Tag Archive | "Rex Ryan"

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Troy Polamalu  of the Pittsburgh Steelers intercepts a pass from Carson Palmer  of the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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Sunday’s NFL action provides a clear message; Ravens are still a top team

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, I’m imagining most of us spent yesterday afternoon partaking in some similar Sunday rituals; gauging the competition around the National Football League, and collectively hoping the Cincinnati Bengals might find a way to upset our nemesis up in Pittsburgh.

In totality, the day offered some pretty daunting realities, both on and off the playing field …..

– Having a “trash bag” roof eventually proves to be a bad idea …..

– Tom Brady’s game is just as good on snow tires …..

– Rex Ryan’s Jets really are the NFL’s equivalent of the pro rasslin’ product …..

– While his comeback is pretty impressive, Mike Vick is NOT Tom Brady …..

– Brett Favre evidently owns a pretty sharp razor knife, and access to the dome’s roof …..

Indeed, yesterday was no ordinary Sunday around the NFL. The slate of games was less than impressive, as a large bulk of the contests were nothing more than mismatches. But, weather and interference by off-field personnel really provided some drama to what many of us perceived to be a day full of bad football.

Maybe, I’m being too harsh …..

Instances of occasional “bad football” at the pro level are generally a seldom-seen phenomenon, right? Of course, yesterday provided a few glaring examples of horrendous execution by teams vying for playoff position, as well as those playing out the string …..

– Graham Gano may very well find himself joining Jeff Reed in the unemployment line after missing an extra point and chip shot field goal, in the Redskins embarrassing loss against the Buccaneers …..

– Brodie Croyle and the Kansas City Chiefs mustered just 67 yards in total offense, while being shutout, 31-0, by the San Diego Chargers in a prime AFC-West showdown …..

– Mark Sanchez looked very much like the rookie from last season and the “clown” from HBO’s Hard Knocks, in the Jets second straight loss, which now tasks Gang-Green with trying to stem a late season collapse – on the road, in Pittsburgh, next week …..

– And, of course, speaking of the Steelers …. we must cite the “steaming stinker” Carson Palmer left on the newly sodded turf, at Heinz Field. Yesterday’s line for Palmer: 20 for 32, 178 yards & 2 touchdowns.

Not horrible, huh? Oh yeah, that’s right, those touchdown passes were both tossed into the waiting arms of Steelers defenders …..

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Troy Polamalu  of the Pittsburgh Steelers intercepts a pass from Carson Palmer  of the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Any chance of witnessing a ‘Bungals upset of the Steelers was lost amid predictable breakdowns and missed assignments. Welcome to the 2010 edition of the “Great Cincinnati Disaster”. While they punished Ben Roethlisberger early in the game and even broke out to a quick lead, the ‘Bungals looked very much like a certain black and orange baseball product.

Cincinnati’s string of consecutive losses now stands at TEN AND COUNTING. Given the knuckleheads on that roster, it might be a good idea for the networks to consider slotting this 2-11 team into a nationally televised contest or two.

Say what you will, I’ve got a feeling the ‘Bungals have a “meltdown moment”; a behemoth mutinous catastrophe on the field and I don’t wanna miss it !!!!

In summing up everything observed in yesterday’s NFL action, I’m developing some pretty distinct conclusions:

We are going to see one of the season-long contenders go down in bursting flames over the final few weeks of the regular season …..

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FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots greets teammates during warms up against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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I hope the Ravens watched Monday Night Football …..

Posted on 07 December 2010 by Rex Snider

When I plopped down into my Lazy Boy recliner for last night’s showdown between the New England Patriots and New York Jets, I prepared myself for a second straight night of hard fought football between two hated rivals.

Yet, what I observed was an absolute dismantling of a team that has flirted with LOSING for the last six weeks …..

Last night, Rex Ryan and his Jets were “schooled” by the quarterback and coach who’ve served as their obsession in the AFC-East. To say it was a beatdown kinda falls short of the absolute mastery displayed by the Patriots.

I was not surprised to see the Jets lose the game, but I was absolutely stunned to see Mark Sanchez and company get their heads handed to them. They’ve played excruciatingly close contests with the Lions, Browns and Texans over the past month, and whispers of OVERRATED have been getting louder and louder.

I’ll humbly admit that seeing Rex Ryan and GANG GREEN suffering a one-sided loss was pretty satisfying. I really, really like Rex and I think his personality will ultimately lead him down the path of becoming our generation’s next “John Madden” personality.

But, I’ve still got the putrid, pompous taste of last summer’s HARD KNOCKS burned into my short term memory. Based solely on the swagger and ego of the Jets, I’ve wanted to see them throttled. Thus, I found last night’s result to be pretty pleasurable.

However, I think this game really served a greater purpose, especially for a team like the Baltimore Ravens …..

I hope those minds assembled within the Ravens offensive braintrust were watching the Patriots bludgeoning of their divisional rival. I don’t care where they were watching, so long as they got a good look at it.

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots greets teammates during warms up against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Why? It’s simple …. that’s how you kick another team’s ass !!!!

That’s how you find weaknesses and exploit them. That’s how you seize an early lead and methodically dissect an opposing defense, while ultimately forcing their offense to change its gameplan.

Call it what you will, the Patriots served up a blueprint for talented offenses around the National Football League …..

If you’re sitting back and thinking “well, the Patriots have Tom Brady,” that’s fine and certainly noteworthy, but the rest of their cast is arguably lesser talented than the playmakers comprising the Ravens offensive attack.

I’ll take Ray Rice and Willis McGahee over Ben Jarvis Green Ellis and Danny Woodhead ….

I’ll take Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh over Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and Deion Branch ….

Admittedly, the Patriots probably have a stronger offensive line; they’re certainly healthier. But, Brady isn’t solely dependent upon pocket protection. He typically holds the ball for an incredibly brief second or two, before hitting one of his targets for a usual 5-8 yard gain on a quick route.

The Patriots are innovative, yet predictably methodical in their unveiling of a singular strategy that usually emphasizes on wounding a defense, before bleeding them to death over a stretch of 60 minutes.

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Ngata

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The ‘fall’ of the Ravens defense started many Aprils ago

Posted on 17 November 2010 by Luke Jones

If you’ve been wearing out your Greg Mattison dartboard over the last several weeks, you’re probably not alone.

After all, the current Ravens defensive coordinator is solely responsible for the fall of a once-dominant unit all the way to 10th in the NFL, right?

(As an aside, how spoiled are we to be frustrated with a unit still better — statistically — than 22 other defenses in the league?)

From eliminating the submissive three-man rush to playing tighter, press coverage in the secondary, Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, or Rex Ryan would be coaching this defense to the elite level it enjoyed over the last decade instead of the mortal status it currently holds.

If only it were that simple.

Placing blame on a few individuals is common practice (Mattison, maligned cornerback Fabian Washington, and, until recently, “overrated” linebacker Terrell Suggs are popular targets these days), but the defensive problems run far deeper.

Personnel issues, aging stars, a key injury (anyone remember Domonique Foxworth?), and — perhaps — coaching shortcomings have left the Ravens with an above-average defense pursuing ghosts of dominance on the M&T Bank Stadium turf.

Truth be told, the current deterioration of the Baltimore defense began years ago, even while the unit was enjoying perennial elite status.

Anyone who’s followed Ozzie Newsome’s 15 years in Baltimore knows organizational success begins and ends in April. Shrewd trades and a sprinkling of free-agent signings have contributed over the years, but the Ravens have traditionally made their money with the NFL Draft, especially on the defensive side of the football.

Ngata
(Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)

And herein lies the problem with the current defense.

Since the Ravens drafted Suggs with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft, Newsome has used only one first-round pick on a defensive player, tackle Haloti Ngata in 2006.

By no means is that an indictment of Newsome, director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, and the scouting department in Owings Mills. The Ravens had no choice but to address the offensive side of the football in hopes of reaching the pinnacle of the NFL.

If defense alone truly wins championships, the Ravens would have a showcase full of Vince Lombardi Trophies in the lobby at 1 Winning Drive, but Baltimore has fallen short with a number of elite defenses, all because of offensive units that couldn’t get out of their own way.

As a result, the team has used five of its last six first-round picks on offensive players, including quarterback Joe Flacco (2008) and current starting linemen Ben Grubbs (2007) and Michael Oher (2009). Meanwhile, the defense largely maintained the status quo, carrying the mantra of dominance for years.

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Perhaps seeing leaks last season, the front office emphasized defense in April, drafting Sergio Kindle from Texas and the mammoth Terrence Cody from Newsome’s alma mater of Alabama. Ultimately, a draft’s success cannot be gauged for a few years, but the short-term return has been negligible halfway through the 2010 season.

In fairness, if you could have predicted Kindle’s fall down two flights of stairs in late July, forget about running an NFL front office; I’m asking you for this weekend’s winning lottery numbers.

Cody, on the other hand, still has time to contribute in the short-term and has played better in the Ravens’ last two games after a slow start to his professional career.

But one draft was not going to fix a philosophical shift in recent years that focused on offense with defensive upgrades taking a backseat. A simple look at the defensive picks in the Ravens’ first three rounds since 2004 shows the underwhelming results (the round in which the player was selected is noted in parentheses):

2004: DE Dwan Edwards (2nd)
2005: LB Dan Cody (2nd)
2006: DT Haloti Ngata (1st), CB David Pittman (3rd)
2007: None
2008: LB Tavares Gooden (3rd), S Tom Zbikowski (3rd)
2009: DE Paul Kruger (2nd), CB Lardarius Webb (3rd)
2010: LB Sergio Kindle (2nd), DT Terrence Cody (2nd)

Far more alarming than the lack of first-round selections is the volume of players who failed to make an impact as higher selections. Dan Cody (injuries) and Pittman (ineffectiveness) barely made it on the field in their brief time in Baltimore, and it remains unknown whether Kindle will ever play again, let alone contribute at a high level.

Other players, such as Edwards before signing with Buffalo last offseason, Gooden, and Kruger, have been little more than role players, contributing at times but failing to make a significant impact, though recent draft picks deserve more time to develop.

In contrast, a look at the Ravens’ defensive selections in the first three rounds from 1996 to 2003 shows a much different picture:

1996: LB Ray Lewis (1st), CB DeRon Jenkins (2nd)
1997: LB Peter Boulware (1st), LB Jamie Sharper (2nd), S Kim Herring (2nd)
1998: CB Duane Starks (1st)
1999: CB Chris McAlister (1st)
2000: None
2001: CB Gary Baxter (2nd)
2002: S Ed Reed (1st), DE Anthony Weaver (2nd)
2003: LB Terrell Suggs (1st)

The number of players chosen is similar (11 defensive players chosen in eight years compared to the 10 defenders selected in the seven drafts since 2004), but every player on the latter list started multiple seasons — many of them at elite levels — except Jenkins, who was largely considered a bust in his four years with the Ravens. Of course, the six first-rounds selections paid the largest dividends, but their other picks made significant contributions as well.

Looking at their draft record since 2004 and comparing it to the franchise’s first eight years in Baltimore reveals that in addition to the front office using fewer first-round picks on defensive players, it hasn’t been nearly as successful finding defensive talent in the second and third rounds, especially at cornerback where the unit currently struggles.

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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Randy Moss slap hands after a completion against the New England Patriots in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 31, 2010.    REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

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Randy Moss: has baggage …. will travel

Posted on 02 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Just go ahead and admit it …..

As soon as you’re convinced Bill Belichick has finally outsmarted himself and pulled the trigger on a dumb deal, he figuratively fools all of us and snookers another sucker.

Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of the very public divorce between Randy Moss and the New England Patriots. It’s offically been 27 days, so my conflicted memory still recalls the morning the news broke, quite vividly.

While the deal was not an earth-shattering shocker, it did fuel reaction from a lot of sideline critics. As the football world learned Bill Belichick dealt his sole deep threat receiver to the Minnesota Vikings, a collective bewildering day of sports talk commenced.

Randy Moss was returning HOME, to the team and city where his Hall Of Fame career began. And, all seemed right in Minneapolis ….

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre and wide receiver Randy Moss slap hands after a completion against the New England Patriots in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 31, 2010.    REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Brett Favre was being teamed with a guy who could catch those Sportscenter-highlighted touchdowns.

Brad Childress was acquiring the player who could validate all the effort devoted to kissing Favre’s ass for an entire offseason.

And, poor Bill Belichick was selling on the “short” …. while walking away with just a measly 3rd round pick in next April’s NFL draft.

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raylewisorangejumpsuit1

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Ray Lewis past, present and future: Is it safe to say the Ghost of Ray has passed?

Posted on 26 October 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I was sitting in a Canton restaurant six weeks ago doing a WNST.net sales presentation and out of the corner of my eye I caught a purple flash. There, larger than life was the familiar sight of Ray Lewis coming down on Darren Sproles on the San Diego turf last fall on all of the flat screens at once in a jarring HD highlight reel, then pounding more running backs, belting quarterbacks and creating that beautiful purple havoc that we’ve grown to love to watch on Sunday afternoons in Baltimore.

The volume was down but it didn’t take me long to realize that Steve Sabol and a series of former Ravens coaches were doing a roundtable conversation about the career of Ray Lewis and I realized this was the NFL Films special that was shot in Orlando back during the NFL Owners Meetings that I attended. It was the same day when I spent time with all of these same people – Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Mike Singletary – for a coffee table conversation book I’m working on about the lineage of Baltimore coaching and leadership.

In case you missed any of the segments on NFL.com from the Orlando conversation here’s a link…

But this wasn’t any restaurant I sitting in last month – this was Ray Lewis’ former Full Moon BBQ dream that is now The Fieldhouse next to the Canton Can Company.

On the same walls that served as a civic homage to all things No. 52, a place where Ray’s dream of being a successful restaurant owner and entrepreneur failed, it was sadly bittersweet to see Lewis flying on the walls

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Ravens 10-Pack: Baltimore feeling Super at 4-1

Posted on 12 October 2010 by Luke Jones

Even with the daunting task of traveling to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots this Sunday, you have to feel good about the Ravens’ 4-1 start and the early lead atop the AFC North with the first month of the season already in the books.

With three of the first four on the road (two of them division games), you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought the Ravens would fare better than they have after road victories against the Jets and Steelers. And when you take a look around the rest of the league, the Ravens’ accomplishments look even more impressive.

Parity is a word all-too-familiar to NFL fans, but the notion seemed to be waning over the last few seasons with the regular-season success of the 2007 Patriots and extended runs at perfection by the Colts and Saints last year. However, with the 1972 Dolphins uncorking the champagne before Columbus Day — with no 4-0 teams in the NFL since 1970 — and only eight teams sporting one loss through the first five weeks of the season, 2010 appears up for grabs in mid-October.

Are the Ravens the best team in the NFL?

Being this early, who cares? But it’s difficult to argue any team has looked better than Baltimore.

If the Ravens can beat New England (3-1), it will mark just the second 5-1 start in franchise history, the other coming in the 2000 season.

However, for some perspective, at the time of the 5-1 start, Tony Banks was the starting quarterback and the Ravens had just won their second straight game without scoring a touchdown.

Things changed very quickly — in a bad way — before a historic run began and Trent Dilfer and the Ravens found themselves holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of January.

1. Since taking over as head coach in 2008, John Harbaugh has shown the uncanny ability to take care of business against inferior teams, home or away.

In 37 regular season games under Harbaugh, the Ravens have never lost to a team that finished the season with a losing record. As unimpressive as that might sound to the casual observer, you’ll find a “bad” loss by a playoff-caliber team nearly every week in the NFL.

Of course, the opposite argument can be made that the Ravens have fallen short too many times against quality opponents — especially last season when they struggled to get to the playoffs at 9-7 — but winning the games you’re supposed to win and holding your own against winning teams will put you in an enviable position.

The postseason.

Time will determine whether their Week 2 loss in Cincinnati breaks the string, but the Harbaugh-led Ravens have managed to avoid the unwarranted defeats the team suffered in previous seasons.

2. All eyes will be on Bill Belichick and the Patriots in their first game since trading disgruntled receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings and re-acquiring former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. The removal of Moss will undoubtedly impact the New England offense, but how much?

Expect a little gadgetry on Sunday as Tom Brady deciphers where everyone fits in the post-Moss era.

Of course, Belichick had an extra week to figure it out with the Patriots’ Week 5 bye, and his record in New England coming off the bye week is an impressive 8-2, including seven straight wins. But before we write off the Ravens at Gillette Stadium and bow to the genius of Belichick, we should remember that four of the last six have come against the Buffalo Bills.

Not to belittle an impressive feat, but game-planning against a team led in recent years by the likes of Dick Jauron and Mike Mularkey is a bit easier than facing the team that blasted you in the playoffs just nine months ago.

In the Harbaugh era, the Ravens are 2-1 when playing teams coming off their bye week. All three games were last season, which included wins against Cleveland and Denver as well as a road loss to Cincinnati.

3. Putting aside the obvious threat of Brady to Wes Welker, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s biggest concern might be a pair of rookie tight ends.

Through the Patriots’ first four games, Welker leads the team in receptions (26), but not receiving yards. That distinction belongs to Aaron Hernandez (18 catches for 240 yards) despite being the second tight end drafted (fourth round) by New England in April. Rob Gronkowski, a second-round selection, has posted modest numbers (six catches for 62 yards) but was an impressive talent eyed by the Ravens leading up to the draft.

The Ravens have struggled covering the intermediate middle of the field in recent years, so the inside linebacker corps of Ray Lewis, Jameel McClain, and Dannell Ellerbe will need to keep a close eye on these rookie targets.

4. As much as we lamented the absence of Matt Stover a season ago, let’s tip our caps to Billy Cundiff. His ability to boot the football deep into the end zone on kickoffs is an underappreciated factor in the Ravens being 4-1.

His four touchbacks against the Broncos on Sunday matched the total number by Baltimore kickers all of last year.

Whispers of Stover will not dissipate — if they ever do — until we see Cundiff make a 47-yarder to win a late-season game, but the distinct upgrade on kickoffs cannot be overlooked.

As great as Stover was with the game on the line, fans easily forget his kickoffs barely traveling inside the 10-yard line, often setting up the opponent with good field position.

5. Plenty has been said about Cam Cameron’s choice to use Haloti Ngata at tight end on Sunday’s opening drive and the near-disaster that followed with the defensive tackle down on the field.

I offer you three names: James Jones (1996), Herman Arvie (1996), and Jonathan Ogden (1996 and 2003), three linemen who all registered touchdown catches with the Ravens.

The difference in this case? Cameron and Harbaugh have too many offensive weapons at their disposal to risk losing one of the greatest defensive players in the game today. Why spend draft picks on two tight ends to complement Todd Heap and then risk your best defensive player trying to be too cute?

Ngata playing offense was a fun spectacle until we saw what nearly happened with the Ravens’ season flashing before the eyes of 71,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium.

Lesson learned — hopefully.

6. It was natural for questions to arise whether the Ravens had any interest in bringing back Antwan Barnes after he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles last week, but  Harbaugh promptly shot down the idea on Monday. (Update: Barnes signed a contract with the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday afternoon)

In three years with the Ravens, the linebacker-defensive end managed only five sacks and sealed his fate last October when he whiffed on a tackle of Cedric Benson that led to a 28-yard touchdown run and an eventual loss to the Bengals.

Barnes is too small to provide help at defensive end, where the Ravens need a consistent pass-rush threat, and not athletic enough to play linebacker on every down. If they didn’t want him before the season, what would have changed a month later?

“I haven’t had a conversation with him,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “We don’t really have a roster opportunity right now for that. We wouldn’t be opposed to it. Antwan’s a good person, a good player. Obviously, he’s done some good things here. But, right now, there’s no way roster-wise we could pull that off.”

In other words, “Thanks, but no thanks — we’ve moved on.”

7. If all goes to plan and you believe the recent comments made by Harbaugh, Sunday will mark the final game before All-Pro safety Ed Reed returns to the 53-man roster after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list.

During training camp, I said Tom Zbikowski would do an adequate job at free safety in Reed’s absence, and the third-year safety has done just that. So with the Ravens currently having the second-best pass defense in the NFL (behind only the New York Giants), the question must be asked:

How well will Reed fit into the secondary when he returns to the starting lineup?

The Baltimore defense no longer plays the exotic, aggressive schemes of Rex Ryan, but employs a conservative, “bend, but don’t break” style under Mattison. Reed has always gambled in the defensive backfield, at times leaving teammates out to dry in coverage while also making some of the greatest plays in NFL history.

With the 32-year-old returning from hip surgery, it will be interesting to see whether Reed takes a more conservative approach in coverage or returns with a bigger chip on his shoulder to prove he’s still one of the best defensive players in the league and deserving of the new contract he so desperately wants. If Reed proves to be a lesser player than he was prior to the hip procedure but plays with the same aggressive style, the secondary could be more vulnerable to the big play.

That said, it is hard to doubt a player who will one day be enshrined in Canton.

8. Speaking of injured players, you have to wonder how long the Ravens will continue to wait for Jared Gaither to return. Other than being a limited participant in one practice a couple weeks ago, the offensive tackle has been out with a thoracic disc injury since training camp.

With roster decisions looming with Reed and fellow PUP list members Brendon Ayanbadejo and Matt Lawrence, Ozzie Newsome and Harbaugh may need to pull the plug on the projected starter at right tackle.

The improved play of Marshal Yanda at right tackle and Chris Chester at right guard has eased concerns on the right side of the line. Cohesion upfront is difficult to develop, so Gaither’s potential return would require another period of adjustment, something the coaching staff might be uncomfortable with later in the season.

Keep in mind, Gaither has not played right tackle regularly since the early part of his collegiate career at Maryland, so this isn’t a savvy veteran who can step right in to his regular position when healthy.

If Gaither does not make significant progress by the bye week, his season will likely come to a disappointing end.

9. Much has been said about the return of the three-headed running attack and the 2008-like feel to Sunday’s win over the Broncos, but don’t expect it to last.

Like it or not, the Ravens’ current profile is a pass-first team that runs the ball efficiently. The dominating 233-yard rushing performance against Denver was more the effect of a comfortable lead than some epiphany for Cameron.

Of Joe Flacco’s 97 completions through five games, 50 have been for under 10 yards, looking a little like the “running” game of the Patriots with Brady under helm. However, his 6.6 yards per attempt (the lowest of his career) needs to increase for the offense to continue growing.

Despite the profile change — which really began last season — the ability to pound the football looms large when the elements grow harsh, and the Ravens will use it when appropriate.

10. Ranking 19th in the league in total offense (328.2 yards per game) and tied for 17th in points scored (18.4 per game), the Baltimore offense has room for improvement with Cameron and Flacco trying to distribute the ball to keep a plethora of talented players — and egos — happy.

As well as the defense has played, it hasn’t done its counterpart any favors in the turnover department with only three takeaways and a -6 turnover differential, both last in the AFC.

Nothing gives an offense more confidence than starting drives on a short field, and a few more turnovers might be the serum the offense needs to excel. Fortunately, the defense and kick coverage has played well enough to win the field-position battle in most instances, but the turnover differential must improve if the Ravens are to take a step toward elitism, offensively and as a team.

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Ravens catching a break in New England ???

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Ravens catching a break in New England ???

Posted on 06 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Yes, I’m quite aware of the Baltimore Ravens schedule of regular season matchups, and this week features a visit from the Denver Broncos. It’s the second home game of the year and John Harbaugh’s squad is reasonably favored by 7 solid points.

I don’t look ahead ….. and I’m certainly not looking beyond Josh McDaniels’ very capable passing attack.

Heck, I would take Denver and the touchdown, if I gambled on football. That said, I still think the Ravens will win the game.

But, beyond this week, a very interesting matchup looms. Just one week from today, the Ravens and every individual who covers, follows and supports the team will be focusing on the New England Patriots.

While I know many observers are relying on last season’s playoff beatdown of Tom Brady as a means for justification in counting on a WIN in the upcoming trip to Foxboro, a proportionate number of us are little more cautious.

Regardless of what happened just 9 short months ago, things can and will change …..

Tom Brady is one of those ELITE quarterbacks we like discussing, when proposing the future aspirations of Joe Flacco. Brady possesses a methodical technique to spreading the ball around, while picking upon vulnerabilities of a defense.

Back in January, Brady’s options were far less numbered than usual. His new tight end options, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, were still in college. Newly acquired running back, Danny Woodhead, was part of Rex Ryan’s depth chart, in New York. And, Randy Moss was hobbled by injury – as the game against the Ravens clearly demonstrated.

Oh yeah, and this guy was done for the season.
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I’m not suggesting Wes Welker would’ve turned the table in that loss to the Ravens. John Harbaugh had his team prepared to play and they simply beat New England in every facet of the game.

However, in just 11 short days, the scene could appear differently ….. MUCH DIFFERENTLY.

And, it could end up benefiting the Ravens.

Last night, rumors regarding Randy Moss started circulating. Specifically, the information indicated Moss might be returning to the Minnesota Vikings, via trade.

This morning, the rumors are becoming more concrete and several sources (including the WORLD WIDE LEADER) are confirming a trade will be completed today. Of course, it hinges on Moss getting a contract extension – and more money.

Such a deal makes sense on many levels.

The Vikings desperately need to find a capable set of hands for the landing end of Brett Favre’s passes. And, a deep threat would be icing on the cake. Oh yeah, and Moss obviously knows the Vikings organization.

Perhaps, some mitigating reasons are at play, as well …..

I think many of us can envision a scenario where Favre packs up his Minny-circus for good, especially if the team is languishing below the .500 mark when November rolls around. And, given the underachieving play of the highly touted Green Bay Packers, the Vikings brass might sense an opportunity opening up.

Indeed, I can reasonably foresee a trade of Moss being beneficial for both organizations, especially if the Patriots yield some young defensive depth in return. Although, it would be a textbook Patriots move in simply collecting high draft picks in return.

Of all the reasons contemplated for predicting a trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings, the most daunting is undoubtedly tied to this mad scientist …..
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The entire football world knows Randy Moss is unhappy with his contract situation. It’s the same unprofessional load of crap that resulted in his ugly divorce from the Vikings, following the 2004 season.

Moss became a distraction for the Vikings. He undermined the mission of the team and his coach, Mike Tice.

The same situation appears to be blossoming, in New England. He’s getting louder and louder about his contractual bitterness. He didn’t catch a single pass in Monday’s victory against Miami, and he reportedly had “words” with Bill Belichick, yesterday.

That’s a bad move ….. unless, of course, the intent was to expedite a deal.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the New England Patriots, I think everyone with a CLUE realizes who really runs, controls and commands that organization. Bill Belichick is without a shadow of doubt, the H.M.F.I.C. of that team.

Nobody challenges his authority. And, if someone commits such an act, they’ll receive a departure ticket out of Logan Airport pretty quickly. Just ask Deion Branch or Adalius Thomas.

As I write this blog, many syndicated voices are flushing the collective 2010 competitive chances of the Patriots directly down the toilet …..

I’m not buying that bill of goods.

I’ve watched, too many times, as ELITE quarterbacks have introduced talented wideouts as overnight rockstars. Do you really think Austin Collie would be a top performer in Tennessee, Cleveland or Seattle? Would Marques Colston be a premier threat in Arizona, Carolina or Buffalo?

The key to the New England Patriots remains the same as it has for the last decade …..
.

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Tom Brady has ushered a far lesser talented receiving corps into a Super Bowl and won it. Just look at the 2004 edition of that team. (RIGHT HERE)

Without Randy Moss, it’s fair to say the New England Patriots cache’ of receivers is every bit as talented as the Indianapolis Colts’ crew. Is anyone counting them out?

This situation is simply reflective of what happens when a guy disrupts the environment of Bill Belichick’s team. Nothing more, nothing less …..

While I still respect the Patriots as a contender for the AFC crown, I’m pretty upbeat about the Ravens chances in next week’s trip to New England. And, if Randy Moss is no longer there, I’m even more optimistic about the Ravens chances.

While the Ravens are only 4 games into the regular season schedule, they’ve luckily avoided any ELITE quarterback/deep threat combinations. Indeed, the trip to New England serves as a formidable test for Greg Mattison’s secondary unit. With the reported, impending departure of Randy Moss, the gameplan will undoubtedly be a little simpler, right?

I’m certain the Moss situation is a distant consideration for John Harbaugh’s staff. That’s right, they’re squarely focused on Kyle Orton and the Denver Broncos. The Ravens will not be looking beyond this Sunday’s game.

But, when next Monday arrives, they might be really happy to see Randy Moss playing on Monday Night Football ….. for the Vikings.

And, wouldn’t you know it, that game is against the Patriots’ divisional rival; Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. Indeed, that’s CLASSIC Belichick.

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Trevor Pryce Headed To The Big Apple …..

Posted on 30 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, if you subscribe to the WNST Text Service, you’re already aware of the news regarding FORMER Ravens defensive lineman, Trevor Pryce …..

Believe me, there is a reason why I emphasized the word FORMER. This morning, Rex Ryan swooped in and pulled a fast one on his former employers by inking Pryce to a new deal for the remainder of the season.

The Jets have been dealing with issues and injuries to their D-Line, since the opener against the Ravens, a couple weeks ago. But, I’m sure it’s a sweet day for “Team Ryan,” nonetheless.

As always, Glenn Clark is on the scene in Owings Mills and he’ll be reporting throughout the day, at 1570am and WNST.net …..

Stay tuned AND IF YOU’RE NOT ON THE WNST TEXT SERVICE, SIGN UP TODAY !!!!!

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Bench Flacco for Bulger? Are you people on dope?

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

In the era of the internet, it doesn’t take long to ferret out the bitchers, moaners, whiners, complainers and bridge jumpers on a fall NFL Sunday afternoon. Being the social media zealot that I am, it’s easy to feel the temperature of the never-ending Baltimore “barstool” here at WNST.net during our Purple Haze live chats as well as all over Facebook and Twitter during games. For an old fart like me, it’s quite compelling (if not entertaining) to gauge the shaky and ever-changing morale of the purple fan base during each possession, each drive and each success and failure by the Ravens.

To say Sunday’s performance by Joe Flacco was a hot button would be an understatement. I could only hope that the Orioles 14-year free-fall would have such relevance and concern to the Baltimore sports community.

Sure, Flacco stunk. He stunk early and often and looked bewildered at different points during the first half of a 5-for-18, 23-yard first half. The second half started with a solo burst of offensive success as Flacco led the team into the Bengals’ end zone on the initial drive but in the end it wasn’t good enough as he threw four interceptions in a wretched 15-10 loss in Cincinnati, where the Ravens haven’t won since Anthony Wright was commandeering the purple ship. As Flacco said in his somber post-game comments, it wasn’t his best day or one that he’ll look back on with pride.

Seeing Flacco play through pain last December and January (while John Harbaugh continually lied to the fan base and everyone else while his quarterback limped on and off the field) and seeing him get up from brutal hits over and over again should speak to the resilience of No. 5. He’s not a particularly compelling personality or interviewee but you can’t question the kid’s toughness – physically or mentally at this point – and certainly his ability and the positive results speak for themselves.

If there’s ever a guy who we have to expect to bounce back from a bad day or should be given a “hall pass” for a stinker, it’s Flacco. In his two-plus years here, he’s been dubbed “Joe Cool” for a reason. Your blood might curdle and your emotions might shoot high and low, but Flacco is unflappable in most circumstances that I’ve witnessed – on and off the field.

So while the reactionaries and arm-chair head coaches are yelling the “Bench Flacco” refrains – and it’s more comical (if not sad, really) — the very real concerns I have are more about the locker room than the barstool.

It’s now common knowledge that Anquan Boldin went postal on Flacco in the locker room during a halftime rant that apparently has alarmed more than one person in the organization who witnessed it within the bowels of Paul Brown Stadium around 2:20 p.m. on Sunday.

Boldin, who is most famous around the NFL for chewing out his then-offensive coordinator Todd Haley during the NFC Championship Game two seasons ago, might’ve had his own way of motivating Flacco, who clearly responded in some positive fashion on the first drive culminating with a 31-yard TD pass to Derrick Mason.

But the demeanor of the locker room and the many outsized egos of the offensive personnel is a much larger issue than whether Marc Bulger should be inserted as a starting quarterback.

Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, whose new “rah-rah” coach in Seattle wanted no part of even having him on the roster four weeks ago, lived in a constant circus in Cincinnati with his offensive unit’s personalities. He’s grown up immersed in the drama of “gimme the ball.”

And Mason has been a grandstander (some might call it a “leader”) of the largest magnitude both in Tennessee and here in Baltimore over the past five years, especially when the ball hasn’t been thrown in his direction.

And running backs? Ray Rice is clearly the guy who should be getting the ball but former college superstar and first-round draft pick Willis McGahee thinks he’s still a No. 1 back. And fullback LeRon McClain would rather carry the ball than block and had his own level of success two seasons ago when he was asked to shoulder the load. McGahee got the ball three times yesterday and McClain just once.

Did we mention tight ends? The Ravens now have three legitimate weapons there with Todd Heap, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who are all more offensive-minded than stay-at-home blockers in the system.

So, here’s the biggest problem: they still only play with one ball in the NFL. There’s only one place Flacco can throw the ball at any given time and that’s only when he’s not running for his life after the offensive line deteriorates in front of him. Cam Cameron and Flacco have a lot of egos to feed, especially the morning after losses when the quarterback struggles and the wide receivers don’t get the damned ball.

It’s not hyperbole to say that the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town and with our fabled quarterback history here dating back to Vinny Testaverde, Eric Zeier and Scott Mitchell, yelling for the No. 2 will seemingly always be in vogue in tough times for many “real” and “educated” Ravens fans.

So, then, assuming the obvious that a quarterback change is the last thing on the mind of Harbaugh and Cameron, what’s really wrong with Flacco and the offense that a home game against the once-again lowly Cleveland Browns can’t fix?

Let’s start with better play from the offensive line, which hasn’t really done Flacco any favors in regard to giving him an appropriate amount of time to execute the offense with the injury to Jared Gaither and the constant flip-flopping of the personnel.

This week the Ravens will get a reprieve. They have a full week of rest. Finally, they’ll have a home game against the once-again 0-2 Browns, who have their own coaching and quarterback controversies to debate. (Unlike the Ravens, they have some real problems over on the shores of Lake Erie.)

Flacco has only led the team to two consecutive playoff berths and an AFC Championship Game in his two seasons in Baltimore. If he hasn’t bought himself a “free pass” for an awful effort against a rock-solid Cincinnati Bengals defensive unit, then we just have awful, unappreciative and uneducated fans.

The Ravens are 1-1. They were underdogs in both games and played on the road against back-to-back playoff teams that also used their respective off-seasons to improve. And defense and defensive pressure and scheme confusion are the calling cards of the Bengals and Jets defenses. (And if you look behind the bench, you’ll see two of the finest defensive minds in the game, who both sport gold, diamond rings with purple birds and “Invictus” slogans.)

Don’t jump off the purple bridge just yet!

And please don’t yell “Bench Flacco” or write it on Facebook or Twitter during the second quarter of the second week of the season and then expect me to think you know anything about football.

The Ravens lost 15-10. The defense was its usual self and if the Terrell Suggs roughing call wasn’t made there’s a decent chance the Ravens could be 2-0 this morning. And let’s not forget the special teams meltdown on the kickoff in the fourth quarter, which was the beginning of the end in Cincinnati.

It’s not time to panic. It’s certainly not the time to even discuss benching Joe Flacco for Marc Bulger in Baltimore.

Let’s discuss how to get the ball to these hungry and capable wide receivers, keeping them happy and putting the Ravens in the win column.

That’s the discussion we’ll be having this week and all season here at WNST.net and in all of the places on the internet we call a barstool for cogent conversation for intelligent Baltimore sports fans.

Hope to see you at Fattie’s in Essex tonight for the Coors Light Neighborhood Tour and some Monday Night Football and conversation.

And in case you missed Ray Lewis’ classic rant in the locker room yesterday, just click play and enjoy:

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The Truth? The world can’t handle the truth about female sports journalists

Posted on 17 September 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

You saw the headlines earlier in the week – yet another women given a hard time in a professional sports locker room. I’ll write her name once – Ines Sainz of TV Azteca in Mexico – and for the most part move on from her name because she’s just a symbol at this point for a whole bunch of incongruent messages and a changing world of media and access that creates a talking point for the mass media.

This story had it all: Sex. Football. Politics. Etiquette. Professionalism. Journalism. Oh, and harassment by well-paid, high profile athletes in the capital of the media world, New York City.

But forget her, personally or what her clothing was that day or even how insulting or out-of-line I’m sure Rex Ryan and, more specifically, Dennis Thurman almost certainly were to her on the field.

She’s just the latest example of “female sports journalist has problem in the workplace that happens to be a locker room full of naked, high-profile, well-paid athletes.”

She’s the Lisa Olson of the week or the latest woman in a predominantly male world who was singled out and harassed unfairly in the workplace. Or, in many folks’ view from what I’ve read on the internet and heard on WNST-AM 1570 all week, she’s the one who was selling sex as an angle and fetched what she was looking for in the “harassment,” which is attention.

But in most cases, those who only judge this situation and this sports media topicality from afar have a rather stilted and inaccurate portrayal of what goes on in professional sports locker rooms.

I come from a different angle than the millions of people who have all had an opinion on this topic over the last 72 hours and the talking heads in the “real” media who have made it a trending topic on Twitter and on TV networks and corporate sports radio entities who employ the very tactics and strategies that they are so roundly criticizing as a whole in most cases.

Millions of people opine, but I’ve lived it every day of my life for nearly 27 years. This is all I’ve ever done for a living, go into locker rooms and talk to athletes. I’ve worked alongside women in every locker room I’ve ever entered day in and day out for more than a quarter of a century. This is all I’ve ever done since I was 15 years old, cover Baltimore sports and national sports with authority, credibility and now I sit in the ultimate seat of having the ability to decide, as an employer, who actually GETS press passes and goes into a locker room wearing a WNST badge and who is “credible” and who is not.

I’ve seen it all. I’ve heard it all. I’ve endured the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve had a few incidents of my own where I’ve felt disrespected or mildly threatened and had to hold my ground on professionalism.

I’ve heard women called whores, tramps and worse. “Wool” being shouted or coughed was routinely the “clubhouse sign” that a women was invading the space under Camden Yards in the Orioles clubhouse during the 1990s.

Why “wool”? Well, why don’t you guess?

I was around for Lisa Olson and worked in locker rooms with her and it was a hot topic 20 years ago. Her attire in the stoic, stodgy, arrogant all-too-male and all-too-white media in Boston led to me having to buy a pair of pants off Yawkey Way because they didn’t allow jeans or shorts in the press box at Fenway Park back in the 1990s after the “Olson incident” in Foxboro.

I was in Cleveland in 1995 and witnessed Albert Belle going after Hannah Storm in the Jacobs Field dugout from 10 feet away.

The Erin Andrews saga was a criminal act that was borne out of the network putting her beauty in front of zillions of zany, crazed college students with signs that say all sorts of things for the camera that profess anything but love for her professional credibility or work ethic or journalistic skills.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: lots of women these days have no business being in sports locker rooms because they’re not qualified and it’s not because their skirt is too high or their blouse is too low.

It’s because they don’t belong there because they haven’t earned the right to be there and they’re not qualified and because they got the job because of their looks and not their intellect or expertise.

Earlier this week, when the Jets were accused of harassing Sainz, the other local women who are on the beat were quite frankly shocked that it happened because they’re in there every day and don’t get cat-called or hooted at because they’re actually there WORKING and are RESPECTED.

And they should be. I don’t really want to “name names” in this blog because I’m scared to death I’d leave out the many, many really cool females I’ve met in this business who DO take it seriously and are among MY heroes and friends.

Here’s a very short list (and I know I’ve left out many others) and rest assured these aren’t people I “see on TV.” These are people I know, socialize with, converse sports and life with and respect immensely.

Bonnie Bernstein knows sports. I saw her Monday night at the Meadowlands. She hosts real sports radio in New York and she is as legit a sports “expert” as I’ve ever known. Linda Cohn is a sports savant. Suzy Kolber is as well-versed in every aspect of sports as anyone I’ve ever met. Andrea Kramer is a football junkie in every sense of the word. I see Judy Battista several times a year and she’s among the most respected NFL writers in the world. Look, I could go on and on about Leslie Visser and Hannah Storm and many others but the point is “good is good” – male or female, in any color or shape or size.

My real hero was Molly Dunham-Glassman, who was my boss at The Evening Sun. She was by far the most qualified, sports-savvy and educated “expert” I’ve ever known. (I’ve been looking for the next Molly for 12 years. If you’re an aspiring sports journalist/expert I want to hear from you no matter what your gender might be! Send all resumes to nasty@wnst.net).

But these aforementioned people are true sports experts and journalists. Like me and others I respect in this business, they’ve dedicated their lives since birth to knowing sports and honing their craft and internal database of information.

None of these women got their jobs or have ever directly traded on looks, sexuality, innuendo, bimbo-ness or anything other than “expert information.”

But this is where the world has changed in locker rooms over the past two decades. So many female sports journalists of late have gotten their jobs based on their looks and what their looks will do to attract the attention of male athletes who will give them time, access or interviews that no one with a penis could ever “penetrate.”

Here’s a simple frame of reference. I attended 15 MLB All-Star Games before the Orioles revoked my press pass four years ago for writing and speaking the truth about their lousiness and the decay of the downtown business community on summer nights.

Two years ago when the All-Star Game was at the “old” Yankee Stadium, I took the train up and covered the event because strangely enough, MLB recognizes me as a legitimate journalist:

I was blown away by how much the world of MLB sports “journalism” had changed during the pre-game interview period. The field was littered with a bevy of beautiful women holding microphone sticks with a lot of hair spray  and these women probably have never heard of Tommy John let alone could explain what “Tommy John surgery” was for Stephen Strasburg. But they did know that “chicks dig the long ball.” And they had a press pass. And when I got home to Baltimore I wasn’t going to have one.

So much for “journalism,” right?

I suppose if I were a little prettier the Orioles would allow me to have my press pass back, huh?

But these women are primarily on the field because they’re pretty and they’re female and they look good and smell nice. And all of the old, ugly white guys like Peter Gammons, who roamed that turf for years with expertise, insight and true respect for the game and its rich history and heritage have been replaced by pretty girls doing pre- and post-game interviews. And the players are far more apt to say “yes” to an interview with a runway model than with a crotchety, chunky sportswriter.

And I suppose you as the public are far more apt to watch it if you don’t really care how much the person asking the questions really knows.

The Orioles have a female covering the team for their MLB website. I’m not sure she knows who Luis Aparicio is let alone Willie Miranda. So, for me, if I’m not learning anything it’s a short attention span. But that’s just me. Why would I read the coverage of someone who I clearly know more than on the internet? Seeing her Twitter coverage is almost laughable with its lack of insight. Taking shots at her, as it is in most cases when you’re pointing out the obvious, is like shooting fish in a barrel.

And when I write pieces like this speaking the truth it almost comes off as “mean.” I’m not being “mean.” I’m simply stating the obvious.

Our competitors over at CBS Radio have now made two consecutive hires of women based primarily (if not solely) on their looks. They’re from out of town. They have flown the flags of Miami and New York sports to an all-Baltimore audience. They have no clue what’s really happening (or what’s happened) in Baltimore sports on or off the field or the business and politics of local sports. They just look nice. And they “like” sports. But the boss who hires them also has no clue what’s happening in Baltimore sports, which is why you’re reading this blog now.

Look, people like what they like. If you like uninformed, pretty girls bringing you your sports insights and observations and softball questions, good for you. Enjoy them! That’s why they’re there. For you to enjoy them!

And that’s really no different than any of Glenn Clark’s posts, which are part-Maxim, part Tucker Max and part John Steadman – a bizarre concoction our WNST lad-on-the-scene prepares each day in Crabs and Beer! Some people dig it, some are amused and some are appalled.

Welcome to the world of freedom of choice.

I’ve also seen others in this market and others bring scantily clad women into locker rooms who in any other line of work would be referred to as bimbos because they had no clue why they were there.

Clinton Portis is NOT far from wrong on many counts. There ARE women who get into sports journalism at this point to be around naked athletes. And they are there to attract those “exclusive interviews” that men can’t get with their charm, nice perfume and long legs.

For the most part – and I mean 99.9% of the cases of the thousands of hours I’ve spent in professional sports locker rooms and clubhouses – it’s been by far quite professional and dignified.

Quite frankly, I hear more swearing and “guys being guys” and nasty, vulgar lyrics in rap songs played at ear-splitting volume that might be considered offensive by any gender than I do of actual personal harassment.

And even the male reporters have had incidents of “boys being boys” and micro-hazing that’ve been borderline “uncool,” if not completely inappropriate. Adalius Thomas singled me out every Wednesday to see the color of my shirt and to get approval from his teammates. If I were a woman, that would’ve been harassment. In general, it was all in pretty good fun as long as it didn’t include Tony Siragusa.

I’ve never had a problem, except for perhaps when something I said or wrote bothered someone, and I’m extremely accountable and professional, and I took care of it with a conversation and an understanding or clarification.

Clearly, with the New York Jets case, part of the story are that the rules of Mexican television are different and certainly the dress code was more like that of most football players’ wives at a club on Saturday night and less like a conservative, corporate TV sideline reporter on ESPN. Even in California and Florida, local TV news directors routinely hire weather girls with cleavage to spice up the eyeballs and Mexican TV has taken those rules beyond where any American journalist would go. That’s a cultural thing.

That’s the business they’re in – ratings, not journalism or “professionalism” or even proprietary information.

The locker room in a sports environment is quite different from reading the weather on a TV set but the people doing the hiring have never worked in a sports locker room as a beat reporter on a daily basis so they’re clueless as to what really goes on from day to day in an NFL clubhouse.

No doubt I’ve seen a few guys do and say inappropriate things in my 27 years in locker rooms. But ultimately, for this to happen as reported in 2010, the Jets should be ashamed of themselves. Dennis Thurman and Rex Ryan should know better and whatever punishment Roger Goodell deems appropriate is just fine by me. And I have no doubt something bad and unwarranted happened.

All four major sports have worked hard at making the locker room a professional workplace – a business “office” so to speak after games. But you’re always going to have these issues. It’s genuinely awkward — women staring at mostly naked men with notebooks and recorders out asking questions. It just a bizarre, other-worldly kind of experience that doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.

But back to my larger point, which is professionalism and expertise on the subject matter and what some of these women are doing in the locker room to begin with when their main qualification is their looks, not their intelligence or expertise regarding sports or football.

As an “expert” myself and someone who has dedicated my life to being a sports journalist, I’m not sure what’s more offensive – the guys who try to come to me at WNST proclaiming to be sports experts or the women who say they know sports and can’t tell me the difference between a nickel and dime package.

(And, certainly, next summer when the NFL owners go to war with the NFL players, where are you going to turn to find out what the hell is really happening? We cover local sports and the Ravens better than anyone at WNST.net and next year will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt why you come to our website for insight and information.)

But, as an employer, I’ve made it a personal and unabashed quest to find a female sports reporter and EXPERT who really DOES know this stuff.

So, where is the next Molly Dunham?

I Facebooked and Tweeted up that I was writing this blog yesterday and I already started getting the barrage of: “I am a woman and I know more about football than most men!”

Really? Do you? Really?

Be careful of what you boast.

I would invite you over to the studio anytime – or better yet LOVE to give you a written forum or column in our blogosphere to feature your work. I’d LOVE to have a female presence at WNST.net that isn’t about T&A, the color of your hair or the size of your breasts or the white of your smile or the length of your legs.

Not only do I have no interest in patronizing pretty girls to work for WNST in a content capacity, I won’t EVER do it.

I won’t ask you to “send a picture” first (this isn’t Hooters!) but as you know it wouldn’t hurt you if you’re sending it elsewhere in the marketplace in search of a radio, television or web gig as a sports media personality.

And if you think that is a “sexist” statement, well then, you will find my lengthy argument today compelling and confusing all at once.

If you’re a women and you REALLY know enough about sports to be a sports journalist, simply PROVE IT with the depth and quality of your work. But don’t get your feelings hurt if I go Simon Cowell on you and tell you that you don’t know enough. And don’t hold it against me if I embarrass you with how little you might really know.

It’s kinda like American Idol when the poor sap rolls into Simon, Paula, Randy and company and sings grossly off key and everybody in the universe knows but them.

Paula would say something nice to not hurt the girl’s feelings. Randy would politely say “That’s rough, dawg!” And Simon would say “It’s rubbish. It was awwww-ful!”

Honestly, 99% of what I’ve heard from women sports “journalists” over my 27 years has been rubbish. So much so that when I see “the real thing” I’m so freaking impressed and smitten that it’s ridiculous. Of course, I’d say that about 92% of what I’ve heard from the men as well has been rubbish.

I put my money where my mouth is: I’ve hosted these open competitions three times, most recently won by Chris Vinson last Friday.

I don’t want the next Anita Marks or Laura Vecsey or Inez! I want a Baltimore rock star. I’m tired of the phonies. I want the real thing! Someone I want listen to, drink with and converse with who knows as much as I do about the facts and history and most certainly is a Baltimore sports “expert.”

I want information. I want analysis. I want insight. I want experts. I want journalism.

I want to respect what this person – male or female – knows about Baltimore sports. Or I won’t give them my time.

I think most of the men who cover sports locally are a joke so you can only guess how high my bar is on the female side – it’s exactly the same. You either know Baltimore sports or you don’t. If you don’t, you won’t work in an official content capacity at WNST.net.

If they gave doctorates in Baltimore sports journalism at this point, I’d have one. At every level – from newspaper to television to radio (locally and syndicated) and social media and the web – I’ve done every job in this business over the last 27 years.

Hearing, seeing or reading unqualified amateurs parade into clubhouses – that means women AND men – is unbecoming and I won’t hire incompetents, no matter their breast size or their hairstyle or fashion.

I’ve successfully run my own media business for 18 years (against all odds) and I own the fastest-growing local media entity in the market. We’re a sports media company. You’re here reading this because we’re VERY GOOD at what we do and very good at promoting what we do.

I know because you’ve told me. More than 94% of the nearly 2,000 who took our Febuary 2010 survey said they’d recommend WNST.net to a friend who loves Baltimore sports.

We’re very proud of that!

We’re the fastest-growing brand on Twitter because we don’t suck. If you’re a girl – or a guy – who loves sports, that’s awesome. I love sports, too. If you’re a fan who wants to call in, write a barstool blog, have an opinion, etc. – male or female – that’s cool, too. I’ve made my living hearing what fans have to say about Baltimore sports. That’ll be on my tombstone at some point. I’ve dedicated my LIFE to it.

But the difference between being a bartender or an educated caller or sports fan and someone who’s dedicated their lives to it as an “expert” is the same as some drunk PSL holder calling in and really believing they know more about football than John Harbaugh or more about drafting NFL players than Ozzie Newsome.

This might piss some of you off but this is 100% true and you should accept it: you DO NOT know more about football than Harbaugh or Newsome.

And if you go on the radio and take phone calls in live, real time and don’t know what you’re talking about it only takes anyone who DOES know anything about Baltimore sports about 10 minutes to ferret you out as a phony and a fraud.

Does this remind you of anyone you’ve seen in Baltimore? At one of our competitors, maybe? Maybe recently?

The above is my educated “expert” opinion.

Funny, but I like my “experts” to actually BE experts with credentials and information and a track record that supports their claims.

If you like pretty girls then you and I have something in common. If you like sports, then we have another thing in common.

But mixing the two is like saying good doctors make good lawyers. They’re two different skill sets and two different expectations.

I’m waiting to meet the Baltimore female who knows as much about sports as me or anyone on my staff.

If you follow anyone on Twitter based on their looks and take their barstool opinions and thimble-like knowledge of the depth and breadth of sports as “gospel” or “insight” than you’re not really in the market to be educated.

You’re in the market to be “entertained.” (And that’s being kind …)

I watch Entertainment Tonight. I like Access Hollywood.

But those female reporters aren’t hosting sports radio or pretending to be “experts” on the subject matter.

And to think that I’ve been unprofessionally banished from the Orioles clubhouse after reporting on them for 21 years because of my views while women half my age who’ve never heard of Jim Gentile are holding a mic flag in front of them on the field is a disgrace to Baltimore sports journalism.

But then again, the owner is a public disgrace so profound that a sentence should do the trick. Either you’re appalled by the last 13 years of this civic disease or, if you’re a local female journalist, you take a job, get a mic and defend it while your paychecks are signed by Peter G. Angelos every two weeks.

And that’s not a FEMALE thing, that’s MUCH more of a “male” thing. My feelings aren’t based on gender but on straight-up competence.

And this is my opinion after watching this and doing this for a living for past 27 years. And you know how I know my opinion and expertise is significant enough to you?

Because you made it this far. You respect me and you read my work here at WNST.net because at some level, you respect what I’ve done and my knowledge and opinions and integrity regarding Baltimore sports.

Again, one more time: if you are the next Molly Dunham, my email address is nasty@wnst.net.

But be forewarned. I am the Simon Cowell on the Baltimore sports journalism panel of judges.

And if you think I’m hard on you, wait’ll you see how hard the public will be and what they’ll say about you if you do have success!

Or worse yet, wait’ll you see what they write and say when you DON’T know what you’re talking about.

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