Tag Archive | "Football"

Kevin Johnson

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Baltimore Ravens 7 round mock draft 4.0 version

Posted on 25 March 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

Kevin JohnsonThe Baltimore Ravens were awarded 3 compensatory picks in the 2015 NFL Draft, giving them a total of ten. Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and company can – as usual – go in several directions depending on how the board plays out.  In years past they’ve traded up and down, depending if a player they were targeting had been selected, or if there’s one that they rated higher and is dropping and within reach.  So without further ado, here’s a list of the players I see in a Ravens uniform at the conclusion of this year’s draft. It includes 3 – yes 3 – wide receivers, 2 defensive backs, 1 defensive tackle, 1 running back, 1 tight end, 1 offensive guard, and 1 defensive end:

Round 1: No. 26  – Kevin Johnson, CB Wake Forest He’ll start out as the third corner for the Ravens, but has starting potential down the road.  Ozzie at some point has to get Joe Flacco some “toys”, but this draft is deep at receiver and he’ll go get some (2 or 3) in the not too later rounds. He just cannot afford to be caught with not enough defensive back in this pass happy league again. That potentially cost the Ravens a Super Bowl appearance this past season, and Newsome will make sure it does not happen again.

Round 2: No. 58 – Devin Smith, WR  Ohio State Still sticking with him at this slot. I looked at a lot of receivers at this slot, and Smith was easily the most polished guy. Ran a 4.42 40 with a 39″ vertical. I can’t get the visual out of my head of him blowing up a kick returner in the Senior Bowl, as he came down the flank in the role of a gunner. He’s a football player, and no receiver at the combine tracked the deep ball better.

Round 3: No. 90 – Marcus Hardison, DT Arizona State 6’3″ 307 pounds.  With the loss of Haloti Ngata, the Ravens must draft another young defensive lineman to rotate with Brandon Williams and Tim Jernigan.  Hardison is built more along the lines of a defensive end, but he got to the QB 10 times last season.  That’s a pretty impressive stat for an interior lineman. He also had a good Senior Bowl and Pro Day.

Round 4: No. 122 – Eric Rowe, CB Utah At 6’1 205 pounds, he can play either corner or safety.  He’s been clocked at 4.39 in the 40, and he’s also come in for a visit.  Plus the Ravens love players from Utah.

No. 125 Javorius Allen, RB USC 6’0″ 221 running back from a big time program with big times hands to boot. “Buck”Allen rushed for 1,489 yards averaging 5.39 yards per carry while sharing the backfield with Justin Davis. He finished third on the team with 41 grabs for 458 yards, plus he is a reliable blocker.  His hands and blocking ability will serve him well in the Marc Trestman offense.

No. 136 (compensatory) – Ben Koyack, TE Notre Dame 6’5 255  Still convinced that the Ravens are going to take a TE in this spot. The only question remains as to which one they’re going to pick. I’m a bigger fan of the Penn State TE Jesse James, but I believe his combine #s moved him up to the 3rd round. The Ravens will also consider FSU’s O’Leary, Rutgers’ Kroft (they interviewed him at the combine), and OSU’s Heuerman. It’s also noteworthy that the Ravens also interviewed Koyack, which is the basis as to why I’m slotting him here.

Round 5: No. 158 – Darren Waller, WR Georgia Tech  He is 6’6″ 238 pounds – no folks, that’s not a typo.  Waller didn’t had the best receiving stats as he was primarily used as a blocker in Tech’s run heavy Flex-bone offense.  Still, with his immense dimensions, he is a very intriguing prospect.

No. 171 (compensatory) – Robert Myers, OG Tennessee I’d be surprised if Myers doesn’t end up in a Ravens uniform.  One publication described him as being ideally drafted with a developmental year in mind, which actually fits the Ravens m.o., particularly with Yanda’s and Osemele’s contracts coming up. At 6’5″ 326, he is very much the road grader that the Ravens like at the guard position.

No. 175 (compensatory) – Stefon Diggs, WR Maryland Injury concerns drop the speedy hometown receiver, as the Ravens pick him and triple down at the receiver position, in an attempt to give QB Joe Flacco the aformentioned “toys.” If Diggs – and that’s a big if – can stay healthy, along with Devin Smith he has a shot at replacing the production the Ravens got out of Torrey Smith.

Round 6: No. 203 – Ryan Delaire, DE Towson He is 6’4″ 250 pounds. Pulled a groin running the 40, but still got an interview by the Ravens. Long arms, and very productive career from this UMass transfer. He has a shot at making the roster as a developmental player behind Dumervil and Suggs.

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Why I’m happy Gary Kubiak took the Broncos job

Posted on 20 January 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

We heard all the talk the past 10 days or so.  Gary Kubiak isn’t leaving the Ravens. He is very happy being their offensive coordinator. He’s not an administrator, but an X’s and O’s oriented type of a guy. He is a teacher, and has health concerns to boot. He is building a house in Owings Mills. Obviously working for your old roommate whom you were the back up QB to for 9 years up in Denver does have a tendency to change one’s mind. That and the nice contract a head coach would expect, are enough to sway anyone to change their mind.

The Ravens are better off for it, and I’ll tell you why. Gary Kubiak is a good man, a likable man. However, as a head coach, his record stands at 61-64, and he is 2-2 in the post season. He is Norv Turner in a different shell – both much more effective offensive coordinators than head coaches. That bodes well for the Ravens, as they face the Broncos in the future. That is, if the Broncos make the playoffs with the consistency that the Ravens have been making it for the past 7 years. If Peyton Manning doesn’t play in 2015 (he and the Broncos have until March 9 to decide) then Kubiak will start Brock Osweiler at quarterback. I don’t know that either one of these QBs are a good fit for Kubiak’s offense.

There are quite a few people in Denver that feel Elway’s hiring of Kubiak is an attempt to push Manning out the door, since he is owed $19 million on March 9, and he had a dismal outing against the Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs. Manning said he had a thigh injury that contributed to his performance, but to my untrained eye it was obvious he had lost quite a bit of steam off of his fastball.

The Ravens are a top notch organization, and will attract the best talent that is out there. They have a history of doing that. Baltimore is an attractive destination for coaches, because due to their consistent success, they frequently spawn head coaches in the NFL. Kubiak, Caldwell, Del Rio & Del Rio (2nd time), Pagano, just to name a few of the most recent one’s. They have a plan in place and will be methodical in their search for an offensive coordinator, but they will not cast as wide a net as they did a year ago. Joe Flacco had his best season in Kubiak’s scheme, and the Ravens are actively looking for a Kubiak clone so to speak.

The word on the street is that the best fit for the Ravens is Denver QB coach Greg Knapp. He is a better fit than Adam Gase, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator. Knapp has been described in some NFL circles as a Rick Dennison clone, and that the two are very similar in their philosophy, approach and execution regarding offensive football. Knapp comes directly from the Mike Shanahan-Gary Kubiak coaching tree, and is very well versed in the zone blocking scheme. Broncos fans are quick to point out that Knapp has been instrumental in Osweiler’s development, and feel that the 6’8″ third year pro out of Arizona State could capably replace the legendary Manning.

The 51 year old Knapp has an impressive body of work in the NFL. He was the Atlanta Falcon’s offensive coordinator and helped Michael Vick develop into a 2-way threat. He was Matt Schaub’s quarterback coach in Houston when Schaub was making the playoffs and Pro Bowls. And he was also the offensive coordinator in Oakland, where he installed the zone blocking scheme. The result was that it launched the career of running back Darren McFadden, who prior to Knapp’s arrival had not lived up to his pre-draft expectations.

The Ravens need to move relatively fast if they want to land the best candidate for their vacant offensive coordinator position, as the demand is heavy for the top coaches that are still available.

 

 

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Harbs

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Post game thoughts – Ravens vs Patriots

Posted on 12 January 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

Had a great show Sunday morning, with relative predictable reaction by the Baltimore Ravens’ fan base. The scale was truly A – Z, from fans who were extremely upset, to moderately happy. The biggest issue that came up time and again was the decision that Joe Flacco made to throw the ball deep to Torrey Smith with just under 2 minutes left in the game.

Lots of Ravens fans second guessed that decision, and they wanted Flacco to continue to patiently work the ball downfield. In fact, on that play he had a wide open Marlon Brown streaking across the middle of the field.

It is my opinion that Flacco did in fact make the right call. The Patriots were in a single high safety formation, and Flacco knew that Torrey Smith was singled up by the DB on the left sideline. Smith got a couple of steps on his man, but the ball was under thrown and the safety came over and made a great play. It’s a simple as that. You take points when you can get them, and then you rely on your defense to make a stop, and win the game for you. Had the Ravens scored on that play, there’s no question it would have left the Patriots plenty of time to go down field and either tie the game with a field goal, or win it with a touchdown.

But first things first. I’ve seen too many games where offenses try to methodically go downfield in an attempt to score with seconds left, in order to leave the opposing offense with no time to move the ball. I’ve also seen turnovers happen in the form of fumbles and interceptions, mishandled handoffs and snaps. The ball is oblong, pointy, and bounces funny.  Oftentimes anything and everything that can go wrong…does. That is precisely why you take the points when you can get them.

The Ravens play aggressive football, and they have an aggressive nature about them. They are by and large well coached and relatively disciplined. No one complained when they went for it on 4th and 6th. When you live by the sword, you die by the sword. That’s how this team rolls, and that philosophy has played a big part as to why under John Harbaugh’s tenure, they’ve been in the playoffs 6 times in the past 7 years.

Speaking of Flacco, for 58 minutes he played a great game. He had two critical interceptions, but he also threw for 4 touchdowns. He should have had 5, but one of his throws bounced off of the hands of Owen Daniels. That was a huge play in and of itself, as it did factor in to the outcome. Flacco set a new NFL record with two touchdowns in eight straight postseason games, passing Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana and Drew Brees. That’s pretty good company if you ask me. The other question is this: if not Flacco – Ravens fans – then who? He didn’t let up a two touchdown lead, twice in the game. That was on the defense. Scoring 31 points in the NFL should be good enough for a win on any given Sunday. That was on the Ravens’ defense and their patched up secondary. Rob Gronkowski, some trickery, and Patriots’ half time adjustments were enough to pull out a win on their home turf.

There was criticism of Torrey Smith on the play that Flacco threw the pick on. Some fans felt that he didn’t do enough to break up the play. I’ve looked at the replays and he never had a chance to make a play on the ball. The safety was in good position, and got there at the ball’s high point. Smith is good, solid football player, but he doesn’t have the instincts to go up there and fight for the ball. It was not a lack of effort, and I’m not even sure that he saw the safety until the last second, so he didn’t have much time to react. I hope that he and the Ravens can come to a contractual agreement, as I believe he is a solid #2 receiver in this league, and adds value to the team.

Jacoby Jones looked tentative in the last two games, particularly on kickoff returns. He was not hitting the lanes hard, and maybe was putting too much emphasis on protecting the ball. He slipped on the opening kickoff versus the Steelers, and did not look good after that. I was hoping he would unleash himself in the manner that he did two years ago in the playoffs, but he was nowhere the difference maker this post season that he was then. I was disappointed with his performance, as I expected more.

The personal foul calls were troublesome, particularly on Torrey Smith. Coach Harbaugh should have also used a time out versus running on the field to get the refs’ attention. Not to mention he was wrong about the “deceptive practices” he alleged Bill Belichick was using. I under stand coach was frustrated after the bitter loss, but watching his presser brought to mind the phrase “never blame, complain or explain. I think Harbaugh is a solid coach, but hey coach, you got beat. Simple as that. Your defense blew a two TD lead – twice! Daniels didn’t come up with a catch – that Pitta would have probably held on to – in the end zone. Sending out 4 offensive linemen is nothing new. Alabama coach Nick Saban used it this season in overtime, in a 20-13 victory over LSU. I don’t recall LSU coach Les Miles complaining about the tactic at his press conference.

Bottom line is that the Ravens should head in to the off season with their heads held high. They battled through major off field distractions, 19 players on injured reserve, a late season suspension to a key player and still scratched and clawed their way to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. They went toe to toe with a team that features a certain Hall of Fame first ballot quarterback and head coach, and gave them all that they could handle on their home turf.

Looks like offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak is coming back, and with a strong draft and some health, the Ravens are poised to make a deep run in to the playoffs next season for sure. Hopefully they’ll win enough regular season games to get some home games in the playoffs, which will make the road to where they’re ultimately trying to get to a bit easier.

 

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Big Ten Map B

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TERPS MOVE TO BIG TEN – FAIRLY QUIET

Posted on 08 July 2014 by Tom Federline

It’s official. As of July 1, 2014 the University Maryland Terrapins are a part of the B1G Ten Athletic Conference. If you didn’t catch the 60 second clip on the evening news that night or the 30 second blurb on sports radio that day, you missed it. I understand there was a “celebration” at Under Armour headquarters for supposedly an afternoon and official announcement on campus the following day for about an hour. Of course, WNST was on this in early June. But did you hear anything more about this from any other local media as the date approached? I do not spend $75+ for a shirt that breathes or $100+ for tennis shoes (UA apparel) and I also do not contribute thousands of dollars to the Terrapin Club – so I guess that’s why I wasn’t invited.

Initial announcement – “Terps are moving to the Big Ten, good-bye ACC. All lifetime Terp fans, if you don’t like it – to bad. Its’ a done deal.” Official move date – “Terps headed west, mid-summer, prior to 4th of July Holiday. It’s a done deal. Tune in Terp fans at the beginning of September to follow the mens football and mens/womens soccer teams hitch hiking on Routes 76 and 80, trying to locate Cedar Rapids, Iowa.” I have heard half the teams will be heading to Raleigh-Durham area, the other half will be attempting to dodge tornado’s on their first road trip to the Midwest.

Wait-a-minute, they won’t be hitch hiking, they’ll be riding in luxury motor coaches. Five players to an RV, equipped with all the luxuries of their dorm rooms for their 3 month road trip. I understand the university is supplying each motor coach with IT personnel that were fired from the “Identity Theft Scandal” last year. They are to help keep up the kids academic obligations, with remote access to their classes and to Facebook. In addition, I believe the University is also providing traveling “tutors” (from the basketball team),  to assist in providing guidance to the youngsters for those “remote access” classes. The motor coaches are part of the “financial stability package” the university will be receiving as part of this transfer to the midwest.

Remember the words from UMCP’s current athletic director, (not verbatim) – The move to the B1G Ten will help the University of Maryland academically, as well as financially. Really Kevin Anderson? Academically? Please provide those fabricated “academically enhanced” documents in order to safe face. What I read was – “Maryland is set to make $100 million dollars more in the next 6 years by joining the B1G Ten as opposed to if they had stayed in the ACC.” Really Kevin Anderson and President Loh? Does that include the $52 million dollar penalty for transferring out of the ACC and joining the B1G Ten? Does that include re-instating the sports programs that were dropped because of “misappropriation” of funds within the Athletic Department? Good ahead blame it on Debbie Yow – she’s gone. Does that include paying off Turgeon when he blows another basketball season? It’s all about the money and only about the money. Isn’t it Mr. AD and Mr. Pres.? Academics? Really? Maryland established itself as a top notch academic college many moons ago. Don’t embarrass yourselves, keep the athletics and academics totally separate. Ya ain’t foolin’ no one, no mo’.

College athletics are a changing. Traditions – gone. Rivalries – gone. Geographical accommodation – gone. Student athletes –  gone. Fan base – diminishing and/or transitional. “Show Me the Money” – IN. The re-arrangement of college conferences apparently are a necessary evil. As you know by now – I’m old school and that I believe – “Its All Fixed.” It does pain me when the almighty dollar wins out. I can accept there will be new traditions, new rivalries new fan bases. It’s just gonna take awhile. “O” and it’s going to take more gas money for the RV when we are picking up the kids hitch hiking across the country. FYI – here’s a look at the new B1G Fourteen:

This whole Terp transfer from the ACC to the B1G Ten has been like one huge “Firework” – (Katy Perry). One right after the other. We got blasted on the initial announcement over a weekend in the Fall. Blasted again, when the official move was done a couple of days before the 4th of July pyrotechnics. I know, I know – “It will work out in the end…….and if it doesn’t……. it’s not the end.” Or someone could just introduce the university on another scam to get some mo’ money and BAM – more fireworks.

Good luck Terps, we’ll be watching you on the B1G Ten Network (that is a plus). Good luck Terps, with local fan support during the second year of your Midwest run. The faithful will probably stay with you this initial year -it’s a novelty. Then watch the numbers dwindle. Let’s hope for the best. Go Terps – see you up in Madison. BTW -that is a cool college town. “Time to face the strange.”

D.I.Y.

FEDMAN

 

 

 

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manziel

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

Posted on 06 May 2014 by johngallo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Height: Manziel: 5-11¾; Wilson: 5-11

Weight: Manziel: 207; Wilson: 204

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

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

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

Broad jump: Manziel: 113 inches; Wilson: 118

Vertical jump: Manziel: 31.5; Wilson: 34

Three cone drill: Manziel: 6.75; Wilson: 6.97

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

Regardless, I was wrong.

But I’m right about Manziel.

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Flacco hoisting trophy

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RAVENS ROLLER COASTER RIDE

Posted on 12 February 2013 by Tom Federline

It has been a week. What just happened Baltimore? I’ll tell you what happened, the Baltimore Ravens losers of their last 4 out of 5 regular season games put on an inspirational run to win the NFL Lombardi Trophy. Is it time to get off the ride? Heck no, the city and surrounding area actually has claim to another National championship in a major sport. It has been 12 years and you don’t know when it will happen again – no you don’t get off the ride. Now, does the roller coaster level out? I sure hope so. That was one heckuva January run. I am not a fan of the roller coaster, not at this stage of the game. I’m to old, my heart can’t take it. Now, back in the day…………….different story, maybe that’s why my heart and blood pressure tells me,” cool out middle aged guy – just sit back and let the chips fall where they may.” Yeah right – not happenin’.

The Baltimore football Ravens took their fans on a ride of a lifetime. All the while catching the eye of sports fans around the country. Underdogs over-achieving, was story line enough. Then add on the Ray Lewis’ retirement. Then add on Ray-Rays religious dramatizations (and the Saturday Night Live skit http://www.myspace.com/video/saturday-night-live/weekend-update-ray-lewis/109174459 ). You go Keenan Thompson. Then to top it off, add on the sibling rivalry of the Harbaugh Brothers coaching against each other in the Super Bowl. “O” and don’t forget the Denver Classic and the dis-mantling of pretty boy Brady and his troll coach Bill Belichek.

The run, I mean the ride. I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket to the Colt game. The Ravens were not going to lose that game. Ray-Ray had announced his retirement during the week and it was going to be his last home game – the Ravens were not losing that game. Las Vegas money, Steve Bisciotti’s money and the NFL’s money was not going to end Ray-Rays run on that game. It was not going to be his last dance. It was an ugly game but they won. Denver game – wow, then wow, then wow again. Definitely one of the top 3 Ravens games of all time. New England game – sweet payback and no retirement party for Ray. San Francisco in New Orleans – hold the phone.

The ride had a couple more heart stoppers left in it. Heck at one point, it even felt like somebody had turned off the lights and play had to be stopped. Ravens up 28 – 6, the tide was a crestin’, 3rd and 14 for the bad guys and “Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights – Pat Travers Band. Ok gang, I actually have a little experience with this one – Rule #1, Electrical Engineering for Stadiums 101 – “You don’t lose power to the venue – unless there is a major city grid outage.” Two separate hot feeds to the venue with transfer and generator back-up for life safety. I do not know the history or infrastructure of the Super(?)dome, but somebody screwed up big time. Or a 49er’s fan, got access to the Substation or the Service Level and knew what switch to hit.

It almost changed the outcome of the game. I think the astronauts in the space station orbiting the earth could feel the tension emanating into the atmosphere directly above the east coast mid-atlantic region. It was not a pleasant evening there for about 1-1/2 hours there during the 3rd and 4th quarters, now was it. Still on the roller coaster, still hanging on, still hoping for a safe, happy ending. The power outage changed the momentum of the game. I don’t care what Roger Goodell said, I don’t care what Steve Bisciotti said, I don’t care what the Superdome Facility guys said, the power outage changed the game, but not the outcome. The Superdome and city of New Orleans should not host another Super Bowl until a new properly designed facility is in it’s place. The power outage was a nice final hairpin turn on the ride – it did not help the blood pressure.

Ravens Won.

Ravens Won.

A new generation now knows what it feels like for a local sports franchise to win a National Championship. The city needed it. The State of Maryland and surrounding area needed it. The Baltimore Ravens needed it and Ray Lewis deserved it. You Go Ravens!

Pitchers and cathers reported to Spring Training. Are we ready for another ride? Your darn right we are. GO O’s and Thank You – Ravens. Baltimore Sports Pride is front and center.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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acc_1978

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Terps to the Big Ten

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Tom Federline

It just ain’t right. The University of Maryland is leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Big Ten (or is it 12, or 14, or eventually 24?), to “ensure the financial stability” of the sports department (possibly save 7 sports) and receive “academic benefits.” Pa-lease Wallace Loh and Kevin Anderson, we are not buying it. Just like the Iowa and Army alumni (respectively) that did not buy the oceanfront property in Kansas you tried selling them at your previous jobs.  It’s all about setting the University up for the conversion into the Five (5) Super-Conferences. It’s all about excuses to raise tuition. It’s all about the money. It’s all about football and basketball.

Nice Thanksgiving Week surprise, huh? Stuff this, U of M. Yeah, yeah, yeah……….financially it may help dig the powers at large out of the hole they dug and an attempt to save face from the ridicule and embarasssment of losing 7 athletic programs. I liked the Lefthanders quotes – “What is the matter? Why are they so broke?” How can a major state university mis-appropriates monies and drop 7 sports? I still can’t get over that one. With all the successes of mens/womens basketball teams, mens/womens soccer, mens/womens lacrosse, womens filed hockey, etc. I just don’t buy it.

The Atlantic Coast Conference to me: Clemson, Duke, NC, NC State, Vigina, Wake Forest, maybe Georgia Tech (1978) and of course the Terps. That’s what I grew up with. That is what I will always remember. I didn’t buy Florida State coming in (1991) and my goodness when the Big East started invading, I basically boycotted those games. My most memorable ACC basketball coaches: the Lefthander, Gary, Coack K., Dean Smith, Norm Sloan, Jimmy V., Terry Holland, Dave Odom (the otter) and Bobby Cremins. Those days are gone, but oh the memories.

So, who did you root for this past week in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge? I was all over Michigan – “Go Wolverines beat State! and “How ’bout them Stinkin’ Badgers – beat those Wahoos!” I don’ think so……..but it was (as always) “Anybody but Duke. Go Buckeyes!”  Basketball is going to be interesting. Football……….Terps don’t have a chance.

Brace yourself for the five (5) Super-Conferences. That is where Collegiate sports is heading. Throw out the traditional geographically correct conference locations. Some rivalries will remain, some will start anew, some will become a distant past memory. It’s all about the money and bragging rights. Not that any of this is “fixed” or there has been some mis/re-allocation of funds, because that would just absolutely crush me. Gosh darn, I sure hope greed hasn’t entered into the picture.

The student-athlete? I guess it depends on the sport and the individual. The athlete (how much money can you bring in) – student (which is questionable with the football/basketball programs), is more like it.  Will this move “fix” the supposed struggling U of M Athletics? Only time will tell. Maybe the powers at be needed NEW money? Not that any of this is “fixed” or there has been some mis-allocation of funds, because that would just absolutely crush me. Gosh darn, I sure hope greed hasn’t entered into the picture.

The Big Ten? Currently most of those schools are in the mid-west and north right? So, when are we going to Minnesoda on a road trip. Terrapin Nation be travelin’ well to Nebraska or how about Iowa? Those destinations on your “bucket list”? I wonder how easy it will be to get a football ticket in Ann Arbor, for Terps / Michigan? Ok, going to that stadium with a full house might be cool. But I’m doing it in September!

Bottom line – the “Times They are a Changin'” – (Bob Dylan). Accept and roll or divert your energies. As an “old schooler” and traditionalist – it just ain’t right. As a realist – bring it on. It’s all a little heavy to digest at the moment. On a positive, no more Carolina refs on a consistent basis. I have heard gossip about those corrupt Michigan refs though. You kiddin’ me? GO TERPS!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Maryland Media Day

Posted on 06 August 2012 by scottzolotorow

New Maryland Football Helmets

Coach Randy Edsall seems confident that his second year will have a much better outcome then his first at Maryland. His Terrapins spun a dismal 2-10 season in his first, so as they say, things can only get better. Edsall and his players were in the spotlight at today’s Media Day Event at the Gossett Team House next to Byrd Stadium. Today’s hot topics were the new 3-4 defense, the FieldTurf, which former University of Maryland and NFL quarterback, Neil O’Donnell, spoke about, and C.J. Brown’s legs.

With C.J. Brown being the only quarterback on the roster with any collegiate experience all eyes are on him and his longevity. The other two QB’s, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe are both freshman straight out of high school. Brown is the kind of quarterback that uses his athletic ability as his biggest strength, he’s never afraid to run and take a big hit. But with the lack of depth at quarterback with last season’s initial starter, Danny O’Brien departing to Wisconsin, there is no room for injury. “Anytime you think about getting hurt or playing different than you’re used to playing, you’re more prone to injury,” stated Brown.

Brown’s targets are plentiful this season led by fellow captain Kevin Dorsey, a senior who pulled in 45 receptions and three touchdowns last season. Kerry Boykins and Marcus Leak, who combined for 49 receptions a year ago, are for now the number two and three receivers respectively on the depth chart but all eyes are directly aimed at five-star recruit Stefon Diggs from Good Counsel High School. Edsall says that Diggs will be given an opportunity to show what he can do as a wide receiver and as a kick returner, but he’ll have to earn his playing time and he’ll have to continue to play well to keep it. Edsall’s favorite part of his offense is the tight end position. He believes they have an incredible tight end core led by senior Matt Furstenburg, who is on several first team All-ACC lists. Seniors Devonte Campbell and Ryan Schlothauer along with a healthy junior Dave Stinebaugh, give the Terps four reliable targets at the tight end position.

As for the defensive side, Edsall is very excited about the front seven of the Terps new 3-4 scheme brought in by new defensive coordinator, Brian Stewart. Edsall’s biggest concern on the defensive side of the ball is the depth at defensive back, but with Stewart’s specialty being defensive backs, Edsall believes that things can be pulled together to make the unit stronger as a whole. Stewart has been a defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys and the University of Houston Cougars. The Terps defense returns 10 of 11 starters from a year ago with the addition of Kenny Tate, the stand out linebacker who missed most of last season. The biggest name on the defensive squad is Joe Vellano. This season Vellano will be moving from his usual Nose Tackle spot to Defensive End but he isn’t worried about the position change, he’s excited. Vellano has gained national recognition and is a preseason First Team All-America according to Athlon and a USA Today First Team All-ACC member.

Of course it wouldn’t have been a Maryland press conference without the mentioning of the uniforms and new FieldTurf. Neil O’Donnell compared the new field to a coffee filter as he spoke about the draining system that will filter snow and water through the field creating no puddles. His biggest emphasis on the new field is that “it is actually safer than a natural grass field.” O’Donnell’s team hopes that the field severely decreases the amount of concussions and injuries mentioning that Junior Seau was a good friend of his and that concussions really cause problems to these athletes, something that nobody wants to see.

The new uniforms will have the player’s names on the back of both the home Red and the away white, but only those two. The pride uniforms and black alternate home uniforms will not have the player’s names on them. Captain Joe Vellano said that the players had no idea this was happening but that it was a nice surprise and something that the parents like.

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It is Time for the NCAA to Grab the Reins and Control College Football

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It is Time for the NCAA to Grab the Reins and Control College Football

Posted on 21 July 2012 by andrewtomlinson

With new accusations the University of Miami Hurricanes football program broke football recruiting rules it is clear the NCAA has to do one thing over the next year and that is grab hold of their football programs.

It seems like the past year has been one black mark on college football after another. First it was the University of Miami scandal featuring illegal benefits and boosters not following rules. Then, it was Ohio State’s turn with players reportedly trading jerseys and memorabilia for tattoos and other benefits that led to the ousting of now dirty coach Jim Tressel. Following OSU was the breaking of the Penn State Jerry Sandusky scandal and finally we arrive back at The U. It has come full circle in the last year and while some scandals may have been left out, it is clear the NCAA has a problem.

Some people may say every college program violates the rules and it may be true in some fashion. At some point though, the association designed essentially to make sure players actually go to class and get a degree instead of just playing amateur athletics, has to bare down and say enough is enough. There are penalties in place to make sure other institutions take notice and follow the rules instead of continuing to blatantly ignore them. The NCAA is in a precarious position of risking the ability for the sport as a whole to function as extracurricular activity instead of essentially being a non-college athletic sport.

The Jerry Sandusky scandal and the fact Penn State University was reportedly unable to face “the death penalty” because the acts that were committed didn’t break any real NCAA football rules, highlights what is wrong with the current standard. In a world where young adult athletes are fed the fabrication that they get one chance, the NCAA seems to continually give the institutions multiple ones. At some point the powers that be in college football need to stop worrying about how to get the most money out of the bowl system and need to spend more time making sure teams can play in the bowls.

We are entering into yet another season where a major college football team will be ineligible for a bowl, with Ohio State University picking up where USC left off from the Reggie Bush fiasco. If that is what the NCAA views as an acceptable way to punish teams, the I’d hate to see the way they punish their kids for taking their car out for a joy-ride. By NCAA punishment precedent, a joy-ride would probably earn someone a timeout. Southern Methodist University got the death penalty and by all accounts it seems like it scared programs straight for a few years and it is time for the NCAA to scare the new crop of NCAA rule breakers into line.

Penn State, while they didn’t break football regulations, clearly broke many rules when it comes to safely carrying out a football program. They endangered the staff, the university, the NCAA and the players on the team, not to mention the numerous kids Sandusky came into contact with. The football team ran the school and Joe Paterno had more power than the president, if that doesn’t scream “loss of institutional control” nothing does. If the NCAA were to make an example of Penn State and say a new era of discipline has started, you better bet a lot more schools would think twice before they let a booster take a kid out to dinner, let alone overlook United States law.

If the NCAA does not start to assert its authority, we are going to continue to see schools think they are above the law and conferences who seem to not care at all. College football is an endeavor for young adults to partake in outside of earning an education and it is a luxury for a University, not a necessity. Sure, you can argue the kids who are there now shouldn’t be punished for the actions of those before them. Yet, if no one is ever punished no one will ever learn and college football will continue this self-destructive cycle.

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For the Baltimore Ravens, this Season is About Timely Plays, Not Big Ones

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For the Baltimore Ravens, this Season is About Timely Plays, Not Big Ones

Posted on 14 July 2012 by andrewtomlinson

Losing Terrell Suggs is obviously a huge loss for the Baltimore Ravens defense, but the team does not need to look to replace him to get back to the AFC Championship Game, instead they simply need to play well in big spots.

There is no way a team can play at the same level or achieve the same things when it loses its top player. Whether it be offense or defense, losing a key member to a unit hurts on the field, in the locker room and in the huddle, but it does not mean all is lost for the Ravens. They are not anywhere close to being perfect defensively and there are a lot of holes and question marks, but the team just needs to pick its spots to perform well.

Racking up the sacks, turnovers, 90-yard runs and bomb passes for touchdowns are sexy and certainly make a team fun to watch, but they aren’t necessary to win the game. For a team to succeed in the NFL, they simply have to prevent the opposing team from getting into the end zone just enough so they can get into the end zone more. This may sound like a condescending lesson on the football basics, but so often people forget it is about stopping the other team from scoring, not lighting up a stat sheet.

Suggs is a huge member of the defensive core, is a leader and provides pressure off the edge on practically every down. He is a nice weapon to have, but it isn’t like he is the only weapon the Ravens have. His loss will be missed but with Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody in the middle joined by Pernell McPhee and Courtney Upshaw coming off the end, the Ravens should be able to stop the opposition from gaining first downs and driving down the field.

What the group is going to need to learn is that stopping the running back short by a yard on third and three, gets the same result as blowing him up in the backfield does. Sure, it may change the net field position you gain after a punt by a few yards, but then it is up to Joe Flacco and the offense to maintain the same consistency.

Which brings up another point of, what do the Ravens do if they don’t have Ray Rice too?

Rice is incredibly important to this team. He is their home run threat, the five-tool player — can you tell I have been watching a lot of baseball? — and a can’t miss guy when it comes to predicting performance. Yet he isn’t an integral part of the team’s success and if he holds out for part of the season for a new contract, the Ravens can still win. Again, just like the defense, the offense comes down to consistency. It isn’t about scoring the fastest or in the fewest plays, it is instead about scoring often and more than the other team.

Big plays are needed and at times you need to go deep, but the Ravens should not get away from just taking the little gains. Three plays of at least four yards gets you a first down and if you can string together a lot of four yard plays, before you know it you are in the end zone. For the offense, this may be key if only because that is how they will have to play in the postseason.

Too often team’s get caught up in the big plays and explosive shows of force, but in the playoffs those big plays seem to disappear. As a result, it is the teams who can methodically move down the field who often come out on top. The Ravens were not that team against the Patriots last year and need to instead pick their spots to go for it all on both offense and defense.

With potentially several key play makers missing on defense and at least one or two questions on offense, the Ravens are going to need to pick when they want go for the big sack, interception or pass. They have the ability to make the plays, but it isn’t like years past where a missed play on first down can be rectified by a big play on second or third. This team is going to have to make sure it plays within its limitations and understand they are not super human.

If they can play smart football, which by all accounts they will based on the leadership and coaching staff they have, the Ravens will be one of the best teams in football again this year. It is not inconceivable to think they can capture the North and make it back to the AFC Championship Game. That said, the team may look a little different than years past and instead of being a threat to make big plays on every down, fans may have to hold on and wait for the plays to happen at the right time.

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