Archive for October, 2007

Heeeere, Benny, Benny, Benny……

October 31, 2007

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A scary hit for you all today. Happy Halloween!

Heeeere, Benny, Benny, Benny……

October 31, 2007

jacked up
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A scary hit for you all today. Happy Halloween!

Season at the Bye – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

October 29, 2007

disclaimer: this article heavy on the stats. If youre a stat-o-phobe, turn back now. You have been warned.

The Good

The Ravens currently sit at 4-3, tied with the Cleveland Browns (!?!) for second place in the AFC North, just a game behind the Squealers. Historically, the Ravens are a much better team in the 2nd half of the season under head coach Brian Billick. They have won 5 straight (regular season) games when coming off the bye week, and are 6-3 overall. In regular season games after Nov. 1, the Ravens are 46-23 under compu-coach. Last season, the team went into the bye at 4-2, and dominated the second half of their schedule to finish 13-3.

The Ravens are 2nd in overall defense, trailing only the Squealers, and 2nd in rush defense, looking up at the Tennessee Titans. Running back Willis McGahee is 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards, and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Backup QB Kyle Boller has played well in relief of the injured Steve McNair, and is finally showing some signs of progress that we have been waiting years to see. Wide receiver Derrick Mason has been a huge part of the offense, and leads the NFL with 56 receptions. Return man Yamon Figurs ranks 3rd in the NFL in kick return average and 4th in punt return average among players with at least 5 attempts. Kicker Matt Stover has been his usual consistent self, leading the league with 18 field goals on 21 attempts.

The Bad

Despite their success on the ground, the Ravens have been unable to put together a constant mid-range passing attack to compliment their running game, and are just 16th in the league in total offense. They have struggled mightily in the dead zone, and as a result are 25th in the league in points per game, averaging just 17.7. Going into week 8, only 3 teams were having less success scoring touchdowns inside the 20, and those teams had a combined record of 3-17. Overall, Ravens quarterbacks have turned the ball over 9 times while throwing for only 5 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Ravens have again been vulnerable to the big play, and have not shown the ability to shut teams down when leading in the second half. They have allowed 25 plays over 20 yards, and 6 over 40. They also have not pressured the quarterback as well as they did in 2006, and have only 15 sacks through 7 games, 16th in the NFL (last year, the team had 60 sacks, just one behind the league-leading Chargers.) No Raven is in the top 50 in the league in sacks, with Corey Ivy, Jarrett Johnson, Kelly Gregg, and Terrell Suggs sharing the team lead with 2.0 each.

The Ugly

Plenty of ugly to go around this season so far. After making it through the 2006 season incredibly healthy as a team, the injuries have caught up to the purple and black this year in a big way. Jonathan Ogden has not started a game since opening night, and just took his first snaps since then last week in Buffalo. Quarterback Steve McNair has made only 4 starts, and came out early in one of them. Even when playing, McNair has been bothered by a groin injury, which has made his throws inaccurate, wobbly, and all around, well…ugly. Tight end Todd Heap, left tackle Adam Terry, and center Mike Flynn have all missed games due to pain. Wide receiver Mark Clayton was slowed by injury early in the season, but seems to be getting over it.

On the other side, the D hasn’t escaped the bug either, as end Trevor Pryce has been out since week 2 with a broken wrist, and corner Chris McAlister may or may not return this week after injuring his knee in week 6. Samari Rolle also missed significant time due to “undisclosed illness.” The health of this aging core group of players will play a big role in how the rest of the season plays out here in B-More.

The teams the Ravens have beaten (Jets, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams) have a combined record of 6-24, while the teams they have lost to (Bengals, Browns, Bills) are 9-12. Looking ahead to the rest of the schedule, the remaining teams on the Ravens docket are a combined 34-24. Also, the quarterbacks the Ravens have beaten this season on their way to a #2 ranked defense have included names like Kellen Clemens, Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer, and Gus Frerotte. A little shudder shakes the Nest when we think of how this team will fare against the Peyton Mannings, Tom Bradys, Ben Toothlessburgers, and Matt Hasselbecks of the world, at least if they continue to play the way they have, which is to say extremely loose in the secondary.

Another big double-branch on the ugly tree that has been the 2007 season is the play-calling of coach Billick, and now the outspokenness of Ray Lewis as pertains to it. Billick has been criticized heavily, here and elsewhere, for his refusal to run the ball in certain situations, particularly at the goal line in Cincinnati and at midfield in the final minute in Buffalo. We don’t know if he outsmarts himself, thinking “well, they expect us to run here, so let’s fool them and go with the pass,” or if he really does have more confidence in his passing game than running game to pick up 2 or 3 yards. Both scenarios are cause for great concern by fans hoping to see some wins pile up in the 2nd half. Equally disconcerting is the fact that Ray-Ray saw fit to call the coach out on his radio show. The last thing we need is to see the locker room divide as it did three years ago, which led to several sub-par purple and black seasons. Lewis should have kept his complaints private, in-house, and spoken to Billick one-on-one like a man. As upset as Ravens fans are about the play-calling, the court of public opinion has spoken, and their resounding response to Lewis is to just “SHUT UP!” As a matter of fact, it could be argued that many members of the team should shut their mouths a bit, as it seems just about every player has their own weekly radio show that they are hosting. Time that could be better spent preparing for the next opponent.

The fact of the matter is, at 4-3, the Ravens control their own destiny at this point. They have 4 division and 8 conference games remaining to put themselves in a position to make the playoffs. As good, bad, or ugly as anything has been so far, there is still a lot of football to be played, and plenty of time to either right the ship, or sail it right off the end of the earth.

special thanks to the Nick-a-What research team on this article.

Season at the Bye – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

October 29, 2007

disclaimer: this article heavy on the stats. If youre a stat-o-phobe, turn back now. You have been warned.

The Good

The Ravens currently sit at 4-3, tied with the Cleveland Browns (!?!) for second place in the AFC North, just a game behind the Squealers. Historically, the Ravens are a much better team in the 2nd half of the season under head coach Brian Billick. They have won 5 straight (regular season) games when coming off the bye week, and are 6-3 overall. In regular season games after Nov. 1, the Ravens are 46-23 under compu-coach. Last season, the team went into the bye at 4-2, and dominated the second half of their schedule to finish 13-3.

The Ravens are 2nd in overall defense, trailing only the Squealers, and 2nd in rush defense, looking up at the Tennessee Titans. Running back Willis McGahee is 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards, and is averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Backup QB Kyle Boller has played well in relief of the injured Steve McNair, and is finally showing some signs of progress that we have been waiting years to see. Wide receiver Derrick Mason has been a huge part of the offense, and leads the NFL with 56 receptions. Return man Yamon Figurs ranks 3rd in the NFL in kick return average and 4th in punt return average among players with at least 5 attempts. Kicker Matt Stover has been his usual consistent self, leading the league with 18 field goals on 21 attempts.

The Bad

Despite their success on the ground, the Ravens have been unable to put together a constant mid-range passing attack to compliment their running game, and are just 16th in the league in total offense. They have struggled mightily in the dead zone, and as a result are 25th in the league in points per game, averaging just 17.7. Going into week 8, only 3 teams were having less success scoring touchdowns inside the 20, and those teams had a combined record of 3-17. Overall, Ravens quarterbacks have turned the ball over 9 times while throwing for only 5 touchdowns.

Defensively, the Ravens have again been vulnerable to the big play, and have not shown the ability to shut teams down when leading in the second half. They have allowed 25 plays over 20 yards, and 6 over 40. They also have not pressured the quarterback as well as they did in 2006, and have only 15 sacks through 7 games, 16th in the NFL (last year, the team had 60 sacks, just one behind the league-leading Chargers.) No Raven is in the top 50 in the league in sacks, with Corey Ivy, Jarrett Johnson, Kelly Gregg, and Terrell Suggs sharing the team lead with 2.0 each.

The Ugly

Plenty of ugly to go around this season so far. After making it through the 2006 season incredibly healthy as a team, the injuries have caught up to the purple and black this year in a big way. Jonathan Ogden has not started a game since opening night, and just took his first snaps since then last week in Buffalo. Quarterback Steve McNair has made only 4 starts, and came out early in one of them. Even when playing, McNair has been bothered by a groin injury, which has made his throws inaccurate, wobbly, and all around, well…ugly. Tight end Todd Heap, left tackle Adam Terry, and center Mike Flynn have all missed games due to pain. Wide receiver Mark Clayton was slowed by injury early in the season, but seems to be getting over it.

On the other side, the D hasn’t escaped the bug either, as end Trevor Pryce has been out since week 2 with a broken wrist, and corner Chris McAlister may or may not return this week after injuring his knee in week 6. Samari Rolle also missed significant time due to “undisclosed illness.” The health of this aging core group of players will play a big role in how the rest of the season plays out here in B-More.

The teams the Ravens have beaten (Jets, Cardinals, 49ers, Rams) have a combined record of 6-24, while the teams they have lost to (Bengals, Browns, Bills) are 9-12. Looking ahead to the rest of the schedule, the remaining teams on the Ravens docket are a combined 34-24. Also, the quarterbacks the Ravens have beaten this season on their way to a #2 ranked defense have included names like Kellen Clemens, Kurt Warner, Trent Dilfer, and Gus Frerotte. A little shudder shakes the Nest when we think of how this team will fare against the Peyton Mannings, Tom Bradys, Ben Toothlessburgers, and Matt Hasselbecks of the world, at least if they continue to play the way they have, which is to say extremely loose in the secondary.

Another big double-branch on the ugly tree that has been the 2007 season is the play-calling of coach Billick, and now the outspokenness of Ray Lewis as pertains to it. Billick has been criticized heavily, here and elsewhere, for his refusal to run the ball in certain situations, particularly at the goal line in Cincinnati and at midfield in the final minute in Buffalo. We don’t know if he outsmarts himself, thinking “well, they expect us to run here, so let’s fool them and go with the pass,” or if he really does have more confidence in his passing game than running game to pick up 2 or 3 yards. Both scenarios are cause for great concern by fans hoping to see some wins pile up in the 2nd half. Equally disconcerting is the fact that Ray-Ray saw fit to call the coach out on his radio show. The last thing we need is to see the locker room divide as it did three years ago, which led to several sub-par purple and black seasons. Lewis should have kept his complaints private, in-house, and spoken to Billick one-on-one like a man. As upset as Ravens fans are about the play-calling, the court of public opinion has spoken, and their resounding response to Lewis is to just “SHUT UP!” As a matter of fact, it could be argued that many members of the team should shut their mouths a bit, as it seems just about every player has their own weekly radio show that they are hosting. Time that could be better spent preparing for the next opponent.

The fact of the matter is, at 4-3, the Ravens control their own destiny at this point. They have 4 division and 8 conference games remaining to put themselves in a position to make the playoffs. As good, bad, or ugly as anything has been so far, there is still a lot of football to be played, and plenty of time to either right the ship, or sail it right off the end of the earth.

special thanks to the Nick-a-What research team on this article.

Special Olympics at Fenway Park

October 25, 2007

BOSTON –

Before beginning play in the 103rd MLB World Series, the Boston Red Sox were kind enough to lend their home field to the Special Olympics for a short 2-day event. The games were a resounding success, and even included a special-needs celebrity.

Mongo Papelsmear, known best for his role as “Warren” in the movie “There’s Something About Mary,” took home the gold in several events, and was named the Games’ Outstanding Athlete.

A heart-warming story, indeed.

Mongo celebrated his win, Special Style

Special Olympics at Fenway Park

October 25, 2007

BOSTON –

Before beginning play in the 103rd MLB World Series, the Boston Red Sox were kind enough to lend their home field to the Special Olympics for a short 2-day event. The games were a resounding success, and even included a special-needs celebrity.

Mongo Papelsmear, known best for his role as “Warren” in the movie “There’s Something About Mary,” took home the gold in several events, and was named the Games’ Outstanding Athlete.

A heart-warming story, indeed.

Mongo celebrated his win, Special Style

Bills 19 Ravens 14 (The RUN THE DAMN BALL II: RETURN OF THE GURU game)

October 23, 2007

Well, we can finally get around to our game recap now that the swelling has subsided from banging our heads against the wall along with the rest of you Ravens fans on Sunday. The Ravens shot themselves in the foot again and again and again in Buffalo on their way to falling to 4-3 on the season. Eleven penalties, along with sub-par offensive line play and a dash of ridiculously bone-headed offensive playcalls all added up to another game that was ugly to watch and is even uglier to write about.

Lets start with the penalties. After a few series in this one, the Nest was reminded of that debacle in Detroit in ’05. The flags were a-flyin’, and the mental mistakes proved costly. On their first field goal drive, the Bills had faced a 2nd-and-6 from their own 36 before Jarrett Johnson jumped offside to make it 2nd-and-1. On their next drive, which netted another 3 points, it was 3rd-and-6 at midfield when Haloti Ngata came across the line early and made it 3rd-and-1 instead. Devard Darling would then be called for holding on the ensuing kickoff. No matter though, as Quinn Sypnewski fumbled just two plays later, setting up the Bills for their 3rd field goal of the first half. Still scoreless, the Ravens then proceeded to march to the Buffalo 38, and faced 3rd-and-3. A harbinger of things to come, Brian Billick opted to throw on 3rd down, which resulted in an incompletion, before being a total wuss and punting. Yes, punting – from just outside of field goal range, trailing 9-0, on the road. Bravo, Brian, Bravo. The Nest asks why, oh WHY, not run the ball twice on 3rd-and-3, and get the first down? Again, this proved to be a bit of foreshadowing.

On their first drive of the 2nd half, the Ravens managed to overcome consecutive false start penalties on Jared Gaither and Ben Grubbs before Willis McGahee busted out the long TD run that we had been asking for in last week’s game preview. Rumbling 46 juking, stiff-arming yards to paydirt, McGahee pulled the purple-and-black right back into the game. He failed to deliver on the celebration he had promised us, which was a bit disappointing, but after a 46 yard touchdown, we aren’t about to complain. And even if we were, Willis wouldn’t have heard us, since he was promptly taken back to the locker room for an IV. Is Willis out of shape? Its a question that has to be asked, in light of the Ravens reluctance to let him carry the offense on his shoulders this year, and now this. Hopefully he will spend the bye week getting into better game shape, but keep an eye on this Ravens fans.

The Bills would answer however, with another Rian Lindell field goal followed quickly by a Marshawn Lynch 1 yard TD run. On the touchdown drive, the Bills picked on Corey Ivy, who was forced to make the start for the injured Chris McAlister. Ivy was burnt by Lee Evans for 54 yards, and four plays later was called for pass interference in the back of the end zone, setting up the Lynch run. As we feared, Nestgoers, the loss of Chris McAlister tangibly hurt this team on Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed, rabbits feet in hand, black cats away, four-leaf clovers clutched…whatever it is you do for good luck – and hope that C-Mac returns after the bye.

Now trailing 19-7, the Ravens would fight back on the strength of a Samari Rolle interception at the Buffalo 14, converting on 4th-and-11 when Kyle Boller found Derrick Mason with a dart in the middle of the end zone. Say what you will about Kyle Boller, but the kid made a throw on this particular play that a lot of NFL quarterbacks just could not have made. It doesn’t completely make up for his happy feet or lack of accuracy over the rest of the game, of course, but it was a big play in a critical situation. Boller should also be commended for not turning the ball over, again. He has now not committed a turnover in 2 of his 3 starts this season (Steve McNair, by comparison, has 5 turnovers in 4 starts).

Now trailing 19-14….we entered the twilight zone. Or is it the deja’ vu zone? Or do you just get deja’ vu when you’re in the twilight zo….nevermind. Buffalo played right into the Ravens’ hands, going into a shut-down mode of their own after their rookie QB had turned the ball over deep in his own territory. A few run, run, run, punt series by Buffalo later, the Ravens were looking at a 2nd-and-1 from midfield with just under 2 minutes remaining, trailing 19-14. Every Buffalo fan watching was getting nauseous as visions of another late blown lead danced through their heads.

Never fear, Bills fans, Brian Billick is here!

Our resident offensive guru decided that the best course of action, facing a 2nd-and-1 at the end of the game in obvious 4 down territory….was to pass, pass, and pass again. Three incompletions later, the Bills were kneeling for the victory. In an inexplicable brain-fart of a sequence that has been scrutinized endlessly since, not only locally but nationally as well, Coach Billick put us through almost the same exact scenario we saw in Cincinnati in week 1. If you remember, in the final minute of that game the Ravens ran 6 plays inside the 3 yard line, 4 of which were passes. Sunday, ONE YARD was all that was needed to continue the drive. ONE YARD!!! Three quarterback sneaks will net 1 yard 99 times out of 100! Why Brian refuses to run the ball in these situations, we certainly do not claim to know. But it is obvious that it has now cost the Ravens at least 1, if not 2 games this year. To reiterate: we LIKE Brian Billick here at the Nest. That, as they say however, was strike 2.

beware the Guru Monster…coming to kill a win near you….

Bills 19 Ravens 14 (The RUN THE DAMN BALL II: RETURN OF THE GURU game)

October 23, 2007

Well, we can finally get around to our game recap now that the swelling has subsided from banging our heads against the wall along with the rest of you Ravens fans on Sunday. The Ravens shot themselves in the foot again and again and again in Buffalo on their way to falling to 4-3 on the season. Eleven penalties, along with sub-par offensive line play and a dash of ridiculously bone-headed offensive playcalls all added up to another game that was ugly to watch and is even uglier to write about.

Lets start with the penalties. After a few series in this one, the Nest was reminded of that debacle in Detroit in ’05. The flags were a-flyin’, and the mental mistakes proved costly. On their first field goal drive, the Bills had faced a 2nd-and-6 from their own 36 before Jarrett Johnson jumped offside to make it 2nd-and-1. On their next drive, which netted another 3 points, it was 3rd-and-6 at midfield when Haloti Ngata came across the line early and made it 3rd-and-1 instead. Devard Darling would then be called for holding on the ensuing kickoff. No matter though, as Quinn Sypnewski fumbled just two plays later, setting up the Bills for their 3rd field goal of the first half. Still scoreless, the Ravens then proceeded to march to the Buffalo 38, and faced 3rd-and-3. A harbinger of things to come, Brian Billick opted to throw on 3rd down, which resulted in an incompletion, before being a total wuss and punting. Yes, punting – from just outside of field goal range, trailing 9-0, on the road. Bravo, Brian, Bravo. The Nest asks why, oh WHY, not run the ball twice on 3rd-and-3, and get the first down? Again, this proved to be a bit of foreshadowing.

On their first drive of the 2nd half, the Ravens managed to overcome consecutive false start penalties on Jared Gaither and Ben Grubbs before Willis McGahee busted out the long TD run that we had been asking for in last week’s game preview. Rumbling 46 juking, stiff-arming yards to paydirt, McGahee pulled the purple-and-black right back into the game. He failed to deliver on the celebration he had promised us, which was a bit disappointing, but after a 46 yard touchdown, we aren’t about to complain. And even if we were, Willis wouldn’t have heard us, since he was promptly taken back to the locker room for an IV. Is Willis out of shape? Its a question that has to be asked, in light of the Ravens reluctance to let him carry the offense on his shoulders this year, and now this. Hopefully he will spend the bye week getting into better game shape, but keep an eye on this Ravens fans.

The Bills would answer however, with another Rian Lindell field goal followed quickly by a Marshawn Lynch 1 yard TD run. On the touchdown drive, the Bills picked on Corey Ivy, who was forced to make the start for the injured Chris McAlister. Ivy was burnt by Lee Evans for 54 yards, and four plays later was called for pass interference in the back of the end zone, setting up the Lynch run. As we feared, Nestgoers, the loss of Chris McAlister tangibly hurt this team on Sunday. Keep your fingers crossed, rabbits feet in hand, black cats away, four-leaf clovers clutched…whatever it is you do for good luck – and hope that C-Mac returns after the bye.

Now trailing 19-7, the Ravens would fight back on the strength of a Samari Rolle interception at the Buffalo 14, converting on 4th-and-11 when Kyle Boller found Derrick Mason with a dart in the middle of the end zone. Say what you will about Kyle Boller, but the kid made a throw on this particular play that a lot of NFL quarterbacks just could not have made. It doesn’t completely make up for his happy feet or lack of accuracy over the rest of the game, of course, but it was a big play in a critical situation. Boller should also be commended for not turning the ball over, again. He has now not committed a turnover in 2 of his 3 starts this season (Steve McNair, by comparison, has 5 turnovers in 4 starts).

Now trailing 19-14….we entered the twilight zone. Or is it the deja’ vu zone? Or do you just get deja’ vu when you’re in the twilight zo….nevermind. Buffalo played right into the Ravens’ hands, going into a shut-down mode of their own after their rookie QB had turned the ball over deep in his own territory. A few run, run, run, punt series by Buffalo later, the Ravens were looking at a 2nd-and-1 from midfield with just under 2 minutes remaining, trailing 19-14. Every Buffalo fan watching was getting nauseous as visions of another late blown lead danced through their heads.

Never fear, Bills fans, Brian Billick is here!

Our resident offensive guru decided that the best course of action, facing a 2nd-and-1 at the end of the game in obvious 4 down territory….was to pass, pass, and pass again. Three incompletions later, the Bills were kneeling for the victory. In an inexplicable brain-fart of a sequence that has been scrutinized endlessly since, not only locally but nationally as well, Coach Billick put us through almost the same exact scenario we saw in Cincinnati in week 1. If you remember, in the final minute of that game the Ravens ran 6 plays inside the 3 yard line, 4 of which were passes. Sunday, ONE YARD was all that was needed to continue the drive. ONE YARD!!! Three quarterback sneaks will net 1 yard 99 times out of 100! Why Brian refuses to run the ball in these situations, we certainly do not claim to know. But it is obvious that it has now cost the Ravens at least 1, if not 2 games this year. To reiterate: we LIKE Brian Billick here at the Nest. That, as they say however, was strike 2.

beware the Guru Monster…coming to kill a win near you….

Kevin Millar the Red Sux Cheerleader

October 22, 2007

Another Traitor??

We don’t even know what to say about this one. Should O’s fans be upset that an Oriole fan favorite is making videos cheering on his old team, a hated division foe? On one hand, Millar was part of something special up there in ’04 and it’s nice to see a bit of loyalty (to something) from a professional athlete. But Millar is an Oriole NOW! Shouldn’t he be more focused on improving the state of his current team rather than living vicariously through his former employer and teammates?

And what of the O’s people who allowed this to happen? We assume the Boston PR department had to clear this kind of thing with the O’s staff beforehand. Should we be angry with them for showing their ridiculous stupidity yet again?

Its no secret that Kevin Millar’s heart is in Bean-town. However, it hurts those of us who root for him currently that he would be so blatant about it. If Millar makes this video for a 2010 Red Sux playoff run, after he is retired, then fine. But doing it now is in bad taste and a slap in the face to O’s fans.

What do you think?

update: There is now a petition to trade Millar due to his antics, if any of you are interested:
http://www.petitiononline.com/Millar07/petition.html

Kevin Millar the Red Sux Cheerleader

October 22, 2007

Another Traitor??

We don’t even know what to say about this one. Should O’s fans be upset that an Oriole fan favorite is making videos cheering on his old team, a hated division foe? On one hand, Millar was part of something special up there in ’04 and it’s nice to see a bit of loyalty (to something) from a professional athlete. But Millar is an Oriole NOW! Shouldn’t he be more focused on improving the state of his current team rather than living vicariously through his former employer and teammates?

And what of the O’s people who allowed this to happen? We assume the Boston PR department had to clear this kind of thing with the O’s staff beforehand. Should we be angry with them for showing their ridiculous stupidity yet again?

Its no secret that Kevin Millar’s heart is in Bean-town. However, it hurts those of us who root for him currently that he would be so blatant about it. If Millar makes this video for a 2010 Red Sux playoff run, after he is retired, then fine. But doing it now is in bad taste and a slap in the face to O’s fans.

What do you think?

update: There is now a petition to trade Millar due to his antics, if any of you are interested:
http://www.petitiononline.com/Millar07/petition.html


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