The Starting Five


Always the greatest of the Browns

by on Sep.23, 2012, under Football, Uncategorized

I was so glad to hear this recently. Here’s a link on the great Jim here

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That was ugly, Baltimore

by on Oct.25, 2011, under Football, Pro Sports

I spent most of last night and the better part of today trying to figure out what went wrong with Baltimore last night in its 12-7 deflating, unimpressive, embarrassing loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars. The short answer is the offense. That’s obvious. Offensively, things couldn’t have gone much worse. No first downs for the first 40 minutes of the game. 40 MINUTES! An offense with Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, emerging young tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, budding receiver Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco who can throw a football through a bank safe couldn’t gain 10 yards to get one first down. That is down right pathetic.

So let me start breaking down exactly how bad the loss was. First, it came on Monday night in front of a national television audience. There were talks before the game about the Ravens being the best team in the AFC. Not after last night. Second, the team that beat the Ravens is a team that has to tarp off 14 sections of its stadium seating with advertisments so it drops the stadium’s capacity down to around 67,000 so it’s easier to sell out games an avoid television blackouts. Third, the Jags had lost five straight games going into to last night’s game. Fourth, they had a rookie quarterback (Blaine Gabbert) starting. Everyone — and I mean everyone — figured the Ravens would easily win that game. Well, almost everyone. I’m sure all 23 Jacksonville fans had faith. Yes, it was bad. (continue reading…)

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Film Study: Nick Collins Pick-Six

by on Feb.09, 2011, under Football, Pro Sports

Heading into Super Bowl XLV, teams who returned an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl were 12-0. After Super Bowl XLV? 13-0. Green Bay safety Nick Collins picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter on Sunday and took it back for a 37-yard touchdown. Packers defensive tackle Howard Green hit Roethlisberger’s arm causing the ball to float in the air, which made it easier for Collins to pick off. But after watching the video a few times, it really seems like Collins would make that play even if Green didn’t hit Roethlisberger.

The Steelers came out in an Ace formation with two tight ends, two receivers and one running back. Green Bay lined up in its base 3-4 defense playing cover 1 with man-to-man principles. The free safety, Collins, acted as a center fielder and was to read Roethlisberger and then track the ball. Pittsburgh wanted to go long on the play; it sent its deep threat Mike Wallace on a go route up the left side.

Check out the play. Wallace will be at the bottom of the screen.

Roethlisberger made Collins’s job that much easier. His pump fake barely had an effect on Collins because he never took his eyes off Wallace. Roethlisberger should have pumped to Wallace and then looked for his second or third option. Collins played his role perfectly. He was deep enough to cover but close enough to make a play, and took a great angle to intercept the ball. He did the right thing taking the ball up the numbers, opposed to taking it up sideline. He had blockers in front of him, making the return a fairly easy touchdown.

Granted, the play happened in the first quarter, it was still a huge — if not the biggest — play of the game. It gave Green Bay a 14-point lead and forced Pittsburgh to play catch up. The Packers didn’t turn the ball over once while forcing three Pittsburgh turnovers in the 31-26 win.

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Mattison moves, Pagano promoted

by on Jan.19, 2011, under Football, Pro Sports

Now that I’ve moved out of my catatonic state to a more stable mindset, I can finally talk about the Ravens again. Saturday’s AFC Divisional round loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was easily one of the most painful losses I’ve ever endured as a Ravens fan. It couldn’t get much worse. A 14-point halftime lead for Baltimore folded faster than the XFL. I think a quarterback from the Lingerie Football League would have played better than Joe Flacco in the second half. There are two Joe Flaccos: one is the fist pumping Joe who lets out furious “Woooos” that are comparable to Ric Flair, the other Flacco has a dumbfounded look on his face and makes more mistakes than Randy “The Ram” in “The Wrestler.” Saturday, we got Joe “The Ram” instead of Joe Cool.

It wasn’t all Flacco’s fault, though. The defense allowed 24 second half points, which is something that would not have happened even five years ago when the Ravens went 6-10. And now that he’s gone, I have to put some of the blame on former defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who took the unenviable task of repairing Michigan’s defense yesterday. This guy inherited a stacked defense with talent at every position. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Ed Reed, should I keep going? Under Mattison, the Ravens defense regressed. Granted, they did get older, but this season Ray Lewis played 1,111 snaps and missed only five plays. He’s still got some left in the tank.

The Ravens hadn’t allowed a 100 yard rusher in 40 games, but in Mattison’s fifth game as the defensive coordinator, Cedric Benson of the Cincinnati Bengals did just that and ran for 120 yards. The next game, Adrian Peterson ran for 143, two games later, Benson did it again rushing for 118. Despite going backwards, the Ravens still ranked third in total defense after the 2009 season and fifth in rushing defense while finishing eighth in passing defense. It got worse in 2010. (continue reading…)

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Ravens-Steelers: Nothing else needs to be said

by on Dec.05, 2010, under Football, Pro Sports

Every NFL fanatic has an offseason routine. When our team’s season ends (for Panther fans, this process started when “Matt Moore” and “starting quarterback” were uttered in the same sentence) we start looking at potential free agent pick-ups. We start watching college football games like recruiters and critique everything a player does because we know he has a chance to be drafted to our team. And we also wait for the NFL to release the forthcoming year’s schedule. Once it’s out, we skim through it like homework we don’t want to do and look for key words: @ New England, vs. New Orleans. But for every Baltimore and Pittsburgh fan we look for two dates first and base our entire season around it.

When Baltimore’s schedule was released, I was perusing schedule and saw “Week 4, @ Pittsburgh” and “Week 13 vs. Pittsburgh,” and then started guessing what the Ravens’ record would be in both meetings, trying to figure how important each would be. But I then realized, who cares? Every game between the Ravens and the Steelers is huge.

Back in 2007, Baltimore had an awful season. Started 4-2, lost eight straight — including an overtime loss to the 1-15 Dolphins that year — and then Pittsburgh came to town. The Steelers were well on their way to the playoffs and the Ravens had nothing left to play for. But, it was the Steelers. Our record didn’t matter at the time. It didn’t matter that Troy Smith was starting the game as a rookie. All that mattered was that Baltimore won; if Baltimore wins, and the Ravens finish with five wins and I’m somewhat satisfied. And Baltimore won. (continue reading…)

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Where the kids come from

by on Sep.23, 2010, under Football, Pro Sports

Here is an interesting story from Associated Press where players on current NFL rosters come from in their high school days. Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh leads the way.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Pittsburgh’s Woodland Hills High School tops USA Football’s list of high schools with the most NFL players with six, while three schools have five players in the league this year.
USA Football based the list on the 1,696 players on opening-week rosters.
The New York Jets’ Jason Taylor, Arizona’s Steve Breaston, New England’s Rob Gronkowski, Pittsburgh’s Ryan Mundy, Miami’s Lousaka Polite and San Francisco’s Shawntae Spencer played at Woodland Hills.
“It is a very disciplined program,” Breaston said. “Coach (George) Novak does a good job of preparing players on the field and off the field. It is a program that prepares you for the future. A lot of Division I athletes come out of that school. You are always competing, not just against other schools, but within that school. It really pushes you and prepares you to compete at the next level.”
De La Salle of Concord, Calif.; Glenville High School of Cleveland; and St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., each have five former players in the NFL.
(continue reading…)

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Beltway Rivalry? Not so much

by on Aug.21, 2010, under Football, Pro Sports, Uncategorized

Tonight, the Ravens travel to Landover to play the Redskins at FedEx Field in both team’s second preseason game. Most ‘Skins fans are still buzzing about Washington’s 42-17 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills last week. Aren’t the Bills already on the clock?

But after dropping 42 points on the Bills, Redskins fans all over have a new sense of confidence for the regular season, and rightfully so. As for tonight’s game, the Ravens are not the Bills and the Redskins have a better chance seeing Albert Haynesworth practice consecutive days than scoring 42 points on the Ravens’ defense.

The thing about this game is it’s another preseason game that doesn’t matter past the first quarter, and the preseason is really the only time these two teams play each other. With Baltimore in the AFC North and Washington in the NFC East, regular season games between the two franchises come about as often as the Olympics. And when the teams do play, Baltimore is usually the winner.

Since 1996, the Beltway “Rivalry” has been played four times during the regular season. Baltimore has taken three-out-of-four including the first game in 1997 and the most recent game in 2008. The only time the Redskins won came during the Ravens’ 2000 SuperBowl season — before Trent Dilfer took over under center.
(continue reading…)

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Clayton leaves a Mark

by on Aug.16, 2010, under Football, Pro Sports, Uncategorized

It’s really no surprise that all the anticipation for the Baltimore Ravens preseason opener against the Carolina Panthers was for Joe Flacco and his newest receiver additions of Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth. But it wasn’t Boldin or Stallworth that hauled in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Flacco early in the second quarter — it was Mark Clayton, the forgotten wide out.

Clayton was the Ravens’ 2005 first round pick, being selected at number 22 overall. He was a star wide receiver at Oklahoma during his time there and was former Heisman Trophy winner Jason White’s favorite target. As a junior at OU, Clayton caught 85 balls for 1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was honored with a spot on the All-America and All-Big XII teams in both his junior and senior year and set an Oklahoma record with 3,241 career receiving yards.

His NFL career, however, has been less than stellar. His best season was in 2006 when he had 67 receptions for 939 yards and five touchdown grabs. Clayton’s next closest 1,000-yard season was in 2008 when he had 695 yards on 41 receptions. The worst moment of Clayton’s soon-to-be six year career came last season against the Patriots when he bobbled and dropped a well-thrown pass on fourth down against the Patriots.
(continue reading…)

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Ravens open camp with rookies today, the rest of the team tomorrow

by on Jul.26, 2010, under Football, Pro Sports

The 2010 Baltimore Ravens offseason has been seemingly more eventful than past offseasons.

John Harbaugh’s January 19 presser culminated the ’09 season and started the offseason. The Ravens then signed troubled wide out Donte Stallworth one month later.

Anquan Boldin made his way to Baltimore on a March 5 trade. Derrick Mason was re-signed 10 days after.

Sergio Kindle (OLB) — who won’t be attending camp immediately due to a head injury — Terrence Cody (DT), Ed Dickson (TE), Dennis Pitta (TE), and David Reed (WR) were all acquired in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Marc Bulger, Ken Hamlin and Walt Harris were all signed by the Ravens as part of their insurance policy initiative. (continue reading…)

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If only I had money on it

by on Feb.08, 2010, under Football

Earlier on Sunday, I made a prediction that New Orelans would beat Indianapolis 33-31 in Super Bowl XLIV. I knew I would be in the minority and the heavy underdog against Wes Decker.
If you look me up on Facebook, you can see the prediction. If you tune into Inside Sports via you’ll see I wisely told Wes Decker his Colts were going down.
At any rate, it was a pretty good game all the way. I didn’t pick the final score correctly, but got the winner.
And for a change, the game was far, far better than the array of absolutely ridiculous commercials that company after company put out in front of us. E-Trade commercials keep on getting chuckles but the rest of them — well, they were head-scratchers.
And for Colts fans — they’re scratching their heads also.
If only I had put some money on the game.

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