Tag Archive | "Peyton Manning"

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The 15-7-0 has a better defense than the Washington Redskins

Posted on 16 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

I heard that before settling on “Daniel”, Mr. and Mrs. Flacco were seriously considering “Fifteensevenoh” as their son’s name. I’m sorta surprised they didn’t stick with it.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Someone is going to end up beating the Denver Broncos, but right now it’s really hard to imagine someone beating the Denver Broncos.

My favorite Peyton Manning audible is the one where he finishes his bowl of soup.

Apparently Trindon Holliday thought he was playing the Ravens.

The Brothers Manning seemed a bit awkward postgame.

Which is weird because earlier they were…making out?

This was Phil Simms doing…Christ, I don’t know…during the game broadcast on CBS.

2. I should be excited about Maryland being 3-0 for the first time since 2001, but I’m actually a bit depressed that Maryland went 12 years without starting a season 3-0.

Things went really well for Randy Edsall in his return to Connecticut. Enjoy these highlights of the Terps’ win before we get to the crappy part.

The crappy part is that Dexter McDougle becomes the second Maryland CB to go down, and we know McDougle will miss the rest of the season. I’ll just assume Shawn Petty starts playing corner next week.

Again, we follow bad stuff with good stuff; so here’s the plane the Terrapins flew to Hartford on. It’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever see ever.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia Tech is going to wear this next week because they know they’re awful this year anyway.

3. Johnny Football is good at football. Alabama football is better at football.

Oh my Bear Bryant. Manziel threw a 95 yard TD…

And then Oh my Saban this is how he celebrated.

Unfortunately for Manziel, he also threw a TD to Vinnie Sunseri-who plays for Alabama. His attempt at a tackle left a bit to be desired.

I know Manziel is an “effort” guy, but I’m not sure he needed to truck his own security.

Look, I know Alabama won the game. But they’re just really GOOD. Johnny Manziel is really INTERESTING.

Okay, TJ Yeldon was interesting too.

4. The Miami Dolphins would like to remind you of why it is that everyone was saying the Miami Dolphins were a sleeper to make the playoffs in the AFC.

But TY Hilton REALLY looks good.

5. The Kansas City Chiefs would like to echo those sentiments…you know, except about them.

Unfortunately for Sam Koch, the road to the Pro Bowl just keeps getting tougher.

Dez Bryant did awesome things.

It is probably worth pointing out that this guy attended the game.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Broncos

Posted on 10 September 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos Thursday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Chris Harris intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Brandon Stokey at Baltimore 24 (2nd quarter)

4. Demaryius Thomas 78 yard TD catch from Peyton Manning (4th quarter)

3. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dallas Clark incomplete on 3rd & 7 at Denver 7 (2nd quarter)

2. David Bruton blocks Sam Koch punt (3rd quarter)

1. Wes Welker 10 yard catch from Peyton Manning on 3rd & 9 (3rd quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Two key moments open floodgates in embarrassing loss to Broncos

Posted on 06 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco uttered all that really could be said about a disastrous 49-27 defeat at the hands of the Denver Broncos to begin the 2013 season.

“It was one of those nights.”

Head coach John Harbaugh can only hope it’s as simple as that after the Ravens surrendered 35 points in the second half, transforming a 17-14 halftime lead into a 22-point shellacking in which the Baltimore defense allowed a franchise-record 49 points in the first game of the post-Ray Lewis era. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes against a defense that looked exhausted and overmatched — particularly in the secondary — for much of the night.

Offensively, the fears at the wide receiver and tight end positions came to fruition as Flacco struggled to find open targets and when he did, they often couldn’t catch the football. The Ravens lost wide receiver Jacoby Jones (knee) and right tackle Michael Oher (ankle) to injury, further depleting an offense already with little room for mistakes.

The special teams were just as bad as backup safety Brynden Trawick inexplicably ran into Jones on a punt return — leading to the Pro Bowl returner specialist’s knee injury — and allowed a Sam Koch punt to be blocked to set up another Denver touchdown. And that’s only scratching the surface for Jerry Rosburg’s units.

Just one of those nights?

As ugly as the final stats and the second half were in the first season-opening loss of the Harbaugh era, it’s easy to forget the Ravens held the momentum late in the first half before two crucial moments became the catalysts for one of the worst defeats of the Harbaugh era. It’s often said that the difference between winning and losing can come down to just a play or two, but in this case, it was two plays that transformed a tight game into an unmerciful beating.

A perfectly-thrown Flacco pass to tight end Dallas Clark bounced right off his hands on what would have been a sure touchdown with just seconds remaining until intermission. Instead of a seven-point lead, the Ravens settled for a 25-yard field goal by Justin Tucker to go into the locker room ahead three points.

The second key moment came on Denver’s opening drive of the second half when Manning delivered a low throw to Wes Welker that clearly hit the ground as the slot receiver secured it. The play was ruled a catch, but Harbaugh elected not to throw his challenge flag, blaming the lack of a timely replay for his coaches upstairs to get a good look at the play after the game.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” Harbaugh said after the game. “That’s something you have to see. It would be nice if NBC would show it, but we didn’t have a chance to look at it.”

Whether it was the lack of a replay, a moment of indecisiveness, or Harbaugh simply trying to protect his staff upstairs, the floodgates opened two plays later on Manning’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell and the Ravens were never competitive again. Had the play been challenged and the call overturned, the Baltimore defense would have forced a three-and-out, placing the ball back in the hands of Flacco and the offense with a three-point lead and further easing the pain of Clark’s drop on the final series of the first half.

Make no mistake, putting too much blame on Clark’s drop and Harbaugh’s decision to keep his red challenge flag in his pocket bails out what was an atrocious defensive effort and an inept offensive showing in the second half, but those mistakes highlight how small the margin for error might be for the Ravens this season — at least early on. With 19 new players on the 53-man roster and the departures of a number of key veterans including Lewis and longtime safety Ed Reed, the Ravens are certainly vulnerable to some growing pains in terms of both leadership and play on the field.

The loss of Jones in the first half eliminated the fear of a deep-ball threat on both sides of formations for the Ravens offense, allowing Denver safeties to focus carefully on Torrey Smith, who finished the night with four catches for 92 yards. Ed Dickson and Clark only magnified concerns about the tight end position with a number of drops. If you’re looking for a positive, rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown’s 13-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was one of the few bright spots for the offense as he finished with four catches for 65 yards.

The Ravens defense had no excuses for how it played in the second half as the secondary was absolutely torched by Manning, who ate up the Baltimore safeties — particularly free safety Michael Huff — on two touchdowns to young tight end Julius Thomas and abused cornerback Corey Graham throughout the night. With expectations high for a defense that experienced a dramatic makeover, the secondary was the biggest question mark entering the season as only cornerback Lardarius Webb received a passing grade in the group.

Hyped by some to be one of the most formidable groups in franchise history, the front seven collected three sacks against Manning but didn’t provide consistent pressure to aid a defensive backfield overwhelmed by too many weapons.

So, does this all mean the Ravens are doomed? Hardly.

It was only last December when the Ravens were in a similar position against the Broncos when a critical Flacco interception returned for a touchdown before halftime turned a tight game into one of the worst losses of the Harbaugh era. The rest was history after that embarrassing loss as the Ravens didn’t lose another meaningful game — starters were rested against Cincinnati in Week 17 — on their path to a Super Bowl title.

Even the record-setting 2000 Ravens defense gave up 36 points at home against Mark Brunell and the Jacksonville Jaguars in a Week 2 shootout before ultimately setting a record for fewest points allowed in a 16-game season and winning the Super Bowl a few months later.

You’re never as bad as you look at your lowest point, but the concerns are real, ranging from who Flacco can trust in the passing game to whether this Ravens defense is as good as it was thought to be on paper with such a poor showing from the secondary.

The opening game will always be magnified because there’s no body of work on which to base observations and this marks the first time the Ravens have ever started 0-1 under Harbaugh. It’s also the first time since October 2008 in which the Ravens find themselves below the .500 mark, which is a testament to Harbaugh and his coaching staff and an easy reminder not to press the panic button just yet.

Still, Thursday night did not provide a good feeling after an offseason filled with more personnel changes and unknowns than any other defending Super Bowl champion had experienced in recent memory.

You can only hope it truly was just one of those nights with much better days ahead.

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Flacco: Overreacting to a loss isn’t a bad thing

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNSTV

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Lots of questions, few answers in Denver

Posted on 06 September 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

For the past seven months we’re talked a lot about the 2013 version of the Baltimore Ravens and nothing really mattered until the rain and lightning cleared and the team hit the field in Denver last night.

Everyone had questions. Who would replace Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin in the offense? How would the secondary hold up with new (and some) former backup players? Who would provide the pass rush? Could Joe Flacco get protection and deliver the ball as a marked man?

Some of the answers came in a dismal third quarter that quickly unraveled and slowly droned on until midnight, when the Ravens managed to turn a 17-14 halftime lead into a 35-17 hole that they couldn’t recover from vs. the Broncos.

John Harbaugh and his staff will be looking for answers for the next 10 days in preparation for a visit from the Cleveland Browns.

Some evaluations and more questions are now glaring:

Who will catch the ball effectively for Joe Flacco in 2013? Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley caught a few passes but it’s hard to envision any massive productivity from them on the offense. Torrey Smith and Ray Rice will be utilized plenty but the some of the elder statemen are role players now playing a larger role than Ozzie Newsome would’ve liked, especially this early in the season.

The tight end position appears ready to haunt the Ravens without Pitta. Ed Dickson dropped four passes. Who can Flacco trust? Can Marlon Brown really be a surprise difference maker in the offense? He did catch a garbage time touchdown after most of you went to bed.

What happens to the special teams game with Jacoby Jones out? He injured his knee. For a speed guy, that’s death. It will hamper the offense – and it was always a question how effective he’d be in that second wide receiver role anyway – but the loss in the return game is monumental for as long as he’s gone.

Will there be a pass rush? Terrell Suggs, Chris Canty and Elvis Dumervil chased Manning a bit in Denver but how will they fare vs. the field in the coming weeks?

What’s with all of the stupid penalties? Albert McClellan hitting guys out of bounds? Jimmy Smith hitting a guy late? Gino Gradkowski getting a flag away from the play for rough housing?

How will John Harbaugh use his red flag? He used the first one to dispute a five-yard gain successfully and then swallowed it on an obvious drop by Wes Welker that changed the game in the third quarter. After the game, he said he didn’t know there was any dispute on that play and said that NBC should show replays quicker.

Joe Flacco threw a couple of interceptions that are still making me scratch my head. If not for the stupidity of Danny Trevathan, the Broncos would have had another Pick Six on a ball he admitted he shouldn’t have thrown. Can the Ravens offense and Flacco clean this up?

Peyton Manning threw seven touchdowns vs. the Ravens defense. Do you blame the pass rush? Do you blame the secondary? Do you just tip your cap to the one of the greatest of all time? And what happened to the Corey Graham of 2012? He suddenly assumed the Champ Bailey role in Denver last night.

Are you looking for bright spots? Haloti Ngata looked healthy and strong in run defense. Terrell Suggs looks to be back at 100 percent. Chris Canty looked like he’ll be a nice player this year. Flacco, for the most part, wasn’t running for his life behind an offensive line that was mostly good enough to win.

But other than that? Not much to “rave” about in Denver.

And finally…how much do the Ravens miss Ray Lewis and Ed Reed right now?

Plenty, it appears…





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Ravens-Broncos: Five predictions for Thursday night

Posted on 04 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

It was less than eight months ago when the Ravens met the Denver Broncos in one of the great contests in NFL playoff history as Baltimore prevailed in a 38-35 double-overtime thriller to advance to the AFC Championship game.

Now, fast-forward to the present as the Ravens return to the scene with a different look than includes 19 new players on the 53-man roster and the Broncos will see former Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil wearing purple, creating plenty of intrigue for the NFL’s season-opening game.

It’s time to go on record as the Ravens meet Denver for the 10th time ever in the regular season and own a 5-4 advantage despite a 1-3 regular-season record in Denver. Of course, the Ravens are also 2-0 against the Broncos in postseason play as Denver stewed over its disappointing loss as the No. 1 seed in the AFC throughout the offseason.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens open their season in prime time for the third time in the last four seasons …

1. Much like last January, the Ravens will go vertical early on as Joe Flacco connects with Torrey Smith for a long touchdown in the first half. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell may need to rely more on the running game this season because of the uncertainty at wide receiver and tight end, but a conservative approach isn’t the way to beat Peyton Manning and an explosive Denver passing game. The Broncos will not have Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller due to his six-game suspension, meaning the offensive line should give Flacco plenty of time to throw deep. Some deep shots will also back up the Denver safeties, opening up some intermediate space for tight ends Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark and slot receiver Brandon Stokley to work. If Flacco can find success with those throws, it will only create more room in the box to get Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce going in the running game.

2. Daryl Smith will lead the Ravens in tackles in the first game of the post-Ray Lewis era. Dumervil’s signing received the most attention this offseason, but the presence of the 31-year-old Smith has been a welcome addition to an otherwise inexperienced group of inside linebackers that includes Josh Bynes and second-round pick Arthur Brown. For what it’s worth, Smith looked like the Ravens’ best defensive player of the preseason and while you wouldn’t expect that to hold true during the season, he had the reputation for being stout against the run and serving capably in pass coverage in his nine years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The additions of Smith and Brown will hopefully help the pass defense in the middle intermediate portion of the field, which has been a major weakness for several years now. Smith’s quiet demeanor and maturity might be the perfect fit for a guy assuming the position formerly held by the future Hall of Famer Lewis.

3. Manning will keep an improved Ravens defense on the field, causing the unit to wilt in the second half. Baltimore did an admirable job handling the altitude in a single-digit temperature last January, but Thursday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-80s, presenting a different challenge in terms of conditioning. Even with the improvements to their front seven, the Ravens are still fielding a secondary with question marks ranging from the effectiveness of Lardarius Webb coming back from his second ACL surgery in four seasons to the ability of Michael Huff and James Ihedigbo to cover the middle of the field. Pressuring Manning will clearly be critical as it was last January, but the Broncos just have too much firepower to hold them down entirely. It will intriguing to see what kind of a rapport Manning has built with free-agent acquisition Wes Welker at this early stage, but the size of wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside will be a very difficult matchup.

4. Struggling to find open targets in the middle of the field, Flacco tosses a second-half interception to Broncos safety Rahim Moore. The most dynamic change that Caldwell brought to the offense when he assumed Cam Cameron’s coordinator duties last season was the willingness to use the middle of the field in the passing game, but continuing that without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in the mix will be the biggest challenge facing Flacco this season. The reality is no one really knows if the combination of Dickson, Stokley, and Clark will be enough to fill the void of two outstanding targets the sixth-year quarterback used in the middle of the field to the point that he could be bold in throwing passes up for grabs. In contrast, Moore has heard the criticism and jokes throughout the offseason about his gaffe of allowing Jones to get behind him on the game-tying score at the end of regulation last January. Trailing late in the game, Flacco will try to force a pass down the seam to Dickson that’s picked off by Moore, which gives the maligned safety a tiny sliver of revenge.

5. The Ravens will compete ferociously, but an incomplete offense will be the deciding factor in handing John Harbaugh the first Week 1 loss of his tenure in a 24-21 final. Baltimore is a good football team, but trying to figure out how good is anyone’s guess with so many question marks offensively and new pieces defensively. It’s a lot to ask that all to come together against such a formidable opponent in the opening game of the season. The Ravens undoubtedly feel motivated to perform well on a national stage as the defending Super Bowl champions who were also forced to open the season on the road, but the Broncos and their fans have thought about this opportunity for the entire offseason and will treat the game like it’s the Super Bowl. Not enough offense and a few too many leaks defensively against an elite opponent will lead to the Ravens coming up a little short. To beat a team like Denver, you’re often faced with a shootout and the Ravens aren’t built for that just yet.

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Ravens defense aiming to make expectations reality in post-Lewis era

Posted on 03 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens heard the questions, the concerns, and the doubts about their once-proud defense in the weeks and months that followed their win in Super Bowl XLVII.

How would they survive without the retiring Ray Lewis, arguably the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history and unquestionably the leader and face of the franchise for their entire 17-year existence? What would they do to replace future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed’s presence in the defensive backfield as well as in the locker room? And how could they afford to lose younger talents such as Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and Cary Williams in a quest to rebuild an aging and frequently-ineffective defense?

Those who downplayed Lewis’ departure because of his declining play over the final seasons of his career couldn’t overlook the colossal void in leadership and identity that needed to be addressed for an organization that both empowered and depended upon his presence. And after years of watching former Baltimore defensive players escape Lewis’ shadow before finding that the grass wasn’t greener elsewhere, the Ravens themselves will now see how they fare without him.

“In the spring, everybody was hitting the panic button on us because of the guys we lost,” Pro Bowl linebacker and 2011 Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs said. “Even though we were very sad to see those guys go, the show must go on.”

The time for change was right as general manager Ozzie Newsome remembered what some had seemingly forgotten while basking in the image of confetti dropping in New Orleans in a storybook ending for the 2012 Ravens. Though praised for a “bend but don’t break” style that was good enough to complement quarterback Joe Flacco’s incredible postseason performance, the Baltimore defense finished 17th in total defense, tied for 12th in points allowed, 20th against the run, 17th against the pass, and tied for 15th in sacks.

Frankly, the defensive numbers and overall performance were un-Raven-like as Baltimore was weak along the defensive line as well as at safety, prompting Newsome to trade wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his $6 million base salary in 2013 to clear just enough salary cap space to rebuild the defense in terms of both talent and leadership. Defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears would provide improved depth upfront while free safety Michael Huff seemed like a good bet to, at worst, match the declining play of Reed for a fraction of the cost that the Houston Texans paid for the longtime Raven’s services in free agency.

The prize of the group, however, was Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, who was released due to a contract-restructuring snafu made by his former agent and joined the Ravens after signing a five-year deal worth a maximum value of $35 million. It appeared to be a bargain for a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose work ethic and leadership have been praised by everyone in the organization from the moment he stepped foot in Owings Mills in the spring.

“I think [it comes with] the way you play on the field and how you lead by example,” Dumervil said. “Leadership doesn’t come with talking or speech — it’s just how you carry yourself. I’ve always been a leader. That’s just natural for me, and I think I’ve learned how to follow before I can lead.”

After drafting four defensive players in the first four rounds of April’s draft, Newsome had one more trick up his sleeve in signing longtime Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith to a one-year deal on the same day the Super Bowl champs visited President Barack Obama at the White House. The 31-year-old has stepped in to play Lewis’ Mike linebacker position while looking like the team’s best player in the preseason, recording 14 tackles and a sack while showing steady ability in pass coverage.

Initially perceived as little more than an insurance policy for injured inside linebacker Jameel McClain, Smith has been praised by everyone in the organization, ranging from his new defensive teammates to quarterback Joe Flacco. Smith’s personality couldn’t be more different from Lewis, which might be a positive while handling such an unenviable task of replacing a legend.

“He doesn’t say a lot, because he’s just about business, and then you sit down and talk to him and realize the depth of his character and personality,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s a great family man, he’s a mature guy, he’s a man. And he’s also – I really believe – one of the most underrated defensive players in football over the last eight [or] nine years. We feel pretty fortunate that he’s here right now.”

The common threads among the five veteran newcomers were the leadership qualities they displayed with their former teams. It was clear the Ravens weren’t simply placing the defensive leadership crown on the heads of Suggs and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata alone.

There was no replacing Lewis or Reed, but the Ravens appear to be pleased with their by-committee approach as they enter Thursday night’s opener against the Denver Broncos. On paper and in the controlled environment of spring and summer practices, the transition has appeared organic and seamless.

Suggs will be viewed as the new figurehead, but the 30-year-old has acknowledged repeatedly that he’s not looking to be the next Lewis and has appeared more subdued than in past seasons. Overall, it’s a Baltimore defense that lacks the bravado of past units without the camera-friendly Lewis out in front, but the quiet confidence veteran newcomers and young players alike have expressed seems appropriate in a new era.

“It’s different like in any organization when you lose guys that have been there for so long that they kind of assume those roles,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I think everybody else kind of sat back and just said, ‘Well, that’s really kind of not my role. That’s kind of Ed [Reed] and Ray’s [Lewis] role.’ Now those guys are stepping up, and I don’t think it’s any one particular guy who’s saying, ‘OK, I’m going to be the new Ray Lewis.’ It’s just a bunch of guys collectively stepping up and showing some leadership.”


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Flacco excited to see what rookie receivers bring to table

Posted on 01 September 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It wasn’t long ago that Joe Flacco joked about not knowing the names of most new teammates on the Ravens roster after an offseason filled with changes.

However, the Ravens quarterback isn’t saying that any longer about a pair of rookie receivers who could factor heavily into the Baltimore passing attack as early as Thursday’s opener against the Denver Broncos. Undrafted free agent Marlon Brown and seventh-round pick Aaron Mellette began the summer in relative anonymity in Flacco’s eyes but grabbed his attention after the pair combined to make 19 catches for 309 yards and four touchdowns in four preseason games.

“They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast, and they’re physical,” Flacco said. “They obviously have some talent. I think they are going to be guys that help us out a lot — in the short term [and] long term. We still have to go out there and play and feed them the ball and see what they can do.”

Mellette entered training camp as the bigger household name among Ravens fans after being taken with a seventh-round pick back in April. Playing for FCS school Elon, the 6-foot-2 receiver made an astonishing 304 catches for 4,254 yards and 44 touchdowns in his college career and grabbed 97 passes for 1,398 yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior year alone.

The 6-foot-5 Brown didn’t live up to expectations as a prized recruit at the University of Georgia but could be an attractive option in the red zone with his statuesque frame. The Ravens have lacked a wide receiver of his height during Flacco’s career after 2012 sixth-round pick Tommy Streeter failed to pan out.

Brown finally appeared to be realizing his potential in his senior season with the Bulldogs when he caught 27 catches for 469 yards and four touchdowns before tearing the ACL in his left knee in a game against Ole Miss on Nov. 3, 2012. The 22-year-old is still working his way back to full strength — missing spring organized team activities and even a handful this summer — but his ability began to shine as he became more comfortable physically and mentally in the Ravens offense.

“I have a mindset where I wanted to make the team and ultimately make a difference on the team, whether it’s on special teams or offense,” said Brown, who was in the weight room when coach John Harbaugh personally informed him that he’d made the team. “That’s what I’m trying to do. They haven’t really told me my primary role or anything. I’m going to go out there and work hard and if they tell me to go in, I’m going to go in.”

The biggest compliment paid to both Brown and Mellette is the amount of polish they showed in practices and preseason games despite their lack of experience. Unlike an array of other young receivers that failed to show marked improvement over the course of the summer, Brown and Mellette climbed from the third-string offense and working with third quarterback Caleb Hanie to eventually receive opportunities with Flacco and the starters over the final two weeks of the summer.

It was this climb that contributed to the likes of Tandon Doss, David Reed, and LaQuan Williams being let go.

“They don’t feel like rookies out there,” Harbaugh said. “Marlon has had the advantage of playing at a big program in the Southeastern Conference, and I think that shows. Aaron has had the advantage of having caught hundreds of balls in his college career.”

With Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and Brandon Stokley ahead of the rookies on the depth chart, it remains to be seen how big of a role each will play in the early stages of the season. During Sunday’s practice, Brown and Mellette were wearing No. 87 and 88 jerseys, which appeared to be a product of the pair playing the scout-team roles of Denver wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in preparation for Thursday’s opener.

The Ravens only hope that Mellette and Brown will one day make their mark in a way similar to that talented pair with the Broncos, forcing opponents’ scout-team receivers to wear their No. 13 and 14 jerseys in preparation.

But a simple continuation of the improvement they showed over the course of the preseason would be an encouraging start for the Ravens.

“I would anticipate that those two guys will be a factor here going forward,” Harbaugh said. “How much they’ll play early, or how much they’ll be a part of the game plan and those kinds of things are really, really hard to say.”

Webb ready to go


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Flacco’s “elite” mind is taking him — and the Ravens — to New Orleans

Posted on 23 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

There’s nothing in sports better than proving people wrong.

It’s one thing to win.

But, it’s far better to do so when folks said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.

Lots of baseball fans said Alex Rodriguez would never sport a championship ring.  He proved them wrong.

Plenty of folks opined that Peyton Manning was great in the regular season, but wasn’t quite “tough enough” to win the whole thing.  Manning quieted those people in Miami back in January of 2007.

Hell, we, here at WNST, have been proving Baltimoreans wrong for the better part of decade.  A few years back, after the station made several on-air changes, a bunch of “experts” who listen to talk radio went on our web site or other cyber-space venues and predicted our imminent demise.  “That’s the end of ‘NST,” they wrote.  “They’re circling the drain,” others said.  Not only are we alive and well, we continue to kick everyone’s ass in town when it comes to quality content and a full-service media offering that no else in Baltimore comes close to duplicating.

I take great pride in that, personally, because I was well aware that people in town thought we were going to fall apart.

We owe our sponsors a great debt of gratitude for sticking with us and, of course, we owe our loyal listeners and readers a huge group hug for always supporting our media efforts.

But…if I’m thrilled with the fact that we’ve proved people wrong here in Baltimore, you can only imagine how Joe Flacco feels about his impending trip to New Orleans.

Joe Flacco had doubters in Baltimore.  And Boston.  And Dallas.  And Washington, DC.  And Los Angeles.  In fact, just about every major media outlet in the country plus a bunch of national talk radio shows and NFL Game Day “experts” questioned Flacco’s ability to play at a high-level in the NFL.

I wonder if those goofs like their crow plain…or marinated in a marsala sauce?


Joe Flacco isn’t a perfect quarterback.

In fact, that person probably doesn’t exist. If you ask someone with a real discerning eye for quarterbacking, they’d probably tell you the two men in the NFL who most closely resemble the “perfect quarterback” are Tom Brady – the guy Flacco just ousted from the post-season on Sunday night – and Aaron Rodgers.  Brady is the guy who will slice you apart in the pocket but not use his feet much to beat you, while Rodgers has an accurate, rifle-arm and the ability to move around and make plays with his legs.

Neither of them made the Super Bowl this season.

Flacco did.

And he’s far from perfect.

Well, he might actually be perfect in ONE way.

And that’s why he’s going to New Orleans next week despite the fact that lots of folks in Baltimore and around the country didn’t think he was capable of doing that.

Every Sunday from September until January 20, the comments flew fast and furious on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs all across the nation.  The calls came in to talk radio every day, every hour.  You might have been guilty of authoring one of those remarks about Flacco.

“I don’t care how good that defense is, Flacco will never take the Ravens to a Super Bowl.”  Heard that one before?  Yeah, me too. About ten thousand times.

“Flacco isn’t an elite quarterback. We better start thinking about drafting someone this April.”  How many nutjobs in Baltimore wrote or said that during the regular season?  Right.  A-freakin’-lot.

“I sure hope the Ravens don’t sign this guy to a long-term deal.  He can’t win the big one.”

He had some believers, of course, but the critics were loud.

Oh, and as it turns out, the haters were dead wrong.

How did it come to pass that Flacco proved himself to everyone?  Because he has “the perfect mind”, that’s why.


The truly special athletes in the world all have one common trait.

Woods has it.  Federer has it.  Brady and Manning(s) have it.  Jordan had it.  So did Gretzky and Lemieux.  Justin Verlander has it.  I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m not listing who have “it” too.  Martin Brodeur might have it better than any active athlete right now.

And Joe Flacco has it too.

What is “it”?

It’s the ability to forget what just happened — good or bad — and worry only about what lies ahead.

The greatest-of-the-greats were never afraid of the moment in front of them because they believed they were going to deliver the goods.  They didn’t always make the play, of course, but that didn’t stop them from trying to do it the next time the opportunity presented itself.

There was a great Michael Jordan story, back in the glory days, when he was 0-for-11 in the second half of a critical regular season game against the Pistons.  With seven seconds left, the inbounds play went to him and No. 23 hoisted up an 18-footer that found nothing but net and the Bulls won.  Afterwards, reporters asked him why he would take such a shot when it was clear with his 0-for-11 shooting half that it just wasn’t his night.  Jordan explained: “I just assumed there was no way I could miss twelve shots in a row.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my career, so I figured I’d make it.”

That’s the difference between a guy who would have passed on that shot and someone who wanted the game in his hands.

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Ravens enjoying AFC Championship moment, but thinking ahead for more

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Ryan Chell

Owings Mills-It’s been a crazy 24 hours for the Baltimore Ravens, the media covering the team, and for the fans cheering on the team in Charm City.

Less than a day after coming back from a 13-7 halftime deficit to beat the New England Patriots in Foxboro to win the AFC Championship and earn a chance to win Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans on February 3rd, the Ravens were back at work Monday working as if they would be taking on the next opponent-in this case the San Francisco 49ers.

“We’re going to work,” Ravens center Matt Birk said in between meetings today. “With all the side stories- if you’re not playing in the game, you can enjoy all that. I think as players we’re just going to hunker down and focus in on the task at hand.”

“We’re going out there as a team trying to get where we’re at,” quarterback Joe Flacco said, who threw for three touchdowns in the Ravens’ 28-13 victory over last year’s AFC Champion Patriots. “We’ve got to win one more. ”

Despite the workmanlike attitude, Flacco however still says some of what happened Sunday night feels like a dream.

“I think we’re still on a little high from the game,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s quite believed it yet.”

His companion on the offensive line agreed.

“I’m just kind of numb to the whole thing. Slowly it’s coming, but hopefully you realize and appreciate the moment,” Birk noted.

But Birk couldn’t say enough about all the hard work and persistence the Ravens have shown over the season  pay off for a chance at a Super Bowl title.

“It’s great. That’s your goal,” Birk noted.  “That’s your dream. That’s why you play…with the closeness of this team and how far we’ve come my last four years getting close and finally breaking through, it’s pretty special.”

Certainly for the 15-year veteran in Birk, he admitted that he wouldn’t be in this situation if he felt like didn’t have a shot at reaching the Super Bowl, which is the first appearance for the 36-year old center.

“At this stage in my career, losing takes a lot out of you. When I came back, I thought there was a legitimate chance that I felt like I could help the team.”

Meanwhile, Flacco, who is in his fifth year in his journey as an NFL quarterback, has hurdled Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and now Tom Brady in the quest for his first Super Bowl.  It seemed as if overnight, he made himself one of the best quarterbacks in the league, put himself on the map as an elite quarterback in the NFL, and has been the topic of discussion across many football circles.

But what has Joe Flacco been asked the most since winning the AFC Championship?

Super Bowl Tickets.

“Tickets are going to be limited,” Flacco joked. “There’s been a lot of text messages, and everyone’s really excited about it.”

Flacco said the quicker he can put those distractions behind him, the better he’ll be going up against Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, and the rest of the San Francisco defense.

“You have to get all the mayhem that goes with the game out of the way and take care of that first,” Flacco said, “so when you focus on the 49ers, they have your full attention.”

Bernard Pollard reacts to Tom Brady slide and kick

One day after calling Patriots QB Tom Brady’s leg kick into Ravens safety Ed Reed, “bull-crap”, fellow Ravens safety Bernard Pollard backtracked a little saying that the NFL needs to call flags “both ways.”

Right before the end of the first half Sunday night with the Patriots up 10-7 with 0:26 seconds left before the break, the Patriots were knocking on the Ravens door threatening to score.

Brady, flushed out of the pocket by Paul Kruger, scrambled down to the Ravens’ 7-yd line with Reed barreling down on him. Deciding to give himself up, he took a slide-but not before sticking his right leg up, hitting Reed in the groin and tripping him up.

No flag was called with the side judge standing right next to the play, but several Ravens defenders petitioned for Brady to be penalized. A fine could be coming.

Pollard told CSNNE and other outlets Sunday night, “You’ve got to keep those legs down. We all know and understand what’s going on there. As a quarterback, when you go to slide, we’re taught we can’t do anything. When you come sliding, and your leg is up in the air, trying t kick someone, that’s bull crap.”

Today, Pollard was a little bit more reserved, but kept the same message.

“He knew what he was doing,” Pollard said. “I’m the kind of player where it has to go both ways. Hopefully the NFL will do something about it. If not, that’s fine if they do. For me as a player with all the emotions on the field, we’re going to say and do things. But when it’s all said and done,  if you want the game clean and you want everything to be moving forward in the right direction, everyone needs to be penalized for their actions.”

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