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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

Posted on 24 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

The Detroit Lions – Losers now of two straight, the Lions could surely use some good publicity to take some of the spotlight away from coach Jim Schwartz’ loss of decorum during his post game exchange with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh immediately following the Lions first loss of the season. Getting into a pre-game dust up with the Falcons probably isn’t going to do it, nor is Ndamukong Suh going to do much for his quickly devolving reputation for antics by standing over Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan while heaping on celebratory trash talk and reveling in Ryan’s apparent injury.

 

Beating the reeling Falcons away from the safety of the Georgia Dome would have been a nice feather in the Lions’ cap, but yesterday’s loss to those Falcons 23-16 may instead serve as a real stumbling block to the Lions potential playoff fortunes. Having seen the Packers run their record to 7-0 with a win on Sunday, the Lions can now look to the NFC wildcard as their most likely passage into the playoffs. As the also-rans of the AFC South look to be fighting for the very same, the Lions may have lost an important tiebreaker on Sunday.

 

Either way their running game is in apparent shambles, the failed Ronnie Brown trade looks to hurt a lot and the oft injured Matthew Stafford may have gone down to injury on the last play of Sunday’s game to boot.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight Lions fans. Next up: @ Denver, Bye, @ Chicago & vs. Carolina before a Thanksgiving Day showdown with Green Bay. There’s plenty of time to right the ship.

 

 

Tony Sparano – Sunday’s game at Miami against the Broncos might have felt like the whole world (or at least the whole stadium) vs. Tony Sparano. And for a while it looked as though Sparano might have won.

 

The coach surely began the season on the hot seat, and if Jim Harbaugh had been compelled to take his talents to South Beach there may have been no seat at all for Sparano. There clearly has been no quarterback for Sparano and the Dolphins since making due with Chad Pennington to moderate success in 2008.

 

Sunday though was strange. Tim Tebow, making his debut for the Broncos this season, enjoyed a great deal of crowd favor from those who showed up to celebrate Tebow’s 2008 Florida Gators National Championship team, and most Dolphins fans it seems have succumbed to the “suck for Luck” philosophy that wins at this point will only inhibit their chances at the top pick in next year’s draft.

 

As Tebow was crossing the goal with the game tying 2-point conversion, fans of both teams (plentiful in Miami on Sunday) seemed united in their hopes that Sparano and his Dolphins would find a way to lose…and they did. Everyone but Sparano left happy (or at least appeased).

 

Prognosis: Prepare to be pushed Tony Sparano. Your boy Bill Parcells bailed on you already, and the only purpose you’re serving at present is to be the means to a 0-16 season that will deliver Andrew Luck and likely the next head coach as well. No need for the Dolphins to rush that move though, they can save money now and keep the new guy from being associated with this ongoing mess.

 

 

NBA Fans – The NBA lockout got shock value attention courtesy of Bryant Gumbel last week, they got impartial mediation courtesy of the federal government and they got the best wishes of seemingly every fan still clinging to hopes of an NBA season at all this year. The end result, talks broke off at an apparent impasse with not only no apparent resolution in sight, but it seems there aren’t even any official plans to continue the talks as yet. The players are into the “making plans” phase of taking their talents to wherever paychecks are imminent and many owners seem contented to let the whole season go un-played, and David Stern will probably cancel Christmas this week.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight; college basketball is just around the corner. Accept the fact that there probably won’t be an NBA season and get over it. That way if there is one you’ll be imminently happy but you won’t waste any time, energy or emotion sweating it out in the meanwhile.

 

 

Clemson, Stanford & Boise State – It’s that time of year again too. The national championship picture is down to 7 teams after undefeated Oklahoma and Wisconsin fell last weekend. For those 7 teams, their chance at a national title just became a lot more real, and suddenly a lot more important too.

 

In fairness, it’s probably only 5 of the 7 legitimate title contenders that are seeing the championship picture with more clarity this week, as it’s been all but ordained that the winner of the SEC’s loaded western division would roll though the conference title game and into the BCS National Championship game as a result. For weeks we’ve been touting the LSU and Alabama winner as one half of the title picture at least, that part hasn’t changed.

 

What has changed is the likelihood that the Big-12 winner would get the other side of that bracket as that may be suddenly not be so likely. The Big-12 still has 2 undefeated teams in Oklahoma State (3rd in the BCS) and Kansas State (8th in the BCS) but both still have to play each other and a still strong Oklahoma team now relegated to the role of spoiler. Oklahoma State also still has Baylor with Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III and the Texas Tech team that just beat Oklahoma on their schedule and Kansas State has Texas and Texas A&M still remaining too.

 

Mathematically there could still be 5 undefeated powers left at season’s end (but likely won’t be). Where the ones who don’t reside in the SEC shake out should be quite interesting and is still very much up in the air right now.

 

Prognosis: If you’re a fan of any one of the three listed in the title, you might as well jump as no matter which team you side with, the odds are stacked against you. Beware though that if you do, you’ll surely miss out on an exciting and controversial finish to the college football season.

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The 15-7-0 Wants To Kick Floyd Mayweather’s Ass Too…

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The 15-7-0 Wants To Kick Floyd Mayweather’s Ass Too…

Posted on 19 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

You might be able to guess what it is.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. Navy won’t want to hear it, but they SHOULD take a moral victory from their loss to South Carolina

I get it. No one likes moral victories. But the Midshipmen went to Columbia, faced a completely legit Top 10 Gamecocks team and had them on their heels throughout.

Unfortunately for the Mids, they didn’t have Marcus Lattimore. He’s apparently pretty good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yePpMCe5jlQ[/youtube]

2. Tom Brady and Drew Brees are good at football. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about them?

I feel like everyone’s always talking about stars like Bruce Gradkowski and Alex Smith. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the little guys in New England and New Orleans?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X51CGE5F3SE[/youtube]
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtolk6obLaA[/youtube]

I of course picked San Diego to beat the Patriots. But really, what the eff do I know about football anyway?

If you enjoy watching fat men run (and who doesn’t?), have another look at Vince Wilfork’s interception…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa8TXMrxtwA[/youtube]

3. Since appearing on WNST, Baltimore native Jim Schwartz has seen his Detroit Lions outscore their opponents 48-3

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

Of course that’s because the Mt. St. Joe grad joined Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Friday before the Lions put the 45 point pounding on the Kansas City Chiefs.

Also this weekend Justin Verlander won his 24th game and the Detroit Tigers clinched the AL Central. In Charm City this weekend we watched the Ravens lose to the Titans and we have no freaking clue what the Orioles might have done.

Am I really feeling jealousy towards the Motor City?

4. I’m gonna go ahead and stop picking against Boise State now

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIJI2Bz5iZM[/youtube]

In three games this season, I’ve picked Boise State to lose twice. I thought a SEC power like Georgia would teach them a lesson in Atlanta. I thought an upstart like Toledo would pull the stunner at home after nearly toppling Ohio State.

Look, we call my picks segment “Everybody Beats Glenn” for a reason.

5. Jesse Holley is the greatest* Wide Receiver to ever win a TV reality show

If you don’t know the story, Jesse Holley won Michael Irvin’s SpikeTV reality show “4th & Long” to get a spot in Dallas Cowboys Training Camp. He went from that to the practice squad, from the practice squad to the active roster, from the active roster to making his first NFL catch, from making his first NFL catch to coming within a foot of beating the 49ers…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBC-KMKxtQY[/youtube]

…from coming within a foot of beating the 49ers to holding a celebration that I believe is still going on at this moment.

Oh yeah, Tony Romo played this game with a fractured rib. We’re not going to talk about that though because it doesn’t involve him humping Jessica Simpson. (But it should!)

6. The Buffalo Bills are all that’s right with America…or something like that

I have no idea if the Bills are any good, but Ryan Fitzpatrick is fun to watch and I can support the idea of the Oakland Raiders losing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eA7aQhdvF0[/youtube]

The Bills have more wins thus far this season than Lee Evans does. Chew on that.

7. Oklahoma was about as much better than Florida State as everyone thought they were

Why don’t my teams ever make plays like the one Sooners QB Landry Jones and WR Kenny Stills made the other night?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca3alwOeKb0[/youtube]

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“The Reality Check” Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 08 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Power Rankings…

32. Oakland Raiders

I’m well aware they went 6-0 against the AFC West last year. They had Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller then. I’m thinking like The Who now. I “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” The Raiders stink.

31. San Francisco 49ers

I don’t think an organization can have a “lose on purpose” philosophy. I think it’s impossible to convince a group of men to not try to win. But if a team was shaping up to get Andrew Luck, it would be the Niners.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

If I’m Jack Del Rio, I’m asking for the Jags to just go ahead and fire me now. The move is puzzling, but the bigger puzzle is “what will the name of the team be when they move to Los Angeles”?

29. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers actually went out and got a couple of players this offseason. Winning games will be predicated on Cam Newton progressing. It’s no guarantee, but they might have a chance.

28. Washington Redskins

If they didn’t have to play a quarterback they’d be higher in my rankings. Since I hate the Skins I smile a bit every time I hear the name Rex Grossman.

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Cincy’s defense is too good to be the worst team in the NFL, but Andy Dalton looks to be one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment.

26. Cleveland Browns

I’m not buying into Colt McCoy helping the Browns take the “next step.” I don’t think they’re very good and I don’t think it’s changing soon.

25. Tennessee Titans

If Matt Hasselbeck played all 16 games, the Titans would win 8. He won’t and they won’t.

24. Buffalo Bills

I don’t like much about the Bills, but I’ll give Ryan Fitzpatrick the benefit of the doubt. He was pretty good last year, perhaps he’ll be fairly decent again this season.

23. Seattle Seahawks

Once again, it’s a shame teams aren’t allowed to play without quarterbacks. They’d likely win more games with David Garrard than with Tavaris Jackson.

22. Minnesota Vikings

I’m gonna go ahead and guess that Donovan McNabb doesn’t play 16 games this season. I know I’m really going out on a limb.

21. Miami Dolphins

I like Daniel Thomas. I like Brandon Marshall. I like the Phins’ defense. I just don’t understand why I don’t like the Dolphins more.

20. Denver Broncos

I don’t like Kyle Orton nearly as much as some others do. But there’s probably more to like about the Broncos than I’m willing to give them credit for.

19. Dallas Cowboys

I can’t figure out if the Cowboys need to rebuild or simply retool. They clearly didn’t do enough this offseason either way. A healthy Tony Romo helps, but does it really make them a contender in the NFC East?

18. Arizona Cardinals

I immediately regret putting the Cards ahead of the Cowboys on this list, but if Kevin Kolb is any good at all the Cardinals have a great chance at winning the NFC West. There’s talent on both sides of the ball.

17. St. Louis Rams

Love Sam Bradford. Love Steven Jackson. Question marks just about everywhere else. Still think they win the division.

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Indy Calling: Workouts Continue As Draft Season Moves Toward Combine

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Indy Calling: Workouts Continue As Draft Season Moves Toward Combine

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

If the NFL Draft is the “Super Bowl” of NFL Draft season, I believe next week’s trip to Indianapolis, Indiana for the NFL Scouting Combine would qualify as the end of the regular season.

After next week, the Draft season “playoffs” begin as players hold Pro Timing Days on college campuses and private workouts at National Football League facilities.

Before I continue, I remind you of the East West Shrine Game players, the NFLPA Game players, the Senior Bowl prospects and the rest of the Draft prospects we have already profiled.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (UConn)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International)

The Baltimore Ravens made some personnel changes this week, adding CB Marcus Paschal and WR Brandon Jones. Both of those players are little more than guys who are getting Training Camp tryouts.

The team placed the franchise tag on DT Haloti Ngata ensuring his return for at least the 2011 season (if there is one). They also worked out free agent DC Reynaldo Hill.

Despite all of that, my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects to keep an eye on as we move towards the Combine.

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

CB Aaron Williams (Texas)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5oUaOLG-yE[/youtube]

Our buddy Scott Wright from DraftCountdown.com had the Ravens selecting the 6’1″ junior Longhorns DB at 26th a week ago. (He’s since switched to Colorado CB Jimmy Smith.)

I’m not sure I agreed with the mock, but I definitely wouldn’t be up in arms if Williams was the pick.

Williams has one unique advantage as a 6’1″ corner-the advantage of being two or three inches taller than any corner on the Ravens’ roster (not named Cary Williams).

Williams is best known for the sack that ended the career of then Oklahoma (and now St. Louis Rams) QB Sam Bradford. Unfortunately his senior season might have been most remembered for a TD he gave up to Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon. Blackmon burned a few folks during the 2010 season to be fair.

But Williams was very good for the better part of his three seasons in Austin. He finished his career with 89 tackles, five forced fumbles and four interceptions-including one he returned for a TD.

There’s a good chance he’s on the board at 26. He definitely won’t reach to the team’s pick in the second round. They could possibly trade back and get him-but with question marks surrounding CB’s Chris Carr, Josh Wilson and Fabian Washington in free agency-GM Ozzie Newsome and company might not be able to take that chance.

WR Torrey Smith (Maryland)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5A_6n_eoI2o[/youtube]

I know what you’re thinking.

“How could I possibly not know everything there is to know about Torrey Smith? I listen to him every Tuesday at 12:30 with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST!”

While I INDEED suggest checking out the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net to hear more from the former Terrapins star, I figured I might pass along a little more information as well.

Smith may ultimately go down as a player who would have been better off sticking around for one more year to make himself a first round pick, but there’s also a chance he’ll be a player whose Draft season alone makes him a first round pick.

Smith will run one of the more important 40 yard dashes at LucasOil Stadium next week, where is expected to post a sub-4.40 time. The only thing working against him will be the fact that fellow former Terps WR Darrius Heyward-Bey lit the Combine on fire two years ago but has disappointed since being selected in the Top 10 by the Oakland Raiders.

Smith wouldn’t address a size need for the Ravens (he’s 6’1″), but he would certainly address a speed need-which Donte’ Stallworth was unable to do during his season in Charm City.

Smith saved his best for last in College Park, grabbing 67 catches for 1,055 yards and 12 TD’s. The only disappointment for Smith in 2010 was his return game, as he tallied just 585 return yards after combining for 2,498 yards and 3 return TD’s between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

While Lardarius Webb and David Reed each came on at the end of the season in their respective return roles, it’s safe to say neither have particularly locked their roles down.

Smith could offer a lot to the Ravens. 26th might be a stretch as of now, but as he rises in Draft season it could very well be the exact spot where he ends up. Before they pull the plug, they’ll probably want to encourage Smith to improve some of the company he keeps…

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

OT Anthony Costanzo (Boston College)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJrjwjf55c[/youtube]

At this point, it seems unlikely that the Eagles’ 6’7″, 308 pound monster will be around when the Ravens are on the clock at 26.

But with the Jared Gaither situation still very much up in the air and question marks surrounding Michael Oher’s long-term stability at LT; it might be a good decision for Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz and company to make a move for a player of Costanzo’s stature.

Costanzo had a remarkable career in Chestnut Hill, having been a starter for four seasons. He was the first true freshman to start on the O-Line for BC in ten years during the 2007 season-which we remember as the year Matt Ryan was a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate.

Costanzo had a big week in Mobile, showing off his quick feet and long arms. More impressive (according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com) was his frame, as he displayed a muscular torso despite his mammoth size.

He’s not quite (Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl OT) Joe Thomas as a prospect-but he’s really good. There’s a chance he could become Joe Thomas at the next level.

DE Brooks Reed (Arizona)

brooksreed

There has been plenty of attention given during Draft season to Wildcats DE Ricky Elmore, but Reed is certainly deserving of note himself.

Reed boasts an impressive 6’3″, 262 pound frame and tallied 17 sacks during his career in Tucson. There has been discussion of whether or not he can be and end at the next level or if he’s going to end up being a stand-up guy.

With the Ravens very obviously needing End help, he would have much more potential value to Chuck Pagano’s defense as an end than an OLB. The question is whether or not he can provide a consistent rush from the end position, and we don’t quite know the answer to that.

Reed has plenty of athleticism, having played RB as well as DE in high school. It doesn’t guarantee he’ll be a great athlete at the NFL level, but it certainly speaks to his versatility.

WR Randall Cobb (Kentucky)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i09R28AWgFU[/youtube]

It is REALLY hard to figure out how valuable the former Wildcats star will be at the next level.

During three seasons in Lexington, Cobb played quarterback, running back, receiver and returner. Between the four positions, he was responsible for 42 total touchdowns over those three seasons.

As a more natural receiver in 2010, Cobb was very impressive. He grabbed 84 catches for 1,017 yards and seven TD’s. But it’s hard to figure out if Cobb can make a seamless transition to being a natural receiver at the NFL level.

With a 5’11″ frame, Cobb is going to have to be FAST to really be a dynamic threat in the NFL. At a Pro Timing Day last season, he ran just a 4.55 in the 40 yard dash. Scouts will need to see a time better than that in Indiana next week.

Cobb’s 40 time could be the difference in going as high as the first round or as low as the fourth round. It seems as though 26th would be a stretch for a team like the Ravens, as Cobb probably has to be viewed as a “project” for folks like Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta.

But if Cobb ends up slipping, a project might not be a bad addition to the team’s receiving corps; as long as they further address the need to compliment Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason with a true top target.

OT Joseph Barksdale (LSU)

barksdale

After moving from Right to Left Tackle between his junior and senior seasons, Barksdale has seen his draft stock continue to rise.

The 6’6″, 318 pound big man made the move to the left side for the 2010 season after Ciron Black graduated. The move appears to have paid off, as Barksdale is currently projected amongst the top 10 tackles available in the Draft. He’s not in the Thursday or Friday night conversation as of right now, but he could be moving in that direction as Draft season continues.

Barksdale claimed second team All-SEC honors during his senior campaign in Baton Rouge, helping the Tigers finish 4th in the conference in rushing. He tallied 49 knockdowns at the most important position on the line.

Head Coach John Harbaugh has said he wants OL Marshal Yanda to return to RG (if he returns to the team as a free agent). To do that, the team has to get a player to complement Oher and solidify the tackle position. As the Draft progresses to Friday night/Saturday, Barksdale will be a more attractive option for new O-Line coach Andy Moeller.

RB Shane Vereen (California)

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

The Ravens will be looking for a back to compliment Ray Rice should Willis McGahee (as many of us are expecting) be let go. Vereen might very well be a solid option.

Vereen isn’t a big back, but his 5’10″ (205 pound) frame was big enough to allow him to carry the ball 15 or more times in nine of the Golden Bears’ 12 games in 2010. Vereen finished the year with a 5.1 yard per carry average, adding 13 TD’s.

Vereen finished his three year career in Berkeley having rushed 556 times for 2,834 yards and 29 TD’s. He added 874 receiving yards and six receiving TD’s over the three seasons. His numbers (and build) are similar to fellow former Bears back Marshawn Lynch.

Vereen could play his way up the board during Draft season, but without having participated in a College All-Star Game as an early entry his only Draft season statement thus far was an appearance on ESPN2′s All-Star Football Challenge. He’s probably a late Friday night pick right now, which could be the perfect spot for the Ravens to plug him into Cam Cameron’s offense.

DE Cliff Matthews (South Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajnVMrltDc4[/youtube]

Much like Arizona’s Reed, the Ravens are going to have to determine if Matthews can be a true rush end at the NFL level.

He certainly did a solid job in the role during his four years in Columbia, tallying 13 sacks between his junior and senior seasons. Matthews finished his Gamecocks career with 142 total tackles from the edge.

The Ravens haven’t found a true rush end since the demise (and ultimate departure) of Trevor Pryce. They rotated Ngata, Paul Kruger and even Cory Redding on the edge last season, with none of them settling into the role.

Matthews would certainly bring an impressive frame (6’4″, 268 pounds) to anchor the line, as well as a fairly high motor (expected to run the 40 in the 4.7′s range). He often went against premiere O-Linemen in the SEC (including Barksdale above) and had success.

Early in Draft season, Matthews is a Saturday pick-probably in the 4th-5th round range. It would make sense for the team to draft an end earlier in the weekend, but Matthews could certainly end up being an additional insurance policy.

CB Jalil Brown (Colorado)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84WC_f_3Ip4[/youtube]

While more attention is given to his Buffaloes teammate Smith, Brown certainly has the tools to play at the next level.

Brown (6’0″) isn’t quite as tall as Smith (6’2″), but his size does separate him from other corners in the draft-as well as the corners on the Ravens’ roster. Only Cary Williams (6’1″) from last year’s roster is taller than Brown, although Paschal is also 6’0″. The Ravens’ top corners under contract (Domonique Foxworth and Lardarius Webb) are 5’11″ and 5’10″ respectively.

Brown had a solid career in Boulder, finishing with six interceptions over his final three seasons. His performance was good enough to pick up All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors. There may be some concern for NFL scouts due to a shoulder surgery between his junior and senior seasons-but it did not appear to affect him during his senior campaign.

Brown’s 40 time in Indianapolis will go a long way in determining where he will be picked. If he stays in the range of 4.5, he’ll probably be an early Saturday pick. If he cuts under 4.5, he’ll have a chance to be picked Friday night. If he ends up posting a number over 4.5, he’ll be in danger of sliding to late Saturday.

The former Buffs corner has a unique connection to the Ravens. He set an Arizona High School record by once running for 412 yards in a game at South Mountain High School. The player who previously held the record? Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.

S Rahim Moore (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im2SZjMaO2A[/youtube]

With Ed Reed’s future almost always in jeopardy and Dawan Landry a free agent, the safety position will have to be addressed by the Ravens in the offseason.

Moore exploded on the Pac 10 scene in 2009, recording 10 interceptions for the Bruins. He tallied just one interception as a junior however before leaving Los Angeles early for the Draft.

While his interception numbers were down in 2010, his tackle numbers increased greatly. He tallied 77 tackles, up from 45 as a sophomore.

Moore has an impressive build (6’1″, 197 pounds) and can work his way up the Draft board by going under 4.5 when he runs the 40 yard dash at the Combine.

He looks like a Friday night pick as of right now. The Ravens could do well to pick him in the second round.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Monday 3-Pointer

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Monday 3-Pointer

Posted on 07 February 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

In honor of officially turning the page from football season into basketball, here is a veritable 3-pointer of topical suggestions for Monday’s water cooler.

Point #1 – Just as quickly as I talk about turning the page on football season, my first point is of course related to the Ravens. Am I the only one totally confused by the Ravens apparent interest in retaining Jared Gaither?

 

When it comes to Gaither and this season in particular there seem to be two different schools of thought or observation. The first is puzzling to me, but seems to have a healthy consensus supporting it. That’s the notion that Gaither, spurned by his relegation to right tackle this season, opted to teach the Ravens a lesson in the form of a mysterious back injury that cost him and the team his entire season. For the record, I am not in this camp, as I simply can’t believe that on the precipice of free agency and an apparent big payday Gaither would feign an injury, much less an undetectable back ailment thereby likely costing himself millions of dollars in the process.

 

The second school of thought, and the one to which I subscribe is that Gaither simply has an undetectable back injury that came at the worst possible time for both him and the team. In either case, signing him sounds like a hopeful decision at best. You’re either getting a guy of questionable character, now apparently ready to play ball although nothing about his future at right tackle will have seemingly changed. Or you get a guy with a mysterious back injury that has already cost him one full season and could certainly threaten to jeopardize his availability going forward.

 

Hopefully the Ravens will be talking with Gaither about a one-year, incentive laden, right guy right price, go out and prove yourself type of contract. Something tells me that if Gaither were looking to play under those terms it might as well be at left tackle where he stands to get paid, and therefore not in Baltimore.

 

Point #2 – A lot has been made throughout the season and in the immediate aftermath of the inability of Joe Flacco to call audibles and diagnose defenses or the unwillingness of the coaching staff to allow him to do so, and the subsequent speculation as to why. From my naïve point of view, I’ll go with the latter and here’s why:

 

In the true self hating fashion of a die hard Ravens fan, I have used the NFL Rewind service to re-watch a lot of Ravens games from what was in totality a pretty exciting season. While I won’t patronize you by saying that I was cutting up tapes, as I only watched the television broadcasts over again, and without claiming to have a coach’s eye, a couple of things seem to stand out. The biggest for me is that the Ravens do little to disguise what they’re’ doing before they do it.

 

A few years ago, I and other members of the WNST staff had the privilege of sitting with then Ravens Linebackers Coach Mike Pettine, in Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan’s office and watch some game film and talk some football with him. At one point in the conversation he mentioned the Chargers (who coincidentally had Cam Cameron as an offensive coordinator at the time) as a team that would just line up and beat other teams. He said that there was little deception in their game; that they simply had great players who lined up and imposed their will on other teams without much deception. He pointed to them as the exception to the norm.

 

While many want Joe Flacco to go to the line and carry out the elaborate chicken dances of guys like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and others, that doesn’t seem at all to be the biggest missing element. Let’s concede that often what we see from those QBs in their pre-snap dances is not an audible at all. More often than not, a quarterback walks to the line, points out the middle linebacker (or the guy he thinks will be acting as the MLB on that play) and thereby tries to help identify for the offense where the pressure is coming from, who to pick up with blocks and where to break off certain pass routes. Only if he thinks the defense is ready for the play that they went to the line with will the QB actually change the play. Let’s also concede that without doing the chicken dance, the Ravens do check out of plays, it may only be 2 or 3 times per game, and their keys seem to be much more subtle than most teams’, but the Ravens do call audibles. They just don’t call many.

 

The place where I have a hard time indicting the quarterback, but may point to the coaching staff with a philosophical deficiency is in trying to steal pre-snap clues from the defense with hard counts, and by calling out what they see coming before it comes. Lord knows the Ravens offense typically gets to the line of scrimmage with plenty of time to burn on the play clock, if they did a better job of making the defense impatient and keeping them off balance, it would force them to tip their hands before they’d like, and give the offense a better idea of what they were seeing before it came at them.

 

The reason that I’d call this a philosophical problem and not a shortcoming of any single player is simple, the defense played the same way. Go back and watch the Bills game, or the Texans. How many throws did quarterbacks make against the Ravens this year on a one step drop from the shotgun? That’s not a read that the QB is making after the snap, the Ravens gave up their defense too early…consistently. Go back and watch the last 3 games of the season, or the 2 post-season games, you don’t need much of an educated eye to see who’s rushing and who’s dropping back into coverage. The reason Matt Ryan looked like an audible machine in that Thursday night match-up was because the Ravens were telling him what to call, and where the holes would be. We as fans make a lot of whether the team sends 3, 4, 5 or 6 rushers, but keeping an offense off balance is often about disguising who’s coming and who’s not more than how many you send on a given play.

 

Sometimes an audible (or what appears to be an audible) isn’t a change of the play at all. Sometimes it’s just a hard count that makes a blitzer show his hand, followed by a knowing look between a QB and receiver, back, lineman or whomever that simply says “you saw that too right?” and “you know what that means”. That’s a battle that the Ravens seemed to lose this year consistently on both sides of the ball.

 

Point #3 - Maybe the way that the Super Bowl turned out is fitting in a lot of ways. The Packers, true to form, overcame a plethora of injuries to and found a way to win. Having seen 17 players succumb to the IR over the course of the season, and having lost stars in Donald Driver and Charles Woodson in the finale, the Packers should serve as an inspiration to all NFL teams that it takes a lot more than star power to win it all in the NFL. A strong nucleus of stars and the right system and attitude will take you as far as you deserve to go, and the Packers served reminder of that to everyone.

 

What’s more, as we head into an off-season of collective bargaining turmoil and tumult, the ultra-small market Packers should serve as a reminder to everyone that the NFL is still the only league where teams based in cities like Green Bay can play on par with teams from New York and Chicago (and Los Angeles if they had a team). That’s one of the big reasons why the NFL remains king of American sports, and hopefully won’t do anything to screw that up.

 

And 1 - Why the apathy toward Terps’ basketball? I hope that folks were just waiting until the completion of football season to get emotionally invested. If that’s the case, welcome aboard, it’s about to get interesting. For those who dipped their proverbial toes in the water for the Duke game and cashed out just as quickly, give them a chance, there’s big upside with this bunch and they’re a lot of fun to watch, and there are still 53 days until the Orioles opener…and counting.

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Ryan vs. Rodgers Preview

Posted on 15 January 2011 by Michael Schwartz

Packers vs. Falcons Preview

The Green Bay Packers are holding their heads high since they just beat the high flying Eagles offense. They contained Michael Vick who is arguably the MVP of the NFL. They contained Desean Jackson and they will have to contain another big receiver in Roddy White. White is one of the best receivers in the NFL and is a Pro Bowler this year. He has come up big in numerous situations and he is Matt Ryan’s favorite target. Matt Ryan has had his best year since coming into the league in 2008. Ryan gets help since the Falcons are a good running team. Michael Turner had another good year in which he had over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns. This helps them since the play action works and teams have to account for anything with their offense. The Falcons are going against the fifth ranked defense in the NFL, led by veteran Charles Woodson. He is one of the best corners in the NFL, and he is great at shutting down big name receivers. He’s good at this because the Packers get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Led by Clay Matthews who had over 10 sacks this year is great at getting to the quarterback and making him get out of the pocket. B.J Raji is great at stuffing the run and causing double or even triple teams. This helps Matthews in a lot of ways since he is usually one on one on the outside. The Falcons offense is good against good defenses. They scored 26 points against the Ravens and that is because the Ravens couldn’t get to Ryan. If the Packers don’t get to Ryan, he will pick them apart and the Falcons will win this game.

The Green Bay Packers offense is going against an average Falcons defense. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a good game last week against the Eagles, but he will likely bounce back strong. If the Packers get their run game going this week, like they did last week, then the Falcons are in loads of trouble. The Packers offense is very good at passing the ball, and that is because they have good receivers in Greg Jennings and James Jones. These two receivers have been catching passes all over defenses this year and this won’t change in this game. These two receivers do a great job at getting open quick so Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have to hang onto the ball for a long time. This Falcons defense will need to get pressure and that will be on the back of John Abraham. He is their best pass rusher and is considered to be one of the better ones in the NFC. He is great in one on one situations, so the Packers will likely double team him with a tackle and a running back or a tackle and tight end. The Packers need to keep Rodgers clean if they want to win this game. He is good at escaping pressure, but if he has time in the pocket he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Falcons pass rush is a key in this game, if they want to move on to the NFC Championship.

The Falcons offense has been very good this year, led by Matt Ryan at quarterback. They can pass the ball and they have the weapons to do it. Roddy White and veteran Tony Gonzalez are very good at getting open for Matt Ryan. Gonzalez is one of the best tight ends of all time and he has showed that with another great season in Atlanta. The Packers are a fast defense and can stop him by putting a quick linebacker on him, such as A.J Hawk. Hawk is a good linebacker with good speed and he can likely contain Gonzalez. Roddy White is tough to contain but veteran Charles Woodson has been covering guys like him for years. If the Packers can get a pass rush then the Falcons don’t stand a chance. The Packers don’t let teams run on them, so the Falcons will likely be one dimensional. The Falcons are a good running team but the Packers don’t let teams run, so the Falcons will need Matt Ryan to have another great game if they want to win.

Prediction: 27-20 Packers

I think that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense will dominate the Falcons defense, and their defense will do just enough to stop the Falcons. This will be a close game from the get go, but in the end, I think that Aaron Rodgers is the better quarterback and is considered one of the NFL’s elite. Matt Ryan is a great young quarterback, but has only been in two playoff games. Ryan will lead his team down the field, like he has all year, but throw an interception or do something that will cost them the game.

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Ravens play a prime part in very “hairy” NFL weekend …..

Posted on 10 January 2011 by Rex Snider

If you look back on the totality of this past weekend’s games, I think it’s pretty easy to detect the obvious: every round of the NFL playoffs will present some unpredictable circumstances, as well as some very quirky results …..

Many of us thought 3 of 4 visiting teams would win their respective matchups. But, did we think the New Orleans Saints, as the most resounding favorite (-10.5 points) in NFL history, would be the sole “road loser?”

If I presented the following circumstances: the Indianapolis Colts are losing by one point, they’re driving inside the Jets 30 yard line with less than one minute remaining …. would you predict a Manning win or loss?

If you knew 2 running backs would rush for 100+ yards, and the weekend’s matchups featured names like Ray Rice, Joseph Addai, LaSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and LaDanian Tomlinson, would you ever imagine that Marshawn Lynch and James Starks would be those guys?

A pretty telling factor …. Michael Vick’s last win was the week before Christmas, when he was being mentioned in the same breath with Tom Brady, for NFL MVP honors.

Does the respective, opposing defense matter? Well …. the Philadelphia Eagles averaged 28 points, per game, during the regular season and the Seattle Seahawks averaged just 19 points, per contest. Which team is still alive?

After a steady December of witnessing snowy, icy games across the midwest and northeast, the first two weeks of January have not been impacted by inclement weather, at all.

Did you ever imagine Joe Flacco and Dan Marino would be mentioned in the same sentence? That’s right, they’re the only quarterbacks to win 36 games in their first 3 seasons. With a win in Pittsburgh, Flacco will stand alone on this record.

Ten years ago, Brandon Stokley caught a touchdown pass in the Ravens Super Bowl victory. Did any of us think he would catch another touchdown, a decade later? He did it Saturday – in Seattle’s win.
Speaking of touchdown receptions …. Anquan Boldin went more than a month (5 weeks) without one. The troubling streak ended yesterday – let’s hope he can have two consecutive games with TD catches for the first time since October 17th and 24th.

With this weekend’s wins by the Ravens and Jets, both AFC wildcard teams advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs, in consecutive seasons, for the first time (2010 & 2011).

Yesterday’s win also yielded John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco as the only HEAD COACH and QUARTERBACK to win playoff games in their first 3 NFL seasons.

On Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks won their 8th game of the season. Their opponent, the New Orleans Saints, won their 8th game of the season, a mere 44 days earlier …. on Thanksgiving Day !!!!

Speaking of those Seahawks, it will be impossible for them to finish with a winning record, UNLESS they win the Super Bowl. That’s correct, if they lose the Super Bowl, they’ll finish the season 10-10 overall.

And finally …..

On a weekend when Matt Ryan debuts as one of Gillette’s new “clean shaven” models, Joe Flacco grew a beard. Who says Joe doesn’t want to be different?

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Top 10 Ralph Friedgen Era Victories

Posted on 29 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Yep…it’s another list. Hey, it’s the end of the year.

As Ralph Friedgen’s tenure as University of Maryland football coach comes to a close with this afternoon’s Military Bowl contest against East Carolina at RFK Stadium (Luke Jones hosts our “Turtle Power” live chat here at WNST.net at 2:30), I figured I’d look back on the era of “The Fridge” by remembering his best victories as Maryland football coach.

(Edit from GMC: It was brought to my attention at 9:55am that my friend Patrick Stevens of D1scourse.com posted a similar list at 9:43am. S.O.B. I encourage you to check his list out as well.)

Honorable Mention: Maryland 24, Purdue 7 (December 29, 2006 Champs Sports Bowl Florida Citrus Bowl Orlando, FL); Maryland 35, California 27 (September 13, 2008 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD); Maryland 23, Navy 20 (September 3, 2005 M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore, MD); Maryland 17, Navy 14 (September 6, 2010 M&T Bank Stadium Baltimore, MD); Maryland 26, Wake Forest 0 (October 18, 2008 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD); Maryland 20, Clemson 17 (September 27, 2008 Memorial Stadium Clemson, SC); Maryland 14, Miami 13 (November 11, 2006); Maryland 27, Florida State 24 (October 28, 2006 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD); Maryland 28, Virginia 26 (October 14, 2006 Scott Stadium Charlottesville, VA)

10. Maryland 38, NC State 31 (November 27, 2010 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz6qO2a5nRI[/youtube]

The last regular season win of Friedgen’s career certainly stands out to some extent.

It looked (at the time) like this was the “statement” win the Terrapins needed with Danny O’Brien under center to prove they were headed in the direction of an ACC title.

They might still be, it just won’t be with Friedgen at the helm.

Wherever Torrey Smith ranks amongst the great players in Friedgen’s tenure, this was clearly his best game. He was absolutely DOMINANT against the Wolfpack…who I have a funny feeling will show up again on this list.

9. Maryland 37, Clemson 20 (November 10, 2001 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T6pGkM-Sxw[/youtube]

This game was already going to be meaningful, as it was the first time Byrd Stadium was sold out in the Friedgen era.

After North Carolina State beat Florida State earlier in the day, the game became very significant-as it put the Terps on the track towards the BCS.

The game itself wasn’t of the epic nature; but the Terps had lost eight straight to the Tigers before finally breaking through.

This was also the first “rush the field” moment in Friedgen’s ten seasons.

It wasn’t quite as big as the team’s next win, but we’ll get to that.

8. Maryland 26, NC State 24 (November 22, 2003 Carter-Finley Stadium Raleigh, NC)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GQAxI9q5dI[/youtube]

This game was significant for multiple reasons.

First, it finished off a perfect 4-0 record for Friedgen against NCSU while Phillip Rivers was quarterback.

Second, the game did have a bit of an epic nature after Nick Novak missed what would have been a game-tying extra point. Leroy Ambush forced a turnover, and Novak was able to get redemption by kicking the game-winning field goal.

And third, it kept Maryland on track for what would eventually be a Gator Bowl berth on New Year’s Day.

7. Maryland 20, Georgia Tech 17 OT (October 11, 2001 Bobby Dodd Stadium Atlanta, GA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtcYJK21R0s[/youtube]

This might not be high enough on the list. Hell, I know it isn’t high enough on the list. But I already made the list. I’m not changing it now.

This was the very first significant win in the Friedgen era at Maryland, and it was absolutely miraculous.

Yellow Jackets RB Joe Burns inexplicably ran out of bounds late in regulation with his team ahead 17-14; setting up a career long 46 yard field goal by Novak (who had been AWFUL up to that point in his Maryland career) to send the game to overtime. In OT, another Burns fumble would seal the first win over a ranked team for Friedgen at his alma mater.

With the win, Friedgen’s Terps improved to 6-0; forcing fans throughout the Mid-Atlantic to take notice of what was happening in College Park.

6. Maryland 34, Rutgers 24 (September 29, 2007 Rutgers Stadium Piscataway, NJ)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=485yysHK7m8[/youtube]

Of all of the wins on this list, this is certainly the most improbable.

When Jordan Steffy went down against the Scarlet Knights, a large number of Maryland fans had to think to themselves “who the hell is Chris Turner?”

They’d find out in a big way.

Perhaps the game was more significant because of the sheer number of then-current or former Garden State residents who went to the University of Maryland.

There were definitely a number of households torn up and down the I-95 corridor because of the matchup.

For Friedgen, it would be the first of two wins over Top 10 opponents that season.

5. Maryland 41, West Virginia 7 (January 1, 2004 Gator Bowl Alltel Stadium Jacksonville, FL)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q63nyT2mhtM[/youtube]

The ONLY thing about this game that gets it on the list was the fact that it was a New Year’s Day game played on NBC-making it arguably the highest profile win in the Friedgen era.

The game wasn’t exactly exciting, save for some impressive Scott McBrien to Steve Suter theatrics. The matchup was disappointing, as the Terps had already posted a blowout victory over WVU earlier in the year.

It was the third straight high-profile bowl game Maryland reached to start Friedgen’s career. Unfortunately, it was also the last.

It was also the last time Friedgen would collect a victory over the Mountaineers.

Had those last two statements been different, the Friedgen era might not be coming to a close in DC today.

4. Maryland 42, Boston College 35 (November 11, 2007 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6di8qtmN9Zo[/youtube]

When he’s 70 years old, Chris Turner will still be able to tell everyone he talks to that he once beat Matt Ryan.

Ryan entered the Saturday night national TV showdown (ABC) near the front of the Heisman Trophy race. He didn’t necessarily disappoint (421 yards passing and 3TD’s) in front of the College Park crowd, but he was outdone by a guy who was better known for looking like Napoleon Dynamite.

Turner threw for 337 yards and 3TD’s himself, while Lance Ball added 122 yards on the ground and a rushing TD. Maryland was ahead 42-21 in the second half before eventually holding off the Eagles late.

It was an impressive victory for a frustrating team. Friedgen’s Terps beat two Top 10 teams that season, but finished just 6-6 and lost to Oregon State in the Emerald Bowl.

3. Maryland 20, Florida State 17 (October 30, 2004 Byrd Stadium College Park, MD)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGX8Mvr5Evw[/youtube]

Maryland was 0-14 all time against FSU until this game.

Friedgen was ofer in his first three contests against the Seminoles himself until this game.

History will forever note that Joel Statham was the first ever Maryland QB to beat Florida State.

Six years later, I still really can’t believe it happened.

2. Maryland 30, Tennessee 3 (December 31, 2002 Peach Bowl Georgia Dome Atlanta, GA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDi9rXxCGSQ[/youtube]

You can count Ralph Friedgen’s wins over SEC programs on one finger.

Not only was Maryland’s Peach Bowl romp over the Volunteers the first significantly high-profile (New Year’s Eve on ESPN) non-conference win under Friedgen, it was also the statement game for E.J. Henderson; who will probably go down as the best player of the Friedgen era.

It was the type of win that allowed Maryland fans to measure the progress the Terps had made through two seasons.

It was also the type of win that made fans think more postseason wins over SEC teams would be coming in the future.

Obviously they didn’t.

1. Maryland 23, NC State 19 (November 17, 2001 Carter-Finley Stadium Raleigh, NC)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QszioOHki8[/youtube]

Shaun Hill and Guilian Gary will forever be remembered as the combination that sent Maryland to their first ACC Championship in 16 years and their first Orange Bowl berth since 1956.

The only unfortunate thing about #1 is that most coaches probably don’t want to be remembered as collecting their most significant victory in their first season.

Friedgen never returned to this moment, but it doesn’t take anything away from the victory itself.

It was an awesome moment in University of Maryland athletics history.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Sunday Money  –  6-Pack

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Sunday Money – 6-Pack

Posted on 26 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, if you followed my advice, last week, your pockets are undoubtedly overflowing with plenty of cash for today’s Black Friday shopping spree. That’s correct …. I gave three LOCKS for the Week #11 NFL schedule, and I delivered in each one …..

My picks …..

New England (-3.5) vs. Indianapolis = MONEY

Dallas (-0.5, 40/over) vs. Detroit = MONEY

Baltimore (-13) vs. Carolina = MONEY

To add a little bit of credibility, I even predicted the Ravens vs. Panthers final score. Yep, it’s in the blog : Ravens 37 – Panthers 9

Thank me, NOW …..

For the believers among our WNST faithful, you’ve been rewarded with a financial pitfall …. and you’re welcome !!!! As for the more cynical crowd, you’ll get a shot at redemption, this week.

Don’t screw it up this time !!!!

Without further delay, here’s your trusted 6-pack for Week #12′s NFL games, along with a few personal guarantees …..

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Not Representative Of Where They Stand, But Fun To Watch Ravens’ Defensive Show

Posted on 21 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

CHARLOTTE, NC. — The Baltimore Ravens (7-3) are no longer the dominating defensive juggernaut that intimidated opponents and broke records at the start of the 21st century.

There was a time when allowing a 100 yard rusher or a 300 yard passer was not only unlikely-it was rather close to impossible.

That time has come and gone.

While the Ravens still have a better than average defensive unit, they are no longer a group that strikes fear in the collective hearts of opponents. In fact, there have been times this season that the defense has been a liability for the team.

Even while Sunday’s 37-13 victory over the Carolina Panthers (1-9) was one of the team’s best defensive performances of the season, they still allowed Panthers RB Mike Goodson to net to reach 120 yards rushing, even if the final 22 came after the game was no longer in the balance.

But the Ravens’ defense did something Sunday that at times they had failed to do earlier in the season. They made significant plays when they were most desperately needed.

Just 10 days earlier, the Ravens defense had failed to make those most significant plays, as Matt Ryan directed the Atlanta Falcons on a game winning TD drive that took just 45 seconds. Clearly the memories of the Week 10 Georgia Dome failures stuck with the defense in the 4th quarter Sunday.

“The defense has gotta be able to finish and that’s exactly what we did” said LB Jameel McClain. “It’s definitely important to finish off strong.”

After Panthers QB Brian St. Pierre struck WR David Gettis for an 88 yard 4th quarter touchdown to pull Carolina within 20-13 of the Ravens, the defense stood tall. Not only did they hold the Panthers scoreless the rest of the way, they added on the game’s final two touchdowns to put things away.

S Ed Reed and LB Ray Lewis intercepted St. Pierre on consecutive plays, both of which were returned for touchdowns. (S Dawan Landry actually crossed the goal line on Reed’s pick following a well-timed lateral). Those plays were reminiscent of the way the Baltimore Ravens would traditionally win football games in the past 10 years.

“That’s kind of vintage Ravens right there” said LB Terrell Suggs, who particularly appreciated Reed’s lateral. “We used to always pitch. We gotta get back to being the old us.”

This version of the Ravens’ defense is unlikely to get back to that once dominant level, but it was certainly fun to see a reminder that they’re still capable of making the types of plays necessary to finish off games when things get interesting.

The success of the 2010 Baltimore Ravens will be decided by their balance, as the NFL has become a league where teams must be equally capable in every facet of the game. But the pendulum hasn’t fully swung. They are not quite a team that will ONLY go as far as QB Joe Flacco and their offense will carry them. They’re a team that will succeed based on how well all three units (offense, defense and special teams) play together. That’s the way the National Football League works now.

On Sunday, Flacco noted that the offense hit a “lull” in the 3rd quarter, allowing the Panthers to get back into the game. When they did, the defense was there to pick them up and finish the job.

The argument will be made that the Ravens’ defensive success Sunday is nullified by the fact that it came against a Panthers team with one win on the season and a quarterback who entered the game having made as many pro starts as Glenn Clark. Those arguments are relevant. But it does not change the fact that the defensive success was necessary late in the game, and that the defense came through when most needed.

Hopefully the same thing will happen if the Ravens need it against better teams left on their schedule like the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.

But for one day Sunday, it was certainly a lot of fun to see a reminder that the unit is still plenty capable of getting the job done when necessary.

-G

Hear from Flacco, Lewis, Suggs, McClain, Reed, Head Coach John Harbaugh, WR Derrick Mason and TE Todd Heap following the win NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

LB Tavares Gooden is scheduled to join Drew Forrester Monday morning at 9:40am on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST!

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