Tag Archive | "kyle boller"

Mason says it’s up to Ravens to decide if he returns

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Mason says it’s up to Ravens to decide if he returns

Posted on 26 July 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — On a day when players were thrilled to return to the Ravens training facility, receiver Derrick Mason faced the sobering possibility of leaving a place he’s called home for the final time.

Though it doesn’t become official until Thursday, the 37-year-old wideout will be released in a cap-saving move, along with veterans Todd Heap, Kelly Gregg, and Willis McGahee. Mason was at the facility for his exit physical and met with general manager Ozzie Newsome.

After spending the last six seasons in Baltimore, becoming the Ravens’ all-time leading receiver, Mason remains upbeat and willing to return — if the Ravens want him.

“If they want me back, I’m back,” Mason said. “That’s all I can say. Now, if some other team wants me, then I think that’s one of those things you have to look at. My first thought would be to come back here. This has been my football home for the last six years, so why leave it so abruptly? I’m going to do what I can, and hopefully they’ll do what they need to do in order to try to bring me back. If not, hey, I can play football.”

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Mason caught 471 passes and 29 touchdowns from 2005 to 2010, including a career-high 103 catches in 2007. He is the only Ravens receiver to record a 100-catch season in the 15-year history of the franchise.

Serving as the union representative before and during the 134-day lockout, Mason was asked if he now had an empty feeling after learning of his impending release on the same day that the lengthy labor battle came to a culmination.

“[We were] trying to make football better, and we accomplished that,” Mason said. “Football is better, because we were out of football for 134 days. And because of the hard work that we put in – the executive committee, DeMaurice [Smith] – football is much better than it was.”

Mason understood the business decision made by Newsome, reminding everyone that he faced a similar fate with the Tennessee Titan, but had nothing but kind words to say about the organization and city he’s called home since 2005. He was set to make $4.5 million in the final year of a two-year agreement signed on March 10, 2010.

He arrived in Baltimore when Kyle Boller was still considered the quarterback of the future, welcomed his former Tennessee teammate Steve McNair, and eventually became the safety net for current quarterback Joe Flacco.

“Why am I going to be upset? It is what it is,” said Mason, ironically while his agent was calling him. “I have no reason to be upset. This organization gave me an opportunity six years ago to further my career. Only thing I’m disappointed with is I didn’t get an opportunity to win a championship. That’s the only thing I’m disappointed [about].

“This organization has been more than accommodating, the fans have been more than accommodating. I don’t think you can play for a better organization than this one.”

With an entire offseason condensed into a matter of days, it’s difficult to predict if Mason will be back in purple when the Ravens take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 or if he’ll be running sideline routes for another team looking for a steady possession receiver to move the chains.

One thing is certain, however. Mason doesn’t doubt his ability to keep playing — even in the November of his career.

“My gut says I can still play football,” Mason said. “Where? I don’t know. It might be playing football when I’m in the backyard with my son. I don’t know, but I still can play football. That’s what [my gut] says to me.”

Listen to Derrick Mason’s entire conversation with the media at 1 Winning Drive in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.

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Coach Rex Ryan on time in Baltimore: “It was ten great years and I met a lot of great people”

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Coach Rex Ryan on time in Baltimore: “It was ten great years and I met a lot of great people”

Posted on 24 June 2011 by Ryan Chell

Rex Ryan

Since leaving the Baltimore Ravens more than two years ago to become the head coach of the New York Jets,  Rex Ryan has had nothing but success as coach of Gang Green up in New York.

During that time as coach, Rex Ryan has taken the Jets to consecutive playoff appearances going as far as the AFC Title game in each trip.

His career record as the Jets coach is 20-12, and is 4-2 overall in the playoffs.

This after building up an impressive resume in Baltimore as defensive coordinator for the Ravens from 2005-2008 in which his defenses-anchored  by Ray Lewis-never finished less than sixth-overall in total defense.

Ryan spent 10 years on the Baltimore sidelines for both Brian Billick and John Harbaugh, but when a head coaching job for the Ravens wasn’t put in front of him, he couldn’t wait any longer for that opportunity to come his way, and he took advantage of another one.

But the one thing he has learned-and he details it in his new book, “Play Like You Mean It” which he introduced to Rex Snider last week on “The Afternoon Drive”, that it’s the people he’s been around who he has to thank for where he is today.

And a lot of them are still in the Baltimore organization, and despite knowing the organization holds John Harbaugh in high regard and that they chose him over Ryan, Ryan said he will always hold a place in his heart for the Ravens.

“I had ten great years in Baltimore that I am really proud,” Ryan told Snider. “And I still have a home in Baltimore. It was ten great years and met a lot of great people.”

One of the great people Ryan interacted with and had a great relationship with while in Baltimore was linebacker Ray Lewis.

“I was with Ray for all ten years and I talk about that he is one of the rare guys, a player that actually motivated me,” Ryan said. “That usually doesn’t happen. Usually it’s the coach motivating the player.”

Ryan said that Ray Lewis was  probably the most special person he’s been around in his 24-year coaching career.

“Ray was such a passionate leader and everything that we would motivate me as well as his teammates and things. He is a once in a lifetime player, an amazing talent and he is still going strong even today.”

Ryan became the Jets coach in 2009-ironically the same year that both Ravens linebackers Bart Scott and Ray Lewis were free agents on the market.

Ryan admitted that getting #52 to follow him to New York was definitely on his agenda.

He said he would be lying if he didn’t.

“It’s funny because when I went to New York the first thing right off the bat I wanted to get Ray Lewis to come and coach here and all that kind of jazz and let him play here,” Coach Ryan said.

Ryan took a lot from Baltimore up I-95 including several coaches, players, personnel, support staff and philosophy, but he admitted to Snider that there was nothing he could do to get Ray Lewis away from the city of Baltimore.

“Ray was not going to leave Baltimore anyway but it was not the right decision,” he said. “Ray’s team is the Baltimore Ravens, more so than Ozzie Newsome, or Steve Bisciotti, or anybody else.”

“But when you think of the Baltimore Ravens you think of Ray Lewis that is why there was no way I could take him away from Baltimore even if I wanted to, and was able to.”

Another player that Ryan didn’t have the longest amount of time to interact with but has high hopes for is a man on the other side of the ball than Ryan’s defense-that being quarterback Joe Flacco.

He remembers taking a look at Flacco just days into the first round of practices at Owings Mills and training camp and noticing that he was going to be something special despite the fact he came in projected to be the third quarterback on the depth chart behind Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.

“Joe Flacco was without a doubt is our best quarterback, and I remember mentioning that to Steve Bisciotti that in my opinion is wasn’t even close and that he ought to be our starting quarterback,” Ryan said.

“Joe Flacco is an outstanding talent, he’ got great arm strength, he’s got poise, and he is a better athlete than you think. I think he has all the tools to be a great quarterback in this league.”

But Rex was still the guy we have got used to in New York calling out the likes of Bill Belichick when he did admit that he’s biased when it comes to Joe Flacco winning championships.

Like Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley, he hopes Flacco wins none-at least at the expense of his teams.

“Well I hope he doesn’t win one, because I want to win them,” Ryan laughed. “And I am no different then those other guys; I mean I guaranteed a Super Bowl this year. But the funny thing is, that is how you have to think. It’s our team, I don’t care about anybody else’s team.”

One of those teams in particular that he doesn’t care about, but one that he has to keep his focus on at all times?

Why, that would be none other than Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots, who despite Rex Ryan’s previous statements about the Coach may have been construed as disrespect, Ryan would tell you otherwise.

He would do so because he had that same level of respect for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

“There is a huge amount of respect with the Steelers and the Ravens, I can promise you. But you also want to beat that team worse than anybody.”

He knows Ravens fans still take that statement to heart.

And now that he’s the enemy, he knows that he’s probably included in that as well.

“I know the Ravens want to beat the Steelers worse than anything, probably right there with the Jets for some reason.”

We’ll  find out this year Week 4 of the regular season at M&T in prime time.

WNST thanks Coach Rex Ryan for joining us! Be sure to check out a copy of his new book, “Play Like You Mean It”, for a great in-depth look inside the mind of one of the NFL’s biggest personalities!

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Counterpoint: Bordick not amongst Orioles’ best, but I’m fine with induction

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Upon hearing that former SS Mike Bordick had been elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame Saturday morning, I will admit that at first I thought to myself, “huh?”

But after a few minutes of thinking about it, it struck me that Mike Bordick is a fine choice for what isn’t a particularly significant honor.

Many Baltimore sports fans are particularly disappointed when they look towards the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium and see the name Earnest Byner listed with the young franchise’s best players (Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary); the man who returned football to Charm City (Art Modell) and the players who represented the Baltimore Colts franchise that captivated this city for over 30 years.

Earnest Byner was a marginal contributor for two seasons and an assistant coach for a few years after that. It is well known that Modell wanted to honor Byner and decided the Ring of Honor was the way to do just that.

When Ravens fans in ten years see the names of Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister, Matt Stover and Brian Billick honored at their “Purple Palace”, Byner’s inclusion will seem out of place at best, but could be somewhat embarrassing when opposing fans visiting town ask “Byner? Why don’t you go ahead and put Kyle Boller up there too?”

The reality of Bordick’s induction to the Orioles Hall of Fame is that the honor itself isn’t significant enough to warrant such opposition. The Orioles honor their greatest players in franchise history by retiring their numbers and featuring them with figures outside Orioles Park at Camden Yards and commemorative signs inside OPACY as well.

As an organization, the O’s do a good job of separating the all-time greats (Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken) from those who simply warrant a “thank you” for their time in orange and black (BJ Surhoff, Harold Baines, Rick Dempsey, Mark Belanger).

Make no mistake. Mike Bordick does not deserved to be remembered in the same way as some other Birds who have received Hall of Fame status. Ken Singleton, Boog Powell, Dave McNally, Mike Flanagan and others had a much more significant impact on the franchise than Bordick.

Instead of being featured prominently at The Yard, Bordick will only receive mention on a small Eutaw Street wall plaque. The Orioles will hold their annual luncheon and pre-game ceremony for fans to thank Bordick, then he will mostly be a name on a list.

They’re not trying to compare Bordick to Ripken-even if Bordick was the player to replace the “Iron Man” at shortstop.

With the only criteria for induction being that the player must have played for the team for at least three seasons, Bordick (parts of six seasons) qualifies. He’ll be remembered for his All-Star Game appearance in 200 and a stellar defensive season in 2002. He’ll be remembered by myself as being the piece that brought Melvin Mora to Baltimore from the New York Mets.

For these reasons, I applaud Bordick’s election. It will be nice for me to clap for one of the few players I have enjoyed watching during these dreadful 13 seasons of Orioles baseball.

-G

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7: Top 7 Times You Bought Into Hype and Shouldn’t Have

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7: Top 7 Times You Bought Into Hype and Shouldn’t Have

Posted on 22 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

In honor of the hype surrounding newly crowned 20 year old Daytona 500 Champion Trevor Bayne, today’s Tuesday Top 7 topic was “The Top 7 Times (in sports) You Bought Into Hype and (Probably) Shouldn’t Have.”

It seems pretty self-explanatory, right?

Glenn Clark’s list…

7. Kyle Boller

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cur_3DSpOH4[/youtube]

6. Mike Jones

mikejones

5. Freddy Adu

adu

4. The XFL

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeeVwkLYD5g[/youtube]

3. Dan O’Brien & Dave Johnson

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKJkfE1M9wA[/youtube]

2. World Series of Poker

wsop

1. Jeffrey Hammonds

hammer

Drew Forrester’s list…

7. Jeffrey Hammonds

hammer

6. Sebastian Telfair

telfair

5. Mark Philippoussis

philippoussis

4. Vince Young

vinceyoung

3. Michelle Wie

wie

2. Matt Leinart

leinart

1. Clubber Lang

clubberlang

If you missed the explanation of the list on “The Morning Reaction” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Blog & Tackle: Revisiting 2008 draft intrigue: Ryan or Flacco

Posted on 10 November 2010 by Chris Pika

With the focus this week on the quarterbacks in the Thursday night game – the Ravens’ Joe Flacco and the Falcons’ Matt Ryan, I was reminded of a piece I wrote after the 2008 NFL Draft evaluating SI.com’s Peter King’s reporting of draft-day intrigue involving the Ravens, Falcons and Rams.

Tuesday, King re-visited the 2008 NFL Draft weekend in his SI.com MMQB Mail blog on Tuesday, and he repeated his reporting from that time that the Ravens had offered St. Louis their first-, second- and fourth-round picks in 2008 plus a third-round pick in 2009 for the No. 2 slot in 2008, which King presumes the Ravens would have selected Ryan in that spot.

BaltimoreRavens.com writer Sarah Ellison made mention of King’s article Wednesday in her “Late For Work” blog on the club’s website, and it is worth mentioning that Kevin Byrne, the club’s VP of Public & Community Relations shot down that particular piece of reporting in his draft day blog of April 27, 2008. Byrne’s key observations in the “The Byrne Identity”:

I started thinking: Am I out of the loop on my team? I just left my guys and there was no indication this was happening. The reality: St. Louis was leaking info that the Ravens wanted the 2nd pick to select Matt Ryan. Why? They wanted the Falcons to react and give them a draft choice to move one space to make sure they got Ryan. Ah, the games continue.

I mention this here because the Flacco-Ryan debate and the choice both the Falcons and the Ravens faced was very hot in the days before and after the 2008 NFL Draft. It is my contention now that either quarterback would have achieved the same results in the other’s huddle.

Flacco was expected to be the “quarterback of the future” in Baltimore and back up either Troy Smith or Kyle Boller in 2008. With Smith’s viral infection and Boller’s shoulder injury, Flacco became the man earlier than expected and seized the job. Flacco inherited a playoff-ready club with a veteran defense in 2008, and did not have to carry the team with his arm.

Not so in Atlanta. The Falcons decision on who to take had far-reaching implications for a franchise in turmoil in the wake of the dual Michael Vick (indicted) and Bobby Petrino (abandoned team for Arkansas head coach job) sagas, as King reported in Sports Illustrated the week after the draft. Ryan had to beat out just Chris Redman for the starting job, and it was no secret that he was the better man very early in training camp.

Both Flacco and Ryan are solid quarterbacks and solid citizens. And because of the comparisons of both coming out of college, both are tied at the hip when anyone discusses the quarterbacks of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Since King re-visited the Ravens “offer” to St. Louis, you get a chance to re-visit my estimation on what actually happened that weekend. The key portions from my “Blog & Tackle” April 28, 2008 WNST.net blog “Interesting Moves And Disinformation”:

Now for the intrigue. (Kevin) Byrne said he had been in the Ravens’ draft room and that there was no indication of a deal working between Baltimore and St. Louis. His verdict was that St. Louis leaked the “trade” info to get the Falcons to move one space from No. 3 to No. 2 to secure Ryan and for St. Louis to gather picks.

Two things of interest here: Rams’ VP of personnel Billy Devaney was the former assistant GM of the Falcons until February of this year and (Peter) King worked from the Falcons’ media area in Flowery Branch and had access to the Falcons’ decision makers (who may have leaked or confirmed the “trade” details given by the Rams). Devaney, knowing his former bosses and some of the Falcons’ early draft plans, probably knew how to push some buttons in Atlanta.

The way it goes down is much like a poker game. The Rams call the Falcons and say in a nutshell, “Baltimore really wants Matt Ryan and has offered trade terms X. We are interested because Chris Long is our guy, we don’t need a QB and we could use the extra picks. What do you want to do? ” If you believe Byrne’s version, and I do, then the whole thing is a bluff by Devaney to get the Falcons to panic and jump one spot. In the end, Atlanta stood firm and the top three went off the board in the order most expected.

But regardless whether there was an offer or not, depending on who you believe, King’s final statement on the matter in his MMQB Mail piece Tuesday rings true for all involved:

So believe me, Atlanta’s happy Baltimore didn’t make the deal, and Baltimore’s happy the Rams didn’t take the deal. Baltimore has Flacco and Rice. Atlanta has Ryan. Both teams are living happily ever after.

Thursday night, both Flacco and Ryan lead their respective teams in what could be the best game of the NFL’s Week 10 schedule. But just for a moment, imagine Ryan in a Ravens jersey and Flacco in a Falcons one — would the paths the two franchises have taken since the 2008 NFL Draft been any different?

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: College Soccer-Vermont @ UMBC (Wednesday 7pm UMBC Stadium); Siena @ Loyola (Friday 7pm Ridley Athletic Complex), Marist @ Loyola (Sunday 1pm Ridley Athletic Complex); Mixed Martial Arts: Bellator Fighting Championships 34 (Thursday 8pm from Hollywood, FL live on Fox Sports Net)

10. Yonder Mountain String Band and Mike Doughty (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live), Rebelution (Saturday 8pm Recher Theatre), Pietasters (Saturday 8pm 8×10 Club), Parachute (Saturday 1pm Rams Head On Stage), Social Distortion (Tuesday 8pm 9:30 Club), Robert Randolph & The Family Band (Friday & Saturday 9pm 9:30 Club), Anberlin/Crash Kings (Sunday 6pm 9:30 Club) Andrew WK (Wednesday 8pm Bourbon Street), Styx (Friday 8pm Hippodrome, Wednesday 7pm Warner Theatre), Goo Goo Dolls (Friday 8pm Reitz Arena), Norm MacDonald (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv)

I missed Robert Randolph at Rams Head Live last week. No effing chance I’m missing him at 9:30 Club this week.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qnpy_Zs-f3c[/youtube]

I’d actually like to go back for Anberlin/Crash Kings. They’re both really freaking

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Ravens appear to be ready for the NFL’s elite teams …..

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Ravens appear to be ready for the NFL’s elite teams …..

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For the past few years, we’ve been accustomed to witnessing some dismal, yet predictable outcomes whenever the Ravens play the National Football League’s best competition. Such shortcomings are undoubtedly tied to a few mitigating reasons, but most importantly, the opponents have simply been better teams.

Of course, for the purpose of this conversation, “best competition” = INDIANAPOLIS COLTS and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.

Dating back to 2002, the Ravens have amassed a collective record of 1-11 against the Colts and Patriots. You got that? ONE WIN and ELEVEN LOSSES.

If we’re searching for answers, a few likely conclusions come to mind …..

The Colts and Patriots have outcoached the Ravens.

The Colts and Patriots have outperformed the Ravens.

The Colts and Patriots have outgutted the Ravnes.

And, as we all know, the Colts and Patriots have these guys …..
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While Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have merited the significant hand in matchups against a young Joe Flacco, Kyle Boller, Steve McNair, Anthony Wright, Jeff Blake and Chris Redman, an even greater reality exists in justifying such one-sided dominance.

The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots have simply been been better teams. Heck, they’ve been the BEST teams of the last decade.

The Ravens have mounted some very spirited efforts against Indy and New England …..

Rewind the clock to December of 2007. On a blustery, snow flurried night, the Ravens nearly upset the undefeated Patriots, at M&T Bank Stadium. But, in the final seconds, the better team prevailed.

How about the trip to Indianapolis, in October of 2002? The Ravens lost a heartbreaker, thanks in part to an Oscar winning performance by former Raven, Qadry Ismail, on a disputable last minute pass interference call. But, once again, the better team prevailed.

The real reason the Ravens own ONE WIN against ELEVEN LOSSES in most recent matchups with the Colts and Patriots really boils down to the more talented team making things happen when it matters most. Indeed, this is a quality winners possess.

It also appears to be a quality the 2010 edition of the Baltimore Ravens are developing.

Yesterday’s win against the Denver Broncos didn’t really showcase any last minute heroics from Flacco & Company, but it did feature a well balanced offensive attack and this season’s first glimpse of a proposed powerful Ravens running game.

While Joe Flacco did not bring loud applause from his respective fantasy football owners, he did manage the game appropriately. He picked on a vulnerable secondary fill-in, when needed. And, he led an offensive effort that clearly wanted to win more than the Broncos defenders on the other side of the ball.

With exception to the hiccup in Cincinnati, the Ravens have improved their overall effort each and every week. And, the wins are coming with contributions from many facets of the team’s makeup. Yesterday, Ray Rice dominated. Last week, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Flacco stepped up at the biggest moment. Two weeks ago, Anquan Boldin burned the Browns.
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This is exactly how the Colts and Patriots have exploited the last decade. While Manning and Brady figure into every game’s outcome, they’ve reliably spread the ball, opportunities and credit among teammates.

Past games against the Colts or Patriots did not feature such an exercised strategy and performance from the Ravens. Years ago, Jamal Lewis was the lone offensive weapon, and more recently, Ray Rice and Derrick Mason have been the only real threats. Of course, the team’s defense has been heavily depended upon in each and every game.

But, it appears things are changing …..

Next Sunday, the Ravens will march into Foxboro with a more lethal offense than Bill Belichick has ever witnessed. Such a reality provides an optimistic feeling on this side of the fence. The Ravens pounded a “Welker-less” Patriots team, back in January. And, last October’s game …. well, lets just say that’s the game that slipped or “bounced” (off the chest of Mark Clayton) away.

There is legitimate reason to believe the Ravens are every bit as good as the Patriots. For the record, I think the Ravens are a better, balanced team.

That said, the Patriots are coming off their bye-week. And, history suggests Tom Brady is a very hard guy to beat when his team has two weeks to concentrate on an opponent. Regardless of the loss of Randy Moss, the Patriots will not lay down like the Broncos, nor will they be as unimaginative as the Steelers and Browns.

Next Sunday serves as a true test of the Baltimore Ravens legitimacy as an ELITE team in the National Football League.

It’s been nearly 9 years since the Ravens defeated the Colts or Patriots in a regular season contest. In the near-decade of matchups, Ravens losses have occurred in nearly every imaginable way. From last minute disappointments, to lackluster performances, to total blowouts, the Ravens have walked away from losses against the Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in nearly every possible scenario.

But, as I’ve suggested, that can really change next week. We could indeed witness the emergence of a couple of the NFL’s next BIG STARS …..
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And, to be quite honest, that’s the way it has to happen. Ray Rice is already on the brink and with yesterday’s showing, he’s primed to renew his 2009 outburst. With Joe Flacco, he needs the stage of serving notice on one of the guys who has done it many times. Beating Tom Brady, on successive efforts would be huge.

Most of all, the Ravens need to beat the Patriots, because that’s what winners do; they beat the good and bad teams.

Beating one of the two teams that has dominated the NFL for so long would establish a new dominance for the Ravens, and I think it would serve as a psychological step in the belief they can beat any team.

The Ravens are better than the Patriots, and in 6 days they’ll have an opportunity to prove it …..

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Was Sunday a ‘Dilfer-like’ epiphany for Flacco?

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Was Sunday a ‘Dilfer-like’ epiphany for Flacco?

Posted on 05 October 2010 by Luke Jones

You just knew it was coming.

On a rainy, dreary start to the work week in Baltimore, fans bask in the afterglow of one of the finest regular season wins in franchise history. The Ravens went to Pittsburgh and did exactly what they had been unable to do since 2006.

Ben Roethlisberger or not — and Steelers fans are doing everything they can to remind you the Super Bowl-winning quarterback was missing from yesterday’s game — critics can no longer question whether Joe Flacco can win at Heinz Field. The third-year quarterback finally orchestrated a game-winning, comeback drive in the final seconds, even if a major assist went to the Baltimore defense for setting him up on a short field.

And with Sunday’s win vaulting the Ravens into the national eye as the slight front runner among legitimate Super Bowl contenders at the quarter pole, I began thinking about Trent Dilfer.

Yes, he is still the most revered quarterback in franchise history with the Ravens sporting a laundry list of failures and journeymen at the quarterback position over their 15-year history.

With Sunday’s enormous victory, someone had to bring up the Super Bowl XXXV winners and the quarterback who led — or managed — them to victory. It happens every time the Ravens win a big game and find themselves looking like legitimate title contenders.

In reality, my recollection of Dilfer as I watched Flacco throw the game-winning, 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining had nothing to do with the two quarterbacks as performers. Flacco is already more accomplished statistically than Dilfer ever was and will be asked to do far more than the former Tampa Bay quarterback did in the 2000 season. Dilfer has the Super Bowl ring that Flacco lacks, but there is no debate that Flacco is the better quarterback, even if only starting his third NFL season.

However, watching Flacco exorcise some early-career demons in the fourth quarter Sunday reminded me of Dilfer’s biggest regular season victory that set the tone for the remainder of the season. It came against the Tennessee Titans — then the Ravens’ biggest rival — at Adelphia Coliseum on Nov. 12, 2000.

Still getting his feet wet in the Baltimore offense after replacing Tony Banks several weeks before, the biggest knock on Dilfer had been his inevitable habit of making a disastrous mistake to cost his team the game. It happened over and over again during his time with the Buccaneers, a major reason he was jettisoned after six seasons.

With the game tied 17-17 and the Ravens driving for the game-winning score, Dilfer inexplicably threw an interception to Titans safety Perry Phenix who returned it 87 yards for a touchdown and a 23-17 Tennessee lead with 2:30 remaining. Anyone following Dilfer’s career could only throw up his hands and say, “Here we go again.”

The exact words uttered by many as Flacco threw incomplete to Anquan Boldin on fourth down from the Pittsburgh 2 with 2:40 remaining.

Another failure in a big spot.

Or so it seemed, as we would find out just a few minutes later.

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After his gaffe, Dilfer dusted himself off and marched the Ravens down the field, culminating with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Johnson with 25 seconds remaining. It not only gave the Ravens a 24-23 victory over the defending AFC champions, but the win showed Baltimore could go into Nashville and beat the Titans, something no one had accomplished since the stadium opened the previous season.

The rest was history as the Ravens did not lose again that season, which included another trip to Adelphia Coliseum where they beat the Titans again in the divisional round on their way to a Super Bowl victory.

Only time will tell whether Sunday’s win at Heinz Field was an epiphany for Flacco and the Ravens or more an aberration with Roethlisberger out of the lineup for Pittsburgh. As important as the win appears in the big picture, it currently represents a single victory and an early lead in the competitive AFC North heading into Week 5.

“It was very exciting,” said Flacco Monday afternoon. “It was one of the greatest wins we’ve had since I’ve been here. It was a great win, but honestly, we’ve already moved on [to the next game].”

His intended message is clear, but we know better. The jubilation expressed by the normally stoic Flacco in the final seconds Sunday signified a proverbial monkey being lifted from his back. It was only one step — his struggles against Cincinnati and Indianapolis will continue to give his critics ammunition — but it sure felt like a big one in the young quarterback’s career.

In Dilfer’s case, the psychological lift provided by the Week 11 win in Nashville gave him the confidence to lead the offense exactly where it needed to go down the stretch, albeit with a far more conservative approach than the Ravens’ current offensive attack.

If Flacco goes on to reach new heights in his NFL career, we will look back at Sunday’s victory as a keystone moment where the young quarterback grew up even more than he did over five playoff games in his first two seasons.

He now has a last-minute comeback victory in Pittsburgh to draw from his psyche when placed in similar positions in the future. How he will fare is anyone’s guess, but you have to like his chances far more today than you did when he walked to the Baltimore sideline with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter as a frenzied crowd prematurely thought the Steelers had done it again to Flacco and the Ravens.

Perhaps they will find themselves back at Heinz Field in January, much like the 2000 team traveled to Tennessee again later that season. If they do, winning again will be a daunting task, but far more feasible than it appeared before Sunday.

When you do something once, you can always do it again.

Just ask Dilfer.

It will be fun to see where Flacco goes from this point forward.

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Will The Ravens Beat The Steelers?  Yes …..

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Will The Ravens Beat The Steelers? Yes …..

Posted on 02 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Beyond my inate ability to end up sleeping on the sofa a couple times, per month, and falling victim to a weekend splurge into Three Olives’ Cherry Flavored Vodka, I rarely make many guarantees.

Truth be told, life’s events hold many variables and things change daily. Fortunes evaporate and miracles blossom more often than many of us really fathom.

A kid strikes it rich by inventing Facebook.

A real estate tycoon loses his ass by sticking to conventional wisdom.

A cute girl from Oklahoma becomes country music’s biggest star, because of American Idol.

The Baltimore Orioles win more games in the final two months, than they did in the first four – with virtually the same team !!!!

Indeed, it’s hard to predict the impending reality of life’s plight. Unless, of course, you simply KNOW something is going to happen. And, that’s where today’s thoughts lead me.

The Baltimore Ravens will defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, tomorrow. Slice it …. dice it …. look at it in any possible way desired. This game is an elementary consensus of football’s realities, combined with a twist of karma.

I’m not diminishing the talent of the Steelers; they’re a solid organization. Then again, the same can be said for the Ravens. The Steelers feature an overwhelming defensive attack. Yet, again, so do the Ravens.

So, where is this distinguishable difference that leads me to forceast a certain win by Baltimore?

Well, it can be simply summed up with a look at one side of the ball and one distinct position. Joe Flacco is better than Charlie Batch. In fact, he’s leaps and bounds better than Charlie Batch.

Heck, Marc Bulger is better than Pittsburgh’s quarterback.

Regardless of Batch’s overblown performance against the powder-puff strength of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I will implore you to remember there is a reason why Charlie Batch started the season as #4 on the Steelers depth chart, at quarterback.
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There is a reason why he gets released and the other 31 teams don’t call. There is a reason why he has found a career calling in holding a clipboard and wearing a headset.

Charlie Batch is starting at quarterback, because the Steelers don’t have a better option. Nothing more, nothing less …..

And, this is why the Ravens win tomorrow’s showdown at Heinz Field.

Last week, Charlie Batch looked like Charlie Manning – the long lost cousin of Peyton and Eli. That performance was an aberration. It was an absolute rarity and it refutes the career of Charlie Batch. Numbers, over a consistent period of time don’t lie.

In tomorrow’s game, Joe Flacco will make mistakes. I’ll guarantee it. But, he’ll also realize some success. How much? I don’t know. But, it will be enough to surpass anything Charlie Batch does during the same sixty minutes.

Two weeks ago, Joe Flacco tossed a resounding 4 interceptions. Yet, Carson Palmer only hung 15 points on the board. The Bengals have a better quarterback than the Steelers. They have better receivers. And, their featured running back has been a bigger pain for the Ravens.

Even if Joe Flacco has a “Cincinnati Kinda Day”, I will still challenge Charlie Batch to outscore Carson Palmer. I don’t think he can do it. I know he can’t do it.

Thus, tomorrow’s game really doesn’t boil down to Joe Flacco. I don’t care if he’s 0-3 at Heinz Field. If Charlie Batch was the quarterback in those 3 games, Flacco would be 3-0 – with a Super Bowl appearance under his belt.
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Here’s the blunt truth …..

At some point tomorrow, Charlie Batch will be CHARLIE BATCH. Think about it. At various points, we were teased and even snookered by Jeff Blake, Anthony Wright and Kyle Boller. While each of them played above their true capability in brief glimpses, all of them eventually returned to one consistent image; themselves.

Charlie Batch is no different.

The Pittsburgh Steelers barely survived the Atlanta Falcons in the season opener. They beat an inconsistent Tennessee Titans team – that benched its starting quarterback during the game. And, they bullied one of the league’s punching bags in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tomorrow’s opponent for the Steelers is much different. And, I’m not saying this as a Ravens loyalist. In fact, I’m saying it, because I believe that RIGHT eventually trumps WRONG

At some point, the Steelers are bound to feel the STING of losing Ben Roethlisberger to suspension. It’s a policy of the “Football Gods.” For their team to escape any effect from Roethlisberger’s banishment would seem ….. well, not right.

This is a huge, fitting, justifiable reality.

They’re not going 4-0 without him.

Tomorrow, Charlie Batch will get the reactionary blame for a loss to the Ravens. Yet, over a prudent amount of time, the reality of why the Steelers lost and how it could’ve been prevented, will sink in.
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Ben Roethlisberger.

He will be the reason, even if he’s in another city and state. And, justifiably so.

This embarrassing saga in the storied history of the NFL’s greatest franchise (yeah, I just called them the GREATEST) cannot and will not end with an umblemished record during Roethlisberger’s absence.

Life is fairer than that.

At least, that’s the way I see it …..

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Give ‘Em Credit …. Bengals & Colts Have The Book On Flacco

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Give ‘Em Credit …. Bengals & Colts Have The Book On Flacco

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, it’s the morning after the first inexcusable loss of the Ravens season and as I peered out over the rooftops to the east, early today, I saw the sun start starting to rise.

Yep, my old friend, Harry Lentz, has been proven right, again.

Regardless of how bad any Baltimore football fan feels, we can all count on the sobering reality of another Monday greeting us with the accustomed reminder that it’s time to go back to work.

Hmmm …. do you think that might be the resounding message at 1 Winning Drive, as well? No doubt, you can count on this reality, as strongly as Harry Lentz’s daily prediction on sunrises.

With yesterday’s ugly loss squarely in the rear view, it’s time for all of us who watch the games to complain about that stinker on the Ohio River. But, the Ravens braintrust is already working on improving their quarterback’s vulnerabilities, as well as preparing for the Cleveland Browns.

Speaking of work, Joe Flacco is going to draw as much attention as any one person in this entire world throughout Baltimore’s respective employment communities today. That’s right, MONDAY MORNINGS breed QUARTERBACKS and every slapdick with an opinion on football is going to breakdown Joe’s problems.

“He holds the ball too long”

“He doesn’t look comfortable”

“He stares at his receivers”

“He looks like Kyle Boller.”

Indeed, each of these phases and hundreds of others will be uttered as Ravens fans try to comprehend losing for the first time in 247 days.

That’s right, the last time the Ravens walked off a field as losers of a game that mattered was on January 16th, in Indianapolis. You remember that night, right?
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When Flacco digested last season’s playoff loss to the Colts, his passing statistics (20 for 35, 0 TD, 2 INT) must have weighed on his mind. Ironically, yesterday was statistically in the neighborhood (17 for 39, 1 TD, 4 INT) of that Colts loss.

Is there a reason for the similar results? Well, the true diagnostic answer to such a question really lays at the feet of Cam Cameron and his staff. However, a pattern of certain likened end-results is occuring.

Joe Flacco absolutely, positively struggles against the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals.

There, I said it.

And, there must be an articulable reason, right?

Blame it on the COVER 2 DEFENSE. The Colts and Bengals comprise their own respective versions of tormenting Joe Flacco. But, these teams absolutely obstruct the middle of the field and routinely drop a couple defenders deep on the Ravens.

And, so long as they can apply significant pressure by routinely rushing their front four, such successes will continue.

In his brief NFL career, Joe Flacco has faced the Colts and Bengals EIGHT times. The Ravens have won TWO of those games. And, both wins came against an injury-riddled Bengals team that went 4-11, in 2008.

In these same 8 games, Flacco has thrown 4 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, while completing 162 of 268 passes.

Have things worsened?

It certainly looks like it. Perhaps, the Colts and Bengals have found a way to further complicate this book they’ve developed on Flacco and the Ravens. That’s what they’re expected to do.

In his last 16 quarters against the Colts and Bengals, Joe Flacco has thrown just ONE touchdown, while slinging NINE interceptions. He can’t beat Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer with such performances.

The Colts and Bengals have found Flacco’s glaring weakness …..
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He has problems making a play and fitting the ball in a very tiny window. Thus, the safeties are splitting the field, while linebackers fall back and the cornerbacks stay underneath and do everything possible to hinder any routes to the middle.

The Colts and Bengals are not employing any ORGANIZED CHAOS schemes. They’re simply doing what works …..

Is yesterday’s loss lying squarely on the doorstep of Joe Flacco? Hell, no …..

There is plenty of blame to go around, especially in regard to the offensive line, as well as some harrowing special teams breakdowns. And, yes, officiating blunders breathed life into a rather lackluster Bengals offense.

But, Flacco will take the heat today. It comes with the territory and he knows it. The Monday Morning Quarterbacks will make their voices heard late into the afternoon.

That said, it’s just the second week of the NFL season. A week from today, we’ll sit around and celebrate a beatdown of the Cleveland Browns in the home opener and everything will be fine, again.

It’s a “week to week” process, I suppose. This Ravens team can improve in many facets, and yesterday serves as proof of it.

But, be certain of one thing …..

Joe Flacco is still the key component to the future of the Baltimore Ravens. End of discussion …..

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