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Posted on 13 December 2013 by Drew Forrester
So, it’s confession time.
A few weeks ago when the Cincinnati Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers, 17-10, I went ahead and took the splash.
I had a “friend” who was heading up to Delaware Park put $100 on them to win the Super Bowl in February. I got 45 to 1 odds.
No, silly, I didn’t bet on the Bengals.
I put it on the Chargers.
Oh, before I let you go and enjoy your Friday, I wanted to take you on a quick trip down memory lane.
When the Eagles opened their 2009 home schedule, they hosted the Saints.
When the Eagles opened their 2010 home schedule, they hosted the Packers.
When the Eagles opened their 2011 home schedule, they hosted the Giants.
When the Eagles opened their 2012 home schedule, they hosted the Ravens.
So what, right?
Well, guess who won the Super Bowl in all of those seasons I listed above?
The team that played in Philadelphia for the Eagles first home game of the season.
And, guess who played in Philadelphia this year to open the home portion of the schedule in September?
How on earth am I going to spend that $4,500? LOL
Posted on 29 July 2013 by timjones60
Training Camp hasn’t even been in session for a week with most teams and already several players have been bit by the injury bug. The Ravens own Dennis Pitta is out for the season with a fractured and dislocated hip. Right up I-95 the Eagles lost Receiver and Return Specialist Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL. And finally out in the mountains the Broncos are trying to talk retired center and former Colt Jeff Saturday to make a return due to the loss of their starting center Dan Koppen. The bug has bitten hard so far this season with SEVEN confirmed season ending injuries in less than a week.
Another interesting take is that we haven’t even reached the first preseason game which will take place this Sunday. Players seem to go down more often in the first couple of days of camp, but when players are going full speed in game type situations, injuries could be abundant.
The NFL has confirmed over 80 players have started the season with an injury, and multiple Ravens are on that list. Now these injuries aren’t likely going to change the outcome of this seasons teams. But the teams will be forced to adjust and how they adjust is how teams could lose out on playoff hopes.
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Posted on 13 June 2013 by Tim Horsey
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — You seem like you are the least-stressed coach in the NFL.
That was one of the many things noticed about Steve Spagnuolo during his first chance to address the media after the final day of mini-camp for the Ravens. After three dreadful seasons at the helm of the St. Louis Rams and another year coordinating a Saints defense that gave up the most yards in a single season in NFL history, Spagnuolo seems at ease in his new role with the Super Bowl champs.
“It’s been a tough two years, but I’m focusing forward, and I’m excited. To me, the way I look at this is this is a privilege to be a part of a great organization.”
Spagnuolo said that he is not happy with the way things worked out at his last two stops, but that he has learned from them.
“I’ll tell you what, people say this all the time, and it’s true: You learn more from the setbacks than you do really from the successes.”
Spagnuolo’s official role with the Ravens is senior defensive assistant, a role that he says will essentially be “an extra set of eyes.”
“You can never have enough eyes with some kind of experience to kind of give some feedback or an idea or something that we might have done, or I saw somebody else do that I worked for. I worked for some great people: [New York Giants head coach] Tom Coughlin, [Kansas City Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid.“
Harbaugh and Juan Castillo, the Ravens run game coordinator, were also part of Reid’s staff in Philadelphia. Spagnuolo mentioned how excited he was to rejoin some old friends on a new coaching staff.
“You leave each other, and you hope someday that you are back together. God-willing in this business, you can do that. It’s great. It’s great every day…I remember we used to test each other. I’d watch him coach, and he’d want the feedback. And, I’d ask him to watch me coach and give feedback. We’ve been doing that for years. It’s great to be with him.”
Before becoming the head coach of the Rams in 2009, Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. In New York, Spagnuolo rolled through a bevy of talented defensive lineman, including future Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and Pro Bowlers Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He would often put his four best pass rushers, usually four defensive ends, all on the line at the same time to create mismatches in what came to be known as the NASCAR formation.
Behind these high-pressure schemes and talented pass rushers, the Giants defeated the then unbeaten New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, launching Spagnuolo into the limelight as one of the premier defensive coaches in the NFL.
And although that group Spagnuolo had in Big Blue was extremely talented, he says that this current group in Baltimore has all of the pieces to be even better.
“I had little visions of the Giants’ front that I happened to be privileged to be working with. They are good all the way around… This is as good as looking football team that I’ve ever seen. I’m talking about physically and stout.“
He specifically pointed to Chris Canty and Terrell Suggs as two pieces who are going to be key to the pass rush.
“You can’t coach that height. He puts his hands up, man. There’s not a coach in the world that can take a six-foot guy and do that. He’s been very impressive to me,” when referring to the 6’7” Canty.
And when he talked about Suggs, he mentioned his fun-loving, joker style that Ravens fans have come to know and love (for the most part), but he also praised the former Defensive Player of the Year.
“He put his uniform [on] and came out there. I looked at [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] and I’m laughing, saying ‘Wow. That’s what they’re supposed to look like.’ He is one of those blue-chips prospects in this league. He’s an elite player.”
Along with Canty, a slimmed down Suggs, and talented players like Elvis Dumervil and Haloti Ngata, the Ravens pass rush should be one of the most feared units in the entire league, which would be a significant improvement from last year’s squad, who finished tied for 15th in the NFL with 37 sacks.
With success in Baltimore, Spagnuolo could see his name be brought back up in conversation as a future head coach in the league, something that he is still striving for. When asked if he was looking to get back into head coaching, he had a very direct answer, one different from the lengthy answers he gave when asked other questions.
“Oh yes, yes, deeply. “
You could sense right away that this is a man who, even if he seems relaxed, is dying for another chance to get back at the helm of a football team and redeem his reputation. But he realizes that to get to that point, he needs to do his best in his current job in Baltimore.
“I listened to [Dick Vermeil] speak one time, and his advice to young coaches, any coach was, ‘Be the best at whatever job you have right now.’ So, I’m trying to be the best that this particular position and let the rest take care of itself.”
And if he can do that, it will not only be a positive for his personal future, but also for the future of a transitioning defense in Baltimore.
Posted on 17 September 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
We need to put this situation with the NFL officials to bed quickly…period.
By saying that I’m not suggesting that the league needs to cave into the demands of the referees’ union (although that’s what I have been saying all along). What I am suggesting is that the players need to forget that the officials on the field are replacements and just play ball. Until further notice the replacement officials are the officials and no amount of whining, complaining or otherwise is going to change that. Funny that for all of the complaining that the players, players union etc have done regarding the replacement officials, the one thing we haven’t heard from them is a willingness make up the difference and help bridge the gap that exists between what the refs want and what the league is offering.
Officiating is pretty easy to judge no matter who’s doing it. When your team wins a close game the referees were great (or at least competent) and when your team loses a close game the refs were incompetent. Let’s not start trying to paint some overly romantic, revisionist history portrait of the officials that aren’t there as if we had any respect for them or their calls while they were.
Being new, it’s a certainty that officials are going to have growing pains. Of course they’ll be slower. And since everyone is aware that they’re replacements everyone is on high alert for their mistakes and deficiencies. Game announcers are looking for mistakes to point out and players are constantly barking at our about the replacement officials any time the action in the game isn’t going their way.
It’s become the norm that after any NFL game decided by a small margin, the referees will be taken to task. We as fans have grown to expect it. We expect it on talk radio, on Twitter, on the message boards and on the highlight shows. We didn’t however expect it from the players in the locker room before this season…not if they wanted to keep their full game checks that is.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I agreed with everything the officials did in the Ravens game against the Eagles on Sunday (far from it actually). But I never agree with everything the officials do when the Ravens lose a close one. Remember the Terrell Suggs “head slap” on Kerry Collins a few years ago? Remember the Torrey Smith holding call against the Steelers last year on a would-be Ray Rice TD?
That said, I’m also not going to sit here and pretend that I’m not more concerned (far more concerned in fact) with the players’ insinuations during and after the game that the referees had somehow cost them the game or had it out for them. Remember Bart Scott’s penalty flag toss into the stands against the Patriots in 2007? Bad call…perhaps. Indication that a team was set to melt down…absolutely.
Here are 5 non-officiating related reasons why the Ravens lost to the Eagles on Sunday:
1. The offensive line couldn’t stop the pass rush
Joe Flacco was forced to throw under duress for the majority of the night. Maybe it was the Ravens abandonment of the hurry-up that has served them so well through the pre-season and in week one, or maybe the Eagles just have real talent at rushing the passer. Whatever the cause, the Ravens offensive line couldn’t hold off the Philly rush and the result was a stagnant offense. The Eagles made the offensive line of the Ravens on Sunday look like what we feared they would be, makeshift and patchwork. Meanwhile Philly down to their only 5 healthy offensive linemen did a marvelous job of keeping the pass rush away from Michael Vick, particularly in the second half.
Posted on 16 September 2012 by Drew Forrester
Let the second-guessing begin.
I don’t know any other way to say it, so I won’t mince words or try to come up with some creative way of putting it.
If you have two time-outs remaining and it’s 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1, one of those plays must be a run play to get the first down and extend the game.
You have a red-hot field goal kicker, booting it with the wind. Honestly, all you might have needed there was to get to the Eagles 42 yard line and Justin Tucker would have been a fair bet to kick a 59-yarder to win the game.
Instead, Cam Cameron sent in two passing plays to end the game.
And Joe Flacco didn’t change them at the line of scrimmage.
Two plays later, with two time-outs still on the clock, the Ravens turned the ball over on downs and the Eagles won, 24-23.
Now, in fairness, Philadelphia deserved to win.
Michael Vick, Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson torched the Ravens linebackers and secondary all afternoon. I don’t think the great Chicago fire of 1871 was as damaging. If not for three red-zone turnovers, Philadelphia would have won the game with ease. The Eagles, as the saying goes, hung around long enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Credit to them.
The Ravens, meanwhile, essentially put Ray Rice on hiatus for most of the second half, that is until their penultimate drive when Rice accounted for 60 yards as the Ravens used Tucker’s third field goal of the day to go up 24-23. I’m not quite sure how it happens that one of the best all-purpose backs in the entire league goes 20 minutes or so and touches the ball three times, but that’s what happened on Sunday. When Rice got the ball in the first half, he was deadly. When he finally touched it late in the 4th quarter, he was again a wrecking ball. When he didn’t factor in the game-plan, the Ravens offense stalled. You figure it out.
Flacco’s performance was as puzzling as the late game play calling. He was sharp in the first half, going 14-for-17 for just 92 yards and a TD throw to Jacoby Jones. He looked a lot like the Flacco who carved apart the Bengals last Monday night. In the second half, he looked more like – gasp! – Kyle Boller. Following an ill-advised throw that was picked off by DeMeco Ryans on the first series of the second half, Flacco went into what we formerly referred to “affectionately” as the Boller-shell. He was off on his throws, looked unsure of himself and was apparently rattled by the Eagles pass rush and the pick he threw to Ryans. It didn’t help, of course, that Michael Oher was so ineffective on the left side that Harbaugh and Cameron had to go with Bryant McKinnie for a couple of series’ just to try and keep their quarterback from getting pounded.
(This is also the spot where I could rake the officials over the coals, but in all honesty, they were horrible on both sides of the ball all day, so writing about their influence on the game is moot. They stink, as we’ve all seen, and the league should be embarrassed beyond belief for having them out there. They’re just in over their head, period. Enough said on that topic. And as far as I could tell, none of the refs called two passing plays on 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 to end the game.)
In a league where every game counts – mostly at the end of the season when you’re scraping for every piece of daylight in the standings you can get – this one might very well come back to haunt the Ravens later on down the road. With Tucker’s dynamic leg, Baltimore was literally only about 15 yards from a very reasonable field goal attempt when they approached their own 46 yard line with 57 seconds left to play.
I was in the press box at Lincoln Financial Field saying, “Run the ball here…get the first-down…and call a time-out.”
They threw it. Incomplete to Dennis Pitta.
With two time-outs remaining, another pass play was sent in on 4th and 1 and that, too, fell incomplete.
I’m a dummy from Glen Burnie, admittedly, but you just can’t lose a game like that when you only need one yard to keep a drive going and you have two time-outs to burn.
This one shouldn’t sit well with John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco. I know Joe likes to air it out and I realize he’s trying to “announce his presence with authority” (Bull Durham reference, thank you very much), but the number one goal on the agenda in the final two plays was easy — get a first down. That gives you four more plays, at least.
Not getting a first down there is just unacceptable. Period.
And that’s how you lose football games that you coulda, shoulda, woulda won.
Posted on 16 September 2012 by jeffreygilley
The Baltimore Ravens looked very impressive against the Cincinnati Bengals in week one. While the Ravens were feasting on the Bengals, the Philadelphia Eagles were struggling against the Cleveland Browns. Michael Vick turned the ball over five times but also led a game winning drive with a touchdown pass to Clay Harbor. Although the Eagles looked awful, expect them to bounce back and challenge the Ravens.
The offensive line must protect Flacco
With the exception of Matt Birk, the Ravens offensive line was impressive in their victory over the Bengals. Ramon Harewood, a sixth round pick in 2010, made a surprising start at left guard. He struggled at times but was a devastating run blocker. With his size and athleticism, the Ravens can have success running the ball against the wide-nine in Philadelphia.
If the Ravens want to have success on offense, Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele must perform at a high level. The Ravens new offense seems to be based on the vertical passing game which makes protecting Flacco even more pivotal. If Flacco doesn’t have time to throw, the Ravens can turn to the run game which is a weakness of playing the wide-nine.
Stop LeSean McCoy
When this game is over, Ravens fans will miss Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson even more. Both excelled at setting the edge and forcing ball carriers back inside. The Eagles like to run to the outside and LeSean McCoy has the speed to turn the corner and get upfield extremely fast. Therefore, the Ravens young linebackers must be able to set the edge and shed blockers. Luckily for the Ravens, the Eagles are without Jason Peters which should make stopping the run much easier for the Ravens. Expect the Eagles to challenge the Ravens to the outside throughout the entire game.
Pressure Michael Vick
This seems obvious but if the Ravens can pressure Vick like the Browns did in week one, the Ravens have a very good chance to win the game. Young linebackers like Courtney UpShaw, Paul Kruger, Albert McClellan, and Sergio Kindle must pressure Vick early and often. Courtney UpShaw received more playing time than expected last week and is pushing Albert McClellan and Paul Kruger for either of the starting outside linebacker spots. UpShaw was unimpressive in the preseason but showed a lot of promise in week one. Expect to see UpShaw a lot more as the season progresses.
I see the Ravens winning this game but it will be no easy task. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson are expected to play for the Eagles and pose a home run threat on every play.
Although Flacco played very well against the Bengals, he cant test the Eagles secondary too much. Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha are very talented cornerbacks and can blanket receivers.
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Posted on 18 May 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
The Ray Rice saga took another interesting turn this week when LeSean McCoy signed a 5-year $45 million contract extension with the Philadelphia Eagles. By most accounts, McCoy’s deal compares favorably to the contract signed by Arian Foster with the Houston Texans earlier this season (5 years $43.5 million). In both cases the backs stand to make about $21 million over the next 3 seasons. Guaranteed has its own meaning in the NFL salary world, but those seem to be the accepted numbers.
Rice is set to play the 2012 season under the franchise tag at $7.7 million for 1-year. That $7.7 million is guaranteed to Rice regardless of performance or injury on the day that he signs the tender. If the Ravens and Rice were unable to come to an agreement after that season and they tagged him again he’d play the following season for approximately $9.1 million. Again that money would be guaranteed on the day that he signed the tender.
There’s obviously a risk reward equation at work here. A guaranteed $20 million in hand sounds much better than $7.7 million and the chance to try again next season, especially in the world of an NFL running back, where stars are routinely chewed up and spit out by the thankless machine. Therefore Rice is asking the team to assume the risk, and commit to paying him for at least the next 3-years or so regardless of his health and performance status, essentially conceding that he’s unwilling to concede that same risk and bet on himself. In either case, for a back that’s made a little over $3 million thus far in the NFL, he’ll be getting a substantial raise.
Here’s where things get interesting for me though, and where I begin to wonder whether Rice playing hardball with the Ravens is really in his best interest, or if it’s in the best interest of his agent. Rice’s agent, after all, may or may not be his agent at this time next year; he’s looking to get paid today. Furthermore, in the encrypted language of NFL contract speak, 5 years and $50 million or 6 years $80 million, even if most of that money never gets paid out, is a substantial feather in the agent’s cap and a selling point for future clients.
It’s easy to state the worst-case scenario when it comes to the year-to-year status of NFL players and the potential for career ending injuries. Agents get fired by players all of the time. When though, is the last time a 25-year old star running back found himself out of the league after a single down year or catastrophic injury? Teams lined up to pay Peyton Manning after multiple neck surgeries and a full season on the shelf, Michael Bush cashed in for four years $14 million after and injury riddled couple of seasons and with nowhere near the cache displayed by Rice. Short of a Napoleon McCallum or Garrison Hearst type of injury, and in this age of modern medicine it’s almost inconceivable that Rice would find himself in a position after this season where someone wasn’t willing to pay him. It’s equally inconceivable that the Ravens would be willing to let him walk for nothing after 2012.
I’m no math whiz, but I can add. Rice is already guaranteed $7.7 million from the Ravens as long as he shows up to work this year. If he makes it through the year upright, the Ravens could franchise him again and by this time next year, before a single down or even mini-camp takes place he’d be guaranteed another $9.1 million. That’s $16.8 million as long as 2012 isn’t an outright disaster for Rice; forget about how he performs in 2013, he’ll have nearly $17 million in the bank for two seasons…period. McCoy and Foster will get $21 million for the next 3 seasons.
Let’s say at that point Rice no longer looks the part of a star. By the third year, the franchise tag probably gets too heavy for the Ravens to stomach. Rice then hits the open market as a 27-year old free agent. He’ll only need a one-year deal at $4 million to be right on par (earnings-wise) with the big splash signings this off-season. The more likely scenario is that a 27-year old Rice on the open market is easily able to get the same 5-year $45 million (adjusted for inflation) that he’s looking for today or better, while McCoy and Foster and/or their teams will still be locked into the back ends of their deals.
Rice is asking the Ravens to bet on him and assume the risk; it’s standard practice. But if he were to bet on himself and absorb that risk instead, he could wind up much richer for doing it. His agent however is unlikely to see it that way. Maybe Rice should consider this as he potentially compromises himself physically by skipping camps or workouts etc.