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Harbaugh’s handling of C-Mac situation is suspect

Posted on 23 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

So this is where new head coach John Harbaugh is learning the pain, instead of the joy, of being an NFL head coach.

There are only 32 of these jobs in world – captains of America’s favorite sports teams – and each of them brings a unique management structure and issues way beyond football. It’s about a LOT more than just drawing up the X’s and O’s and having a whistle on a string and being a gameday strategist.

It’s truly a VERY-high profile corporate C.E.O. (and babysitting) position and when this week’s “off the field” activity of Chris McAlister and Terrell Suggs has led to the “on the field” benching of the team’s highest-paid player and resident passive-aggressive cornerback, unlike at Legg Mason or Aerotek, the media asks the questions the fans (customers) want answers to and they expect a straight answer.

Or, like the other night on WBAL, some big-monied sponsor can call in directly to the coach to try to get an honest answer.

And, honestly, as much as we realize the Ravens do have some rights to the privacy of their employees and how it’s handled, we don’t want to be lied to either. I get that discipline should be a private matter, but don’t pass off the disciplining of a player as an injury, a lack of talent or a dress code issue.

Sure, if you’re Harbaugh or Joe Six Pack Ravens Fan, you’d like to think that guys who are making millions of dollars as players and have all of the talent in the world would just show up and graciously do their jobs. Especially for the amount of dough and the lifestyle they get to live. Forgive us for thinking that they’d actually consider 100% effort and winning football games the REAL priority in their lives. But, as my 24 years of doing this professionally as a media member has taught me, that’s not always the case.

Unfortunately, Harbaugh didn’t inherit a room full of professionals and choir boys when Brian Billick was fired. He inherited every problem Billick had and is doing the job for a third of the price and without nine years of experience dealing with it and trying to overcome it.

And Harbaugh is doing it pretty well if the only thing matters is the record: they’re 3-3, which is plenty good enough for me.

But the same problems that Billick dealt with differently or privately are now – as predicted here months ago –squarely onto the new rookie coach’s shoulders to address. The radio shows, the mudslinging, the “X” factor of off-the-field shenanigans along with Ray Lewis in his walk year thinking money, a rookie quarterback who’s learning as he goes, the various injuries, personnel issues, egos, etc. All the same crap that goes on in YOUR office, except that these guys aren’t as smart as they think they are, all are making a lot of money and are famous and every week a three-hour soap opera plays out on Sundays and you either win or lose.

And the city all talks about it (which is why they make the big bucks) and asks lots of questions, some of them a little “uncomfortable” for private matters such as human resources and employee behavioral issues.

And, as the coach, you have to answer for EVERYTHING. That’s the deal.

The NFL’s pretty straightforward like that. Win, and all is well. Lose, and well you’re where Mike Nolan or Brian Billick or Scott Linehan or Lane Kiffin are and where Marvin Lewis and some others might soon be.

Oh, and the owner is ALWAYS right. Just ask Al Davis or Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones.

The Ravens are 3-3 and playing decently for the most part, especially considering the injuries, rookie quarterback and lack of depth combined with aging players in key spots. I’m a HUGE Ravens fan. I’m perfectly pleased with where the team sits at this point. As a matter of fact, I’m more than mildly shocked that it’s gone this well.

Harbaugh has done a nice job by any measurement. The team is fun to watch, like a box of chocolates, Flacco is likeable, Ray Lewis is playing his ass off…it’s been a fun year so far!

So far, they’ve played five very good games and laid one turd. The turd just happened to be a road game in Indianapolis (and if you’re from Baltimore just the word “Indianapolis” has its own connotation) against the best player in the league in Peyton Manning. It happens. Many of the “good” teams in the league have gotten walloped already.

The team could easily be 5-1. But they’re not. They’re 3-3 and in decent shape to make a surprising playoff run over the next few weeks if they can beat some turd teams (Oakland, Cleveland and Houston). These are winnable games against current 2-4 teams. If they are going to go 10-6 and be a wild card, they’ll need to win at least two of these three. With the pending matchups against stronger NFC East teams at the end (not to mention Steelers and Jaguars), the wins must come now for any hope. The colder it gets the harder the schedule gets.

So it’s here where Harbaugh’s leadership is going to make or break the season. It’s not even Halloween but the cat’s out of the bag and the malcontents and loose-lipped rabble rousers are coming back to the forefront by saying and doing stupid things. Billick, essentially, was fired for this stuff happening (and the offensive woes, of course).

Chris McAlister not wanting to work out and/or practice and have the ability to run loose in Baltimore or miss meetings on road trips.

Terrell Suggs going on radio shows and throwing the starting quarterback under the bus.

Ray Lewis screaming for money. (We’re about 10 weeks away from that…trust me!)

It’s Harbaugh’s baby to deal with now, and despite the relative prosperity of 3-3, the baby is crying so to speak.

I think we’re all hard-pressed to believe that with Frank Walker and Fabian Washington as starters in the secondary for the remainder of the season, the Ravens will finish 10-6 and be a playoff team.  And we’re not at all hard-pressed to think that they’re not “outworking” or “outhustling” or “outstructuring” McAlister from Monday through Saturday.

McAlister is a pain in the ass to manage for them, no doubt, but he’s one of the most significant players in the organization. How do I know? Well, they’re paying him $8 million so I’m assuming they think he’s significant, too.

In my opinion, thus far Harbaugh has really botched this McAlister situation and continues to show his “green” side with every answer to the media. He seems as though answering these questions is a field of mines. And perhaps, if you keep changing your story every other day, it is.

Either Harbaugh’s getting bad advice or isn’t taking the good advice he’s been given. On Sunday after the game, it seemed like he didn’t even consider that the question was coming about McAlister when by the organization’s own admittance, he knew this was coming last Wednesday.

So, now four days later, we in the media have heard more conflicting stories, excuses, doubletalk and curious explanations to fill any reporter’s notebook (or fans’ water cooler) with head-scratchers.

If the Orioles gave answers like these – and they have before and apparently will continue to do so as well – I’d be laughing. Or writing these blogs of criticism/straightforwardness.

I don’t understand why there wasn’t just one story: the truth. And that is that McAlister is acting like a turd and isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing so he isn’t playing. Oh, and it’s a PRIVATE matter. He’s been bending team rules and we’re spanking him until he gets his act together.

There? Is that so hard? Some old-fashioned, “Hard Ass” love for the baller from Pasadena!

They didn’t fine him. Or suspend him. And they certainly didn’t want the NFLPA breathing down their necks like what’s happening in Cleveland with their resident talented malcontent, Kellen Winslow. (The league seems full of them, with PacMan Jones, Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, etc…I guess if they “shut up and played” perhaps we’d have less interest?)

But I certainly can’t ignore what I’m hearing and seeing this week.

So far, we know:

* McAlister didn’t like Harbaugh’s practices in Westminster and there were reports of some words
* McAlister had a knee injury – or not – during training camp
* McAlister played pretty decently the first four weeks of the season (certainly nothing to think he was benched solely on “merit” for the first five games)
* McAlister allegedly missed a meeting in Indianapolis on Saturday, Oct. 11
* McAlister played “below par” in Indianapolis on Sunday, Oct. 12 (but so did the whole team)
* McAlister was told on he wouldn’t start in Miami on Wednesday, Oct. 15
* McAlister was inappropriately dressed (among other things) before the game in Miami on Sunday, Oct. 19
* McAlister played sparingly against the Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 19

There are various other factors, rumors and pretty-well substantiated issues regarding McAlister’s off the field activities and work ethic. And the show he put on in the lobby of the team hotel with those three girls in front of $18 million dollars worth of corporate sponsors was biblical. Only a fool could be around the team a significant amount of time and not notice people’s whispers and gossip. It’s just a fact of life. His teammates have gone to media members (and each other) at various points for years with negative comments about him, his work ethic and chicanery.

He’s a super smart guy but a bit of a Lone Wolf. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with him (I actually kinda like him for the most part although I wouldn’t hire him to work for me) but I’ve known better than to ever count on him. I’ve enjoyed our conversations over the years because I think he’s so intelligent. And I’ve clearly known how other people feel about him. Most would just say he’s “unreliable” or “inconsistent.” But I wouldn’t say he’s a “bad person” at all. But some have questioned his character, for sure.

But the answers and the list of reasons the team has given to the media for him not being on the field on Sunday – not just me or WNST but the entire media position on this – has smelled like four-day old fish.

It’s more weird and kinda paranoid than anything I’ve seen recently and I’m kinda shocked that Harbaugh hasn’t been more transparent.

Geez, if they’re actually disciplining Chris McAlister for his off the field behavior there are many in the organization would say: “It’s about time!”

On Sunday, the question was: “Is Chris being disciplined?”

Harbaugh said:

“No (he was not being disciplined). Not at all. Chris has played well. I’ll tell you what, Chris has really worked hard this year to work through the knee. We’ve talked about the knee a lot. It hasn’t been a situation where it’s an injury but it is a knee that has had some wear and tear on it. And we think if we can manage the packages from here on out…It’s not a matter of starting or not starting it’s what packages we put him in where he can be most effective for us. Which helps his practice reps a little bit which keeps him as effective as he can be on Sunday because you’ve got to practice all week to be effective on Sunday. But we can’t overload that knee. Whatever package we’re in next week, he could be out there starting next week. And that’s what it really comes down to. We’re always going to put our best package on the field.”

Later, when pressed ever-so-gently by Brent Harris:

“Chris is a professional. Chris is always going to want his role to be expanded and there’s no reason to think that next week his role won’t be expanded. It’s going to be whatever Rex determines it’s gonna be as far as what’s best for our football team…Chris is a good example of what happened to our football team (after Indy loss)…Chris came back and had a great week of practice last week and there’s no reason he’s not going to have a good season this year.”

On Monday, he told WBAL this:

“I can’t speak to stuff in the past. I’ve had a chance to get to know Chris over these months that I’ve been here. Chris is a good person. We’ve got a really good relationship and I respect him a lot. As far as the dress for the bus it was wrong. It was a mistake. It’s been addressed.”

Being asked about playing vs. the Dolphins:

“He WAS playing last week. The term ‘benching’ I’m not sure exactly what that means. He was in our packages last week. We talked about it yesterday and it’s obvious and clear cut. You put the best 11 players out there for the package. We put the best players out there in the coverages . That’s what a football decision is.”

So, McAlister isn’t one of the best 11 players on the defense? C’mon, Harbs?

I just wish that Harbaugh would give me and you and everyone one story: the truth.

He’ll learn that the truth ALWAYS comes out and making the media “guess” or thinking we’re not going to ask questions (or that the fans won’t ask questions) about his $8 million a year franchise starting cornerback being on the field for eight plays in a pivotal road game is just foolish.

So, it’s kind of a “pick three” message from Harbs:

1.    (Miami Sunday) McAlister is injured, but he’s not really injured.  But it’s not a discipline issue. And he’s practiced and played really well. But he’s not one of our best 11 players.
2.    (WBAL Tuesday) He should’ve dressed better in Miami but I like him a lot. Rex Ryan made the decision. He wasn’t “benched” after starting for nine years in the league, but he only played eight plays.

Or, perhaps the truth:

3.    He’s not doing the stuff that we need him to do or living his life in a fashion that we agree with and it’s contributing to hurting our team overall even though he’s one of the most important guys on the team. We can’t have him acting like a jack ass any more. It’s hurting the team. And sitting his ass out ought to be a message to him – and the rest of the team — to shape up or ship out. The team comes first and we can (and will) win without him!

Or at least they’ll try to if they can’t get him to fall in line. Which is, I guess, where they are now. They’re going to try to win without him. Or not. But maybe that will change before Sunday, who knows?

This is Coach “Hard Ass” – and I say that as a compliment, in some respect — doing it HIS way. And, apparently, Rex Ryan is also at the heart of this decision.

Let’s see if it works.

Because, in the end, what he tells the media and the fans doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re going to win football games over the next 10 weeks.

Or does it?

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More C-Mac talk,Rex – Rob Ryan,Suggs radio comments, Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan

Posted on 23 October 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some news and notes from Ravens today:

Here is Rex’s comments on C-Mac situation:

-Rex Ryan talked about how Jim Leonhard was in the game more than Ed Reed because of a certain package that the they had practiced more in it, but no one talked about it. Rex said it is his responsibility to get the job done no matter who is out there.

– As to who decides who starts on defense, Rex Ryan made is very clear, “it is my call, always on defense.”

-Rex mentioned that he owes it to this football team to do what they think is best with match ups, even if that means taking out Ray Lewis.

On his relationship with Rob Ryan:

– ” We were really close, we still are very close. With dad’s profession, I always had my best friend with me when we moved.”

-“you look forward to seeing him, maybe going out to eat or something. You have to feel bad for someone, might as well feel bad for him. It is all about the win, hopefully our team will come out on top.”

-The defensive guys have said that the guy to getting JaMarcus Russell is to wrapping him up and wait for help to come.

On Terrell Suggs comments on the radio:

” I am getting it all second hand, I do not know all the particulars on it, so I would rather not comment right now til I hear it myself.”

On Mike Singletary getting hired in San Fransico:

“I am excited for Mike Singletary to get that opportunity, I think he will do a tremendous job.He probably gives the best speeches I have ever heard a guy give. I think the lost a heck of coach in Mike Nolan, I hate to see one of my friends lose a job when the season is not even over. I think that is kind of ridiculous, it is what it is. I guess adversity to some comes opportunity for others, hopefully Mike Singletary will do a good job in stay in that position, but i sure feel for Mike Nolan.”

-Cam Cameron mentioned that Willis McGahee took 30 cc’s off of his knee before the Miami game and having the game he did was impressive. Cameron feels like McGahee is getting healthier and that will benefit the offense.

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Ravens news and notes and injury report

Posted on 22 October 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some notes from 1 Winning Drive today:

-The Chris McAlister saga will continue to roll on, as McAlister spoke with the media and commented on the situation which you can see in my previous blog. Coach Harbaughreemphasized today that playing time has nothing to do with discipline. It is simply they are putting the best 11 guys on the field against the Raiders. McAlister does in fact appear on the injury report this week, which you can scroll down to see.

– Buddy Ryan the father of Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan and Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will be at the game on Sunday.

-JaMarcus Russell was a big topic of discussion with several of the defensive players today. Trevor Pryce, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata all talked about how big and strong Russell is and how you have to wrap him up to get him down. Pryce mentioned that the thing you have to do when you get to Russell is ask him to lie down so you can get the sack. Suggs is concerned that he might get shrugged off if he gets to him and goes for a sack. Ngata pointed out that a big thing with Russell is that he will dump off passes to the running backs when you get to him and that is a dangerous thing. All of the guys compared sacking Russell to trying to sack Ben Roethlisberger, very difficult. Suggs compared sacking Russell to trying to sack Trevor Pryce.

– Jonathan Ogden who will be going into the Ravens Ring of Honor on Sunday, will be introduced with the team on Sunday.

– Terrell Suggs said early that he thought Troy Smith should be starting for the Ravens. Now Suggs has said ” I thought the question was about multiple packages. I said both quarterbacks should get a chance to play, like running back Ronnie Brown depending on the package. Joe is 3-3 as the starter and has done a good job. It’s not like we haven’t won any games.”

Suggs also has had controversy come up with his comments about a bounty on Hines Ward. Here is his response to that, ” there wasn’t any bounty. The reporter asked me if there was a bounty and I just said I’m going to keep a watch on the guy. He broke some guy’s jaw last week, and he tried to cheap shot Jarrett Johnson. He also cheap-shotted Ed Reed. We’re just going to be on alert the next time we play him. It’s like the guy in your neighborhood who always pulls your shorts down and your drawers show, well, you always have to be on the lookout. You have to be alert.”

Suggs has always been a media friendly guy, but I can not imagine these type comments set well with the new coaching regime

– Here is the injury report for the Ravens for Wednesday:

OUT: Samari Rolle(neck/shoulder) Dawan Landry(neck) Adam Terry (knee)

Did Not Participate: Yamon Figurs(knee) Ed Reed(thigh) Demetrius Williams(ankle)

Limited Participation: Jared Gaither(neck) Chris McAlister(knee) Willis McGahee(knee)

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A $20 ticket to Game 7 of the ALCS in Tampa on a victory Sunday night…

Posted on 21 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Needless to say it’s been a whirlwind first week of my 40’s. Some folks told me it’d get hectic on the other side of the hill but as Jimmy Buffett once sang, “I can’t run at this pace very long…”

If you haven’t seen the videos on wnsTV, I hope you watch and enjoy them. What I’m basically trying to do is to put you “there” as Brent Musberger would say back in my childhood on CBS. We were there Sunday night for Game 7 and it was extraordinary fun, even for my wife who drove 240 miles at breakneck speed through the Everglades – faster than a hurricane – to see her team lose a dramatic decisive game. (Honestly, and trust me she hears this all the time, I’m done with Boston winning anything! Two baseball titles, bloody socks, Tom Brady comebacks, three Super Bowls and now a Celtics title – enough, already! I don’t openly root against the Red Sox because it does make my wife happy and at least they’re not the Yankees, but my heart ain’t breaking either.)

But even as enthusiastic as the Tampa fans were – and those freaking cowbells are beyond obnoxious after the first half-inning – it’s a little “fake,” this Rays love-in going on. I was wondering this morning, “I wonder how many of those 30,000 or so Rays ‘super fans’ with blue mohawks have even seen 100 Rays games in their lives?”

I mean, I got a ticket on the street for TWENTY DOLLARS last night. A pair for $40! Good seats, as you’ll see on the video. And there were dozens to be had, even in the first inning of the game when we got there. And it’s GAME FREAKING SEVEN!!!

My wife and I drove four hours, changed flights and picked up a cheap hotel to see the game. Obviously, I would’ve paid more. And there were over 1.5 million people in that town – all within 30 minutes of Tropicana Field — and no one thought enough to come out and bid $25 to take my seat.

Bad economy? Sure, no doubt. We’re all feeling that. Major League Baseball in Tampa Bay is sad, but maybe this is what it takes to make a franchise work long term there. Baseball should be a great time for the kids of that community in a cradle of fabulous baseball players and a place where the weather allows Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, etc. a chance to play as much as the Latin players do, which is all day, every day. So, more than anything last night, I saw kids having a good time (probably because their parents could afford to bring them, unlike in Philadelphia this week where the demand will keep ticket prices to $250 per seat and up, even in bad times.) Those kids are having the same memories we had with Boog and Brooks, Cakes and Earl, Cal and Eddie, Brady and Mussina.

The sheer joy is true, but shame on them if that dome is drawing 4,200 people again every night in 2011.

But that fate of “what have you done for me lately” has been the reality of many of these “Johnny come lately” franchises – ie. Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals, pick any NHL franchise from Tampa Bay to Carolina, from Nashville to Columbus to Phoenix, Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle and New Orleans in the NBA.

But I’m sorta pulling for Tampa Bay, after seeing how the community was all charged up last night. Good for them. Better them for the first time (even though the team probably should’ve never existed in the first place, especially in that retro-carnival tent they play in) than New York or Boston again.

At least that’s how I see it.

Go watch the videos and write and tell me if they suck. Such is the beauty of the internet. Instant feedback

******

Lost in all of my excitement of the impromptu and downright affordable ALCS “roadie” I pulled off with my wife was the Ravens fun win in Miami earlier on Sunday.

I will be writing at length about “Cmac-Gate” when I have a little more time. There’s a LOT going on behind the scenes there and I’ll provide all of the insight I have tomorrow.

I also shot some fun videos of the pre-game excitement with so many purple people in the parking lot in Miami.

Joe Flacco was good. Ray Lewis continues to amaze us. And even Willis McGahee got into the act on Sunday, running the ball the way we expected him to do it.

But this Harbaugh-McAlister war going on inside the Bellagio has more twists and turns than anything we’ve seen since Camp HardBall began.

But like Harbaugh, I’ve got my own problems. We have many issues related to the website launch that I’m dealing with this week.

We know it’s not perfect, but it’s effectively Day 2 for the site.

WNST.net will get better every day moving forward.

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You Play The Coach – Game Ball Picks – Week 7

Posted on 20 October 2008 by Alex Thomas

Who gets your game ball this week? You could easily pick three or four legitimate game MVPs for the Ravens.

Joe Flacco had his best game as a professional football player, passing with outstanding accurracy (73.9%), amassing 232 passing yards, NO turnovers, and a touchdown pass to (gasp!) a wide receiver. All good enough for a 120.2 quarterback rating.

Willis McGahee finally got in gear, rushing for 105 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. I’m still a bit concerned about his injury status. He looks explosive running north and south, but as soon as he’s forced to make a cut it seems like he slows down. Regardless, he looked much better this week.

Ray Lewis continued his All-Pro season against Miami, leading the team in tackles with 10, including 9 solo stops.

Derrick Mason continues to demonstrate that he is a very good possession receiver. Since 2001, only Chad Johnson and Tory Holt have more receptions. Mason snagged 6 balls yesterday, including a touchdown and a 23 yard scamper.

All good choices, but my game ball this week goes to Terrell Suggs: 7 solo tackles, a sack, and an interception return for a touchdown that set the tone for the remainder of the game.

Who gets your game ball this week?

Last Week’s Results (@ Indianapolis): You picked Sam Koch

Week 5 results (vs. Tennessee): You picked Ray Lewis

Week 4 results (@ Pittsburgh): You picked Joe Flacco

Week 3 results (vs, Cleveland): You picked Raven’s Offensive Line

Week 1 results (vs. Cincinnati): You picked Raven’s Offensive Line

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Ravens theme from locker room: “FINISH GAMES!”

Posted on 05 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

After today’s late afternoon debacle, I had the honor of walking from one end of the Ravens’ locker room to the other and I heard at least six guys say the exact same thing over and over again:

“We need to learn to finish games,” was echoed from Jarret Johnson to Joe Flacco, from Bart Scott to Willis McGahee.

For the second time in six days, the Ravens let “the better team” come back from a hole and beat them with late errors and breakdowns.

NFL coaches always accept physical breakdowns. If a guy beats you on a straight play, you tip your cap and get back in the huddle. But mental mistakes and stupid late penalities? Well, until the Ravens stop taking their licks 15 yards at a time at key junctures against teams with a lot of talent, they’ll never consistently win in this league.

The Titans clearly woke up on the wrong side of the Inner Harbor this morning, picking several chippy, dirty fights in the first half. But in the end it was the Ravens and late hits to the head that cost the team a 3-1 start to the 2008 season.

John Harbaugh now finally knows what Brian Billick went through with the tough-guy image the Ravens’ defense has grown up with over the last few years. Terrell Suggs will no doubt be hearing from the NFL on his post-game comments regarding officials and their getting drawn into the energy of the purple crowd.

“I was nowhere near his head,” Suggs said. “I think they had a big momentum shift. It was third down. We’re the bad boys of football. They’re always going to look at it like that because of the physical style of defense we play. They’re always going to have that close eye on us, (looking) for anything that’s too much.”

Suggs later even said the officials are looking for a big situation to call something.

But it’s never one play or one person.

The phone calls will come all day on Monday at WNST regarding:

•    Joe Flacco’s brutal pair of interceptions. The second one ended the game. The first one put the Ravens defense on a short leash and gifted the Titans three points and might have contributed to the next gaffe…

•    Harbaugh’s downright weird decision to kick a not-such-a-sure-thing 45-year field goal on 1st down with 14 seconds remaining in the half. It’s the NFL. If you can’t dirt the ball or even attempt to find a quick out and pick up a few yards and get out of bounds, you probably have the wrong players on the field.

•    Ray Lewis’ unbelievably inspired play during the 2008 season. Sure, it’s a contract year for Ray-Ray, but he’s flying around the field like a man possessed (and/or half his age). It’s impossible to not admire No. 52’s greatness and see his passion in the October of his career.

•    Ed Reed’s shoulder. It ain’t a secret anymore, this aversion Reed has to contact. His right arm is hanging ala Peter Boulware circa-1999. It’s a heroic effort but I’m not sure that he’s really helping the team if he can’t tackle at that position. Which leads to…

•    The rest of the secondary. Especially given the lack of deep depth in Frank Walker, Fabian Washington and Corey Ivy, it’s a crushing blow having Dawan Landry and Samari Rolle be out while Reed plays on one wing. For the most part, Chris McAlister has played quite well but the lack of depth across the backfield has been an invitation to pick on Walker and others.

•    Matt Stover. He’s been shaky this season and longer field goals have never been his strength. The miss today will get even more attention because of the playcall to even attempt it at that spot in the game, but Stover has to make that kick. You can blame Scott, Flacco, the secondary (or all of the abover) but if Stover hits that kick it’s a different game.

Hey, they’re 2-2. It could be a lot worse.

But blowing two nice leads against “quality opponents” isn’t encouraging especially when you consider the rough second half of the season the Ravens will have without a bye and having to take on the entire NFC East after mid-November.

Today’s loss doesn’t end their season by any stretch. But 3-1 sounds a helluva lot better headed to Indianapolis than 2-2.

These losses snatched out of the jaws of victory are tough to take.

And whatever you do, don’t look at the stats from the Titans game today.

You’ll be scratching your head until Wednesday trying to figure out how they lost this one.

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Monday Night Leftovers

Posted on 01 October 2008 by marcbouchard

Everybody and their mother has some lingering opinions about Monday night’s loss to the Steelers, so here are mine. (My mom will blog hers later today.)
Next Time Try the Gipper Speech: I don’t know what was said (or eaten) in the Ravens locker room at halftime, but they really laid an egg after intermission. Entering the second half with a 10-point lead, the Ravens’ third quarter possessions resulted in:
  • Four drives totaling 36 net yards and eating up 6:20 of possession time
  • Eight pass attempts with one completion (Joe Flacco’s 26-yarder to Derrick Mason after his 12-second scramble)
  • Five rushes for 10 yards
  • Two sacks
  • One first down (the completion to Mason)
Oh, and Flacco also coughed up a fumble that was returned by the Steelers for a touchdown. Just a little different than the 21-point third quarter vs. the Browns last week.
Déjà Vu: With all the talk about how “different” and great the Ravens’ performance was on Monday night, I have to wonder if Ravens’ fans memories are limited to the previous calendar year. Was Monday night really more exciting than the Christmas Eve performance in 2006 when the Ravens destroyed the Steelers 31-7 with Steve McNair throwing three touchdown passes and Jamal Lewis shoving Joey Porter’s head into the turf after steam-rolling him? Was the Ravens’ performance Monday night more inspired than Halloween 2005 when, again on Monday Night Football, the undermanned Ravens (Anthony Wright at QB; Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Jason Brown, Mark Clayton, Anthony Weaver and Ovie Mughelli all inactive for the game) lost 20-19 on a late fourth-quarter field goal to the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers? Does anyone remember that Brian Billick also lost his first game to the Steelers 23-20 in 1999? Do the Ravens’ current league rankings (first in the NFL in total defense; 31st in the NFL in passing) look any different than in years past? Does anyone have the ability to endorse the Ravens’ change at head coach without pretending that what we’re seeing out of the Ravens is incredibly new and different?
Inmates Still Running the Asylum: And you thought the penitentiary-style summer camp would lead to disciplined play? The Ravens had four personal foul penalties Monday night, just one shy of their total in the infamous Lions game in 2005 that supposedly characterized a team on the brink of chaos due to a lack of leadership. But hey, at least the head referee never claimed that one of the Ravens had “malice in his heart,” as Mike Carey did after ejecting Terrell Suggs from that Lions game.
Talk to the Hand: How about Jarret Johnson waving off head coach John Harbaugh after Johnson’s crucial unnecessary roughness penalty that set up the Steelers’ first touchdown and breathed life back into the Pittsburgh fans? While it’s debatable as to the wisdom of Harbaugh’s timing (Johnson was visibly livid), that was a pretty strong sign of disrespect for the new skipper. Harbaugh was diplomatic in his post-game press conference (with diplomatic being a nice way of describing what used to be chastised as “excuse-making” by detractors of the previous coaching staff), but you have to think this matter will be further addressed behind closed doors.
The Honeymoon Ain’t Over Yet: While perusing the Baltimore Sun’s website, I found two interesting polls. One asked respondents to grade the Ravens various units, including coaching. The other asked “Are Ravens More Disciplined under Harbaugh?” The results of both polls show that Harbaugh and the new coaching staff are still enjoying their honeymoon, even after Monday night’s setback. When dolling out grades, 70.1% of those responding gave the coaching staff a B or better (52% gave a B; 18.1% gave an A) for their job vs. the Steelers. Somewhat surprising given the third quarter play-calling and their failure to ask for a review of Derrick Mason’s incompletion in the end zone in the first quarter – handling either of those situations differently could’ve resulted in a Ravens win. When answering the discipline question, almost half of the respondents (49.3%) said the team is more disciplined, despite all the aforementioned personal fouls that the Ravens committed Monday night.

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Ravens Q & A time

Posted on 30 September 2008 by caseywillett

After a hard fought, tough loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, it is time for another edition of Ravens questions and answers.

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UPDATE* Injury report, Ravens zapped of a sack, Troy Smith, and other notes

Posted on 24 September 2008 by caseywillett

4:00
Here is the Ravens injury report for today:
OUT;
Dawan Landry (neck)
Did Not Particiapte :
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Limited Participation:
Nick Greisen (thigh)
Le’Ron McClain (back/ankle)
Willis McGahee (eye)
Samari Rolle (shoulder/neck)
Troy Smith (illness)
Full Participation:
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Tavares Gooden (hip)
Fabian Washington (neck)
1:15
Here are some notes from the media session this afternoon;
There is at least publicly no revenge factor on the Ravens minds about how the last time these two teams meet on Monday night. Terrell Suggs even reminded people in case people forgot that they actually beat the Steelers here to end the season.
Ray Lewis mentioned how the Ravens are not looking for a “coming out party” on national television Monday night. The Ravens just want to go out and play a football game.
Joe Flacco has not put a lot of thought into playing his first road game on Monday night football. Said that maybe as the game gets closer he will, but has as of now he has not.
Troy Smith ran the look (scout) team offense today. Troy mentioned how it feels good to be back on the field again and is still working his way back
Willis McGahee is still nursing a sore eye after getting cut on his eyelid during the Browns game. Coach Harbaugh said they have talked to the league about it, but have not heard back from them as of yet. The Ravens would not comment on who they suspect was the person scratching McGahee’s eye, put pointed out that it is clear to see on the tape who that person is.
The Ravens are not caught up on who is injured or not injured for the Steelers. The feeling is that when you do that that is when someone that you are not expecting hurts you. They are treating Rashad Mendenhall the same way they would Willie Parker. Terrell Suggs said he treats every running back like they are Barry Sanders and could set the record against them.
Dawan Landry has been around the facility the last couple of days, and is said to be in very good spirits. Landry’s parents were at the game and have been with him since the injury happened. Dawan’s brother Laron drove up from Washington after his game when the injury happened to Dawan and stayed at the hospital with him.
The Ravens have notified us that the team has lost a sack from Sunday’s game. The sack that was credited to the team in the 1st quarter now has been changed by the league to a rush for Derek Anderson. The Ravens now have a total of six sacks on the season. There will some stats that change, but they are still the top rated defense in the NFL.
12:17
Some quick tidbits  from Hines Ward’s  media conference call:
Hines says that this is a very physical and hard fought rivalry between the two teams. Each team knows what they are going to get from the opposing team and that it is going to be a hard hitting game.
He has no hard feelings toward anyone on the Ravens. When he was asked about last year when Bart Scott said he wanted to “kill” Hines Ward after the hit he gave Scott in Pittsburgh, Ward said he was pretty sure that Scott did not really mean that.
The thing that impresses him about the Ravens defense is that they are healthy and are flying to the football.
He does not feel that their game plan will have to change a lot with the loss of Willie Parker on Monday night. Ward said that this offense is not really built just around one guy.
He does think that it will be a big task for Joe Flacco to have to come into Heinz Field and play on Monday night for his first ever road game.
He does not take any of the trash talking personal while it is on the field. He pointed out that he played with one of the bigger trash talkers in the league in Joey Porter
Only message he wanted passed along to Bart Scott was that he says hello. Hines said he will be giving Scott a lot of smiles out on the field on Monday.
Here is an interesting note: The Steelers have not lost at home on Monday night since 10/14/91 when the lost to the New York Giants 23-20. That is 13 straight wins since that loss.

11:35

Yesterday I got a couple of questions in regard to the Ravens and their uniforms. Here is how the rules play out:
The Ravens and every other team in the NFL have to submit a list of what color uniform they wish to wear for each game during the season.
The home teams have the right to wear their choice. So if the Steelers and Ravens both submitted in July that they wanted to wear white for a game in Pittsburgh, the Steelers get to wear it because they are the home team.
The color of the pants can be switched, so a team is not committed to one color of the pants with the uniform, like when the Ravens wore the white top with the black pants.
It is not believed that the Ravens will wear their black uniforms this season

Here are some notes from the morning practice:

Troy Smith was at practice and throwing the ball for the first time since he became ill before the St. Louis Rams preseason game
Nick Greisen (leg) and Samari Rolle (shoulder) were not practicing this morning. Also missing was Dawan Landry who is dealing with a spinal cord concussion.
Yamon Figurs (hamstring) and Fabian Washington (neck) were both back at practice today.
Willis McGahee who is dealing with a cut eyelid and getting poked in the eye on Sunday, was at practice today
We do not know at this time how much each of these guys did during practice or what limitations they had at practice.
Back with more news and notes from the facility after media time with the coach and players.

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Ravens – Browns live blog

Posted on 21 September 2008 by caseywillett

4:30
Although the Ravens came up empty on their first drive, he showed a lot of poise in the pocket. He several times stepped up and out of the pocket to avoid the pressure. Shaun Rogers of the Browns has been frustrated by the job that Jason Brown and the offensive line have done on him. He has taken several swings at some of the Ravens players.
Derek Anderson was under constant pressure during the Browns offensive series.
4:36 p.m. Joe Flacco proves he is human and throws his first career interception to D’Qwell Jackson.

4:15

The Ravens offense was introduced out of the tunnel and the stadium went crazy as Joe Flacco lead the offensive introductions. Lorenzo Neal was already out on the field while he was being introduced out of the tunnel. Terrell Suggs ran around wanting the fans on their feet to start the game.
Trevor Pryce, Lorenzo Neal, and Matt Stover were the team captains for the coin toss. Cleveland has won the toss and has deferred to the Ravens.

3:30

Here is the injury report for the Ravens – Browns game today:
Ravens
Troy Smith (3rd qb)
Yamon Figurs
Evan Oglesby
Fabian Washington
Nick Greisen
Oneil Cousins
David Hale
Kelly Gregg
Browns
Ken Dorsey (3rd Qb)
Donte’ Stallworth
Sean Jones
Kris Griffin
Willie McGinest
Eric Steinbach
Ryan Tucker
Martin Rucker

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