Tag Archive | "Joe Flacco"

Building offense around Flacco only offseason priority that matters

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Building offense around Flacco only offseason priority that matters

Posted on 09 January 2014 by Luke Jones

The uncertain future of linebacker Terrell Suggs and the decision to retain assistant Juan Castillo were topics that understandably garnered the most attention at the Ravens’ season-ending press conference on Wednesday.

But it was something owner Steve Bisciotti said that laid out the top priority of the offseason as Baltimore tries to bounce back from missing the postseason for the first time in the John Harbaugh era. In fact, it’s the only objective that really matters if the Ravens hope to climb to the heights they reached 11 months ago anytime soon.

Bisciotti has always acknowledged his opinions on football-related matters shouldn’t — and usually don’t — hold as much weight as those of general manager Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh, but that hasn’t stopped the 53-year-old owner from publicly calling for more accountability from his employees in the past as former head coach Brian Billick and former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron learned years ago. That’s what made his answer over how concerned he was about the underwhelming play of quarterback Joe Flacco so telling as it spelled out what the Ravens must do this winter.

There was no over-the-top comment about needing more of a return on the $120.6 million contract he forked over to the 28-year-old quarterback last winter, even though the Ravens will certainly expect a much better Flacco in 2014. Yes, Flacco must improve, but so must Newsome, Harbaugh, Castillo, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell (if he does indeed return), Ray Rice, the offensive line, and everyone else with a stake in the Baltimore offense next season and beyond.

“When you look at these guys who have been coaching in the league and have had success in the past and you look at our players that have had success in the past, if we could have fixed it, we would have,” Bisciotti said. “I certainly expected more in the second half of the season. As interrelated as the running game is to the play-action pass and the execution of the offensive line, trying to divide up the blame is something I’m really not much more qualified than you guys are to do. But, when you have a short window of failure that comes out of the blue, the key is not to make wholesale changes.

“I know that Ray Rice was limited this year, and Bernard Pierce was limited. And, if they had been better, then maybe the offensive line would have performed better. Obviously, if the offensive line were blowing open holes, then maybe [Rice and Pierce] could have achieved more with their physical limitations. And, if that had worked a little better, then I think Joe would have performed a little better. All the things, the numbers that are so striking to me to find yourself in the bottom five in offense in almost every category is again something that — had we not had a [good] history in the last five years – then I would probably demand wholesale changes. But I think you have to be careful to not to look in a vacuum and decide you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and [you] let people get healthy, let these guys work together for another year, add some people to the team in the draft and free agency.

“I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to look at the offense with the same fine-tooth comb that we looked at the defense last year. I think you’re going to see a lot of changes in personnel and how we approach that. I’m pretty proud of the defense for being able to retool on the fly, and I’ve got the same amount of confidence with these guys in building the offense.”

The final few sentences of his drawn-out answer said everything you need to know. Yes, the Ravens must address Suggs’ $12.4 million cap number, find a free safety, and tinker with various parts of their defense and special teams, but building a better supporting cast around Flacco is paramount. Last offseason saw Newsome focus solely on revamping a below-average defense while allowing the offense to suffer as a result, a perplexing strategy considering the Ravens had just won a Super Bowl with their offense doing the heavy lifting.

Fixing the offense won’t be easy as the dynamic pass-catcher the Ravens covet doesn’t just grow on trees and the organization doesn’t exactly have a stellar history of developing — or even finding — many quality wide receivers in their 18-year history. Adding bulk on the interior line is a necessity, but potentially finding three quality starters — if the Ravens are unable to re-sign Eugene Monroe to remain with incumbents Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele — will be a daunting task. Flacco’s $14.8 million cap figure in 2014 will indeed be an obstacle — just like the large numbers currently held by Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb, Rice, and Yanda — as Newsome tries to use limited resources to infuse the offensive side of the ball with more talent.

But the Ravens must build a better supporting cast around their quarterback, whether you think Flacco is a potential Rolls-Royce or only a Mustang in the hierarchy of current NFL quarterbacks. He’s proven he has the ability to take the franchise all the way to the top, but he can’t do it alone as last season so painfully showed. A record-setting contract understandably brought high expectations, but it didn’t suddenly change his ability or who he is as a quarterback.

Making some difficult decisions such as parting ways with Suggs and sacrificing some ability defensively may be necessary to create sufficient cap space in order to add more dynamic offensive pieces. The Ravens have no choice but to take giant leaps forward offensively in the increasingly offensive-minded NFL.

Flacco did not have a good year in 2013, and he must own his share of the blame just like anyone else involved. But the Ravens didn’t set him up to have a strong season following an offseason trade of Anquan Boldin and the retirement of veteran center Matt Birk without adequate replacements behind them. That coupled with unforeseen injuries to the likes of Dennis Pitta, Rice, and Osemele left too much to overcome.

From the Suggs financial decision to improving the offensive line and running game, nearly all offseason moves will be tied to the theme of doing what’s best for Flacco so the Ravens can get the most out of their steep investment.

It’s fair to expect much more from the quarterback, but only if the front office, coaching staff, and supporting cast hold up their end of the bargain as well.

Even after handing Flacco the richest deal in franchise history last year, Bisciotti could recognize that simple truth on Wednesday.

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Flacco’s younger brother reportedly declares for NFL Draft

Posted on 08 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Former Orioles farmhand and New Haven tight end Mike Flacco will apparently attempt to join his older brother in the NFL.

Per multiple reports, the 26-year-old has declared early for the NFL draft after completing his sophomore season of Division II college football. He hadn’t played football since high school and was named a third-team Division II All-American after catching 30 passes for 591 yards and nine touchdowns.

A 31st-round selection by the Orioles in 2009, Flacco retired from professional baseball last year and enrolled at New Haven to play college football. He will be represented by agent Joe Linta, who aided Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in signing a six-year, $120.6 million contract last winter.

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

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D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Luke Jones

In honor of the first Tuesday Top 7 of 2014, Drew Forrester and Luke Jones of The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction selected their top seven local sports figures to watch in 2014.

Some of the names are predictable while others may just be establishing themselves on the local sports scene, but each is worth following closely in 2014 for different reasons.

To listen to Jones’ full explanation for his list, click HERE. Forrester’s breakdown of his seven names can be found HERE.

Luke Jones’ Top 7 Local Sports Figures to Watch in 2014 …

7. Towson running back and NFL Draft prospect Terrance West
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Skinny: Not only will the FCS record-breaking back be drafted, but it will be fun to watch his progress and to see how his skills translate to the next level.

6. Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs
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Skinny: Questions will linger about the Terps’ ability to compete in the Big Ten, but a breakout 2014 campaign would likely have the offensive playmaker thinking carefully about the NFL.

5. Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman
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Skinny: Assuming the Orioles’ offseason continues at its current pace, the 23-year-old right-hander’s development will be critical in determining whether the club remains in contention.

4. Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs
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Skinny: The 2011 Defensive Player of the Year may have already played his final game in Baltimore if he’s not willing to adjust his $12.4 million salary cap number for the 2014 season.

3. Orioles third baseman Manny Machado
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Skinny: Coming off knee surgery and entering just his second full season in the majors, the 21-year-old will be counted on to not only be healthy but to take his already-impressive game to the next level.

2. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
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Skinny: The spotlight on the Super Bowl XLVII Most Valuable Player will be brighter than ever after a disappointing 2013 season and considering his cap number balloons to $14.8 million in 2014.

1. Orioles manager Buck Showalter
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Skinny: After two poor offseasons in a row, does the Baltimore skipper reach his breaking point with an organization lacking the commitment to build on its recent success?

CONTINUE FOR DREW FORRESTER’S TOP 7 LOCAL SPORTS FIGURES TO WATCH IN 2014 >>>>>

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We debut our #WNSTSweet16 list with the Greatest Local Sports debuts

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We debut our #WNSTSweet16 list with the Greatest Local Sports debuts

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

On Sunday night we introduced our first #WNSTSweet16 discussion topic for 2014. As we celebrate 16 years as Baltimore’s local sports media leader, we’re looking at some of the “water cooler” topics you’ve most discussed since we first turned on the microphone.

With the debut of #WNSTSweet16, our first list focuses on just that-debuts. The Greatest Local Sports Debuts is the topic in fact. As we look over the history of Baltimore (and Maryland) sports, what single games, seasons, etc. stand out as the best of the best?

We’ve been discussing the topic here, on-air at AM1570 WNST and on social media for the last couple of days and will continue to do so. Here’s the list.

16. The inaugural season of the Baltimore CFL Colts/Baltimore CFL’s/Baltimore Football Club/Baltimore Stallions (1994)

As I look back on the first of two years of Canadian football in Charm City, what stands out most was the attendance figures for the home games.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, that’s 31,000 or more fans at EVERY home game at Memorial Stadium to watch (let’s be honest) a second rate product. It was a remarkable testament to the rabid nature of football fandom in Baltimore and further proof of the city’s worthiness of a NFL return. The team itself was quite good-including future NFL players like O.J. Brigance, Josh Miller and Shar Pourandesh as well as Canadian Football Hall of Famers like Tracey Ham and Mike Pringle. The season ended with a loss to the BC Lions in the Grey Cup, a year before the franchise would become the only American team to ever win a Grey Cup.

No. 15 next page…

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Ravens nominated for “Never Say Never Moment of the Year”

Posted on 05 January 2014 by WNST Staff

NFL ANNOUNCES NOMINEES FOR GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE YEAR

Fans To Vote For Winner On NFL.com/GMC

The National Football League today announced the five finalists for the 2013 GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE YEAR. The “GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year” is the best moment or play of the year that represents determination and perseverance.

2013 GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

Wk 5 Manning, Thomas, Broncos outlast Cowboys in thrilling finish
Wk 10 Newton, Kuechly, Panthers rally to prevail in defensive struggle
Wk 12 Brady, Patriots overcome 24-point deficit, win in OT
Wk 14 Ravens survive frantic final minutes vs. Vikings
Wk 17 Rodgers’ fourth-down TD to Cobb puts Packers in playoffs

Fans can vote for one of these five moments on www.nfl.com/gmc through Thursday, January 23 to determine the 2013 GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE YEAR.

The winner will be presented the 2013 GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE YEAR award in New York City at the “3rd
Annual NFL Honors” awards show, a two-hour primetime special to air nationally on February 1 on FOX, the night before Super Bowl XLVIII.

The five finalists were selected among 17 of the most memorable GMC Never Say Never Moments during the 2013 NFL season. Each week the NFL selected three nominees for the moments of the week in which the fans voted for the winner on NFL.com/GMC.

“GMC is proud to honor the determination and perseverance demonstrated by these finalists with the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year Award,” said Sandra Moore, Director of GMC Advertising and Sales Promotions.

“These characteristics are demonstrated every day by GMC’s engineers creating the best trucks and SUVs for our customers, and the ‘Never Say Never’ attitude is exactly what we put into every detail of our vehicles.”

In addition to voting for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year, fans may also visit www.gmc.com/nfl to enter for a chance to win the GMC Never Say Never NFL Fan Experience, which includes: trips to the 2014 Scouting Combine, the 2014 NFL Draft, a 2014 regular season game of choice, Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, a GMC vehicle of choice, and more.

A closer look at the nominees:

Wk 5: Peyton Manning, Julius Thomas, Broncos outlast Cowboys in thrilling finish:
PEYTON MANNING helped the Denver Broncos overcome a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter, and again by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, to earn a thrilling 51-48 win on the road against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5. In the game, Manning threw four touchdown passes, two to wide receiver JULIUS THOMAS, and added another on a run. During the record-setting game, the Broncos and Cowboys combined for 1,039 yards of total offense which is tied for the second-highest scoring game since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Linebacker DANNY TREVATHAN’S interception of a TONY ROMO pass set up MATT PRATER’S game-winning field goal and assured that the Broncos would remain unbeaten.

Wk 10: Panthers rally to prevail in defensive struggle:
CAM NEWTON and the Carolina Panthers survived a defensive struggle in San Francisco to collect their fifth consecutive win. The Panthers rallied from nine down to earn a huge 10-9 road win against the San Francisco 49ers. Running back DEANGELO WILLIAMS’ touchdown brought Carolina to within 9-7 of San Francisco, and GRAHAM GANO’S 53-yard field goal in the fourth quarter put the Panthers ahead. However, it was the stingy Panthers defense led by linebacker LUKE KUECHLY, who finished the game with 11 tackles and a sack, that made sure the narrow one-point lead held up. The Panthers twice shut down COLIN KAEPERNICK on last-ditch, late-game drives, including an interception from DRAYTON FLORENCE to seal the win.

Wk 12: Brady, Patriots overcome 24-point deficit, win in OT:
Down 24-0 at halftime, quarterback TOM BRADY guided a second-half comeback that forced overtime, where the New England Patriots eventually won, 34-31. The Patriots lost fumbles on their first three possessions as the Broncos built a 24-0 lead in the first half. However, the Patriots rallied, scoring on their first five possessions of the second half to erase the deficit. After Broncos quarterback PEYTON MANNING threw a touchdown pass to receiver DEMARYIUS THOMAS late in the fourth quarter to tie the score and ultimately force overtime, the Patriots took advantage of a fortunate bounce of a punt that hit a Broncos player and was recovered by NATE EBNER at the Broncos’ 13-yard line. Kicker STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI kicked a 31-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 34-31 overtime win.

Wk 14: Ravens survive frantic final minutes vs. Vikings:
Quarterback JOE FLACCO threw a touchdown pass to rookie receiver MARLON BROWN with four seconds left to cap a frenzied final two minutes and lift the Baltimore Ravens to a thrilling 29-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Despite playing in a snowstorm, the Ravens and Vikings combined for five touchdowns in the game’s final 125 seconds. The Flacco-to-Brown score finished a five-play, 80-yard drive that eclipsed all but four of the game’s final 45 seconds. The Ravens’ rally also included a 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by JACOBY JONES.

Wk 17: Rodgers’ fourth-down TD puts Packers in playoffs:
Facing a fourth-and-8 at the Chicago Bears’ 48-yard line with 38 seconds remaining, Green Bay Packers quarterback AARON RODGERS hit receiver RANDALL COBB for a 48-yard touchdown play that helped the Packers capture the NFC North crown. Rodgers had missed seven games with a broken collarbone and Cobb had missed the previous 10 games with a knee injury.

For more information on the 2013 GMC NEVER SAY NEVER MOMENT OF THE YEAR, visit www.nfl.com/gmc.

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SP FBN BENGALS RAVENS

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Ravens Need A Leader

Posted on 05 January 2014 by Tom Federline

The City of Baltimore and Ravens fans were spoiled. We have been spoiled since the Ravens came to town and Game One of September 1996. The guy that secured the middle linebacker position and posed as a motivational speaker for 17 seasons, spoiled us. You are not going to replace a Ray Lewis in one year. You are not going to replace a Ray Lewis in two years. Ray can be replaced, everyone is replaceable. It’s a matter of who and how the team adapts to their approach. What seperates leaders from the average person is communication, passion and the ability to reach a performance level that 99% of the population simply cannot attain. There just aren’t that many Ray Lewis’ out there. So Ravens don’t lose him.

Now Ray-Ray wasn’t running solo in providing the leadership role on the field. He had a little help along the way. How about starting with Art Modell. Then how about some other notable teammates; Jonathan Ogden, Matt Stover, Micheal McCrary, Ed Reed, Matt Birk, Derek Mason, etc. Feel free to add to the list. Did anyone see any consistent leadership qualities from any current Raven on the field this year? How about the sidelines? How about up in the Owners Suite? The Ravens use to have leaders, they all gone.

Week by week it became more apparent – no one was going to step up and take the reigns Ray Lewis had left on the wagon. You would think at the very least, the coach would attempt to take command. Yeah right. You would think at the very least, the rewarded 20 million dollar per year quarterback, would step up into that role. Flacco is a winner, he is not a leader. You would think that in the year following a championship season, there would be player candidates graciously accepting a move into that role. Yeah right. Most of the Ravens games this past year were embarassing. The Ravens finished 8 – 8 and in my book, they should have been 3 – 13. Nice way to follow up a Super Bowl win, huh?

Did they actually, beat any team this year? I can think of one. And really up unitl 2:30 left in the first half, that game was typically sloppy and up for grabs. The Ravens finished that game by beating the Houston Texans, Game 3 of the season, 30 – 9. Luckily, I was there to witness it. It just so happened Ray Lewis was in the house, also. It was Ray Lewis Day – he was getting inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor. Hmmmmm, convincing win with Ray in the house – interesting. The Ravens were a mediocre to poor team this year. After getting fed up watching the Ravens ineptness, I would turn the station and witness the majority of other NFL teams actually moving the ball with confidence and wondering to myself – Why can’t the Ravens do that?

The Ravens year of 2013 was definately a ride of “Good Times/Bad Times” – Led Zepplin). 2013 started off “Good”, but ended up “Bad”. The Super Bowl Run/Ray Lewis’ last ride, was better than good – it was awesome. The 2013 regular season was challenging to watch. They were lucky to survive without losing face. Actually they did lose face, right out of the gates – Game 1 vs. Denver. The season was a bust. Thirty-three minutes of the Texans game and two minutes five seconds of a Vikings snow game. The rest, was a waste of time. There were some positives: Justin Tucker, Marlon Brown, Justin Tucker, Daryl Smith, Justin Tucker, Jacoby Jones, Justin…..ok, dig the reoccuring theme? The kicker was as close as the Ravens got to a Leader.

Ok, you win the Super Bowl and the team gets dismantled. So who do you rely on? Front office? Yes, do your job and replenish. Coaches? Yes, that should go without saying. Did any of that happen? No. The Front office blows it, recogmize and correct next year. The Coach doesn’t step up – that’s a big problem. The guy who rode Rays coat-tails, did not step up. When Flacco did not step up, when Suggs did not step up, when Rice did not step up, somebody had to and nobody did. Come on, John Horribaugh, you maybe paid the least compared to star players, but it is your job to at least get those overpaid steroid boys to show up and perform.

The Ravens need a leader or two on the field and they need a leader on the sidelines. Right now, they have neither. Gut checks are in order, (along with a revamped offensive line). Candidates: Defense – Elam. Offense – it has to be Flack Nut. Coaching? – I’m not a John Horribaugh fan, never have been. Can the Ravens get his brother Jim? Now there’s a coach in my book.

We were spoiled. The only game the Ravens actually WON, Ray Lewis was in the house. Hmm???? Hey Ray, whatcha ya gonna do when you get done playing TV analyst? Let’s start out with Director of Player personnel and Motivational Speaker, then linebackers coach and Inspirational speaker, then defensive coordinator and Motivational speaker. Then by that time, hopefully you would have mentored somebody to take over the reigns. Who knows? There just may come a day, when Ray Lewis on the sideline again. If not on the sideline, get him under a lifelong contract as part of the organization. Front office….. step up! Nobody else did.
T-minus 53 days until O’s first Spring Training Game.

D.I.Y.
Fedman

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Bengals

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Bengals

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

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

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

This would be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule…except this time there is no next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 34-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium…

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

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dennis Pitta in endzone incomplete (1st quarter)

After Dalton’s second interception…an opportunity to go up 10-0. 

4. Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones in endzone incomplete (1st quarter)

After Dalton’s first interception…an opportunity to go up 7-0.

3. Matt Elam drops would-be Andy Dalton interception on pass intended for Dane Sanzenbacher (4th quarter)

After the Bengals went up 24-17, the last hope to keep it a one possession game.

2. AJ Green 53 yard touchdown catch from Andy Dalton (1st quarter)

Everything turned here.

1. Chris Crocker intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Torrey Smith after Michael Johnson tip (4th quarter)

Essentially ended things. 

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Fanfare perhaps dimmed, but no doubting Flacco as “Local Sportsperson of the Year”

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Fanfare perhaps dimmed, but no doubting Flacco as “Local Sportsperson of the Year”

Posted on 31 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

After leading the Baltimore Ravens to their first Super Bowl title in 12 years with a brilliant 11 touchdown, zero interception performance in the playoffs, quarterback Joe Flacco was a near unanimous choice as WNST’s annual “Local Sportsperson of the Year” for 2013.

This probably would have been a more exciting announcement had we made it in April or May. Charm City sports fans are well aware of the up and down 2013 season Flacco had that ended with the team missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2007 season-making the conversation leading up to the award perhaps a bit more interesting than it should have been considering exactly what Flacco accomplished in the first five weeks of calendar 2013.

It actually even lead to a bit of a surprise in WNST voting, as one WNST voter voted for Orioles 1B Chris Davis instead of voting for Joe Flacco. That voter will explain their decision in the coming days, but was the reason why Flacco was only a “near” unanimous choice instead of a completely unanimous choice.

For the rest of the WNST voters, the decision was quite simple. Here is a reminder of the criteria for our yearly honor.

First, the person must be local. They must be an athlete, coach or front office member for a pro, college or high school team in the state of Maryland. Individual sport athletes who represent the state of Maryland also qualify.

Second, the person must stand out from other people over the course of the 12 calendar months. The accomplishments of that individual must be comparable to if not greater than the accomplishments of others in the area.

And finally, that person’s year must stand out from other years during their tenure/career in the area.

It’s fairly simple criteria that has guided the choice made each year. Flacco joins Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps (2008), Morgan State basketball coach Todd Bozeman (2009), Former Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez (2010), Towson football coach Rob Ambrose (2011) and Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter (2012) as winners of the award. Flacco is the first Baltimore Raven to receive the honor since inception.

Flacco beat out fellow finalists Davis, Stevenson lacrosse coach Paul Cantabene, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Towson RB Terrance West in claiming the title.

In the first few years of WNST determining a “Local Sportsperson of the Year”, D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction host Drew Forrester said something about a particular vote that has resonated in years that followed in making the decision. Forrester identified who he was voting for and then said “he made more people smile this year than anyone else.”

It was that thought process that made the choice of Flacco fairly easy to most at WNST. For all of the accomplishments of the other finalists-Cantabene guiding a team to the first national championship in ANY sport in school history, Davis crushing a team record 53 home runs, West crushing the record for most records broken in a single season (Editor’s note: that might not be factual. It just certainly feels that way)-none did more for the city of Baltimore than the quarterback did to start the year.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens first step to improving in 2014: A new offensive coordinator

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Ravens first step to improving in 2014: A new offensive coordinator

Posted on 30 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Anyone who has followed my on-air ramblings or blogging efforts over the years will attest to the fact that I’m not the knee-jerk “fire the coach” guy when something goes wrong in a season.

The Ravens went 8-8 in 2013 for a variety of reasons, many of which are connected more to player performance than anything a coach or coaches did or didn’t do.

In fact, I can think of five players right off the top of my head that deserve to be fired based on their production in 2013, but their contract status and league salary cap rules make that fundamentally unwise.

As we begin the inevitable discourse on what went wrong with the defending champions, let’s remember from the start they lost twelve key performers from the team that beat the 49′ers in last February’s Super Bowl.  Twelve.  That’s a lot of quality to lose in one fell swoop, even if several of them were getting long in the tooth and dreaming of greener pastures.

It’s a quarterback’s league and the guy behind center in Baltimore threw 22 interceptions in sixteen games.  That’s not going to cut it.  I wrote my Joe Flacco piece last week.  You can read it here.  I’m certainly not saying he was the reason why the team failed to make the playoffs in 2013.  But, I also know he was much closer to being the reason why they missed it than he was the reason why they almost made it.  His stock took a hit in ’13.

The team’s offensive line was dismal most of the season.  The running game was a dud.  One of the team’s top receiving threats broke his hip in the first padded practice of training camp.

The Ravens’ defense wasn’t terrible — and in some cases, they were really good — but they gave up a lot of yardage in big chunks and were less than reliable in the 4th quarter throughout the sixteen week regular season.

Make no mistake about it, though.  This 2013 season will go down as the one when the Ravens offense completely fizzled.

Now, settle in for my idea of how to fix it.

Ready?

The Ravens need to make a change at Offensive Coordinator.  Yes, a firing of a coach.

It’s not completely “that simple”, of course, because Joe Flacco needs to play better, Marshal Yanda needs to play better, Ray Rice needs to play better, Torrey Smith needs to play better and so on and so on.

What we just saw, though, for sixteen weeks, was about as boring, pedestrian and unimaginative as it could possibly get from a team in the best football league in the world.

The coaches and minds behind the scenes in the NFL are supposed to be the best-of-the-best.  The cream of the crop.  What the Ravens exhibited on offense in 2013 was far from “cream of the crop” stuff.  It was dreadful.

And, because you can’t fire all the players and start over next August, the guy who runs the offense has to go.  Along with a lot of others who have had their fingerprints on the offensive blueprint in Baltimore over the last couple of years.

The Bengals used that Andy-Dalton-fake-to-the-running-back-quarterback-keeper play to absolute perfection three times during Sunday’s 34-17 win over Baltimore.  The Ravens didn’t use a play like that once the entire season.

Before you tell me Flacco is Flacco and no one can come in and teach him anything, let me remind you what just transpired in Pittsburgh this season.  Todd Haley showed up in 2012 as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator, took a year to figure out what changes he thought they needed, then spent nearly four months this past off-season convincing Ben Roethlisberger he needed to shave a second or two off his snap-to-throw time in order to get the ball out more quickly and avoid taking the kind of punishment he’s known to take while running around with the ball in his hand.

Roethlisberger gave in, took to the new philosophy, and had one of his best seasons ever in 2013.

The Ravens need that sort of interjection in their offense.

They need someone to come in and say, “This needs an overhaul and I’m just the mechanic to do it.”

The quarterback might get offended at hearing that.  The running back might not like hearing it, either.  Hell, the head coach might not even be all that thrilled to hear it.

That said, it’s the truth.

The Ravens need a completely new offensive structure.  They need better players, for starters, particularly on the offensive line.  There’s no question about that.  None at all.  They can either add better players and improve or do what the Orioles do every off-season and add scrubs and/or no one and lose.

But, once they add those players, they need a new voice running the offense.

Jim Caldwell had sixteen games to convince everyone he’s the man for the job, long-term.  Unless I’m really off-base here, I don’t think he did anything to prove he should be the team’s offensive coordinator next season.

The quarterback might not like that, but, like Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Joe Flacco will need to come to grips with the fact that he still has room to improve his game despite owning a Super Bowl ring and MVP trophy.

Privately this past season, some Ravens officials were concerned with Flacco’s attitude, particularly as it related to his public comments about the wildcat offense and the insertion of Tyrod Taylor for a handful of plays against the Jets in November.

While he’s not a malcontent by any means, Flacco can also be set in his ways to the point that he becomes unwilling to consider other options that could benefit the team.

With a new offensive coordinator in town – especially one who shows up and says, “I’m here to make Flacco better” – the stage would be set for a showdown of sorts between the quarterback who signed a $120 million contract last spring and the new voice who says, “Yeah, and then you went 8-8 after that…let’s get back to work and make you really good again.”

Rob Chudzinski was a name the Ravens talked about back in 2008 when they started evaluating head coach candidates and they thought of him mainly because of his offensive acumen.  He’s expected to be fired as the Browns’ head coach after just one season as their head honcho.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens renew their interest in him if, in fact, a change is made with Jim Caldwell.

If Jim Schwartz gets fired in Detroit, Lions’ offensive coordinator Scott Linehan might be looking for a new gig.  He’s had the luxury of coaching one of the game’s most dynamic weapons in Calvin Johnson, but Linehan is a respected offensive mind throughout the NFL.

I’m not campaigning for either of those men and I haven’t seen someone at Owings Mills creating a “reserved parking spot” sign for either of them.  But, let’s just say I didn’t pick those two names out of a hat, either.

There are lots of other names to consider, of course, and the Ravens are known as one of the best “hiring organizations” in the NFL.

And, for all I know, they’re going to keep Jim Caldwell on board.

After what I saw for sixteen weeks this season, I don’t know how they can possibly do that, but I also know coaches around the league are hesitant to make huge changes in their coaching staff unless something really goes terribly wrong.

Well…2013 came and went for the Ravens and, offensively, it went “terribly wrong”.

Time for a change.

Let’s get back to work.

 

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We’re announcing “Local Sportsperson of the Year” Tuesday. Here are the finalists.

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We’re announcing “Local Sportsperson of the Year” Tuesday. Here are the finalists.

Posted on 30 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

We’ll make our annual “Local Sportsperson of the Year” announcement Tuesday here at WNST. The announcement is scheduled for 3pm Tuesday on “The Reality Check” here on AM1570 WNST.net.

We discussed a slew of names for Local Sportsperson of the Year this year. Here is a reminder of our previous winners.

2008-Michael Phelps
2009-Todd Bozeman
2010-Greivis Vasquez
2011-Rob Ambrose
2012-Buck Showalter

We discussed a number of names for “Local Sportsperson of the Year” in 2013. As a reminder, there are only three qualifications when it comes to the award.

First, the person must be local. They must be an athlete, coach or front office member for a pro, college or high school team in the state of Maryland. Individual sport athletes who represent the state of Maryland also qualify.

Second, the person must stand out from other people over the course of the 12 calendar months. The accomplishments of that individual must be comparable to if not greater than the accomplishments of others in the area.

And finally, that person’s year must stand out from other years during their tenure/career in the area.

Here are our five finalists for 2013 in alphabetical order by last name.

Paul Cantabene (Stevenson Lacrosse Coach)

Cantabene guided the Mustangs to the Division III National Championship, the first national championship of any kind in school history. Cantabene has steadily built the program as a major national power since his arrival in Owings Mills and has himself become a very hot commodity in the world of college lacrosse coaching. Cantabene is not a native Baltimorean but is about as close as can be, having coached at Johns Hopkins, Towson and Maryland after finishing his playing career at Loyola.

Chris Davis (Baltimore Orioles 1B)

Davis finished third in AL MVP voting in 2013 and was named “Most Valuable Oriole” by local media after a remarkable season that saw him break Brady Anderson’s club single season home run record with 53. Davis was far from a one trick pony, adding 42 doubles to hit .286 with a .370 on base percentage and added 138 RBI. Davis also played a high level of defense in his first full season at first base, helping the Orioles to a winning record for a second straight season.

Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens QB)

While Flacco’s (and the Ravens’) 2013 season sputtered following the signing of a long-term contract extension, it cannot be forgotten how Calendar 2013 began. Flacco’s remarkable 11 touchdown, zero interception postseason run ended with the quarterback claiming Super Bowl XLVII honors and bringing Charm City their first championship in over a decade. Despite Flacco’s underwhelming numbers, he was still a finalist for Most Valuable Raven in the 2013 season and came up with a number of spectacular throws during the season.

John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens Head Coach)

The conversation surrounding Flacco must also include Harbaugh, who deftly guided the Ravens to that Super Bowl title. Harbaugh’s run of reaching the playoffs in every season as head coach ended in 2013, but the calendar year began with the coach finishing his finest season since replacing Brian Billick.

Terrance West (Towson RB)

West is the only native Baltimorean to be named a finalist in 2013, leading the Tigers to the NCAA FCS Championship Game January 4. West seemingly smashed every school record in the process, being named All-American, CAA Offensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Walter Payton Award-FCS’ equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. The junior back is Baltimore through and through, having attended Northwestern High School and growing up watching and rooting for the Baltimore Ravens.

(Other candidates who were considered for this year’s honor included Ravens K Justin Tucker, Orioles 3B Manny Machado, UMBC soccer coach Pete Caringi, University of Maryland midfielder/Tewaaraton Trophy winner Katie Schwarzmann, Former St. Frances basketball player Tevon Saddler and more.)

Who do you think should receive the annual WNST honor? We’ll make the announcement Tuesday afternoon.

-G

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