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Obama’s lucky Flacco didn’t run

Posted on 25 November 2008 by Drew Forrester

There’s a lot of football left and anything can happen.

Five games is an eternity in the NFL.  

Injuries…a missed call by the zebras…a bad match-up or two.

In the NFL, you can win three in a row in a heartbeat and lose three in a row just as quickly.

But this is a Ravens team that looks different than in years past.  Record wise, this team is clearly much better than last year’s squad that was beset with injuries and dictated a mini-coaching-mutiny from within when it was apparent by Thanksgiving that the season was a lost cause.  

I think this team is better than the one that went 13-3 in 2006, truth be told.

Reason?

They have a quarterback.

Steve McNair wasn’t chopped liver when he showed up here for the ’06 campaign but he became chopped something shortly thereafter.  Even when he was healthy, he looked like he was on his last legs.  Players would openly marvel at how McNair could literally sleep for 20 minutes an hour before kick-off.  And, while the players knew McNair was better than Kyle Boller, they also knew his stay in Baltimore would probably be short-lived. 

That’s not the case now.  Joe Flacco’s going to be here for a long time.  And the players know it.

Flacco’s meteoric rise hasn’t come as a total shock to the Ravens.  Even back in training camp, players watched him and remarked at how he *looked* like a pro quarterback.  Samari Rolle showed up a week or so into camp after the death of his father and was standing on the sidelines on his first day in Westminster. He watched Flacco play for about 10 minutes and looked around to a Ravens’ staffer and said, “#5, the rookie. We’re gonna play him, right?  I mean, we’re trying to win aren’t we?”  A very telling statement from a Pro Bowl defensive back who knows a thing or two about quarterbacks and their abilities.

It might have taken some players (and fans) longer than 10 minutes to buy into Flacco, but one thing for sure by now.  Everyone wants to invest him.

The standard line at Owings Mills these days is this:  ”Buy stock in Joe Flacco.”

Flacco’s emergence is reflected in the team’s 7-4 record and their rise in the ranks of the AFC, but his play has done much more than just put points on the board for the Ravens.  He’s all but squashed any thoughts – private or public – from players who think Troy Smith would be a better fit than Flacco for this Ravens team.  He’s also quieted a locker room that was well-known for hosting a group moaning session on regular occasions when the Quarterback Du Jour wasn’t getting the job done.  There are no more cryptic radio show comments from Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs or Willis McGahee.  Flacco has shut everyone up, critics and teammates alike.  As we all know, it’s not easy to shut up the Ravens.  But Flacco has done just that.

And a quiet locker room can make a lot of noise on the field, where those sounds best belong.

#5 has made life pleasant again in Baltimore.  He’s a viable candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year and could very well lead his team to the playoffs in his inaugural campaign in the league — something few people expected, much less demanded.  And his play has also brought harmony to the locker room.  No more bickering, no more mid-season finger pointing and no more concerns about having to win games with a quarterback who is a liability.

For years, the Ravens have belonged to Ray Lewis.  

And, in perpetuity, #52 will always be the guy who built the Ravens’ house.

But it’s looking more and more like Joe Flacco is going to build an addition on to that house.

And when you build an addition, the first thing people say is, “Wow, your house sure looks better.”

That’s the story of the Ravens in 2008.  No matter what happens from here on in, their house looks a lot better with Joe Flacco at work. In fact, the house hasn’t looked this good in a long, long time.

I hope that new addition has room for a certain trophy named after a Hall of Fame NFL coach.

I think we’ll need the room one of these days in the not so distant future.

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 18 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

Here’s my Tuesday Top 7……7-Ray Rice

He didn’t really have a good game; but he was an option out of the backfield on 3rd down; which is a help. No one else was really making plays on 3rd down, so it was good that Rice was there.

6-Ray Lewis

He didn’t really have that great of a game either; but he did make an interception at a crucial time; when the game was still in the balance.

5-Terrell Suggs

I was surprised to see that Suggs had collected 7 tackles, but I did know he had played a decent game. Drew also says the Ravens graded him high, which I guess is good too.

4-Haloti Ngata

He jumped a couple of times; but otherwise just played one more great game in what has been a great season.

3-Joe Flacco

If I was grading the first half alone; he wouldn’t be on the list. If I was grading the 2nd half alone; he’d be number 1.

2-Derrick Mason

Other than the miss that lead to the Interception, he was the best player on the field BY FAR. Unfortunately, that was a pretty costly miss.

1-Jarrett Johnson

I’ve said before that when the game is still in the balance, I am more generous in grading. When Johnson went to the air to make sure he sacked Eli Manning, you could tell how much effort he was giving to try to turn things around.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester

says Birds finally start spending money

Thyrl Nelson has Ravens 10th in power rankings

Casey Willett says Harbaugh believes W. Anderson has ‘chance to play’ Sunday

Casey Willett says some in Cleveland want Browns to pursue Scott

Rob Long says Giants were ‘licking their chops’ to face Ravens

Nestor Aparicio wants you to enter your Ravens basement in Miller Lite contest

Ken Zalis didn’t care Ravens were running ball in 4th quarter

Chris Pika says Eagles will present ‘another tough challenge’ for Ravens

Mark Mussina not surprised Ravens lost to Giants

Alex Thomas thinks Flacco deserved game ball

RAVENS:The Official Site’s Mike Duffy

 

says Harbaugh preparing to battle former Eagles team

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens lost TOP battle for first time all season

The Official Site’s Denver Parler says Mason toughed out Sunday’s game with shoulder injury

The Official Site’s Scott Garceau says Jacobs ‘may have had best 73 yard game in NFL history’

Eagles Official Site’s Dave Spadaro says team needs to ‘jump on things earlier’ vs. Ravens

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens will have chances to ‘prove themselves’

The Sun’s Mike Preston says loss to Giants shouldn’t cause ‘despair’

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Harbaugh ‘hopeful’ Terry can play

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Harbaugh ‘concerned’ with Ravens’ penalties

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens in ‘big trouble’ if Gaither can’t play

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens only had ‘10 percent chance’ to beat Giants

The Examiner’s Phil Macek says Ravens ‘face long road to playoffs’

The Examiner’s Steve DeClue gives only Sunday praise to Flacco

Aaron Wilson says Ravens looking to ‘build’ from tough loss

Aaron Wilson says Harbaugh thinks Gaither will be ‘touch and go’

The AP says Ravens must fix flaws to get to playoffs

Philadelphia Daily News’ John Smallwood thinks Reid’s time should be done in Philly

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens can’t suffer ‘long losing streak’ rest of season

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Giants may give NFL ‘blueprint’ for running on Ravens

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gives Ravens ‘D’ for Giants game

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

previews Saturday night’s showdown with Florida State

The Official Site offers complete Maryland-Florida State release (pdf)Florida State Official Site

says Bowden thinks Terps’ defense similar to BC’s

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says Terps hoping to ink JuCo star this week (must subscribe)The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg

says Terps fans should ‘trust’ in Ralph

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Stinebaugh’s big game highlighted weekend action for Terps’ commits

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps will play at Boston College at noon or 3:30

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps, BC each control own fate

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says OC Franklin ‘frustrated’ with Portis

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Franklin took players’ advice and kept running vs. Heels

Washington Post’s Josh Barr says Cosh’s son rising QB prospect

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Turner thinks Terps ‘like playing at home’

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says FSU safety McClure injured celebrating against BC

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says ACC won’t determine Maryland-BC kickoff until we know what game means

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says projections have Terps in Orange, Gator, Champs Sports Bowls

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Williams named ACC offensive lineman of the Week

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps don’t control clock, but have put together long drives

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps must ‘handle success’

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell has already booked hotel room in Tampa

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps leading ACC in 4th quarter scoring defense

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says running success helped Williams to ACC honor

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich thinks Terps end up in Atlanta

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich has Terps 2nd in power rankings

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

previews tonight’s tilt with Youngstown State

The Official Site offers complete Maryland-Youngstown State release (pdf)The Official Site

says Padgett officially inks with Terps

Youngstown State Official Site says tonight’s game features two of 8 coaches with 600 career wins

The Sun’s Don Markus says scoring ‘least of (Gary’s) worries’ for big men

The Sun’s Don Markus didn’t hear booing during Terps’ opener

The Examiner’s Dylan Waugh says Padgett joins J. Williams in important big man class for Terps

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says Tucker ‘solidified’ starting job with performance against Bucknell

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Youngstown State team features new players

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps can’t rely on interior defense anymore

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps 3-1 all-time vs. teams from Horizon League

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Padgett signing ‘anticlimactic’

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Greivis had top +/- vs. Bucknell

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says many helped Bowie improve jumper this summer (must subscribe)Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter

says Barton amongst most ‘valuable’ ’10 prospects (must subscribe)TERRAPINS SOCCER:

The Official Site

says Terps 2nd overall seed in NCAA Tournament

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Terps would have home field advantage in Tournament until College Cup

Washington Post’s Steven Goff says only Deacs seeded higher than Terps in Tournament

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens

 

says Terps open season in Jacksonville

UMBC BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says Greene sets all time assists mark, but Dogs fall at Morgan

MORGAN BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says Bears avenge ’07 loss by beating UMBC

The Sun’s Jeff Seidel says Bears held Dogs to 37 percent shooting

LOYOLA BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says Hounds run out of gas vs. Eagles in NIT last night

The Official Site says Harvey honored by MAAC

LOYOLA SOCCER:The Official Site

 

says Hounds 9th overall seed in NCAA Tournament

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says Mount hangs tough, but falls at Virginia Tech

The Official Site says Goode named NEC Player of the Week

Carroll County Times says Eers blew 8 point lead with 6 minutes to play

Washington Post’s Zach Berman says Hokies ‘mostly outplayed’ by EersNAVY FOOTBALL:

The Examiner’s Tom Flynn

says Navy-Notre Dame had ‘festive bowl-like’ atmosphere

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Niumatalolo doesn’t think going to Dobbs would solve all offensive problems

Washington Post says Niumatalolo starting Dobbs because he has Mids’ offense ‘moving’

Go Mids’ David Ausiello says Navy needs ‘leader’ to emerge on offense

NAVY BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

previews tonight’s contest with St. Francis

The Official Site offers complete Navy-St. Francis release (pdf)Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens

says Mids trying to replace Sprink’s production

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Navy keeping ‘busy’ early

TOWSON FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

previews Saturday’s finale vs. #1 James Madison

HOPKINS FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

says Jays to play Catholic in ECAC Southeast Bowl Game

SALISBURY FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

says Gulls to play in ECAC Southwest Bowl Championship

ORIOLES:The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin

 

says veterans like Mussina, R. Johnson unlikely to want to finish career in Baltimore

The Official Site’s Alden Gonzalez says O’s exec Proefrock joins Phillies as Assistant GM

The Official Site’s Alden Gonzalez says Birds sign Hennessey, D. Murphy to minor league deals

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Birds have not made offer to Teixeira yet

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says former Oriole Townsend to miss season again

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says former Reds GM Krivsky could be candidate for Proefrock’s job

The Sun says Hennessey, D. Murphy invited to Spring Training

The Examiner’s Jay Trucker says with Loewen gone, Birds should discontinue ‘Magic’

HORSE RACING:Thoroughbred Times’ John Scheinman

 

says Laurel horse with equine herpes euthanized

The Sun’s Bill Ordine says 50 other horses test negative for herpes at Laurel

SWIMMING:The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg

 

says Phelps, Bowman claim top honors from USA Swimming

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:-I’ll say Maryland 94, Youngstown State 62. This is lesser competition than Bucknell was and Vermont will be. Also, I’ll say Loyola gets a 59-54 win over Cornell, but they have to be tired. Navy 74, St. Francis 67 as well.

-Congratulations to SunTrust Athlete of the Morning Kourtney Salvarola, who had 12 kills and 16 digs to lead the Broadneck Bruins to a 4 set win over Thomas Johnson in the state 4A Volleyball final. Congratulations to Centennial as well, who beat Towson in straight sets for the 3A title.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

 

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 17 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

I said last week that if the Ravens won; they would be an AFC Championship contender.

If they lost, the Ravens would still be a playoff contender.

They lost, and they lost badly. But they’re still a playoff contender. It won’t be easy; as they still have a VERY difficult schedule; but they are definitely still a playoff contender.

Those “Super Bowl” rumblings some of us were chiding about the last couple of weeks appear kinda silly right now though.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say……

Best of Sunday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester says Ravens must be itching to play again after butt-whooping

Drew Forrester says Ravens suffer ‘Giant butt kicking’

Thyrl Nelson says Ravens still need to beat a good team

Bob Haynie thinks it ‘imperative’ Ravens win next 2 games

Casey Willett says Flacco ‘continued to grow’ in loss

Nestor Aparicio says Ravens ‘humbled’ at Meadowlands

Glenn Clark says many Terps made big plays in win over Carolina

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Giants ‘never looked back’ as Ravens lost 30-10

Giants Official Site’s Michael Eisen says G-Men ran for 200 yards again in win

Giants Official Site’s Michael Eisen says Giants get first ever win over Ravens

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens’ defense put together one of their ‘most forgettable’ defensive performances in loss

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens give up most yards on ground in 11 years

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Suggs doesn’t think loss ‘end of the world’

The Sun’s David Steele says Flacco’s performance far from worst, but far from best

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley, David Steele, and Rick Maese say Stover has FG blocked, but sets record for most consecutive PAT’s

The Sun’s Mike Preston offers no praise, offers harshest criticism to LB’s, special teams

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens ‘beaten at own game’

The AP says former Ravens OC Fassel wants to coach Raiders

The Examiner’s Ron Snyder says Harbaugh thinks Giants ‘even better than (he) thought’

Aaron Wilson says Pryce thought Ravens got ‘thumping’ at hands of Giants

Aaron Wilson says Ravens suffered another special teams ‘calamity’

Aaron Wilson says Flacco made ‘big mistakes’ in loss

The AP says Jacobs, Giants knew running on Ravens not ‘impossible’

Washington Post’s Mark Maske says ‘nothing worked’ for Ravens in loss to Giants

New York Post’s Paul Schwartz says Ravens ‘crumbled’ under Giants’ Jacobs

New York Post’s Brian Lewis says Ross picks off 2 for Giants in win

New York Times’ Joe LaPointe says Giants ‘unstoppable’

New York Times’ Bill Pennington says Giants ‘overpower’ Ravens

New York Daily News’ Mike Lupica says Giants ‘class of the sport right now’

New York Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano says Giants improve to 6-0 at home with win

New York Daily News’ Filip Bondy says Ravens ‘couldn’t bring Jacobs down’

New York Daily News’ Ohm Youngmisuk says Ross’ TD helped finish off Ravens

Newsday’s Tom Rock says Giants’ Snee wanted to get 100 yard rusher in win

Newsday’s Wallace Matthews says only Giants can beat Giants

Newark Star-Ledger’s Steve Politi says Giants ran ball ‘down (Ravens’) throats’

Newark Star-Ledger’s Kevin Manahan says Flacco gets tough treatment in native New Jersey

ESPN.com says Ravens’ defense ‘dud’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens must improve vs. NFC East

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Giants ‘controlled game from the outset’

Fox Sports’ Howie Long says what Giants did to Ravens ‘remarkable’

SI’s Dom Bonvissuto says Flacco ‘not the reason’ Ravens lost

SI’s Peter King says Giants keeping Jacobs fresh for playoffs by not giving him too many carries

CBS Sports’ Clark Judge says Flacco Ravens’ leading rusher in loss

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole says Ravens could be in for ‘long December’

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph thinks Terps viewing ACC title chances as ‘reality’

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph will likely get big game in front of big crowd Saturday night

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph expects players to monitor BC game before Terps kick off

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Egekeze didn’t watch Barth’s missed FG

The Examiner’s Abby Sondak says Terps in ACC ‘driver’s seat’

The AP says UNC win vaults Terps back into top 25

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Terps back in first by themselves

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Perez’s ‘phenomenal’ stop on Sexton turned tide for Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ravens have most chances to win Atlantic

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Noles bring dominant defense into Saturday night showdown

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph feels this season ‘important’ to Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Davis impressed by Terps’ front 7

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Sexton thought he played ‘worst game of year’ vs. Terps

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps won’t get to face another ranked team as Noles fall out of Top 25

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says UNC LB Paschal felt like Terps had ball all game

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Ralph treating this Terps team softer than he has in past

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Ralph pleased with schemes Cosh used to stop UNC WR Nicks

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps could be part of dreadful BCS

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says #22 Maryland highest ranked amongst ACC teams

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Turner continues to play better vs. ranked teams than unranked teams

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Turner belongs in ACC Player of the Year ‘discussion’

Fox Sports’ Dan Borst says Maryland-Cincinnati not particularly appealing Orange Bowl matchup

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says ACC title ‘within grasp’ for Terps (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Examiner’s Dylan Waugh says Terps look pretty good compared to Duke’s close win over URI yesterday

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says win over Bucknell ‘ugly’

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Strickland scores 14 as Terps beat Delaware State

The AP says Kizer, Coleman add 13 apiece in win

The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph says Terps ‘frustrated with effort’ despite big win over Delaware State

Washington Post’s Camille Powell says Barrett plays well in place of Toliver to lead Terps to win

Washington Times’ Mike Fratto says Terps improve to 1-1 with win

TERRAPINS SOCCER:

The Official Site says Terps beat Cavs 1-0 to claim third ACC title

The Sun says Hall scores winner to give Terps 1-0 title win

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Terps get ‘signature moment’ with ACC title win

TERRAPINS FIELD HOCKEY:

The Sun says Terps beat Duke to advance to Final Four

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz says Terps beat Duke 8-5 in highest scoring game in NCAA Tournament history

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Don Markus says Niumatalolo thinks chances ‘good’ Dobbs becomes starter

The Examiner’s Dave Carey says Dobbs will be ‘ready’ if given the nod to start

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Virginia ‘ideal’ candidate to face Navy in EagleBank Bowl

Go Mids’ Christian Swezey says Mids got onsides help from former hoops player C. Johnson

NAVY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Mids use 17-1 run to finish off Howard 66-55

Washington Post’s Steven Goff says Mids didn’t allow field goal in last 9+ minutes to hold off Howard

TOWSON BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says freshman Franklin scores 19 but Tigers lose to Niagara 79-62

LOYOLA BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Harvey scores career high 34 to lead Hounds past Tennessee State 73-70

The Examiner’s Dave Carey says Patsos had to play Harvey through foul trouble yesterday

LOYOLA SOCCER:

The Official Site says Hounds suffer first defeat of season 1-nil to Fairfield in MAAC Championship

MORGAN BASKETBALL:

The Official Site offers complete Morgan-UMBC release (pdf)

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Eers visit Va Tech tonight

ORIOLES:

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Reimold catching fire in Arizona

HORSE RACING:

Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says Curlin to be sent to stud in early ‘09

Thoroughbred Times says Curlin could make one more start before retiring

SWIMMING:

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says Hoff will work with Phelps’ coach Bowman

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Congratulations to the ACC Champion Maryland Soccer team; and Misty Meharg’s Field Hockey team, who is headed to the Final Four. It was a pretty good weekend in College Park; and Sasho’s team deserves a 1 seed when the brackets are announced tonight. Loyola deserves a 4 or 5; as their schedule wasn’t that tough.

-Congratulations to SunTrust Athlete(s) of the Morning Nick and Vinnie DePaolo. The Hereford brothers totaled 3 TD’s and Nick added a fumble recovery to help the Bulls blow out Mervo in first round playoff action. David Stinebaugh again deserved the honor; but there’s nothing I can do about that.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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The Young and Restless

Posted on 14 November 2008 by Brian Billick

As I prepared for my game this week between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs I had a chance to see first hand what the Chiefs are going through with their purging of their roster and building anew this franchise. Trading away their best defensive player (Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings) and loading up on draft choices this year you can clearly see the commitment the Chiefs have made to the future, and the growing pains they are experiencing at 1-8.

Seeing Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson put this plan in motion, I can’t help but think back to the 2002 season when Ozzie Newsome and I were faced with the same task.

As much as we as coaches would like to think otherwise, our jobs (particularly that of a head coach) are inexorably linked to the finances of any given situation. In 2000 the Baltimore Ravens reached the top of the professional football pyramid winning Super Bowl XXXV and then returning to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs in 2001. The price was unavoidable, however.

In 2002, the Ravens fielded the youngest team ever (19 rookies) in the history of the NFL. The decisions made in the preceding years to the “Cap Purge” of 02’ were all made with the consensus agreement that the team would have to be gutted after the 2001 season. With every signing leading up to the Super Bowl year General Manager Ozzie Newsome would make the obligatory observation, “Now we all know the piper has to be paid in 2002, right.” It was an acknowledgment by all involved that the expenditure “over the cap” had an unavoidable consequence in today’s NFL. That for every dollar “over the cap” you spend you will be devoid of those dollars in subsequent years.

At the heart of the Ravens’ Championship year were players like Shannon Sharpe, Priest Holmes, Rob Burnett, Duane Starks,Tony Siragusa, Qadry Ismail, Sam Adams. Jeff Mitchell, Jamie Sharper, Jermaine Lewis and even future Hall of Fame Rod Woodson would all be victims of the financial “balancing of the books” that every team must come to recon with.

It was only fitting that the cover of the 2002 Ravens’ Media Guide adorned the oil portraits of myself and Ozzie. Indeed, we where left with the task of rebuilding a championship team with our “financial” hands tied behind our backs. We did so in the only way left to a team in this situation and that is to draft and draft well.

Draftees like Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Todd Heap, Gary Baxter, Casey Rabach, Edgerton Hartwell, Ed Reed, Anthony Weaver, Dave Zastudil and Chester Taylor would team with holdovers Chris McAlister and future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden to form an AFC North Division Championship team in 2003. They key was the franchise’s willingness to take the dramatic steps to “purge” their championship team of older and more expensive talent and replace it with younger more affordable players.

The problem lies in being a victim of your own success. When you draft well, even though the young player comes cheaper, they play themselves into the higher priced market that makes it increasingly tough to keep all of your good players. Ultimately, the successes of drafting Ed Reed, Todd Heap and Terrell Suggs then forced the Ravens to let go of Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Gary Baxter, Casey Rabach, Edgerton Hartwell, Anthony Weaver, Dave Zastudil and Chester Taylor. It has become a vicious cycle, in a reverse of nature, the “young eating their old.”

In training camp of the 2002 purge year Todd Heap had a humorous, but acute observation. We had long had a tradition on our team that the most veteran players got to sit in first class when we traveled. Typically that would be seven or eight players, usually with 10+ years in the league. Todd Heap, who was just entering his third year in the league, at our first OTA with this young group observed, “Coach, looks like I am going to be in first class this season.”

Having spent the day with Herm Edwards, it’s clear he is finding the same things I did in 2002. Though tough getting through the loses, it was one of the most enjoyable years I have had coaching. Working with and developing the young talent is what being a coach is all about. Herm will also find that by having to play so many young players you are going to learn a great deal more about them than you might otherwise have a chance to do. Next year when he looks at his roster and sees a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year players he will not have to worry about how they will play in their first starts. They will all have 10 to 16 games of playing experience.

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 11 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

Your Tuesday Top 7……7-Steven Hauschka

If he can regularly deliver 50+ yard field goals; then the Ravens have another new element to their exciting offense. And the kickoffs are a weapon too.

6-Todd Heap

Not only did he have 5 catches for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he also had one of his best blocking games of the year.

5-Terrell Suggs

It figures he would be having an impact season with a payday looming….

4-Joe Flacco

He can’t put passes where his receivers can get hurt; and he needs to learn how to take a sack. But his performances have been pretty special.

3-Ray Lewis

He controls the pace of the defense, and the pace of game play on the field. The stiff arm was a joy to watch as well.

2-Willis McGahee

McGahee is the difference for this team offensively. He is the only home run hitter on the field; and can control the pace offensively the way Ray can defensively.

1-Haloti Ngata

The guy ABSOLUTELY looked like the most dominant player on the field Sunday. It is a pleasure to watch him play. The INT; the hits on Rosenfels that caused INT’s, the blocking at the goal line…..it was all there.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say….

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester

thinks McGahee top Raven vs. Texans

Drew Forrester not a fan of new Orioles hats

Casey Willett says Harbaugh praises Coaches H. Jackson, Montgomery

Thyrl Nelson has Ravens 8th in power rankings

Nestor Aparicio wants more than just “Baltimore” from Orioles

Alex Thomas gives game ball to Ngata

Ken Zalis thinks Ravens 5th best team in NFL

RAVENS:The Official Site

 

says Harbaugh thought win ‘team victory’

The Official Site’s Scott Garceau says offense finally catching up to defense

The Official Site says Ravens made ‘numerous’ mistakes

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens averaging NFL high 33.5 points per game over last four weeks

Giants Official Site’s Michael Eisen says team knows Ravens ‘great challenge’ Sunday

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says offense has ‘tough tests’ in upcoming games

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens can start using ‘P’ word

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Ravens keeping both Stover, Hauschka

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Harbaugh ‘hopeful’ Mason will play SundayThe AP

says former Ravens WR Hunter sentenced to six months in prison

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Harbaugh expects W. Anderson to ‘fight like crazy’ to play Sunday

The Sun’s Mike Preston says McAlister wanted to push surgery, doctors told him playing would ‘jeopardize career’

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Heap ‘never complained’ about not getting ball

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens should continue using all RB’s

The Examiner’s Dave Carey gives highest praise to D-Line, LB’s

The Examiner’s Ron Snyder says players more ‘positive’ about Ravens’ direction

The Examiner’s Phil Macek says Ravens looking at ‘huge game’ with Giants

The Examiner’s Steve DeClue gives highest praise to D-Line, LB’s

Aaron Wilson says Ravens have ‘sprinted’ from Colts loss

Aaron Wilson says ‘too early’ for Harbaugh to determine Mason’s status for Sunday

The AP says things have changed dramatically for Ravens over last month

New York Post’s Paul Schwartz says Giants formidable run game faces Ravens’ formidable run D

New York Daily News’ Gary Myers says this Giants team could be better than ’86 Giants

Newark Star-Ledger’s Frank Della Femina says some in New York talking ‘repeat’

Newark Star-Ledger’s Jenny Vrentas says Giants can’t afford to keep fumbling

ESPN.com Page 2’s DJ Gallo says McGahee’s bye week frustrations misguided

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Clayton’s play good sign if Mason can’t go Sunday

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens ‘very well-conditioned football team’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says ‘settling’ QB position has made Ravens playoff contender

ESPN.com’s James Walker says 52, McGahee ‘hot’

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gives Ravens another “A”

Yahoo! Sports’ Michael Silver says Neal compares Flacco to hot high school sophomore

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

previews Maryland-Carolina

The Official Site offers complete Maryland-Carolina release (pdf)The Official Site

says Terps will play Florida State on ESPN

North Carolina Official Site says Heels will be without TE Pianalto Saturday

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Porzel, O’Brien, Stinebaugh highlight big weekend for commits

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Davis talking up Terps

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps, Heels to kick off at 7:45

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps have slumping run defense, Heels have red hot run offense

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says MTSU over Maryland amongst most unlikely outcomes all season

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps will bring 0-3 record at night to Florida State game

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell breaks down Terps, Heels statistically

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps must run ball, stop run to beat Heels

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says tailgaters excited for Florida State at night

Raleigh News & Observer’s Robbi Pickeral says Davis thinking about Terps; not Tennessee job

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says UNC’s Houston getting tips from Va Tech’s Evans

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says defense must improve for Terps

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Terps don’t have defense, offensive playmakers to match Noles, Hokies

SI’s Stewart Mandel has Terps headed to Boise

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says Kerr ‘looking forward’ to hitting campus in January (must subscribe)TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Don Markus

wonders how Vasquez will respond to benching

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says Milbourne embracing captain role

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Neal featured prominently on media guide

ESPN.com Page 2’s Paul Lukas says new Under Armour jerseys ‘flashier’, not ‘better’

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish thinks Terps on ‘bubble’

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter says ’10 prospect Regan visiting this weekend (must subscribe)Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter

recaps New Jersey event (must subscribe)NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site

previews Navy-Notre Dame

The Official Site offers complete Navy-Notre Dame release (pdf)The Official Site’s Bob Socci

says Bryant ‘tough as nails’

The Sun’s Don Markus says Weis will have ‘active’ role in Notre Dame offense

The Examiner’s Tom Flynn remembers when Navy, Notre Dame battled in Ireland

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Dobbs tends to struggle in practice

Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock says ‘there are rumors’ Weis will be fired if Irish lose to Mids

NAVY BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

previews hoops season

TOWSON FOOTBALL:The Official Site

 

previews Towson-Villanova

MORGAN FOOTBALL:The Examiner’s Dave Carey

 

says Bears must win out to have any shot at MEAC title

UMBC BASKETBALL:The Official Site

 

says Coach Monroe to host show today

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens has UMBC, Morgan, Mt. St. Mary’s IN; Terps OUT

COPPIN BASKETBALL:The Sun

 

says Eagles building around MEAC star McKee

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:The Sun’s Mike Klingaman

 

says Coach Brown trying to keep Eers ‘humble’ after Tourney run

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Atupems playing together for Eers

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Eers bring back 7 of top 8 scorers

HOPKINS BASKETBALL:The Sun

 

says Jays should continue good ‘trends’ from last season

ORIOLES:The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr.

 

says Matusz collecting strikeouts, giving up runs in Arizona

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Matusz, Tillman get some love in Baseball America

The Examiner’s Jay Trucker says Palmer, Markakis, Guthrie, Sherrill will attend rally

MARINERS:The Official Site

 

says team hosting another tryout this weekend

BALTIMORE COLTS:Newsday’s Neil Best

 

says Gifford wondered whether last year’s Super Bowl ‘greater’ than ‘Greatest Game Ever Played’

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:-Congratulations to Suntrust Athlete of the Morning John Jenkins; who had the game winner for Lutheran in their 2-1 victory of Chapelgate in the C Conference title game. Congratulations also to Amy Chotikul and Christie Brown; who were both starters for the Boys’ team at Lutheran.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

 

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 10 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

It was a great win. It was a fun win. It was good to see Todd Heap step up, especially with Mason getting hurt. Haloti Ngata continues to amaze.Once again, we’ll play it week by week. If the Ravens beat or even hang close with the Giants next Sunday; they’re an AFC Championship contender. If they get blown out; they’re still a playoff contender.

But let’s take it week by week. And let’s get Joe Flacco to work on taking sacks. And not throwing the ball where his best receiver can get hurt!

Let’s see what everyone else has to say……..

Best of Sunday’s WNST Blogs:

Nestor Aparicio

says Ravens ‘for real’

Casey Willett says Ravens face ‘huge test’ vs. Giants next week

Bob Haynie says 6-3 ‘ain’t a bad place to be’

Drew Forrester says Ravens can think they’re good enough to go to the Super Bowl

Drew Forrester doesn’t think anyone could have been worse than Rosenfels

Glenn Clark says Ryan keeping Flacco out of Rookie of the Year picture

RAVENS:The Official Site’s Mike Duffy

 

says Flacco throws for 2 TD’s in win

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens come up with four picks to get 41-13The Official Site’s Kristen Deahl

says Ngata was ‘all over field’ for Ravens in win

Texans Official Site’s Brooke Bentley says Rosenfels accepts blame for 2nd half mistakes

Texans Official Site says Kubiak thought team ‘self destructed’

Texans Official Site’s Nick Schenck says Ravens scored 16 points off giveaways

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Flacco more ‘clutch’ than ‘rookie’ in win

The Sun’s Rick Maese says even keel locker room ‘refreshing’ after big win

The Sun’s David Steele says healthy McGahee gets 112 yards, 2 TD’s in win

The Sun’s David Steele gives highest praise to Flacco, LB’s

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens have scored at least 27 in 4 straight games for first time in franchise history

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Heap finally gets involved with 5 catches, 58 yards, and 2 TD’s

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Ravens put together ‘most complete performance of year’

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley and David Steele say Ngata had ‘best overall game’ of any player on team

The AP says 52 collects 2 picks in win

Aaron Wilson says Ravens ‘brutal’, ‘relentless’, ‘physically dominant’, ‘instinctive’, ‘merciless’ in win

Aaron Wilson says Heap thought scoring first TD of season ‘great feeling’

Aaron Wilson says Mason returned from dislocated shoulder in 2nd half to catch 3 passes, 43 yards, 2 point conversion

Aaron Wilson gives QB’s, D-Line highest praise

Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice says Kubiak critical of DC Smith after game

Houston Chronicle’s John McClain says Texans look ‘pathetic’ enough to finish 3-13

Houston Chronicle’s Dale Robertson says Rosenfels’ run at starter ‘couldn’t have got off to worse start’Houston Chronicle’s Megan Manfull

says defense accepts “flak” for Flacco performance

Houston Chronicle’s Megan Manfull and Dale Robertson say Suggs thinks Ravens kept Texans’ ‘heads under water’

ESPN.com’s John Clayton says Flacco ‘ahead of schedule’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens would be amongst hottest AFC teams if not for Titans

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens ‘proving to be legitimate threat’ in AFC

SI’s Peter King ‘can’t tell difference’ in 52 from age 28 to age 33

CBS Sports’ Clark Judge says Flacco extends no INT streak to 4 games

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:The Sun’s Jeff Barker

 

says Terps out of first place, out of Top 25

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Ralph relieved to play next two at home

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says despite falling out of first; Terps still control destiny

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terps have toughest schedule of teams fighting for division title

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph blames O-Line, Scott’s injury for rushing struggles Thursday night

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps 3-3 all-time at home vs. ranked Carolina teams

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says C. Jackson could be ‘most irreplaceable’ Terp

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says ‘confusion’ caused Terps to call timeout before 3rd and 18 at end of first half

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Scott, C. Jackson ‘no worse for wear’ injury-wise

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says only one writer still voting for Terps

ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach says Terps Charlotte-bound, Bruce Feldman thinks Terps headed to BoiseESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

drops Terps to 9th in power rankings

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says inconsistency not only problem for Terps

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says Terps get better injury news than thought after loss (must subscribe)TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Don Markus

says Dupree, Burney will ‘have to grow up fast’

The Sun’s Don Markus picks Terps 9th in ACC

The Diamondback’s Mark Selig says Terps want to be better vs. ‘lesser’ teams

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel not hailing Kim as ‘savior’ yet

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary thinks half of ACC deserves Tourney bid

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Mosley will return to practice today

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary thinks Milbourne becoming ‘leader’

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:The Diamondback’s Adi Joseph

 

says Liles has double double in exhibition win

Washington Times’ Mike Fratto says Terps must ‘replace stars’

NAVY FOOTBALL:Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens

 

says Mids likely to play BC or Virginia in EagleBank Bowl

ORIOLES:The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin

 

says Birds looking for ‘new identity’ in offseason

SWIMMING:The Examiner’s Jon Gallo

 

says Bowman, Phelps want to make Meadowbrook ‘world class facility’

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:-Congratulations to SunTrust Athlete of the Morning Tony Johnson…..the Fallston RB who had 5 TD’s in the Cougars’ 35-14 victory over Rising Sun. Congratulations to our other nominees as well; including Poly RB John Marcus (2 TD’s in the 2nd half as Poly rallied from down 13-0 to beat City 16-13); Fallston Senior Derek Hyde (game winner as Fallston beat La Plata 1-0 in the state semifinals); his cousin Marissa Hyde (6 saves as Fallston’s girls’ team advanced to the state finals as well); and the VERY deserving Zack Kane (12th clean sheet of season as Perry Hall beat Magruder to advance to state finals).

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

 

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Joe Can Do

Posted on 10 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

It’s hard not to get caught up in this. For weeks I’ve been talking about the possibility of the Ravens ripping off four straight wins like they just have, and the potential for the schedule to pull the rug back out from under them just as quickly. For weeks I’ve been cautioning myself to not get too caught up in the euphoria of the Ravens and in particular their young franchise QB having success against the NFL’s lower echelon. And all along, I’ve been thinking that this is still an 8-win team at best, and simply not playoff bound, and there are still plenty of reasons to feel that way. But somewhere along the way, “Joe Can Do” and the new look Ravens offense has got me caught up in the very excitement I had set out to avoid.

 

Let’s face it, as Ravens fans we’ve been privileged to have seen a lot of spectacular things in the team’s very short history, but 134 points in 4 games can certainly have a mesmerizing effect on a team that’s been known for living on their defense, and still strikes fear in opponents first and foremost on that side of the ball. In fact, 134 points in 4 games is unprecedented in Ravens history. It’s never happened before. They were closest in 1996, with 130 over a 4 game stretch, from a team that we remember as dynamic offensively. They came close in 1999 and in 2000 too believe it or not, and again in 2003 behind Anthony Wright, but never quite 134.

 

Clearly this is where the price of poker goes up. The Dolphins, Browns, Raiders and Texans are ranked 11th, 16th, 21st and 30th respectively in scoring defense, in part due to the points that the Ravens put up on them, but also in part because they are simply mediocre to bad defenses. Upcoming, the Ravens will have to deal with a lot more upper echelon defenses, but on the bright side they likely won’t need 33 points per game to win.

 

There are still a number of reasons to be concerned. The Ravens’ all world run defense will likely force teams to go more pass heavy against them, and recently the team has shown that they’ll make you pay on the underneath stuff too. Sooner or later, teams will just sell out to attack the Ravens deep, and just do enough of the other stuff to keep them honest. The deep ball still looks to be a weakness for the team, and forcing teams to do it more often could force the defense to make adjustments, and put pressure on the offense to score more. 

 

Flacco has been getting the job done, largely despite the lack of a playmaker in his receiving corps, and depending on the prognosis on Derrick Mason, he may have to go forward without his best possession receiver for the foreseeable future. There are still big questions to be answered in the kicking game as Matt Stover is a risky proposition outside of 40 yards, and we’ve yet to see if Steven Hauschka has the accuracy to make it as an NFL kicker.

 

Ed Reed has been largely missing in action so far this season, which is understandable if the Ravens are using him differently because of his injuries, but if that’s the case, it’s really puzzling why they’d risk him on a punt return last week, especially when Jim Leonhard had been doing so well returning kicks.

 

And rookie coach John Harbaugh has taken a number of questionable timeouts, which haven’t been costly yet, but still have to be reason for concern. And I have no idea what is going on with the team’s red flag review process, but clearly that system needs a complete overhaul.

 

Still, the Ravens are a work in progress. That’s usually the ideal place for championship teams to be at this time of the season. We all know where the 2000 Ravens were at this point in their season, and although these are clearly not the 2000 Ravens, look where the Giants were at this time last season too. Even going into the playoffs, few outside of their own diehard fans, thought the Giants would have the juice to go all the way. The Colts in ’06 and Steelers in ’05 both had a number of stumbles down the stretch and were widely being overlooked at playoff time. As I said, despite all of the reasons to be cautious, it’s just tough to not get ahead of yourself with this team.

 

They do seem to be answering a new question and showing a new wrinkle every week. Bringing in a kickoff specialist and using him for a 54 yard field goal is evidence of that. Todd Heap has been slowly finding his way back into the offense in recent weeks and broke out in a big way on Sunday, and just in the nick of time too with Mason going down.

 

Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata are dominating the line of scrimmage, and have combined for more interceptions than any 2 active members of the secondary. And in the last two weeks, the Ravens have gotten away from the cute and tricky offensive plays that they’d used primarily to score in the earlier games, and showed that they can simply impose their will in a traditional straight ahead offensive scheme too.

 

I’m trying not to let my expectations get the best of me. There’s too much stacked against this team for it to be their year. Injuries, age in some cases, inexperience in others, the most difficult schedule they’ve probably ever had to deal with, and mostly the same old personnel on offense. There are too many glaring deficiencies, the young and banged up offensive line, the fact that Chris McAllister still leads the team in interceptions despite not playing in nearly half of the games. The fact that Suggs, Ngata, and Ray Lewis all have more interceptions than Reed, and Justin Bannan is tied with him.

 

There’s also the fact that Suggs still has scored more points than Todd Heap, who has been healthy all season so far. And now it looks like the team’s leading active receivers now have just 20 catches on the year too. And perhaps most of all there is the entire NFC East, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville and Cincinnati still standing between the Ravens and the playoffs.

 

Still though, even the most cynical among us have to be excited about the future of this club, and particularly this offense. Even the biggest of doubters would have to concede that with 4 home games left, the Ravens, always dangerous at M&T could have some fight left in them. The NFC East is looking more and more vulnerable with each passing week, and we all know what can happen when this defense gets on a roll.

 

If I had to pick today, I’d still put my guess at 9 wins, but a lot can certainly happen between now and the end of the season. The Ravens have at least proven that they have enough offense to meet the defense almost halfway, which is much closer than they’ve been in a long time. And the cold weather, which tends to favor a team that can run the ball and play defense is right around the corner.

 

The odds of a playoff berth still look slim to me, and the odds of a home playoff game look even longer. But it looks like an absolute certainty that this team will be playing meaningful football games well into December, which is more than most of us would have expected at the beginning of the 2008 campaign. And I’m guessing that playoff ticket orders will be out in the mail before long. And I’ll be laying out the money for them and hoping for the best. Maybe, just maybe, Joe Can Do.

 

Peace,

T

(thyrl@wnst.net)

 

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Pay it Backward?

Posted on 08 November 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

It’s certainly no secret that the Ravens will have a lot of difficult decisions to make this off-season. There’s the pending free agency of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott, the now seemingly up in the air status of Chris McAllister and the team’s still glaring need for a playmaker at wide receiver. And since we are only at the midway point in the season, my guess is that a number of new needs, issues and/or question marks are likely to arise before this season wraps.

 

I’d also say that it’s hardly breaking news that unless they are certain that the salary cap will go away in 2010 and beyond, as has been speculated, there’s no way that they’ll be able to address all of the above. How to prioritize and handle each of those situations will likely be the subject of much debate in the coming weeks and months.

 

If I were charged with prioritizing these needs, Suggs would have to be at the top of the list. While his career certainly hasn’t reached the magnitude of Ray Lewis’, at 26 years old and with 6 seasons under his belt, Suggs certainly represents the most value of all of the Ravens’ pending free agents. My preference would be to sign Suggs to a 4 or 5-year deal and keep him in Baltimore. Suggs can do a lot to negate the loss of McAllister too, as a solid pass rush is one of the primary prerequisites of a solid secondary. The Ravens have been doing a decent job of proving that over the last few weeks.

 

If signing Suggs long term isn’t in the cards, then it’ll be important to get something for him that comes close to fair market value. They could put a non-exclusive franchise tag on him and allow him to negotiate with other teams, at that point they allow Suggs to establish his own market value, and absent some crazy “poison pill” deal, the Ravens would still get a chance to match it. Further, it would award the Ravens two first rounders if they elected to let him go. Regardless, dealing with Suggs’ situation or electing to put it off for another year with another franchise tag has to be regarded as the team’s top priority.

 

For my money, the cornerback situation has to be resolved next. If McAllister is going to be out of the picture, then the Ravens need to get some more bodies into it. Although they are holding their own right now, the Ravens secondary certainly doesn’t feel like that of a big time contender going forward. I have always felt that McAllister was the most important component of the defense, and maybe the biggest reason for the sustained run of defensive dominance that we’ve enjoyed as fans for a decade now. Replacing his services will be no easy task, as I am afraid we are likely to become much more aware of as the second half of this season plays out.

 

Bart Scott, I fear, will probably be a victim of the Ravens’ inability to resign everyone and will likely be the odd man out, I’d guess. At just 28 years old, and in only his fourth season of full time action, letting Scott walk could turn out to be a mistake. But given the team’s history of developing linebackers, the Ravens have to feel relatively confident about cutting some corners with Scott. It’ll also be interesting to see if Scott, unlike other former Ravens linebackers is able to flourish in another system and winds up being worth the money that he commands in free agency.

 

Filling the need at wide receiver has been an ongoing theme for this front office for as long as I can remember. So although I look at this once again as a position of need in this off-season, my faith in the ability of this team to adequately scout wide receivers has been shaken. For that reason, I’m not even sure that I’d want the Ravens to go out and spend highly in the draft for a wide receiver again, and I’m guessing with all of the in house contract issues to be dealt with, the Ravens probably won’t be big players in free agency either.

 

So where does that leave Ray Lewis? He’ll be 34 at the beginning of next season, and while I’ll be the first to tell you that 35 is spry, it’s probably not the best age to be spending mega-millions of dollars on, especially in signing bonus money. I truly appreciate the job that he’s done here, and would love to see him ride off into the sunset as a Raven. But realistically, I can’t see paying him for another 4 years based on the magnificent season that he’s having this year.

 

It’d pain me to see Lewis go elsewhere to finish out his career, but likely no more than it pained Niner’s fans to see it happen with Montana and Rice, or Cowboys fans with Emmitt Smith, or Chargers fans with Junior Seau, or Dolphins fans with Jason Taylor. That’s the modern NFL. And if the Ravens are looking to build the most competitive team for now and the future, it’s likely that future will see a new face of the franchise sooner than we think. I’d say that Joe Flacco is growing nicely into that role so far.

 

At the end of the day, maybe it’s Ozzie’s fault that he’ll have to make that decision. I’m no capologist, but it seems that Ozzie’s not either. Accolades are easy to pile on Newsome based on his accomplishments here, but cap management has certainly been a deficiency. We can all remember the cap purge that took place after 2001, and to Newsome’s credit, he built the roster to rebound quickly. But at least from my perspective, the Ravens always seem to be up against it cap-wise.

 

It doesn’t seem that we have any more stars than other teams, yet when names like Roy Williams (not that I would have given up the king’s ransom that the Cowboys did to get him, nor do I ever expect that Ozzie would have either), but when players like that become available, the Ravens always seem to be immediately out of the running due to cap space. Other teams, like Dallas and Washington, seemingly loaded with big contracts routinely find ways to fit more star salaries under their caps, while the Ravens seem to have to cut corners just to retain their own free agents.

 

Sometimes I think that the Ravens have been way too human as an organization. It’s a business in the NFL, and at times the club has seemed to allow emotions to dictate how they handle personnel matters. This has been especially true when it comes to coaches. I can’t think of any staff that has been scalped as routinely for coaching vacancies over the last few seasons. Perhaps the Ravens have been too accommodating when it comes to allowing their coaches the freedom to explore other opportunities.

 

When Josh McDaniels name started surfacing for head coaching interviews last season, he declined to interview with anyone after meeting with Bill Bellichick and feeling that he wasn’t ready. My guess is that Bellichick’s message was along the lines of the Patriots needing an OC who was going to be with the team for an extended period, and if he had interest in pursuing other opportunities, that they might have to find someone with more similar priorities to those of the team. That’s just me guessing, but that’s seems to be the way that they do things in New England. No player is bigger than the team, and unless your name is Tom Brady, then you are replaceable.

 

That’s how the Patriots have handled player contracts over the years too. They let go of Lawyer Malloy in a highly publicized incident that was likely meant to send a message to the rest of the team. When Deion Branch held out he was traded, others who commanded big paydays in free agency have been allowed to walk from New England. And whether by design or not, their team first concept seems to keep individual players from achieving too much recognition, thereby cutting down on the costs of retaining them.

 

Along with all of their on the field success, the Patriots have been clear about their intentions to run the team in a cold and businesslike manner. They’ve seen a great deal of success on the field as a result, and the really strange side effect is that former superstars, ready to humble themselves and accept role player positions and pay, flock to the Patriots in spite of those methods. Winning is the best deodorant.

 

In a perfect world, it’d be right to overpay Ray Lewis to stay put, and ride off into the sunset and Canton as a lifelong Raven. Short of the salary cap being repealed, it just doesn’t make sense from a football standpoint. Ray Lewis has truly left it all on the field each and every time he suited up as a Raven. He’s played through pain, and due to his dedication, leadership and natural talent has elevated the play of every man who has had the privilege of sharing a huddle with him. He ushered in the new era of Baltimore football by creating an aura of dominance on his side of the ball. But perhaps above all, he has been paid handsomely for it too.

 

Although he still seems nearly every bit the player he was at his prime, Lewis has had difficulty getting through an entire season in recent years. At his age, the kind of money he’ll likely get on the open market is a dangerous proposition. And as we are all too familiar with as fans, these types of deals can hamstring a payroll for years after the player’s performance level dips below their cap number. 

 

Let’s see how he finishes the season first, but the Ravens have a lot of decisions to make this off-season, and none will likely be more difficult than the decision on whether or not to give Ray his money. Based on the numbers that are being speculated, I’d say no. From a risk reward standpoint, the Ravens would be much better to let him walk too. If you pay him and he winds up stinking up the tail end of the deal, it’s wasted money and cap space. If you don’t and he lights it up with someone else after signing a big money deal, it’ll sting, but that’s all, and you’ll get a compensatory pick in return.

 

We all know what the perfect world solution would be, but we also all know that it’s not a perfect world. In this case, it’s the NFL and it makes no sense to “pay it backward”.

 

Peace,

T

(thyrl@wnst.net)

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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 07 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

Ravens 27, Texans 17Yes, I’m picking the Ravens. Stop the presses. The Ravens NEED to win this game, and I feel as though they are in the type of groove that will continue on the road Sunday. Expect a big day for the Ravens’ LB’s.

 

Delaware 24, Towson 20If this was a home game, the Tigers would get a win.

 

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…….

Best of Thursday’s WNST Blogs:

Joe Flacco says Ravens in ‘really good groove’

Brian Billick says Oakland’s Russell opposite of Flacco

Casey Willett says McGahee had ‘noticeable limp’ yesterday

Glenn Clark says last night’s game, Simpson’s performance last season examples of why Cosh could be out

Ed Frankovic says Caps get two goals in final minutes to beat Canes

Nestor Aparicio says Puck Bus included thrilling game

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Suggs thinks Harbaugh doing ‘good job night before the game getting (Ravens) ready’ on road

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says decision coming on Landry

The Official Site says Rex Ryan not talking to brother Rob regarding DeAngelo Hall

The Official Site’s Patrick Gleason says many Ravens thought last week’s game ‘defining’ moment for team

Texans Official Site’s Brooke Bentley says Kubiak will play Adibi 15 to 20 snaps

Texans Official Site’s Michael A. Lutz says Texans must get job done on 3rd down

Texans Official Site’s Nick Scurfield says Texans ready for Ravens’ 3-4 front

Texans Official Site says Kubiak thinks RB Green ‘should be fine’

The Sun’s Mike Preston gives highest praise at midway point to D-Line, LB’s

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens need production from Suggs, RB’s; must force Rosenfels to make mistakes

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens in playoff mix, but face difficult schedule

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says despite matching records, Flacco’s first 8 games better than Boller’s

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Clayton ‘refreshed’ by TD in Cleveland game

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Boller won’t be ‘bitter’

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Rolle found watching from sidelines ‘tough’

The Sun’s Mike Preston believes Ravens will be interested in Hall

The Sun’s Edward Lee says L. McClain dealing with sore ankle

The Sun’s Edward Lee says previously released Wheelwright back at practice

All Sun writers pick Ravens

The Examiner’s Ron Snyder says Ayanbadejo happy to make impact on special teams

Aaron Wilson says Ravens respect Texans WR Johnson

Aaron Wilson says Ravens ‘don’t have much salary-cap room’ to use on Hall

The AP says Rice ‘invaluable’ to Ravens

Houston Chronicle’s John McClain picks Texans 23-20

Houston Chronicle’s Jerome Solomon thinks Kubiak could be coaching for job

Houston Chronicle’s Megan Manfull says Texans, Ravens each getting lift from rookie RB’s

Houston Chronicle’s Megan Manfull says Okoye could miss game

3 of 5 ESPN Sunday Countdown analysts pick Ravens

All ESPN analysts (except Chris Mortensen) pick Ravens

ESPN.com’s John Clayton says Ravens ‘desperately’ need to beat Texans

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Harbaugh has high approval

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Scouts Inc’s Kidd thinks teams MUST account for Suggs

SI’s “Dr. Z” has Ravens 17th in power rankings

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer picks Ravens 20-14

4 of 6 Sporting News analysts pick Ravens

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The AP says strong efforts from Turner, DHB not enough as Terps lose 23-13

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of loss

The Official Site says Ralph frustrated by inability to tackle, stop run, get run going

The Official Site says DHB continues to move up career charts at Maryland

Virginia Tech Official Site says Evans outrushes Terps 253 to -12

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps still control destiny in ACC

The Sun’s Rick Maese says 8 Bowl officials on hand to see Terps lose

The Sun’s Jeff Barker wonders if Portis experiment over

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Scott had ‘nowhere to run’
D
The Examiner’s Steve DeClue says Cosh ‘failing to take away other team’s strength’

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says Warren’s hit on DHB permanently shifted momentum back to Tech

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Terps ‘never really had a chance’

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler and Greg Schimmel say Terps fall to 3-6 on Thursday nights under Ralph

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says ACC race further ‘muddled’ after Maryland loss

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says defense failed to stop run despite focus in practice

Washington Post’s Zach Berman says Glennon ‘gutsy’ in playing hurt

Washington Post’s Matthew Rennie says Ralph ‘berated’ Cosh before half

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Terps tied for 1st with FSU, Wake now in Atlantic Division

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps post worst rushing output in Ralph’s tenure

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Turner ‘fortunate’ to only be sacked thrice

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Carroll injured ankle, T. Smith injured achilles in loss

Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Darryl Slater says Glennon found Boone for TD pass to open scoring

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Evans ‘proved doubters wrong’

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Terps ‘not looking like ACC Champ’

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says ‘deja vu’ for Glennon in earning job back

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Examiner’s Dylan Waugh says Gist blogging about pro experience

Frederick News-Post’s Greg Swatek says Vasquez knows he must stay ‘calm’

SI’s Luke Winn says Old Spice Classic best early season Tournament

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish has Terps 8th in ACC

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Townsend wanted ‘family’ atmosphere in College Park

The Examiner says Toliver collecting preseason accolades

NAVY FOOTBALL:

The Official Site says Niumatalolo holding another luncheon next week

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Bryant ‘likely’ to start vs. Irish

TOWSON FOOTBALL:

Delaware Official Site offers Hens-Tigers release (pdf)

TOWSON LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Tigers visit Loyola to start ’09 season

MORGAN FOOTBALL:

The Examiner’s Dave Carey says Bears again leading MEAC on ground

HOPKINS FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews trip to Franklin & Marshall

The Official Site offers complete Franklin & Marshall release (pdf)

UMBC BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says 7 games will be on TV this season

COPPIN BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says McKee named mid-major All-American

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Eers picked 22nd amongst Mid-Majors

The Official Site says Mitchell looking forward to Loyola contest

ORIOLES:

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Baez wants to start

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Bascom, Henson continue struggles in Hawaii

The Examiner’s Jay Trucker says trading for Greene would be ‘risky’

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Wieters, Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta, Reimold named top prospects by Baseball America

HORSE RACING:

The Sun’s Bill Ordine says slots could lead to improvements at Pimlico, Laurel

SWIMMING:

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says Phelps, Bowman to partner at Meadowbrook

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Congratulations to “Unheralded Athlete of the Morning” Jenna Benke from Mercy.

-The highlights of last night’s game and Mikell Simpson’s performance vs. Virginia last season will be why Chris Cosh will likely be gone at the end of the season.

-Why shouldn’t Baez start? Who else do the Orioles have?

Talk to you Monday.

-G

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 06 November 2008 by Glenn Clark

Virginia Tech 27, Maryland 17

Night game, on the road, against Virginia Tech. I don’t want to make this pick, but I have to. Da’Rel Scott will help; but the idea of Tyrod Taylor playing doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve seen too much of Marcus Vick running all over Maryland’s defense to think they can stifle Taylor. If Glennon plays, Maryland has a chance.
Let’s see what everyone else has to say…

Best of Wednesday’s WNST Blogs:

Nestor Aparicio loves roadtrips to Cleveland

Drew Forrester clarifies 52 blog

Bob Haynie ‘nervous’ to find Ravens favored

Bryan Powell says two M&T games highlight Hopkins schedule

Casey Willett says A. Phillips back to practice squad, Wheelwright released

Alex Thomas picks Ravens 29-12

Drew Forrester all for Free The Birds reunion

Chris Pika says Ravens ‘team to watch’

Ed Frankovic says Caps play first division game tonight

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Texans playing 5th home game in last 6

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says new Ravens making major impact this season

The Official Site says Clayton would ‘love’ to throw ball in “Suggs package”

The Official Site says Harbaugh thinks Texans better now than they would have been Week 2

The Official Site says Kubiak has ‘utmost respect’ for Ravens’ defense

The Official Site gathers fans’ thoughts on Ravens

Texans Official Site’s Nick Schenck says LB Diles out for season with broken leg

Texans Official Site’s Michael A. Lutz says Rosenfels looking forward to chance to ‘silence critics’

Texans Official Site’s Nick Scurfield says Bentley, Adibi will fill in for Diles

Texans Official Site’s Brooke Bentley says Ravens impressed by Slaton

Texans Official Site says Harbaugh thinks Flacco better now than he would have been Week 2

Texans Official Site says Kubiak thinks Diles ‘was becoming great player’

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Rolle return would be ‘timely’ Sunday

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens trying to win 3 straight on road for first time in seven years

The Sun cleans up after me

The Sun’s Edward Lee says McAlister misses practice again

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Scott thinks Slaton ‘dumb enough’ to try to run on Ravens

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Suggs throws Billick ‘under bus’

The Sun’s Mike Preston says McAlister in Canada for another opinion on knee

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Rolle, McGahee practiced

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Ravens move Bouman, Stone to active roster

The AP’s Bill Kaczor says former Raven Boulware trailing by 440 votes before recount

The Examiner’s Ron Snyder says Rolle amongst Ravens ‘passionate’ about Obama election

Aaron Wilson says Harbaugh believes Rolle’s return makes Ravens ‘better’

Aaron Wilson says Landry could be headed to IR

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Harbaugh thought Rolle ‘looked good’ in practice

Houston Chronicle’s John McClain says Diles one of Texans’ ‘best defensive players’

ESPN.com Page 2′s David Fleming says Ravens amongst teams doing ‘twice as much with half the talent’

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens ‘can definitely use’ Rolle for second half

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Suggs, Flacco amongst best in AFC North

Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez thinks Steelers rematch might be ‘too much to handle’ for Flacco

Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager picks Texans 30-20

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

Virginia Tech Official Site says Hokies hoping for sportsmanship from fans tonight

The Sun’s David Steele says Terps have ‘golden chance’ to get first win over Hokies in ACC

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Egekeze ‘back in groove’ after terrible start

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Scott ‘wants’ to play tonight

The Examiner’s Steve Declue picks Terps 23-17

The Diamondback’s Eric Detweiler says last trip to Blacksburg ‘infuriating’ for Griffin

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says Terps might just need to be mediocre to win ACC title

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Turner won’t be rattled in trip to Blacksburg

Washington Post’s Zach Berman says Hokies won’t decide starting QB until warmups

Washington Post’s Zach Berman says Hokies haven’t been able to get offense going no matter who plays QB

Washington Post’s Matthew Rennie says Hokies’ staff has Maryland background

Washington Post’s Matthew Rennie says ACC teams just 15-14 at home in conference games this season

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell picks Terps 17-14

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph doesn’t think Thursday night as big a deal as it used to be

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Terps continue to struggle with outside speed

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens picks Hokies 24-17

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens breaks down season statistics for Terps, Hokies

DC Examiner’s Rick Snider says Lane Stadium amongst ‘toughest venues’ in ACC

Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Darryl Slater says seniors trying to take leadership for Hokies

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich picks Terps 21-17

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Ralph thinks Holt mix between Taylor, Glennon

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Ralph ‘expects’ Scott to play

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Friedgen, Beamer bring familiarity to tonight’s game

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Cosh thinks turnovers ‘key’ to tonight’s game for Maryland

SI’s Stewart Mandel has Terps 22nd in power rankings

3 of 5 CBS Sports experts pick Virginia Tech

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says Terps using Va Tech failures of past for ‘motivation’ (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mike Ashley says tonight another chapter in Friedgen-Beamer story (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Claire Knudsen says Downs could be next long snapper from Derry (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

Washington Post’s Josh Barr says former Terp Gilchrist can play at South Florida in December

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter says Terps looking at ’10 swingman from NJ (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Toliver AP All-American

NAVY FOOTBALL:

Annapolis Capital’s Bill Wagner says Mids playing 13 regular season games next season for first time in school history

NAVY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Lange thinks Mids looking for ‘consistency’

MORGAN FOOTBALL:

The Official Site previews Saturday’s trip to Norfolk

LOYOLA BASKETBALL:

The Official Site previews Friday’s exhibition opener vs. Catholic

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Eers favorite to win NEC

ORIOLES:

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says taxes part of reason Palmeiro originally left Baltimore

The Examiner’s Tony Giro makes Birds butt of joke in weekly quiz

BLAST:

The Examiner’s Sean Welsh says two leagues ‘unlikely to merge’

HORSE RACING:The Sun’s Bill Ordine says slots passage gives ‘hope’ to racing industry

 

Washington Post’s John Scheinman says racing industry revitalized by slots package

Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty says Pimlico ‘not a candidate’ for slots in Baltimore

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL:

The Sun’s Rich Scherr says City-Poly will be even more important this season

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Congratulations to Athlete of the Morning Zach Sullivan from Spalding; who won the individual race at the A conference Champsionship yesterday. We all know Joe Glos from Perry Hall deserved to win however.

-Rob Ryan will in the end be the reason the Ravens don’t pursue DeAngelo Hall. He will tell Rex that the headache isn’t worth it.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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