Tag Archive | "Tom Brady"

The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Patriots

Posted on 24 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Joe Flacco pass intended for Dennis Pitta incomplete on 4th & 10 (4th quarter)

The “ender”.

4. Jimmy Smith called for 34 yard pass interference after Tom Brady pass intended for Julian Edelman incomplete (1st quarter)

Got everything started. 

3. Logan Ryan breaks up Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones on 4th & 3 (3rd quarter)

Questionable decision, more questionable execution.

2. Logan Ryan intercepts Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones after Dont’a Hightower tip (1st quarter)

Didn’t take long to make it 14-0. 

1. Ray Rice runs for no gain on 4th & 1 (3rd quarter)

There was no (realistic) coming back from this. 

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Justin Tucker as Ravens MVP?  Sure…after all, who else could it be?

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Justin Tucker as Ravens MVP? Sure…after all, who else could it be?

Posted on 24 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

Not that it matters, because it’s nothing more than a side-note in a player’s media guide biography, but Justin Tucker won the Ravens MVP award on Monday afternoon.

That shouldn’t be too startling if you’ve followed the Ravens through the first fifteen weeks of the 2013 season.  After all, Tucker has actually been the only “regular” on the team who has played above the bar of excellence typically reserved for players who earn MVP status.

Oddly enough, voting for Tucker for team MVP (as I did, admittedly, when the media ballots were distributed last week) was just as much a vote of deduction than anything else.

The other candidates were the three Smith’s — Jimmy, Daryl and Torrey, plus quarterback Joe Flacco.

None of those five came close to duplicating the overall excellence of Justin Tucker this season.

Now, if you’re one of those people who thinks it’s absurd for the team’s kicker to be the Most Valuable Player of the team, I’ll agree with you on that point.

Yes, I voted for Tucker.  I told you that already.

But, voting for the guy and also acknowledging it’s weird to have the kicker be the team’s MVP are entirely possible when you look at what transpired this season.

In short:  The Ravens offense stunk in 2013.

That eliminates Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith from the discussion.

And, while the defensive Smith’s were solid, neither of them came close to establishing the overall consistency of Tucker.

I don’t know that Jimmy Smith or Daryl Smith won any games for John Harbaugh’s team.

Justin Tucker did.

And, when you’re 8-7 and still have a puncher’s chance of making the post-season, the kicker who made the difference in four of those victories deserves the nod as the team MVP.

Sad?

Sure.

The kicker sure as hell isn’t the MVP in Denver, Kansas City, Seattle, Carolina or Cincinnati.

Flacco is the lightning bolt topic when it comes to the Tucker verdict in Baltimore, because he’s the $60 million man and much was expected from him after holding up both the Lombardi and MVP trophy at last February’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.

The real truth about his 2013 campaign?  It’s been average, at best.  Some would say he’s been less than average; some would counter and say with what he’s had to work with, Flacco has been better than average.

Mix all the opinions together, look at the team’s record and Flacco’s numbers and you get:  Average.

Now, were there issues outside of Flacco’s area of responsibility?

Lack of pass blockers to protect him?  You bet.

No running game to help support his arm?  Absolutely.

Wide receiving group still short a quality contributor – or two?  Yes, indeed.

Injury to Pitta a tough pill to swallow?  Of course.

But, 19 interceptions don’t lie.

It’s one thing if Flacco doesn’t produce a 30 TD, 4,000 yard season given the limits I listed above, combined with the anticipated “Super Bowl hangover” that nearly every veteran has likely experienced to some degree in 2013.

But, he hasn’t even reached 20 TD’s yet.  And he’ll need 280 yards passing at Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon to eclipse the 4,000 yard mark for the first time ever.

Not only has he thrown the ball to the other team nineteen times, and, yes, not all 19 of those are completely “on” Flacco, — a handful of the pics were deflections or balls that should have been caught by his receivers — but he’s also fumbled it eight times, with two of those recovered by the opposition.

(Please see next page)

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Ravens handed worst home loss ever as Patriots deliver “cleat of reality”

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Ravens handed worst home loss ever as Patriots deliver “cleat of reality”

Posted on 22 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

This time, there was no late-game heroics to save the Ravens.

No half-a-world-away kick from Justin Tucker.

No final minute punt return from Jacoby Jones.

No last gasp drive from Joe Flacco and the offense.

This time, it was just football for sixty minutes.

And, the Ravens got their rear ends handed to them by Tom Brady and the Patriots.  There’s no other way to slice it.  No fancy way to sugarcoat it.  Not on Sunday.  It was 41-7 in favor of the Patriots and the beating was as bad as the score would indicate, even if two of the New England TD’s were scored in garbage time.

It was a day to forget for Joe Flacco and the offense.  Going up against a beleaguered and injured New England defense, the Baltimore offense simply laid a colossal Christmas egg, coughing up the ball on four different occasions and failing to pick up a first down on two separate 4th and short situations in the second half.

On the first occasion, the Ravens were faced with a 4th and 2 at the New England 39.  They had already run the ball twice in the series — once for five yards and the other for three yards, but offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell eschewed the reasonable solution of running off the edge and instead asked Flacco to connect with Jacoby Jones on a short pass.  It failed.

Later on, at the New England four yard line, the Ravens had two chances to pick up one yard.  On 3rd and 1, Caldwell again called for a pass play, which was incomplete.  Facing a 20-0 deficit, the Ravens rightfully went for it on 4th down.  Flacco initially lined up in the shotgun with Rice to his right.  Just prior to the snap, the QB scooted under center and gave Rice the ball off tackle, where he was stopped for no gain.  Was that the play design coming out of a Baltimore time-out where the Ravens discussed a critical play-call?  If so, it looked sloppy at best, ill-executed at worst.

Those two 4th down failures didn’t cost the Ravens the game, but you can’t win football games in the NFL when you can’t pick up two yards and one yard with your season perhaps on the line.

Later, the Ravens made the wrong call on a field goal decision that all but sewed up the game for the visitors.  Trailing 20-0 and faced with a 4th and 5 at the Patriots’ 19 yard line early in the 4th quarter, John Harbaugh elected to send Justin Tucker on the field for a 36 yard field goal.  That Tucker would miss the field goal was almost poetic justice, for even if he would have connected, the Ravens still trailed by three scores at 20-3.  He missed it.

Sure, Tucker should make a 36-yarder every time, but the call there should have been to go for it on 4th down to try and get a TD on that series and make it a two score game.

If the game wasn’t over prior to Tucker attempting the field goal, it was over when he failed to connect.

The Baltimore offense has now scored one touchdown in its last eight quarters of action.  Six field goals last Monday night in Detroit and one “we don’t care if you score” TD allowed by New England on Sunday.  In fairness, one of those days where the ineptness of the offense finally catches up to the Ravens was bound to happen.  Other Sunday’s, Flacco and Company would figure out a way to put up a TD or two and add a few Justin Tucker field goals to win 23-20.

This was the Sunday where the football gods finally said, “You boys are gonna have to play some legit football on offense today.”

And, the Ravens didn’t answer the bell.

The Baltimore defense got picked apart early by Tom Brady, who used Julian Edelman like a fiddler with his bow.  When the Patriots took advantage of a pass interference call on Jimmy Smith in the end zone and a Flacco interception to go up 14-0, all they had to do from there was play smart, use the clock and not turn the ball over.  What quarterback in the world is better than doing those things than New England’s #12?

Brady expertly used the middle of the field as the Ravens’ secondary played a soft cover-2 that put little emphasis on physicality.

One week ago in Detroit, the Ravens defensive backs went toe-to-toe with Calvin Johnson from the first whistle and physically challenged him.

Against New England, there was very little of that press coverage scheme from Jimmy Smith or Corey Graham, although it’s fair to note Lardarius Webb was tight on his man most of the day.

The Baltimore defense put little pressure on the quarterback all afternoon.  Strong?  Yes.  Big in size?  Yes.  But the Ravens lack pace and speed in their defensive front seven and when they face a quick-release quarterback like the one in New England, there’s not much damage being done.

When Brady gets time to do his thing, it can get ugly.  Like it did on Sunday.

On the flip side, the Ravens offense was unable to solve the mystery of the New England defense that somehow constructed a method to beat Baltimore on the inside and give Flacco something to think about most of the day.  Horrible against the run, the Patriots weren’t challenged that much by Caldwell, who went to the air 42 times.  It was a weird combination, it seemed.  New England WANTED the Ravens to throw it and the Baltimore coaching staff did just that.

It all added up to the worst home loss of the John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era.  With their playoff lives on the line, the Ravens turned in a stinker for the ages, at home no less, and made next Sunday’s game in Cincinnati a must-win affair.

Everyone’s shorts smelled on Sunday.

The coaches had a long day.

The offense had a longer day.

And the defense, which played respectably overall, got a lesson in how Tom Brady operates when the calls and the balls are both working in his favor.  He’s tough to beat.

Hell, Justin Tucker missed a 36 yard field goal.

You know you’re not winning if that happens.

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Patriots: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 21 December 2013 by Luke Jones

The Ravens renew what’s become one of the best rivalries in the NFL in recent years Sunday when the New England Patriots pay a visit with playoff implications for both sides.

A rematch of the last two AFC Championship games is compelling enough, but the Ravens enter Sunday with a chance to punch their ticket to the postseason for the sixth straight year with a win and losses by Miami and San Diego. New England will clinch its fifth consecutive AFC East division title with a victory at M&T Bank Stadium.

These teams have dealt with their fair share of changes since the last time they met in Foxborough last January, but they find themselves in a familiar position with new faces emerging to replace the big names of past years. Counting the postseason, Sunday marks the seventh time the Ravens and Patriots have met in the John Harbaugh era — it’s been a 3-3 split — with few teams having as much success against New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as Baltimore.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens try to clinch another winning season under Harbaugh and set up an AFC North championship game against Cincinnati in Week 17. Baltimore is just 1-6 in the all-time regular-season series against New England, but the Ravens hold a 2-1 edge over the Patriots in the postseason.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to continue their four-game winning streak and keep themselves in position for January football …

1. Joe Flacco’s knee injury will affect his mobility, contributing to him being sacked four times for the first time since late November. One of the major factors for Flacco’s improved play down the stretch has been his ability to move around in the pocket and occasionally take off to gain yards on the ground, but the mild MCL sprain of his left knee figures to impact that to some extent. Trying to assess Flacco’s mobility during practices this week was impossible as quarterbacks only played catch from a stationary position during the open portion of practices, but he was still dealing with some swelling late in the week. The Baltimore offensive line has only allowed five sacks over the last three games, but Flacco will be more likely to stay in the pocket this week, leading to a few more sacks with defensive ends Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich coming off the edges.

2. New England cornerback Aqib Talib will match up with Dennis Pitta, but the Ravens tight end will catch a touchdown. The Patriots have used the 6-foot-1 Talib against talented tight ends such as New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and Miami’s Charles Clay, so don’t be surprised to see him covering Pitta from the slot position while New England tries to use Cover 2 to contain the deep-ball threats of Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones on the outside. Talib is listed as probable on the final injury report, but he’s been dealing with a nagging hip issue, which might explain why defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and Belichick moved him inside last week in Miami. Talib will prevent Pitta from having a huge day, but Flacco will still find his favorite target inside the red zone for a touchdown after the tight end wasn’t targeted once in three red-zone trips last week in Detroit.

3. Brady will find rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson for a touchdown to help the Patriots’ recent red-zone woes. New England ranks 16th in the league in red-zone offense, and the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski has only made that area of the field more problematic for the future Hall of Fame quarterback as he lacks a big target to throw to. The Patriots were only 1-for-4 inside the 20 in last week’s loss to the Dolphins, but the return of the 6-foot-3 Dobson will help complement smaller receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. The Ravens must also keep tabs on Shane Vereen and his receiving abilities out of the backfield, but the league’s fourth-ranked red-zone defense will make the Patriots scratch and claw all day. Even with their personnel losses, the Patriots rank sixth in the NFL in points scored and Brady will connect with Dobson for a touchdown.

4. Backup running back Bernard Pierce will earn a season high for rushing yards with Ray Rice less than 100 percent. Rice and the Ravens have downplayed the mild quadriceps strain he suffered in the Week 15 win over the Lions, but it’s difficult not to be concerned considering how tough this season has been for the three-time Pro Bowl selection. Pierce has experienced his own struggles — averaging only 2.8 yards per carry — behind an offensive line that’s underperformed. If the Patriots do match up Talib with Pitta and rely on two high safeties against the vertical threat, the Ravens will receive better looks in the box against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense that’s surrendered 132.5 yards per game. It’s difficult to trust the Ravens to run the ball effectively against anyone at this point, but Pierce will eclipse his season high of 65 rushing yards set in Week 3.

5. An improved effort inside the 20-yard line will go a long way as the Ravens win a 23-17 final over New England. Baltimore has won four straight games but has only gone 4-for-14 inside the red zone over that stretch, leaving a slim margin for error and too much reliance on kicker Justin Tucker. That being said, Flacco has gotten the best of Brady in recent years and the Ravens are feeling more urgency than the Patriots with their playoff positioning. Sunday will be a nail-biter and you can never count out Brady when the stakes are high, but the Ravens will once again rise to the occasion to finish 7-1 at home. The offense will have a respectable effort on the ground and make a few big plays through the air to complement another strong defensive effort as the Ravens set up a massive Week 17 showdown with the Bengals.

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Ravens vs. New England — It’s a “7-Star Lock” game

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Ravens vs. New England — It’s a “7-Star Lock” game

Posted on 20 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

You know how it goes in gambling.

There are games you “like”, games you “feel good about” and games where you say, “it’s a lock!”

I have a slam-dunk thing called the “7-Star Lock” that I only bring out for very special occasions.

I’ve only used the “7-Star Lock” twice this season.

It hit both times.

The first go-round was in Baltimore last month when the Ravens edged the Bengals 20-17 in overtime.  The Friday before, I ended our award-winning segment – “Picks and Comment” – with the stunning revelation that the game in Baltimore two days later was “the lock of all locks”.  Hence, the reason it was a 7-Star Lock.

You just don’t label a game a 7-Star Lock unless you know it’s a done deal.

In fact, the 7-Star Lock is just like a honeybee.  When a honeybee stings you, that’s essentially its final act, as it will perish hours later.

If the 7-Star Lock ever fails, it, too, is dead.  A 7-Star Lock can only be used while owning a perfect record.

Anyway, following the successful application of the 7-SL on the Bengals in Baltimore (“I don’t care what you say, Cincinnati isn’t coming to Baltimore and beating the Ravens this Sunday…”), I took a few weeks off before finding another 7-SL game.

Last Sunday in Miami, I called the Dolphins over New England a 7-Star Lock for the hometown ‘Fins.

You can up that record to 2-0 on 7-SL’s this season.

Oddly enough, New England will once again be involved in a 7-Star Lock game.  It’s this Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

Baltimore 26 – New England 13

And, yes, you can make that a 7-Star Lock.

New England’s not coming to Baltimore and winning on Sunday.  They don’t have enough offense, even though they have the best QB in the league.  They don’t have a defense that can stop the Ravens long enough to let the referees work their expected late-game magic for Bill Belichick’s team.

They have a very good kicker.

The Ravens have a great one.

New England doesn’t have to win the game.

Baltimore does.

The Ravens don’t lose big home games.  Not under John Harbaugh, anyway.  Not in December.

The last time the Ravens spit the bit in a home game of this kind of magnitude was January 13, 2007 when the ’06 campaign ended abruptly with a 15-6 loss to the Colts in the AFC playoffs.

Ain’t happenin’ this Sunday in Baltimore, trust me.

Ravens in a romp.

Book it.

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Ravens, Patriots both hope red zone doesn’t mean “stop” on Sunday

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Ravens, Patriots both hope red zone doesn’t mean “stop” on Sunday

Posted on 19 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s the dirty little secret that can’t be overlooked despite a four-game winning streak that’s put the Ravens in control of their path to a sixth consecutive playoff appearance as they welcome the New England Patriots to Baltimore on Sunday.

While improving on a 4-6 start to move two games above .500 with their Monday win over the Detroit Lions, the Ravens have gone 4-for-14 inside the red zone over their last four games. Finishing drives inside the 20 with a touchdown just 42.9 percent of the time, coach John Harbaugh and his team know they can’t continue to depend on good fortune and 61-yard field goals to overcome the league’s 29th-ranked red-zone offense.

But fixing the problem is easier said than done at this late stage in the season.

“There are things that we’ve come up with that we’ve noticed that we have addressed and will continue to work on,” Harbaugh said. “That’s as much as I would like to share with you at this time.”

Of course, the Ravens coach doesn’t feel like broadcasting the details, but a simple look at the offensive personnel makes it easier to explain. A strong running game is clearly ideal once you push closer to the goal line, but the Ravens’ struggles in that department are nothing new by now.

The Ravens’ passing game largely depends on the speed of receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, but the red zone is constricted and depends more on size and precision, two areas in which there have been deficiencies this season. Until the recent return of tight end Dennis Pitta, the Ravens have lacked a big receiving target inside the 20 beyond rookie Marlon Brown, who has made plays but needs to run more precise routes to be a consistent threat.

And while veterans Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley — the latter now on injured reserve — earned reputations as brilliant route-runners earlier in their career, their declining speed neutralized their ability to find windows in coverage near the goal line this season.

Those shortcomings along with some untimely penalties have added up to a small margin for error that quarterback Joe Flacco has often been unable to overcome, forcing the Ravens to depend on the right leg of kicker Justin Tucker to convert field goals. In their 18-16 win over the Lions, the Ravens were 0-for-3 on trips inside the 20 and needed a franchise-record six field goals to pull off the victory.

“Just little things, one thing here and one thing there,” Flacco said. “When you don’t take advantage of the one play that you get down there to score a touchdown or if you are giving yourself one play to do it, if you have one little slip up, then you are putting yourselves in a tough situation to really convert and put the ball in the end zone. That is kind of what happened to us the other night. We didn’t take advantage of some of the good opportunities we had and left ourselves in bad situations and then didn’t convert.”

The Ravens hope that Pitta’s return will boost their shoddy red-zone play over the final two weeks of the regular season and beyond, but the play-making tight end wasn’t targeted once in their three red-zone trips against the Lions and finished the game with only two catches for 24 yards.

His 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame and reputation for running exceptional routes should help considerably on both third down and near the goal line, but Pitta acknowledged that Detroit used some bracketed coverage to neutralize his dangerous abilities.

The book is certainly out by now on his reputation as Flacco’s favorite target on the current roster.

“It just depends on who is open, what coverages they deploy, and how we respond to them,” offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “That could change up. Some guys are going to have big games; some guys are not going to have a great game. We usually have somebody that shows up week after week.”

Of course, Sunday’s game will provide a major test in future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, but the Patriots have been dealing with their own offensive struggles with the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski to an ACL injury and the recent absences of rookie wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson.

Entering Week 16 ranked 16th in the league in red-zone offense, the Patriots were 1-for-4 inside the 20 in their loss to Miami last Sunday — their first game since Gronkowski’s season-ending knee injury — as Brady was forced to throw to 5-foot-10 Julian Edelman and 5-foot-11 Danny Amendola inside the 20. The two are talented route-runners and productive receivers, but they are targets unable to go up and get the ball in traffic like the Pro Bowl tight end Gronkowski.

With the 6-foot-3 Dobson back at practice this week, he and talented receiving back Shane Vereen are likely to see opportunities when New England moves inside the red zone, but neither should be considered an easy fix to the Patriots’ offensive problems.

That said, the 10-4 Patriots have found success throughout the year despite Gronkowski missing all but seven games this season. Much like Flacco adjusting to life without Pitta and departed wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Brady has continued to succeed without the likes of Gronkowski, former slot receiver Wes Welker, and tight end Aaron Hernandez this season.

“When they haven’t been full-strength, they have found ways to win football games,” Flacco said. “I think we’ve had a lot of those same situations, and we’re just now starting to capitalize on them and win them. Earlier in the year, we probably weren’t able to win quite as much, and these guys have.

The casts have noticeably changed on each side of the ball, but Sunday’s contest is still likely to come down to which quarterback makes more plays as Flacco has gotten the best of Brady over the last few meetings between the teams, including last January’s AFC Championship game.

It’s apparent that neither offense is clicking on all cylinders with the end of the season quickly approaching, putting more expectations on each signal-caller to carry his team on his back. The Ravens have essentially been in must-win mode for the better part of a month while New England still needs one more win to lock up its fifth consecutive AFC East championship.

The battle inside the 20 will be critical like always, but the Ravens will be facing the league’s 21st-ranked red-zone defense while the Patriots must deal with the fourth-ranked unit in those situations and Brady has often struggled against Baltimore’s defensive schemes throughout his career.

Both Flacco and Brady will need to be at their best to give their flawed units a chance to succeed in what figures to be another classic matchup between the Ravens and Patriots. But with so many changes everywhere you look on these rosters, the spotlight will be even brighter on the quarterbacks than usual.

“Being able to execute under pressure, being smart, knowing the situation, keeping their poise, knowing how to handle [adversity],” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “[It’s] all the things — the play, the defense, clock management — [and] just good situational football. Each situation is a little bit different, no matter how much you practice it or how many situations you practice. [It’s about] being able to adjust and have that gamesmanship, poise and intelligence on the field to make good decisions at critical times.”

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The 15-7-0 loves unicorns and show ponies but hates Tom Brady comebacks

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The 15-7-0 loves unicorns and show ponies but hates Tom Brady comebacks

Posted on 14 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

True story. Tom Hanks only took the starring role in “Captain Phillips” because he was turned down for a similar role in a movie musical version of the 15-7-0. We parted amicably after negotiations, so truthfully I have not cared for some of the things he’s chosen to say in the media during the blitz for the film. I’ll take the high road…as always.

15 Positive Observations…

1. Tom Brady’s final drive was so good Sunday it might actually HAVE involved unicorns and show ponies.

Yes, Tom Brady threw an amazing game winning touchdown…but…ummm…

Let’s check in with Rob Ryan for his thoughts.

Remember that time Brady played John Harbaugh to Julian Edelman’s James Ihedigbo?

Just a guess, but I’d imagine this didn’t happen after THIS play…

2. So long, Virginia. Will be awfully nice to not have to pretend to have any idea what a Wahoo is in the future.

We won’t miss you.

Boston College toyed with Clemson for awhile elsewhere in the SEC, I assume for this reason.

Further elsewhere in the ACC, Syracuse should probably get their medical experts on this.

3. I don’t know if I feel “good” for Penn State, but watching that game Saturday night made me happier than Dikembe Mutombo blocking a shot.

I made a trip to Pennsylvania this weekend to see the Coyotes ground the Flyers and was treated surprisingly well. I imagine Michigan fans probably got the same in their visit to the Keystone State?

In the loss, credit Dennis Norfleet for…survival?

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Tevin Coleman is why Indiana can’t have nice things.

4. The Cincinnati Bengals are in first place by themselves. Reports say Satan got the better end of the deal.

Ladies and gentlemen, Gio Bernard.

5. Joseph Fauria > Christian Fauria > overpaying for EA Sports’ most recent underwhelming effort.

But we’re probably getting dangerously close to Fauria jumping the shark…

Remember when Brandon Weeden suddenly remembered he was Brandon Weeden?

I know the Browns lost the game, but is there really any loser when you attend a game and get to witness this?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The 15-7-0 is unseasonably hotter than the Patriots’ offense

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The 15-7-0 is unseasonably hotter than the Patriots’ offense

Posted on 07 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

15 positive observations from the weekend of football, seven not so positive observations and we acknowledge a “zero” from outside the world of football. A reminder, there’s never any Ravens game analysis here. We do plenty of that elsewhere. It’s a trip through the weekend of football via videos, GIFs, memes, pictures, links, Tweets and shtick.

If there ever is a Fall in the great state of Maryland, don’t worry about having to pay to heat your home. Just read the 15-7-0 and your heart will be warmed for seven whole days*!

(*This is a fact proven by science**.)
(**Even if you don’t think this is a proven fact there’s nothing you can do about it because there is no government so no one can say otherwise. HAHA, jerks.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. Peyton Manning is better at real football than Tony Romo is at fantasy football. There is perhaps no more significant thing that can be said about someone.

Both quarterbacks were awesome Sunday; but one was victorious while the other was picked by Danny Trejo. You probably already know which is which.

I like to think that Peyton Manning threw an interception in this one because he desperately longed to know what the other side felt like.

There was also a moment where he did this.

In a related story, what the sh*t is this man doing?

2. Ohio State has been tested in each of the last two weeks and came up aces. Did anyone check to make sure they didn’t tattoo the answers on the inside of their eyelids?

Something weird happened at the end of the game. I’ll let Brent Musberger explain.

College Gameday was in Evanston before this one, and someone brought a giant Mr. Feeney head, so obviously Gameday should never be anywhere else.

3. At the end of the Navy/Air Force game I had a strong desire to give every Midshipman a hug. And also to punch every Congressman in the nads.

And if it’s a Navy win, that means it’s a Navy motivational video!

Also, I wasn’t able to get one of these at the game Saturday. I would REALLY like it if someone else got me one.

4. If you didn’t have Peyton Manning or Tony Romo on your fantasy team this weekend, I believe the next best bet was Mason Crosby.

And unfortunately if you own Brandon Pettigrew, no points for hurdles.

You DO however get points for James Jones making big plays.

Also Brad Jones did…something.

5. After all of the embarrassment and shame Paris brought upon their family, you have to feel good that young T.Y. has given the Hiltons something to be proud of again.

You think “TY” stands for “Time (to) YOLO”?

Little known fact: the Colts’ Mario Harvey HATES PUNTERS.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Don’t buy into Brady contract as savior to Flacco negotiations

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Don’t buy into Brady contract as savior to Flacco negotiations

Posted on 25 February 2013 by Luke Jones

You could imagine the comments from many Ravens fans as soon as news broke Monday of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s three-year, $27 million contract extension that will take him through the 2017 season.

Were Joe Flacco and his agent Joe Linta paying attention to those figures?

If Brady will take less money for the team’s sake, why won’t Flacco?

I wish Joe would be a team player like that guy in New England, who is twice the quarterback he’ll ever be.

While it’s true that Flacco and any other quarterback due for a major payday in the next year or two will take a hit in the public eye because of the perception created by Brady’s reworked deal that clears cap room for the Patriots in each of the next two seasons, there’s really no comparison between Brady’s situation and the one for the current Super Bowl MVP.

First and foremost, the Patriots essentially turned the remaining years of Brady’s current contract into a five-year, $60 million contract with all money guaranteed, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network. It’s a sweet deal for a veteran wanting to finish his career with the Patriots, a team notorious for cutting veteran players with escalating salaries and declining skills. And while the numbers don’t sound as sexy as the recent deals signed by Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, the $60 million in guaranteed money sounds nearly as good as Brees’ contract even if it means Brady won’t make quite as much money over the entire life of the contract.

That much guaranteed money for a quarterback entering the final years of his career is a major accomplishment.

Second, Flacco is at a completely different stage of his career as the 28-year-old seeks his first large payday after completing his rookie contract signed in 2008. Brady will be 36 prior to the start of the 2013 season and just worked out the final contract of his career. Let’s not forget Brady signed a four-year, $72 million contract with $48.5 million in guaranteed money at the start of the 2010 season to become the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time.

Even if Brady presently remains the superior quarterback — though Linta will remind you his client outplayed the Patriots signal-caller in each of the last two AFC Championship games — the expectations over the next five years for each player differ. Flacco is projected to be entering the best years of his career while Brady will try to hold onto what he is right now for as long as he can.

Brady negotiated the extension knowing the Patriots have made a habit of purging veterans near the end of the career. He may have done the Patriots a favor from a cap perspective, but it also ensures that he won’t be kicked to the curb at some point over the next few years. In contrast, Flacco and Linta know they have all the leverage in the world over general manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens, who have no choice but to re-sign the quarterback with no other real option available to them.

Finally, Brady’s hometown discount that reduces the cap numbers but leaves the Patriots on the hook for a ton of cash over the next five years doesn’t eliminate the other quarterback deals signed over the last couple years. The good news for the Ravens is that Brady’s restructure reduces his 2013 cap number to $13.8 million, which is projected to lower the exclusive tag number to just under $20 million if the Ravens ultimately elect to go that route without a long-term deal in place by March 4.

The reality is that one player taking a deal like this doesn’t mean others will — or should — follow suit. And while Brady’s extension might linger in the back of Flacco’s mind when it boils down to the final minute details of how to structure the contract, it’s not going to have any substantial impact in moving the meter in terms of guaranteed money.

Total money is typically what makes people react, but guaranteed money is the substance of any NFL contract and Brady’s $60 million guaranteed is a very nice five-year retirement plan for one of the greatest quarterbacks in league history.

It has very little impact on the Flacco negotiations.

To suggest otherwise is just wishful thinking.

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Flacco’s “elite” mind is taking him — and the Ravens — to New Orleans

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Flacco’s “elite” mind is taking him — and the Ravens — to New Orleans

Posted on 23 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

There’s nothing in sports better than proving people wrong.

It’s one thing to win.

But, it’s far better to do so when folks said you couldn’t or wouldn’t do it.

Lots of baseball fans said Alex Rodriguez would never sport a championship ring.  He proved them wrong.

Plenty of folks opined that Peyton Manning was great in the regular season, but wasn’t quite “tough enough” to win the whole thing.  Manning quieted those people in Miami back in January of 2007.

Hell, we, here at WNST, have been proving Baltimoreans wrong for the better part of decade.  A few years back, after the station made several on-air changes, a bunch of “experts” who listen to talk radio went on our web site or other cyber-space venues and predicted our imminent demise.  ”That’s the end of ‘NST,” they wrote.  ”They’re circling the drain,” others said.  Not only are we alive and well, we continue to kick everyone’s ass in town when it comes to quality content and a full-service media offering that no else in Baltimore comes close to duplicating.

I take great pride in that, personally, because I was well aware that people in town thought we were going to fall apart.

We owe our sponsors a great debt of gratitude for sticking with us and, of course, we owe our loyal listeners and readers a huge group hug for always supporting our media efforts.

But…if I’m thrilled with the fact that we’ve proved people wrong here in Baltimore, you can only imagine how Joe Flacco feels about his impending trip to New Orleans.

Joe Flacco had doubters in Baltimore.  And Boston.  And Dallas.  And Washington, DC.  And Los Angeles.  In fact, just about every major media outlet in the country plus a bunch of national talk radio shows and NFL Game Day “experts” questioned Flacco’s ability to play at a high-level in the NFL.

I wonder if those goofs like their crow plain…or marinated in a marsala sauce?

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Joe Flacco isn’t a perfect quarterback.

In fact, that person probably doesn’t exist. If you ask someone with a real discerning eye for quarterbacking, they’d probably tell you the two men in the NFL who most closely resemble the “perfect quarterback” are Tom Brady – the guy Flacco just ousted from the post-season on Sunday night – and Aaron Rodgers.  Brady is the guy who will slice you apart in the pocket but not use his feet much to beat you, while Rodgers has an accurate, rifle-arm and the ability to move around and make plays with his legs.

Neither of them made the Super Bowl this season.

Flacco did.

And he’s far from perfect.

Well, he might actually be perfect in ONE way.

And that’s why he’s going to New Orleans next week despite the fact that lots of folks in Baltimore and around the country didn’t think he was capable of doing that.

Every Sunday from September until January 20, the comments flew fast and furious on Twitter, Facebook and on blogs all across the nation.  The calls came in to talk radio every day, every hour.  You might have been guilty of authoring one of those remarks about Flacco.

“I don’t care how good that defense is, Flacco will never take the Ravens to a Super Bowl.”  Heard that one before?  Yeah, me too. About ten thousand times.

“Flacco isn’t an elite quarterback. We better start thinking about drafting someone this April.”  How many nutjobs in Baltimore wrote or said that during the regular season?  Right.  A-freakin’-lot.

“I sure hope the Ravens don’t sign this guy to a long-term deal.  He can’t win the big one.”

He had some believers, of course, but the critics were loud.

Oh, and as it turns out, the haters were dead wrong.

How did it come to pass that Flacco proved himself to everyone?  Because he has “the perfect mind”, that’s why.

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The truly special athletes in the world all have one common trait.

Woods has it.  Federer has it.  Brady and Manning(s) have it.  Jordan had it.  So did Gretzky and Lemieux.  Justin Verlander has it.  I’m sure there are plenty of others I’m not listing who have “it” too.  Martin Brodeur might have it better than any active athlete right now.

And Joe Flacco has it too.

What is “it”?

It’s the ability to forget what just happened — good or bad — and worry only about what lies ahead.

The greatest-of-the-greats were never afraid of the moment in front of them because they believed they were going to deliver the goods.  They didn’t always make the play, of course, but that didn’t stop them from trying to do it the next time the opportunity presented itself.

There was a great Michael Jordan story, back in the glory days, when he was 0-for-11 in the second half of a critical regular season game against the Pistons.  With seven seconds left, the inbounds play went to him and No. 23 hoisted up an 18-footer that found nothing but net and the Bulls won.  Afterwards, reporters asked him why he would take such a shot when it was clear with his 0-for-11 shooting half that it just wasn’t his night.  Jordan explained: “I just assumed there was no way I could miss twelve shots in a row.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my career, so I figured I’d make it.”

That’s the difference between a guy who would have passed on that shot and someone who wanted the game in his hands.

(Please see next page) 

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