Tag Archive | "NFL"


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Vinnie Iyer on the continuous struggles of the Ravens defense

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff







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Chris Burke weighs in on another Lions embarrassing loss

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Rick Gosselin talks the struggles of the Romo-less Cowboys

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Brian Billick on a stunning loss to the Cleveland Browns

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff


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Ravens hope to have Forsett, S. Smith back against San Francisco

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Already 1-4 and dealing with an extensive injury report, Ravens coach John Harbaugh hopes to have at least two of his banged-up stars available against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 6.

After injuring his ankle late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s defeat to Cleveland, running back Justin Forsett did not return in overtime as the Browns won in Baltimore for the first time since 2007. The 2014 Pro Bowl selection had rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries and scored his first touchdown of the 2015 season.

Forsett was able to walk without any noticeable limp in the locker room after the game.

“It’s not a high ankle [sprain], I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a good sign, and it gives him a chance, certainly, for this week.”

Backup running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was already dealing with a foot injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game, leaving the Ravens just one healthy running back (rookie Buck Allen) by the end of the contest. Rookie Terrence Magee remains on the practice squad should the Ravens need another healthy back.

Harbaugh remains cautiously optimistic about the status of No. 1 receiver Steve Smith, who missed his first game since the 2013 season and only his second game in the last five seasons. Smith suffered microfractures in his back in the Week 4 win at Pittsburgh and was listed as doubtful on the final Week 5 injury report last week before being deactivated on Sunday morning.

Smith’s absence has left a major void at wide receiver that’s currently being filled by former undrafted free agents, late-round picks, practice-squad members, and castoffs. Kamar Aiken led all Ravens wide receivers with four catches for 78 yards against the Browns, but Joe Flacco completed only one pass to a wideout in the second half, a fourth-quarter connection to Marlon Brown for no gain.

Getting Smith back would be a major shot in the arm for the struggling Ravens.

“We’ll see. I don’t know,” Harbaugh said. “He was in here training hard [on Monday], so that’s a good sign. I’m hopeful.”

The Ravens also remain hopeful that starting tight end Crockett Gillmore can return this week after missing the last two games with a calf injury. He moved around well during a pre-game workout on Sunday morning.

Linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), and wide receiver Darren Waller (concussion) are also dealing with injuries that forced them out of Sunday’s game. Cornerback Will Davis suffered a torn ACL against the Browns, prompting the Ravens to add veteran cornerback Shareece Wright on Monday.

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Ravens sign veteran cornerback Shareece Wright

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Luke Jones

Wasting no time trying to fill the void left by the injured Will Davis, the Ravens agreed to a deal with veteran cornerback Shareece Wright on Monday night.

According to NFL Network, Baltimore will fill Davis’ spot on the 53-man roster with the 28-year-old Wright, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers at his request on Saturday after being inactive for the first four games of the 2015 season. Signed to a one-year, $3 million contract in March, Wright spent the first four years of his NFL career with the San Diego Chargers.

A 2011 third-round pick from USC, Wright started 27 games over his four seasons in San Diego, collecting 137 tackles, one interception, and 20 pass breakups. Primarily an outside cornerback, Wright will be a candidate to serve as the No. 3 corner, which would allow Lardarius Webb to play inside in the nickel package like the Ravens prefer.

The 5-foot-11, 182-pound Wright struggled in coverage last season and drew the most pass interference penalties in the league with eight a year ago, but Baltimore is desperate to turn around a defense that gave up 33 points and more than 500 yards of offense in an overtime loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

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Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, left, and defensive coordinator Dean Pees look on during an NFL football practice at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md., Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Harbaugh not considering any coaching changes

Posted on 12 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens off to the first 1-4 start in franchise history, many fans are clamoring for changes in a season that began with high expectations.

Despite a slew of injuries to key players, fourth-year defensive coordinator Dean Pees has drawn much of the coaching criticism, but Harbaugh made his intentions clear Monday when asked whether he was considering any staff changes at this time.

“No, no way. No, our coaches are doing a good job,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve just got to collectively find a way to finish games and get the job done. We’ve got tough challenges that we’re facing, but we’ve got just the men for the job right here.”

After giving up 33 points and 505 total yards while allowing Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown to throw for 457 yards — the third-highest total allowed in franchise history — in Sunday’s overtime loss, the Ravens now rank 24th in points allowed per game (27.4) and 25th in pass defense (278.2 yards through the air per contest). McCown’s performance was the highest passing yardage total in the long history of the Browns.

In addition to already being without linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and defensive end Chris Canty (calf) prior to Sunday’s game, the Ravens lost linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin) and cornerbacks Will Davis (torn ACL), Lardarius Webb (hamstring), and Kyle Arrington (concussion testing) over the course of the game.

Even with those substantial personnel losses, the Ravens allowing 24 points to Cleveland in a 25-minute span — the Browns had scored 24 in an entire game against Baltimore just once in the previous 12 meetings — is unacceptable to the standards of the organization and fans alike. But Harbaugh believes the answers still lie with the coaches and players already in the building as their four losses have come by a combined 17 points.

“We definitely believe in what we’re doing,” said Harbaugh, who also stated that he’s challenging his coaches to come up with new ideas. “We definitely have confidence in the players that we have and in the coaches that we have and in the schemes that we’re running.

“But you also look for ways to improve and get better, so we’re looking at schemes. We’re looking at things we can teach a little bit differently — the way we’re playing a technique on the defensive line or the way we’re playing a technique in the back end. More importantly, we want to play the things right all the time.”

Poor technique, poor tackling, costly penalties, and miscommunication have all plagued the defense so far in 2015. The Ravens also rank 31st out of 32 teams in third-down defense with opponents moving the chains a staggering 49.4 percent of the time.

Known as the Ravens’ biggest game-changing unit for the better part of two decades, the defense has squandered fourth-quarter leaders in three of four losses this season. It’s the kind of futility that should have everyone on alert — coaches and players.

Harbaugh knows the Ravens need to improve all the way around, but figuring out how is the challenge.

“We don’t need to play harder; we need to play better,” Harbaugh said. “We don’t need to coach harder; we need to coach better. We’ve got to find a way to make the difference. It’s making plays. It’s calling plays that give guys a chance to make plays in critical situations to get you over the hump.”

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Ravens cornerback Davis lost for season with torn ACL

Posted on 12 October 2015 by Luke Jones

A season from hell continues to grow worse for the Ravens as cornerback Will Davis suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.

The third-year defensive back sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the second quarter of the 33-30 overtime defeat. Acquired from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick last month, Davis suffered a torn ACL in his right knee last November.

The 2013 third-round pick from Utah State had played well in his brief time with the Ravens and had become the No. 3 cornerback over veteran Kyle Arrington and the inexperienced Rashaan Melvin. Davis played seven snaps on Sunday before leaving the game in the second quarter.

“He’ll be out for the season, which is tough for him,” said head coach John Harbaugh, who added that he was “99 percent” that Davis injured the opposite knee this time. “He was playing at a really high level.”

Davis’ knee injury is the latest in the Ravens’ nightmarish run of bad health at the cornerback position dating back to last year. Starter Lardarius Webb also left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury in the second quarter and didn’t return.

Baltimore has two cornerbacks on its practice squad — Charles James and Asa Jackson — and general manager Ozzie Newsome cannot be picky in the search for Davis’ replacement as the Ravens possess less than $2 million in cap space. Currently, the 53-man roster holds just four healthy cornerbacks — Jimmy Smith, Arrington, Melvin, and rookie Tray Walker — but second-year safety Terrence Brooks saw extensive time at the nickel spot on Sunday.

“It’s not that late,” said Harbaugh about the ability to find more help at the position. “When you start getting past this time — close to the midway point — that’s when [the market] kind of dries up on you. But there are some corners out there right now that can play and we’re looking at those guys and we have a couple guys on our practice roster, too.”

Other Ravens players injured in Week 5 included linebacker Elvis Dumervil (groin), running back Justin Forsett (ankle), and wide receiver Darren Waller (concussion).

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Beaten up and bad: Ravens defense nevermore in 2015

Posted on 12 October 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The single voice of a Browns fan barking in the lower concourse of M&T Bank Stadium could be heard moments after the Ravens’ 33-30 overtime loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

It was a sound that may have signaled the official end of an era we’ve enjoyed for more than 15 years. Of course, the fall of the Ravens defense didn’t happen overnight as we’ve watched future Hall of Famers ride off into the sunset and other perennial Pro Bowl selections depart, but a unit in transition had still possessed enough talent and swagger to find ways to be more good than bad over the last couple years. Sunday’s performance eliminated any lingering optimism about a defense that had already played poorly at Oakland in Week 2 and was torched by Andy Dalton and Cincinnati in the home opener two weeks ago.


If giving up 33 points, 505 yards of offense, and 457 passing yards to Josh McCown and the Cleveland Browns — yes, the AFC North doormats that hadn’t won in Baltimore since the George W. Bush administration — isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what it is. Allowing Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers or even Philip Rivers to post those kinds of numbers is one thing, but a 36-year-old journeyman shredding you in your own stadium?

Baltimore may still field a defense, but it’s no longer a group worthy of being called a “Ravens” defense.

“I put this on the defense as a whole. We didn’t come through [Sunday],” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “We were supposed to show up, and we did not show up in the second half.”

Of course, it’d be unfair to rip the defense without acknowledging how ravaged the group was by injuries by the time the Ravens entered overtime on Sunday afternoon. Already without Terrell Suggs and Chris Canty long before Sunday’s game, the Ravens lost their only reliable pass rusher (Elvis Dumervil) and their No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks (Lardarius Webb and Will Davis) in the first half, injuries that caused the defense to completely unravel after a respectable “bend, but don’t break” performance over the first 30 minutes.

In overtime, another injury to No. 4 cornerback Kyle Arrington led to rookie Tray Walker playing in the base defense after he’d been a healthy inactive in Pittsburgh last week. A reflection of how little confidence they had in Walker, the Ravens used second-year safety Terrence Brooks at the nickel spot earlier in the game before having no choice but to go to the 2015 fourth-round pick in crunch time.

With the modern reality of the salary cap and other circumstances contributing to where the Ravens currently stand, they knew all along they could only take so many injuries after the offseason departures of Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee. Deep depth is a rarity in the NFL these days, and the Ravens are learning that painful lesson in the midst of the worst start in the 20-year history of the franchise.

“Whoever is out there has to play well. Whoever is out there has to get the job done,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s what has to happen. That goes for all of us. As coaches, we have to find a way to put whoever is out there in a kind of position where they can be successful. That all goes hand-in-hand. And that was a very winnable game. We should have won.”

The phrase “next man up” has been a rallying cry in Baltimore for years, but the words have never rung more hollow. The Ravens simply aren’t talented enough with an array of issues on both sides of the ball that are haunting them in some form every week. Blame defensive coordinator Dean Pees as much as you’d like — he needs to own a mess that could ultimately cost him his job — but a defense can only survive so much attrition, whether by injuries or free-agent departures or underwhelming draft picks.

In truth, an offense consisting of receivers and tight ends who required a program to identify scoring 30 points on Sunday should have been more than enough with even an average defensive performance against the Browns, who entered Sunday’s game ranked 20th in the NFL in total offense and points scored.

The defense can’t solely blame the injuries for its demise as the Ravens racked up penalties at crucial times — veteran Jason Babin committed infractions on two different Browns’ touchdown drives in the second half — and key performers such as linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley and safety Will Hill also played poorly. If the defense can’t even tackle or count on its known commodities to make plays, what chance does the group really have?

They may be wearing purple and black, but you certainly don’t recognize a defense allowing 27.4 points per game, just a hair better than the franchise-worst 27.6 per contest allowed in the inaugural 1996 campaign. In five games, Baltimore has already allowed 137 points, just 28 fewer than the record-setting 2000 defense surrendered in an entire regular season.

Late in the game on Sunday, which figure in the defensive huddle could players turn to for an emotional lift? Forget having a Ray Lewis or Ed Reed or Suggs; the Ravens didn’t even have a player like Dumervil to make everyone believe they could force a stop.

The Baltimore defense was a ship without a captain in the second half. And it sank hard.

“We’re disappointed, because we know what kind of team we are,” said Mosley, who struggled mightily in pass coverage throughout the game. “We know how [hard] we work, and we’re definitely better than 1-4. We’ve just got to put our foot down and prove that. We play hard, but we’ve just got to finish as a team.”

The Ravens keep talking about their need to finish games and to get off the field on third down — Cleveland went 12-for-19 in that department on Sunday — but they appear more “finished” than able to finish in 2015 with Thanksgiving still more than a month away.

They’re beaten up and bad with no relief in sight as back-to-back West Coast trips loom. Nothing is a given moving forward when you lose to the Browns at home for the first time since 2007 and only the fourth time ever in Baltimore.

Instead of fans celebrating a win with a chance to improve to .500 next week to reboot the season, all that could be heard at the end of Sunday’s game was a single Browns fan barking in the concourse.

And the “Ravens” defense was nowhere to be found.

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Ravens-Browns: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 11 October 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — If the Ravens are to win their first home game of the 2015 season, they’ll need to do it without large pieces of their offense against the Cleveland Browns.

Though Baltimore was already preparing to play without starting wide receiver Steve Smith and starting tight end Crockett Gillmore, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot) was also deactivated for Sunday’s game despite being listed as probable on the final injury report. Taliaferro practiced on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, but his absence means the Ravens will have just two healthy running backs: starter Justin Forsett and 2015 fourth-round pick Buck Allen.

In better news, the Ravens will officially welcome back starting left tackle Eugene Monroe after he missed the last three games with a concussion suffered on the first series of the season opener in Denver. Monroe was cleared to return this week and practiced fully, leaving little doubt that he would recapture his starting position.

As expected, speedy receiver Chris Givens and return specialist and receiver Jeremy Ross were both active for Sunday’s game. Ross is expected to handle kick return duties while Givens will try to give the Ravens a speed element in the passing game that they’ve lacked all year with the long-term knee injury to rookie Breshad Perriman.

Though he was officially ruled out for Week 5 on Friday, Gillmore (calf) ran routes and moved well in a pre-game workout, an encouraging development for next week’s game in San Francisco. Veteran Dennis Pitta (hip) also ran routes prior to Sunday’s game, but head coach John Harbaugh said Friday there is no change in his status as he remains on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

For the Browns, starting cornerback Joe Haden (finger/ribs) and starting receiver Brian Hartline (ribs/thigh) were both active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. Starting free safety Tashaun Gipson (ankle) was officially ruled out on Friday.

These teams are meeting for the 33rd time with the Ravens holding an overwhelming 24-8 advantage and 13-3 mark in Baltimore. However, five of the last seven games have been decided by one possession and the Ravens trailed in the fourth quarter of both wins over Cleveland last season.

The Sunday afternoon forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the high 60s and very light winds.

Referee Jeff Triplette and his crew will officiate Sunday’s game.

The Ravens are wearing black jerseys with black pants while Cleveland dons its white tops with brown pants.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

WR Steve Smith
WR Breshad Perriman
RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
CB Rashaan Melvin
OL Ryan Jensen
TE Crockett Gillmore
DE Chris Canty

QB Austin Davis
RB Shaun Draughn
RB Robert Turbin
FS Tashuan Gipson
LB Craig Robertson
WR Dwayne Bowe
TE E.J. Bibbs

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