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Looking at former Ravens set to hit free agency

Posted on 12 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The start of NFL free agency is less than a month away.

This is the time of year when teams not only look at their own free agents, but they start to explore who else might become available. A full list was comprised by Pro Football Talk that included more than a few familiar names who could spark discussion among Ravens fans about a potential return.

Below is a look at ex-Ravens set to officially hit the open market on March 9:

OLB Jason Babin
2015 team: Arizona
Ravens-related thought: It’s tough to recall many players who received as much attention and produced as little as Babin did for the Ravens as he failed to register a defensive statistic in two October games.

WR Anquan Boldin
2015 team: San Francisco
Ravens-related thought: No, the Ravens shouldn’t bring back the 35-year-old as Kamar Aiken fits that skill set, but trading Boldin in 2013 was still one of Ozzie Newsome’s worst decisions in recent memory.

G Chris Chester
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: The 2006 second-round pick was disappointing in his first couple seasons in Baltimore, but he’s carved out a really nice career that includes 127 starts over a decade in the NFL.

C Gino Gradkowski
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: Denver cut him at the end of the summer and Gradkowski played in just three games this season, putting his career at a crossroads after struggling as a starter in Baltimore in 2013.

K Shayne Graham
2015 team: Atlanta
Ravens-related thought: Many fans forget that the Ravens signed the veteran to fill in for an ailing Billy Cundiff late in the 2011 regular season, just a few weeks before “you know what” happened.

SS James Ihedigbo
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: If the Ravens had known Matt Elam would be such a disappointment, they likely would have kept Ihedigbo after his strong 2013 season, but Will Hill now plays the same position.

ILB Rolando McClain
2015 team: Dallas
Ravens-related thought: Inside linebacker is a potential need depending on what happens with veteran Daryl Smith, but Baltimore can’t be foolish enough to venture down this road again, right?

DT Haloti Ngata
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: It will be interesting to see what market exists for an accomplished 32-year-old defensive tackle, but a reunion seems unlikely unless Ngata is willing to take a very team-friendly deal.

RB Bernard Pierce
2015 team: Jacksonville
Ravens-related thought: It’s hard to believe how quickly Pierce flamed out after averaging 4.9 yards per carry in his rookie season and being on the verge of threatening Ray Rice for the starting job.

RB Bobby Rainey
2015 team: Tampa Bay
Ravens-related thought: The undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky was a good story a few years ago, but he fell out of the Buccaneers’ backfield picture and the Ravens are set at the position.

RS Jeremy Ross (restricted)
2015 team: Oakland
Ravens-related thought: You can’t last as a return specialist in the NFL if you can’t secure the football, a lesson Ross learned with the Ravens as well as with a few other teams in his career.

CB Cassius Vaughn
2015 team: San Diego
Ravens-related thought: The veteran corner had two different stints with the Ravens in 2015, but it would be difficiult to view him as anything more than offseason roster depth at this point.

CB Cary Williams
2015 team: Washington
Ravens-related thought: Williams was better than some want to give him credit for during his time in Baltimore, but his struggles in Seattle last year will dim interest for his services this offseason.

CB Josh Wilson
2015 team: Detroit
Ravens-related thought: The former Terp will be 31 next month and played well for the Ravens in 2010, but his career appears to be winding down after he suffered a season-ending knee injury in November.

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Ravens receive two compensatory picks in April’s draft

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Luke Jones

With NFL owners congregating in Florida for their annual meetings this week, the league awarded 32 compensatory picks for April’s draft on Monday afternoon.

Based on last offseason’s free-agent movement, the Ravens were awarded fourth- and fifth-round compensatory picks, which will be the 130th and 169th overall selections respectively.

While the notable releases of wide receiver Derrick Mason, tight end Todd Heap, defensive tackle Kelly Gregg, and running back Willis McGahee were not taken into account, the free-agent losses of safety Dawan Landry (Jacksonville), guard Chris Chester (Washington), and cornerback Josh Wilson (Washington) factored into the Ravens receiving compensation in April’s draft after each received high-priced, long-term contracts and started 16 games with new teams.

After general manager Ozzie Newsome traded the Ravens’ fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft to Buffalo for veteran Lee Evans last August, receiving a fourth-round compensatory pick helps to ease the sting of that ill-fated move.

Under the rules of compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive picks. The number of picks a team receives is equal to the net loss of free agents up to a maximum of four. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time, and postseason distinctions. Not every free agent lost or acquired by a club factors into the formula.

This year, the compensatory picks will be positioned within the third through seventh rounds based on the value of the compensatory free agents lost.

The Ravens have been awarded 33 compensatory picks over their 17-year history, most in the NFL during that time period. With their two fifth-round compensatory picks in 2011, they selected defensive end Pernell McPhee and cornerback Chykie Brown.

Here are the Ravens’ selections for next month’s draft:

Round 1: No. 29
Round 2: No. 60
Round 3: No. 91
Round 4: No. 130 (compensatory)
Round 5: No. 155
Round 5: No. 169 (compensatory)
Round 6: No. 186
Round 7: No. 218

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Ravens CB Wilson discusses Friedgen firing and Terps football

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Ravens CB Wilson discusses Friedgen firing and Terps football

Posted on 24 December 2010 by Luke Jones

The abrupt firing of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen has garnered plenty of negative reaction from those connected to the program on a variety of levels.

So it was surprising to hear Ravens cornerback and former Terrapin Josh Wilson’s comments supporting the decision to remove the man with whom he shares a special bond and even invited — along with Friedgen’s wife Gloria — to his wedding.

“Whatever the decision is that [athletic director Kevin Anderson and the university] made, I think they made it in the best interest of Maryland football,” Wilson said. “Whenever they make a decision like that, they’re looking out for the future and what’s best for the team. If they felt that was the best thing to do, then so be it and I support them.”

Wilson’s bond with Friedgen runs much deeper than his four years in College Park from 2003 to 2006. Working as a graduate assistant at Maryland in the early 1970s, Friedgen briefly coached Wilson’s father Tim, who went on to play eight years as a fullback in the NFL. Tim passed away due to a heart attack in 1996 when his son was only 11 years old, but Josh would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps to the University of Maryland where Friedgen had coached the Terps to a 21-5 record in his first two seasons as the head man.

The DeMatha product’s time in College Park was an accurate representation of the inconsistency plaguing the program following Friedgen’s first three seasons. Wilson appeared in 11 games as a freshman in 2003 when the Terps finished with a 10-3 mark that included a Gator Bowl win over West Virginia. However, Wilson’s sophomore and junior seasons saw the Terps suffer back-to-back 5-6 seasons before rebounding with a 9-4 record and a Champs Sports Bowl win to complete his collegiate career in 2006.

That senior season saw Wilson blossom into an honorable mention All-America choice and earn honorable mention all-ACC honors. Several months later, the Seattle Seahawks selected Wilson in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. It was an impressive feat by Wilson who — along with fellow Ravens teammate Domonique Foxworth a couple years earlier — Friedgen awarded the opportunity to play as a true freshman despite his slight frame (5-foot-9, 187 pounds as a senior).

“My time at Maryland came in with a bang and left with a bang,” Wilson said. “Two good years [in 2003 and 2006], and I’m glad I had an opportunity to play under coach Friedgen and his staff. I enjoyed everything.”

Despite his loyalty to his college coach, Wilson understands the big picture and the financial motivation behind the change. During his time at Maryland, Wilson was a two-time Academic All-ACC selection and earned a degree in marketing in December 2006.

His brief NFL career has further taught him the business side of football, himself traded by the Seahawks to Baltimore less than two weeks before the start of the 2010 season. Despite starting 12 games in 2009, the fourth-year cornerback did not fit into new coach Pete Carroll’s plans in Seattle and soon found himself back in Maryland, this time with the Ravens.

The 25-year-old flashed his passion for the alma mater recently on a nationally-televised game in primetime, proclaiming he was from the “University of Maryland Dirty Terps,” the “dirty” nickname coined for the Maryland secondary during his time in college. Wilson, however, acknowledged the lack of interest in the program is a result of the inability to recapture the early success of Friedgen’s tenure.

“Ticket sales go up when you’re winning,” said Wilson, who was aware that season ticket sales have dropped five straight seasons. “If we get back to competing and winning more games, and we’re winning consistently — not every other year — next thing you know, ticket sales will be right back. I’m not worried about selling out the stadium. When we get those [wins], people will show up.”

Wilson has talked to former Maryland teammates about the announcement but is waiting until the appropriate time to reach out to the man who labeled the cornerback as a “gamer” and “hard-nosed” at the collegiate level. Friedgen is currently preparing to coach his last game as Maryland coach against East Carolina in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium on December 29.

“Right now, there’s a lot of stuff going on, and it’s hectic right now,” Wilson said. “I’m going to give him his time, give him his space. I would, of course, want the same and [then I’ll] reach out to him and see how things are.”

While preparing for the Ravens’ upcoming playoff run, Wilson can only wait to see how the coaching search plays out and how it affects a few of his former assistant coaches whose futures remain in limbo. It’s the part of the business Wilson dislikes, but he offered a similar mantra to the one proclaimed by Anderson when Friedgen’s departure became official on Monday.

“It’s a new day in Terrapin Nation. We just hope that we take this program, which we’ve been good the last couple years, and turn it into a great program.”

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HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Matt Schaub  of the Houston Texans during warm ups before playing the Baltimore Ravens at Reliant Stadium on December 13, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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When a win feels like a loss …..

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Rex Snider

As you awakened and gathered your thoughts, this morning, did you immediately beckon back to last night’s crucial victory, in Houston? Better yet, did you develop an immediate sense of confidence, as the Ravens find themselves one game closer to the playoffs?

Probably not …..

It just doesn’t feel like one of those mornings after a BIG WIN …. as we wade through the most demanding stretch of the schedule. While the factual truth is the Ravens achieved their 9th win of the season, the sobering truth is they blew another 4th quarter lead and benefited from a devastatingly costly blunder by the opponent.

That’s football, but it’s certainly not the brand and style of football the Ravens have displayed throughout much of the last decade. The offense stalled and sputtered, while the defense buckled with an exhausted presence.

Let’s be honest, they didn’t achieve this victory by “MANNING UP”; they simply lucked out …..

Nevertheless, I’m happy with the win. It’s no less humbling than the Steelers overtime victory against Buffalo, a couple weeks ago. Nor, is it any cheaper than the Colts squeaker against the Bengals, last month.

When January arrives and win/loss records are tabulated, the Monday night affair against the Texans will benefit the Ravens respective postseason position. Whether they somehow migrate into the AFC-North title or secure a wildcard berth, this team will count win #9 as a true blessing.

But, we know the truth. They got lucky …..

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 13: Quarterback Matt Schaub  of the Houston Texans during warm ups before playing the Baltimore Ravens at Reliant Stadium on December 13, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

While Josh Wilson is rightfully credited with pulling off the game winning (and SAVING) play, I’ve gotta hand it to Matt Schaub – he really propelled the Ravens victory. Heck, he deserved the game ball …. and an all-expenses paid trip to ANYWHERE !!!!

I realize most of the “Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking” will emphasize on Cam Cameron’s decision not to run the ball on 3rd down, with less than 3 minutes remaining in the game. And, I agree with the respective questioning of that call, but the Texans decision to throw the ball from deep within their own territory to begin their first overtime drive is equally perplexing.

Arian Foster was succeeding against a GASSED Ravens defense, and I certainly expected him to carry the load until achieving a more comfortable field position. To be blunt, the Texans gambled when they really didn’t need to play so recklessly.

And, they paid the ultimate price for such a risky proposition …..

Last night’s affair showcased a fast start for Joe Flacco and the offense, which absolutely defies what we’ve witnessed during other road games, in 2010. But, we also observed the stunning reality of a very pedestrian offensive attack in the final 30 minutes.

While the Ravens were expected to capitalize on a very suspect Texans defense, it was quite refreshing to see the early assault on such a disorganized crew. Yet, in the second half, they looked like one of the top units in the NFL, while punishing Flacco’s offensive line.

I suppose today’s most agonizing acceptance is the once-heralded Ravens defense is nowhere near as talented and tough as former editions. They surrender entire fields of yardage at the most inopportune times – and a late lead is not safe in their arms.

Attribute the defense’s apparent demise to personnel deficiencies, aged veterans and a lack of depth, among other factors. However, if this team wants to play football in late January, the defense must find a way to protect leads – period.

Today is just one of those days when we’re obligated to be honest with ourselves; this Ravens team has serious concerns as they drive toward the final few games of the season. They’re on the brink of securing a spot in the “bonus round”, but are they capable of winning games in the new year?

I’m not as confident as I was a few weeks ago …..

Yesterday, I identified the Ravens as one of the AFC’s best teams. I stand by those remarks and my previous blog. But, I’m not so sure they can beat the other “best teams.”

And, I know one thing for certain …..

Last night’s overall effort wouldn’t get it done.

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Are you upset about last night? I’ll straighten you out …..

Posted on 12 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Many of us are reflecting back on the Ravens latest trip to New England, as we compile the pieces to last night’s failures, in Atlanta. That’s where we saw some initial cracks to the formation of a storied defense, right?

I had my suspicions then, and I’m certainly agonizing over those suspicions, now.

But, for me, I’m blessed with a silver lining that avails a truly profound perspective into the football season’s last month.

When the Ravens squared off against the Patriots, I gathered with a large group of friends to watch the festivities. Most of us live here and all of us share a love for Ravens football. It was a great day at our favorite watering hole, mixed with a bad ending in Foxboro. But, we still enjoyed ourselves.

That Sunday also marked a special situation for many members of our group.

One of our friends has been battling an opponent much tougher than the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets, combined.

That’s right, he’s fighting for his life against the “BIG C” …..

He’s been worn down by the effects of chemotherapy. His last six weeks have been tougher than anything the Buffalo Bills have endured.

Still, he was there with us, rooting for the Ravens to survive Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Deion Branch.

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Live from Owings Mills: Webb a “game-time decision,” Cousins expected to play against Jets

Posted on 11 September 2010 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With an opening night encounter against the New York Jets only two days away, the Baltimore Ravens took the practice field on Saturday for a final tuneup before Sunday’s walk-through and train ride to East Rutherford, N.J..

Cornerback Lardarius Webb was practicing again on Saturday and is listed as probable on the official game status report released Saturday afternoon. Coach John Harbaugh,  however, labeled the second-year corner a game-time decision, which often means a player will be listed as questionable on the final injury report. Even if Webb does play, Fabian Washington and Chris Carr are expected to start against the Jets, with Josh Wilson working as the third corner.

“[Webb has] practiced 100 percent the whole week; he’s done everything,” Harbaugh said on Saturday. “We didn’t rule [him] out, and we haven’t said he was going to go. That’s kind of one we’re leaving up in the air for you.”

The Ravens are at least making it sound like Webb might play after defensive coordinator Greg Mattison claimed the second-year corner was “a lot closer” to returning following Friday’s practice. As he has said repeatedly since returning to the practice field last month, Webb will defer to the coaching staff to decide whether he plays in the opener,

“I think I can play if it came down to it,” Webb said. “I’m still leaving it up to coach  Harbaugh and [trainer Bill Tessendorf], but I am prepared and ready.”

Webb did not sound encouraged when asked about the potential chance of returning to the field for Week 1 after failing to receive any action in the team’s four preseason games. The cornerback missed training camp and the entire preseason as he rehabbed the surgically-repaired ACL in his right knee.

“It’s just all about the right timing,” Webb said following Saturday’s workout. “Me, [Harbaugh], and [Tessendorf will] come together and see what we want to do this week. We’re going to leave it to the game-time decision.”

The Ravens are keeping everyone guessing regarding the right tackle position with Jared Gaither already ruled out with the same back injury that has kept him off the practice field since early August. Oniel Cousins is listed as probable for Monday’s game and practiced on Saturday. Harbaugh’s comments following practice suggested all indications point to the young tackle being on the field against the Jets; however, it does not mean Cousins will be in the starting lineup. The third-year tackle said the symptoms from a concussion sustained in the final week of training camp have disappeared over the last few days.

“I don’t believe [Cousins] is touch-and-go,” Harbaugh said. “I would expect him to play. I shouldn’t speak for the doctors, but it looks to me like he’s ready to play.”

Cousins had made comments on Friday suggesting he may not be ready to go against the Jets. Tony Moll or starting right guard Marshal Yanda would be the most logical candidates to start should Cousins be held out. Moving Yanda to right tackle would force top reserve Chris Chester to move into the starting lineup at right guard, a position at which he split time last season with Yanda, who was still working his way back from a devastating knee injury suffered in 2008.

The preseason hype machine has been as loud as ever in Baltimore with expectations soaring for third-year quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense. The receiving trio of Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Derrick Mason appears tremendous on paper, but the question remains whether the young quarterback can keep all three former Pro Bowlers content by spreading the ball around in the passing game. The three possess similar traits, but none have a strong ability to stretch the field, making the trade of Mark Clayton a perplexing short-term decision with speedy receiver Donte’ Stallworth out with a broken foot until at least the bye week at the end of October.

Despite Houshmandzadeh being a Raven for less than a week, Harbaugh expects the veteran wideout to receive extensive playing time against the Jets. The former Bengals and Seahawks receiver wants to play as much as possible but is realistic about his limitations after only practicing four days with the team.

“That’s what I’m used to doing is playing the entire game,” Houshmandzadeh said following Saturday’s practice. “I’m not a fool, I know that’s not going to happen. But I want to play as much as I can.

All signs point to safety Tom Zbikowski returning punts against the Jets, as he is listed as the top returner on the team’s official depth chart and was again fielding punts in the portion of practice open to the media on Saturday. Webb has also fielded punts in practice this week, but one would think the coaching staff would prefer not to use Webb in the return game before he establishes himself as fit to contribute on defense.

There were no surprises among the players absent from practice, as Gaither, Stallworth, and defensive tackle Terrence Cody (knee) were absent from practice again on Saturday. All three have already been ruled out for Monday night.

NOTES: Ed Reed celebrated his 32nd birthday on Saturday and celebrated by working out on the side field at 1 Winning Drive. Several teammates wished the free safety a happy birthday during the portion of practice open to the media. Reed will miss at least the first six weeks of the season after being placed on the reserve Physically Unable to Perform list last week. … Walt Anderson will be the referee in Monday night’s game. His crew officiated the Ravens’ Monday night loss to the Packers last season in which a total of 23 penalties for 310 yards were called between the teams.

Check out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Harbaugh, Webb, Cousins, and Houshmandzadeh following Saturday’s practice in Owings Mills.

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Ravens acquire CB Josh Wilson from Seattle

Posted on 31 August 2010 by Luke Jones

After weeks of speculation over whether they would seek help to boost a vulnerable secondary, the Ravens announced Tuesday evening they have acquired cornerback Josh Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional 2011 draft pick, pending a passed physical.

Wilson, a former impact player at the University of Maryland, is entering his fourth season in the NFL and has made 24 career starts. The 5-foot-9, 192-pounder was a second-round choice in the 2007 draft. He had been a starting cornerback for the Seahawks this preseason.

“[Wilson] is someone who has started a lot of games for a young player, plus he has been a good special teams player both as a kick returner and in coverages,” general manager Ozzie Newsome stated after the trade. “He adds depth to our secondary and will help us. Pending his physical, we expect [Wilson] to be taking snaps against the Jets on opening night.”

The conditional pick is reportedly a 2011 fifth-round selection that would become a fourth-rounder should Wilson play enough snaps, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 25-year-old Wilson had a successful 2009 season in Seattle, starting 12 games and returning two interceptions for touchdowns. The former Terp has also returned kickoffs in his brief NFL career, accumulating 94 kickoff returns for 2,350 yards (25.0 avg.) and one touchdown (89 yards).

“He’s an extremely fiery and aggressive player, and I think he’s very talented,” said injured cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who played with Wilson for three years in College Park. “I know his personality fits into what we’re building here. [Wilson] is a no-nonsense type of guy that fits in with this defense and what it means to be a Raven. Off the field, he is a high-integrity guy. He’s a family man, who is very smart and community-minded.”

Wilson would figure to step in as the team’s nickelback, assuming Lardarius Webb is ready to go by Week 1 opposite Fabian Washington in the starting lineup. However, Wilson might supplant current starter Chris Carr should Webb need a few more weeks to work his surgically-repaired right knee back to full strength.

With the competition at punt returner clouded by the recent injury to Donte’ Stallworth, Wilson’s acquisition affords the Ravens the option of using Carr to return punts, a job he held a season ago. Stallworth, Mark Clayton, Tom Zbikowski, and Prince Miller have all been used as punt returners in the preseason.

The Ravens plan to have Wilson arrive in Baltimore on Wednesday, but it is doubtful he will make the trip to St. Louis for the team’s final preseason contest against the Rams on Thursday night.

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Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 3

Posted on 02 October 2009 by kevinpb

Ravens 34 – Browns 3. Three games, three wins. This just in, the Ravens are a very good football team. All things being equal with injuries, the Baltimore Ravens will be a factor in the AFC with regard to which team goes to the Super Bowl. These aren’t your Daddy’s Ravens. They are still solid on defense, and are diverse and exciting on offense.
The Browns had no chance on Sunday at the Purple Palace. The Browns are a bad football team.

In week 3, the Ravens offense was as imaginative as effective. Again the Ravens relied on the “no-huddle” offense early in the game to create tempo and keep Cleveland off balance. They also unveiled a new package, based on the principals of the “read option” that was used so effectively by Vince Young at Texas. Five to ten times Flacco set up in the shotgun and read the defense before handing off to the back. McGahee scored both his touchdowns off this set, and early in the second corner they ran the option to Mark Clayton out of this set. Joe Flacco was 25-35 for 342 yards and 1 touchdown. Three games into the season and Flacco has 2 – 300 yard games. The offensive line was dominant, opening gaping holes and keeping Flacco upright.

Defensively, the line dominated the run, and provided steady yet unspectacular pressure all day. The secondary had a much better day, admittedly, against a far inferior quarterback. The defensive backfield was much more aggressive and attacked the ball when it was put in the air. One thing that I have noticed is that Brendan Ayanbadejo is playing a lot of inside linebacker, especially in obvious passing situations. I guess the coaches are not sold on Tavares Gooden’s coverage skills.

Special teams wise, they were better. Koch was solid with the limited punting he did and Hauschka was perfect in PAT’s and field goals. Our return game is still not good, it seems we are out of sync and always just a second late getting the hole. We covered better, but Harbaugh and Rossberg still like to tempt fate by kicking the ball directly to the dangerous return men. I will give them credit though, just before halftime after we scored, instead of kicking to Cribbs, like they did to Sproles last week, they kicked it high and short and made someone else field the ball. At least they learned their lesson.

I have to give credit to Cam Cameron, he was so far ahead of the defensive coaches for the Cleveland Browns with play calling. When the Browns loaded the box, he threw the ball down the field, when they backed off he pounded the ball with the run. It was a complete mismatch on the field and in the coaching booth.

Next week we go to Foxboro. I am really looking forward to this game. I don’t think it will be easy, but there is no team in football the Ravens can’t beat. They are going to have to stop the run, force Brady to throw a lot and then pressure and make him uncomfortable. Next week would be a good week to go back to the all out pressure defense that was our staple for many years. If Wes Welker does not play, the Ravens will play over the top of Randy Moss so he doesn’t beat us deep, they will stop the run and Flacco and company will put up enough points to get out of Boston with a win.
RANTS

How bad are the Cleveland Browns – Pretty bad, but I have to question what they were trying to accomplish last Sunday in Baltimore. Loosing 27-0 late in the 3rd quarter or early in the 4th, with 4th and short on or about the Ravens 15 yard line, they decide to kick a field goal. I don’t understand the decision. For a team that has had trouble putting it in the endzone, and with the game already decided, why not pull out all stops to get a touchdown? Strange decision. Also, earlier in the 3rd quarter, James Harrison of the Browns rips off a 17 yard run for a first down. The Browns line up and run a quarterback sneak on first down. Who the hell called that masterpiece?

Man-Genius? I think not. Eric Mangini played coy all summer without naming a quarterback. Then he named Brady Quinn opening day starter. After only 2 ½ games, Mangini pulled Quinn, who was not performing, for Derek Anderson. Anderson comes in cold without proper practice with the Browns first team, against the aggressive Ravens defense. He throws three interceptions. Now Mangini has benched his chosen starter for the 2nd stringer who tanked against the Ravens. Beautiful coaching decision. The game was over at half time and no way Derek Anderson was going to change the outcome. If Mangini became convinced a change was needed, then he should have let Quinn finish the Ravens game, and prepared Anderson to start the next week. Now he has no quarterback. In a matter of three years, the Cleveland Browns have gone from having a Pro Bowl quarterback and a promising No. 1 draft choice at that position to no quarterback at all.

Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis, Jared Gaither, Domique Foxworth, D’Quell Jackson, Eric Barton, LaMont Jordan, EJ Henderson, Darius Heyward-Bey, Stephen Heyer, Shawn Merriman, Jeremy Navarre, Kris Jenkins, Joey Haynos, Dan Gronkowski, Erin Henderson, Eric Hicks, Moise Foiku, Kevin Barnes, Andrew Crummey, Madieu Williams, Josh Wilson, Randy Starks, Dave Philistin, Adam Podlesh, Isaiah Gardner, William Kershaw, Dre Moore, Edwin Williams and Jaimie Thomas. What do they all have in common? They are former University of Maryland football players that are currently with an NFL team. That is a lot of talent being sent to the NFL from a Division 1A program that routinely continues to underachieve. I wonder what the problem could be? Oh yes, your Maryland Terrapins were embarrassed again this week by that national power Rutgers.

Political Correctness makes me sick – The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched a spot in the baseball playoffs by winning the American League West Division. Their clinching celebration included honoring a fallen teammate, Nick Adenhart. The celebration included an homage to his likeness on the centerfield wall and dousing his jersey with beer and champagne. The symbolization was clear, they were celebrating like he was still with them. There have been rumblings that this type of celebration was not appropriate because Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver. Please. Way to go Angels, I think your celebration was pretty cool.

This Weiters kid can play – For all of you Baltimore Oriole fans out there who were uneasy about the play of Matt Weiters; or more appropriately, were concerned that he wasn’t going to be as good as advertised, fear not the kid can play. Long past the time most Orioles are on the shelf for the year due to injury, and the others have packed it in, Weiters continues impress. His defense has continuously improved and he is really stinging the ball even when he makes an out. The homerun he hit in Toronto was a monstrous shot. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

“I can coach!” – Charles G Driesell. In the case of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, I don’t think that is the case any longer. I watched Joe Paterno on the sidelines the other night when Iowa beat Penn State. He looked completely mystified on the sideline. Bobby Bowden’s post game press conference after Florida State’s loss to South Florida is priceless. You really ought to try and find it and watch it. I am paraphrasing his statements, but they were something like, daggommit, they were good. They were a lot better then we thought they were. Don’t get me wrong, both Bowden and Paterno are Hall of Fame coaches, and while their respective programs are in decent shape nationally, they are no where near the viable force they once were on the national scene. It is clear that both coaches are pretty much figureheads for the corporations that are Penn State and Florida State football. Both programs are run behind the scenes by assistant coaches and are pretty much on cruise control. For either program to return to national prominence, a change needs to be made.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Showtime series, “Full Color Football: History of the AFL”. This series airs on every Wednesday at 8pm prior to Inside the NFL. It is a great documentary regarding the start up AFL and the years prior to the creation of the Super Bowl and all the way up through the AFL-NFL merger. If you are a football fan, you will love a look back at this league. It is really well done. Next week the episode will center on something that is near and dear to all Baltimoreans hearts, Super Bowl III. You can probably catch all the previous episodes on Comcast “On Demand” if you are so inclined.

Baby Steps – It’s good to see Steelers wide receiver, Limas Sweed progressing as a receiver in the NFL. Last week when he dropped a sure touchdown pass, he didn’t fall down and fake and injury. Baby steps, “Lame Ass”, baby steps.

RANKINGS

1. New York Giants – Defense wins championships, and this defense is pretty good. They are running the ball well and Eli is meshing with his new receivers.
2. New Orleans Saints – beat a decent Buffalo team at Buffalo and did it by playing great defense and running the ball.
3. Baltimore Ravens – rolled against a really bad team. They did what they were supposed to do. Let’s see what happens next week.
4. New York Jets – Titans had them beat except for the muffed punt at the end.
5. Indianapolis Colts – demolished the Cardinals. Very efficient game, hitting on all cylinders right now.
6. Minnesota Vikings – great throw by Favre, even better catch by Greg Lewis. A miracle away from being 2-1.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Wow, what a difference in Kevin Kolb from the Ravens game last year and the way he is playing now. Team hasn’t missed a beat.
8. Chicago Bears – went into Seattle, a very tough place to play, and got the job done. When “Good Jay” shows up they are a tough out.
9. Denver Broncos – I still don’t think they are as good as this ranking but they deserve to be here.
10. New England Patriots – I still think they are a little off kilter, but getting back to basics last week with the running game was a good first step. Let’s hope they don’t find their stride for at least one more week
11. Atlanta Falcons –no shame in losing at Foxboro, but their second half against the Patriots was nothing to write home about.
12. Green Bay Packers – gearing up for the Monday night showdown with ole what’s his name.
13. San Diego Chargers – still 2-1, but getting healthier. Would love to see them go into Pittsburgh and get the W.
14. San Franscisco 49ers – a good solid football team who got beat last Sunday on a hail mary. Frank Gore being hurt does not help them going forward.
15. Cincinnati Bengals – got to give this team some love, after that deflection loss the first weekend I thought they were dead.
16. Dallas Cowboys – I have no read on this team. They are 2-1, but I still think they are the odd team out in the NFC East.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – 1-2 what a great break for the Ravens, but they will stabilize and make a charge before the year is done.
18. Tennessee Titans – notoriously slow starting team the last few years, puts an awful lot of pressure on the team to play perfect and stay perfect at the end.
19. Seattle Seahawks – this team is very talented, they just caught a bad break when Hasselback broke his rib.
20. Arizona Cardinals – should be lower, but I know they can play better. All of a sudden Warner looks old.
21. Houston Texans – there is potential here. The defense must get better.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars – does the nick name Jaguars work in Southern California?
23. Buffalo Bills – didn’t show up at home against the Saints. The TO explosion meter is ticking.
24. Miami Dolphins – brutal early schedule has not done them any favors. Pennington is hurt, time to audition for next year.
25. Detroit Lions – making strides as a team. I think they are getting better as a team
26. Oakland Raiders – the worst quarterback in the NFL.
27. Carolina Panthers – John Fox has had a nice run. I am afraid it is coming to an end.
28. Washington Redskins – should be embarrassed at how they are playing. To much talent to stink this bad. No accountability at all. Danny boy is getting nevous.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – quarterback change already. Young coach is not ready for the adversity they are facing. This is going to get bad real fast.
30. Saint Louis Rams – Kyle Boller with 2 touchdown passes. Let’s go Kyle.
31. Kansas City Chiefs- all that money they gave to Cassell isn’t looking like such a good idea right now.
32. Cleveland Browns – I think they ought to hire Tony Grossi to coach the team.

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