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Flacco vs. Ryan: The first final tale of the tape

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Flacco vs. Ryan: The first final tale of the tape

Posted on 15 November 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

I’m pretty well aware that this comparison has been done to death over the last week or so, but I really wanted to make my final evaluation after watching these two go at it head to head. So since re-watching the Ravens @ Falcons a few times proved to be the low-light of my weekend, and since the highlight of my weekend was a fantastic time at John Rallo’s Shogun Fights III, I figured I’d give my first final say on the Flacco vs. Ryan debate in tale of the tape fashion.

The Price Tag: Start with the obvious, as the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft, Matt Ryan reportedly signed a rookie contract worth $66 million over 6 years. Bonuses aside, in layman’s math that’s $11 million per season. As the 18th pick overall, Flacco signed a 5-year deal worth about $30 million, or a relatively small $6 million per year or roughly 55% of Ryan’s annual salary. If the rest of the comparison is debatable, then it’s easy to say that the Ravens are getting more for their investment in Flacco than the Falcons are in Ryan, but the price tag argument goes much deeper than just their respective salaries.

 

When comparing the “pound-for-pound” values of these two, we are provided with a somewhat unique perspective on things. According to Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column on November 9th, the Ravens inquired with the St. Louis Rams prior to the 2008 draft about acquiring their first round pick that year (2nd overall) presumably to draft Ryan. King reported the price tag to be the Ravens 1st round pick (8th overall), 2nd round pick (38th overall) and 4th round pick (106th overall) in 2008, plus an additional third rounder in 2009. Instead the Ravens traded their 1st rounder to Jacksonville for for their first round pick (26th overall), two third round picks (71st & 89th overall), and a fourth round pick (125th overall). After that they traded the 26th and 89th picks just acquired from Jacksonville, along with their own 6th round pick (173rd overall) to Houston to move back up to 18th and select Flacco. The second rounder they would have sent to St. Louis (38th overall) was instead sent to Seattle for a second round pick (55th overall) and a third (86th overall).

 

Confused yet? Here’s the short story, the Ravens selected Flacco with the 18th pick gotten from Houston and gave up their own 6th rounder. They selected Ray Rice with the 55th pick gotten from Seattle, selected Tavares Gooden with the 71st pick gotten from Jacksonville, and Zibikowski with the 86th pick, gotten in the Seattle deal too. They also selected Marcus Smith with the 106th pick which was the 4th rounder that St. Louis wanted, and traded the 125th pick also from Jacksonville for Fabian Washington. The following year, the Ravens selected Lardarius Webb with their third round pick (88th) overall, which the Rams had also reportedly asked for as part of a deal. That makes the Ravens real choice in hindsight either Matt Ryan and an unknown 6thround pick (173rd overall) which the Texans used to select Dominique Barber, or Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Tavares Gooden, Tom Zibikowski, Marcus Smith, Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb.

 

*It should be noted that King’s report was based on information apparently leaked by the St. Louis organization. As Chris Pika points out here, the Ravens remain firm that no offer was made by them to the Rams, and this was just St. Louis attempting to posture and compel Atlanta to trade up. Still, if this was the reported asking price, it’s fair to say that whether they actually ever considered trading or not, we know what the cost of moving up would likely have been

 

Advantage: Flacco

 

Commanding the offense: It should be expected that Ryan should still have the early lead here. A starter since the last game of his freshman year at Boston College, Ryan had numerous opportunities to measure himself against high caliber and often times pro style defenses. He didn’t sneak up on the league like Flacco, and certainly had the entire football world’s attention as he embarked on his senior season. To that end Ryan has responded at every turn, maintaining his esteemed draft status throughout his senior season, and quickly living up to his billing as a high draft pick.

 

Flacco on the other hand after losing out on the opportunity to start to Tyler Palko at Pitt, snuck up on the football world on the strength of one strong season at Delaware, albeit against far lesser competition, and some strong pre-draft workouts. It should be considered a virtual no-brainer that Ryan enjoyed a substantial head start as it relates to football IQ and high level experience.

 

What’s more, while their NFL careers will seemingly be forever intertwined because of their similar circumstances, if you look deeper, perhaps their circumstances aren’t quite as similar as they might appear. Both were made first year starters under first year coaches, and both propelled their teams into the playoffs as rookies, that much is undeniable. But when John Harbaugh took over the Ravens, despite their miserable campaign the previous season, the feeling was that the team could turn things around right away if a few things went their way. The Falcons on the other hand turned over the reigns to Mike Smith in the immediate wake of Bobby Petrino, and not long after Michael Vick, for a franchise that hasn’t seen a lot of upside historically, it appeared as if they might have been in for their darkest hours.

 

To that end, the Ravens, forced to start Flacco from day one due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, did their best to hide the shortcomings of their rookie signal caller, balancing his development with the best interests of the team from a competitive standpoint. It’s hard to argue with their success. The Falcons on the other hand, with seemingly little to lose, placed a lot on their rookie QB right away, and to his credit he has responded in spades.

 

Therefore, it seems pretty easy not only to assess that Ryan is further along in his development in responding to defenses on the fly, but easy to diagnose the reasons why too. It could be argued too that Ryan is further along in this capacity because his coaches have allowed him to be. With that said, fans should also believe that if the Ravens coaching staff has been reluctant to put more on Flacco’s shoulders, it may be for good reason, and not simply because they believe that audibles are overrated. It could easily be argued that Flacco has come farther faster in his development than Ryan, but it seems pretty clear right now that he still has catching up to do.

 

Advantage: Ryan            NEXT PAGE

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 13 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because once again I get to name two new “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.” The first addition is the “new” addition to the list…”Grenade” by Bruno Mars…he played it on Saturday Night Live and it kicked a little ass…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kfkTJCv4j8[/youtube]

The “retro” version of TGSOATTW? It’s also Lesson 3 for “Boomer Sooner” as I prepare her for her first Dave Matthews Band show in November. It’s “#41″…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEbb621s_GI[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. National Football Post’s Matt Bowen says Ravens, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers all playing better football than any NFC team

At this point, that’s probably true.

My hunch tells me that the only NFC teams that could end up being TRUE Super Bowl contenders would be the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.

The Saints don’t look like Super Bowl contenders right now, but that’s mostly because they can’t run the ball. They’ll get Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush back, and they should be able to run again. The Green Bay Packers can get back on that list should they figure out a way to run the ball-but I don’t see that happening if Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are the primary backs.

The point is-those three aforementioned teams are the only teams that look like they can stand up next to the three premiere AFC teams-at least the three that have stood out thus far.

The good news for the Ravens is that as of right now-this season is shaping up to be a season about “balance.” In recent years, teams that have won have tended to have the most powerful offenses or simply the best quarterbacks.

Early on this year, the teams that have had the most success appear to be the teams that are the most balanced. If it remains that way, the Ravens should be in good shape.

Of course, we know damn well that things can change quickly in the NFL.

2. BaltimoreRavens.com’s John Eisenberg says 4-1 start doesn’t ‘guarantee’ anything for rest of season

Of course not. But if it guarantees that Jamie Edmondson takes more pictures in Ravens gear, than 4-1 was PLENTY WORTH IT! (Thanks SI with tip from Derek Arnold!)

jamieedmondson

3. Boston Globe’s Monique Walker says New England Patriots still remember AFC Wild Card playoff loss to Ravens last season

This was a topic I discussed yesterday during Ravens Reports on AM1570 WNST. There will almost definitely be some level of a “revenge” factor when it comes to the Patriots Sunday. Bill Belichick is a proud man. Tom Brady is a proud man. These are men who will CERTAINLY remember the embarrassing fashion in which they were dismissed at Gillette Stadium in January.

Does that mean that the Ravens will quickly run into a buzzsaw in Foxborough? Not necessarily. But do I think this Patriots team will look at this game with a bit more significance than other games? Sure.

Should I ask another question and follow it up with another quick answer? I think I’ve run the course.

4. Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says John Harbaugh, Ravens concerned with Pats returner Brandon Tate

Before we move on from the on-field Ravens, a couple of things…

-Harbaugh apparently reiterated on his radio show last night that CB Josh Wilson’s hamstring injury is not a major concern. I say “apparently” because I didn’t listen to the show personally. How could I? The replay of “The Morning Reaction” was on WNST!

-The Ravens are back in action today at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills. We’ll be out there all day with full coverage; so make sure you’re tuned into AM1570, following us on Twitter (@WNST) and checking back in at WNST.net throughout the day. We’re expected to hear from Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and others before practice.

-And this picture of Ray Rice-which has been passed around Facebook over the last 24 hours (add me by searching “Glenn Clark” and adding the best looking person you find) is kinda awesome…

rayrice

5. SI’s George Dohrmann says former Ravens OT Jonathan Ogden admitted accepting benefits from agent Josh Luchs while at UCLA

The funniest part of the story is Luchs saying that during an entire Janet Jackson concert, J.O. screamed “Janet!” at the stage. Of course, I might do the same thing if she was rocking out a little “All For You”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2KabvvLF7M[/youtube]

For the record, Luchs maintains that he did NOT pay or give benefits to either Ravens TE Todd Heap or LB Terrell Suggs while he was working with Gary Wichard and pursuing them at Arizona State.

Did you miss Josh Luchs with Drew Forrester and Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Wednesday morning on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out. Some other things you can find in the Audio Vault include…

  • Dabo Swinney (Clemson Football Coach)-who joined Drew Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” to preview the Tigers’ contest with the Terrapins Saturday
  • Craig Laughlin (Washington Capitals Color Analyst-Comcast SportsNet)-who joined Drew Wednesday to talk some Caps hockey
  • AJ Daulerio (Deadspin Editor)-who joined Drew Wednesday to discuss the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger controversy
  • Ralph Cindrich (Long-time NFL agent)-who joined Drew Wednesday to offer his opinion on the Josh Luchs story
  • Jon Anik (host of ESPN’s “MMA Live”)-who joined Thyrl and John Rallo Tuesday on “The MMA Report”
  • Marcellus Wiley (ESPN)-who went around the NFL with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Dan Wetzel (Yahoo! Sports)-who discussed his new book “Death to the BCS” with Thyrl Tuesday

It’s all in the Audio Vault-so consider today planned. Again. Because I’m awesome like that. Again.

6. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Buck Showalter had surgery Tuesday in Texas, no decisions imminent for Orioles coaching staff

Impossible.

There’s no chance that human injuries could affect a superhuman like Buck Showalter enough that he required knee surgery. I refuse to believe it.

That being said, the handful of folks who are waiting for news about the Birds’ coaching staff will have to keep waiting. In the meantime, MASN passed along that the O’s are apparently interested in Seibu Lions SS Hiroyuki Nakajima.

And you didn’t think Andy MacPhail was going to make the moves necessary to win in 2011. I know you feel stupid now. Hiroyuki Nakajima, babe. What are the dates for the 2011 World Series???

7. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Clemson coach Dabo Swinney prepared to face Maryland QB’s Jamarr Robinson, Danny O’Brien Saturday in Death Valley

Swinney told Drew Forrester this morning that having to prepare for both QB’s makes Maryland particularly tough. Maybe so, but I generally don’t think the Terps can win big games if they try to split reps between two quarterbacks.

They might not do that. They might end up having one real “starter” and a package for the other QB. But it’s totally possible that Robinson and O’Brien could alternate series in James Franklin’s offense. I would prefer the former.

I mean, I would prefer having one REALLY GOOD QB, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Terps coach Ralph Friedgen has good recent history at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium

I keep being reminded of Maryland’s win at Clemson two years ago. Maryland probably wasn’t quite as good as their record indicated, but they were able to hang around just long enough to let something goofy happen to help them win. I don’t THINK the same thing will happen Saturday, but it certainly could.

You know what else could happen? Kayla Collins could call me. I don’t THINK it will happen-but it certainly could. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

smokingjacket

9. Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo expects FB Alexander Teich to be able to start Saturday vs. SMU

And with Vince Murray banged up, the Midshipmen could certainly use Teich on the field; as the Mustangs can score points.

They’ve scored at least 21 points in all six of their games, including 35 against Washington State and 42 against Rice. They’re VERY capable of scoring points in the June Jones offense.

The Mids however have scored 14 points or less in three of their five games thus far. It looks like they’ll need to score to win Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium. It won’t be easy.

10. TowsonTigers.com says DT Yaky Ibia named semi-finalist for National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell Trophy

This is very cool. Cool enough that even Maggie Q should be interested. (Thanks Guyism!)

maggieq

And finally, I leave you with this…

I know everyone’s already seen it-but here’s the Grover/Sesame Street/Old Spice YouTube gem for the 5 or 6 of you that may have somehow missed…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkd5dJIVjgM[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Since our radio station had a tree almost fall on it…join our LIVE CHAT here NOW at WNST.net!

Posted on 04 October 2010 by WNST Staff

As many of you know by now, our WNST AM-1570 signal is “off the air” and has been since 8:20 this morning. But, luckily for all of us, we have this website here with plenty of blogs, news, audio, video and coverage of yesterday’s big win in Pittsburgh.

BG&E is “on the scene” trying to get us back up and running. We had a series of trees fall on the power chords on our road and we do not have a generator. (If you’re a generator company, feel free to contact me: nasty@wnst.net).

And, instead of doing traditional radio, click HERE for a live chat beginning at 1 p.m. with Thyrl Nelson, Rex Snider and then Drew Forrester. We’ll also be attending the Joe Flacco (3:45 p.m.) and John Harbaugh 4 p.m.) press conferences with live reaction in our Purple Haze chat.

When rain falls, you build a boat. Our boat is this live chat. Please come and join us soon!

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A Glorious Festivus Day for Ravens

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Ed Frankovic

It was a super day for the Baltimore Ravens franchise as they put on a first quarter clinic en route to a 33-14 whipping of the New England Patriots on their home turf in the opening round of the NFL Playoffs. There were lots of firsts for the Ravens on Sunday, as chronicled by Drew in this blog, and a city that seemed a little bit skeptical of this team’s ability to win in the post season will no doubt be going purple crazy all week as Baltimore gets ready to head to Indianapolis. We have several days to analyze that matchup and as Glenn mentioned in his blog, there are things that need some correcting. However, for tonight, this blog is just going to primarily talk about the positives (my dad would call this the anti-Phil Jackman blog - and Phil you know I still love ya!):

- I don’t think I am going out on a limb in declaring this the best performance by the team all season. They defeated an elite club that has a one of the best QB’s in the NFL by lining up and just physically beating the Patriots in nearly every aspect of the game. New England had the deer in the headlights look after Ray Rice went 83 yards on the game’s opening play from scrimmage followed by the Terrell Suggs sack and fumble of Tom Brady that set up the Ravens second touchdown. It was smash mouth Ravens football, no doubt.

- After the game Ray Lewis, who was outstanding with 13 tackles and a sack on Sunday, praised defensive coordinator Greg Mattison for coming up with a great game plan. Mattison, however, said that it was not his schemes, it was the players execution that did the job. Whatever the case, the Baltimore defense was the most aggressive it has been all year and clearly that style fits the personnel. New England only had 196 total yards, wow! Charlie Frye threw for 180 yards on the Ravens in the 1st half alone in last week’s victory in Oakland. #52 talked in the post game about disguising the blitz until the last second for fear of Brady recognizing it and checking off, something the 3-time Super Bowl Champion excels at. Well today, #12 had no clue what was coming most of the time and he played like it. Mattison felt that the team could generate pressure rushing just four players and for the most part he was right. If there is one thing I would like to see less of, it would be the three man rush. The NFL rules are set up so much for the offense that if you give the receivers time to get open they either will or likely draw a penalty.

- Speaking of penalties, Baltimore only was flagged 3 times for a total of 15 yards! That was incredible focus and discipline by a team that has struggled to maintain its composure in several instances this year. Yes, the team was winning so it was easier to stay in control, but mentally that may have been the best the squad collectively has executed all year. Not a single personal foul or pass interference infraction was whistled on the Ravens today.

- Did the offense remind you a bit of the 2000 Ravens in Tennessee? Baltimore only threw the ball 10 times and Joe Flacco completed just four passes (but two were huge ones to Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton to keep second half drives going). But when you get an early lead after an 83 yd scamper why not keep pounding the ball like the Ravens used to do with Jamal Lewis? The rushing totals were 52 carries for 234 yards, a 4.5 yard per carry average. The backs were good and the offensive line was flat out dominant. It is clear that a healthy Jared Gaither at left tackle plays a huge role in offensive success.

- The much maligned secondary was superb today forcing 3 interceptions and holding Randy Moss to 5 catches for 48 yards (and most of those came in garbage time). Dominique Foxworth, Frank Walker, and Dwan Landry might have had their best games of the season. The pressure put on Brady certainly helped and having a healthier Ed Reed at safety contributed as well. Ravens fans can only hope that #20 continues to progress physically this week because they will need his smarts against Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and company. Reed even had a good lateral today to Landry on his INT that put the Ravens in the red zone.

- Special teams were fairly solid. Tom Zbikowski’s 30 yard return after New England cut the Ravens lead to 27-14 put the ball near midfield and on the shorter grid the Ravens drove for the score that put the nail in the coffin in this one. Sam Koch punted well with two good kicks that pinned the Pats inside their own 20 yard line and even Matt Katula’s long snaps were better allowing kicker Billy Cundiff to hit on both of his field goals and all three PATs.

- The Ravens came out as healthy as you can be after 17 weeks of football and tight end Todd Heap’s back injury appears to be minor. So could a team that has been banged up so badly since starting 3-0 finally be getting healthier in some key areas (see Gaither and Reed)? One has to hope that is true and Flacco will likely have an easier time getting his aching hip loose in a dome instead of the freezing north east.

- All in all it was a very good day to be affiliated with the Ravens and somewhere heading south on I-95 at 1000pm on Sunday night there are two full buses of very happy people who decided to go on the WNST road trip to Gillette Stadium. Those people, and any other Ravens fan who attended the game in person, are truly great for showing such faith in a team that many thought would get beat today, including myself. As anyone that has traveled with WNST knows, WNST bus trips, whether to a Ravens game, a Caps or Bears hockey game, or to a horse race, is a ton of fun. I’m sure this weekend to Indianapolis will be no exception so sign up, if you can. By the way, it was great to hear Ravens Coach John Harbaugh mention and praise the support the team received from the Ravens fans who attended the contest today. So how about we more than double that for next week’s Saturday night contest and get at least five WNST buses going to Indy?

Happy Festivus! (que the Ravens Mania music now…)

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Ravens punch Indy ticket with easy beatdown of Patriots, 33-14

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Drew Forrester

Let me get this straight.

New England hadn’t lost a home playoff game in 31 years — and in that time they were 11-0 in Foxborough.

Tom Brady was 8-0 at home in his post-season career.

Baltimore’s pedestrian 9-7 regular season mark this year included a dismal 3-5 away record.

So with all of that statistical data overloaded against Baltimore, it made perfect sense that the Ravens would race out to a 24-0 first quarter lead and cruise to a 33-14 win in New England today.

Right?

If you say so.

What a crazy league the NFL has become.

And what a crazy season it’s been for the Ravens, who literally entered the 4th quarter of their final regular season game in Oakland with their playoff berth still very much in jeopardy.

7 days later, they’ve polished off the mystique of the New England Patriots and they’re on their way to Indianapolis for a Saturday evening showdown with Peyton Manning and the Colts.

The New England fans hung around until there were about 9 minutes to go in the game.

They put in more of an effort than Randy Moss, that’s for sure.

So how did it happen today?

In a way only the dreamer could possibly imagine, the Ravens scored on their first play from scrimmage and then parlayed two first quarter turnovers into a 24-0 lead before half the crowd could say, “Want another cup of chow-dahh?”

And with their star quarterback obviously in need of a spark-plug change and Moss mailing it in like a member of the Postal Service, the Patriots were left with nothing to do except entertain an afternoon of boos from their faithful and wonder to themselves how on earth they picked today to have their worst game of the season.

As for the Ravens, they picked a great time to produce their best 30 minutes of defensive football all season, that’s for sure.

With Ray Lewis providing yet another epic post-season performance and Domonique Foxworth leading an opportunistic secondary, Baltimore clamped down early and often on both Brady and the running game en-route to a comfortable 24-7 halftime lead.

And when Willis McGahee scampered in with 10:32 to play to make it 33-14, the stands started to empty.

So it’s now on to Indianapolis, where the Ravens will undoubtedly have January 13, 2007 on their minds.  Fresh off of a 13-3 regular season and a first-week playoff bye, Steve McNair had a game only Tom Brady could duplicate (today) and the Baltimore offense stalled in a 15-6 loss to Indy.

Next Saturday night in Indy, it’s payback time for Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed and the rest of the guys who were part of that disappointing home defeat.

It had to be this way, right?

Baltimore vs. Indianapolis.

Winner goes to the AFC Championship game.

Loser goes home.

One thing for sure:  Tom Brady won’t be making a trip to South Florida in early February to gun for his 4th ring.

The Ravens made sure of that today in New England.

Now if they can send next week’s opposing quarterback home early, we might really be on to something.

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First aid & Band aids don’t aid Ravens’ Festivus run

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As a card-carrying, eternal purple optimist, I suppose today is a day when my lavender heart gets tarnished. I’m going to do the unthinkable and be rational in my observation of where the Ravens are and where they could be heading between now and Jan. 3 in Oakland.

After seeing how this works over the last decade, since the Ravens really became a competitive squad in 1999, I think the NFL really boils to one thing – talent not withstanding – it’s injuries.

And this is why I think the Ravens are doomed this year, why they aren’t a good bet to make it through this minefield of games against the mostly lousy NFC North:

The most injured team in December loses. The healthiest team – with talent and key positions in tact – in January wins.

Right now, after watching them the past few weeks and after walking into the Ravens locker room last night, my veteran sportswriter eyeball test tells me that any purple Festivus miracle this year is a major, major uphill battle.

Part of why the team stinks right now is because they’re battered and bruised and the locker room looks like the walking wounded.

And it’s not just the devastating Terrell Suggs, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Fabian Washington injuries, it’s more about the walking wounded right now who are playing at far less than 90% and giving it all they have but just can’t perform at a Pro Bowl level with a variety of limiting injuries.

Let’s address the gimpy infirmary, not to mention the other aged players like Matt Birk, Trevor Pryce and Derrick Mason on the Ravens:

The three best players on the Ravens – and I’ll take any argument here – are Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Haloti Ngata. Right now, they are the “Purple Hearts,” if you will.

Let be honest – the NFL is all about speed. It’s the most significant attribute any player can have and it’s universal. Why do you think they spend so much time on 40-yard dashes at the combine every year? Speed kills. If you don’t have it, you don’t win.

Ray Lewis has a bad foot. Joe Flacco has a bad ankle. Haloti Ngata has a bad leg.

Lewis has shown it less in his gait than Flacco or Ngata (and the naked eye can tell from just watching them take normal walking steps in between plays what’s going on there) but he’s just as bad off from what we can tell and his several days of missing practice last week would tell you all you need to know. Lewis LIVES for practice. He loves it!

Flacco just looks like a mess right now. He’s all heart, but it’s pretty clear he’s gimpy and he got rolled up on again last night. Planting, moving, having a busted play become a big gainer – all of that is questionable on any given play. It also looks like his throws are sailing because of these subtle adjustments he’s making on the fly with monsters trying to tear his head off.

Ngata, another one with a heart the size of his own giant girth, is only playing on select downs and is about as banged up as any guy I’ve seen in my years of doing this who is still going out there on Sundays. Kinda reminds me of the year Peter Boulware played with one arm. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is mixing up the units and keeping Kelly Gregg, Justin Bannan and Brendan McKinney fresh, but there’s a major difference between a healthy Ngata and the rest of these guys – especially if you’re talking about 60-70 snaps a game.

This, my friends, is bad for the purple business and the Ravens aren’t going very far for very long with the trio of Lewis, Flacco & Ngata on the hobble.

How long will it take them to heal? Will they heal in the midst of five more games, three more roadtrips and 15 more hours of the physical hell the NFL game wreaks on the framework of these massive bodies?

We’ll see. But I wouldn’t take odds that any of these injuries are going to miraculously heal. They’re nagging, prolonged bouts.

It’s not that I don’t think the Ravens are “good” enough. Properly assembled and with less injured personnel, I’d think they Ravens would be a division winner – and that’s just if they had a kicker who was NFL-caliber the first half of the season.

But right now, at 6-5 with trips still pending to Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Oakland, the road is fraught with more bumps and bruises.

Coach John Harbaugh will downplay all of this. These guys won’t even address their injuries when we ask them on Wednesday’s media day. That’s fine. They shouldn’t talk about it.

But any astute observer would tell you that the Ravens are among the most banged up teams in the league and all at key positions. And banged up teams don’t fare well in the cold having to go on the road. And this is before we address the obvious shortcomings this 6-5 unit has as a whole.

They’re weak on special teams returns and magic. They’ve been previously weak on kicking and the team missed another 54-yarder that could’ve won the game on Sunday night. The offense has been nothing special and the wide receivers have been MIA some weeks. The pass rush has been less than we’ve known it for a decade and don’t get me started on the secondary, which is also playing with spare parts now that Washington is on IR and Frank Walker and Chris Carr continue to get exposed in key situations.

Sure Ray Rice has been explosive. And there have been times, especially early in the year, when the offense looked like it was in sync and could dazzle us with 30 points every week. But that’s not what we’ve seen in large part since September.

If Bill Parcells coined the phrase, “You are what you are!” than the Ravens of 2009 are the embodiment of that expression. They’re 6-5.

I want to believe. I’m going to pick them to win every week. I’m going to travel to Green Bay with a bus full of purple zealots on Sunday and Monday. We’re going to root hard and hope for the best.

But this injury thing, for me, it’s unshakeable. The late-season, winning NFL teams are usually much, much healthier than the Ravens appear to be here on Dec. 1.

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Ravens nip Steelers in OT, 20-17

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Drew Forrester

Twenty years from now when an outsider goes leafing through the 2009 NFL Record Book, they’ll have no idea what REALLY transpired on November 29 when the Ravens beat the Steelers, 20-17, in overtime.

The entire season — regardless of what happens from here — could have changed on one play with a little over three minutes to play.  Faced with 4th and 5 from their own 46, the Ravens initially set-up to punt…then called time-out and sent Joe Flacco and the offense back on the field for a daring gamble.  What followed was a 44-yard gain, on a short pass, by Ray Rice and a field goal that tied the game with 1:56 to play.

That Ray Rice played a major role in the game’s big moment wasn’t a surprise.  He’s the team’s MVP at the 11-game mark of the season.

But the hero in overtime was the most unlikely of sources.  With the ball at the 50, Pittsburgh gambled themselves, calling for rookie QB Dennis Dixon to go to the air on 3rd and 7…and Paul Kruger stepped in front of the throw and returned it 26 yards deep into Pittsburgh territory.  It was the first time all season Kruger did anything of note for the Ravens.  And it came at a great time.

The Ravens worked their way down to the 11 yard line and Billy Cundiff connected on a 29-yard field goal to end it and give Baltimore a huge win.

Some would say, based on the flow of play in the game, it was an “unlikely win.”  But 20 years from now, no one will know the difference.

The analysis that will follow this week will lead many to critique the Ravens poor pass protection on Sunday night.  Some will wonder if Joe Flacco has regressed in his sophomore season.  Many will point to the fact that the Steelers, using a QB making his first-ever start in the league, extended the Ravens to overtime in their own building before losing.

None of that matters going forward.

The Ravens won on Sunday night.  They didn’t lose.

Pittsburgh did.

And now, with five games left, Baltimore and Pittsburgh are both deadlocked at 6-5.

That’s the only fact that really matters now.

With their backs still against the wall, Baltimore will need to produce a better effort than tonight if they want to compete with the Packers in Green Bay next Monday night.

Occasionally, though, you win when maybe you didn’t deserve to win.

The Ravens have lost one or two this year that perhaps they didn’t deserve to lose.

By season’s end, games and outcomes have a way of evening themselves out.

Tonight in Baltimore, the Ravens escaped with a win.

They’ll take it.

As Pittsburgh can tell you, it’s much better than losing.

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Gary Williams Signs 3 For Incoming Class of 2010

Posted on 21 November 2009 by Glenn Clark

Terrence Ross (Montrose Christian) did not sign this week; but is still committed to Maryland and is expected to sign in the Spring. However, the Terps did ink Mychal Parker, Terrell Stogin and Ashton Pankey this week. Here is the official release from Maryland……

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Head Coach Gary Williams landed one of his best recruiting classes in recent memory this week when Ashton Pankey, Mychal Parker, and Terrell Stoglin signed National Letters of Intent to play basketball at Maryland.

The trio has the Terrapins’ 2010 recruiting class among the top 20 in the nation, according to a number of national recruiting analysts. Rivals.com currently has Maryland’s signing class ranked 15th in the nation, while ESPN.com has ranked the Maryland signing class at No. 19.

“All three players should have an immediate impact on our program,” said Williams. “They have the maturity and ability to play at a high level.”

All three signees are listed by analysts as outstanding prospects at the high-major level.

Pankey is a 6-foot-9 power forward from Bronx, N.Y., who plays at St. Anthony High School. He was ranked 36th in the nation among power forwards by Scout.com.

Parker is a 6-foot-6 small forward who plays for the Miller School in Crozet, Va. A four-star prospect by Rivals.com, he was ranked 13th nationally among shooting guards by ESPN.com.

Stoglin is a 6-foot-1 point guard from Tucson, Ariz. He averaged 27 points and seven assists a game as a junior at Santa Rita High School and is a two-time player of the year in the Tucson area. He is the 19th-ranked point guard in the nation by ESPN.com.

The threesome is slated to replace the three-player senior class which is on pace to graduate in the spring. Maryland’s roster includes seniors Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes, who are slated to graduate in the spring.

ASHTON PANKEY (6-foot-9, 220, power forward, Bronx, N.Y., St. Anthony HS)

Graded at 91 by ESPN.com… 3-star prospect by Rivals.com and Scout.com… Rated as No. 36 power forward in nation by Scout.com… Solid shot-blocker and rebounder… Averaged 10 points, three blocks per game as a junior… ESPN.com says Pankey “is very active on the blocks. He’s an impressive athlete who finishes well, has long arms, good hands and a strong frame”… High school coach is Bob Hurley… Says Steve Francis is his favorite Terp… Transferred to St. Anthony from Archbishop Molloy after 2008 season… Chose Maryland over Drexel, Hofstra, Houston and Rice among others.

Williams on Pankey: “Ashton is an aggressive high school player who plays for one of the legendary coaches in Bob Hurley. He’s worked very hard academically and on his basketball to become an outstanding player.”

MYCHAL PARKER (6-foot-6, 195, small forward, Washington, N.C., Miller School)

4-star prospect by Rivals.com… ranked 53rd nationally by Rivals.com… Rated 13th nationally among shooting guards by ESPN.com and 42nd overall… Chose Maryland over Virginia, Clemson and Miami among others… Transferred to Miller School in Crozet, Va., after attending Southside (N.C.) High and Terra Ceia Christian School… Former AAU coach Tony Squire told the Baltimore Sun, “he reminds me of a similar version of Ray Allen at this stage in the game.”…  Squire also coached Terrapin alumnus Bambale Osby.

Wililams on Parker: “Mychal has a well-rounded game with the ability to score in bunches. He’s a very good fit for our program.”

TERRELL STOGLIN (6-foot-1, 160, point guard, Tucson, Ariz., Santa Rita HS)

3-star prospect by Rivals.com… Member of ESPN150… Ranked by ESPN.com as the 19th-best point guard in the 2010 recruiting class… Played AAU ball with Pump N’ Run Elite… Outstanding scorer despite playing the point-guard spot… Averaged 27 points, seven assists as a junior… Santa Rita played in the Arizona State high school title game… Two-time All-State selection… Two-time player of the year in Tucson… Chose Maryland over Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Arizona, UCLA and USC… Enjoys playing the drums in his spare time… Lists Steve Francis as his all-time favorite Terp.

Williams on Stoglin: “Terrell is a well-rounded point guard. He has the ability to run an offense well.”

Note: First name pronounced “ter-RELL”

-G

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A somber locker room in Minnesota

Posted on 18 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

All of the videos are up now here at WNST.net. I’m sure folks will be crazy in the Purple Haze in a little while as well.

If you ever want to know what I’m thinking during the games, I’ve been TWEETING LIKE A RAVEN on Twitter each week during this season. It’s a LOT of fun for me to share my thoughts via the internet from my seat in the upper deck of the Metrodome surrounded by people in braids. Simply follow us on Twitter and you’ll know every stupid thought that’s on my mind.

It was a tough, tough loss today. The Ravens were outplayed dramatically in the first half and the comeback should’ve been good enough to save the day. Honestly, I was filing out of the upper deck before Ray Rice caught that pass thinking the game was over.

It was an amazing, memorable comeback and it leads you to believe that anything is possible with this team.

The final Frank Walker penalty was so blatant that it’s not even worth discussing. And, if you have a kicker who can’t hit a 43-yarder with the game on the line on the road, you’re not good enough to win.

The Ravens “victims” were very upfront in their candor after the loss and everyone in the locker room went out of their way to not throw teammates under the bus.

Steve Hauschka had bloodshot eyes a few minutes after the game when he faced the media.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo9KZEVa2G0[/youtube]

And Frank Walker was somber at his locker…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkR3lH-Xwyc[/youtube]

Meanwhile, Ray Rice talked at length about the comeback and how strong mentally his offensive teammates were in getting back in the game with such a large deficit…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biUCfe5SX8U[/youtube]

The Purple Haze chat begins in a bit. Hope you come in and chat with the crew. I might be a little late getting into the sphere but I’m going to try to participate.

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Towson’s Win Over URI Highlights Good Day for Local Teams Not Named “Terps”

Posted on 10 October 2009 by Glenn Clark

Here’s a recap of the game stories of all of the area College Football teams (besides Maryland) who were winners today…..

Towson beats Rhode Island 36-28

KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) Hakeem Moore caught a 78-yard touchdown pass from Peter Athens on the second play of the game to spark Towson to a 36-28 win over Rhode Island on Saturday.

Tremayne Dameron added touchdown runs of 5 and 3 yards as the Tigers (2-3, 1-1 Colonial Athletic Association) scored on each of their first three possessions to take a 20-0 lead with 7:21 left in the first quarter.

Athens, who was 11 of 21 for 188 yards, also rushed for 74 yards. Moore finished with 91 yards on four catches for Towson.

Rhode Island (1-4, 0-2) used two big plays to cut the deficit to 20-14 at the half. Ayo Isijola scored on a 48-yard run with 6:03 left in the second quarter, and Shawn Leonard caught a 35-yard pass from D.J. Stefovich with 3:06 remaining before halftime.

Isijola finished with 100 yards rushing and Stefovich was 11 of 20 for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

Morgan State beats North Carolina A&T 7-6

BALTIMORE (AP) Devan James ran for a 7-yard touchdown in the first quarter and Morgan State held on for a 7-6 victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday.

The Bears (4-1, 2-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) are 4-1 for the first time in 30 years. Morgan State has won four straight games and remains tied for first in the MEAC.

James scored with 24 seconds left in the first quarter to give Morgan State a 7-0 lead. North Carolina A&T (3-3, 1-2) missed two field goals and a penalty cost the mistake-plagued Aggies a touchdown on a kickoff return in the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, an Aggies punt hit a Morgan State player at the Bears’ 11-yard line. North Carolina A&T scored three plays later on a 1-yard touchdown run by Tony Coles, but Fred Davis blocked Patrick Courtney’s extra-point attempt.

The Aggies’ Wallace Miles missed a 51-yard field goal as time expired.

Dobbs, Navy run all over Rice 63-14

HOUSTON (AP) Ricky Dobbs had more touchdowns than passes.

Navy’s quarterback ran for four touchdowns and passed three times in a 63-14 win over Rice on Saturday that showcased the Midshipmen’s option offense.

“I thought we played great offensively, great defensively,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo. “I thought it was a great team win. That’s what we were trying to get. After a big win over Air Force, I was concerned how we would respond.”

Dobbs ran for 105 yards and before yielding to backup Kriss Proctor, who added three scoring runs of his own to finish off the Midshipmen’s most comprehensive win of the season.

Marcus Curry ran for 86 yards and a score on 10 carries and Proctor finished with 83 yards.

The Owls were outgained 538 yards to 271, and held to 16 yards rushing. Nick Fanuzzi completed 20 of 33 passes for 241 yards and two TDs, but was picked off twice.

Rice didn’t score until after Navy got touchdowns on its first five possessions. Dobbs completed two passes for 66 yards, including a 51-yarder to Curry on the Mids’ first snap. Dobbs ran it in from 2 yards out on the next play, adding TD runs from 12 yards and 1 yard on his next two possessions before Vince Murray’s 7-yard run and Curry’s 1-yarder put the Midshipmen up 35-0.

The Owls got Patrick Randolph’s 12-yard touchdown catch, but couldn’t do anything else until Randolph’s second touchdown made it 56-14 in the fourth quarter.

Navy’s methodical triple-option was on display all afternoon, with three drives longer than 10 plays and not a single three-and-out until the game was well out of reach.

The Midshipmen ran 82 plays on offense to Rice’s 54, and converted eight of 14 third and fourth downs, including all three on fourth down.

“I thought it was a great team win. I thought we played great in all three phases,” Niumatalolo said. Kick-off coverage is probably the one thing we could have been better. I thought we plated pretty well in every phase.”

Kase, Hopkins Slip Past 25th Ranked Dickinson, 23-12

CARLISLE, PA – For the second consecutive week the Johns Hopkins football team needed a late-game drive and touchdown to seal a crucial Centennial Conference victory on the road. For the second consecutive week, the Blue Jays turned to senior running back Andrew Kase, who rushed nine times for 54 yards and what proved to be the game-clinching touchdown as the Blue Jays knocked off previously unbeaten and 25th-ranked Dickinson, 23-12, at Biddle Field Saturday afternoon.

The win is the fifth straight for the Blue Jays, who improve to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Centennial Conference. Coupled with a 21-14 win for Franklin & Marshall over Ursinus earlier today, Johns Hopkins takes over sole possession of first place in the Centennial Conference.

The game was also the 200th for Jim Margraff as the head coach at Johns Hopkins and he improves to 124-73-3 in 20 seasons at Homewood.

-G

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