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Not in My Back Yard

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Week 15 of the NFL season brought about a heavy dose of perspective and a number of reality checks for teams that rightly appeared to be primed for the playoffs just a week ago. While frustration, part and parcel to any NFL season, isn’t easy to accept, it’s still far better than the alternative…apathy.

Sometimes seeing your own favorite team regularly and up close and for all its warts and blemishes makes it tough to mesh that perspective with the “bird’s eye” view that we get of most teams through highlights and limited national TV exposure. That said, fans in cities from Green Bay to Indianapolis are up in arms over the weekend’s action and could all probably use a healthy dose of perspective.

While the Ravens are far from perfect or infallible, they’re the devil we know, and for that I’m both happy and hopeful. As for the devils that we don’t know, here are 10 of the most interesting NFL storylines that I’m glad to be seeing from the bird’s eye view, as they’re undoubtedly entertaining for fans, but probably best appreciated from afar.

Here are the Top 10 NFL Storylines That I’m Glad Are Playing Out in Someone Else’s Back Yard.

Storyline #10- Suck for Luck


For the first 5 or so weeks of the season there were anywhere from 5-10 interested and interesting looking candidates in the Luck sweepstakes. By mid-season it was down to 2, and as Matt Moore and the Dolphins tried against hope to rally around coach Tony Sparano, only Indianapolis was left in the Luck conversation. That invited a number of other conversations regarding Luck’s potential and Peyton Manning’s future with the Colts. Last week’s win by Indy may have reignited hope in both St. Louis and Minnesota as potential Luck destinations.


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The Reality Check Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week:  32)

Indy fans are giggling like a-holes over the thought they might get Andrew Luck. I pray to God this somehow backfires.

31. Washington Redskins (LW:  28)

Do they have a third quarterback? They might want to think about playing someone at another position as quarterback. It’s that bad.

30. Cleveland Browns (LW:  24)

Please keep losing. We need more Mike Polk.

29. St. Louis Rams (LW:  31)

Finally won a game that was started by Sam Bradford. What do you think Steve Spagnuolo will be doing this time next year?

28. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW:  26)

They’ll probably be closer to the bottom of the list in the future.

27. Miami Dolphins (LW:  30)

Cue Major League. “Let’s win the whole f***ing thing.”

26. Carolina Panthers (LW:  25)

I have to stop giving them the benefit the doubt because of Cam Newton. They were terrible Sunday.

25. Arizona Cardinals (LW:  29)

If they somehow win another (they won’t), John Skelton will keep his job.

24. Seattle Seahawks (LW:  27)

I don’t truly believe they’re suddenly turning into a good football team.

23. Minnesota Vikings (LW:  23)

Not a whole lot of team look good at Lambeau Field.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (LW:  21)

It’s just about over for Andy Reid.

21. Kansas City Chiefs (LW:  18)

Tyler Palko playing almost assures they’ll be falling down the list in the coming weeks.

20. Denver Broncos (LW:  22)

Who can complete two passes and win a football game? Tim Tebow can!

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW:  15)

They’re in a ton of trouble in the NFC playoff race. Now two games behind Wild Card leaders.

18. San Diego Chargers (LW:  16)

My gut tells me this will ultimately still be your winner in the AFC West. My gut also tells me that Norv Turner has no business coaching this team.

17. Buffalo Bills (LW:  14)

Hard to think of them as a good football team after the last couple of games.

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The 15-7-0 Of The Century

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. If you have to make a trip to Orono, Maine you might as well go ahead and get a victory.

Which is what I guess the Towson Tigers figured they would do to move back into a first place in the CAA…

Terrance West ran all over the Black Bears, much like he’s done to everyone else in the conference. Towson has a completely legitimate chance to win the conference. I almost can’t believe I’m typing that.

2. Julio Jones did something Sunday you’re not capable of.

The Atlanta Falcons traded away many things to get this man on their team. If he keeps playing like he did against the Indianapolis Colts it will go down as one of the greatest decisions in National Football League history…

As far as Indy in concerned, things have gotten so bad that at one point QB Curtis Painter threw two forward passes on the same play. No really, this actually happened. He wears the same number as Bert Jones. That’s where the similarities end.

3. Remember when the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers swapped Eli Manning & Phillip Rivers? The Giants put another point on the scoreboard Sunday.

There were many amazing things about the Giants’ come from behind win over the New England Patriots in Foxborough, notably the plays made from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard to win the game. But NOTHING I could share with you would be as good as the footage of Michael Strahan celebrating the win while the cameras were “off” at FOX…

During the Sunday Night Football halftime show, Bob Costas pointed out that Ballard’s number (85) was the same number worn by David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. Pretty good.

(Puts on “Superfriends” announcer voice)


Phillip Rivers nearly figured out a way to beat the NFC (and NFL)’s best team. The reason why he “nearly” figured it out is because part of beating the best team in the the league is NOT repeatedly throwing the ball to them.

I feel like Aaron Rodgers is getting dangerously close to “so good we can’t possibly like him” territory by the way.

4. You only get to win a “Game of the Century” every now and then, so I’m pretty LSU doesn’t care how ugly things were Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.

And now we deal with the fact that we might well have to see the Tigers face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game if Oklahoma State and Stanford falter.

Don’t get me wrong, this was a great game even if it wasn’t always beautiful to look at. LSU now has the fast track to a national title and it’s hard to imagine anyone not named Alabama beating them.

5. While Kellen Moore has done no wrong, Andrew Luck can clinch the Heisman Trophy next week against Oregon.

Kellen Moore wasn’t necessarily brilliant, but he surpassed Colt McCoy as the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history in Boise State’s win at UNLV…

Kellen Moore’s season only remains interesting however if Luck begins to stumble. Their national TV (ABC) game Saturday night against Oregon will be Luck’s chance to follow up on his performance against USC with a “clincher”. Probably. He had some early struggles, but was good again Saturday against Oregon State…

Trent Richardson remains third on my list-but he’s currently third on a list of two. Case Keenum heads the “others receiving votes” category.

6. Tim Tebow we love you again…at least for now.

Tim Tebow by no means beat the Oakland Raiders on his own (Denver Broncos teammates Willis McGahee, Eddie Royal & Eric Decker certainly helped), but what the hell do we care about anyone who plays in the Mile High City not named Tim Tebow?

By the way, the Broncos are only a game out of first place in the AFC West. And thank God the Raiders solved all of their problems by trading for Carson Palmer.

7. The New York Jets have bounced back well enough that Rex Ryan should say something idiotic any moment now.

The Jets kicked the Buffalo Bills’ asses Sunday in Orchard Park. Instead of showing the highlights, let’s all laugh at Mark Sanchez flinching when lined up out wide against Drayton Florence…

That’s more humorous than Ashton Kutcher on “Two & A Half Men.” But then again, what isn’t?

There’s a mess atop the AFC East, as these teams and the Pats all have three losses. I hope they all end up with six personally.

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The 15-7-0 Might Not Be Statue-Worthy As Of Now, But Give It Time

Posted on 24 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. If there are any tickets left for Towson-Delaware next Saturday at Unitas Stadium, get them now.

There was no 4th & 29 miracle this time around, just a good old fashioned butt kicking of William & Mary for Terrence West and the Tigers…

And now Towson has an undefeated record in the CAA (they’re tied with Maine for first place) and returns home to face the Blue Hens Saturday night.

I might go as Rob Ambrose for Halloween this year. He’s created more magic than Harry Potter.

2. I don’t think much of the “Tebow Time” monicker, but I’m happy for the kid.

I mean, I get it. Tim Tebow leads comebacks in consecutive games, so the late moments of games involving Tebow will now be known as “Tebow Time”…

I’m trying to figure out 67 more ways to put the word “Tebow” in this entry.

Yes, the Denver Broncos were TERRIBLE for most of their win over the lifeless Miami Dolphins. Who cares? Tebow was a winner, so America has a week to repeat his name over and over and over and over and over and over.

Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow Tebow.


Demaryius Thomas was so excited about Tebow’s performance he decided to plant one on his quarterback…


That’s just plain beautiful.

3. Christian Ponder had a nice day and all, but Aaron Rodgers and Charles Woodson play for the Green Bay Packers. Who did you think was going to win?

At least things were interesting enough that you get the feeling the Packers MIGHT somehow be vulnerable. Maybe.

Brian Robison did something to TJ Lang during the game that made everyone in America uncomfortable…

Oh. Oh…

4. It absolutely takes more time, but the end of the Wisconsin-Michigan State game was a reminder of how crucial it is to review every scoring play.

We should start by saying “thank God the replay officials in East Lansing got this one right”…

Doug Flutie and Gerard Phelan still have the greatest “Hail Mary” of all time (and I’ll assume Kordell Stewart and Michael Westbrook are still second on the list), but this was pretty awesome.

We can also all agree that if Russell Wilson and the Badgers had seen the ball again they would have won, right?

I’m certainly convinced of it.

5. Every establishment in Lubbock will now have a picture of Seth Doege with the words “his money is no good here” below it.

I’m not sure if you stayed up late enough (the game ended at about 1:30am) to watch all of Texas Tech-Oklahoma, but it turned out to be a really good game…

Apparently the Red Raiders didn’t get the memo that no one EVER beats the Sooners in Norman.

While OU is likely done (as far as the BCS Championship picture is concerned), their “Bedlam” date with Oklahoma State still looms large in the title picture after the Cowboys got another brilliant performance from QB Brandon Weeden in a win over Missouri.

By the way, Brandon Weeden is my age. Does that mean I still have a future in football?

6. There are four playoff spots to be had between the NFC North and NFC South. Because of this, the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons picked up HUGE wins.

The Bears went to London and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who never really looked in sync. This is why I never want to see the Ravens play across the pond…

The game involved a Matt Forte run that was so brutal it made two Bucs players run into each other…


The Detroit Lions have now lost back to back home games after falling to the Falcons Sunday at Ford Field…

The Lions have serious rushing issues, but still have Calvin Johnson. That should mean they’ll be okay. Miraculously for the Falcons, Matt Ryan survived a brutal hit in this one and came back to finish the game. That should mean they’ll be okay as well.

Also in this game, Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez passed Marvin Harrison for the 2nd most receptions in history, only behind Jerry Rice.

That’s actually really amazing.

7. Rex Ryan may be a lunatic, but on Sunday he was at least a victorious lunatic.

I like to think I appreciate a level of refreshing honesty from a head coach, but for some reason Rex just tends to come off as more of a horses’s ass than anything…

Plaxico Burress is 6’5″. It must be nice for the New York Jets to have a capable receiver that size. There isn’t one of those in Baltimore, and the Ravens still have to face the San Diego Chargers later in the season themselves.

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“The Reality Check” Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 19 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Miami Dolphins (Last Week: 32)

Who do I see about getting my money back for having to watch them on Monday Night Football?

31. Indianapolis Colts (LW: 31)

Was Pierre Garcon in on the “Suck For Luck” bandwagon when he decided to give the ball to the Bengals last week?

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW: 27)

How in the hell did they ever win a game? (Not that I’m overlooking them or anything…)

29. St. Louis Rams (LW: 30)

Hey look, Brandon Lloyd plays there now! That means he’ll have a new couch from which to watch the playoffs.

28. Minnesota Vikings (LW: 28)

Christian Ponder is the quarterback now. I don’t see that being enough to start winning games. But what the hell do I know?

27. Denver Broncos (LW: 26)


26. Arizona Cardinals (LW: 29)

I really didn’t think they would be this bad.

25. Carolina Panthers (LW: 23)

Cam Newton will want to be known more for winning than for endzone dances in the future.

24. Cleveland Browns (LW: 22)

Colt McCoy is not a starting quarterback for a NFL team that is going to win. Moving on…

23. Kansas City Chiefs (LW: 25)

I just hope Jackie Battle keeps piling up yards…you know…for fantasy reasons.

22. Seattle Seahawks (LW: 21)

They’d be better off if Tavaris Jackson can’t go.

21. Dallas Cowboys (LW: 19)

They deserve some credit for keeping things close in Foxborough, but this isn’t horseshoes. Or hand grenades.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (LW: 24)

The heat index on Andy Reid’s seat is now just “scorching” instead of “pure fire.”

19. Washington Redskins (LW: 11)

There’s nothing funnier than listening to DC fans go on about how much better they’ll be with John Beck at quarterback. Yes, the same John Beck.

18. New York Jets (LW: 17)

Rex Ryan has to be thanking his lucky stars that the Miami Dolphins are in the AFC East.

17. Tennessee Titans (LW: 15)

It’s nice to not HAVE to play your first round draft pick quarterback.

16. Chicago Bears (LW: 18)

They just have to hope teams will keep kicking to Devin Hester.

15. Oakland Raiders (LW: 12)

Trading a first and a second round pick for Carson Palmer and then playing him IMMEDIATELY? I assume Kyle Boller understands.

14. Atlanta Falcons (LW: 16)

They could use more big games from Michael Turner.

13. Houston Texans (LW: 10)

They’ll be okay when they get Andre Johnson back. They have to figure out how to win in the meantime.

12. Cincinnati Bengals (LW: 20)

Don’t look now, but Andy Dalton kinda looks like a quarterback.

11. New York Giants (LW: 14)

I will never understand how they lost to the Seahawks.

10. Buffalo Bills (LW: 7)

You can’t keep getting flagged at the end of games and think you’re going to win.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW: 13)

They need LaGarrette Blount back, but they’ll be okay in the meantime apparently.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (LW: 9)

They weren’t that impressive in beating the Jags Sunday. The part that matters is that they beat the Jags Sunday.

7. Detroit Lions (LW: 5)

They’re still a good team. They’re just not going to go 16-0. Hopefully there won’t be any more handshake controversies.

6. San Francisco 49ers (LW: 8)

Beat the Lions on the road? That’s significant.

5. San Diego Chargers (LW: 6)

A very dangerous threat to getting home field throughout the AFC playoffs.

4. New Orleans Saints (LW: 2)

The Sean Payton injury can’t be dismissed in judging this team.

3. Baltimore Ravens (LW: 5)

They have the best opportunity they’ve ever had to get to a Super Bowl in the John Harbaugh/Joe Flacco era.

2. New England Patriots (LW: 3)

They should have had more success against the Cowboys defense. No bother, they won anyway.

1. Green Bay Packers (LW: 1)

Even when they don’t necessarily try that hard in the second half they’re better than everyone else.

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There Is No Bye Week For The 15-7-0

Posted on 10 October 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I guess it’s safe to say Rob Ambrose made the right decision to not redshirt Terrance West

Especially seeing as how his 4TD’s helped Towson improve to 4-1 on the season with their win over Richmond Saturday night at Unitas Stadium….

The Tigers are now 2-0 in the CAA for the first time EVER. Remember when they were picked to finish last in the conference? Nice call there.

(Editor’s note: Spiders QB-and USC transfer-Aaron Corp completed 31 of 34 attempts Saturday night. I still can’t figure out how Towson was ever able to stop them. How does someone go 31 or 34 and win???)

2. When they weren’t fighting, there was a pretty fun football game being played between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers

For some reason, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins decided to fight about a pretty impressive Steve Smith touchdown from Cam Newton…

…Yeah I really have no explanation for that. I will reiterate what I’ve been saying about the Saints all season however. You can tell me all you want about their defense not being great. Based on how good Drew Brees and company are, they’re fine.

3. We want to write the Pittsburgh Steelers off, but Ben Roethlisberger just won’t let us

Sitting on my fantasy football bench, Big Ben managed to toss FIVE touchdowns for the Steelers in the win, pissing off everyone in the world who has no connection to the Steel City. Oh, and Daniel Sepulveda executed a perfect fake punt just to rub it in…

Jonathan Dwyer also ran for over 100 yards as the bad guys beat the Tennessee Titans. That answers the age old question, “who is Jonathan Dwyer?”

4. BCS apologists might get their chance to say LSUAlabama and OklahomaOklahoma State ARE a playoff system for college football

We’ll start with LSU’s big win over Florida, a blowout that included a would-be touchdown on a fake punt-had it not been for a taunting call that we can all agree was questionable at best…


Next, The Crimson Tide started the season with a quarterback controversy. In their big win over Vanderbilt Saturday night, AJ McCarron reminded everyone why that didn’t last very long…

Oh yeah. Trent Richardson is still pretty good too.

Elsewhere, Texas came into the Red River Rivalry this year with higher hopes based on the (Case) McCoy-(Jaxson) Shipley Combo Part 2. Landry Jones quickly ruined those hopes…

The path to the BCS Championship Game is also easier for the Sooners this year based on the fact that there is no more Big 12 Big 12 Championship Game.

Which leads us finally to Oklahoma State, who finished on the good end of a 70-28 beatdown of Kansas Saturday…

Before you pencil Oklahoma into the national title game, a reminder that the Cowboys host this year’s “Bedlam” game in Stillwater. It’s significant.

5. Kellen Moore remains atop my “Heisman Trophy watch” personally, but I understand why everyone is so hot and bothered by Andrew Luck

Here’s my problem. Everyone always beats up the Boise State QB because the Broncos don’t play top-notch competition. For example, they shredded Fresno State most recently…

…but thus far, the best team Stanford has beaten all season is Duke-and Duke was NOT playing with Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee, Marshall Plumlee or any other Plumlee anywhere on the planet…that I know of.

The Cardinal’s victim Saturday night was a less than impressive Pac 12 newcomer-Colorado. You only know anything about the game because Tiger Woods took a break from being crappy at golf to show up and watch the thing with John Elway…


Woods finished tied for 30th this weekend at an event won by some dude named Bryce Molder. Tied for 30th. Bryce Molder. Oh…and some dude threw a hot dog at him while he was playing. REALLY…

6. Cincinnati Bengals defense plus AJ Green equals late season games could be more interesting for Ravens than we want them to be

AJ Green was immediately more popular just for NOT being Chad Johnson or Terrell Owens. Now it looks like he’s really good to boot…

I don’t think Cincy can stay in the AFC playoff race all season by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks like they’re not going to fall apart either. Marvin Lewis’ team will have two chances to make life miserable in Charm City later this season.

7. Sooo….maybe Jim Harbaugh WAS worth all that money?

Until this point, I have refused to believe in the San Francisco 49ers despite their early season success. After their blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, I might have to start buying stock…

I’d say the Josh Morgan injury would hurt them, but they play in the NFC West. I get the feeling they could lose half their roster and still be in the mix.

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Jarret Johnson

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Ravens LB Jarret Johnson on Defensive Player of the Week award: “I wasn’t expecting it”

Posted on 06 October 2011 by Ryan Chell

Linebacker Jarret Johnson left for his home in Florida content in his team’s performance in the 34-17 beatdown of the New York Jets Sunday night, but he found quite the surprise on his doorstep when he landed in the Sunshine State.

Johnson was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 4, and it came as quite the surprise to the Raven linebacker who recorded just three tackles against the Jets but returned a Mark Sanchez fumble caused by Haloti Ngata for a touchdown.

Jarret Johnson

The 26-yard fumble recovery made it 27-7 Ravens in a crazy second quarter, and he was also praised for his performance rushing the passer and dropping back in coverage.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Johnson told Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Thursday. “You don’t know anything about it until they tell you, then you get it.”

Johnson was honored by the achievement, and it felt even better for Johnson because he felt like there were others-especially some of his fellow teammates-were more deserving than he was.

“This is my first one but I did think it was pretty cool even though I think there have been better defensive performances before…I will definitely take it.”

Johnson told Nelson that he felt like beating his former boss in Rex Ryan was going to be the highlight of the week.

“It’s always good to see those guys,” Johnson said. “They’re fun to compete against, and it’s always an emotional game.”

When asked who he felt was the most emotional Sunday night in the locker room following the beatdown, Johnson said the answer was easy.

Without a doubt-it was coach John Harbaugh, who despite three full seasons in Baltimore has brought the team three playoff appearances-can’t seem to make fans forget Rex Ryan.

Hopefully with the defense beating up Ryan-that helps Harbaugh get the monkey off his back.

“Anytime there is an emotional side to it, the stacks are a lot higher and the guys are a little more pumped up,” Johnson said. “Games like that get guys pretty pumped up.”

What also gets Johnson pumped up and full of confidence are the comparisons already to the great Ravens defenses of this decade-the 2000 and 2006 defenses.

Johnson said that given the preparation defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano and the tremendous start he has the defense out to, people were going to draw that line.

“It comes with success,” Johnson said. “Any time you play good defense that’s who you’re going to be compared to because they set the bar and that’s the standard.”

He told fans to wait for the entire season and the body of work to be completed, but he’ll never turn down a compliment.

“Anytime you’re mentioned with those guys, it’s a pat on the back for you.”

And that’s what he plans on doing this bye week-lying on his back.

“The main thing is I’m rehabbing,” Johnson said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of the time to get good lifts in and do all the rehab things so that when we come back, we will be able to roll.”

WNST congratulates Jarret Johnson on his achievement and hopes to continue to have these awards stay in Baltimore! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Comparisons to 2000 Ravens premature, but this year’s defense could be exceptional

Posted on 06 October 2011 by Luke Jones

We just can’t help ourselves, can we?

After more than a decade of defensive excellence in Baltimore, we always compare the latest eye-popping Ravens defense to the platinum standard of that 2000 unit. It was that group, of course, that lifted a caretaker offense — rookie running back Jamal Lewis being the lone exception — to the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship.

It was a once-in-a-generation defense, yet we refuse to acknowledge that type of group won’t come along again — even if we say otherwise.

We did it in 2003 when Ray Lewis led a young group of budding defensive stars to the No. 3 overall defensive ranking and an AFC North title.

It happened again in 2006 as the Ravens finished 13-3 and first overall in both points and yardage allowed, something the 2000 group wasn’t able to do.

And the similarities were examined between that championship group and the 2008 defense – ranked second overall behind only the Steelers — coached by Rex Ryan in his final year in Baltimore before taking his antics to the Big Apple.

It sure feels a lot like 2000, doesn’t it?

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It’s not surprising the whispers have already started about the 2011 edition of Ray Lewis and company after a 3-1 start in which the Ravens rank third overall in total defense, third against the run, tied for seventh against the pass, and first in the NFL with 14 takeaways. The pass rush is improved with 11 sacks already after posting a franchise-low 27 in 2010. The Baltimore defense has already set single-game franchise records when it forced seven turnovers against Pittsburgh in Week 1 and scored three defensive touchdowns against the Jets last Sunday night.

But, are we really going to start talking about comparisons to 2000 after only four games?

For the sake of the argument, comparing the two units through the first four games of the season — one small sample deserves another if we’re going to be fair — shows the championship group with the upper hand. The 2000 Ravens allowed fewer yards (996 to 1,138), gave up fewer points (55 to 57), and recorded two shutouts while this year’s defense has yet to post a goose egg for 60 minutes. However, this year’s 14 takeaways trumps the 10 forced by the 2000 group.

Those first four games in 2000 included two of the four largest point totals surrendered by that defense in the regular season, including the 36 scored by Jacksonville in a thrilling 39-36 shootout win in Week 2. This year’s Ravens have faced only one offense currently ranking in the top half of the league (Pittsburgh is ranked 13th), but the 2000 group faced only one top-10 offense (Jacksonville was seventh overall in 2000) through four games.

As fun as it is to draw comparisons between the known and the unknown, the reality is it’s too early to determine where the 2011 defense will even rank among the many good defenses in the 16-year history of the franchise, let alone talk about any potential similarity with one of the greatest units in NFL history. The only link between the two defenses is Ray Lewis, who depends far more on his intellect as a 36-year-old than he had to as a 25-year-old wrecking machine.

Moving beyond the statistics, Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 hybrid defense is far more similar to a Ryan-coached unit than Marvin Lewis’ record-setting defense from 11 years ago. The current unit relies on deception and blitzing to create pressure, disguising its intentions until the last possible minute. Lewis, on the other hand, largely played his 4-3 defense straight up, using a dominating front four that created pressure on the quarterback and a brick wall impenetrable for running backs.

And here is where we get to the largest discrepancy that should end any real discussion between the championship group and this year’s edition.

The secondaries.

Continue >>>

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Cory Redding

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Cory Redding on DC Pagano: “We play hard for Chuck…he’s a great coach and I’m proud to play for him”

Posted on 05 October 2011 by Ryan Chell

Jets coach Rex Ryan was loved by his players during his time in Baltimore from 1999-2008 large in part for his ability to allow his players to let loose and have some fun.

It allowed Ryan to get maximum potential and effort out of his players on defense, and guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed played their hearts out for him.

However, when Ryan left to coach the Jets in 2009, the Ravens were left with a fundamentalist in Greg Mattison at the helm and that appreciation was lost on the part of the players.

On Sunday with Rex Ryan on the opposing sideline, Ravens fans got a first-hand glance at a love growing on new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.

The beating the Jets took at the hands of the Ravens clearly showed that, and one of the players already heralding the efforts of Chuck Pagano is Ravens DL Cory Redding.

He explained that love and respect for their new boss to Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Monday following the Ravens 34-17 victory.

Cory Redding

“He never starts the meetings off without a joke and never finishes one without a laugh,” Redding told Clark. “We start off with jokes to relax the room a little bit, and then we get into the meetings to and do what we got to do to get our orders for the week.”

The players followed through on those orders.

Ravens safety Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and others forced four turnovers from Jets QB Mark Sanchez, turning three of them into touchdowns.

They held the Jets to just three points on offense, and just 150 total yards through four quarters of play.

The three scores-sparked by Reed’s strip sack that Jameel McClain converted for the opening touchdown-turned out to be a franchise best, and Redding actually told Clark that he saw this kind of performance a mile away given the confidence they had going forward.

“I knew something magical was going to happen because we’ve been practicing that play for three weeks,” Redding said of Reed’s blitz. “We ran it a couple times, but just to start the game off with that kind of attitude and mindset, we were hoping and surely Ed came free…that’s what set the tone for the game.”

And from there, Pagano had Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, and the Jets offense right where he wanted them.

“We have blitzes, but for the most part Chuck has things planned out and we just roll with him,” Redding said. “Whenever he gives us a call and says, ‘okay fellas, let’s go out there and make it happen’, we do.”

Redding also mentioned that Pagano wasn’t playing with a full deck either-missing several corners in Jimmy Smith, Chris Carr,  and LB Dannell Ellerbe among others.

What does that mean?

When they do get healthy (the Ravens had seven inactive players Sunday night-all of them suffering from injuries)-watch out.

“That speaks highly of this team…,” Redding said, “…the whole team are starters and when it’s your chance, you go out and play like a starter. That’s what the guys did-they stepped up and made plays.”

Redding said in the short time that Pagano has been their defensive coordinator that given the preparation he puts in toward making them better, they can only show him the same.

“The man is good about his craft and physicality and he knows defense. He’s a great coach, and I’m proud to play for him.”

What Redding is even more pleased about is the fact that despite dominating performances this year out of the Ravens defense against the Steelers (7 turnovers) and the Jets (3 TDs), Pagano still expects more out of them and never won’t be satisfied.

Redding wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The funny thing is despite the score and the touchdowns we had on defense…there were still a lot of mistakes and techniques that were messed up last night that fans don’t see. That all gets ironed out behind the scenes and so that’s how you create a better team.”

“Even though we dominated that team Sunday night, we still have areas to improve and work on,” Redding said.

Fortunately though, the head coach in John Harbaugh felt like those improvements could wait one week, and a great performance on Sunday night was rewarded with an entire week off for the players, making guys like Redding happy.

“Harbaugh’s a good coach,” Redding said. “He realizes we got a good thing going and the biggest thing for us is to rest…go relax, and get your mind off it a little bit.”

WNST thanks Cory Redding for joining Glenn Clark and is ready to welcome the Ravens back next week at Owings Mills! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens beat Jets 34-17 in a WTF? special

Posted on 03 October 2011 by Drew Forrester

Sunday night’s Ravens-Jets game reminded me of the first time I heard Marilyn Manson’s song “The Dope Show”.

When it ended, I said to myself, “What the hell was that?”

File it under “a win is a win” and move on, I suppose.

I figure it like this:  Both quarterbacks were pretty much terrible.

I’d rather have the terrible one whose team won.

So, in that regard, I’ll take Flacco and move on to the bye week.

But it was certainly a weird game on Sunday night, as the Ravens offense mixed one excellent quarter of football with three non-descript quarters.  And the defense came through with three scores.

The only thing missing was Kyle Boller.

The good news?  The Ravens are 3-1…which, after 4 games, is the minimum goal of any head coach (who tells the truth).  Do that three more times and you’ll be 12-4 at the end of the season and playing a home playoff game.

The bad news?  Well, there really isn’t any, per-se, although Flacco’s off performance and the lack of any real impact from Baltimore wide receivers on Sunday night could be construed as a step back.

It would be fair to give *some* credit to the Jets defense on Sunday night, as they held the Ravens offense to just one score and had a TD of their own.  It wasn’t a win for Rex Ryan, but his defense certainly came to play for the most part.

We’ll be breaking down the whole thing all day Monday on WNST Radio, so catch us there.  In the meantime, comments and thoughts are welcome below.

And if you don’t believe me about that Marilyn Manson song, go ahead and listen right here.  Afterwards, I bet you say to yourself, “What the hell?”

That’s precisely what I said after last night’s 34-17 win over the Jets.

But a win’s a win.

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