Tag Archive | "Randy Moss"

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Regardless Of All The Baggage – I’d Still Take Terrell Owens

Posted on 09 October 2009 by Rex Snider

Okay, once again, as I did back in March, I’ll be the guy to ask if Ravens fans are the least bit interested in the most repulsive player known to the NFL …..

It’s as simple as it was seven months ago – albeit, with a little twist, I’ll be mentioning, shortly. But, as I asked in early spring …..

“Should The Ravens Take A Look At Terrell Owens ?”

Admittedly, I didn’t dream up the “T.O. Question” all by myself, this time. My co-host on the Sunday Morning Blitz, Jason Jubb, actually reminded me of the prospect, as we discussed Braylon Edwards’ arrival in the Big Apple, earlier Thursday.

Of course, the situation is a bit different now, as opposed to when the Ravens had to consider the fragile task of navigating through an off-season, pre-season and FULL SEASON with the highly combustible wide receiver.

When I asked the question, prior to the Orioles losing their 1st of 98 games, the situation was much different ….. or was it?

The Ravens could use a deep threat – especially if the cost is minimal.

And, no, this has nothing to do with Mark Clayton dropping Joe Flacco’s pass, to quash the Ravens hopes, in New England, last Sunday. I’d like to think I’m not so inspired by knee-jerk reactions to adversity. I’m a fan of Mark Clayton and I think he’s still a viable ingredient for this organization.

But, as much as the Ravens could use an experienced, game-changing receiver, that same receiver can certainly use the Ravens …..

Owens could use a few months of catching footballs thrown by a legitimate #1 quarterback, who possesses the smarts, COOL and arm to get the job done.

It seems like a good fit – the Ravens and T.O. could conceivably USE EACH OTHER through the beginning of 2010 ….. and as long as the ride lasts.

Does Owens still possess the conflicted, and sometimes complicated characteristics that have left bridges burning as he departs one city after another, from San Francisco to Philadelphia to Dallas and now, Buffalo?


It’s a fair question.

I’m not sure anyone knows the answer, as a reality. But, we’re looking for the “cracks” right? Hell, lets be very honest, we’re looking for the freakin’ TRAINWRECK – each and every time T.O. walks up to the podium, following another Bills loss.

I’m not defending the guy – he’s earned every bit of criticism lobbed his way. But, it’s quite obvious the reporters are baiting him in each postgame press conference. They’re poking him with sticks, twigs and telephone poles.

And, I sense it’s coming.

You know what I mean. Each media exchange, which really appears to be a game of “verbal chess,” with blatantly inciting questions meeting coy, vague answers is getting more and more contentious.

The reporters are fanning T.O.’s smoldering coals, and he’s not extinguishing them. He basically bolts to meet reporters, at his earliest possible convenience, while holding court like the White House Press Secretary – and dressed like a dancer from a WHAM video – circa 1986.

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Terrell Owens is a guy who needs to feed an insatiable ego. And, the diet consists of one thing – FOOTBALLS. There is no substitute. Right now, he’s starving to death and he’s about to let the world know it.

It might happen this week.

Trust me, if I suspect it, the Buffalo Bills certainly KNOW it. They’re in the eye of the storm. I’m just some slapdick with a blog, and a warped sense of worship for the great Bob Haynie.

I’d bet the Bills would like nothing more than to ship Terrell Owens somewhere – ANYWHERE – in exchange for a reason or two to study the 5th or 6th round of next year’s NFL Draft and some financial relief.

Wanna bet?

Now, lets talk about what’s left of the prolific “big man,” who’s known for his separation speed and reaching abilities. Is Terrell Owens still a deep threat? At 35, is he every bit as fit as ever?

The answer is HELL YES ….. I got the picture !!!!

We’re all hearing the catcalls and whispers that Owens has lost a step or three. He’s also rumored to be losing the ability to leap tall buildings. I’m not buying it. A receiver is only as good as his quarterback.

Conversely, a quarterback is only as good as his receiver.

The blunt truth is Owens still has “IT”.

Just look at the evidence …..

Terrell Owens can’t buy an easy reception with Trent Edwards throwing the ball – and a porous offensive line blocking. Meanwhile, Tony Romo is stinking up the new digs in Big-D. Hmmm ….. it’s amazing how good a quarterback can look with a couple gamebreaking options, as opposed to one.

And, for the record, Roy Williams can’t carry Owens’ lunch – or workload.

Don’t kid yourself, Terrell Owens can help the Baltimore Ravens. He would bring a deep threat potential to this offense. Joe Flacco can light him up like a Christmas Tree. I’ll guarantee it.

If the Buffalo Bills do follow the Cleveland Browns’ lead – and dump a restless, but talented wide receiver, it might be in Ozzie Newsome’s best interest to make a serious run at him.

I’ve outlined it – the Ravens could absolutely benefit from his T.O.’s talents …..

And, so can the competition. Believe that.

Have you considered Owens in a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform? Nah, bad fit.

Have you considered Owens in a New England Patriots uniform? Nah, bad fit, again.

Now, stop for a second and really imagine Terrell Owens lining up as a wideout in an Indianapolis Colts uniform.

Scary thought, huh? For all the nay-sayers – do you still Terrell Owens is no longer a deep threat? Or, are you reconsidering, given the superb arm and smarts of Peyton Manning?

Joe Flacco might not be Manning’s contemporary, yet. But, he’s scary good and the difference between him and Trent Edwards – and the difference between the Ravens O-Line and the Buffalo Bills’ is enough to matter when it comes to the potential of Terrell Owens.

It just is.

Look, I’m not saying the Ravens should pursue a player – ANY PLAYER – simply from a desire NOT to see him ending up with a competitor. That’s a stupid proposition. But, this really is a two-fold scenario …..

Terrell Owens makes the Ravens a more dangerous team. He makes them a better team.

This Guy Would Have Alot Of Fun At BOURBON STREET
Yep, He’d Love SCORES-BALTIMORE !!!!

Regardless of everything else, he would help the Ravens’ ability to move the ball in the passing game and further enhance the running game. They haven’t needed it. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t – or shouldn’t look to improve.

It ain’t personal. It never is. It’s just football and he’s an asset.

But, the risk of Owens joining another team, like the Colts, and virtually propelling them right past the Ravens is a legitimate concern. Do you doubt me?

The Colts have plugged a hole – created by Anthony Gonzalez’s injury – with Pierre’ Garcon, Austin Collie and Hank Baskett. They’re making it work, but don’t think for a split-second that T.O. doesn’t make the Colts the most dangerous team in the game – PERIOD.

In fact, I’ll make you a devout guarantee …..

If the Colts acquire Owens and remain healthy, they’ll blow the Ravens off the field. Start the HATE MAIL now. It’s the truth. And, everyone who thinks with their head, and not their heart, knows it.

If you think Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Chris Chambers and Antonio Gates exploited the Ravens secondary, just wait …..

If you think Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Ben Watson exploited the Ravens secondary, just wait …..

Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Terrell Owens and Dallas Clark would leave marks that last for years.

Don’t let it happen, Ozzie.

If the Bills are selling – and I’d bet they’re willing to listen – pry T.O. off their roster. You wanna talk to him, first? That’s cool. In fact, it’s probably a very sensible idea.

But, short of hearing him say “Dude, I’m looking to burn down your castle,” I’m ready and willing to make a sensible offer. It’s a four month rental. The Ravens use Owens and Owens uses the Ravens.

It could be great combination.

However, if Terrell Owens falls into the lap of the Colts, instead, it could be a very long winter. Getting beat by the Colts is bad enough. But getting TORCHED by the Colts, with a guy who could’ve been here, would be very painful.


Don’t let it happen.

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Blog & Tackle: How I see Ravens-Patriots

Posted on 02 October 2009 by Chris Pika

There are plenty of big games on tap this weekend in the NFL, including the Ravens’ trip to the Patriots. Here’s one correspondent’s view of Baltimore-New England on Sunday.

Remember, we’ll review all of it on Sunday night at 7 pm ET in the Sunday Night Purple Haze here on WNST.net. Want to be a part of the action? Click here to enter the 10-4-09 Purple Haze

This will be the toughest game of the four the Ravens have played so far. Baltimore has beaten two also-rans (Kansas City, Cleveland) and a team that can put points on the board, but give them up as well (San Diego).

On offense, the Ravens have to control the line of scrimmage and the time of possession battle. New England is still very dangerous with the ball, and the less time QB Tom Brady has to work with, the better. First down yardage is one key. The Ravens have thrown (54 times) more than they’ve run (48 times) on first down. All first-down pass plays are averaging 10.02 yards, while they are getting 5.02 yards per rush on first.

My guess is that the Patriots will try to stuff the Ravens run game, and make QB Joe Flacco go to the air to beat them. The Ravens have to resist the temptation and try to wear down the Pats’ offensive line until they have the right situations in which New England gets too run-stopping happy and forgets that Flacco can throw the ball in play-action. Given the potential weather (40 percent chance of showers and breezy), New England’s strategy would be a sound against a team not used to playing in those conditions regularly.

It will be up to the Ravens’ offensive line, led by Matt Birk, to open holes for Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain. When Flacco wants to throw, Derrick Mason and Kelley Washington will have to find the soft spots in a Pats defense that will be concentrating on stopping the run first.

Defensively, Baltimore will have to continue its high level of play against a team with a lot of potent weapons. Pressure on Brady is the key. He will be looking for WR Randy Moss and WR Joey Galloway most often, and rookie Julian Edelman has played the safety valve role usually held by Wes Welker. New England will try to run as much as they can against the Ravens’ front seven in the hopes of keeping the pass rushers from blitzing too much. Philip Rivers took advantage for big yards in San Diego in a game the Chargers were hurt both by the loss of RB LaDainian Tomlinson and the play-calling of coach Norv Turner at the end of each half. Brady can’t have the time Rivers had in the second half in San Diego, or it could be a long afternoon for the Ravens secondary. Brady has been sacked only once in the first three games, and Baltimore will need more than one sack to stop the Pats.

The Ravens will also have to slow down RB Fred Taylor, who had 105 yards rushing against a smaller Falcons defensive line a week ago. Baltimore will take its chances that Taylor won’t beat them single-handedly in order to collapse the pocket on Brady and force him out of his comfort zone looking for Moss downfield. In other words, the same gameplan Rex Ryan used as the Jets beat the Pats 16-9 in Week 2.

Last week, New England had the ball for 39:49 on nine possessions against Atlanta racking up 28 first downs, and held a solid Falcons offense to 257 total yards, 58 on the ground, despite Atlanta having one of the NFL’s best backs in Michael Turner.

PREDICTION: This game might turn out to be a lot like the 2007 Monday Night classic the teams put on in Baltimore. The Ravens have proven that they can win a big game on the road against a quality opponent, and take care of business against lower-level squads. Despite the shootout win at San Diego, Baltimore was stretched to its absolute limit to put the game away on a Ray Lewis fourth-down stuff. New England is as tough at home as the Ravens are, and overall the two teams are very evenly matched. I’d give the edge to the Ravens in Baltimore, but in Foxborough, New England holds on barely. Patriots 23, Ravens 20.

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Ravens vs. Patties

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Ravens (3-0) @ Patriots (2-1)

Posted on 02 October 2009 by Derek Arnold

Ravens vs. Patties

Ravens vs. Patties Stats

:shaking head:

I’m sorry, I still have trouble getting over the fact that the Ravens enter their Week 4 matchup with the Patriots with the BETTER offense of the two teams. It’s going to take more than 3 games for us to collectively thaw our frozen offensive hearts here in B’More, but I promise if we stick together, and take it 1 game at a time, we’ll get through it with Joe Flacco and Cam Cameron at our sides.

Going into the season I thought the Ravens had no better than a 25% chance of winning in Foxboro. Naturally, after the hot start, I am much more optimistic. Let’s look at some reasons why:

Offense!

Through 3 games, the Ravens offense is reaching heights that nobody saw coming. If I’ve seen one national media piece this week on Joe Flacco’s awesomeness, I’ve seen 20. Willis McGahee leads the NFL in touchdowns. He and Ray Rice are averaging, combined, an absurd 5.5 yards per carry – NCAA numbers. Kelley Washington has emerged as a very legitimate #3 WR, and he seems to pick up a first down every time he touches the ball. The young offensive line is playing out of their minds, opening gaping holes and giving Flacco plenty of time to scan the field and fire up his shoulder-cannon.

Injuries

While the Ravens enter the game relatively healthy, the same can’t be said of New England. With MLB Jerod Mayo already out, DT Vince Wilfork’s ankle injury becomes even more problematic for the Pats. Wilfork is very important to Bill Belichick’s run defense, and with him likely out, the holes that Matt Birk, Chris Chester, and Ben Grubbs are able to create between the tackles just got a bit wider.

They have issues on the offensive side as well. Randy Moss, after his 100-yard day last week against the Falcons, revealed that he was enduring excruciating back pain during the game, and could barely walk on Monday. Moss will play, and surely be effective, but anything that can slow him down, even a little, is a plus for the Ravens.

Wes Welker was listed as questionable for the Atlanta game with a knee injury, and did not end up playing. His status for Sunday is similarly up in the air, after he was limited in practice all week. Welker is as important as Moss to the New England offense, as he keeps the chains moving as expertly as any WR in the league, and is always getting open quickly for Brady when the defense brings pressure.

However, the Pats have no shortage of tiny white WRs sure to get on your nerves. Filling in for Welker is rookie Julian Edelman (11 rec, 118 yards). Fret not. Despite what this guy will try to tell you, Edelman is no Welker – at least not at this point. Wes Welker is a VERY GOOD veteran wide receiver. Julian Edelman has played 3 games in his career. Having #11 in there is a huge step down from #83.

Tiny White WRs

Another injury affecting New England is one that happened over a year ago. Of course, I speak of the season-ending blow to Tom Brady in 2008. Tom Terrific hasn’t regained his old form yet, and has shown the typical jitters-in-the-pocket symptoms that tend to follow such horrific injuries (see: Palmer, Carson; McNabb, Donovan). He’s obviously still great, but he isn’t playing like the 2007 Brady (yet), and so the Patriots seem, for the moment, incapable of blowing teams away like they did during their 16-0 regular season. Brady is susceptible to pressure, and can be forced into early, errant throws if the Ravens defense can get in his face.

Legless Tom

None of this is to say I’m predicting a Ravens blowout. Far from it. Let’s shift to the things that make me a bit uneasy going into this one.

Defense

Sure, the Ravens’ D redeemed themselves a bit last week…but there is no getting around the fact that it was against the BROWNS. The Patriots, even with a hobbled Moss, no Welker, and a Timid Tommy Brady, are not the Browns. On paper, the Ravens have nobody to match up with Moss 1-on-1 like the Jets did with Darrell Revis in their victory over New England in Week 2. Fabian Washington has the pure speed to keep up with Moss, but is severely undersized. I feel confident that he can match up well with Welker, but the Pats like to move Welker inside to the slot, where he would face Chris Carr or a linebacker. I’d like to see the Ravens play a lot of Cover 2 Sunday, keeping Ed Reed and Dawan Landry deep over the top. The Pats have struggled in the Red Zone this season, so the weakness of their Red Zone offense versus the strength of the Ravens Red Zone defense is a match-up B’More should try to exploit.

Letting them pile up yards between the 20’s, but keeping them out of the end zone will go a long way towards a purple win. Red Zone offense and defense don’t matter a lick if you are giving up 40+ yard touchdown strikes (because Ed Reed tries to jump an out route and leaves the deep middle of the field completely open like he did several times against San Diego – thank you, NFL Network.)

Holding the Pats into the low-20’s is probably a realistic goal for the Ravens D this week.

Special Teams

The Ravens return games have been crap in 2009. Chris Carr has looked hesitant and unsure, and continues to leave yards on the field. A big game like this may not be the ideal time to give Ledarius Webb his shot, especially considering his preseason fumble issues, so it would be nice to see Carr get on track.

Steve Hauschka is 4/5 on the season, but has yet to face a high-pressure kick, let alone a high-pressure kick in a very hostile environment the likes of which he will see Sunday. In a game that could very well come down to 2 or 3 points, the young kicker leaves us just a little worried.

Bill Belichick

Finally, there is the evil genius himself, New England head coach Bill Belichick. A master of having his teams completely prepared and of exploiting any weakness, however small, in the opponents, the hooded one can never be overlooked. The New England offense was very balanced against Atlanta, as the ageless Fred Taylor ran for over 100 yards. Nobody runs on the Ravens, so was that all part of a master plan to fool them into thinking the Patriots are back to a balanced attack? And with the way his defense held the Falcons’ strong offense to just 10 points…

Belichick is good. Very good.

That said, the Ravens coaches are no slouches themselves. I think Cam Cameron will unveil some new wrinkles this week that will surprise old Bill, and Greg Mattison will show that he does indeed know how to use the Ravens’ plethora of defensive talent effectively against a great offense.

Also, Joe Flacco will step up and show everyone that which we already know, but which nobody outside of B’More wants to admit – he is better than Matt Ryan.

Ravens 28 Patriots 23

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Ravens vs. Patriots – It’s Not Just Another Game …..

Posted on 01 October 2009 by Rex Snider

I think the next four days will serve as that proverbial “snowball rolling downhill” as the excitement builds for Sunday’s showdown, in Foxboro.

It’s being billed with various descriptions in newspapers, website/message boards and blogs …..

“Flacco vs. Brady”

“Harbaugh vs. Belichick”

“The NEW Guard vs. The OLD Guard”

“Big Randy vs. A Bunch Of Smaller Guys …..” (Yep, I actually saw this !!!!)

If you think of a witty moniker for this game, there’s a real good chance someone else has already thought of it, and posted it – ON THESE MESSAGE BOARDS. Indeed, the week leading up to a big game is every bit as contentious as the 60 minutes spent on the field.

But, all the hoopla just fuels the collective fires burning within rabid fans of both teams.

In reality, we know what this is really about …..

It’s just another football game. It’s the Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots – a couple non-divisional opponents meeting for a regular season contest. Both teams have games the following week – and they’re equally as important. Or, are they?

In looking at both teams, if I’m going to consider any comparisons, I’m likely to point out that both organizations obsess on the TEAM concept. This town and anyone who follows the Ravens are familiar with John Harbaugh’s devotion to team unity.

And, Bill Belichick has amassed a collection of Lombardi trophies and gaudy rings by beating opponents with larger collections of “stars” on the game’s biggest stage. We can name dozens of reclamation projects utilized and optimized by Belichick, right?

Well, it’s also legitimate to admit Tom Brady has been the consistent factor on the team, as well.

The Patriots have dominated the last decade on a “next man up” philosophy. Obviously, the Ravens have that same mindset – and we’ve observed textbook examples, with Justin Bannan, Chris Chester and others. In fact, both Tom Brady and Joe Flacco were cast into their current roles through unexpected circumstances and at unplanned times.

And, the world knows neither guy let the opportunity or job title slip away …..

But, Sunday’s game is not about the legend of Tom Brady, or the emergence of Joe Flacco. Although, that’s what the cookie-cutter networks will say in their coverage. Pimping the quarterbacks has always been that “sexy selling point” with national, mainstream analysis.

I’m not suggesting Brady or Flacco will be mere bystanders to Sunday’s eventual outcome. Both guys are leaders and they’ll intimately impact what happens – as every quarterback does. But, will they have any greater effect than other Week #4 matchups, like Roethlisberger vs. Rivers, Sanchez vs. Brees or the most overblown duel, Brett Favre vs. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers & ENTIRE STATE OF WISCONSIN.

Good grief, I’ll be glad when that game is over. But, you know what I mean – the nationally syndicated media will market the quarterbacks. However, we know it’s much more complex than that.

This Ravens/Patriots game is bound to be determined by more relevant matchups and scenarios …..

• Can the Ravens Defense pressure the Patriots into hurried execution and a repeat of the unpleasant circumstances similar to that day at the Meadowlands, a couple weeks ago?

• Will the Patriots Defense finally do something the Chiefs, Chargers and Browns failed to accomplish – STOP the Ravens passing attack, which really enables the running game? They’ll have the home crowd to their advantage.

• Aside from the presence of Randy Moss, can the Patriots present difficult matchups for the Ravens secondary? Be cautious of the Patriots’ Tight Ends; they’re big and offer another option for Brady.

• Do “Blueprints For Success” exist for both teams? Specifically, did Philip Rivers reveal the Ravens vulnerabilities? And, did Rex Ryan’s Jets-D lay a similar plan for his former pupils?

• Has Prescott Burgess been spending hours under a bright light, in Coach Belichick’s office? Get the Velveeta ready …..

• Perhaps, it will come down to Steve Hauschka vs. Stephen Gostkowski. Just remember, the Ravens’ new kicker hasn’t really stepped into a “do or die” situation, yet. It’s coming …..

Let’s face it, an array of possibilities exist, as Sunday fast approaches. In reality, it’s just 1 of 16 games. But, it holds some significant potential …..

In a similar standard to the San Diego game, this contest could serve as a tie-breaker for postseason homefield, and it could also lead to an extended lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, who will really face a tough challenge, against the Chargers, in another game without Troy Polamalu.

To be fair, this game has important intangible factors, as well. The Patriots have a collection of Super Bowl Championships, over the past ten years. Beating them has gotta be significant for a team’s confidence. They’re also one of those upper echelon teams and the Ravens need to beat such opponents, if they wanna go to Miami, in February.

In fact, it’s absolutely fitting to suggest the New England Patriots demand that same reverence as the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts. And, do these 4 teams share a common relation with the Ravens?

You bet.

The Steelers, Colts, Patriots and Giants are jointly responsible for winning the past 6 Super Bowls. In the span of the last 24 months, the Ravens have played this collection of teams 10 times.

The Ravens are 1-9 against them. Did you get that? I said ONE WIN & NINE LOSSES.

This has to change. Forget about beating the bad teams. And, forget about beating the good teams. The Ravens absolutely MUST beat the GREAT TEAMS.

The ESPN Power Rankings, Sporting News Ratings and other in-season accolades are nice. But, there are no real awards for such distinctions. The prize is coveted by every NFL team, and it’s a Super Bowl Championship.

The teams responsible for the last half-dozen trips to Disney World have dominated the Ravens. The tables must turn. Maybe, Ric Flair was right – “to be the man, you gotta beat the man.”

Indeed, this is not just another game …..

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Ravens 2009 Preview – Weeks 1-4

Posted on 08 September 2009 by Derek Arnold

We have four miserable work days to fill until the Ravens’ 2009 season opener this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. So I figured, in order to help pass the time, I would do a quick semi-preview (quasi-Lebronish?) of the purple and black’s schedule for the coming months, breaking it up to 4 games/day through Friday.

Of course, all of these predictions are based on rosters, teams, etc., as they stand today. Injuries, suspensions, and whatever else could easily drastically change my feeling about any or all of the games. This is for fun more than anything else, so don’t go calling your bookie on my recommendations.

Week 1 – vs. Kansas City


ChiefsRavens

Matt Cassel is supposedly planning to make the start, despite injuring his knee last week. If he is unable to go, Brodie Croyle will be under center. It won’t matter if it is Cassel or Croyle, though. SOMEBODY wearing a Chiefs jersey is going to be throwing balls to Ed Reed this Sunday. M&T Bank will be rockin’, I’ll be attending my second Ravens’ home opener (hope to see you there!), and the Ravens will win, and win big.

Chance of victory: 90%

Week 2 – @ San Diego

ChargersRavens

A week 2 east-to-west trip for the Mauve Marauders (no? OK.) looks less than appetizing at this point. San Diego looks to be loaded once again on both sides of the ball, and after their terrible start last season, one would have to believe that they will learn from their mistakes and not let themselves fall into another 4-8 hole before they decide to start playing for keeps. I think the Ravens will keep this one close, and avoid getting embarrassed like they did on their last trip to Qualcomm, but I don’t see them bringing a W back from sunny San Diego.

Chance of victory: 40%

Week 3 – vs. Cleveland

BrownsRavens

Presumably, Eric Mangina Mangini will have decided on a QB between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn by the end of September, but who’s to say for sure? Neither of them will be able to handle the Ravens’ D, and even though he made the team against everyone’s predictions, Jamal Lewis is but a shell of his former self. If Cleveland somehow beats Minnesota, wins at Mile High, and rolls into B’More 2-0 on 9/27, I might be a tad more worried, but another Brown-stain whooping looks much more likely sitting here on Labor Day.

Chance of victory: 80%

Week 4 – @ New England

PatsRavens

Guhhh. Another early season road trip, another brutal opponent. The Pats and their fans will no doubt remember that it was the Ravens who kept their 11-5 team out of the postseason in 2008, but the more important factor will be the return of Tom Brady. After having 3 weeks to shake off any rust (or anything else) that he may have gathered over the past year of laying in bed all day with his supermodel wife, Brady and the Pats’ offense are likely to be firing on all cylinders by Week 4. I don’t think they’ll run away with it, and the Ravens will hang around just long enough to give us all heart palpitations, but Randy Moss or Wes Welker will supply the dagger late in the 4th quarter.

Chance of victory: 25%

Tomorrow: Weeks 5-9


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I still trust in Ozzie, but that trust is waning a little bit

Posted on 30 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

 For years every time Ozzie Newsome has made a decision that some fans questioned;Ozzie supporters uttered the statement “ in Ozzie we trust”. I can not knock Ozzie Newsome’s track record, but his lack of ability or desire to bring in a big time wide receiver has my trust waning just a little bit.

Coming into the off-season many fans believe that the Ravens were just one big time play-maker away from being a perennial Super Bowl contender for many years. Many fans were clamoring for the Ravens to address the wide receiver position via the draft or free agency and many “experts” predicted them to draft a receiver in the first round. Seven rounds and two days later the Ravens only drafted one pass catcher, Devon Drew a tight end, leaving many fans puzzled but other still uttering “ in Ozzie we trust”.

In his tenure with the Ravens Ozzie Newsome only drafted two receivers in the first round in Travis “ hands of stone” Taylor and Mark Clayton. Taylor is with a doubt a bust; however the verdict is still out on Clayton. I wanted the Ravens to bring in Hakeem Nicks but ultimately supported Ozzie in his decision. I even went as far as giving the Ravens draft a “B” grade.

I assumed that the Ravens were happy with their receiving corps which at that time consisted of Mason, Clayton, Williams and Smith. Two months later, Mason is taken out of that equation, leaving Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams as the team’s top two receivers; not exactly a tandem that strikes fear in opposing secondaries. While it is likely the Mason returns, the Ravens have replaced him by singing Drew Bennett( who then retired), Biren Ealy( 1 career catch) and Jayson Foster who stands at 5’8” and has no career NFL receptions. While these two are likely to end up on the practice squad, one injury to a player on the roster will lead to them getting called up. Are these the “weapons” Joe Flacco should have around him? I think not.

Now before I get criticized by potential readers, I want to make it known that I do understand football. I know you can win without play- makers and I know that Ravens have been successful with a run oriented offense. All that being said, I think the organization would have won at least one other Super Bowl had they brought in some offensive play-makers. Having a top 5 defense every year is fine, but having an offense that ranks in the bottom 10 of the league, makes it that much harder to win. The Ravens defense will still be good, but let’s face it, they are aging. It is time for the identity of this franchise to start moving towards the offensive side of the ball and that needs to start.

Last season, the Ravens and Steelers were virtual mirror images of each other, with both teams possessing talented, hard hitting defenses. Ultimately, the difference why the Steelers beat the Ravens three times was the ability of Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward to get open for Ben Roethlisberger, particularly when he was scrambling. Holmes then went on to win MVP of the Super Bowl showing how important he really was to his team.

Every time the name of a receiver like Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin or Brandon Marshall gets mentioned, people are quick to dismiss them by asking “ how many rings do they have?” Everyone who is an Ozzie supporter is quick to say that one player does not make the difference in winning a Super Bowl and I agree to an extent. However, the Giants and Steelers would not have won the last two Super Bowl’s without Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes.

One of the criticisms of bringing in a receiver like Marshall, Boldin or Buress is that they come with a lot of baggage. The Ravens are one of the class organizations in all of professional sports and do not like to deal with players that have a lot of “character” issues. I totally understand and support the stance of the front office on this subject, but outside of three receivers I just mentioned there are no other options out there. Biren Ealy, Jayson Foster and Kelly Washington may be better “character” guys but are they going to draw double teams and get open for Joe Flacco? I think not.

I am aware of the pros and cons of bringing in a talented but volatile receiver, but at this point I think it is worth a shot for the Ravens. The Ravens were five minutes from the Super Bowl last year but,Joe Flacco lacked the weapons to get the team over the hump. Even when Flacco got great protection in the AFC Championship game- which was often- aerial shots showed the receivers in ability to get open against what is at best a mediocre Steelers secondary. Add a Brandon Marshall, Plaxico Burress or Anquan Boldin and the pass game is not only helped but so is the run game because the Steelers have to fear the pass.

Football is a team sport, and I get that. Every one could spout off as many stats as they want and list as many teams as they want that have won a Super Bowl without a big time play maker ,but it won’t change my opinion. I hear people saying the offense will be fine and that Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams will step up, but what happens if they don’t?

Suddenly, you have a franchise quarterback with an aging tight end and two mediocre receivers to throw to. Having a great line and three good running backs is all well and good but if you can’t get teams to respect the pass then they will eat up your running game. Normally I give Ozzie Newsome the benefit of the doubt give his track record, but in this case he dropped the ball.

Fans can continue to look at things through purple colored glasses and cheer when Joe Flacco hits Biren Ealy with a long pass in training camp but this does not mean that things will be alright.

I still trust in Ozzie, but that trust is waning. I will have no problem eating crow if Clayton, Williams, Washington,Smith, Ealy and Foster prove me wrong, but I don’t think they will. When the Ravens take the field against the Patriots on October 4th and Randy Moss is having a monster game, just remember we could have brought in a receiver of his ability but chose not to.

So when you say “ man I wish we had a guy like that” just remember the events of this off-season and the team’s inability to bring in a play-maker.

Do you still trust in Ozzie? If you do, you are more optimistic then me; I just hope you have the last laugh.

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King Shame

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5 W’s and 1 H

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Luke Jones

The first half is in the books, and the Orioles are right where most of us thought they would be—last place and out of contention.

While it’s certainly been frustrating watching the Orioles’ inconsistent play, the club has also provided some excitement with the greatest comeback in club history—against the Red Sox, no less—and the unveiling of rookies Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Nolan Reimold, and the much-hyped Matt Wieters.

The 40-48 record and last-place standing does not reflect the positive strides made in the first half of the season.  Yes, there’s still a long way to go before we’re talking about the Orioles contending with the three heavyweights in the AL East, but as more youngsters join the fold, it’s easy to see this organization is in much better shape than it’s been at any point since 1997.

Will it be enough to put the Orioles back in the playoffs in the next few years?

Only time—and the willingness to acquire missing pieces via trades and free agency—will answer that question.

It will be interesting to see how active general manager Andy MacPhail will be as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches.  Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Danys Baez, Jeremy Guthrie, and George Sherrill would all figure to have value for contending clubs.  However, MacPhail’s patient approach is not conducive to making deadline trades.

Of course, the club does not HAVE to trade any of these players—though they would be foolish to keep Baez around—but the rest of July figures to be a busy time for MacPhail and his cell phone.

Here are the 5 W’s and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who is your biggest surprise and biggest disappointment for the Orioles in the first half?

If I posed this question in mid-May, the easy choice for biggest surprise would have been center fielder Adam Jones.  The Orioles’ lone All-Star representative is having a good year (.303, 12 home runs, 47 runs batted in) but has really cooled off after a blistering start.

The most pleasant surprise—if not an absolute lifesaver—has to be rookie starting pitcher Brad Bergesen.  The 23-year-old righty has shown great poise in leading the rotation with six wins (tied with Jeremy Guthrie) and a 3.54 ERA.

Bergesen doesn’t dazzle you with a blazing fastball or a devastating breaking pitch, but his heavy sinker induces ground balls—crucial for pitching at Camden Yards—and his command is comparable to a grizzled veteran.  It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the same level of effectiveness as teams become more familiar with the rookie in the second half.

The biggest disappointment has to be Guthrie.  The Orioles’ Opening Day starter hasn’t been right since spring training when he pitched in the World Baseball Classic.  Whether he’s been completely healthy is debatable, but there’s no question that Guthrie simply hasn’t made quality pitches to finish off hitters.

Guthrie is 6-8 with a 5.35 ERA and has surrendered 20 home runs in 18 starts.  If he can right himself after the All-Star Break, he would be an attractive option for a contending club.  At the very least, Guthrie rebounding would help stabilize a starting rotation that has struggled mightily outside of Bergesen.

2.  What are your thoughts on UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar?

I’ll admit to not being much of an MMA fan, but I’ve followed Lesnar going back to his days as a professional wrestler in the WWE.

Lesnar dominated Frank Mir—the only man to beat Lesnar—to retain his title at UFC 100 on Saturday night.  Perhaps more interesting than the encounter itself was Lesnar’s behavior following the match, which included a refusal to shake Mir’s hand and some lewd comments.

Though Lesnar apologized for his conduct, Vince McMahon had to be smirking when he learned of his former star’s behavior.  Lesnar has cemented his status as the most hated man in the sport, but it’s a good thing for UFC.  Fans love to hate a champion more than they love to cheer a champion.  To steal a page from pro wrestling, people will tune in just to watch the heel lose.

3.  Where would you most like to watch the Ravens play a road game?

After watching the Ravens lose to the Steelers in Pittsburgh last January—and being pelted with an ice ball by a Pittsburgh moron fan as I left Heinz Field—I’ll pass on a return to western Pennsylvania for at least a couple years.

I’m excited to go on the WNST Fenway and Football Trip the first weekend in October to watch the Ravens take on the Patriots in Foxboro.  It should be a great time watching Ray Lewis and the defense matching up against Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the New England offense.

The trip to Green Bay in December is very tempting, but a Monday night in DECEMBER at Lambeau Field feels frigid just thinking about it.

4.  When will we see another Orioles pitcher throw a no-hitter?

San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hurled the first no-hitter of the MLB season on Friday night, and it caused me to think about the long drought the Orioles have endured in that department.

Other than a combined no-hitter by Bob Milacki, Mark Williamson, Mike Flanagan, and Gregg Olson in 1991, the last Orioles’ no-hitter was pitched by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer in 1969.  In the last 15 years, Mike Mussina and Daniel Cabrera flirted with no-hitters a few times, but neither was able to complete it.

Pitching a no-hitter involves a great deal of luck, and it is by no means an indicator of a team’s—or pitcher’s—overall success.  Sanchez was struggling and had even been removed from the starting rotation before Giants pitcher Randy Johnson went on the disabled list.  You just never know.  If you need proof, take a look at Don Larsen.  The only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series had a career 81-91 record.

The New York Mets have won two World Series titles in their 47-year history but have never enjoyed a no-hitter.

5.  Why can’t LeBron James and Nike have a sense of humor?

Seriously.  It’s great that James and Nike hold a camp for young players to rub elbows with the NBA star, but when it was reported that Nike confiscated all recordings of Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunking over James in a pickup game, I couldn’t help but shake my head.

Would it have really been THAT damaging to James’ reputation to allow the video to pop up on YouTube?  I’m sure the clever minds at Nike could have concocted a clever ad around it.

For now, we’ll have to settle for this:
King Shame

6.  How much longer do the Orioles go with Jason Berken and Rich Hill with Chris Tillman and others waiting in the wings at Norfolk?

Though both pitched well over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine the club continuing to go with either pitcher in the starting rotation if they stay at their current pace.  Even with the solid work in their last starts, Hill still has a 6.92 ERA and Berken isn’t much better at 5.87.

Tillman started for the USA in today’s Futures Game and appears close to being ready for the big leagues.  Despite giving up two runs in his only inning of work in St. Louis, the 21-year-old righty has a 7-5 record, a 2.50 ERA, and 88 strikeouts at Triple-A Norfolk this season.

Unless the club decides to give Hill another chance in the rotation, Tillman could easily be in Baltimore by the end of July.  After Tillman, David Pauley (7-6, 3.67 ERA) would probably be the next arm in line, though he isn’t considered to be a long-term answer in the rotation.

*****

Shameless Plug Alert:  I’ll be joining Glenn Clark on the Comcast Morning Show on Monday morning from 6 to 10 a.m.

To be totally honest, I can’t remember the last time I was up that early, but it should be fun.

Have a good Monday.

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