Tag Archive | "texans"

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Former Ravens safety Pollard joining Titans

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The morning after it was learned that longtime Ravens safety Ed Reed would be joining the Houston Texans, it appears his former partner in the defensive backfield will be moving into the AFC South as well.

Former Baltimore strong safety Bernard Pollard will join the Tennessee Titans on a one-year deal, as first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson. The reporter tweeted that Pollard informed her of the move Thursday morning, and Pollard’s agent Tory Dandy confirmed the news via Twitter.

The 28-year-old was released and designated as a post-June 1st release last week, meaning his $2 million base salary remains on the salary cap until that date. This allows general manager Ozzie Newsome to push $1.5 million in dead money to next year’s cap that otherwise would have been applied to the 2013 cap. Only this year’s prorated signing bonus amount of $750,000 will count against the cap.

In other words, the Ravens will receive an additional $2 million in cap space in June, which could provide flexibility in signing a veteran to address a need such as how they added guard Bobbie Williams last summer.

Pollard will join his fourth team in eight NFL seasons, leaving some to believe his strong-willed personality and outspoken nature led to his release, but coach John Harbaugh said in Phoenix that his release was solely a cap-related move. Veteran safety James Ihedigbo is projected to fill one of the two safety spots vacated by Pollard and Reed, but the Ravens are expected to address the position in April’s draft.

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Ed Reed leaving Ravens after 11 seasons

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Ed Reed leaving Ravens after 11 seasons

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Luke Jones

After a brilliant 11-year run that finally culminated with his first Super Bowl title in February, future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed is leaving the Baltimore Ravens to join the Houston Texans.

One of the best players in franchise history, Reed has agreed to a three-year contract to join Houston, leaving behind a legacy in Baltimore that included nine Pro Bowl selections and the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. The decision comes almost a week after Reed was courted by the Texans in a full-court press of wining and dining.

Reed traveled to Houston after being picked up from his Atlanta home in Texas owner Bob McNair’s private jet, an unprecedented move in that organization’s history of courting free agents. The veteran safety met with team officials and coaches before leaving Houston without a contract despite numerous reports that a deal would be finalized last Friday.

After the temporary hiccup in the Texans’ bid to bring Reed to Houston, general manager Rick Smith continued to negotiate with agent David Dunn at the league meetings in Phoenix this week. Meanwhile, the Ravens continued to wait out the process as reports came out about Houston’s offer. Owner Steve Bisciotti and coach John Harbaugh both expressed optimism earlier this week that Reed would remain with the Ravens.

The Ravens’ first-round pick in the 2002 draft expressed his desire to finish his career where it started, but the sides did not agree on fair compensation for the 34-year-old’s services as Baltimore gave no indication of matching the $4 million per year the Texans were offering. Aside from remaining in touch with Reed throughout the process, the Ravens never jumped into a bidding war for the longtime safety’s services as it became increasingly clear Reed would need to take less money to remain in Baltimore.

Reed cited Houston’s proximity to his home state of Louisiana has a plus in making a potential decision to leave the only franchise he’s known as a professional. The Ravens and Texans are scheduled to play in Baltimore during the 2013 regular season.

The free-agent loss of the ball-hawking safety is especially difficult for Baltimore fans with the retirement of inside linebacker Ray Lewis after the Ravens’ 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII. Many hoped Reed might follow Lewis into retirement after tasting championship glory for the first time in his brilliant career, but the former University of Miami star made it known he had more football to play in his career.

“I always said when I came into the league and got drafted that I didn’t want to be one of those guys jumping from team to team,” Reed said in New Orleans prior to the Super Bowl. “If it was up to me, I would be right in Baltimore. If it happens to be somewhere else, I can play football on the moon.”

Instead, he’ll play in a city famous for facilitating lunar missions as Reed will attempt to push Houston over the divisional-round mountain they’ve been unable to climb in the last two seasons. Those postseason failures included a 20-13 loss in Baltimore to end the Texans’ 2011 season.

General manager Ozzie Newsome addressed Reed’s future at the Ravens’ end-of-season press conference by acknowledging there would likely be opportunities on the open market as his six-year, $44.5 million. Further complicating matters at the time was Reed’s lack of an agent, but Dunn was hired to represent him before the start of free agency, a surefire sign that the longtime Ravens was poised to depart for the right deal.

“I think he realizes there may be some other options out there, but I think if you watched him and watched his body language over the course of the last eight to 10 days, that he loves being here in Baltimore,” Newsome said on Feb. 7. “I think we can use that to help make that relationship last a little bit longer.”

In recent years, Reed’s performance has declined due to a nerve impingement in his shoulder and neck suffered at the end of the 2007 season as well as various other ailments, but opposing quarterbacks continued to account for the free safety on every play. Reed’s tackling ability appeared to decline rapidly over the last couple seasons to the point of some wondering how much longer he can stand to be an every-down player, but his ability in pass coverage remains steady.

Reed has hinted at retirement on a few occasions over the last few offseasons while also dropping cryptic hints that he was dissatisfied with his current. However, Newsome and the Ravens would simply bite their tongue, knowing the mercurial safety would report to training camp. In his final season with the Ravens, Reed skipped a mandatory minicamp in the spring before ultimately reporting on time for camp in late July.

Despite the appearance of that rift, Harbaugh expressed Tuesday how much his relationship had grown with Reed in what would prove to be their last season together.

“He was a great leader. Our relationship has just blossomed,” said Harbaugh, who has exchanged text messages with Reed during the offseason. “It’s been good, but this year with Ed especially, we really just got close. The leadership he brought to the team through [the Ray Lewis injury] was really fantastic.”

Through his various physical challenges, Reed played in all 16 regular-season games in each of the last two seasons.

In 11 seasons in Baltimore, Reed tallied 61 interceptions, a franchise record and the most in the NFL since his 2002 rookie season. In addition to being the NFL’s active leader in interceptions – ranked 10th all-time — Reed has an NFL-record 1,541 interception return yards in his career.

In his younger days, Reed was the most dangerous punt blocker in the league and considered the Ravens’ biggest playmaker when his hands touched the football. He is the only player in NFL history to return scores off a blocked punt, interception, punt return, and fumble recovery. Counting the postseason, Reed has scored a remarkable 14 touchdowns in his career.

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Harbaugh “very hopeful” Reed remains with Ravens

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Harbaugh “very hopeful” Reed remains with Ravens

Posted on 19 March 2013 by Luke Jones

No news appears to be good news for Ravens fans hoping to see future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed stay in Baltimore.

While coach John Harbaugh said on Tuesday he was “very hopeful” that Reed would remain with the Ravens, Reed’s agent David Dunn and Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith continue to meet at the league meetings in Phoenix. However, neither side has been willing to budge as the Texans are offering $4 million per season, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Reed is seeking compensation more in line with the $7.2 million base salary he made last season before his six-year contract expired, making him an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. The Ravens have remained in contact with Reed throughout the process — including his free-agent visit to Houston last week — but are giving no indication that they’re actively bidding for the 34-year-old safety’s services.

“We’ll just have to see how it works out,” Harbaugh told WNST.net’s Nestor Aparicio and other reporters in Phoenix on Tuesday morning. “I think it’s kind of a situation where we know Ed really well. Ed and I are very close, and I know he’d tell you the same.”

The Texans continue to negotiate with Reed in hopes of working out a deal to bring the veteran to a secondary that struggled down the stretch last season — finishing 16th in pass defense — and lost free-agent safety Glover Quin to the Detroit Lions. However, Houston owner Bob McNair proclaimed Tuesday that the Texans will not compromise their salary cap in future years to bring Reed into the fold.

For now, Houston remains patient, but you have to wonder how much more energy the Texans will spend after their full-court press last week only resulted in Reed leaving town without a contract in place. Never a team known for being overly active in free agency, the Texans must also address the contracts of their two best defensive players in the near future.

“You have to be cautious,” McNair told The Houston Chronicle. “We’ve got [Brian] Cushing coming up and J.J. [Watt] next year. We have to make sure we have enough room under our cap. I think [Reed] can bring some leadership qualities to our secondary, and that’s one of the reasons we’re interested in him.”

As the Texans continued to work on a deal, Harbaugh took time to compliment Reed’s work last season and reiterated the value he’s always brought to the Ravens. The coach said he’s kept in touch with his longtime safety with text messages throughout the offseason and shared how much Reed has enjoyed spending time with his son in his Atlanta home this offseason.

Harbaugh may have little to do with the dollars and cents that will make it work financially for Reed to re-sign with the Ravens, but it was apparent he wanted to show Reed plenty of love in Phoenix.

“He had his healthiest year that he’s had in the last few years,” Harbaugh said. “He was a great leader. Our relationship has just blossomed. It’s been good, but this year with Ed especially, we really just got close. The leadership he brought to the team through [the Ray Lewis injury] was really fantastic.”

 

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Ed Reed resolution coming at this week’s league meetings?

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Ed Reed resolution coming at this week’s league meetings?

Posted on 17 March 2013 by Luke Jones

It looked to be a foregone conclusion last week that Ed Reed would be walking away from the Ravens after 11 years, but the free-agent safety never shies away from keeping everyone guessing.

Leaving Houston without a contract agreement after a two-day visit, Reed may determine his 2013 destination this week at the league meetings in Arizona as the Ravens and Texans are reportedly scheduled to meet with his agent David Dunn. It remains unclear how much the Ravens are willing to offer the 34-year-old, but general manager Ozzie Newsome has remained in touch with Reed’s representation since a meeting with the safety before the start of free agency.

It’s similar to how the Ravens handled the free agency of Ray Lewis — who was also represented by Dunn — following the 2008 season when the linebacker briefly flirted with the idea of joining another team before learning his value wasn’t as high as he hoped and he re-signed with Baltimore. Reed is believed to be seeking a salary approaching the $7.2 million base salary he earned last season, but his decision to leave Houston without a contract is an obvious sign the Texans’ offer wasn’t where he wanted it to be.

Or, he’s simply not ready to pull the trigger in leaving the Ravens behind just yet.

“Four years ago, we went down this same road with Ray,” Newsome told USA Today. “Dave always does a very good job of keeping us in the loop. That doesn’t mean that Ed will come back, and it doesn’t mean that he will leave.”

While some have opined that the Ravens are suddenly jumping back into the Reed sweepstakes, it’s unlikely that Newsome would enter into a bidding war for the nine-time Pro Bowl safety. The Ravens determine a value for each and every player on their roster and rarely deviate from that price, evident by their hardline approach in wanting to slash Anquan Boldin’s 2013 $6 million base salary by $2 million before ultimately dealing him to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth-round pick.

A potential Reed return will be far more about him wanting to finish his career with the Ravens and realizing the money may not be dramatically better somewhere else. It just doesn’t seem likely that Newsome would offer him a sexy contract because other teams are potentially in the mix and such a move wouldn’t jive with how the Ravens have handled their offseason in essentially sending the message that they’re starting over on defense after the departure of five starters from the Super Bowl XLVII team.

But as Newsome told USA Today, the Ravens want to be careful in how quickly they make the transition with their defense and Reed’s return — at Baltimore’s price, of course — would provide much-needed leadership as well as an opportunity for the future Hall of Fame safety to mentor an understudy to eventually take his place.

Dumervil in Ravens’ price range?

The unexpected availability of Broncos free-agent defensive end Elvis Dumervil was sure to spark interest from any team looking to improve its pass rush and there is “serious interest” from the Ravens, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Dumervil played outside linebacker in a 3-4 system under former Denver head coach Josh McDaniels and would certainly more than fill the void left behind by Paul Kruger, but it’s difficult to imagine the Ravens having the financial means to be serious players for the 29-year-old with several other areas to address including wide receiver, left tackle, inside linebacker, and safety.

In addition to Denver being interested in bringing back Dumervil since their renegotiated deal fell through after a fax machine fiasco on Friday — that resulted in the termination of agent Marty Magid — the Patriots and the Titans have also been named as teams with potential interest in the defensive end’s services. The reality is Dumervil’s new representation — reported to be Tom Condon and Ben Dogra — will not only be looking to recover the $8 million per year the pass rusher had agreed to accept from the Broncos but also to make their mark by fetching more money for their client if possible.

Those realities wouldn’t suggest the Ravens are a realistic candidate to sign Dumervil, who collected 20 1/2 sacks over the last two seasons.

What about the nose?

In an otherwise disappointing start to free agency with the Ravens seeing their roster gutted, Newsome has fulfilled his promise to address the defensive line by adding veteran defensive ends Chris Canty and Marcus Spears this past week.

Those signings leave the Ravens stacked at defensive end as the veterans join Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee, but nose tackle remains an area of concern after Terrence Cody and veteran Ma’ake Kemoeatu struggled to control the line of scrimmage as opposing teams had plenty of success running up the middle in 2012. Kemoeatu is an unrestricted free agent not expected to return and Cody has one year remaining on his rookie contract, leaving many to believe Baltimore will be looking for help in April’s draft.

One option the Ravens might consider is to move All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to the nose tackle spot, a position he’s played in the past. Canty, Spears, and Jones are all defensive ends perfectly suited to play in a 3-4 front, but the Ravens would appear to have a surplus if Ngata is to continue playing the 3-technique tackle spot in which he lines up on the outside shoulder of the guard.

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will use multiple fronts and the Ravens love to rotate linemen into the lineup to keep everyone fresh, but you have to think the Ravens have something up their sleeve for their defensive line or they wouldn’t have signed two veteran defensive ends after designating Jones with a second-round tender. Spears also dabbled at the nose tackle spot occasionally for the Dallas Cowboys, but Ngata would appear to be the best candidate to move.

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Reed leaves Houston without contract in hand

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Reed leaves Houston without contract in hand

Posted on 15 March 2013 by Luke Jones

After looking like signing a deal with the Texans was imminent after a two-day visit, Ravens free-agent safety Ed Reed did what he’s done on a number of occasions the last few offseasons by throwing everyone a curveball.

Instead of completing a deal with Houston as many expected, Reed left the city without an agreement in place. A deal isn’t expected on Friday, but the Texans remain optimistic in signing the veteran defensive back, according to multiple outlets.

Negotiations will continue through the weekend, but the 34-year-old left Houston without a contract in hand after the Texans wined and dined Reed on Thursday. According to the NFL Network, Reed spent roughly 4 1/2 hours at the team’s offices at Reliant Stadium on Friday before leaving the building without an agreement.

Meetings were described as positive and this doesn’t mean the safety won’t still sign with the Texans, but a full-court press was made by the organization to entice Reed to sign a contract before he’d return to his home city of Atlanta. After his six-year, $44.4 million contract officially expired on Tuesday, Reed began his free-agent tour on Thursday by meeting with Texans officials and even defensive coordinator Wade Phillips before spending the night in Houston.

Meanwhile, USA Today reported Friday afternoon that the Ravens and general manager Ozzie Newsome remained in contact with Reed throughout his visit with the Texans.

The Texans rolled out the red carpet for the nine-time Pro Bowl safety as the organization announced general manager Rick Smith was on his way to pick up Reed in owner Bob McNair’s private jet. Reports suggest the Texans have been hot after Reed’s services since the start of free agency on Tuesday afternoon.

“Both of us are contenders and want to get a championship, but we still have some things to work out,” Reed said to reporters upon landing in Houston. “Conversations have been great, amazing. We’re on the same page as far as what we need to get done.”

Despite dealing with a chronic nerve impingement as well as a torn labrum in his shoulder, Reed was one of only two players to make all 16 starts for the Baltimore defense and collected four interceptions and 58 tackles in the 2012 regular season. The ball-hawking safety also intercepted San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the Ravens’ 34-31 win in Super Bowl XLVII.

Reed hired David Dunn to be his agent recently and has remained hopeful he would remain with the Ravens.

The 34-year-old acknowledged Houston’s close proximity with family living in his home state of Louisiana was a major selling point for his interest in joining the Texans. Reed spoke of the Ravens and Baltimore on Thursday much like a man who was moving on.

“It’s been a great ride,” Reed said in Houston. “The fan support has been truly amazing, a lot of love and a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It’s definitely tough, but after 11 years, you pretty much understand things about the business.”

Visiting Houston is an obvious sign that Reed could be the next Baltimore defensive player to exit this offseason, but the 2004 NFL Defensive Player of the Year also needs to establish a market for himself and determine whether the grass is greener on the other side in joining a new team for what will be his 12th professional season.

The situation has been compared to Ray Lewis’ flirtation with free agency following the 2008 season, but in this case, the Ravens have sent a clear message they’re essentially starting over on defense after the exits of Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, Cary Williams, and Paul Kruger. The organization will depend on defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and cornerback Lardarius Webb — three of the highest-paid players on the team — to be the pillars of a defensive unit clearly in transition.

It remains to be seen whether Reed will be included in those plans — regardless of the cost.

But, for now, Reed remains without a home after looking like his trip to Houston would result in his official departure from the Ravens.

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J. Jones savors celebration after memorable first year with Ravens

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J. Jones savors celebration after memorable first year with Ravens

Posted on 06 February 2013 by Luke Jones

You’d forgive Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones for being skeptical of the celebration held in Baltimore on Tuesday to celebrate the Super Boxl XLVII Ravens.

Growing up in The Big Easy, the 28-year-old return specialist knows a thing or two about a citywide party. But even Jones couldn’t help but shake his head in disbelief as more than 200,000 Ravens fans flocked to the downtown area for a parade and rally at M&T Bank Stadium to celebrate the second championship in the 17-year history of the franchise.

As he did following his record-setting 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, Jones offered his rendition of Ray Lewis’ famous dance after the 37-year-old linebacker showed it off one more time in front of the hometown fans. It was just one of many memorable scenes on a day few will forget in the history of Baltimore sports.

“I’m from New Orleans and we have Mardi Gras,” Jones said. “We have parades and we have people out there and you’d be like, ‘Wow.’ But that right there, that was times 10. That was crazy. I don’t think nobody went to work. No kids in school, no nothing. Baltimore just shut down. I hope no doctors were out there. Somebody would have died!”

It was quite a change from a year earlier for Jones, who encountered death threats and heard stories of Houston Texans fans burning his jersey in outrage over a critical fumble on a punt in a divisional playoff loss to the Ravens last January. Released a couple months later, Jones found a home in Baltimore after signing a two-year, $7 million contract.

The sixth-year receiver and former third-round pick immediately felt right at home with the Ravens as the organization simply encouraged Jones to be himself as he had a reputation for being a bit of a free spirit in addition to doubts about his hands. He is among countless players to declare this year’s team as the closest they had ever been a part of.

His two-touchdown performance while playing in the Super Bowl was the icing on the cake for a season that included Jones’ first Pro Bowl selection as the return specialist in the AFC.

“Never in a million years you would think one year you come in and play with a group like that,” Jones said. “That’s crazy. I don’t think you can ever have another team like that again. I hope we can all stay together.”

Jones accumulated a Super Bowl-record 290 all-purpose yards and set three other records in the NFL’s championship game, including longest play, longest kickoff return, and longest kickoff return for a touchdown. His 56-yard touchdown catch on a moon-ball from quarterback Joe Flacco gave the Ravens a 21-3 lead late in the first half.

The performance wasn’t good enough to outdo Flacco as the game’s Most Valuable Player, but Jones received another honor instead. The Lane College product was surprised to learn he was chosen to be on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated magazine.

“What? Me? Nah,” said Jones in disbelief following Tuesday’s celebration. “They get my good side? I had the helmet on? Alright, I’ll take that one any day.”

Jones SI cover

Jones was just what the doctor ordered this season as the Ravens finally cured their problems at the return spot and at the No. 3 receiver position from a year ago when they received next to nothing from a number of returners and former wide receiver Lee Evans respectively. He averaged 30.7 yards per kickoff to lead the NFL and had three returns for scores during the regular season.

Though finishing with only 30 catches for 407 yards and a touchdown in the regular season, Jones’ 70-yard miracle touchdown against the Denver Broncos — nicknamed “The Prayer in Thin Air” — and acrobatic touchdown catch against the 49ers were as big as any plays in the Ravens’ improbable postseason run to a championship. His speed on the outside paired with second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith made the Baltimore passing attack one of the most dangerous in the league this season as Flacco had vertical options on each side of the field in three-receiver sets.

He may not have taken home the MVP award or the Corvette Stingray that accompanied it, but Jones’ unique skill set was on full display for the entire world to see on Sunday night.

“Jacoby has just been a blessing to this team and we are so grateful to have him,” said coach John Harbaugh following Super Bowl XLVII. “The kick return was well-blocked and Jacoby made it with his speed. The other play, to go up and make the catch, go down and outrun someone to the corner of the end zone — it should go down in Super Bowl history.”

For a time, it appeared Jones’ return score to open the second half would turn out the lights on San Francisco’s title hopes, but a power outage in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome made that play on words less than amusing to the Ravens. The 34-minute delay was a catalyst for the 49ers to regroup and erase most of a 22-point deficit before Baltimore prevailed with a final stand at the goal line late in the fourth quarter.

However, the quirky Jones may have been the only Raven who was pleased when the lights went out in New Orleans just moments after his record-setting kick return. It was the latest example of how his sense of humor and candor were accepted with open arms in the Ravens locker room.

“I was happy, man,” Jones said. “I was tired after that 108. I was on the sideline throwing up. I was trying to catch my breath. I wasn’t even tripping. It came right on time. I got a chance to get a little water. Still caught some passes and slowed my heart rate down. We got back on track and still got the [win].”

Getting back on track — and much more — was exactly what Jones did this year in finding a perfect home with the Ravens.

 

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

Posted on 02 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Okay, so no Josh McDaniels. Umm…Marty-ball?

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

Mike Mularkey: “Are you sure you didn’t want to fire me?”

30. Arizona Cardinals (31)

I cannot believe they’re really considering hiring Todd Haley. OH.MY.GOD.

29. Oakland Raiders (29)

Now they get ready for their Super Bowl…the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

28. Detroit Lions (28)

The problem for Jim Schwartz is that he’s a former defensive coach for a team that can’t play defense.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (27)

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole tells us the Eagles could keep Michael Vick around if they hire Chip Kelly.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

While the Browns’ first choice is the same Chip Kelly, no one’s first choice EVER has been the Cleveland Browns.

25. New York Jets (23)

QUARTERBACKS FOR SALE!!!!!!!!!!

24. Tennessee Titans (25)

Check back in with me in five minutes to confirm Mike Munchak still hasn’t been fired yet.

23. Buffalo Bills (24)

I think a Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm combo would be a good fit there.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

Do you focus more on what went wrong? Or do you focus more on how to build off of seven wins?

21. Miami Dolphins (17)

At least they have a quarterback.

20. St. Louis Rams (18)

Are they as close as their record would make you believe?

19. San Diego Chargers (21)

If Peyton Manning isn’t in the AFC West, they win the thing and save Norv Turner again.

18. New Orleans Saints (16)

I’ll go ahead and assume they win 13 games next season.

17. Carolina Panthers (19)

By keeping Ron Rivera, they’d give up potential “most desirable location” status for coaches.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (20)

If they had a healthy Ben Roethisberger for 16 games they would have won the division. Unless the Ravens had a healthy Suggs/Ngata/Webb/Lewis. I guess what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter.

15. Dallas Cowboys (13)

What the eff do you do here?

14. Chicago Bears (14)

I’d want this job.

13. New York Giants (15)

“Hynocerous” is one of the Top 5 nicknames in football this year.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Who’s a fit here? Josh McDaniels?

31. Arizona Cardinals (31)

At this point I have to assume Whisenhunt is gone. Players openly bitching there.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

I can’t wait until they go 7-9 next year and somehow make the playoffs with Tim Tebow as quarterback.

29. Oakland Raiders (30)

I ASSUME Dennis Allen is safe, but you absolutely never know.

28. Detroit Lions (27)

But that was at least fun to watch Saturday night.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (28)

Nice of them to give Michael Vick a farewell show.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

I honestly wouldn’t want the job of having to solve this puzzle.

25. Tennessee Titans (25)

Jake Locker gets another year before he’s fully labeled a bust.

24. Buffalo Bills (24)

I really have nothing to say about the Buffalo Bills.

23. New York Jets (20)

HIGH-LAIR-EE-USS.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21)

I wish I had paid enough attention to the Bucs to know whose fault their collapse was.

21. San Diego Chargers (23)

“You think Jon Gruden would go there?” is the question you’ll hear most related to the Bolts in the coming weeks.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (16)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

19. Carolina Panthers (19)

Is the late push enough for Ron Rivera to keep his job?

18. St. Louis Rams (22)

They can finish ABOVE .500…

17. Miami Dolphins (18)

Please beat New England.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check: Ravens should absolutely play to win in Cincinnati

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Your Monday Reality Check: Ravens should absolutely play to win in Cincinnati

Posted on 24 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’m amazed by how many people I had to explain it to Sunday night. I honestly had to give up after a little while.

The stupidity of the statement “I’d rather the Baltimore Ravens be the four seed because the path looks easier to me” is unbelievable.

I was impressed by a number of things I saw from the Baltimore Ravens Sunday (weren’t we all?), but one that probably went unnoticed by many was how head coach John Harbaugh addressed the question of how the team would handle next week’s game.

“The thing we’re going to do for sure is we’re going to try to win the game” Harbaugh explained. “We’re also going to try to make sure we’re as healthy as we can be going into the playoffs so I think we’ll merge those two considerations.”

Bingo. The Baltimore Ravens absolutely MUST try to win their Week 17 date with the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

By virtue of their 33-14 win over the New York Giants Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens clinched the AFC North title and a home playoff game. They are guaranteed to play on Wild Card weekend of the NFL Playoffs, but they are not yet locked into the four seed. The Ravens could still clinch the three seed in the AFC Playoffs with a win over the Bengals and a New England Patriots loss to the Miami Dolphins.

The difference in the third seed and fourth seed isn’t necessarily significant, but it has the potential to be. Getting the third seed could be the difference in whether the Ravens are able to host the AFC Championship Game.

It seems like an unlikely scenario, but it’s not impossible. Should the Ravens and Patriots end up as the third and fourth seeds but each win their first two playoff games, they would meet in the AFC title game. If the Pats are the three seed and the Ravens the four, the Pats would host the game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. I vaguely remember such a game happening there before.

But if the Ravens were to finish as the three seed and the Patriots the fourth seed, the game would then be played in the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium, the place where the Baltimore Ravens have won 15 of their last 17 games (including playoffs).

Which scenario would you prefer?

I got this question Sunday night. “This seems so unlikely. When was the last time something like this even happened?”

The person who asked was right. It IS an unlikely scenario. But if the Ravens are to return to the AFC Championship Game at all, they will HAVE to knock off one of the top two seeds. The Pats would then only need to win a game either in Houston or Denver, neither of which seems like an impossible scenario.

And if you’ll allow your memory to serve you right, you’ll be reminded that the Ravens were a second half collapse away from having this scenario play out in January 2011. The New York Jets stunned the Patriots in Foxborough, so had the Ravens avoided blowing a fourteen point halftime lead to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, they would have hosted the AFC Championship Game as a five seed.

Some people argued to me “Glenn, I think the road is easier as a four seed because I’d rather play Indianapolis and Houston than Cincinnati and Denver.”

I have absolutely no idea why there is a sudden fear of the Cincinnati Bengals amongst Ravens fans. The difference between the Bengals and Colts is minimal at best. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has thrown for three touchdowns and five interceptions over the course of the last three weeks, is 0-3 in his career against the Ravens and thus far in his NFL career has not defeated a team that has clinched a postseason berth (although that could change next week if the Washington Redskins or New York Giants get in).

The Houston argument is more compelling. Despite the fact that the Ravens suffered a 43-13 shellacking earlier this season in Houston, it’s easy to understand why fans would believe that task more likely to be accomplished than a Ravens win in Denver. What’s forgotten in this scenario is that the Texans have not yet clinched the top seed in the AFC. They will need to do something they’ve never done in franchise history-win in Indianapolis-next Sunday in order to nail down the top spot, and RB Arian Foster’s availability could be an issue after he left Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings with an irregular heartbeat.

Should the Texans lose (as well as the Patriots) and the Broncos win, the Broncos would be the one seed and the Texans would be the two seed. Which scenario is better for the Ravens at that point?

The NFL did the Ravens no favors in scheduling, as their tilt with the Bengals will kick off at 1pm Sunday, while the Patriots won’t kick off until some three hours later. The Ravens will not have the benefit of knowing what the Patriots are doing to decide if there’s a point where they want to pull their starters.

Instead, they’ll simply have to channel former NFL coach Herm Edwards and “play to win the game.”

That doesn’t mean they should go crazy.

The Ravens are smart enough to know that the Patriots are unlikely to lose to the Dolphins and will most likely open the postseason by hosting the Colts in a playoff game for the second time in franchise history. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

As Harbaugh said, merging the two considerations is very plausible.

It would make total sense for the Ravens to consider giving oft-injured DT Haloti Ngata another week off (he rested for the team’s blowout win over the Oakland Raiders in November) and even LB Terrell Suggs (who has played the last two weeks after suffering a torn biceps tendon) the day off. Harbaugh also confirmed LB Ray Lewis wouldn’t be a consideration to return from Injured Reserve until the postseason. It wouldn’t be stunning to see S Bernard Pollard miss a third straight game either, and if WR Anquan Boldin’s shoulder is of significant concern it would be understandable to see him miss the finale as well.

But there is absolutely no reason for the Ravens to spend Sunday’s game with Tyrod Taylor handing the ball off to Anthony Allen all afternoon while Joe Flacco and Ray Rice watch in sweats. It’s one thing to be prudent. It’s quite another to just plain give up.

With something to play for still, there’s no reason the Ravens should do the latter. Judging by John Harbaugh’s comments, I’ll assume they won’t.

-G

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The Reality Check Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 20 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (30)

We all knew they’d end up back here.

31. Arizona Cardinals (32)

Wha…what?

30. Oakland Raiders (31)

Don’t fail me now, Seabass.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

They’ll finish the season lower.

28. Philadelphia Eagles (28)

LeSean McCoy is playing WHY?

27. Detroit Lions (25)

Stunning mess.

26. Cleveland Browns (24)

We knew it wouldn’t last.

25. Tennessee Titans (27)

But Jake Locker still stinks.

24. Buffalo Bills (23)

Hope they felt comfortable North of the Border.

23. San Diego Chargers (19)

Gave up?

22. St. Louis Rams (20)

They can still finish above .500.

21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17)

Completely fell apart.

20. New York Jets (18)

VICKMANIA!

19. Carolina Panthers (26)

They might be a year away.

18. Miami Dolphins (22)

Like Republicans, Fins fans want Bush back.

17. New Orleans Saints (21)

Did that whole Sean Payton thing ever get figured out?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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