Tag Archive | "harbaugh"

49ers Offense is S.O.F.T.

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49ers Offense is S.O.F.T.

Posted on 29 January 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

One of the things that has made this Ravens playoff run especially satisfying for fans of the team has been their ability time and again to prove the national media and the national consensus wrong. The Ravens have been written off at seemingly every turn of their playoff run, and just as quickly as they can prove the doubters and their perceptions wrong, along comes a new opponent with a fresh set of reasons to write off a team whose accomplishments have been diminished far too easily and often as emotion and destiny.


The sad fact, for football fans in general, is that the more you that watch games and then compare what you’ve seen to what the pundits are spewing, the quicker you come to realize that those who are paid to opine and comment on football games can’t seem to be bothered to actually watch much football. Instead it seems that many have defaulted into the habit of watching whatever games are of local interest to them or are being served up in their areas, along with the prime time games, and then forming their opinions on the rest of the field based on what they’ve seen in highlight packages or heard from someone else.

That being the case, this seems to be a Super Bowl match-up served specifically into the collective wheelhouse of the lazy media, as there’s little useful film on either of these teams outside of their playoff games. The Ravens changed offensive coordinators near the end of their season and took a couple of weeks to find a rhythm as an offense. Also, the national media seems to have been mesmerized by the Ray Lewis story to such an extent that they’ve missed the biggest single reason for the Ravens improved results, the inclusion of Bryant McKinnie on the offensive line. McKinnie’s presence has not only improved the Ravens at left tackle, but by casting Michael Oher back to right tackle has improved the team there too, and that move having pushed Kelechi Osemele to left guard has improved a 3rd offensive line position making the impact of McKinnie exponential.

The results have been undeniable, quarterback Joe Flacco, now better protected seems to have more time and confidence in the pocket allowing him to focus downfield and utilize his greatest strength, his strong and accurate arm. In the lead-up to the Broncos game, no one was suggesting that Denver had an issue in their secondary, because they hadn’t shown one all year. Hindsight now shows that perhaps the edge rush capabilities of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil was a big part of the secondary’s success. When that pass rush was neutralized by the Ravens new look offensive line, the secondary couldn’t find an answer and the rest was academic.

Hindsight as well would suggest that the “finesse” offenses of the Broncos and Patriots weren’t ready to respond to the physical style of play that the Ravens defense brings regularly. The evidence, on the Patriots side of the equation was there based on their previous meetings with the Ravens, as well as their inability to deal with the physical defensive stylings of the 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals. The NFC West, it seems, is becoming very AFC North-like when it comes to defensive prowess.

As the Ravens and 49ers prepare to meet for a title, the read option offense run by the Niners and the bold decision by coach Jim Harbaugh to change quarterbacks mid-season are the talk of the football world. What’s being overlooked however, probably because of the physical nature of San Francisco’s defense, is that their offense hasn’t exactly responded well to the physical style of play the Ravens defense projects to bring to the table against them. The Niners are bullies on defense but may be prone to getting bullied on offense.

The 49ers are a Slick Offensive Football Team. Their current brand of offense is geared more toward getting defenses off balance and tricking them than it is to simply lining up and beating teams physically. There’s nothing wrong with that, as league-wide there are plenty of teams finding success with that formula; unfortunately for San Francisco, they haven’t been finding success against defenses like the Ravens.

Slick Offensive Football Team = S.O.F.T.

While Colin Kaepernick seems to be the wildcard in the assessment of the 49ers offense, the team’s handling of Kaepernick makes it even wilder. Not only did the Niners change QBs mid-season, but even after making the change they seemed to try making him fit into a pro-style offense and force him to be a pocket QB. Once the playoffs came around though, the Niners have gone much more read option heavy and as a result, much like the Ravens, it becomes difficult to draw many conclusions about the 49ers based on anything other than their playoff games based on a glaring and dramatic change in strategy.

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Niners LB Smith not sure if John Harbaugh as intense as Jim

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

LINEBACKER ALDON SMITH

(on why being named team MVP means so much to him) “A lot because you have a lot of guys on this team who are all-stars, who have made Pro Bowls consecutively. You have Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, I can go on. I come in my second year and I get the MVP, it means a lot.”

(on how he found out he was named team MVP) “We were all in a meeting together as a team. (Head) Coach (Jim) Harbaugh got up and just went out there and said it.”

(on his relationship with Justin Smith) “Other than our last names being Smith (and) us going to Missouri, from the time I stepped into the NFL, he was the guy who helped me out with everything. I worked out with him during the (2011)-lockout and he helped me a lot just coming in my rookie year. Then on the field, we just work well with each other. We feed off each other. We have a rhythm that we just developed together.”

(on why he has gotten less sacks recently) “A lot more guys coming to block me. I’m getting double-teamed a lot, triple-teamed at times, and then the quarterbacks are getting the ball out fast. Another thing that’s really cool about that is if I’m not making a play, a lot of times I’m getting double-teamed a sack comes from somebody else. I might not get it, but at the end of the day the stats still say it’s a sack.”

(on if he agrees that San Francisco seems to get stronger in the second half) “I do agree with that. We really work hard. We lift a lot. We take good care of ourselves and I think that all just transitions on. We’re not just a team that’s good in the first half; we play four quarters of good football.”

(on if he was surprised he was named team MVP) “Yes, a little bit. Like I said, there are a lot of guys that are good (and) a lot of guys that could have gotten that award. It was an honor.”

(on the quality of linebackers playing in the Super Bowl) “You could say (that) it’s the linebacker bowl, right? There are a lot of guys that can play. You have a lot of guys. You have Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, me, Ray Lewis, (and) Terrell Suggs. There’s going to be a lot of talent out there. That’s where we are.”

(on the demeanor of Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio) “Vic is a calm guy. He’s not one of those coaches that’s yelling at you and doing a lot of vocal. He gets the message across and everybody understands it. We take it and go with it.”

(on if he talked to Michael Strahan while he was chasing his sack record) “No, I actually talked to him before the Atlanta game on the field. We joked around about it. He was kind of giving me a hard time about not getting it. That’s about it.”

(on Head Coach Jim Harbaugh saying every team needs an Aldon Smith on it) “That’s an honor. Coming from Coach Harbaugh, that means a lot. It’s an honor.”

(on President Obama’s comments on the safety of football) “I think the game has been like it always has. It’s a physical game. Everybody plays hard. Guys get hit sometimes and that’s what we all know coming into the game. We all signed up for it. It’s not like we signed up and thought we were going to play tennis. We came out. We’re playing football.”

(on whether the team has talked about the potential distractions of New Orleans) “Really be responsible. We know what our goal is. Our goal is to come in here and win the game, not just to come down here and be at the Super Bowl. We’re coming down here to win the game. We all have that goal, so everybody is just being responsible and doing the right thing.”

(on losing in the NFC Championship last season) “We were so close last year. We were so close. We all know how we felt and we didn’t want that feeling again this year. I think every time we were all together, whether it was for our workouts, just our meetings or just hanging out, we all knew that if we ever got back to this situation, it was not going to end up like that. We want to be here.”

(on how Justin Smith helps him on the field) “It’s attention. He’s a guy that draws a lot of attention. He’s a great player and a Pro Bowl guy. With that, if they’re doubling him, they might single me up. Regardless, we’re all getting a lot of attention and one of us will be free or singled up and we’ll take advantage of it.”

(on the advantage of the two weeks between the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl) “I think the advantage is that you get your body healthy. You get your legs back. The only disadvantage would maybe be the little bit of momentum that kind of gets lost.”

(on the extra attentions he has gotten from opposing offenses) “I really just go out and play. I don’t try to think too much about what they’re doing. I have to play my game. I have to do what I do well to be successful, so my goal is to just go out there and play.”

(on what Randy Moss said to the team before they left) “Everybody respects Randy Moss. Everybody respects his word and what he’s done on the field. He really just kind of kept it simple. We all know our goal. We all know what we really want, so just make the right decisions and be ready to play on Sunday.”

(on what was being said after falling behind by 17 against Atlanta in the NFC Championship) “Not a lot was being said. More so, we all believed in each other. We all knew what our goal was and we all had that understanding that we wanted to come out of there with a win. I think that’s one of the things that propelled us to the win – nobody panicked, nobody second-guessed each other. We just went out there and put four quarters together.”

(on whether playing at the Superdome earlier this season gives the 49ers an advantage) “We’ve been here before. I don’t think that really matters at all. It’s a game. Every game is different, so we’ll see.”

(on the process of getting a sack) “You beat the guy in front of you. Then you go and make the big play. Everybody cheers and you feel good.”

(on Head Coach Jim Harbaugh) “He’s a unique guy. He still thinks he’s a player. He’s really intense. I don’t know John that much, but I don’t know if he’s as intense as his brother.”

(on Coach Fangio and his dry sense of humor) “Vic is a really cool guy. He’s just cool and he doesn’t say a lot. You’re right on his sense of humor. He makes jokes and they’re not really that funny. He thinks they’re funny, but nobody laughs. He gets his message across.”

(on how Coach Harbaugh acts like a player) “You catch him running across the field, throwing the ball and doing little things like he’s still playing. He’s a big kid out there.”

(on who the team looks up to as leaders) “I think we all lead. I think there are a couple guys that have been playing a long time that you can look up to like Justin (Smith) and  (Patrick) Willis, but there are a lot of guys. Everybody is a leader and that’s what makes us really good.”

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49ers, Ravens have never lost in Super Bowl

Posted on 28 January 2013 by WNST Staff

 

SUPER BOWL XLVII: BALTIMORE RAVENS VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

 

It all comes down to this.

 

On Sunday, February 3, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will meet in Super Bowl XLVII (6:00 PM ET, CBS) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

 

The game will mark the first time in any of the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL) that brothers – Baltimore’s JOHN and San Francisco’s JIM HARBAUGH – will match up against one another as head coaches in a postseason game.

 

“I guess it’s pretty neat,” says John Harbaugh, who has eight postseason wins in his first five seasons, tied with TOM FLORES for the most since the 1970 merger. “It’s pretty cool. But it’s really about the team. It’s about the players. That’s what it’s about. It’s about those guys. The more we focus on those guys, the better it is for everybody.”

 

The 49ers (5-0) and Ravens (1-0) are a combined 6-0 in the Super Bowl. San Francisco won Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV and XXIX. Baltimore won Super Bowl XXXV. This is the 49ers’ first Super Bowl appearance since the 1994 season. The Ravens’ lone Super Bowl appearance came during the 2000 season.

 

TEAM

SUPER BOWL RECORD

SUPER BOWL WINS
San Francisco 49ers

5-0

XVI, XIX, XXIII, XXIV, XXIX
Baltimore Ravens

1-0

XXXV

 

Super Bowl XLVII will be the second Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXX between Dallas and Pittsburgh) in which each team lost its Conference Championship Game the previous year. In 2011, the 49ers lost to the New York Giants in the NFC title game and the Ravens were defeated by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

 

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be in the Super Bowl,” says 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker PATRICK WILLIS, who leads the team with 19 tackles in the postseason. “I’m really grateful for this.”

 

During Championship Game weekend, the Ravens and 49ers became the first set of road teams to win the Conference Championships since 1997 (Denver and Green Bay). In the second halves of their games, the Ravens (21-0) and 49ers (14-0) outscored their opponents 35-0. The AFC (47.7 million viewers) and NFC (42.0 million viewers) Championship Games ranked as TV’s most-watched programs since Super Bowl XLVI.

 

“This is a great moment for our team, for the city of San Francisco and the whole Bay Area,” says 49ers Pro Bowl safety DONTE WHITNER. “Now for the big one in New Orleans. We’re going to be ready.”

 

The Ravens defeated New England 28-13 at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game. It marked the first time that the Patriots lost a home game in which TOM BRADY started and New England led at halftime; the Patriots had been 67-0 (including postseason). In the victory, quarterback JOE FLACCO threw three touchdown passes, including two to wide receiver ANQUAN BOLDIN.

 

“Joe Flacco has been great at playoff time,” says NFL Network analyst and former quarterback KURT WARNER. “That’s when he plays his best football.”

 

With the Ravens playing in the Super Bowl, this is the seventh time in the past eight seasons in which a team that played in the Wild Card round has advanced to the Super Bowl.

 

The win at New England marked the sixth road playoff victory for Flacco, the most in NFL history. His eight postseason wins are tied with BEN ROETHLISBERGER for the second-most in a quarterback’s first five NFL seasons, trailing only Brady (nine).

 

QUARTERBACK TEAM

FIRST FIVE SEASONS

PLAYOFF WINS

Tom Brady New England

2000-04

9

Joe Flacco Baltimore

2008-12

8*

Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh

2004-08

8

                                                                      *Currently in fifth season

 

“This is just one of those things you dream of when you are a little kid,” says Flacco about advancing to the Super Bowl. “You watch JOE MONTANA and those guys in the Super Bowl. So to be here at this point is pretty special.”

 

Flacco leads the NFL in the playoffs with a 114.7 passer rating, which includes eight touchdowns and no interceptions. In NFL postseason history, the only quarterbacks to finish a postseason with at least nine touchdowns and no interceptions are former 49ers quarterbacks and Pro Football Hall of Famers STEVE YOUNG (nine touchdowns; 1994) and Montana (11 touchdowns; 1989).

 

Veteran linebacker RAY LEWIS – who was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV – has led the Baltimore defense. The Ravens joined the 2010 New York Jets as the only teams to defeat both PEYTON MANNING and Tom Brady in the same postseason. Lewis, who will retire after the season, leads the NFL with 44 tackles in the playoffs.

 

“Ray Lewis is a guy who has been here since the beginning of this franchise,” says Baltimore safety BERNARD POLLARD. “He’s a guy who is ‘The Raven.’ We all respect him. When he speaks, everybody stops, everybody hears him. He’s kept the team together. He’s kept this organization together in so many ways. We’re all in this together. We want to go win this thing.”

 

The 49ers erased a 17-0 deficit in the NFC Championship Game to defeat Atlanta 28-24. San Francisco is one of only three teams to win a postseason game on the road after trailing by as many as 17 points.

 

“We fought hard,” says 49ers running back FRANK GORE, who rushed for two touchdowns in the win over Atlanta. “We fought and we deserved it.”

 

San Francisco’s COLIN KAEPERNICK, who took over as the team’s starting quarterback in Week 11, has guided the team to a 7-2 record (.778) in his starts, including a pair of postseason victories. In those nine starts, he has a 101.2 passer rating (13 touchdowns, four interceptions) and has rushed for 440 yards with four TDs.
In the NFC Championship Game, he completed 16 of 21 passes (76.2 percent) for 233 yards with one touchdown, no interceptions and a 127.7 passer rating. His 11.1 yards per pass mark was the highest in 49ers postseason history, besting the previous club record of 10.7 held by Joe Montana.

 

“He’s made great plays for us and stepped up big for us all season,” says 49ers Pro Bowl tackle JOE STALEY about his quarterback. “I’m excited to go into this next game with him.”

 

Kaepernick will be the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start the Super Bowl in the same season as his first career NFL start, joining TOM BRADY, KURT WARNER and VINCE FERRAGAMO.

 

QUARTERBACK TEAM

SEASON

SUPER BOWL RESULT
Vince Ferragamo LA Rams

1979

Lost to Pittsburgh, 31-19
Kurt Warner St. Louis

1999

Defeated Tennessee, 23-16
Tom Brady New England

2001

Defeated St. Louis, 20-17
Colin Kaepernick San Francisco

2012

Faces Baltimore on February 3

 

Kaepernick’s seven career regular-season starts are the third-fewest for a starting quarterback in the Super Bowl, trailing only JEFF HOSTETLER (four) and Ferragamo (five).

 

“If Colin Kaepernick plays well in the Super Bowl, he is going to change the face of the quarterback position,” says NFL Network analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer DEION SANDERS.

 

In the postseason, Kaepernick has a 105.9 passer rating and has rushed for 202 yards. No player has ever posted a 100+ passer rating and rushed for at least 200 yards in a single postseason.

 

“Winning the George Halas Trophy is a huge accomplishment,” says Jim Harbaugh. “It’s another flag. You want to get as many trophies and flags as you can. We said at the start of this there are three Super Bowls to win. We have won two so far and have one more coming up.”

FINAL 2012 NFL STANDINGS

American Football Conference

East Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

y-New England Patriots

12

4

0

.750

557

331

6-2-0

6-2-0

11-1-0

6-0-0

Won 2

Miami Dolphins

7

9

0

.438

288

317

5-3-0

2-6-0

5-7-0

2-4-0

Lost 1

New York Jets

6

10

0

.375

281

375

3-5-0

3-5-0

4-8-0

2-4-0

Lost 3

Buffalo Bills

6

10

0

.375

344

435

4-4-0

2-6-0

5-7-0

2-4-0

Won 1

 

North Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

y-Baltimore Ravens

10

6

0

.625

398

344

6-2-0

4-4-0

8-4-0

4-2-0

Lost 1

x-Cincinnati Bengals

10

6

0

.625

391

320

4-4-0

6-2-0

7-5-0

3-3-0

Won 3

Pittsburgh Steelers

8

8

0

.500

336

314

5-3-0

3-5-0

5-7-0

3-3-0

Won 1

Cleveland Browns

5

11

0

.313

302

368

4-4-0

1-7-0

5-7-0

2-4-0

Lost 3

 

South Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

y-Houston Texans

12

4

0

.750

416

331

6-2-0

6-2-0

10-2-0

5-1-0

Lost 2

x-Indianapolis Colts

11

5

0

.688

357

387

7-1-0

4-4-0

8-4-0

4-2-0

Won 2

Tennessee Titans

6

10

0

.375

330

471

4-4-0

2-6-0

5-7-0

1-5-0

Won 1

Jacksonville Jaguars

2

14

0

.125

255

444

1-7-0

1-7-0

2-10-0

2-4-0

Lost 5

 

West Division

Team

W

L

T

Pct

PF

PA

Home

Away

Conf

Div

Streak

z-Denver Broncos

13

3

0

.813

481

289

7-1-0

6-2-0

10-2-0

6-0-0

Won 11

San Diego Chargers

7

9

0

.438

350

350

3-5-0

4-4-0

7-5-0

4-2-0

Won 2

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Jim Harbaugh not sure Superdome experience benefits Kaepernick, 49ers

Posted on 27 January 2013 by WNST Staff

HEAD COACH JIM HARBAUGH

 

(on the benefits of having Colin Kaepernick making his first road start in the Superdome) “What are the benefits? He’s played in this stadium, just as all our team has. I don’t know how much of an advantage that is. I can’t really put an advantage quota on it.”

 

(on if he tried to keep the routine normal this week before coming to New Orleans) “Not to go into the plan of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish, we got a good idea. It’s what we’ve done and it’s been successful so far. Our team has been really focused on winning, focused on the unity of the team. I think it’s really genuine. I think it’s the best focus on unity and winning that I’ve ever seen or been a part of. This week, we tried to make it like a normal week, being here on Sunday, in the city starting Monday like it’s a week leading up to a Sunday game is our plan.”

 

(on playing for Coach George Seifert and what he learned) “Quite a bit. It was a real pleasure to work with George Seifert, to get a chance to know him. I didn’t get on the field that year. One of the great things was being able to meet Greg Roman, who was an assistant offensive line coach at the time. I was just so impressed with his knowledge of football and the kind of guy he was. We struck up a very good friendship within the first couple weeks I was there. I made friends right off the bat. Later, getting a chance to work with him was a real great thing for us.”

 

(on if he has spoken to any other Super Bowl coaches to get any insight on how to prepare for Super Bowl week and what the special challenges are being a first time Super Bowl coach) “No real in depth types of things. I had a short conversation with Bill Cowher when he was out interviewing some of our players. I was on a radio show the other day and John Madden was on as well—a couple short comments as well. (The challenge is) that you haven’t done it before. Its uncharted waters for a rookie Super Bowl coach, but that’s exciting too. We have a great thrill and great desire to be in uncharted waters. Our coaches and our players have always relished that and strived in that type of environment.”

 

(on coaching a franchise that has never lost a Super Bowl and his plans for working with the team this week) “There is a great 49er history with our team and we’re proud of that. As far as working during the week, meetings, practices and that will be our focus each day. There will be weight lifting involved tomorrow and meetings and practices.”

 

(on Bill Walsh dressing up as a bell man before his first Super Bowl and if he sees any need to add some levity for his players and if they need anything to ease the pressure) “Dashon Goldson had a quote on our quote board about two and a half weeks ago that ‘We get fresher under pressure.’ That bodes well for us.”

 

(on what he recalls about the 49ers and their dominance in the 80s) “What I remember, I played against some of those teams. As you described, dominant. The organization has a tremendous history and we’re very proud of it. This is new business and our team is focused on winning a championship.”

 

(on how much of himself does he see in Colin Kaepernick in terms of his attitude and passion for the game) “I shared this with some of our beat writers a week and a half ago, but it’s true. It’s a true story. When Colin is running and the stride that he has, the gracefulness with his stride, the ground that he covers, how fast and quick he is reminds me of myself. Then I wake up. But when I dream and have visions of how I run personally, it’s the way Colin runs.”

 

(on how important Trent Baalke has been to the makeup of the team) “Very important. A key integral member. It’s a team effort. We’ve always said that. Everyone does a little and it adds up to be a lot. That’s been our approach.”

 

(on if he has been to a Super Bowl before and if so, what was his experience like) “Yes, I have attended Super Bowls in the past. For example, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers two years ago. I was at this Super Bowl in New Orleans when San Francisco played Denver and there might have been one other one along the way. There might have been a couple other ones.”

(on him being a gutsy quarterback when he played in the NFL) “Can you spread the word on that a little? Can you get that out? Try not to keep that to yourself. I appreciate it.”

 

(on whether he ever second-guessed himself after replacing Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick) “Alex had played a lot more than two good games. He had played 26, 28 really good games. I thought it was a unique situation. Viewed it that way when it happened. My experience had always been that when it comes to playing the best quarterback, or playing the quarterback with the hot hand, it was choosing between two guys that were struggling, at least in my own personal experience. That was far from the case that we were looking at at the time. Two quarterbacks that were playing extremely well. Made the decision that we thought was best for our team.”

 

(on whether he will allow Colin Kaepernick to make his own reads or if he will develop specific plays for him and the running game) “First of all, I wouldn’t categorize Colin as a read-option quarterback, for starters. Then, to answer your question, all of those things would be possibilities. We’d love for our opponent to consider them all. Colin is extremely talented at the read-option, he’s extremely talented throwing the football as well. There are a lot of options we could go.”

 

(on whether he considers this week as a distraction to the players) “I think it’s a good thing that we’ve done this, really the last two years. We’ve stayed in a hotel, had our meetings in a hotel and then go to a facility to practice and get ready for the game. Same approach as always, really. Enjoy the moment, enjoy the preparation. I think that’s what our team enjoys the most, the practice, the meetings and especially the competition. Gearing up for the competitive nature of a football game, a championship game. Very excited about it.”

 

(on what led him to decide to stick with most of the players that were there when he was named head coach) “Just watching the tape. One conversation at a time with the players, getting to know them. We realized that we had a lot of character and we had a lot of talent.”

 

(on whether he had talked to his brother about one day meeting in the Super Bowl) “No, not as kids. At Gettysburg, our conversations about facing each other were the November 25th game that we knew was on the schedule, the Thanksgiving game.”

 

(on how much credit he gives Colin Kaepernick for being the difference maker) “It’s been a team effort. Feel like there’s a lot of people that have a lot of fingerprints on this team’s success. Like I said, the team has been focused on the unity of the team and on winning better than any team I’ve ever seen or been around. Really credit that to the men in the locker room. They enjoy each other’s company. They like being around each other and they like competing. They hold themselves to a high standard in terms of that. Colin’s play has been outstanding. He deserves tremendous amount of credit for that. He, like the rest of the guys on the team, are focused on the opportunity to play and win a championship.”

 

(on whether he scheduled all the way up to the Super Bowl when planning in the offseason) “You definitely have a plan. You also have a feel, as well. Really, both of those things were at work.”

 

(on what Patrick Willis has meant to the team) “So much, Patrick Willis means to our team. He’s part of the fabric of the character of the defense and of the team. Very humble person. There are two kinds of people: the people that get the job done, and the people that want to take credit for getting the job done. It’s far less competitive in the second case. Patrick Willis is certainly a get-the-job-done type of guy. That just influences, and the rest of the team feed off of that.”

 

(on why he decided not to play it safe and start Colin Kaepernick) “I described it in my own personality, we did what we thought was best for the team. We did what we thought would give us the best chance to win games. That’s my personality.”

 

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

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The Reality Check NFL Playoff Power Rankings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Ryan Chell & I ranked the best head coaches, quarterbacks and defenses left in the postseason, then ranked the teams left in order of likelihood to win Super Bowl XLVI.

It was a fun day Tuesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. You really should be listening.

Head Coaches:

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Harbaugh

3. John Fox

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

Ryan Chell’s Rankings…

8. Gary Kubiak

7. Pete Carroll

6. Mike Smith

5. Jim Harbaugh

4. John Fox

3. John Harbaugh

2. Mike McCarthy

1. Bill Belichick

(Quarterbacks on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 30 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-17 Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Tyrod Taylor

4. Chykie Brown

3. Terrence Cody

2. Bryant McKinnie

1. John Harbaugh (Two Slaps)

(Ryan’s Slaps on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check: Ravens should absolutely play to win in Cincinnati

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Your Monday Reality Check: Ravens should absolutely play to win in Cincinnati

Posted on 24 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’m amazed by how many people I had to explain it to Sunday night. I honestly had to give up after a little while.

The stupidity of the statement “I’d rather the Baltimore Ravens be the four seed because the path looks easier to me” is unbelievable.

I was impressed by a number of things I saw from the Baltimore Ravens Sunday (weren’t we all?), but one that probably went unnoticed by many was how head coach John Harbaugh addressed the question of how the team would handle next week’s game.

“The thing we’re going to do for sure is we’re going to try to win the game” Harbaugh explained. “We’re also going to try to make sure we’re as healthy as we can be going into the playoffs so I think we’ll merge those two considerations.”

Bingo. The Baltimore Ravens absolutely MUST try to win their Week 17 date with the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

By virtue of their 33-14 win over the New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens clinched the AFC North title and a home playoff game. They are guaranteed to play on Wild Card weekend of the NFL Playoffs, but they are not yet locked into the four seed. The Ravens could still clinch the three seed in the AFC Playoffs with a win over the Bengals and a New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The difference in the third seed and fourth seed isn’t necessarily significant, but it has the potential to be. Getting the third seed could be the difference in whether the Ravens are able to host the AFC Championship Game.

It seems like an unlikely scenario, but it’s not impossible. Should the Ravens and Patriots end up as the third and fourth seeds but each win their first two playoff games, they would meet in the AFC title game. If the Pats are the three seed and the Ravens the four, the Pats would host the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. I vaguely remember such a game happening there before.

But if the Ravens were to finish as the three seed and the Patriots the fourth seed, the game would then be played in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium, the place where the Baltimore Ravens have won 15 of their last 17 games (including playoffs).

Which scenario would you prefer?

I got this question Sunday night. “This seems so unlikely. When was the last time something like this even happened?”

The person who asked was right. It IS an unlikely scenario. But if the Ravens are to return to the AFC Championship Game at all, they will HAVE to knock off one of the top two seeds. The Pats would then only need to win a game either in Houston or Denver, neither of which seems like an impossible scenario.

And if you’ll allow your memory to serve you right, you’ll be reminded that the Ravens were a second half collapse away from having this scenario play out in January 2011. The New York Jets stunned the Patriots in Foxborough, so had the Ravens avoided blowing a fourteen point halftime lead to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, they would have hosted the AFC Championship Game as a five seed.

Some people argued to me “Glenn, I think the road is easier as a four seed because I’d rather play Indianapolis and Houston than Cincinnati and Denver.”

I have absolutely no idea why there is a sudden fear of the Cincinnati Bengals amongst Ravens fans. The difference between the Bengals and Colts is minimal at best. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has thrown for three touchdowns and five interceptions over the course of the last three weeks, is 0-3 in his career against the Ravens and thus far in his NFL career has not defeated a team that has clinched a postseason berth (although that could change next week if the Washington Redskins or New York Giants get in).

The Houston argument is more compelling. Despite the fact that the Ravens suffered a 43-13 shellacking earlier this season in Houston, it’s easy to understand why fans would believe that task more likely to be accomplished than a Ravens win in Denver. What’s forgotten in this scenario is that the Texans have not yet clinched the top seed in the AFC. They will need to do something they’ve never done in franchise history-win in Indianapolis-next Sunday in order to nail down the top spot, and RB Arian Foster’s availability could be an issue after he left Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings with an irregular heartbeat.

Should the Texans lose (as well as the Patriots) and the Broncos win, the Broncos would be the one seed and the Texans would be the two seed. Which scenario is better for the Ravens at that point?

The NFL did the Ravens no favors in scheduling, as their tilt with the Bengals will kick off at 1pm Sunday, while the Patriots won’t kick off until some three hours later. The Ravens will not have the benefit of knowing what the Patriots are doing to decide if there’s a point where they want to pull their starters.

Instead, they’ll simply have to channel former NFL coach Herm Edwards and “play to win the game.”

That doesn’t mean they should go crazy.

The Ravens are smart enough to know that the Patriots are unlikely to lose to the Dolphins and will most likely open the postseason by hosting the Colts in a playoff game for the second time in franchise history. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

As Harbaugh said, merging the two considerations is very plausible.

It would make total sense for the Ravens to consider giving oft-injured DT Haloti Ngata another week off (he rested for the team’s blowout win over the Oakland Raiders in November) and even LB Terrell Suggs (who has played the last two weeks after suffering a torn biceps tendon) the day off. Harbaugh also confirmed LB Ray Lewis wouldn’t be a consideration to return from Injured Reserve until the postseason. It wouldn’t be stunning to see S Bernard Pollard miss a third straight game either, and if WR Anquan Boldin’s shoulder is of significant concern it would be understandable to see him miss the finale as well.

But there is absolutely no reason for the Ravens to spend Sunday’s game with Tyrod Taylor handing the ball off to Anthony Allen all afternoon while Joe Flacco and Ray Rice watch in sweats. It’s one thing to be prudent. It’s quite another to just plain give up.

With something to play for still, there’s no reason the Ravens should do the latter. Judging by John Harbaugh’s comments, I’ll assume they won’t.

-G

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Your Monday Reality Check-Here’s a song about I and Flacco and trust

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Your Monday Reality Check-Here’s a song about I and Flacco and trust

Posted on 17 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

(I really hope you’re a fan of the Avett Brothers. Otherwise the headline to this column might seem a bit silly.)

If you’re a regular listener to “The Reality Check” (and why the hell wouldn’t you be?), you might remember I took a certain NFL.com columnist to task a few weeks ago.

You may remember this particular headline…

You may remember more some of the things Schein said about the quarterback (who was at the time at the helm of a 9-2 football team)…

I never have trusted Flacco. Right now, it looks like I never will. 

Sure, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback played great against the New England Patriots in the AFC title game last season. If receiver Lee Evans had been able to hold on to the ball, maybe we would all have a different perspective of Flacco.

But he’s been very ordinary this year. There’s likely a reason that the super-savvy Ravens organization has seemed reluctant to give a new deal to Flacco, even though he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013. He hasn’t taken his game — or his team — to the next level.

Baltimore is 9-2. But who believes in the Ravens as a Super Bowl team? I don’t. Flacco was average at best (completing 30 of 51 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown) in Sunday’s squeaker of a winover the San Diego Chargers. Perhaps lost in the discussion of Ray Rice’s majestic run after the catch on fourth-and-29 from his own 37 was the fact that Flacco checked down on fourth-and-29.

In a loss to the Houston Texans in Week 7, Flacco was horrible. In a win against the Cleveland Brownsin Week 9, Flacco started hot and made a big throw late, but slept through the rest of the game. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, Flacco threw for just 164 yards. Yes, he torched the Oakland Raiders in Week 10, but he was facing a Raiders ”defense” that is an embarrassment to professional sports.

I went immediately after Schein, taking him to task for suggesting a quarterback who had done nothing but win big games (including at least one playoff game in each of his first four seasons) could somehow “not be trusted.”

I thought it crazy, in fact.

I went on a bit of a crusade. I called Schein out when he appeared unwilling to come on the show and discuss the column (he claimed to me that wasn’t the case and that scheduling conflicts were the reason the appearance hadn’t happened) and even addressed the subject publicly with Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. I allowed him the opportunity to answer the question “why do you trust Joe Flacco?” and he responded with a simple “I don’t feel like I have to explain that.”

While he wasn’t happy with the question, I told Harbaugh personally to the side that I understood the answer. In the same way that I found it insane to suggest Flacco “couldn’t be trusted”, there was no reason for the head coach to feel anything different.

Much has changed in three weeks.

By no means do I feel as though I owe Schein an apology, as there was no way I or Adam or anyone else could have seen the last three weeks go quite this way. Leading up to Week 13, there really was no LEGITIMATE reason for anyone to say they couldn’t “trust” Joe Flacco. Unless of course the sentence was finished with something like “…to throw for 300 yards in every game the rest of the way.”

But just a mere three weeks later, there are very few of us who feel particularly comfortable about the Baltimore Ravens quarterback. If pressed right now, I might well say “I can’t trust Joe Flacco.”

What a difference three weeks makes.

The fact that Flacco hasn’t posted standout numbers in recent weeks isn’t quite as concerning as some of the other issues surrounding his play. In each of the past three weeks Flacco has committed at least one “game-changing” type of turnover. There’s a difference between an early game fumble on third and short in the middle of the field (which Flacco was guilty of in the first quarter of the loss to the Denver Broncos Sunday) and an interception thrown on first and goal returned 98 yards for a touchdown (which S Chris Harris made happen late in the second quarter Sunday).

Combine that play with a critical fumble deep in Baltimore territory two weeks ago to set up the tying score in what would ultimately be a Pittsburgh Steelers victory and a very poor decision to throw a ball as he was falling a week ago that London Fletcher would intercept to help the Washington Redskins get a win at FedEx Field and Flacco’s three week span has produced some of the worst plays of his now five year career.

We really are at a point where you have to wonder if Joe Flacco can be trusted.

The Baltimore Ravens haven’t lost three straight games because of Joe Flacco alone. Injuries on the defensive side of the ball have left the unit decimated, while the Offensive Line has continued to betray the quarterback and alter the tone of the entire offensive attack. There have been a number of questionable coaching decisions, whether they be timeouts, challenges, or as we saw Sunday-some issues related to when to bench a quarterback and even struggles with simple math after scoring a touchdown.

They’re all major issues that face this football team as they head into their fifth consecutive trip to the postseason.

But we’d all feel much better about them if we felt like we could trust the guy under center.

As Drew Forrester said earlier at WNST.net, these are a big few weeks for Flacco. They could be particularly uncomfortable for the entire Ravens organization as they look toward the future or they could be the most important moments that shape the future of for all parties involved.

It would be a bit more comforting if we felt like we could trust him down the stretch.

Ugh. Perhaps Adam Schein was right.

-G

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Our Ravens/Broncos Slaps to the Head

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Our Ravens/Broncos Slaps to the Head

Posted on 16 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Denver Broncos 34-17 Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I again offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Haloti Ngata

4. Anquan Boldin

3. Cary Williams

2. Jim Caldwell

1. Joe Flacco (Two slaps)

(Ryan’s Slaps on Page 2…)

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There’s a lot going on right now, but we need you to come through tonight

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There’s a lot going on right now, but we need you to come through tonight

Posted on 11 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Cam Cameron is out. Jim Caldwell is in. Steve Bisciotti is involved. John Harbaugh is testy.

Mark Reynolds is gone. Peter Angelos is cheap.

There’s a lot going on, but not everything is changing.

It’s been an active few days here in Charm City, as you could tell on-air Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’re going to be even more active in the community over the next few days, and we need you to be a part of it.

On December 18, we’ll be making our annual donation to the Helping Up Mission downtown. If you’re not familiar with the work of the Mission, I encourage you to head to their website. I’m always overwhelmed by the work that group is doing every year when we get down there. The Helping Up Mission welcomes men who are absolutely broken-due to poverty, homelessness, addiction, etc. and works to get them back on their feet and return them to the community. They also work as an overnight shelter to keep people off the street at night.

This is the third straight year we’re collecting coats here at WNST. Our friends at Enoch Office Equipment partner with us annually, as they allow people to drop off coats at their office and then help us transport them downtown. Here’s a picture they posted on their Facebook page last year of just a few of the coats and one of the men from the Mission…

We’re up against it a bit this year, as we need to make the donation ONE WEEK FROM TODAY (Tuesday, December 18) and we’ve been off to a bit of a slow start because there’s just been so much going on. We NEED to step it up.

We need you to bring us your coats. We also need your jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and any other warm clothes you can gather up. We need your old clothes and your new clothes. We need your clothes that don’t fit. We need your clothes with the one button missing. We need men’s clothes, but we also need clothes for women, kids and even babies. You have to keep in mind that many of these mean have children and families and will not be able to give gifts without donations.

We need to lift up those less fortunate this holiday season. We need to help keep our community warm as the temperatures eventually stay below 40 for a few months. Keep in mind-winter doesn’t even officially start for more than a week.

So we’re gathering together Tuesday night to celebrate and raise coats. Our annual coat drive hits Buffalo Wild Wings in White Marsh (at the White Marsh Mall). Drew Forrester will be over there at 6pm, Ryan Chell and I will head that way as soon as “The Reality Check” goes off the air. We’ll be collecting coats, talking sports, eating asian zing wings (or maybe even other types of wings), drinking beer and just hanging out. No radio show, no silly events, just the opportunity to hang out with fellow members of the WNST.net community and do some good this holiday season.

To further entice you to hang out with us Tuesday night, it’s $.50 traditional wing night at B-Dubs and anyone who brings at least one coat will receive a $5 gift card. Since Mr. Radcliffe did a hell of a job teaching me math at Perry Hall High School, I can tell you with assurance that means a single coat will get you ten free wings. I’m absolutely certain I’ll be taking advantage of this.

It’s going to be a great night and I can’t wait to see everybody out there. I REALLY hope you’ll be bringing out coats. John Harbaugh said Monday “my charge…is to maximize the opportunities for our team to win.” Our charge as members of the WNST.net community is to lift up those in need. This is a simple opportunity to do just that and have a great time hanging out with other Baltimore sports fans.

You all did an amazing job coming through for the community during our annual canned food drive…

…we need you to come through similarly in the next week with warm clothes.

If for some reason you can’t make it Tuesday night, there are some more options for donating coats this week. Nestor Aparicio will be back at the White Marsh Mall Wednesday night for Santa Spirit Night and would gladly take your donation then. We’ll be at Greenmount Station in Hampstead with Dennis Pitta Thursday night for “Thursday Night Live” presented by Freedmont Mortgage at 7pm. The Weekend Warriors will be at Top Hat Cue Club on Satyr Hill Rd. Saturday from 12-3pm and would also be happy to accept donations. You can also stop by any day Monday-Friday 6am-6pm (until next Tuesday at 10am) at the Zone Superstore Studios at 1550 Hart Rd. in Towson with your donation.

But we REALLY hope to see you Tuesday night at BWW White Marsh.

Let’s celebrate community service at least HALF as much as we celebrated a coach getting fired Monday.

Please?

-G

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