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Observations from Ravens camp

Posted on 11 May 2008 by caseywillett

So the Ravens concluded three days of mandatory camp this afternoon, and here are some observations:
          Players are getting use to camp run by John Harbaugh. Players are learning quickly, that if they thought they were getting off the field at 11:40, to not set their watches to that time because they are going to practice till the work gets done.
          Coach Harbuagh has proven he is going to practice in the rain and make it some long days. Players were at the facility on Friday till after 9p.m. The second practice on Friday did not start until 6:30 p.m.
          Now for the “brawls” that happened over the weekend. Much to do about nothing. I spoke with several players on the team this afternoon about what took place yesterday and they all laughed at how much attention it was getting. In all the alleged “brawls” that took place, a total of about three punches were thrown. Several of the players said that every team fights one another during some point in the training/mini camps, and most of the time it does more good than harm to fight one another.
          I think having a team mandatory camp before they Ravens have a rookie only camp is huge. Having these guys’s see how the veterans carry themselves and the way that they practice will help the rookies in the long run.
          Watching the Ravens line up on the goal line, and seeing Troy Smith under center, Haloti Ngata in the backfield, Kelly Gregg, Jarrett Johnson, and Edgar Jones all on the offensive line was pretty interesting. Haloti got the carry but fumbled the ball. John Harbaugh admitted that it is something they are looking at and may use some offensive guys on defense as well.
          Joe Flacco has a cannon for an arm. The one thing I noticed with Joe over this weekend is that he seems to throw the ball to fast. The ball on several occasions was past the receiver before he could get to it. John Harbaugh said that Joe needs to work on getting the ball out quicker. He is not really facing any pressure right now in mini camps, but they want him to release the ball a little sooner. His best pass in my opinion was a deep strike he threw to Mark Clayton that hit him in stride.
          Troy Smith has been impressive also to me during these camps. I still think there is a very good and very likely chance that Troy is the starting quarterback to start the season.
          Xavier Lee the quarterback from FSU took some snaps today at tight end because of the lack of depth at that position and made some nice catches. If I am Xavier I get deep into the playbook and learn the quarterback and tight end plays. There was talk of him being a tight end during his time at FSU and some thought that he could be a tight end in the NFL.
          Todd Heap did not practice today just simply because they are trying to take care of him and his hamstrings. Daniel Wilcox also did not practice, but is hopeful that he will be ready when training camp comes around. Lee Vickers also has not practiced because of a hand injury.
          The veterans on the Ravens do not have to be back until time to report for training camp. The rookies will return in a week in and a half for rookie camp.
          Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun wrote an article in this morning’s paper about changes under Coach Harbaugh including getting rid of the Ravens Wired show. Coach Harbaugh does not believe in putting the spot light on anyone individual player. I understand were some fans will have a problem with the show going away, but if you have ever seen a Wired episode, half of the show was about who is wearing the mic and staying away from that person because of it.
          While on the topic, I do not expect that Coach Harbaugh will tell players they can not do radio shows. I am almost certain that he can not stop them from doing them, but I do not think he will even if he could. Whoever does a radio show I am sure will get the sit down Coach Harbaugh team speech and make sure that it comes across during their radio show, but will not try and stop them from doing them.

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Why Billick Should Not Have Been Fired

Posted on 01 January 2008 by russletra

Point A – Billick’s Resiliency – Billick’s best three season followed sub-par seasons. The Super Bowl year followed an 8-8 season. The 2003 division championship followed a disappointing 7-9 202. And finally, does anybody remember the public humiliation the Angelos in training owner gave Billick after his 6-10 2005? Brian responded with a 13-3 year. A pattern seems to emerge. Brian Billick is good at guiding a team to success after a sub-par year.
Point B – The fallacy of “The message gets old”. Some veteran utters this bite and all the hair sprayed talking heads pick it up from coast to coast. Suddenly it’s a time-tested axiom. In reality, it is a misnomer. The message that Brian Billick gives his players doesn’t get old because he is always facing a new audience. Sure there are a few holdovers: Ray Lewis, Jon Ogden, and Matt Stover, but the team is in a perpetual flux state. In the age of the salary cap, each year presents a new group dynamic. Is the message old to Haloti Ngata, Troy Smith or Yamon Figures? Of course not.
Point C – The injuries. A healthy Steve McNair, Jon Ogden, and Todd Heap would have made a huge difference to the offense in November. This is just three of many injuries. I know every team has injuries, but the Ravens were hit especially hard, maybe not Buffalo Bills hard, but hard nonetheless. I’ll also concede that Billick didn’t do his best job under these circumstances, but his past accomplishments (See Point D) should give him a pass for this year’s poor performance.
Point D – The record. Billick has won a Super Bowl. He has won 80 NFL games and lost only 64. He has won five playoff games and lost only three. If that doesn’t seem impressive, look at all the coaches in Billick’s nine year reign that didn’t even make the playoffs.
The bottom line: Baltimore was hoping to have a Clint Murchison when Steve Bisciotti took over. Who was Murchison? He was the long-time Cowboys owner who hired experts, like Tex Schramm and Tom Landry, and watched the victories flow. He knew he didn’t have the football smarts needed to compete, so he let the connoisseurs take have the power. I was hoping Bisciotti would feel the same way. The self-imposed, in season gag-rule gave me hope. But his post season antics of 2005 and 2007 have me believing that we have another Peter Angelos on our hands.
What have Baltimore sports fans done to deserve this?

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