Thursday, May 20, 2010

16 Random Thoughts About the Offseason!

1. Myron Rolle: I hate that he was black balled because football is not his only option, especially given the NFL’s emphasis on player conduct. Myron Rolle is the poster child for how players should behave and instead of touting him as such the NFL acted as the hypocrites they are and held it against him.

2. Jamarcus Russell: Russell will go down as the biggest bust in NFL history, finally taking the title away from Ryan Leaf and it will not be because Leaf was the 2nd overall pick and Russell was the 1st. It will be because Russell is out of the league after just 3 seasons and it is not due to an injury. Some people are optimistic that an NFL team will give Russell another shot, I am not one of them but even if they did I do not believe Russell would take the opportunity. I don’t think he has the desire to continue playing and why should he? His goal was to get paid and the Raiders handed it to him on a silver platter. If a team called Russell right now and asked him to join them in training camp, he’d turn them down faster than you can say “the NFL needs a rookie pay scale”.

3. New Draft Format: I do not like the 3 day draft format and I did not skip the NBA playoffs to watch it. I also did not like that late round prospects were invited to the draft. By the time Brandon Ghee, the last guy out of the green room, was selected ESPN had stopped covering the podium and switched to analysis. I don’t even recall seeing a shot of Ghee at the podium when he was selected.

4. Players Making Picks: I enjoyed seeing former and current players announcing picks. I think the NFL should make it a regular feature of the draft. My suggestion, though, is for the NFL to use the Ed Block Courage Award winners for each team in the future.

5. ESPN Crew: The ESPN crew was horrible and had zero chemistry during the draft. In fact, they were the main reason that I opted to focus most of my attention on the NBA playoffs and check back periodically on the draft, instead of vice versa.

6. “SHE SAID NO”: As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I absolutely loved the “SHE SAID NO” chant that rain downed on radio city music hall every time the Steelers were on the clock. I think that mantra will follow Roethlisberger the rest of his career.

7. Gerhart/ Race Card: I loathed Toby Gerhart implying that race and not his playing style was the reason he wouldn’t be a higher pick. The truth is there is no place for backs with Gerhart’s playing style in the NFL anymore. His style does not translate well to the NFL and it is in short demand. No GM in his right mind would use a 1st round pick on a player who will be nothing more than a short yardage bull dozer. I’ll go one step further and say that the 2nd round was too high for a situational player like that.

8. Pre- Pick Player Reactions: Going back to draft coverage for a moment. I hated seeing the player reactions prior to the pick being announced. It takes away all suspense. A better format would be to show the players reaction after his name has been called but that might be too much like right.

9. Prospect Privacy: The NFL needs to do a better job of protecting the privacy of NFL draft prospects. I think it is ridiculous the amount of personal information that gets leaked. I couldn’t imagine being Sergio Kindle or Jonathan Dwyer, and information about my medical history that I provided during a job interview was leaked to the media. I understand that a lot of these guys just come out and tell the media about it but I view that as a preemptive strike. They know the teams are going to leak the information, so they do it themselves to get any questions about it out of the way.

10. HGH: The Dr. Galea/HGH situation is a sports scandal in the making, unlike anything we have ever seen before. And I don’t think the NFL will make it out of this with its image intact. It has recently been revealed that Sanatana Moss of the Washington Redskins was one of Dr. Galea’s patients. I believe that this case has just scratched the surface and in the end will prove that the use of HGH is more rampant in the NFL than anyone realizes.

11. RFA: The number of restricted free agents who have yet to sign their tenders is alarming. The number of them that didn’t trade teams is even more alarming. I don’t think the NFLPA has enough evidence to prove collusion on the owners part but it sure does seem like there was an agreement in place that RFA wouldn’t be signed to offer sheets this offseason and that there would be no poison pill. I can only recall one RFA being signed to an offer sheet this off season and that was Mike Bell. You could argue that teams didn’t want to give up draft picks or what have you but it smells fishy to me.

12. Cushing/ AP Awards: Brian Cushing being re-awarded his defensive rookie of the year award and even gaining votes in the process, after it came out that he had tested positive for steroids during the season, made me sick to my stomach. I think the writers who carried out the act are idiots but I think the AP is the most at fault. They should have just stripped him of the award and either, gave the award to the guy with the 2nd most votes or had a revote without Cushing on the ballot. Simply put the AP had a chance to make a stand against cheating and they bungled it away by putting too much faith in the attention crazed talking heads that vote to do the right thing.

13. Pre Season Polls and Rankings: Preseason poll rankings are worthless and should cease to exist. The fact that NFL playoffs has an annual turnover rate of 50% is ignored by sports writers, except when a team like the Patriots misses the playoffs, like they did in 2008. How many of us can’t cut and paste last years playoff outcome onto a piece of paper entitled “2010 Playoff Predictions”? When sports writers do try to go out on a limb and buck that trend, they get criticized for it. For example, Peter Kings recently released preseason ranking. Is it really a big stretch to believe that the Dolphins could make the playoffs over a team like the Bengals? The Dolphins made the playoffs in 2008, they were in the very tight AFC wild card race at the end of last season, and they have upgraded some of their biggest weaknesses. Last season, was just the Bengals 2nd playoff trip in 2 decades and they finished the season on a very poor note, with back to back losses to the Jets, and a horrible record the second half of the season. That’s not a stretch, yet many people will claim that it is and have a fit about it.

14. Most Improved Team: I think the Detroit Lions will be the most improved team in the NFL next season. I like the moves they have made and I think they really helped themselves in the draft. If Matthew Stafford can make the next step, I think the Lions will cause a lot of problems for teams.

15. Biggest Loser: I think the Arizona Cardinals are the team setup to take the largest fall. The Cardinals recent success has glossed over the fact that they still have one of the worst owners in the NFL and are one of the most poorly ran franchises in all of sports. Ken Whisenhunt has proven to be a good coach, so I don’t think the Cardinals are headed back to the bottom of the barrel, just yet but I see them falling to mediocrity, which after their last two seasons is disappointing.

16. Twitter: Twitter is slowly becoming a PR nightmare for the NFL. Darnell Dockett is posting video’s of himself showering and earlier in the offseason, complaining about all the losses that the Cardinals had taken. Santonio Holmes is using it to tell fans to commit suicide and the world that he is about to smoke marijuana. Chris Johnson is using it to lobby for a new a contract. Reggie Bush is using it to complain about public service employees. And who knows what else these guys are posting. I think if players are going to be allowed to have accounts with twitter or public profiles elsewhere, they need to be advised to remain professional or taught to use the privacy settings. Some of the things these guys are saying are best said behind closed doors and to people they trust, not posted on the internet for the world to see.

But this is just one fans many opinions.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ravens Weak Secondary NOT a Liability!

Media experts and fans are poking and prodding at every NFL roster trying to find potential holes. The consensus hole for the Ravens is at the CB position because Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb are both coming off of knee injuries and may not be ready to start the season. Emphasis should be put on “may not” because from all accounts both are well ahead of schedule and at least one of them will be ready week 1. But ignore that for the moment, let’s say they both start the season on the physically unable to perform list and don’t return until week 6, what kind of trouble are the Ravens in? None and it is not because I think Ozzie Newsome is a master at filling holes, even though he is. I think the Ravens will be fine with or without Washington and Webb for a few reasons.

Assuming the Ravens bring back Frank Walker, the secondary that they will start the season with is the same one they played the last 4 games of the season with. In the last 4 games of the season the Ravens faced Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. The Steelers, Colts, and Patriots all had top 10 passing attacks last season and the Ravens walked away 2-2 in their last 4 games, including the playoffs. That’s not too shabby, for a group that most people think is terrible. In fact even in the two losses the secondary was not overmatched and they played well enough to win. At Pittsburgh, they held Roethlisberger to an average 259 yards passing before the Ravens entire team went into meltdown mode. In the playoff loss to the Colts, the Ravens offense was the reason they lost the game not their secondary. So, what does all this have to do with why the Ravens will be fine with their current backfield if Webb and/or Washington are not able to start the season? Look at the opponents the Ravens will face the first 8 weeks of the season. 4 of the 7 teams ranked 25th or worse in passing last year and none of them made upgrades that would catapult them into an elite passing game. Only the Patriots ranked in the top 5 and again the Raven beat the Patriots convincingly with their current secondary. The Steelers, who ranked 9th, will be without Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. A closer look:

Jets: Mark Sanchez was a below average starting QB last year and the Jets 31st ranking in the passing game proves that. The Jets did acquire wide receiver Santonio Holmes to bolster the passing game and help Sanchez develop but he’s suspended the first 4 weeks of the season and therefore will not play against the Ravens. Which means Sanchez’s improvement is the only upgrade to the Jets passing game that the Ravens will face. Sanchez should improve considerably, he can’t really get much worse but I doubt it is enough for the Jets to beat the Ravens through the air. Add in the fact that the Jets are a run happy team and the Ravens secondary should be fine in this matchup.

Bengals: The Bengals beat the Ravens twice last year but it wasn’t because of their 26th ranked passing game. It was because of defense and a solid run game. Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson have both lost a step and are not as explosive as they once were. The Bengals didn’t do anything to drastically upgrade their pass offense this offseason. In my opinion, Antonio Bryant equals Laveranues Coles. They did add two wide receivers in the draft but drafting wide receivers is such a crap shoot that neither can be considered a real upgrade at this point. Jermaine Gresham will be valuable to them but the Ravens were the best team in the league at defending TE’s last year. So, this isn’t a game where the Ravens secondary will be overmatched.

Browns: Ranked 32nd in passing last season. Whether it is Jake Delhomme, Wallace, or Colt McCoy, the Browns upgraded at QB this offseason but it is not enough to catapult them into an offense that can take advantage of a “weak” Ravens secondary. Besides who are the Browns receivers again?

Steelers: Ranked 9th in passing last season but the Ravens will be facing a very much watered down version of this passing game. Roethlisberger has been suspended for at least the first 4 games of the season and the Steelers, as was stated earlier, traded their number 1 receiver Santonio Holmes to the NY Jets. Hines Ward and Heath Miller, will not be enough for the Steelers to exploit the Ravens secondary, and it doesn’t matter which backup QB they use.

Broncos: The Bronco’s 13th ranked passing offense didn’t matchup well with the Ravens defense last year and without Brandon Marshall and Ryan Clady, the Bronco’s passing game has been downgraded. Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn have not faired well against the Ravens. The Ravens held Orton to 137 passing yards on 37 attempts and number 1 receiver Eddie Royal to 2 receptions for 10 yards.

Patriots: This 3rd ranked passing attack faced the same undermanned Ravens secondary in the wildcard round of the playoffs and the Ravens secondary did just fine that game.

In my opinion, the only team with enough fire power in the passing game to expose the Ravens secondary is the Patriots and again the Ravens, not to beat a dead horse, beat the Patriots with this same secondary in the playoffs last year. So, as long as Webb and Washington are ready by the week 8 bye , (wk 7 they face the 30th ranked Bills passing attack) the Ravens secondary will be fine with their current group. That doesn’t mean the Ravens are going to start the season 7-0 but the secondary will not be as big of a liability as some people seem to think. The Ravens should look to add more bodies and hope all their current guys can stay healthy but there is no need to make any drastic changes, even if Webb and Washington are not ready to go, unless their injuries will keep them out for the entire season.

Monday, April 26, 2010

An Early Guess: Ravens 53 Man Roster!

With the draft behind us, I thought I’d give the Ravens 53 man roster a crack. This is only a prediction and it’s a terribly early one at that. In no particular order, here it goes:


QB: Joe Flacco, Troy Smith, John Beck

HB/FB: Ray Rice, LeRon McClain, Willis McGahee, Jalen Parmele

TE: Todd Heap, Ed Dickson, Dennis Pitta, Edgar Jones

(*Note: Davon Drew heads back to the practice squad)

WR: Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Marcus Smith, Mark Clayton, Donte Stallworth, David Reed

(*Note: Eron Riley and Justin Harper back to the practice squad)

OL: Jared Gaither, Michael Oher, Marshall Yanda, Ben Grubbs, Matt Birk, Chris Chester, O’Neil Cousins, David Hale

(*Note: Ramone Harewood to the practice squad)

Special Teams

P: Sam Koch

K: Billy Cundiff

Matt Katula


DL: Haloti Ngata, Terrance Cody, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg, Corey Redding, Arthur Jones, Paul Kruger, Brandon McKinney

(* Kelly Talavou to the practice squad)

LB: Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Sergio Kindle, Jarrett Johnson, Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain, Tavares Gooden, Jason Phillips

(*Note: William VanDeSteeg to the practice squad)

CB: Dominque Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Lardarius Webb, Chris Carr, Frank Walker

S: Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Tom Zbikowski, Haruki Nakamura


Wide Receiver- The Ravens should carry 6 this year due to the injury history of the group as a whole. Stallworth and Boldin have been two of the most oft-injured wr’s in the NFL. Smith is coming off that horrible injury from last year. Mason has struggled with injuries at some points the last few years and so has Clayton. I had a really hard time choosing between Riley, Harper, Williams and Reed. At the end of the day, I gave Reed the benefit of the doubt being a draft pick. Although, I think Williams would probably be the best option of the 4. If it is Williams, than I see Reed on the PS and Riley getting his walking papers, because Harper is a little further along in his development at this point. Personally, I am not 100% sold that Stallworth will make the roster but for arguments sake he is there.

TE- Edgar Jones versatility and special teams play saves his job.

LB- Antwaan Barnes and Brendon Ayanbadejo are two notable absences. Not all these guys are going to remain healthy, sad but true. Barnes could sneak his way onto the roster that way. The same for Ayanbadejo. I just have a hard time keeping an ST ace over all those young LB’s. Ayanbadejo is what he is at this point and he’s not going to be much more. Some of those other guys have the potential to be much more. He also suffered that injury early and the special teams unit did not miss him. His value drastically decreased last offseason.

CB- The Ravens will add a short term stop gap, eventually. AND the dreaded Frank “illegal contact” Walker will most likely be back, as well. I went on and counted Walker in my initial 53 because I KNOW he will be back but I didn’t count the other guy, whoever it is.

Practice Squad: I threw some names out there for the PS but I have to imagine the Ravens will be looking to add some undrafted free agents from the 2010 class to it. So, some of those guys may very well have run out of time.

Overall: Not much roster turnover. Its about what you expect from a team that has been deep in the playoffs two years in a row.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baltimore Ravens Draft Grades!

2(43)/ Sergio Kindle/ OLB/ Texas- I think this has the potential to be the biggest steal of the draft. There are two knocks on Kindle that have people down on this pick, concerns about his character and his knee. The character concerns don’t bother me as much as they would if he were a 1st round pick because the financial obligation is substantially less. And make no mistake character is only a concern because of the money involved. I have to admit the knee worries me, especially given the Ravens history of wasted 2nd round picks like Dan Cody and Dwan Edwards the first 5 years of his career. The Ravens medical staff cleared him but I am not giving the benefit of the doubt on this one. I think he’ll be a guy that can upgrade the pass rush immediately but, until proven otherwise, is not a long term solution which is a shame. Of course, if I am wrong and he stays healthy, the Ravens have a great pass rush talent on their hands. This is a high risk/ high reward pick.

Grade: C+, with the potential to turn into an A+.

2(57)/Terrance Cody/ DT/ Alabama- Cody is a monster in the run game and I think when teamed with Ngata, he gives the Ravens one of the best run stuffing duos in football. A duo that in a few years could take the title of best running stuffing duo away from the Williams Wall of Minnesota. Cody is also good for the Ravens for practical reasons. The Ravens lost Dwan Edwards and Justin Bannan in free agency and Corey Redding, can only replace one of them. So, they lost depth that they simply needed to replace and Cody does that. Cody also gives them some much needed youth at the position because Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, and Corey Redding are not young players. The knock on Cody is that he sometimes takes plays off and he has weight issues. This is a common complaint about defensive tackles coming out of college. Haloti Ngata had some of those same red flags attached to his name and ESPN ridiculed the Ravens for taking him. Albert Haynesworth, Shawn Rogers, and Casey Hampton are some of the best DT’s in the business and they have all either struggled with weight at times or been accused of taking plays off. That makes me completely comfortable with this pick. At best the Ravens have a long term DT on their hands at worse they replaced a rotational guy.

Grade: A

3(70)/ Ed Dickson/ TE/ Oregon- Dickson adds much needed depth at the TE position and another weapon for Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco. The beauty of this pick is that he doesn’t have to step in and contribute right away. He can sit behind Heap and contribute on a marginal basis. He needs to work on his blocking but so did Heap coming out of college and he seems to do just fine now.

Grade: B+

4(114)/ Dennis Pitta/ TE/ Brigham Young- This was a bold move by the Ravens and one that many people have been critical of but I am not one of them. I love that the Ravens picked up two good young TE’s. In SD, Cam Cameron used a multitude of TE’s in that offense. Gates was the main guy but they got contributions from several other guys at the position. Heap is getting older and the Ravens just need the depth. Before picking up Pitta and Dickson, Edgar Jones and Davon Drew were Todd Heaps backups. Jones, came into the NFL as a DE/LB hybrid and Davon Drew was cut by two teams, including the Ravens, after being drafted last year. Long story short: The depth behind Heap has just not been good and this Ravens fan has been thanking his lucky stars that Heap has stayed healthy. Losing him could have been catastrophic. Now it doesn’t have to be.

Grade: A

5(156)/ David Reed/ WR/ Utah- I am not a huge fan of this pick, mainly because the Ravens will have about 4 guys in training camp that are very similar to him. This guy is the 6th wideout that the Ravens have drafted in the last 5 years and the only guy that is no longer with the team is Yamon Figurs. Yet, the projected top 3 WR’s for the Ravens come from other teams. Do you see where I am going with this? The Ravens have failed miserably at drafting wideouts. They just have. I am not suggesting that they stop trying but they’ve got 5 “project” receivers on the roster right now. They need to be patient and see if one of them can emerge before drafting another project. The wideouts that the Ravens should be drafting now and within the next 2 or 3 years need to be as close to sure things as they can possibly be. They have enough projects at WR, they don’t need more.
Grade: D

5(157)/ Arthur Jones/ DT/ Syracuse- This pick adds more youth to the defensive line. If he can remain healthy, he’ll be able to help fill the void left by Edwards and Bannan, as well as be a solid starter or reliable rotation guy in the future. This is a low risk, high reward pick.

Grade: B+

6(194)/ Ramone Harewood/ OL/ Morehouse- He’s a project but he has a lot of raw talent and he’s massive. Given Ozzie’s history of taking project lineman early in the draft , Chris Chester and Adam Terry come to mind, I am very happy to see this pick made here in round 6 as opposed to round 2. I think this guy needs a lot of coaching and help with his mechanics but the good thing about going to the Ravens is that they have a great OL coach and they are set on the offensive line. They can afford to take the time to develop him properly. Another low risk/ high reward pick.

Grade: B

Overall Grade: B. The great thing about the Ravens is that they are a very deep football team, so none of these guys have to start right away. There are a couple of project players in there but the Ravens can bring them along slowly, without compromising their ability to win now. They also managed to get talented players at positions of need. The only player that did not fill a need is Sergio Kindle. In fact, linebacker is the deepest position on the Ravens roster. But with his pass rush abilities, even that pick sort of filled a need. Overall, I think the Ravens had a good draft.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Draft

I'll be unveiling my thoughts on the draft and the post draft Ravens, soon. I've got draft grade for the Ravens and their AFC North foes, but doesn't everyone. I've got an early projection of the Ravens 53 man roster. I am also going to be unveiling a new feature called Hate it or Love it.
Hate it or Love it will be a section of the blog that chronicals an NFL event, the draft, a game, etc. I'll tell you five things that I hated and five things that I loved about that event. The first event will be the draft. Then a couple of games during the regular season. The regular season games will most likely be MNF games, the Thanksgiving day games, and Ravens and Panthers games (since I am a Ravens fan living in North Carolina). I'll generally do two or three games per week. Then I will do all 11 playoff games, including the SB. End of the season awards, the Pro Bowl, and the combine.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jared Gaither v. Michael Oher: Ravens LT of the Future

There is very little buzz coming from the Ravens these days because of it Jared Gaither’s future in Baltimore is being beating like a dead horse. It is all speculation at this point. I don’t believe Jared Gaither isn’t going anywhere. So, let’s explore some of the reasons people seem to think the Ravens want to get rid of Gaither, RIGHT NOW.

1) Michael Oher is the LT of the Ravens future: Whatever! Just because Ogden came out said he thinks that’s what is going to happen doesn’t mean TPTB think the same way. If I can recall, Ozzie Newsome once said he thought Gaither was a better “prospect” than Ogden was coming out of college. Do you think Ogden and Ozzie agreed on that? Not a chance. Another thing is that the Ravens brass have given no indication that they are planning to move Oher to LT in the future. When they make plans to move a player to a certain position, they generally indicate that they plan to right away. (ie. Suggs and JJ to LB, Kruger to DE). All those guys played other positions coming in but it was known when they were drafted where they were expected to end up. Oher was drafted as a RT to play RT, not to convert to LT.

2) The Ravens don’t want to pay two guys LT money: This one of course is contingent on whether you believe Oher is the LT of the future for the Ravens, I don’t but for arguments sake we will say he is. They still don’t have to trade Gaither, RIGHT NOW to save that money. Oher has 4 years left on his rookie contract and given Ozzie Newsome’s history, he WILL play 4 years before he gets a contract that pays him LT money. The Ravens can avoid paying two guys LT money by: a) signing Gaither to a 4 year contract. Let Gaither be LT and Oher the RT for now. Allow the deals to expire at the same time and then make the final decision. They can also give Gaither a 3 year deal and decide his fate a year earlier than Oher’s. b) they could structure Gaither’s 5 or 6 year deal, so that its front loaded and cap friendly in the later stages of it. Somewhat like they did Suggs recent deal. That way when Oher gets his LT money, Gaither’s salary and cap numbers are not elite LT money anymore.

3) Michael Oher is a better LT than Gaither: This one blows my mind. Gaither is by far the better player at this point and in my opinion he’s got much more potential to become an elite LT than Oher does. Oher’s performance at LT was admirable for a rookie but Ravens fans need to stop kidding themselves, he was a serious down grade at LT. The Ravens were 2-4 with Oher playing LT, the two wins came against the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. They were 7-3 with Gaither at LT. The disparity in the win/loss column when Gaither is playing vs when he is not playing is too vast to ignore.

4) Jared Gaither’s work ethic isn’t that good: In my opinion this is the only valid reason for why the Ravens would be hesistant to commit to Gaither long term. They don’t trust him to continue to working hard after he gets his big pay day. If that truly is the case, not many other teams are going to trust him enough to take that risk either. In fact, you could count on one hand how many teams would they are : The Oakland Raiders, The Washington Redskins, Al Davis Raiders, the Raiders and finally the Raiders. Having traded for McNabb recently you can take the Redskins off that list. My point is the Ravens are not going to get the compensation they are looking for in a trade for Gaither if there are character concerns. And Gaither to this point has been a very good starting LT, you don’t give guys like him, work ethic issues and all, away for pennies.

In short, I don’t think Gaither’s future is in any way tied to that of Michael Oher. Oher was drafted to play RT and I believe the Ravens will stick to that. If Gaither is traded somewhere down the line, the Ravens will look to the draft to sign another LT. Not every tackle drafted in the first round is meant to be the teams LT of the future. If a guy is an elite RT and a slightly above average LT, he needs to play the position where he is elite. That’s how the situation with Oher will play out. Look no further than the guy he replaced, Willie Anderson, as the prime example of this. I am sure if absolutely necessary Anderson could have filled in admirably at LT in his younger years but he was an elite RT, which is why he stayed there his entire career.

But this is just one football fans opinion.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Count Me As A Nay- Vote For the New Overtime Rule...

The new post season overtime rule that was proposed by the NFL's competition committee would allow for each team to get a possession in the event that the team that receives the ball first kicks a field goal.

In my opinion its not a good ides and here is why:

1) Teams Trading Field Goals
If you've got two elite QB's playing in a game that goes to OT, i.e. Rivers vs. Manning in the Colts@ Chargers wildcard game of the 2008 postseason or Brees vs. Favre this past post season, the idea of allowing those QB's the opportunity to win the game if the other fails to put it out of reach by scoring a TD on the first possession is appealing. But what if you've got two defensive/ run heavy teams like the Ravens and Jets playing? Not so much. A game like that could last another 4 quarters before a winner is decided. Could you imagine if the Ravens @ Titans in the postseason last year, had gone into overtime and the team was not allowed to win it on a field goal. You've got rookie led Ravens offense that can’t even get the ball into field goal range, a Titans offense that turns the ball over every time they get inside the twenty, and two aggressive penalty prone defenses.

Under the new rules, let’s say the Titans get the ball first they drive the field like they'd done all game and get to the red zone. At that point the Titans have to keep playing and risk yet another turnover because they can’t win the game on a field goal. They decide to play it safe anyway, run 3 times and end the drive with a field goal. So, Joe Flacco and the Ravens trot onto the field, and they only need a field goal to not lose. Flacco drops back to pass launches one deep down the field and it’s incomplete, but wait Nick Harper just got flagged for PI. The Ravens are now in field goal range; they also play it safe on 4th down and settle for the field goal. And just like that the game continues. Titans turnover, Ravens 3 and out, Titans turnover, Ravens 3 and out...... Does that sound like a game you want to continue watching?

Personally I love smash mouth football, I couldn’t be a Ravens fan if I didn’t but the masses want offense, offense, and more offense. You’re just not going to get that from every team. And that alone could turn an otherwise "harmless" two possession overtime into something that fans simply don’t want to watch.

And despite what some may say any rule put in place to get around trading field goals in OT would simply be "unfair". What are you going to tell the Ravens that they HAVE to go for the TD on 4th down of OT or they forfeit the game? That not fair because the Titans were allowed to settle for it.

Are you going to allow the Titans to win the game on a field goal on their second position of OT? Well that kind of defeats the purpose of giving each team at least one possession in the first place. The game is still being decided by a field goal and the coin flip. The Titans ARE guaranteed the first second possession of overtime, unless there is a turnover or onside kick, thus they've still got the first chance to win the game on the field goal.

2) With Every Extra Possession the Risk of Injury Increases

This one speaks for itself. Obviously football is violent sport by nature and the risk for serious injury is inherent but could you imagine the backlash if two teams started trading field goals in OT of the AFC or NFC championship and a key player was seriously injured on one of those extra possessions?

What happens if in this years NFC Championship the Vikings do get a possession in OT and they also kick a field goal... then Drew Brees and crew come back on to the field and as Brees throws the game winning field goal Jared Allen knocks him out and he lands on his throwing shoulder funny. Yeah, the Saints won and they are going to the Super bowl but they've just lost their starting QB for the season, how much of a chance do they have? They certainly don’t win without Brees. So, are you now looking at a Super bowl blowout?

What if Favre gets hurt throwing the game winning TD on that second possession? And instead of a Manning/ Favre matchup in the Super bowl, you've got Manning vs. Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson. Would you want to watch that? I certainly don’t.

For those players getting to the Superbowl would still be a dream come true and the fans of those teams would still be elated but that is just a small portion of the Superbowl viewing audience. The NFL is a business, they need and want the best matchup possible and I am sorry but that doesn’t include a bunch of backups battling for the top crown. Bottomline in the big game the NFL and the fans wants to see each team with its best players on the field, not the sideline.

But that’s just one football fans opinion.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baltimore's Infatuation with the Colts....

Thursday I was having lunch with one of my colleagues at Henry James Bar-B-Que and in between our random chatter about work we started discussing football. Me being a Baltimore native, he wanted to know why "Ravens fans" STILL have such hatred for the Colts organization. I am not one to speak for an entire city or fanbase, especially considering the Colts left Baltimore before I was even born. But I do have an opinion on it and based on what I do know, here is basically what I told him:

1) I hate that Ravens fan automatically equals bitter ex-Colts fan in the eyes of some people. Dont get me wrong, I hate the Colts just like most other Ravens fans but it is not because they left Baltimore. Again, I wasnt even alive when the Colts were in Baltimore to be bitter about them leaving.
Now am I bitter about the 8 straight losses, some down right embarassing blowouts, that the Ravens have suffered at the Colts hands? ABSOLUTLY.

The other problem that I have with this is that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins both have sizeable fanbases in Baltimore, probably smaller than they once were but they are there. Not all former Baltimore Colts fans have converted to being Ravens fans. I know for a fact that there are former Colts fans in both those fanbases that are just as bitter about the Mayflower trucks.

2) I could be very wrong about this but I think in general people have moved on. I dont think there are many former Colts fans that are still crying for the team to return to Baltimore. I think the issue now is the history of the Baltimore Colts being credited to another city. My grandfather, a former Baltimore Colts fan who has been a card carrying member of terrible towel nation for as long as I can remember explained it to me like this:

Its like when a man (Baltimore City) finds a wife (Colts organization), they settle down and have some good years. They make memories and start a family (HOF players and championships). And then the marriage gets rocky and things get really ugly, until one night said wife just decides to load everything into a Mayflower moving truck and run off with a new man (Indianapolis), leaving her ex-husband with nothing and allowing his kids to be raised by her new husband.

Now it takes a while for the ex-husband to move on but eventually he settles down and he remarries (Ravens). He makes some good memories in his new marriage and starts another family. The hatred for his ex-wife begans to fade except when the subject of his children with his ex-wife comes up. He wants his children back but his wife, her new husband and the judge (NFL HOF) wont give them back. So, no matter how much he loves his new wife and his new kids, he will always love the children from his first marriage just as much and hate his ex-wife for taking them away.

So, basically what I told my colleague is that, in my opinion, if the Colts gave back the champions and seperate the Baltimore Colts history from the Indianapolis Colts history, the off the field tension between the city of Baltimore and the Colts organization, would eventually die. The Colts will still be hated but it will be because of how they play vs the Ravens. Not because the people of the city feel slighted.  

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Could Troy Smith be hurting his trade value?

Troy Smith and his agent have made it clear that he wants out of Baltimore. The Ravens have made it clear they are willing to grant his wish by tendering him with the low tender. However, Smith and his agent may be doing him more harm than good by publicly expressing his desire to play for Cleveland. It is my opinion that Troy's insistance on playing in Cleveland is forcing other teams to steer clear of him. Think about it? What team is going to give up a draft pick, in what most experts call a deep draft, to take a chance on an unproven QB who has his heart set on playing for his hometown team?

1) If a team takes a chance on Smith and he becomes a successful starting NFL QB, there is always going to be the worry that he will bolt to play in Cleveland the first time he hits the market,

2) If a team takes a chance on him and he is relegated to backup duty, he might again began to express his desire to play in Cleveland, like he is doing now as a member of the Ravens.

I think Smith lobbying to be drafted by Cleveland played a small factor in his falling to almost the 6th round in the 2007 draft. And its going to be a reason that he doesnt get a chance to start in the NFL one day.

My advice to Troy Smith is this... If you REALLY want out of Baltimore, keep your mouth shut and tell your agent to do the same. Cleveland CLEARY does not want you. They had the chance to draft you in 07 and they choose Brady Quinn instead. They've had the opportunity to bring you in and sign you to an offer sheet, they opted to trade for Seneca Wallace. The Browns dont love you as much as you love them. Keep your options open and stop burning bridges before you cross them. If it is your dream to play for Cleveland thats fine but keep it to yourself, until the day comes when the Browns actually want you. Otherwise, you will be closing the door on opportunities elsewhere.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's Next? AFC North

Cleveland Browns (Current Need: QB, Problem on the Horizon: WR)
Ok, so Cleveland actually has a lot to choose from here and depending on who is asked, QB is not a problem in Cleveland because they have Brady Quinn and WR is a need right now, the latter is true. But Brady Quinn reminds me of Kyle Boller, he has a game where he doesn’t do horrible, might even look a little decent but the following week he has a game that looks like the highlight reel for football follies. Quinn is not a good QB and he will never be a good QB, the damage has already been done. He’s already changed coaching staffs in his young career and he can’t get on the field consistently to get comfortable with the speed of the NFL, either due to injuries, his rookie holdout, or a lack of faith in him from the coaching staff. So, with that said, I choose WR as the problem on the horizon because once the Browns get a franchise QB, fans will start clamoring for a top flight wide receiver and the only way to avoid it is to pick up the top flight wide receiver first.

Pittsburgh Steelers (Current Need: DB, Problem on the Horizon: DL)
The Steel city is in need of depth at S and a serious upgrade at the starting CB spot. When Mark Clayton notches a season high 7 catches for 129 yards on your secondary, you are in trouble. Clayton is a guy who produced just 7 catches for 86 yards in 4 games versus the state of Ohio. So, it is understandable that Steelers fans would really like to see an upgrade at CB and some better depth at S. But considering Ziggy Hood is the only defensive lineman in their DL rotation, who will be under the age of 30 when the season starts. They might want to start clamoring for help there as well.

Cincinnati Bengals (Current Need: WR/TE, Problem on the Horizon: QB):
The media, Bengals fans, and players are clamoring for more receiving options in Cinci. Fans want a deep threat at WR and a playmaker at TE, Mr. 85 wants Terrell Owens, and the media just wants to see more fireworks, on or off the field. But I think the problems on the Bengals offense run deeper than just the weapons that Carson Palmer has to work with. I think Carson Palmer IS a part of the problem but he seems to get a pass from Bengal fans and the media just because he once looked to be an elite QB. The Bengals will go out and improve the supporting cast around Palmer this offseason, and the Bengals passing game will still be mediocre at best. Injuries, poor coaching, and overall poor team management has made a career that once looked so promising fall into the pit of mediocrity. Palmer turned 30 in December and even after 7 seasons in the NFL, he still has the “deer in headlights” look in big games. Even worse his production during the regular season has gotten progressively worse every year since 2005.

Baltimore Ravens (Current Need: WR, Problem on the Horizon: DL):
If you listen to some media experts and fans of the Baltimore Ravens, you’d be led to believe that the Ravens are a Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, or Anquan Boldin away from hoisting the Lombardi trophy next February. This Ravens fan begs to differ. Games are won and lost in the trenches. Although, the Ravens trenches on the defensive side of the ball are great at stuffing the run they are horrible at putting pressure on the QB. Baltimore finished the season with 32 sacks, good for a tie with the Bills and both NY teams ranked 18th overall. Since the 2006 season, where the Ravens defense posted 60 sacks, the team has failed to register 35 sacks or more in all 3 seasons since. From 2000 to 2006, they only failed to reach 35 sacks in a season once, 2002. If the proof isn’t in the sack numbers, then these numbers can’t be denied… Kelly Gregg just turned 33 in November, Trevor Pryce will be 35 in August, Justin Bannan (30) and Dwan Edwards (28) are both unrestricted free agents as of March 5. Leaving Haloti Ngata as the only veteran on the defensive line that hasn’t peaked. Ravens fans point to Paul Kruger as a guy with the potential to replace Pryce but you know what they say about potential, right? It is just a fancy word to describe something that hasn’t been done.

But this is just one fans opinion.

What's Next?

Don’t you just love the NFL offseason? What’s not to love? All the trade rumors, contract posturing, new players coming into the league and 32 teams scrambling to improve their rosters in hopes of taking home the Vince Lombardi trophy for the upcoming season. It is truly entertaining. But since you asked…

One thing I do hate about the NFL offseason is that team’s weaknesses are overanalyzed by the media and fans. For the past two years it has been the wide receiver position for the Ravens. For almost a decade prior to 08, it was the quarterback position. In the early days of the franchise it was defensive help that the fans and the media clamored for during the offseason. All of the doom and gloom surrounding how bad (insert team) will be if they fail to fix (insert position), gets old after a while. Let’s be honest, no matter what a front office does there will always be a position on their team that needs to be upgraded. So, in an effort to talk about something new I am going to attempt to predict which positions each team’s fans and the media will be clamoring for them to fix next season, that is assuming they fix the issue that fans and the media are in an uproar about now. I will release these predictions as follows: