Tag Archive | "Rex Ryan"


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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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Haruki Nakamura

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Injured Ravens S Nakamura biggest regret in missing Jets-Ravens? Hitting Derrick Mason

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Ryan Chell


Haruki Nakamura

That’s how Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura felt last Sunday in the Ravens 37-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams after suffering a knee injury on a punt return with 0:27 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Usually if I can, I’m going to walk off the field on my own power,” he told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday. “That’s just how I’ve always been. I hate getting carried off the field.”

“It was one of those things, and when I was out there on my hands and knees and I couldn’t catch my breath-it was something I had never felt before.”

And what’s worse was he felt it was a low blow for a team getting blown out by the end of the first quarter.

“We were rushing the punter and we were 30 or 40 yards off the ball,” Nakamura told Clark. “Some guy came up from behind me and pushed me dead in the back.”

“He slammed me on the turf, so basically it was a cheap shot that’s going to put me out for a couple weeks,” Nakamura said.

Nakamura injured his PCL ligament in his right knee on the play, and the Ravens coaching staff initially feared that the safety would miss a considerable amount of time-maybe even the whole season-with a torn knee.

Luckily for John Harbaugh and the Ravens, an MRI only showed a sprain to the ligament and Nakamura told Clark that he could return after the bye week three Sundays from now against the Houston Texans.

“I think I’m the only lucky guy whose ever sprained it,” Nakamura laughed. “You never really hear about that injury, but it’s kind of weird that it happened to me.

Nakamura was just glad to hear that he could return to the football field in a matter of weeks as opposed to a year.

“Initially the doctors told me it was torn,” he said. “You can imagine what went through my head when I heard that…but [this] is easy to come back from.”

What makes it even worse for Nakamura is that he’s going to miss one of the biggest games of the year against his former coach in Rex Ryan and the Jets.

He’s already experienced that frustration this week at Owings Mills being in the training room all day while his teammates are out at practice.

“I’ve just been rehabbing very hard…actually I’ve been kind of bored…”, Nakamura admitted.

Still, he knows what Rex is going to bring to the table defensively Sunday night, and he knows that his other teammates share those similar expectations.

“You can almost call their plays,” Nakamura said. “The thing with Rex is it’s all about timing. Him and Mike Pettine have great timing when to call pressures and when to hold back.”

Nakamura put on his coaching hat and said that in order to beat the Jets and shut Rex Ryan up, you have to hit them in the mouth on both sides of the ball.

“We don’t back down from anything. We’re going to go right at them. That’s always been our approach and we’re not going to let them dictate our gameplan.”

His last regret?

Not being able to hit former Raven WR Derrick Mason going over the middle.

“It’s like hitting your brother. It’s all part of the game, ” Nakamura replied. “Obviously we’re not going to take it easy on Mase just cause he was here. It’s going to be a fun game.”

WNST thanks Haruki Nakamura for joining Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” If you missed the interview, check it out at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault and be sure to tune in Sunday at 6PM for your “Nasty Purple Pre-Game Show” leading up to kickoff!

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Ravens-Jets: Five predictions for Sunday night

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Ravens-Jets: Five predictions for Sunday night

Posted on 01 October 2011 by Luke Jones

Three weeks into the season, I’m still trying to figure out just how good the Ravens really are — or will be — in 2011.

A seven-turnover blowout win over their bitter rival, an embarrassing loss in Tennessee, and a 30-point victory over the hapless Rams don’t exactly allow you to draw a definitive conclusion, but that’s why they play the games.

On the other hand, the Jets’ two wins over Dallas and Jacksonville before being shredded by the Oakland Raiders leave you scratching your head even more.

The storylines don’t need to be rehashed again. These coaches and players know each other very well, making for a highly-competitive matchup at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday night. It’s a conference game with possible playoff implications down the road, so don’t let the early Week 4 billing fool you in its significance.

Here’s what to expect when Rex Ryan’s Jets visit John Harbaugh’s Ravens on Sunday night …

1. The Jets will spread out the Baltimore defense with three- and four-receiver sets to exploit a thin secondary. A tenuous situation at cornerback grew even worse on Friday with the news that veteran Chris Carr is questionable for Sunday after re-aggravating the hamstring injury he’s fought since the preseason. Couple that with the decision to place Domonique Foxworth on injured reserve, and the Ravens may be looking at former practice-squad player Danny Gorrer and rookie Chykie Brown as their only reserve cornerbacks behind Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams. If the Ravens are unable to pressure Mark Sanchez, they will be eaten alive by the receiving trio of Raven killer Santonio Holmes, the 6-foot-5 Plaxico Burress, and the old veteran Derrick Mason, who will have extra motivation to show up his former team.

2. Tight end Dustin Keller and running back LaDainian Tomlinson will exploit the Ravens linebackers in coverage. As mentioned in the previous point, the Ravens will need to send heat to make Sanchez uncomfortable and help an undermanned secondary. That will leave the defense vulnerable underneath as Sanchez loves to throw the ball to his favorite target Keller (16 catches for 249 yards). It’s no secret the Baltimore linebackers are often exposed in coverage by talented tight ends and running backs releasing out of the backfield. Baltimore may be able to bring enough heat on Sanchez to curtail Holmes from burning the Ravens again, but Keller and Tomlinson (12 catches, 196 yards) are going to have productive days as receivers.

3. Torrey Smith will not follow up his record day in St. Louis with a productive night — statistically speaking. The rookie will likely never have another first quarter like he did against the Rams last week, but the performance serves a bigger purpose for the rest of the season, especially not knowing the status of Lee Evans’ injured ankle moving forward. Smith is likely to struggle with the physicality and overall talent of Antonio Cromartie, who will likely match up with the former Maryland standout. However, the Ravens will still send Smith on vertical patterns to keep the Jets defense honest and, more importantly, create space for Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice, and the Ravens tight ends to work underneath. Predicting a productive day for Boldin is tough with Darrelle Revis locked on him, but the veteran will find some room to help move the chains. Smith may not log more than a reception or two, but his work in St. Louis could pay dividends in keeping opposing defenses cognizant of where he is on the field at all times.

4. Ray Rice will have 130 total yards and a touchdown against a Jets defense desperate to stop the run. Much has been said about New York’s 31st-ranked run defense after Raiders running back Darren McFadden ran for 171 yards against the Jets a week ago, but the Ravens aren’t buying the Jets’ early struggles. Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will be desperate to shut down the Baltimore running game, so Rice may not see as much running room. However, Joe Flacco’s ability to get Rice the ball in space will pay off in the passing game with Revis and Cromartie looming in the secondary. He won’t go for 100 on the ground, but Rice will more than make up for it catching passes out of the backfield and will score a touchdown against the New York defense.

5. The Ravens will win a 24-20 nail-biter with more points than you’d expect because of turnovers from both sides. Considering last year’s 10-9 final between these teams in their regular-season opener, it’s almost unthinkable to expect 44 points to be scored on Sunday night. However, both quarterbacks will see a variety of different looks in potential blitz packages and coverages, which will lead to confusion for Flacco and Sanchez. A few turnovers will lead to short fields and, potentially, a defensive score or two. The Ravens, however, are the more complete football team at the beginning of October and will improve to 3-1 before using a much-needed bye to rest several injured players.

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Old meets new: Ravens veterans see similarities between Pagano and Ryan

Posted on 29 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Rex Ryan and John Harbaugh will inevitably be linked through the rest of their coaching careers after the Ravens bypassed their then-defensive coordinator to hire Harbaugh in January 2008.

However, a more interesting comparison might be Ryan to the Ravens’ current defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. After all, Ryan never served in a head coaching capacity in Baltimore, but the brash son of Buddy Ryan led several outstanding defenses as coordinator from 2005 to 2008. He’s spent all but seven of his 25 years in coach at the NFL level.

Pagano spent 17 years coaching at the collegiate ranks before getting his first opportunity to coach the secondary of the Cleveland Browns in 2001. The 50-year-old joined the Baltimore staff in 2008, working first under Ryan and then Greg Mattison before finally getting the defensive coordinator job this offseason.

So, what did Pagano take away from his year working for Ryan?

“Coming from a football family, there is a wealth of knowledge there from a football and schematic standpoint, and those types of things,” said Pagano, who coached with Ryan’s twin brother Rob in Oakland for two years. “It was a great year for me, and also, a great year for Mattison and everybody else who had an opportunity to spend a year with him. It was really good for me and my maturation process.”

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Ravens defensive veterans such as Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, and Terrell Suggs are not bashful about their affection for Ryan — even three seasons after his departure — but many players get the same twinkle in their eyes when talking about their new defensive leader and the impact he’s had on the Baltimore defense.

“Both of them are very fiery, and I think [there are] a lot of similarities because both of them are ‘player’ coaches,” Lewis said. “They really relate to their players and things like that. Both of them are very outgoing. I think Chuck is more settled when it comes to [addressing] the outside world, but to us, Chuck is Chuck. That’s what we appreciate the most, and that’s why we’re doing the things we are doing because of the flexibility he gives us.”

After playing with a more conservative approach under Mattison the last two seasons, Pagano has preached a desire to be aggressive, and the strategy certainly worked when the Ravens accumulated nine sacks in their wins over Pittsburgh and St. Louis. However, Pagano had no answers for Tennessee when the Ravens gave up 358 passing yards to Matt Hasselbeck in a 26-13 loss.

The Jets have found uneven results defensively through their first three weeks, surprisingly ranking 31st against the run after Darren McFadden and the Oakland Raiders gouged New York for 234 rushing yards in a 34-24.

Despite the inconsistent results three weeks into the regular season, both teams have sterling defensive reputations, a point made in the Ravens’ brutally physical 10-9 win over the Jets a year ago. Three weeks into the Pagano era, perhaps the best way to label the coordinator is “Rex Ryan light”

“Rex gets a little more emotional with his calls,” linebacker Jarret Johnson. “If you torch Rex, [he’s] going to bring it at you just because you torched him. Chuck is a little more heady about it, but they’re both very aggressive.”

As for the comparisons his own players have made between him and Ryan, the Ravens coordinator believes his aggressiveness stems from the system put in place in Baltimore years ago rather than the heavy influence of Ryan.

“You always want to play to your strengths, and I think our strength is coming after people,” Pagano said. “We’ve got the guys to match up on the outside to cover. We’ve got guys that, when we send them, they get home. So, I think it’s just the personality and who we are.”

That pressure will need to be there against the Jets, who have averaged 278.7 passing yards per game through the first three weeks despite struggling to run the football (25th in run offense). Quarterback Mark Sanchez has thrown six touchdown passes and four interceptions through the first three games.

For Pagano, the memory of Tennessee’s Kenny Britt torching the Ravens secondary will likely be fresh in his mind as Baltimore tries to match up with talented receiver Santonio Holmes and the 6-foot-5 Plaxico Burress on Sunday night.

The memories of Holmes’ work as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Ravens has not been forgotten by Pagano.

“He’s a threat down the field,” he said. “He poses a threat, run after the catch. He’s been a Raven killer. I just go back to my nightmares, when I wake up in the middle of the night sweating. It’s because I think of 2008, the three losses in 2008. He had a hand in all of them.”

Neutralizing Holmes’ big-play ability will depend heavily on how much pressure the Ravens can create on Sanchez, something Pagano is well aware of. But he won’t be looking across the field trying to one-up his former mentor in Baltimore.

That’s not Pagano’s style.

“I’m just trying to be the same guy that I’ve always been,” Pagano said. “I’ve got to be true to who I am, and that’s really all I’m trying to do.”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Matt Birk, Chris Carr, Billy Cundiff, Jarret Johnson, Chuck Pagano, Cam Cameron, and Jerry Rosburg right here.

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Ravens-Jets week: The calm before the media storm?

Posted on 27 September 2011 by Luke Jones

Perhaps the only matchup that can even approach the same stratosphere as the Ravens’ biannual meetings — and a third, if we’re lucky — with the Pittsburgh Steelers is the occasional confrontation with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

If the bright lights of Sunday Night Football weren’t enough, the Ravens will be donning their all-black uniforms while the 2-1 Jets try to snap a six-game losing streak against Baltimore that dates all the way back to 1998. Since winning the first meeting between the teams in 1997 (played at Giants Stadium), the Jets have been beaten three times each in Baltimore and in their home stadium.

To the surprise of no one, a heated dynamic — if not a full-fledged rivalry — was born when Ryan left the Ravens to become the head coach of the Jets in 2009. Their meeting in Week 1 of last season spawned comments from Ray Lewis usually reserved solely for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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“I’m going to be very careful with this, we’re talking about the Jets like we’re talking about the Saints,” Lewis said prior to the Week 1 meeting last season. “That’s the Super Bowl champs. Until they play tonight, that’s the only people that can be dethroned. Drew Brees and the Saints, not Mark Sanchez and the Jets. All of this ‘We’re the Miami Heat of football.’ If you’re the Miami Heat, we got to be the Lakers and multiple rings.

And if that didn’t satisfy your appetite for what’s potentially on tap when the Ravens return to practice on Wednesday afternoon, Lewis offered the famous “buckle up your chinstrap” comment that epitomized the physical game we saw in the Ravens’ 10-9 win a year ago.

“The game ain’t played through tongues,” Lewis said. “The game is played when you buckle up your chin strap. So, all this pressure [Ryan] wants to put on his team, I hope they can cash the check that he writes.”

It will be nearly impossible to top the back-and-forth from a year ago that nearly made the actual game an afterthought with the needles being thrown in the week leading up to the Monday night affair.

But can they match it?

So far, no warning shots have been fired — particularly by the Jets after the Raiders ran for an astounding 234 yards against them in a humbling 34-24 defeat in Oakland. However, it’s difficult to envision the likes of Ryan, Lewis, Bart Scott, and Terrell Suggs making it through the entire week without a few interesting comments being offered to the virtual bulletin board for the opposition. These are the types of games that are a reporter’s dream: physical football with plenty of quotes and sound bytes to add fuel to the fire leading up to kickoff.

To no one’s surprise given his typical demeanor with the media, coach John Harbaugh’s Monday comments about the Jets were soaking wet firewood rather than kindling.

“They are a very good football team – very aggressive, very tough, very determined,” Harbaugh said. “They have a lot of playmakers – that’s the biggest thing. [They have] playmakers all over the field. I think when you see them win, they can win it in a lot of different ways. They can win by dominating the opponent, they can win by pulling it out at the end. That’s the mark of a good team – a winning team. That will be our challenge.”

Despite the complimentary statements from the Ravens coach, Harbaugh’s comments regarding potential barbs being exchanged left the door wide open for the louder personalities on the Ravens to fire shots up I-95 the remainder of the week.

“We always tell our guys really to be themselves,” said Harbaugh when asked if he would deter players from talking. “We don’t tell them not to say anything. We encourage them to be their best selves. I think our guys are pretty good guys, and our guys are classy guys. I’m sure our guys will have fun with it. I don’t think you will hear too much malicious [words] coming out of our guys. Our guys like those guys, so to speak. It will be good laughs listening to what comes out of New York, and we will be looking forward to it because it is always funny. It’s always entertaining. It makes it more fun.”

The roots connecting the Ravens and Jets run even deeper than the average fan realizes when you take a closer look at the two organizations. Players, coaches, and even front office personnel hold strong connections on a number of different levels.

Scott (2002-08), safety Jim Leonhard (2008), and wide receiver Derrick Mason (2005-2010) all found “greener” pastures after departing Baltimore. Mason’s move to the Jets will throw an intriguing wrinkle to this Sunday’s meeting, given the 37-year-old wideout’s tendency to hold court with the media from time to time.

In addition to Ryan (1999-2008), defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (2002-08), defensive line coach Mark Carrier (2006-09), quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh (1999-2004), and defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman (2002-07) spent time on the Baltimore coaching staff. On the flip side, Ravens wide receivers coach Jim Hostler coached the Jets’ quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2003 and 2004.

Even the offensive coordinators share a bond — though not through New York or Baltimore — as Cam Cameron and Jets coordinator Brian Schottenheimer were members of the Chargers’ offensive staff from 2002 to 2005 under former head coach Marty Schottenheimer.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Ravens architect Ozzie Newsome were both with the Cleveland Browns in 1995. While Newsome owned the title of director of pro personnel at the time, Tannenbaum was a player personnel assistant.

Despite the many ties throughout the organizations, it ultimately comes down to the players on the field, as much as Ryan might try to throw his name into the fray.

Yes, a mutual respect exists between the Ravens and Jets, but it won’t prevent the sides from being quiet this week.

At least we all hope.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 27 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Golf: PGA Tour Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open (Thursday-Sunday 4pm from Las Vegas live on Golf Channel), Champions Tour SAS Championship (Friday-Sunday 7:30pm from Cary, NC on Golf Channel); Preseason NHL: Buffalo Sabres @ Washington Capitals (Friday 7pm Verizon Center), Chicago Blackhawks @ Washington Capitals (Sunday 5pm from Verizon Center live on NHL Network); Canadian Football League: Edmonton Eskimos @ BC Lions (Friday 10:30pm from Vancouver live on NFL Network), Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Calgary Stampeders (Saturday 4pm from Calgary live on NFL Network); WNBA: Eastern Conference Finals Game 3-Atlanta Dream @ Indiana Fever (Tuesday 8pm from Indianapolis live on ESPN2), WNBA Finals: Atlanta/Indiana @ Minnesota (Sunday 8:30pm from Minneapolis live on ESPN); High School Football: Perry Hall @ Kenwood (Friday 7pm), Southern @ Glen Burnie (Friday 6:30pm)

10. Chris Brown (Wednesday 7pm 1st Mariner Arena); Enrique Iglesias/Pitbull (Tuesday 7pm Patriot Center); Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs (Thursday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks (Thursday 7pm Rams Head Live); Psychadelic Furs/Tom Tom Club (Thursday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage); Phil Vassar (Thursday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head On Stage); Matt Nathanson/Vanessa Carlton (Tuesday/Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), The Bridge (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club); George Thorogood & The Destroyers (Sunday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Elvis Costello & The Imposters (Thursday 8pm Warner Theatre), Joe Rogan (Friday 8pm Warner Theatre); Lindsey Buckingham (Friday 8pm Kraushaar Auditorium Goucher College); Bobcat Goldthwait (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Switchfoot “Vice Verses” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Wanna impress your old lady? Ray LaMontagne is probably the thing to do the trick…

I REALLY shouldn’t admit to how much I enjoy this new Matt Nathanson tune…

I hope that instead of Lindsey Buckingham actually PLAYING Goucher Saturday night, he’s instead pre-empted by DeAndre Cole…

If you’ve listened to “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net (and why in the HELL wouldn’t you?), you’ve heard me play the hell out of “Dark Horses” from the new Switchfoot disc. It’s a GREAT football tune…

9. Fells Point Fun Festival (Saturday & Sunday Fells Point); “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Friday); “50/50” opens in theaters (Friday); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday RennFest Fairgrounds Crownsville); Second City: Charmed & Dangerous (Tuesday-Saturday Center Stage)

The thing about Dark of the Moon is that it wasn’t great, but it WAS a chance for us to see Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s ass in the opening scenes. That’s pleasant…


And while we’re here, I’m buying in on 50/50. I think it looks like a winner in general. And I tend to be a fan of Seth Rogen’s work…

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