Tag Archive | "oakland raiders"

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Ravens next game up – focus on the Raiders

Posted on 15 September 2015 by Dennis Koulatsos

While hunkering down in San Jose, the Baltimore Ravens are preparing for the Oakland Raiders.  Both teams are coming off of losses, the Ravens in a close one to the Broncos, while the Raiders got blown out by the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Ravens suffered a devastating loss on the defensive side of the ball, losing OLB Terrell Suggs for the year and LT Eugene Monroe for the game. The Raiders had some significant losses as well.  Starting QB Derek Carr sustained a severe bruise to his throwing hand, while trying to stiff arm Bengals DB Adam Jones on a run near the sideline. His availability is up in the air at this time, as his backup Matt McGloin finished the game for him.  The Bengals have talked to Christian Ponder this week, but have not signed him.

In other Oakland injury news, the Raiders fear safety Nate Allen has torn his ACL, and he will undergo more testing this week. The Raiders’ other starting safety – Charles Woodson – is scheduled for an MRI after injuring his shoulder in Sunday’s game as well. The Raiders have signed much traveled veteran safety Taylor Mays, who has bounced around the league and has never lived up to his draft position and college hype. The backup safeties are Larry Asante and rookie Keenan Lambert – not exactly household names.  The Bengals had great success attacking the Raiders’ safeties with their TEs, particularly Tyler Eifert who had 10 receptions for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns.

That’s a matchup the Ravens should be able to exploit with their 3 young TEs, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle.  Offensive coordinator Marc Trestman needs to focus and build his game plan around attacking the Raiders’ safeties. Joe Flacco needs to be more careful with the ball, and make sure that his receivers have some separation before airing it out.

The Raiders defensive line is stout, and Ravens RT Rick Wagner is going to have his hands full with former NY Giant Justin Tuck lined up across from him.  Tuck played at a very high level in the opener, and gave Bengals’ RT Andre Smith more than he could handle.  NT Dan Williams also graded out very high last week, and could give Ravens C Jeremy Zuttah problems up the middle.  Rush end/OLB Khalil Mack finished his rookie campaign in a strong fashion, and has picked up right where he left from.  If Eugene Monroe does not pass the NFL’s concussion protocol, the Ravens should consider moving LG Kelechi Osemele to RT, and inserting second year pro John Urschel in the LG spot.

I think a line – from left to right – of Osemele, Urschel, Zuttah, Yanda and Wagner would be superior to Hurst, Osemele, Zuttah, Yanda and Wagner. I don’t think the drop off is as severe from Osemele to Urschel, in contrast from Monroe to Hurst.  Urschel can get help from Zuttah if need be, while your left tackle most of the time is on an island.

The Raiders defensive backs are Travis Carrie and DJ Hayden.  They are not that good and if Flacco gets time, he should be able to complete some passes on them downfield. They also lack quality depth at the position. Raiders special teams are in good shape with Sebastian Janikowski handling the kicking duties, and the dangerous Taiwan Jones in the return game. Ravens special teams coach Jerry Rosburg needs to game plan to contain Jones.

On the offensive side of the ball, LT Donald Penn is a journeyman who started for Tampa Bay last year.  It’s too bad for the Ravens that Suggs is out for the year, as Penn is not that good and would have been an easy matchup.  Courtney Upshaw and Za’Darius Smith should be able to get their hands on the Raiders’ QB.  RT Austin Howard isn’t much better, and Elvis Dumervil should have a field day. RG J’Marcus Webb is equally unimpressive, where the tandem of Brandon Williams and Carl Davis can do some damage. The Raiders’ strength along their o-line is in their LG and C, where Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson man those positions.

Latavius Murray starts at RB for the Raiders, and he is a big downhill tackle to tackle type of a back, that they will try to run behind Jackson and Hudson.  Marcel Reece starts at fullback, where he’s been an average blocker throughout his career, and not much of a threat when carrying the ball. The primary receivers are former 49er Michael Crabtree and mercurial rookie Amari Cooper. Cooper has been game ready since he was drafted out of the University of Alabama, and Ravens DB Jimmy Smith needs to lock up on him from the opening whistle.

This is a must win game for the Ravens, as teams that start their season 0-2 rarely make it into the playoffs.  Although they’re on the road for the second consecutive week, there is no  better opponent, no better opportunity to get a road victory against than these Raiders.  Although they have a few pieces to build around, these are still the “same old Raiders” that we’ve been seeing for the better part of the last decade.  Once you get past their defensive line and Khalil Mack there’s not much there, so the Ravens offense should be able to move the ball a lot better against them than they did against the Broncos.  On the flip side of the ball, if the Ravens defense repeats their performance from a week ago, they will shut down the Raiders’ offense, particularly if Carr can’t go and McGloin is the QB.



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Flacco gets some rare 4th quarter rest in laugher

Posted on 11 November 2012 by WNSTV

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Raiders effort in Baltimore goes in the “Gutless Hall of Fame”

Posted on 11 November 2012 by Drew Forrester

As I sat in the press conference room waiting for Raiders coach Dennis Allen to address the media and explain the embarrassing effort from his team on Sunday in Baltimore, it suddenly dawned on me.

The Oakland defensive players – at least according to the logo I was seeing in front of me – are playing with a patch over their right eye.

No wonder they stink.

Honestly, it looked at times on Sunday like Oakland had a patch over BOTH eyes.

The Ravens won 55-20 on Sunday, but the story of the day was how putrid Oakland was from start to finish.

And the next time John Harbaugh’s team drops a tough one, or the next time they “only” beat a bad Cleveland team by 10 points on the road, I want you people to remember what you saw at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

I want you to remember what the Raiders looked like.

Remember it.

Because you would NEVER, EVER, EVER see a Ravens team throw in the towel like that.

Even when they got b-slapped in Houston a few weeks ago, Baltimore never once gave the appearance of throwing in the towel.  They got smashed by the Texans, yes, but they left with their dignity.

Oakland left the Baltimore stadium dressed in gowns.

So the next time the Ravens lose, or struggle to win, keep what you saw from the Raiders firmly planted in the back of your mind. There’s losing.  And then there’s getting your asses hammered because you just don’t have the guts to fight.

Gutless was the word to describe Oakland’s performance on Sunday.

And straight from the file of “the other team tries too”, it’s important to point out that the Ravens executed well in all three phases of the game on Sunday.  Joe Flacco was superb, his wide receivers nearly as good, and the Oakland defense simply wilted under a Baltimore attack that was dangerous both in the air and on the ground.  The tell-all of the game came late in the 2nd quarter when Darrius Heyward-Bey flicked away an attempted tackle by Ed Reed and scampered into the end zone to complete a 55-yard scoring play with 1:37 remaining to close the gap to 20-10.  Had the game gone like that to the locker room, who knows what might have happened in the final 30 minutes.  But Baltimore buzzed down the field with ease, upping their halftime lead to 27-10 when Ray Rice went in untouched from 7 yards out.  Sometimes people write “untouched” as a way of saying the player was hardly harrassed as he went by.  In this case, from 7 yards away, Rice absolutely waltzed in without a Raider defender putting a finger on him.  Credit Marshal Yanda with a great block…and LOL at the Oakland defense, who folded like a cheap suit right before the teams headed to the locker room.

The second half was full of fun and frolic…if you’re a Ravens fan.

Baltimore took all of 1:18 to score in the 3rd quarter, then later took advantage of a napping Raiders special teams unit to send holder Sam Koch into the end zone on a fake field goal from seven yards out.  It got better.  Jacoby Jones busted a kick-off return for a 105 yard score early in the 4th quarter to finalize the numbers at 55-20.

The Ravens did a lot of things right on Sunday.

But a shameful performance by the Raiders was the real story of the day, as they did something you’ve never seen a John Harbaugh-led team do.

The Raiders threw in the towel.

Somewhere, I imagine former Oakland owner Al Davis was heard screaming, “JUST TRY, BABY!”

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Raiders Game is a Must Win

Posted on 07 November 2012 by jeffreygilley

Discounting the Texans game, the Ravens have been competitive in every game thus far.  After all, they are six and two.  But this team has been through some tough times.  The defense has been terrible and the offense cant produce on the road.  That said, I think this Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders is a must win.

Make no mistake, this will not be an easy game.  The Raiders bost a respectable running game (when McFadden is healthy), and have a track team the Raiders call wide receivers.

If the Raiders want to win this game, Carson Palmer will have to make plays and he has done just that against the Ravens.  When Palmer was a Cincinnati Bengal, he faced the Ravens thirteen times and won nine of those games.  In those thirteen games, Palmer has thrown for just over 3,000 yards and has thrown fifteen touchdowns to eleven interceptions.

Those are pretty good numbers for a Ravens defense that used to be elite.  So what can Palmer do against a depleted Ravens defense that was struggling with their star players?

Jimmy Smith should play a large role in this game.  He is a good player and has a lot of potential but has a tendency to bite on double moves, especially double moves out of play action.  With the speed the Raiders have on the outside, Smith will have to stay at home and be fundamentally sound.

Tackling will also play a big role in this game.  Thus far, the Ravens have been a poor tackling team.  If the defensive backs play too far off the line to respect the Raiders speed, the Raiders will run comeback and slant routes to attack underneath.  If the Ravens dont tackle well, one of those short routes could go the distance.

This game is a must win because of the remaining schedule.  After the Raiders this Sunday, the Ravens must travel to Pittsburgh and San Diego before returning to Baltimore to play the Steelers for the second time in three weeks.  The Season ends with a four game stretch against the Redskins in Washington, the Broncos and Giants at home, and the Bengals on the road to end the regular season.

This schedule scares me as it should scare most Ravens fans.  Facing the Manning brothers two weeks in a row is brutal and Peyton always seems to beat the Ravens at home.

Personally, I see the Ravens getting to ten wins and earning a playoff spot.  The AFC is wide open.  Many teams can win the conference to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, I just hope the Ravens get that privilege.

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MobTown Sports Blog - Tue 12/6

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MobTown Sports Blog – Tue 12/6

Posted on 06 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look ahead at the Tuesday agenda for the MobTown Sports Beat. It’ll be a late start today as “Monday Night Live with Brendan Ayanbadejo” will air from 10 until 11 am, but we’ll be getting it in after that.



Guest Lineup


Jason Butt from CBS Sports and the Baltimore Guide will join us at 11:30 to talk Ravens.


Luke Jones will provide the Ravens intelligence with a Ravens report at 12:30.


Ravens Reaction


A thankfully uneventful foray in Cleveland in the books the Ravens look ahead to a toothless Colts team. We’re always open to Ravens rap.


A Nickel and a Nail


Five topical conversation starters and a nail for someone who deserves it. Share your thoughts:


#1 – Unlikely MVP Candidates


As the season winds down and as we set the countdown to declare Aaron Rodgers MVP of the league, who else might deserve to be in the conversation albeit under unlikely circumstances?


Peyton Manning who proved his value even more in his absence than with the impressive body of work that preceded it. Tim Tebow who has delivered the Broncos from 1-4 to the top of the AFC West despite no organizational support and the trade of the team’s best receiver on the day Tebow got the job. Matt Moore who has rescued the Dolphins from the throes of winlessness and played them right out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Maurice Jones-Drew who has put together a terrific campaign despite being on a team with no other offensive weapons. Matt Forte and Frank Gore who literally carried their teams to unexpected success (Forte’s value may become more apparent in coming weeks too via his absence). Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster and Darren McFadden are all probably worth a mention too.


#2 – The Miami Heat of Baseball


Given the season the Eagles are enduring, carrying the title “Miami Heat of” anything is probably an unwelcome harbinger of struggles ahead. As the newly anointed Miami Marlins go about making their splash into big market baseball though, most recently by heaping money on Jose Reyes and now looking to pique the interests of Albert Pujols, this rapid reconstruct looks much more like the Heat than even Philly’s football version.


Forget for a second that Reyes’ career season and the timing thereof couldn’t have been better for him personally as it came just ahead of free agency, and color me cynical if I see a 28-year old Dominican and immediately assume there’s at least a chance he might be a tad north of his listed age. The fact that Reyes and current “face of the Marlins” Hanley Ramirez both play shortstop and like LeBron James and DeWayne Wade’s skill sets the move seems justifiable yet glaringly redundant. Adding the best player in the game in Pujols would cement the Heat persona for this team…perhaps by design.


If so, it’s probably worth noting that while the Marlins were looking to the Heat for their blueprint for success they should have been careful to notice the white slipcovers that cover the empty American Airlines Arena seats in a feeble attempt to disguise the problem these Marlins know all too well…even a team full of superstars is a tough draw in a city full of lavish beaches, tropical locales and loads of other entertainment options. If the Heat’s Big 3 can’t draw in Miami during the winter months what’s to keep folks interested in the Marlins on beautiful summer nights…Pujols or not?


#3 – Tough Luck Contenders


They’re still in the thick of their respective conference playoff pictures, but that’s about all that’s gone right for the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears this season.


The Texans lost Mario Williams for the season early, Arian Foster for most of the season’s first quarter, Andre Johnson for a handful of games along the way yet were still firmly positioned atop the AFC South when the bottom fell out on Matt Schaub…and then Matt Leinart immediately thereafter. A game TJ Yates showed well in his trial by fire win against the tough Falcons on Sunday but lost Johnson again along the way. They still have a 2 game lead over the Titans who are the only team in the division able to catch them mathematically, and would be well positioned in the wild card even if they faltered away the division. With dates @CIN, vs. CAR, @IND & vs. TEN left the Texans look like a lock for the playoffs no matter who they have to rely on to get them there, the question is what they’ll be able to do once they finally reach that long awaited summit.


The Bears on the other had started slow as quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz struggled to get on the same page and with an apparent lack of talent on the offensive line. They were able to right their ship and ride Matt Forte into wildcard contention in the only division in football seemingly salted away (by the Packers) in week 6. Hoping for the best from Caleb Hanie at quarterback, the Bears were dealt the worst possible blow on Sunday (as were all of my fantasy teams) with the loss of Matt Forte possibly for the season. With dates remaining @DEN, vs. SEA, @ GB and @ MIN and clinging loosely to the 1st NFC wildcard spot at present the Bears road to the playoffs is much more in doubt.


The Raiders can probably fairly count themselves in this group too, losing Jason Campbell and spending mightily to replace him with Carson Palmer only to lose Darren McFadden immediately and indefinitely upon Palmer’s arrival. They’re in a dogfight for the AFC West / 2nd AFC wildcard with dates remaining @GB, vs. DET, @ KC and vs. SD.



#4 – BC-Mess continued


I vented on this topic here yesterday and won’t rehash that argument again. I will however add a couple of things.


First is that the BCS title rematch is a result (in my opinion) of media arrogance above all else. As 5 of the 7 computer rankings had Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama for the BCS’ second spot but the human side of the ledger tipped the balance to Alabama. As the media ordained Alabama the best team in the country through most of the season, their willingness to shake that notion was evident as the talk of a rematch began before the first game was even played. Much like the writers who bought into the Eagles dream team persona in the lead up to the NFL season and as a result were calling the midseason games of a sub .500 and floundering team the “beginning of the Eagles playoffs”…really?!?!?!?


Would the media be so quick to put LSU back in a rematch if the shoe were on the other foot and Alabama had beaten them at home? I doubt it. And while the human element seems just and justifiable as part of the formula, who amongst the voters have actually watched all of the BCS’ top 25 in multiple games this season…and how many watch 3 or 4 marquee games per week and take the word of the media and the assembled highlights of SportsCenter and other highlight shows to form their opinions about the others? How does that make sense? And how does anyone who tried to “work the vote” by putting Oklahoma State 4th or 5th on their ballot ever hope to keep a ballot for the following season?


Second, since we’re all in agreement that LSU is the unquestioned #1, and since the real debate begins at #2 and #3; why not let Alabama face Oklahoma Sate in a bowl, crown LSU the champ and showcase them against Boise State, Oregon, Clemson, Wisconsin or some other conference champ with no real shot at beating the Tigers?


Crown LSU the champ and settle the debate surrounding #2. We’ll see who’s smarter, the voters or the computers, once and for all. As it stands now, if LSU loses to Alabama in the BSC title game, theirs’ (LSU’s) will still be the better overall body of work with a better out of conference schedule, a win in Alabama’s building and an extra win in the SEC title game, yet the Tide will be the BCS crowned and titular champion.



#5 – Lions Melting Down


Who will be to blame if the Lions miss the playoffs? After an encouraging start, the Lions can’t get out of their own way and seem to be more caught up on winning the battle or the fight than the football game. Is any of this attributable to head coach Jim Schwartz’ ugly episode around the handshake after losing to the 49ers? Is their reputation too far gone to rescue this season to any real success?


And the Nail Goes to … Jason Garrett


Not just for icing his own kicker on Sunday, but that’s surely a part of it. The offensive genius that Garrett was touted to be once upon a time has yet to emerge and Garrett is surely feeling the heat after Sunday’s debacle on top of the debacle of a season that has preceded it as well.


I was a big Garrett critic when the Ravens were wooing him but backed off of my criticisms after he seemed to turn the Cowboys around after taking over mid-season last year. He lost me again (maybe just as a bitter Felix Jones owner) when he helped the Cowboys blow an apparently safe late lead and called snap after futile snap from the shotgun inside of the 10-yard line amongst other things in rolling over for the Jets.


Below is what I wrote here about the Ravens pursuit of Garrett prior to the 2008 season. Thanks for making me look smart Jason Garrett…that isn’t always easy.


With the benefit of hindsight it’s unbelievable that the Ravens were more interested in Garrett than he was in them…laughable even. Thanks Garrett (and Jerry Jones) for saving us from ourselves on that one too.


Jason Garrett’s Professional Mentors:


As a Player:


Princeton University – played under Ron Rogerson and Steve Tosches


Columbia University – played under Jim Garrett (Jim Garrett resigned after 0-10 season and allegations of verbal and physical abuse)


San Antonio Riders – played under Mike Riley


Ottawa Rough Riders – played under Dave Ritchie


Dallas Cowboys – played under Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey


New York Giants – played under Jim Fassel


Tampa Bay Bucs – played under Jon Gruden


As a Coach:


Miami Dolphins – QB coach – under Nick Saban


Dallas Cowboys – Offensive Coordinator – under Wade Phillips
Hiring a guy with Jason Garrett’s limited experience would be considered a gamble in most cases, yet somehow Garrett has managed to create a bidding war for his services. What Garrett lacks in pedigree he must make up for in potential. He comes from a football family, but his dad coached in the Ivy League and guided Columbia to an 0-10 season in 1995. Garrett jumped from Princeton to Columbia to play for his dad, and then back to Princeton after his dad was fired.
Garrett lasted for a long time in the NFL, presumably on brains more than physical gifts, and played for the Cowboys dynasty in the 90’s and on the Giants Superbowl team in 2000. Although he has played on successful teams, he certainly didn’t come up under a who’s who of coaches. He played for Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey in Dallas, Jim Fassel in New York and Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay. He played 4 years of Ivy League ball, and a few years between the WLAF and CFL. Although Garrett was on successful teams and was said to have mentored Kerry Collins in New York, he wasn’t coming up under Knute Rockne or Vince Lombardi by any means.
Garrett’s coaching credentials are even more suspect. Two years with the Dolphins as QB coach, during which he oversaw 5 different starters at the position. And then one year with the Cowboys in which he did a good job, with an offense that was good before his arrival. Garrett was presumably brought in to fix whatever caused Dallas to meltdown in the last 4 games of 2006 and to fizzle in the playoffs. His offense was in the top 5 in both scoring and yardage, but again melted down in the last 4 games of the season and fizzled in the playoffs. Garrett’s second half play calling against the Giants in the playoffs has to be among the worst called halves in the history of the game.
What may be more troubling than the limited amount of time that Garrett has had as an NFL coach, are the coaches under whom he has learned. Before spending this season in the shadow of the legendary Wade Phillips, who is so highly regarded that he may be fired in favor of Garrett before this all plays out, Garrett spent his previous two seasons learning his craft from the icon Nick Saban.
Garrett may or may not have learned much about the game of football from Saban, but based on the way that he is handling negotiations so far, he must have learned something from Saban. Saban, who left LSU fresh off of a national championship, for a big payday with the Dolphins, and then turned tail and ran back to the college ranks as soon as someone else came along with money. That kind of puts a different perspective on Garrett’s negotiations so far, doesn’t it?
John Harbaugh may be quickly emerging as a favorite now. Interestingly enough, based on the way that the coaching trees are assembled, Harbaugh would probably not be on Bill Walsh’s tree, even though it was Ray Rhodes who gave him his first NFL coaching job. It looks like coaches whose fathers were coaches too, were assumed to have learned their philosophies at home. Count Rex Ryan among the coaches who don’t come from the same 3 trees.
I probably like Harbaugh the best of all of the serious candidates, mostly because he isn’t a retread, and he isn’t a coordinator riding the momentum of a big season, and a talented team. If John Harbaugh is being interviewed, they must really like him, because he doesn’t have a top 5 offense or defense to boast of. In fact, he doesn’t have an offense or defense at all, he’s a position coach. So he must bring something else very impressive to the table if he is getting serious consideration.
Looking at the current head coaches in the NFL, of those who have actually won Superbowls, only Mike Holmgren did it with the first team he coached. Bill Bellichick, Mike Shannahan and Tony Dungy were all fired by their first employers, and Jon Gruden left Oakland before winning it all in Tampa. All of those coaches seemed to learn from previous failures, and excel when given another opportunity. Hiring a retread seems to be a bad PR move, but is usually a safer way to go.
I have suspected all along that Bisciotti’s ego has been driving this whole process. He is out to put his stamp on this team and this organization. Art Modell didn’t look like a good owner to me when he first came to town. He was seemingly broke, and didn’t have another lucrative business outside of football as most owners do. Then along came Bisciotti with the money, and proved me, and lots of other doubters wrong. Hopefully he’ll do it again. I’m not ready to write him off as an owner just yet; hopefully this will be just a bump in the road. For now though, things aren’t looking so good.
Maybe Bisciotti’s quest to put a stamp on his legacy goes beyond finding a hall of fame coach. From the list of candidates, he looks like he’ll be trying to start a hall of fame coaching tree. If Garrett is indeed to be that seed, let’s hope that this apple fell far from the trees under which he’s grown up


The Big 3 Questions


Call it the Miami Heat of radio segments and tweet talk, 3 random questions. Hit me with your answers on Twitter @Thyrl or @WNST, by email thyrl@wnst.net, or at 410-481-1570. Whatever you do, get back @ me.


#1 – Are you taking the #Packers or the field to win the #SuperBowl as of now? #NFL


I’ll still reluctantly take the field.


#2 – Do the #Ravens have an issue at kicker?


I hope not…


#3 – Which #NFL QBs would you trade Joe Flacco for today?


Rodgers, Brees and that’s it for me. Disagree (I’ll bet you do) call me on it.



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Here's a sample of what we're talking about on the MobTown Sports Beat on Monday from 10-2. Drop me a line at 410-481-1570 to get in on the discussion or by email thryl@wnst.net or on Twitter @Thyrl or @WNST.

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MobTown Sports Blog

Posted on 05 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a quick look ahead at the agenda for Monday on the MobTown Sports Beat:


Ravens Reaction


The Ravens are always on the table, especially on MSB Mondays. We’ll look back on the Ravens impressive and needed win over divisional rival Cleveland and have plenty of reaction.


A Nickel and a Nail


Five penny for your thought type topics of conversation and a nail for someone who deserves it.


#1 – BC-Mess or Oklahoma Statement


Despite an impressive thumping of the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State will be home watching the BCS title game like the rest of us. There’s little doubt that Alabama and LSU are the two best teams in the country, but do we really want to relive 9-6 snoozer that was the “game of the century” from just over a month ago? And how now can LSU lose a national title to Alabama after beating them on their own field in November and playing a much tougher out of conference schedule and the SEC title game? How much of this is due to the media’s inability to let go of their stated notion that Alabama was the best team in the country in the first place? Would LSU be getting this same opportunity if they had lost at home to Bama?



#2 – Tarheels are Baby Soft


They’re talented, there’s no doubt about that. The Tarheels are inordinately talented for a team in this the “one and done” era, the problem is that they seem to know it too. The juggernaut that Carolina looked to bring to the table after returning Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zellar and John Henson to fuse with the typical insurgence of Tarheel freshman talent so far has been anything but. After stumbling out of the gates last year only to turn it up for the stretch, Barnes looks to be making that his habit. Their talent will be enough to get them by on most nights, but when the real heat turns up, look for these Tarheels to wilt under the pressure like they did against Kentucky on Saturday. They appear poorly coached and at times altogether indifferent. Don’t believe the hype surrounding this Carolina team, as it appears that they themselves have already bought in too much.


#3 – NBA Free Agency to Begin on Monday?


Sort of at least…beginning on Monday it looks like teams will be free to at least make known their intentions and overtures to prospective free agents ahead of Friday’s projected final resolution in the lockout. Big men abound in free agency and no NBA team ever has enough of those. Greg Oden could be headed to the Heat, making him and them even more hated then each is already individually. Additionally, as “Big 3’s” are seemingly becoming en vogue, teams will be looking to fish or cut bait with a few marquee names that could quickly become trade fodder. Derron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard could all begin or end this season with new teams. And let’s not forget about Danny Ainge’s latest attempt to sabotage the Celtics. Something tells me we haven’t heard the last of the Rajon Rondo trade rumors or their impact.


#4 – A.F.Seeding


The top end of the AFC all managed to hold serve on Sunday. Along with the Ravens win, the Steelers beat the Bengals 35-7, the Patriots beat the hapless Colts 31-24 and the Texans rallied behind TJ Yates for a 17-10 win over the fading Falcons, so the logjam continues at 9-3 atop the AFC.


Houston survived a tough opponent behind TJ Yates first start after losing Andre Johnson again mid-game in a scene eerily similar to the one that preceded his last hamstring injury and kept him out of action for several weeks, and Brian Cushing left early too. If it weren’t for bad luck, these Texans wouldn’t have any yet they still refuse to lose in this their ordained playoff season given the absence of Peyton Manning in the division.


The Raiders were blasted by the suddenly resurgent Dolphins 34-14 and coupled with another heroic Tim Tebow comeback effort, surrendered the top spot in the AFC West (by virtue of a tiebreaker) to Denver.


The Titans and Jets both picked up wins to pull even with Cincinnati in the race for the final wild card spot with the Bengalis still enjoying the benefit of the tiebreaker…for now.


#5 – Packers on a Roll


Green Bay survived its first real test of the season on Sunday when the Giants punched in a 2-point conversion to tie them with less than a minute remaining and one timeout for the Packers. We should have known on the kickoff that the Pack was about to do something special. Randall Cobb, who’s having a fine year, took a knee on the kickoff just a yard or so deep in the end zone, essentially conceding that taking time away from Aaron Rodgers and the offense, even a few seconds, would be unacceptable even for a return man adept at taking them to the house. Two plays later the Packers were in field goal range and the rest as they say was history.


If you’re giving me the Packers or the field today, I’ll still take the field but it’s getting tougher to do each week. You could argue that now isn’t the time to be playing your best football, but the Packers have been doing it since week 1 and still look to be improving. They’re much deeper than last year’s injury riddled bunch and now can count themselves battle tested too.


You’d almost like to get an L out of the way before the playoffs start, but if it’s going to happen for these Packers it looks like it’ll happen naturally, as they don’t seem to be slowing at all. Maybe the cursed Colts season has taught a lesson to anyone willing to take note, “embrace the 0, or the 0 will come get you”.


And the nail goes to the Ravens and Steve Bisciotti for their announcement to take their ball and go home, or more specifically to cancel indefinitely the Westminster training camp that had become engrained in the traditions of many a Ravens’ fan who can’t get to the stadium for actual games.


The move has money written all over it, in this immediate aftermath of the NFL lockout where we as a public were forced to endure the tug of war over an unfathomably fat cache of cash that we were all made too well aware of, that seems to be bad form.  The team will surely try to make it up to the fans somehow, but attempts will be feeble at best compared to the rite of passage that was Ravens training camp.


(While not a regular attendee at Ravens training camp myself, I certainly understand the loss that some are feeling. As a 38-year old Baltimore native, my only “real” memories of the Baltimore Colts began and ended with training camps at Goucher college)


It’s not lost on us, Mr. Bisciotti, that you’re the same guy who encouraged us to offset the season ticket price increase of a few years ago by selling our Patriots, Steelers and/or Colts tickets as they were doing very well on the secondary market. Clearly the real plight and point of view of the average fan is lost on the occupants of the owner’s box.


What’s not lost on Mr. Bisciotti is the ability to pass the buck, or more aptly to allow crap to roll downhill, as he did by calling it a football decision. By stating that the Ravens were a better football team when they practice at their Owings Mills facility the owner laid blame right at the coach’s feet even without saying quite that much.


The truth is, it’s hard to say whether the Ravens are better or worse when they don’t have a camp, as this is the first year without one and also a year anomalous in the annals of NFL history due to the lockout. Using this season, as a barometer to measure anything is pointless at best and more likely irresponsible.


I’ll agree that life is easier for the Ravens when they don’t have to pack up and move operations from Owings Mills to Westminster and back, but easy isn’t the road to NFL glory. Eight times per season the Ravens will have to pack up and prepare, at least in part, away from the castle, usually in makeshift conditions not ideally suited or built for the purpose of readying a team for a football game. That the Ravens have struggled in doing it this season may speak to the “preparation” they’d have gotten in camp, under similar conditions.


 The road to a Super Bowl is a tough one, and one that the Ravens took once already while holding camp in Westminster, and the team enjoys lots of cushy handouts and civic backrubs from fans who’ll never have the chance to set foot in the stadium for a game, to lock them out using the fortress that they in part financed is just wrong.



@ Me Back


3 random questions. Hit me with your answers on Twitter @Thyrl or @WNST, by email thyrl@wnst.net, or at 410-481-1570. Whatever you do, get back @ me.


@-1: Who are the top 5 on your #NFL rookie of the year ballot?


I’ll go Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, AJ Green, Torrey Smith & DeMarco Murray


@-2: Who would you seed 1-8 in a college football playoff?


Give me- #1 LSU, #2 Bama, #3 OK St., #4 Boise, #5 Stanford, #6 Arkansas, #7 Wisconsin, #8 Clemson/WVU play-in or Oregon if I have to pick 1.


@-3: Who looks the like the best college hoops team so far?


For me – Kentucky, Ohio State, UConn, Syracuse, Missouri…but there’s a lot of teams I haven’t seen yet and a bunch more I can’t wait to see again.





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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.


All lines taken from sportsbook.com.


Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts)    season: 13-12 (-20 pts) 


Saints -14 @ Rams 


Lions -3 @ Broncos


Steelers +3 vs. Patriots


Browns +9 @ 49ers


Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers



Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts)    season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)


Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings


Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants


Bills -6 vs. Redskins


Bengals -3 @ Seahawks


Cowboys +3.5  @ Eagles



Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts)    season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)


Titans -9 vs. Colts


Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans


Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals


Last week Total: 5-7-1  (-164 pts)     Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.


All lines taken from sportsbook.com.


Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 4: 4-1 (290 pts)    season: 11-9 (110 pts) 


Chargers -2 @ Jets 


Texans +3 @ Titans


Steelers -3.5 @ Cardinals


Packers -9 @. Vikings


Ravens -7.5 @ Jaguars



Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 4: 3-2 (40 pts)    season: 8-10 (-150 pts)


Redskins +2.5 @ Panthers


Browns -3 vs. Seahawks


Broncos +1.5 @ Dolphins


Raiders -4.5 vs. Chiefs


Saints -14 vs. Colts



Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 4: 1-1-1 (-2 pts)    season 8-8-2 (-16 pts)


Buccaneers +1 vs. Bears (in London)


Lions -3.5 vs. Falcons


Cowboys -12.5 vs. Rams


Last week Total: 8-4-1 (328 pts)     Season Total: 27-27-2 (-56 pts)

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Live from Owings Mills: Ravens lose Gregg; but Carr is parked in Baltimore

Posted on 30 July 2011 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens continued their trend of 3-hour practices at Owings Mills on Saturday watching yet another member of their 2010 squad find his way to another NFL team, as defensive tackle Kelly Gregg signed a one-year with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gregg, 34, was one of the Ravens’ four big cuts last week (Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Willis McGahee and Gregg) and after McGahee reportedly signed a contract with the Denver Broncos yesterday, Gregg becomes the second of them to find another team, and another to join the AFC West.

Gregg was in high spirits last week when he talked with WNST’s own Glenn Clark, but it was indicated today that Gregg never received a contract offer from the Ravens.

The Ravens must have felt like if Gregg’s wait for a new deal would be extended, they might be inclined to go as low as possible to bring him back to Owings Mills.

Gregg signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs and will immediately compete for the nose tackle position out in Kansas City.

LB Jarret Johnson, who is in his ninth season, spent most of that time around Kelly. He talked with him over the phone several days ago, and while he hoped Gregg would come back, Johnson said both and he Gregg knew the writing was on the wall.

“I think he kind of expected it,” Johnson said, “but I know he wanted to be here obviously. But, it’s a tough situation, and you get to that stage in your career when the front office has to make moves. We’re all going to be there one day.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh used a classic movie line to discuss the departure of Gregg.

“Kansas City just gave him an offer-I guess you could say-‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’.”

Ravens keep their Carr

However, the wait didn’t last as long as you might expect, but the move the Ravens made wasn’t a big of a splash and still only brought one of their own back into the mix.

CB Chris Carr announced on his Twitter feed (@Triplcarr) that he had re-signed with the Ravens about midway through Saturday’s practice.

“Well, bmore. I’m backkkkk,” Carr said on Twitter. “Very excited to finish my career here.”

The fifth-year man out of Boise State who has played for both the Titans and the Raiders previously, returns to the Ravens and will likely be immediately placed back in his comfortable nickel corner position behind starters Domonique Foxworth and rookie Jimmy Smith.

Carr, who registered 61 tackles and 2 INTs last season in 16 games of work, played well last season in an expanded role.

The New York Jets and longtime defensive coordinator Rex Ryan had expressed interest in Carr, but fortunately for the Ravens, Carr is back in Baltimore.

“I’m very excited,” Harbaugh said. “This is something that we had hoped to do certainly with Josh or Chris-one of those two guys. They were both highly sought after, and Chris is a really great fit for us because he’s so versatile.”

Carr expressed that same enthusiasm.

“Thanks to all the support,” Carr tweeted. “I love it here in bmore and I love everything about being a Raven.”

The deal is reportedly four years in length, and Harbaugh was quick to say that he got what he deserved.

“I know he talked about wanting to be a starter, and we certainly consider him a starter. He is getting starter money.”

Harbaugh said they would have been happy to bring in any veteran corner back. They’re even more excited that it’s one of their own who knows the system.

“You can’t have enough corners,” Harbaugh said. “Ozzie said it, and it’s true. You have to be able to cover the quick passes, and those passes are covered one-on-one. There is just no way around it.”

Fullback Dicussion

The Ravens are still probably in need of a veteran fullback to replace the likes of LeRon McClain, who is a free agent.

The “veteran” on the roster-Jason McKie, who joined the team midway through the season last year, returned to practice Friday after suffering what appeared to be a serious leg injury on the first day on camp. He was again out for Saturday’s session and appeared like what happened on Wednesday was nothing more than a scare.

Reports however did surface on Wednesday that the market for McClain may be heating up out in Oakland, and the other fullback that has been linked to the Ravens, Texans FA FB Vonta Leach, has been given a bigger contract offer by his home team in an effort to retain his services.

Leach may be asking for a contract similar to that of former Raven Ovie Mughelli, who signed a six year, 18 million dollar contract with five million guaranteed back in 2007. If that is the case, the Ravens will probably decline his services to go with a cheaper option at the position.

Practice Notes

  • Safety Ed Reed was in attendance for today’s practice, but did not participate in drills.  Safety Nate Williams lined up at safety in Reed’s absence.
  • WR/KR David Reed, T Ramon Harewood, DT Brandon McKinney, G Ben Grubbs all did not participate in practice as they remain on the PUP list. Others who did not participate in today’s practice include WR Hakeem Moore (Towson), T Andre Ramsey, C Ryan Bartholomew, WR Terrell Zachary also did not practice. Bartholomew was not present.
  • With Grubbs on PUP and Yanda not able to suit up until the league year begins, the two guards lining up with the first team unit were rookie free agent Justin Boren and Brady Bond, who spent time on the practice squad last year. Boren lined up at LG next to Michael Oher, and Bond lined up at RG next to Jah Reid.
  • Reid said at the podium afterward that he is getting used to the speed of the game, and that he took several good licks from the defense. When asked who delivered the hits, Reid said he couldn’t remember, but that it was “one of those linebackers.”
  • The receivers certainly did their part in Saturday’s practice, as both Torrey Smith and James Hardy got looks with the first team unit opposite Anquan Boldin. Torrey Smith caught a fade route late in practice over his fellow draft pick in CB Jimmy Smith, and those two have been competing back and forth day-by-day in practice. Torrey after practice said that their competing will be an institution in Baltimore for years to come, he thinks. “He got me a couple times at the line today, so we can go back and forth for years. I’ll wear mine, and he can wear his.”
  • James Hardy offers an intriguing scenario to the Ravens. Everyone keeps talking about how the Ravens need to get a big WR who can go up and get the ball. Hardy-a former 2nd round pick of the Bills and stands at 6’5”, 220, could be that guy. But fundamental mistakes-including letting the opposing CB jump in front of his routes at times during Saturday’s practice, might deflate that suggestion. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron at one point ripped into Hardy, yelling “Get in front of his face! We have to win our one-on-one battles gentleman! They’ll be double-teaming us on the other side, and we won’t be able to do anything!”
  • Tyrod Taylor-who got much of the second and third looks on the day, started out inaccurate with his throws, either missing the receiver completely or not allowing the ballcatcher to get the ball in stride.  He did make a nice 30-yard throw along the sidelines to Justin Harper over CB Josh Victorian, but it will be interesting to see how his progression comes along each day in camp.
  • LB Jason Phillips did a great job in pass coverage hovering over the running back, and even delivered a bone-crushing hit on RB Matt Lawrence in the hole that was probably the biggest and loudest of the day. At the same time though, he also missed some tackles on outside sweeps.

Hear from John Harbaugh, Torrey Smith, Jah Reid, WR coach Jim Hostler, and LB Jarret Johnson in the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault!

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Tandon Doss

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Ravens fourth-round pick Tandon Doss on endorsement from Joe Flacco: “It’s very humbling. I feel blessed to be just in this opportunity”

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Tandon Doss

If you haven’t heard already about Ravens fourth-round pick-Indiana WR Tandon Doss, you might soon hear it enough.

Not only did Drew Forrester correctly predict that the Ravens were going to draft the 6’3”, 200-pound Hoosier receiver in this past weekend’s draft, but he also may have been hand-picked for his skills based on the endorsement of one Joe Flacco, the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.

And he joined WNST’s own Nestor Aparicio and Glenn Clark Monday on “The Morning Reaction” to offer his thanks for  becoming a Baltimore Raven Saturday, and said that he was honored by the recommendation and selection.

“It’s very humbling,” Doss told Aparicio. “I feel blessed to just to be in this opportunity and I’m just willing to make the most of it. Wherever they need me to make plays, I’m willing to make plays.”

And during his three years at Indiana, he made numerous plays for ex-Indiana coach Bill Lynch.

“He’s an outstanding football player,” Lynch told Rex Snider of “The Afternoon Drive” later on Monday. “Tandon is a great young man, and to watch him develop over his college career-and to now move to play in the National Football League-he really became a great football player and an even better leader on our team.”

Doss finished his career as one of the best for catch passes for the Indiana football team, as he finished his career with 154 receptions(4th best in school history), and seventh best in school history in both receiving yards (1,854) and all-purpose yards (3,786).

His 2010 season equated to 63 receptions for 706 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns. This was mostly due to teams trying to take him out of the ballgame after his deadly 2009 campaign in which he earned first-team All-Big Ten status with a 77 catches, 962 yards, five touchdown performance.

He also adds a dynamic element to the Ravens as a kick returner( 2010-his 1,016 kick return yards were fourth-most in Big Ten history). If healthy, he could compete with incumbent David Reed for the KR position as well as offer his skills up as a receiver as well.

But that’s where Doss’ issues lie. And why we fell farther in the draft than those who have the chance to win the college game’s Biletnikoff Award given to the country’s best wideout-


Despite playing in 11 of 12 games in 2010, Doss played with not one-but two sports hernias in his last season in Bloomington.

He had surgery on his groin twice in the off-season and it  that prevented him from attending the Combine, individual team workouts, and Indiana’s Pro Day, hurting his draft stock.

On top of not being the best in the business when it came to blazing speed, he saw his name drop to the fourth round, which was discouraging for Doss to say the least.

“Yea, it was a very long weekend,” Doss said. “I kinda new I wasn’t going to be in the first round, but I heard some things about maybe being in the second or third round.”

But the wait lingered.

“And I had a long night Friday afternoon and Friday evening, but you know unfortunately my name wasn’t called so I had to wait until the next morning.”

And now, he’s ready to prove that he was worth not only the endorsement by the Ravens and that he brings value to a Baltimore team selecting him with Saturday’s 123rd pick.

“I’m about to go get the route-stuff down and catch some balls getting ready to go down there,” Doss said.

But he will have to wait until the lockout ends to be able to have a look by the Ravens coaching staff and receive a playbook to get his transition to the NFL started.

Either way, he said he’ll be ready regardless whether he’s at the facility or not.

“They told me to stay in shape,” Doss said. “I need to be able to run all day as soon as I get there and just put on a couple of pounds to bulk up.”

His former coach said that Doss adjusting to the speed of the NFL is not going to be a problem, rest assured.

“I’ll say this for Tandon,” Lynch said. “He came in as a true freshman out of high school, and obviously Big Ten football is is a step-up from high school football. He caught up with the speed real quick, and we played him right away.”

So far, it seems like the coaching staff and the other Ravens players know he will fit right in with what’s going on over at 1 Winning Drive.

His head is certainly in the right place that’s for sure. Unlike a lot of other college juniors looking to go pro this year and forgo their senior seasons because of the expected rookie wage scale, Doss is doing it for another reason.

To support his family.

“That was a major part of my decision to come out early,” Doss said. “My father wasn’t really there growing up. I haven’t heard anything about where he’s at or anything.”

Doss’ mom worked numerous jobs in support of Tandon and his family, and on top of taking care of his schizophrenic brother who the two have supported, Doss said the decision to help her out by leaving school early was all too easy.

“I had to make a decision and come out early to try and support her,” Doss said. “I had to take some of the stress off her shoulders.”

“I love her to death. That’s why I’m doing it.”

With that kind of mindset, Ravens fans will be quick to welcome Doss to Baltimore.  That might not be the biggest adjustment Doss has to make.

Dropping his love for his previous loves-the Oakland Raiders and Colts WR Reggie Wayne.

“I actually grew up a Raiders fan,” Doss admitted. “I don’t know how it happened. I always grew up a Raiders fan and I enjoy watching the Colts. They’ve got a great offense.”

He explained why his love for Reggie Wayne is present in the back of his mind.

“Being from Indianapolis and watching a lot of Colts games, Reggie Wayne does it all,” Doss said. “His routes are crisp, he’s always consistent, he has great hands and catches everything so he’s able to separate.”

Clark and Aparicio made quick work of that conversation to make sure he had things on the right track now that he was a Raven.

“I, Tandon Doss, promise that I am not-in any way-a fan of the Indianapolis Colts,” Doss swore.

And with that, Doss was sworn in as a Baltimore Raven. It’s official by WNST-standards.

WNST thanks Tandon Doss for joining “The Morning Reaction”! Be sure to tune into AM 1570 WNST as we welcome your 2011 NFL Draft class to Baltimore the only way we can! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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