Tag Archive | "Brendon Ayanbadejo"

Tags: , , ,

Ayanbadejo clarifies stance on Ravens’ decision to terminate contract

Posted on 05 April 2013 by Luke Jones

A Thursday interview with Newsday sparked plenty of controversy for former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who was officially let go by the organization earlier in the day.

The publication implied Ayanbadejo believes his outspoken support of same-sex marriage may have been a factor in the Ravens’ decision to terminate his contract despite having two years remaining on the agreement. The three-time Pro Bowl special-teams player will turn 37 at the start of the 2013 season.

“I was a vocal guy and garnered a lot of attention,” Ayanbadejo said to the publication. “I brought a lot of issues with me to the Super Bowl and the issues came up at the Super Bowl. My bark is louder than my bite. I make a lot of noise and garner a lot of attention for various things off the football field. When that starts happening, why do you have that player around?”

The veteran acknowledged his play has dropped off in recent years, which was evident late in the season when the Ravens used young linebackers such as Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan when Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, and Jameel McClain were sidelined with injuries.

Ayanbadejo used his official Twitter account to clarify his remarks, mentioning that he had seen “yellow journalism” at work over his words.

“Just a heads up I did an interview today and no way said I was cut because my views,” Ayanbadejo wrote. “I said my talk was louder than my production [and] at 36 when you are not producing it is a fair move. You can find cheaper guys to do what I do. Ravens are the BEST organization in the [NFL] period!”

He went on to write that team president Dick Cass and the Ravens supported his views all season and that it “makes no sense” to believe the organization dumped him for his views on marriage equality. Ayanbadejo left the door open for a potential return in responding to general manager Ozzie Newsome’s comments on Thursday but also said there’s no guarantee that he will even continue his playing career.

Comments (2)

Tags: , , ,

Newsome leaves door open for potential Ayanbadejo return

Posted on 04 April 2013 by WNST Staff


The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of vested veteran LB Brendon Ayanbadejo Thursday afternoon, general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced.

A 10-year NFL veteran, Ayanbadejo played five seasons with the Ravens, seeing action in 62 games (four starts). He posted 83 tackles (56 solo), 4.5 sacks, four passes defensed, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. A three-time special teams Pro Bowler (2006-08) and three-time alternate (2004-05, 2011), he led or shared the team lead in special teams tackles (187 career) in seven of his 10 seasons.

“As a team, we place a high value on special teams, and Brendon was one of our top performers in that area for the last five seasons,” Newsome stated. “He was one of the best special teamers in the league, but he was also a valued member of our defense, especially in our sub (substitute) packages. He became a leader for us, and the door may not be closed to bring him back to help us again.”

“Brendon was the first player we signed when we arrived in 2008, and he went to the Pro Bowl again that season,” head coach John Harbaugh added. “We considered him one of the foundations of our team, and he gave me sound counsel as one of our team leaders. He was a tremendous contributor to our success, both on [special] teams and for our defense over the last five seasons, including our Super Bowl two months ago. And, he was a pleasure to have on our team. We’ll stay in contact, I hope, but I’ll miss our regular conversations.”

In 2012, Ayanbadejo posted a career-high 30 total tackles from scrimmage, adding one sack, one pass defensed and a team-high 14 special teams stops in 16 contests (three starts). In four playoff games this past season, Ayanbadejo recorded two solo tackles.

The 6-1, 225-pounder also spent time with Chicago (2005-07) and Miami (2003-04). Ayanbadejo originally entered the NFL with Atlanta as an undrafted free agent in 1999.

Comments Off on Newsome leaves door open for potential Ayanbadejo return

Tags: , , ,

Ravens release veteran linebacker Ayanbadejo

Posted on 03 April 2013 by Luke Jones

After becoming the elder statesman of the Ravens locker room following the retirements of Ray Lewis and Matt Birk earlier this offseason, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo became the latest veteran to part ways with the organization on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old announced via Twitter that he will no longer be a member of the Ravens and multiple reports confirmed he had been released after five seasons in Baltimore. The three-time Pro Bowl selection served primarily as a special-teams standout but also served as a pass-coverage linebacker in the team’s sub packages at different times.

“I would like to thank the city of Baltimore and the Ravens organization for an amazing ride,” Ayanbadejo wrote. “We will forever be united as champions!”

Ayanbadejo’s release will save just over $800,000 in salary cap space as he signed a three-year, $3.22 million contract last offseason. He made three starts and played in 16 games last season, collecting 43 tackles and a sack.

He joins safety Bernard Pollard and offensive lineman Bobbie Williams as players from the Super Bowl XLVII team to be released this offseason.

After spending 10 seasons in the NFL, Ayanbadejo has gained off-field fame in recent years with his outspoken support of marriage equality. He and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe recently filed a joint brief with the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Proposition 8 in his home state of California, which says only marriage between a man and a woman is recognized as being valid in the state.

Ayanbadejo is popular and will have lots of success after football, but this isn’t a significant move from a football standpoint. He will be 37 in September, which could hinder his ability to find a new team if he chooses to continue his playing career.

It became evident late last season that Ayanbadejo’s role with the Ravens was diminishing with the defense no longer turning to him to play linebacker in passing situations and electing to go with younger linebackers such as Josh Bynes and even Albert McClellan while Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, and Jameel McClain were sidelined with injuries.

However, his departure does open an even bigger hole at inside linebacker as the Ravens have also lost Lewis and Ellerbe at the position and are still awaiting official word that McClain will be cleared to play in 2013 after he ended last season on injured reserve with a spinal cord contusion suffered last December. Optimism does remain high that the starting inside linebacker will be cleared to play again.

Undrafted out of UCLA in 1999, Ayanbadejo spent time in the CFL and also played with the Dolphins and Bears before arriving in Baltimore with new head coach John Harbaugh in 2008. It was technically Ayanbadejo’s second stint with the Ravens after he spent part of the 2001 offseason with the organization but was released before training camp.

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Difficult decisions still loom for Ravens after locking up Flacco

Posted on 02 March 2013 by Luke Jones

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office had to wake up smiling the morning after reaching an agreement in principle with Joe Flacco on a six-year, $120.6 million contract that’s expected to be finalized Monday.

The move not only locks up the franchise quarterback for the long haul, but it’s also expected to provide short-term relief to a tight salary cap that would have had a difficult time absorbing a minimum of $14.9 million with the non-exclusive franchise tag. All the terms of the record-setting contract have yet to be released, but the 2013 cap number is just $7 million, according to CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora.

Estimated to have roughly $18 million in cap space before accounting for their quarterback or any of their unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive-rights free agents, the Ravens will now have some space to maneuver but not enough to change the entire landscape of their offseason. Moderation will be the key as Newsome will look to sign a couple of his own unrestricted free agents, make wise decisions on his seven restricted free agents, and then turn toward the open market to explore some shrewd signings.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect as the Ravens address their remaining free agents:

No tag this year

The first order of business will be the potential use of the franchise tag as teams have until Monday at 4 p.m. to designate a player if they so desire. Many have begun asking if Newsome and the Ravens will now use the tag on outside linebacker Paul Kruger or inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but we received a preliminary answer to that query just a few days after the Super Bowl.

“If we get a deal done with Joe, we will not franchise another player,” said Newsome as he appealed to owner Steve Bisciotti with a humorous tone. “We will not do that. You are OK with that, right?”

The 2013 tag numbers released by the NFL on Friday suggest that stance isn’t changing as the Ravens would be looking at a $9.6 million cost at the linebacker position. As it relates to Kruger, the pass rusher could contest that he should be considered a defensive end, which commands an $11.175 million tag number for the 2013 season.

Those price tags are far too expensive for Kruger or Ellerbe as the Ravens would be looking at massive cuts to accommodate the franchise tag, regardless of what Flacco’s 2013 cap number ultimately is.

Cuts still coming

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing which veterans might be on the chopping block due to cap constraints and the Ravens will still pull the trigger on a few. It just won’t be the mass exodus that was feared if Flacco had received either of the franchise tag options.

Offensive lineman Bobbie Williams is the easiest decision as the Ravens will clear $1.2 million from their cap by releasing the 36-year-old lineman. Linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo ($806,000 in savings) and Jameel McClain ($1.8 million saved) are also likely to go, with McClain becoming far more expendable if the Ravens can sign Dannell Ellerbe to a long-term deal before he hits the open market.

It would be an unpopular decision, but fullback Vonta Leach remains an intriguing option to release as it would save $3 million in cap space. Leach is tremendous at what he does as the best pure fullback in the NFL, but the Ravens are clearly moving toward a pass-heavy attack after committing the richest contract in league history to their quarterback.

The 31-year-old Leach took part in just 39.7 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps in the postseason, so can you justify devoting that big of a cap number to the fullback with other pressing needs at left tackle and all over the defense? Should they part ways with Leach, tight end Ed Dickson could serve in more of an H-back capacity and the Ravens could look to a younger, cheaper option coming out of college.

The Flacco contract means wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones are very likely to be safe, but the Ravens could explore reasonable contract extensions for both as they enter the final years of their respective contracts, thus lowering their cap numbers for 2013. This is especially true for Boldin, who carries a $7.5 million number for the upcoming season and proved himself worthy of a couple more years in Baltimore after an outstanding postseason.

Prioritizing unrestricted free agents


Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sizing up the Ravens’ possible salary cap cuts

Posted on 14 February 2013 by Luke Jones

Unless you’ve been hibernating since the glory of Super Bowl XLVII, you’re well aware of the Ravens’ salary cap woes and how critical the negotiations with quarterback Joe Flacco will be between now and March 4.

The entire offseason will hinge on whether the sides will come to an agreement on a long-term contract by that date or if the Ravens will need to use the franchise tag on their starting quarterback. Further complicating the matter would be the decision to use the $14.6 million non-exclusive tag — leaving Flacco able to negotiate with other teams — or the exclusive tag that will cost somewhere around $20 million but would take him off the market entirely.

Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations before the start of the new league year on March 12, the Ravens are likely to make at least a couple cuts in hopes of signing some of their unrestricted free agents. However, the reality of using the franchise tag would mean multiple changes simply to fit Flacco under the salary cap as Baltimore is estimated by NFL.com to be $12.9 million under the cap before addressing the signal-caller or any of its restricted free agents or exclusive rights players.

It’s important to remember the rule of 51 as the top 51 cap numbers on the roster count against the salary cap. The savings from any released player is offset in part by an additional player making it into the top 51 from the bottom of the list. For example, if a released player carrying a $3 million cap number is replaced in the top 51 by another player carrying a $405,000 cap number, the end result is a $2.595 million savings on the salary cap.

Here’s how I’d rank the list of possible candidates to be cut for cap purposes (with the cap savings noted in parentheses), in order from most likely to least likely:

1. Bobbie Williams ($1.2 million)
Skinny: The offensive lineman was relegated to reserve duties in favor of Jah Reid midway through the season and will either retire or be released. At 36, Williams will need to find a home elsewhere to continue his career, but after finally winning a Super Bowl after years in Cincinnati, he would be picking an ideal time to walk away from the game. The Ravens will go younger and cheaper to fill his reserve role in their group of offensive linemen.

2. Matt Birk ($2.05 million)
Skinny: When Birk signed a three-year contract last offseason, it was structured with an understanding of it essentially being a one-year deal as the cap figures grow substantially over the last two years of the deal. The Ravens drafted Delaware product Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round last April to be the heir apparent to Birk at the center position, so all signs point to him taking over for the 2013 season. The 36-year-old Birk is contemplating retirement and there remains a possibility the Ravens decide to keep Birk — who played very well down the stretch — for one more season if they can sign Flacco to a long-term deal in time, but most signs point to the veteran’s days being finished in Baltimore.

3. Vonta Leach ($3 million)
Skinny: The Pro Bowl fullback has done everything the Ravens could have possibly expected after signing him two summers ago, but his high cap number makes him a prime candidate to be cut considering his position just isn’t a big enough priority with the offense continuing to move toward the passing game. The Ravens would certainly miss Leach’s punishing blocking ability, but they could shift tight end Ed Dickson to more of an H-back position while also adding a younger, cheaper fullback coming out of college. With other positions to address and the lack of cap room, Baltimore just can’t justify paying a fullback so much money.

4. Brendon Ayanbadejo ($806,000)
Skinny: His lower number is the reason why the reserve linebacker isn’t ranked higher on the list, but Ayanbadejo would easily be expendable given his age and role on the team. The defense depended on him less in passing situations this season and the 36-year-old also had some lapses on special teams down the stretch. Saving less than $1 million on the cap doesn’t do much, but parting ways with the former Pro Bowl special-teams player would seem like a logical move to make with minimal impact on the makeup of the team if you need to clear money from the cap.

5. Jameel McClain ($1.8 million)
Skinny: If you could look into the crystal ball and guarantee the Ravens would re-sign fellow inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, it would be a no-brainer to part ways with McClain, who missed the end of the season after suffering a spinal cord contusion in early December. However, considering the Ravens are losing the retiring Ray Lewis and potentially Ellerbe, general manger Ozzie Newsome would be hesitant to part ways with another inside linebacker. McClain is solid against the run, but his limitations in pass coverage make him an expendable player if the Ravens are confident they can lock up Ellerbe, which obviously isn’t a sure thing at this point.

6. Jacoby Jones ($4 million)
Skinny: The return specialist and No. 3 receiver carries a large cap number, so his status will be in jeopardy if the Ravens need to use the franchise tag on Flacco. His speed on the outside was a major asset in taking pressure off fellow speed receiver Torrey Smith and opening the intermediate portion of the field to Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, but he is still a part-time player offensively. You’d hate to lose Jones’ tremendous return ability, so there’s a good chance the Ravens would explore a contract extension to lower his cap figure and keep him for a few more years before potentially making the difficult decision to release him. Jones is owed a $1 million roster bonus in March, so that could complicate the situation further.

7. Anquan Boldin ($6 million)
Skinny: The wide receiver’s appearance on this list is based strictly on his cap number and how far that space would go in curing the Ravens’ problems if it comes down to the franchise tag for Flacco. His quarterback would be one of the first to say he wants Boldin to remain in Baltimore, so it’s likely Newsome will pursue an extension with the 32-year-old to reduce the 2013 cap number before resorting to a release. Boldin has already said he’d retire if the Ravens cut him, so perhaps the general manager could remind him of that in trying to strike a cap-friendly deal. The departure of Jones would hurt, but parting ways with Boldin would almost appear to be crippling in the short term as there is no logical replacement on the roster to count on with the disappointing development of Tandon Doss.


Comments (3)

Tags: , , , , ,

Ayanbadejo one of few Ravens with SB experience

Posted on 29 January 2013 by WNST Staff



(on LB Ray Lewis preaching to the team) “He preached to us earlier this year and the whole time I’ve been here, for five years, he’s always told us: ‘What’s your legacy? What are people going to say about you when you’re done?’ Now that he’s leaving you really take that into account, now that this is his last game it makes you want to start your own legacy even though my legacy is already said and done. For the young guys it is something that really designates with them and they think, ‘OK, I have to emulate and do some of the things that Ray Lewis has done so that when I leave this game I have the same esteem that he has.’”


(on caring so much about marriage equality) “Actually, I talked about that so I don’t want to keep touching on that subject, but obviously we’re here at the Super Bowl and it’s the pinnacle of sports here in the United States so I just really want to focus. A lot of media stuff has come up with Ayanbadejo this and Ayanbadejo that but I think the most important thing is that I’m here with my team. My focus is on this football game and this is the most important game I’ve ever played in my life.”


(on what prompted him to support marriage equality) “You can just read the Huffington Post, I wrote an article in the Huffington Post back in 2009 and you can read that and you’ll learn what I wrote about. I already talked about it. You can’t believe everything you read either.”


(on if media day is what he expected with the comments he’s made about marriage equality) “I’m here to play in the Super Bowl, I’m here with teammates, and I’m here with the Ravens organization. I’m going to do everything I can to make their organization shine and add to the legacy of this organization. Naturally with everything that has been going on and all of the things that have been said, I’m not surprised with the questions that have been asked.”


(on all of the media coverage of LB Ray Lewis) “It’s well-deserved. He’s such a selfless man. Everything he does is for a higher power and for the people around him. Nothing is for himself. All the attention, the people around him, and all the praise he gets, he deserves it all.”


(on S Ed Reed) “He’s definitely going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In my opinion there are only two safeties that come up as the greatest safeties of all time, it’s him and Ronnie Lott. He’s a great player; it’s amazing that he gets to play here at the Super Bowl at home in New Orleans. With all of the tragedy and stuff that he has gone through with his brother passing away, that happened in the playoffs as well, so for him to reflect on how he felt when that happened and to be here now he’s come strides.”


(on if S Ed Reed talks about losing his brother) “It’s a private thing, but he has shown emotion and we’re there for him. We definitely have his back and if anything ever pops in my mind or I’m enjoying something or something kind of made me feel good sometimes in the offseason I would text him and say, ‘Oh you know I was thinking about you. I saw such-and-such and it reminded me of you.’ I mean the things that he does for our team and for our defense is similar to the things that Ray Lewis does, in a different manner of course, but he brings us together and makes our bond as a team and defensive unit so much better.”


(on the legends playing in this game) “There are so many stories, there are so many headlines. Like you said: Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Ed Reed, the two Harbaugh Brothers playing against each other, and just the epic 49er franchise going against the Raven franchise while we’re trying to set our own legacy and get our second championship. There are a lot of stories and how is the story going to be written? To the victor goes the spoils, so hopefully we’ll be the ones getting to write the history about it.”




Super Bowl XLVII – Tuesday, January 29, 2013







(on being back at the Super Bowl) “It’s all coming back. I was in a restaurant the other day and they were having the highlights from all the Super Bowls and then they had the 2006 Super Bowl and I was sitting there talking but while they showed the highlights for that Super Bowl I had to stop everything and just watch. I remember how it felt to not be successful. I remember how it felt to have that first kickoff returned for a touchdown by the “Windy City Flyer” (Devin Hester). It was a lot of emotions I was feeling so to be able to be back here and right that ship that went wrong in 2006; it will be an amazing experience. We’re looking forward to doing that. It’s amazing to be back. All of my Bears boys: I have you in my heart. They’re on my back right now. Part of my motivation getting that championship is them as well.”


(on why the 2006 Bears team is still so important to him) “We had such a great relationship, me and those guys. I showed up in Chicago a couple of years after Lovie (Smith) got there and the guys all took me in: (Brian) Urlacher, (Lance) Briggs, Chris Harris, Antonio Garay, Israel Idonije, Adewale Ogunleye, Peanut (Charles) Tillman, all those guys. They’re still my buddies, they’re still my boys, and I think about them big time.”


(on playing with some of the best linebackers in NFL history) “Yeah I played with (Brain) Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Junior Seau, and Zach Thomas. I played with a lot of great linebackers and I’ve been lucky to learn and see what those guys do and how they’ve been so great and so successful. It’s like I’m a fan. I just get to sit there and watch them and everybody asks, ‘What linebacker was the best? Who’s the best? Who’s better?’ And I know you’re probably getting there but I say, ‘Why do I have to choose? I’ve had them all.’”

Comments Off on Ayanbadejo one of few Ravens with SB experience

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens embracing opportunity for second chance in New England

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the moments following the improbable 38-35 double overtime win over the Denver Broncos Saturday night, running back Ray Rice labeled the Ravens “a team of destiny.”

So, why wouldn’t the New England Patriots once again be standing in the way of Baltimore’s first trip to the Super Bowl since Jan. 2001? If you believe in such storybook treks, defeating the Indianapolis Colts and toppling Peyton Manning for the first time since 2001 were appropriate opening chapters, but a return trip to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough would be the ultimate climax.

The painful ending to last season’s AFC Championship was one that drove the Ravens throughout the offseason as they desperately worked — and hoped — to land themselves back in the same position. Even after a Week 3 win over New England in Baltimore earlier this season, another meeting with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the Patriots was impossible not to think about in many Ravens players’ minds.

“I think we personally kind of wanted to play the Patriots again,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxborough and win there. It’s another matchup that I think that we’re excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time.”

Meeting in the postseason for the third time in five seasons, the Ravens and Patriots have built a rivalry similar to the one between New England and Indianapolis last decade as it seemed Brady and Manning were always on a collision course in January. The teams have met five times overall in the John Harbaugh era with all but one game — the Ravens’ 33-14 victory in the wild-card round of the 2009 season — being decided by fewer than seven points.

While games with New England may not challenge the annual meetings with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harbaugh acknowledged how familiar the Ravens are with the Patriots and how familiar they are with playing in Foxborough.

“We’ve been there a number of times. It’s definitely grown into quite a rivalry, we would like to say,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t know how they feel about that part, but we have tremendous respect for the New England Patriots.”

The Patriots own the advantage as they’ve won three of the five meetings between the teams since 2009, with no win bigger than last year’s 23-20 final that gave them the AFC title after the late failures of Lee Evans and Billy Cundiff.

As remarkable as their postseason run has been after losing four of their last five games to close the regular season, the Ravens know who stands in their way of achieving their ultimate goal, and they understand they will once again be considered a significant underdog as oddsmakers have favored New England by 9 1/2 points.

“They have the history,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and we want to get to that point, get this win, and get to the Super Bowl.”

As was the case last week, Ravens players expressed no interest in what the outside world thinks about their team, but they embraced the opportunity for a second chance to right the wrongs left on the field in Foxborough last season. And as the images of Evans’ drop and Cundiff’s miss are replayed all week, Baltimore is ready to turn the page for a different ending this time around.

“The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship,” Ngata said. “And then to actually have it be back in Foxborough, it’s a good story.”

Ayanbadejo apologizes for Patriots comments

After posting a series of critical comments about the Patriots on his official Twitter account Sunday evening, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo backed off his stance Monday as many were critical of the veteran special-teams player for conjuring bulletin-board material before New England had even officially advanced to the conference championship.

The 36-year-old apologized for drawing negative attention to himself and the Ravens six days ahead of the AFC title game.

“I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization,” Ayanbadejo tweeted Monday morning. “For that I apologize.”

It remains unclear how Harbaugh handled the situation at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills, but the Baltimore coach had little interest in discussing Ayanbadejo’s comments when asked to respond during his Monday afternoon press conference.

“That’s all stuff that just isn’t really relevant,” Harbaugh said. “It’s all stuff that I don’t think is worthy of the conversation right now.”

Ayanbadejo didn’t play any defensive snaps in Saturday’s win and was part of the coverage units that allowed two return touchdowns to Denver’s Trindon Holliday.

Earlier Monday, he didn’t receive much of an endorsement from his defensive teammate Ngata when the four-time Pro Bowl selection was asked whether he agreed with the linebacker’s assessment of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense.

“I’m not going to comment on that stuff,” Ngata said. “That’s all about him and his deal.”

Jones, Graham special contributors


Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ayanbadejo takes shots at Patriots offense on Twitter

Posted on 13 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Even before the Ravens were officially set to travel to New England for an AFC Championship rematch next Sunday, linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo couldn’t help but stir the pot against the Patriots.

Using Twitter, the veteran was critical of the Patriots’ hurry-up offense that includes quick snaps and a no-huddle approach.

“In a sport that is predicated on mano y mano, ‘let’s hurry-up n snap it’ = b-tcha–ness,” the linebacker tweeted.

An active participant on his verified Twitter account, Ayanbadejo began taking shots at the New England offense during the Patriots’ 41-28 victory over the Houston Texans in Sunday’s divisional playoff. The Ravens will travel to Gillette Stadium to face New England in a postseason game for the third time in four years.

“New England does some suspect stuff on offense,” wrote Ayanbadejo, a three-time Pro Bowl special-teams player. “Can’t really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot [before] a fight.

“… the hurry snap offense catch [them before] they set up,” the 36-year-old continued. “It’s a gimmick … Their offense is good enough to be successful without that.”

Poking the bear that beat the Ravens in last year’s conference championship appears unwise for a group that was praised for the quiet confidence it exuded last week despite numerous critics giving them little chance of beating the No. 1 seed Denver Broncos. It’s also worth noting Ayanbadejo didn’t play any defensive snaps and was on the field as part of the coverage units that allowed two return scores in Saturday’s 38-35 double-overtime win at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Ayanbadejo also criticized the Patriots’ infamous “SpyGate” scandal and handling of their roster.

“You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day [before] the Super Bowl,” said Ayanbadejo, referencing wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, who was released the day before last year’s Super Bowl.

The Patriots are unlikely to respond to Ayanbadejo’s comments publicly — at least head coach Bill Belichick won’t — but you can bet Ayanbadejo has already provided some bulletin-board material for the team regarded as the clear favorite in next Sunday’s AFC title game.

Comments (4)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh confirms plan for Lewis not to return before postseason; Boldin leaves with shoulder injury

Posted on 24 December 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Ravens clinched their second straight AFC North division title by way of a 33-14 win over the New York Giants to make their decision to hold back linebacker Ray Lewis until the playoffs that much easier.

The 37-year-old linebacker must be placed on the 53-man roster this week after his 21-day window for practice concludes but will not play in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“We will not look at him again for this week. We’ll look at him at the playoffs,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s an injury that is a 12- to 16-week injury. If you do the math going back, we thought there was a chance. He is progressing really well. I’m not saying he couldn’t have played the last couple of weeks, but it would’ve been risky to re-injure it. The fact that there was some patience on Ray’s part and our part, it turned out well.”

Lewis returned to the practice field on Dec. 5 and is still less than 10 weeks removed from surgery to repair the torn triceps in his right arm. He was eligible to return against Denver in Week 15, but the Ravens and Lewis have exercised caution as he continues to rebuild the strength in his right upper arm.

However, that patience has been challenging with the 13-time Pro Bowl selection itching to return to the field

“It’s hard. He wants to play,” Harbaugh said. “Nobody wants to play more than Ray, but Ray sees it for what it is, and he sees the big picture.”

In Lewis’ absence, the Ravens have benefited from the emergence of Dannell Ellerbe, who has become one of the their best defensive players this season. The fourth-year linebacker returned to action on Sunday after missing the last three games with an ankle injury. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has also used a combination of former practice squad members Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan as well as special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo at the inside linebacker spots to counter the long-term absence of Lewis and the season-ending neck injury suffered by Jameel McClain on Dec. 9.

Ellerbe finished with five tackles on Sunday while Ayanbadejo collected one of the Ravens’ three sacks against Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

“We would much rather be here with options and already securing the division than going into the next game trying to win the division,” Ayanbadejo said. “It’s a position thing and whatever happens, the coaches will come up with a great scheme and the players will go out there and try to execute it and the ones who are not executing it will be chilling on the sidelines cheering like [Lewis] does.”

The Ravens remain optimistic that Lewis will be ready to go for the first round of the playoffs when the Ravens host either the Indianapolis Colts or the Cincinnati Bengals, but Harbaugh wouldn’t speak in certain terms when asked if there was a possibility that the 17th-year linebacker wouldn’t be ready for the start of the postseason.

However, it’s difficult to envision the Ravens being able to keep Lewis on the sideline with the outcome of a playoff game hanging in the balance.

“There’s always a chance,” Harbaugh said. “We can’t say right now for sure.”

Boldin exits early

Starting wide receiver Anquan Boldin left Sunday’s game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. However, Harbaugh said the Ravens suffered no new injuries of significance.

Boldin caught seven passes for 93 yards to lead all Ravens receivers.

“Everything we had was minor,” Harbaugh said. “If that changes tomorrow, we’ll let you know, but right now everything looks like it’s minor.”

If the shoulder injury lingers deep into the week, it will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle Boldin’s status as well as other banged-up players such as safety Bernard Pollard, guard Marshal Yanda, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as they’ve already locked up the division title but still have a chance to earn the No. 3 seed if they beat Cincinnati and New England loses to the Miami Dolphins.

It’s an unlikely scenario with the Patriots playing in Foxborough, but stranger things have happened this season in the NFL.

“We’re going to try and win the game,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the No. 1 thing we’re going to do. That’s what we do, and we’re going to try to win the game. We’re also going to try and make sure we are as healthy as we can be going into the playoffs. So, I think we’ll merge those two considerations.”



Comments Off on Harbaugh confirms plan for Lewis not to return before postseason; Boldin leaves with shoulder injury

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Flacco, offense finish home schedule like they started it — with a bang

Posted on 23 December 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Much like we saw three months ago when the Ravens crushed the Cincinnati Bengals to kick off the 2012 season, Joe Flacco and the offense looked every bit the part of an elite group in a 33-14 thrashing of the New York Giants on Sunday.

The Baltimore quarterback threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce each ran for over 100 yards. Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin combined for 12 catches, 181 yards, and one touchdown. And the offensive line not only gashed the Giants’ front seven to the tune of a season-high 224 rushing yards, but the unit didn’t allow a sack as New York registered only two quarterback hits over 60 minutes of play.

But the story of the day was Flacco, who bounced back from one of the lowest moments of his career — an interception returned 98 yards by Chris Harris to create a 17-0 halftime deficit in an embarrassing loss to Denver last week — to play one of his best games of the season when the Ravens needed it most. Faced with the prospects of going to Cincinnati next week for an AFC North championship game if his team didn’t win, Flacco was brilliant in making his reads, throwing with pinpoint accuracy over the middle of the field, and even completing passes on the run.

On Sunday, Flacco reminded us why the Ravens think so highly of him and are committed to him for the long haul — even if the terms of a contract have yet to be ironed out. However, that faith had been tested more than ever after last week’s performance and the Ravens’ first three-game losing streak in over three years.

“Like I said last week, we’re going to see what kind of team we are,” Flacco said. “We believe we’re this kind of team, and we’re really going to see if we are. I think that we showed ourselves and we showed people today that we are that kind of team. We’re here to stay.”

But that’s just the problem. I don’t know if Flacco and this offense are here to stay.

We spoke of Flacco finally taking a quantum leap after last year’s AFC Championship and that 44-13 thrashing of the Bengals to open the season on Sept. 10. But what followed was an up-and-down season in which the fifth-year quarterback has been mostly good at home and mostly bad on the road.

The sight of Flacco lying face down on the M&T Bank Stadium turf seconds before halftime last Sunday told you just how badly the quarterback needed this performance. His teammates hadn’t lost faith in him, but nearly everyone else was wondering if he had what it took to climb out of the gaping hole of a three-game slide in December.

He answered the bell by completing 25 of 36 passes for a 114.2 passer rating to put the Giants’ postseason hopes on life support.

“People won’t be talking about Joe’s technique and how he’s not dropping or throwing the ball properly,” linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said. “I guess they’ll be saying, “Oh, man, Joe’s amazing’ this time. We had a talk about our critics and how [you] don’t play better for your critiques. Play better for each other.”

Those thoughts about their critics were offered by owner Steve Bisciotti as he met with his team last week to offer inspirational words, and the Ravens certainly took them to heart as they turned in arguably their most complete victory of the season against an opponent that was supposed to be feeling more urgency than them.

The key to the offensive success was third-down efficiency as the Ravens were 10-for-14 in that department prior to the fourth quarter and finished 11-for-18. It was a dramatic change from last Sunday when the group went a woeful 1-for-12 on third down against the Denver defense.

Those conversions allowed offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell to give 24 carries to Rice. Moving the chains on third down gave the offense the chance to possess the ball for 39:21 and keep a banged-up defense as fresh as it could be. All of those stats and touches and run-to-pass comparisons seem to work out when you’re able to convert on third down and sustain drives.

It’s a clear but difficult objective.

“It’s about execution. It’s a simple word, but it’s a very tough task to do,” Rice said. “To come in week in and week out and execute at a high level, that’s tough. But that’s what we get paid to do. The pressure was on us.”

And the pressure was on Flacco most heavily as he’s moved to the top of the accountability pecking order with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron now history. It was just as ugly last week as it was exquisite on Sunday as the quarterback carved up a New York secondary that had little chance with the Ravens’ offensive line keeping the Giants’ vaunted pass rushers in check.

Will we see more of that offensive production as the Ravens go to Cincinnati with an opportunity to jockey for the No. 3 seed while resting banged-up players who could use a week off before the playoffs begin? Or will Flacco revert to the quarterback who’s struggled mightily outside Baltimore to renew those doubts entering the playoffs?

The signal-caller said it best when asked if Sunday’s performance could be a springboard to bigger and better things in the postseason.

“I’m not a big believer in any of that,” Flacco said. “I think each week is an individual game and a different opponent, and you have to go out there and you have to go through the week and prepare and go out there on Sunday and play well, just like you did the previous week. I’m not necessarily a big believer in any one game propelling you throughout the other ones.”

How he performs in the postseason will still define Flacco’s 2012 campaign.

Sunday was a step in the right direction, but it’s tough to feel convinced until we see more of it, at least with some improved level of consistency.

Regardless of what lies ahead for the quarterback’s performance, Sunday was the type of outing that creates optimism that the Ravens can still be dangerous in the AFC where every team aside from the Denver Broncos has shown concerning flaws in recent weeks. You never really know until you get to January as the Giants of last year and the Packers of two seasons ago showed.

“We say that the NFL is a week-to-week business,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It really is. One week to the next does not guarantee one thing. [The Giants] scored over 50 points two games ago. This is a really good football team. I thought our guys played exceptionally well. Getting a little bit of momentum helps.”

It certainly does, but momentum is only as good as your next opponent.

And we’ll learn quickly if Flacco and the Ravens can build on this victory a little better than they did after that first blowout victory over Cincinnati to begin the season. It will be all the more critical with the “second” season looming.


Comments Off on Flacco, offense finish home schedule like they started it — with a bang