland in Baltimore and at home against Stanford to start the 2005 season and finished 8-4 and beat Virginia and lost to Arkansas in Little Rock in 1982 and finished 6-5.
• The Navy defense has not allowed a touchdown in nine consecutive quarters.  The last touchdown the defense surrendered came with 2:23 left in the third quarter in State College when Penn State scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass.  The streak is the longest by a Navy defense since 2008 when the Mids did not allow a touchdown for 10 straight quarters (fourth quarter against Notre Dame, shut out Northern Illinois, shut out Army and did not allow a first quarter score to Wake Forest).
• The Mids have been shut out in the first quarter in eight of the last 12 games dating back to last year and have not scored a touchdown in the first quarter in 11 of the last 13 games.
• Navy has been outscored, 30-3, in the first quarter this year and 82-23 in the first quarter over the last 13 games dating back to last year.
• In Navy’s last six wins it has outscored the opposition, 118-34, in the first half, including 46-3 in the first quarter.
• The Mids have suffered a first quarter turnover in the red zone in each of the last three contests.
• Navy has already turned the ball over 12 times this year (nine lost fumbles and three interceptions) after committing just 15 turnovers in 2011 (nine lost fumbles and six interceptions).  Junior quarterback Trey Miller is responsible for 10 of Navy’s 12 turnovers (seven fumbles and three interceptions) with five of those turnovers coming inside the opponents’ 30-yard line.
• In the Mids’ last 10 losses, Navy has been outscored, 199-69, in the first half, including 86-10 in the first quarter.
• Under Niumatalolo, the Mids are 21-3 (.875) when leading after the first quarter and 12-21 (.364) when trailing or tied after the first stanza.
• Navy has been held under 300 yards rushing in nine of its last 16 games and the Mids are just 1-8 (.111) in those games (Army in 2011 is the lone win).
• The Mids are 18-5 (.783) under Niumatalolo when rushing for 300 yards or more and 15-19 (.441) when the offense is held under 300 yards rushing.
• Navy is 27-4 (.870) under Niumatalolo when scoring first and 6-20 (.231) when the opponent scores first.
• An opposing running back has rushed for over 100 yards in a game against Navy in nine of the last 16 contests.  In the previous 40 games, Navy surrendered only nine 100-yard rushing games to opposing running backs.
• The shutout by San Jose State marked the first time that the Navy offense had been shut out since Oct. 14, 2006, when Rutgers defeated Navy, 34-0.
• The San Jose State game marked the first time that Navy played in a game without a touchdown since Nov. 28, 1981, when the Army-Navy game ended in a 3-3 tie.
• Navy’s 144 yards of total offense marks the second-fewest yards by Navy during the triple option era (2002-present), second only to the Connecticut game on Nov. 16, 2002, when the Mids mustered just 82 yards of total offense in the contest.
• Navy owns a 16-7 (.696) record in games played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under Ken Niumatalolo and is 17-17 (.500) away from home.

Red Zone Has Become A Dead Zone For Mids    
• Navy ranks 118th in the country in red zone offense, scoring on just six of 11 chances.
• The Mids have scored three touchdowns, kicked three field goals, lost the ball once on downs and turned it over four times (three lost fumbles by quarterback Trey Miller and an interception by Miller).
• The Mids rank 82nd in red zone defense, allowing 11 scores in 13 opportunities.  The opposition has scored seven touchdowns, kicked four field goals, turned it over on downs once and threw one interception.

Fumbles    
• The Navy offense has lost nine fumbles this year after losing just nine fumbles in 12 games a year ago.  Navy and Nebraska are tied for the most fumbles lost in the country.
• The Navy defense is one of just three teams in the country that has not recovered  a fumble all year.  Oklahoma and Buffalo are the other two yet to recover a fumble.

Third Down Troubles    
• Navy has struggled all year to keep drives alive on offense and to get off the field on defense.
• Navy ranks 92nd in the country in third down offense, converting 16 of 46 tries (.348).
• The Navy defense ranks 104th in third down defense, giving up 24 conversions in 49 attempts (.490).  Opponents are just 1-4 (.250) when going for it on fourth down against the Navy defense.

Tough Schedule
• Navy’s three losses have come at the hands of opponents that are a combined 11-3 on the year.
• Notre Dame is 4-0 and ranked ninth in the country, Penn State, after dropping its first two games, has since won three straight and San Jose State is 4-1 and receiving votes in the coaches poll.

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“The Reality Check” Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 5 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 03 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (32)

I like what I see from Weeden & Richardson. You need more good players to win though.

31. Indianapolis Colts (30)

I still can’t believe they lost to Jacksonville at home.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

I’m convinced they’ll ultimately be #32.

29. Miami Dolphins (31)

It’s a shame they couldn’t make that effort from Ryan Tannehill stand up.

28. New Orleans Saints (28)

They showed a little bit in Green Bay…wins are coming.

27. Kansas City Chiefs (25)

This doesn’t mean the Ravens will just coast Sunday.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24)

Not much to offer defensively on the Redskins’ final drive.

25. Oakland Raiders (22)

Defense is a MAJOR issue.

24. Carolina Panthers (23)

They’re better than this. They’ll improve, but it might not be enough.

23. Tennessee Titans (21)

In the short term, perhaps they’re better off with Matt Hasselbeck.

22. St. Louis Rams (26)

Now with pesky Los Angeles rumors!

21. Detroit Lions (18)

Just an absolute mess. This could bury them.

20. Buffalo Bills (19)

But Scott Chandler is a nice target.

19. New York Jets (14)

I’ve heard the words “you know who” a lot this week.

18. Seattle Seahawks (17)

You can’t follow up a win over the Packers with a loss to the Rams.

17. Dallas Cowboys (16)

They’re not as bad as they looked Monday night. At least I don’t think so.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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The 15-7-0 offers a hearty “RIP Defense” to the game of football

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The 15-7-0 offers a hearty “RIP Defense” to the game of football

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

As always, this week’s 15-7-0 is brought to you by Roofing By Elite. Visit them at roofingbyelite.com. We make 15 observations about football ELITE, 7 about football “not so ELITE” and one “zero” who deserves to sleep on the roof from outside of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens game analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

“The ELITE 15″…

1. The performance Towson authored in defeat at LSU is still very much worthy of the term “elite”.

On more than one occasion during the first three quarters in Baton Rouge I found myself saying “oh my God oh my God oh my God”. It was an amazing effort from the Tigers in Death Valley…

No matter what, it doesn’t mean this didn’t happen…

I remember taking a picture of the screen when Morgan State lead West Virginia 10-0 in the NCAA Tournament. Things went SIGNIFICANTLY better for Towson after their moment than they did for MSU.

2. Hey! Remember last week when the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons were the best team in their respective conferences? Like Sonny & Cher said, “the beat goes on”.

Want to see Danieal Manning make an interception return TD look like a kick return TD? Of course you do.

It’s probably worth taking a closer look at the block Jonathan Joseph laid on Nate Washington during the return…

Oh my. Houston stomped Tennessee, but you knew that was going to happen. Tennessee also lost quarterback Jake Locker for what looks like could be “several weeks” according to CBS. So they’ve got that going for them.

The Falcons-Panthers game was significantly more interesting. Carolina had a chance to pull the upset at the Georgia Dome but (first) Cam Newton fumbled the ball after what would have been a late 3rd down conversion (then) Ron Rivera decided not to go for it on 4th and short but instead give the ball back to Matt Ryan (and) Ryan did this from the shadow of his own endzone…

The Falcons would get a game winner from Matt Bryant to stay undefeated, the Panthers fell to 1-3. Matt Ryan’s thoughts are NSFW if you’re a lip-reader…

Earlier in the game, Cam Newton did THIS…

And I guess spending time in Atlanta has helped Dunta Robinson perfect his Tomahawk Chop…

3. Also from the “don’t forget we’re really good” category, I give you the New England Patriots.

The Pats were in a bit of trouble in the first half of this one, but then they remembered they were the Patriots and scored like 600 unanswered points. Was it 600? I think it was 600. Let’s ask Tom Brady.

By the way-I’m terrible at lip-reading. If you told me he was asking about whether or not Looper was any good, I would believe you.

Now Ryan Fitzpatrick’s reaction…

Maybe he just found out the new stadium is going up in Los Angeles and is getting excited about buying a home in Burbank.

Vince Wilfork nearly killed a man in this one…

And Rob Gronkowski made sure he didn’t miss another spike…

4. Since you started reading this week’s 15-7-0, West Virginia scored three more touchdowns.

WVU QB Geno Smith threw more touchdowns (8) than incomplete passes (6) Saturday against Baylor. He also threw for 656 yards and no picks. Try to keep up…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqDruveDZD0

How about that last catch from JD Woods to seal it? Geesh. You might not have seen it because your head was still spinning from the 133 points scored in the game.

Smith is your Heisman Trophy frontrunner and the Mountaineers are a sexy “dark hose” pick to make a run at the BCS Championship. The folks in Morgantown might want to make sure they have room for a third digit on the scoreboard.

5. Is it safe declare that the Urban Meyer experiment at Ohio State is already working?

First, we start with the fact that ESPN’s College Gameday was in East Lansing this week. It’s noteworthy. Here’s the singular best sign…

That’s just…so…exceptional. Mom and dad are proud of the education they’re paying for you to get at MSU!

The Buckeyes are 5-0 but can’t win anything. This will be an awkward storyline if the season continues this way…

And since the Big Ten stinks, I kinda have to assume it will. Oh and also, the Spartans coaches were complaining postgame that the game film they received from Ohio State wasn’t up to standards. It sounds like whiny bitching from sore losers, but I’ll let you be the judge…

I don’t really understand the issue. Of course, if they had sent the right video, the Spartans probably would have been able to figure out what the Buckeyes’ hand signals were all about…

6. And some weeks Peyton Manning really still IS Peyton Manning.

Remember what everyone said about the Raiders defense? They probably didn’t say enough. The guy most thankful for the asskicking? Demaryius Thomas. Otherwise this would have been REALLY embarrassing…

And for fellow Peyton Manning fantasy owners, this one is worth watching again…

7. The Chargers defense would have been an awfully good start in fantasy football this week.

Well, other than this Jamaal Charles run…

But the six turnovers, they were helpful. And since we’re talking about baked goods, thanks to whoever brought the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding (I’m sorry I forgot who you are!) to Maritime Magic Friday night (an event to benefit Living Classrooms Foundation). Holy hell I’ve never had anything greater.

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“The Reality Check” Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 26 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (32)

The only thing I’m certain about in the NFL is that the Browns have been the worst team thus far.

31. Miami Dolphins (31)

But if Dan Carpenter could make a kick they wouldn’t be here.

30. Indianapolis Colts (26)

If you’re going to win a few games you’re probably going to have to beat the Jaguars at home.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (31)

In my heart of hearts, I still think they’re worse than the Browns. But as a reminder, the Ravens really liked Cecil Shorts III.

28. New Orleans Saints (17)

I knew it would be a struggle. NO ONE knew it would be this much of a struggle.

27. Washington Redskins (21)

You REALLY think it’s a good idea to keep letting RGIII get hit like that, Kyle Shanahan?

26. St. Louis Rams (24)

So…if Jay Cutler stinks and you lose to him, that means?

25. Kansas City Chiefs (30)

They’re not going to go winless. That’s a start.

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

Every time you think they might be making progress…

23. Carolina Panthers (19)

Is the league figuring Cam Newton out a bit in year two?

22. Oakland Raiders (29)

That was a damn gutty victory.

21. Tennessee Titans (25)

They’ll need to be able to win a few without so many miracles.

20. Minnesota Vikings (27)

That was a really impressive performance. Not a whole lot more you can say.

19. Buffalo Bills (20)

A win over the Browns is a win, just unlikely to be a win that will make me give you a whole lot of credit.

18. Detroit Lions (12)

But at least they have quarterback issues!

17. Seattle Seahawks (23)

As Drew Forrester says, they’re 2-1*!

(Rankings 16-1 on Page 2…)

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The 15-7-0 thinks Bah-sten is full of loo-sahs!

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The 15-7-0 thinks Bah-sten is full of loo-sahs!

Posted on 24 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

As always, this week’s 15-7-0 is brought to you by Roofing By Elite. Visit them at roofingbyelite.com. We make 15 observations about football ELITE, 7 about football “not so ELITE” and one “zero” who deserves to sleep on the roof from outside of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens game analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

“The ELITE 15″…

1. I know Maryland lost to West Virginia and all, but it’s hard for me to imagine saying the name Stefon Diggs without including him in the elite category.

It doesn’t excuse the stupidity of Randy Edsall’s clock management at the end of the first half OR the continued issues this Maryland team is having with turning the ball over, but I think most of us would agree that simply not losing by 70 is half an accomplishment for this particular Maryland team.

Losing by 10 is almost…frankly…amazing for this group.

What’s ABSOLUTELY amazing is watching what happens when the football is in the hands of Terps freshman WR Stefon Diggs. For example, he had three catches Saturday. Here are two of them…


If this was basketball, we’d be chanting “one more year!” every time he touched the ball.

By the way, Geno Smith looks like the early season Heisman Trophy frontrunner. That is of course thanks almost entirely to the fact that he gets to throw the ball to Tavon Austin.

2. In a game featuring Robert Griffin III and Andy Dalton, perhaps we should have expected Mohamed Sanu was going to make the best play of the game from under center?

Redskins defender: “Oh I see, they put a receiver in the Wildcat because they want to catch us off guard with a run on the first play. Well, they’re not going to surprise me, or my name isn’t……WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!!!!!!!”

This ended up being a really good game. The Redskins had the ball late, but a personal foul called against their bench forced Robert Griffin III to simply heave the ball towards the endzone as the game was ending. I wonder what Skins OC Kyle Shanahan thought about the call?

Oh then.

3. The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons are currently the best teams in the AFC and NFC, respectively.

So here’s Matt Schaub getting hit by Broncos LB Joe Mays…

And here’s what he looked like after LOSING PART OF HIS EARLOBE ON THE HIT…

But otherwise, the Texans defense is ridiculous and Peyton Manning and the Broncos are 1-2. It’s not good news for my Peyton Manning-lead fantasy teams.

Also, the Falcons are totally over that whole “4th and 1 hangover” thing we thought might be an issue. And I guess because he’s worried about being the next Vernon Davis or Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez adjusted his TD celebration…

Nice form.

4. Florida State cleared a MAJOR hurdle in the road towards being a legitimate national championship contender.

You want to see a run? Here’s James Wilder Jr. absolutely OWNING Clemson…

It was a more impressive effort for the Seminoles than THIS…

Or this from former Nole Lee Corso…

But not more impressive than this from their own cheerleaders…

5. Usually Towson’s win would be the only time I’d mention CAA football in the 15-7-0. That all changes when someone throws for over 700 yards.

The name is Taylor Heinicke. Here’s what he did for Old Dominion against New Hampshire.

SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY YARDS? THAT’S TWO SEASONS FOR TIM TEBOW IN ONE DAY!!!!

Also, I had a great time watching (at least the first half) of the Tigers stomping the Red Flash…

The good news for the Tigers? Ummm….at least they get LSU next Saturday coming off a less than impressive performance against Auburn? Say it with me…”Just don’t give up 100!”

6. Dear Oakland Raiders…thank you. Love, Baltimore.

The story of this one was the frightening injury suffered by former Maryland WR Darrius Heyward-Bey on a hit from Ryan Mundy…

Ugh. Just…ugh. It wasn’t the only big hit of the day though. Welcome, Matt Giordano…

And also, Emmanuel Sanders thought your computer needed a new wallpaper…

7. The Arizona Cardinals are 3-0 and alone in first place in the NFC West. Nothing to see here.

The Cards had never started a season 3-0 since moving to Arizona, so why WOULDN’T it happen in the year where they picked John Skelton to play QB over Kevin Kolb and then were forced to default back to Kevin Kolb. Makes perfect sense.

For the Eagles, at least Michael Vick had that big scoring play before the half?

And in case you forgot, Larry Fitzgerald would like to remind you that he’s quite good…

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“The Reality Check” Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 19 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (30)

But hey, Trent Richardson is pretty good.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (28)

This Blaine Gabbert thing isn’t really working out.

30. Kansas City Chiefs (20)

They HAVE to be better than this. Right?

29. Oakland Raiders (25)

But they snapped the ball better…

28. Miami Dolphins (32)

They beat the Raiders at home. You can only get so much credit for that.

27. Minnesota Vikings (23)

They have good players on their team. They shouldn’t be this bad.

26. Indianapolis Colts (31)

They beat the Vikings at home. You can only get so much credit for that.

25. Tennessee Titans (21)

Tough schedule, but the “playoff dark horse” talk has slowed down.

24. St. Louis Rams (26)

Jerk or not, I’d take Cortland Finnegan on my team.

23. Seattle Seahawks (27)

I’m not a believer in Russell Wilson, but that was a statement victory.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18)

It’s a shame the folks down in Tampa have nothing to talk about.

21. Washington Redskins (17)

Is there a chance they’re halfway good?

20. Buffalo Bills (29)

They have all the looks of an 8-8 team.

19. Carolina Panthers (24)

I guess they still know how to run the ball.

18. Dallas Cowboys (12)

Oh hey there, back to earth Tony Romo. We were expecting you.

17. New Orleans Saints (10)

I still think they’ll become the Saints again at some point.

(Rankings 16-1 on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 2 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s rankings…

32. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 28)

Perhaps it’s time to work on changing snap counts

31. Indianapolis Colts (31)

Andrew Luck didn’t look terrible, though.

30. Cleveland Browns (32)

Pat Shurmur can’t wait too long for math lessons.

29. Buffalo Bills (16)

What a disaster. It can’t be as bad as it looked…can it?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (26)

Nearly stole a road win. I can vision quite a few close calls this season.

27. Seattle Seahawks (27)

You can’t lose to Kevin Kolb and improve.

26. St. Louis Rams (25)

They got hosed by timeout mismanagement. They’re still lacking targets for Bradford.

25. Oakland Raiders (21)

I think we understand more why guys like Morgan Cox and Nick Sundberg have played through injury.

24. Carolina Panthers (17)

They ARE still capable of running the football, right?

23. Minnesota Vikings (24)

I guess we have our answers about Adrian Peterson…

22. Arizona Cardinals (29)

The.whole.quarterback.thing.

21. Tennessee Titans (20)

The Patriots will make a lot of teams look bad.

20. Kansas City Chiefs (15)

I thought they were better defensively.

19. Cincinnati Bengals (9)

They aren’t this bad. They just got their ass kicked.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

It wasn’t an eternity ago that they were a team on the rise.

17. Washington Redskins (30)

I’m not all in yet, but it’s hard to not be impressed.

(Glenn’s rankings 16-1 on Page 2…)

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Ravens secondary faces another challenge against Detroit

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Ravens secondary faces another challenge against Detroit

Posted on 15 August 2012 by Luke Jones

Last week it was wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and this week it’s Calvin Johnson, but the Ravens secondary isn’t backing down despite a rough start in the preseason opener.

In fact, the unit is embracing the early challenges against some of the best receivers in football. Against the Detroit Lions on Friday night, the Ravens will arguably see the best receiver in the NFL as the 6-foot-5 Johnson comes off an incredible 2011 season in which he caught 96 passes for 1,681 and 16 touchdowns.

“I am looking to go against anyone,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “It’s not that it’s just ‘Megatron.’ But, it’s going to be a nice challenge going against one of the best receivers in the league. Why not start it off in preseason going against him? Getting your confidence up, getting back used to the game, like I said.”

The Baltimore defense is hoping to avoid a repeat of last week when Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and Jones burned the secondary repeatedly, with cornerback Cary Williams receiving most of the attention. Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter as the Ravens allowed 191 total yards in the first 15 minutes of play.

However, defensive coordinator Dean Pees credited Ryan’s pinpoint accuracy on several passes and reminded everyone how the front seven was unable to get consistent pressure on the Atlanta quarterback. The Ravens hope to generate more heat on Stafford to aid defensive backs in the battle against Johnson.

A three-and-out as opposed to the touchdown the Ravens allowed on the Falcons’ opening drive would be a fine way to erase the ugly beginning to the preseason.

“We need to get off to a fast start,” Pees said. “That’s the thing that disappointed us Thursday is we got off to a slow start, and we don’t want to let anybody ever drive the ball on us, let alone go down and score on the first possession – certainly not a way you want to start the game. Now, that being said, I’ve played in enough games in 40 years of football that they have scored on the first drive, and we won the game 41-7. You have to also let that go and it’s over with and done. You make corrections on the sideline, you come back and win the game.”

Webb and the Baltimore secondary aren’t panicking over the poor showing against Atlanta after finishing with the fourth-ranked pass defense in the league last season. Pressure will be on the secondary to play at an even higher level after the loss of linebacker Terrell Suggs and how his absence will likely leave a major void in the pass rush.

Webb is expecting Friday’s performance to look much more like the unit that played at an exceptional level last season.

“When you come into the first game, you get a little anxious,” Webb said. “You want to get the interception here, you want to jump here, but it’s all about feeling the game out, feeling the team out. We kind of jumped the gun, tried to jump too much stuff. This game, I think, we are just going to let it come to us – just play football and let the defense open up to us.”

Increased workload for starters?

Starters will see more action in the second preseason game of the summer, but after last week’s nine-play, nine-yard first quarter, the Ravens will shy away from specifying a concrete amount of time the starters will play against the Lions.

As is always the case, certain veteran starters such as linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed will likely be lifted earlier than the rest of their starting mates.

“We will play it by ear right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It could be as much as a half, it might not be. We’ll just play it by ear, see how it’s going, and see how many reps we get. Again, it will be more individual. There will be some guys staying longer than other guys. Starters, I think there are categories in there as well.”

Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg expressed his preference for Billy Cundiff and Justin Tucker to receive more opportunities on Friday as the Ravens try to decide who will be their place kicker. As was the case last week, Cundiff is expected to start the game before Tucker receives his chance later in the night.

It remains to be seen whether recently-injured players such as Torrey Smith, Jimmy Smith, and Courtney Upshaw will play on Friday, and Harbaugh wasn’t tipping his hand about the status of any players when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

“We’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t really want to mention anyone particularly right now. We will just see how it goes.”

Fight like a Raven

CONTINUE >>>

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Ugly first half brings Ravens’ offseason concerns to light

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Ugly first half brings Ravens’ offseason concerns to light

Posted on 09 August 2012 by Luke Jones

The look on coach John Harbaugh’s face through most of the first half said it all in regards to the Ravens’ performance in what turned out to be a 31-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons after a strong second-half performance by the second and third-teamers on Thursday night.

You never want to take too much away from the first preseason game, but there was no sugarcoating how ugly the performance was over the first 30 minutes of action.

The Baltimore offense was held to just nine total yards on nine plays as it failed to collect a first down in the first quarter. Playing without linebacker Ray Lewis and rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw, the defense was carved up by Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense for 191 yards in the first 15 minutes and allowed 17 points in the first half.

The effort was sluggish, but the major story was the Ravens’ biggest offseason concerns coming to fruition in the first snapshot of a live-game situation this summer. To panic would be much too premature, but to ignore the lack of a pass rush and concerns along the offensive line means you haven’t been paying attention to the events of the last seven months.

The Ravens received their first dose of reality without linebacker Terrell Suggs as they were unable to generate any pressure on Ryan, who picked on cornerback Cary Williams and the rest of the secondary as wide receiver Julio Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. Matching up against Jones and fellow wideout Roddy White is challenging enough, but the Ravens’ front seven were barely able to breathe on Ryan, let alone bring him to the turf.

Upshaw’s absence certainly didn’t help, but outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Sergio Kindle made little impact and Albert McClellan didn’t find success until Atlanta’s reserves began entering the game in the second quarter. As we’ve said all along, the Ravens will need a collective effort from multiple players to make up for the absence of Suggs, but what they showed against the Atlanta offense simply won’t get it done.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees still has plenty of time to continue to find ways to generate consistent pressure, but he won’t see very much to like when he looks at the tape of the first half against the Falcons. In addition to the struggles with the pass rush, the Ravens displayed poor tackling and appeared to lack energy on the defensive side of the ball in the first half.

Despite finally waking up to march down the field for an 11-play, 77-yard drive that finished with a Joe Flacco touchdown pass to tight end Ed Dickson in the second quarter, the offense was anemic as the middle of the offensive line struggled to open running lanes and protect the pocket. Rookie Gino Gradkowski started at center for the injured Matt Birk while Michael Oher started at left tackle and rookie tackle Kelechi Osemele played on the right side.

Most alarming about the offensive line was a renewed concern at the left guard position, which was a major topic of discussion all offseason after the free-agent departure of 2011 Pro Bowl selection Ben Grubbs in March. After a strong showing through the first two weeks of training camp that had quelled most concerns at the spot, veteran left guard Bobbie Williams struggled mightily as he was consistently pushed backwards in pass coverage and had a breakdown in communication with Gradkowski that led to another sack.

On a high note for the offensive line, tackle Bryant McKinnie held up well with the second unit as he took reps into the third quarter. Though matched up against lesser defenders, his pass blocking appeared strong and his conditioning didn’t appear to be an issue, making you wonder if he showed the coaching staff enough for him to be reinserted at the left tackle position with the starting offensive line this coming week.

Despite being under duress for most of the time he was in the game, Flacco was 9 for 12 for 88 yards and a touchdown pass while operation out of quick-tempo offense over his four series of work, but the offensive line allowed him to be hit hard a few times.

With a 36-year-old center and a 35-year-old left guard projected to start, the Ravens need as much time as possible to build continuity along the offensive line. Questions will remain about how well Williams and Birk will hold up, but the options are thin behind them as Gradkowski showed flashes but often appeared to be overpowered at the line of scrimmage.

The good news for the Ravens is they still have a month to address these issues in trying to inject life in their Suggs-less pass rush and gain stability along the offensive line. The first half of Thursday night’s game is nothing more than 30 minutes of meaningless football in the scope of the 2012 season.

But it was visual evidence that the prevailing concerns of the offseason are very real and still need to be addressed before the Ravens welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to town on Sept. 10.

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Machado up on night of first Ravens game? Ballsy move, Birds

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Machado up on night of first Ravens game? Ballsy move, Birds

Posted on 09 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

I hypothetically asked the question a few weeks ago on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net.

“If the Baltimore Orioles are able to remain in the postseason hunt into September, will it have any impact at all on how you watch/support the Baltimore Ravens in September?”

I pointed out at the time that the two teams did not have games scheduled at the same time at all during September. (The Ravens’ Week 1 Monday night and Week 4 Thursday night primetime home games come on scheduled off days for the Birds. The Week 2 game at Philadelphia is scheduled for 1pm while the O’s are scheduled to play after 4 in Oakland. The Ravens’ Week 3 game also happens in primetime while the Birds take the field in Boston at 1pm.) There would be no direct conflict unless there is a weather related reschedule, or possibly if the Orioles were to make the postseason.

The truth is that there is no basis for comparison when it comes to how Charm City sports fans would treat this short crossover period. The Orioles’ last run to the postseason came in 1997, before the Ravens had captured the collective imaginations, hearts and back accounts of the Mid-Atlantic region’s sports fans. If we date back to the time when the Baltimore Colts and Orioles shared the city; mass media consumption, television coverage and big business of sports were incomparable to 2012.

Reaction to the question was quite varied. Some fans said they wouldn’t change any priorities related to the Ravens because football simply had become more significant to them. Other fans said they couldn’t imagine making any early season football game a priority while the Orioles were in pursuit of their first playoff appearance in a decade and a half. Still others thought it impossible to think that they would have to alter the way they paid attention to or supported either franchise, stating that other cities (namely Boston and New York) have never appeared to struggle with the same problem.

For many, the topic remains the elephant in the room. It might actually happen, they just don’t want to talk about it. They’d rather say things like “let’s just see if the Orioles can hold up their end of the bargain.” The Orioles however took the opportunity Wednesday to remind you that not only does the elephant exist, it’s an actual f*cking elephant.

Perhaps the Baltimore Orioles’ decision to purchase the contract of Bowie Baysox INF (and former first round pick) Manny Machado and allow him to make his MLB debut Thursday night has nothing to do with the fact that the Ravens are opening the preseason against the Falcons in Atlanta.

Of course, perhaps the correlation is absolutely purposeful.

Perhaps the Orioles wanted to take a strike against the pro sports team in town whose success has relegated them to “orange-headed stepchild” status 364 days a year (yes, I’m giving the Birds Opening Day. Nothing more.)

Perhaps members of the Orioles organization had a conversation this week about the lackluster attendance figures at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the three games against the Seattle Mariners and said “this is probably going to be worse Thursday since fans will want to stay home and watch the football game. Let’s try to combat that somehow.”

Perhaps Peter Angelos (well…probably not Old Man Angelos but someone he allows to advise him and/or make decisions) is still pissed off about the Ravens’ Facebook jab from Opening Day and decided they wanted to put a dent in the football team’s television ratings-which will likely already be hurt by the fact that the game had to be moved from WBAL to WMAR and will be going up against the NBC affiliate’s continued Olympics coverage.

Perhaps there’s still bitterness for how the teams’ MASN-fueled relationship fell apart in 2010 and the Orioles wanted to flex their muscles a little bit to remind the Ravens they’re now working a network (Comcast SportsNet) that has clearly made the Washington Redskins a greater priority over the last two seasons.

Perhaps the Orioles are hoping they can play off the small bit of fan angst created when the Ravens ended their Westminster Training Camp tradition and win the hearts of young sports fans who are angry they can’t get autographs at McDaniel College. Perhaps they’re hoping to steal back part of an already small market that has partially abandoned the Orange and Black.

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