Archive for October, 2007

Ravens 22 Rams 3 (The BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS)

October 15, 2007

The Ravens pushed their record to 4-2 Sunday, beating up on the hapless (and winless) St. Louis Rams 22-3. Both teams were playing at less than full strength, trotting out players that certainly were not at the tops of the opening day depth charts at several key positions. Backup quarterback Gus Frerotte was expected to play for the Rams all week, but it took the late-week development of a stiff back to force Ravens QB Steve McNair to the bench in favor of Kyle Boller. That was not where the similarities ended between the two signal callers yesterday, though, as both spent most of the day running for their respective lives, taking big hits, and turning the ball over. Boller was sacked twice, fumbled, and was picked off in the red zone. Frerotte felt the pain worse, however, getting sacked 4 times, picked off 5 (a new Ravens record), and hurried or hit countless others. Boller must be commended for his effort yesterday, taking his licks and getting right back up for the next play. Had it been McNair underneath all those Rams jerseys yesterday, he almost certainly would have been injured, along with the Ravens post-season aspirations. Kyle’s play was better than that of just a “good backup QB”, as he was even able to make some plays that we’ve been hoping to see from McNair all season. Boller’s passes were crisp and his decisions sound. We saw 3 things from the offense for maybe the first time this season:

1. Passes thrown consistently past the sticks on 3rd and long;
2. Checks being made at the line; and
3. A hurry-up, no-huddle style offense.

All of these things were refreshing to see, and if nothing else, made for a much more entertaining game to watch than what we’ve grown accustomed to.

Boller is now 20-16 as a starter in his career, and a very respectable 15-4 at M&T Bank Stadium (bet you didn’t realize that). His numbers, while not gaudy by any means (18/30 183 yards 0 TD 1 INT), were enough to get the job done, and reflect the struggles of the offensive line more than his own play. The O-Line was horrendous, as is also evidenced by Willis McGahee’s season low rushing total of 61 yards against a team that had previously been completely inept at stopping the run. Third-string left tackle Jared Gaither was abused all afternoon, as was fellow rookie Marshall Yanda. The “elder statesman” of the group, 3rd year man Jason Brown, was hounded by mental as well as physical mistakes, twice being called for false starts in the 1st quarter, the 2nd of which forced the Ravens to attempt a field goal after originally lining up to go for it on 4th-and-1. Chris Chester had a holding penalty nullify what would have been Willis McGahee’s 2nd touchdown of the day. Just a poor effort all around from this group. The Ravens need to get healthy everywhere for the 2nd half, but especially up front; a defense like New England or Pittsburgh will flat out destroy the line we saw yesterday.

The Ravens defense continued to build on their superb play from a week ago. The pass rush was relentless, forcing Gus Frerotte to unload the ball under duress, make poor decisions, and be very inaccurate with his throws. The Rams’ receivers were short-arming passes, not wanting any part of the purple and black D over the middle. The D was able to hold St. Louis scoreless on a drive that started at the B-More 11 yard line, as kicker Jeff Wilkins missed a 35 yarder after the Rams managed -6 yards on 3 plays. Five different Ravens notched interceptions, Ed Reed, Derrick Martin, Corey Ivy, Chris McAlister, and Dwan Edwards. McAlister’s came as a gift though, when Frerotte severely underthrew his man who was wide open streaking past C-Mac.

The Ravens beat an inferior team handily, which is something good teams need to do. The defense held their opponent in single digits for a second straight week, the offense found the end zone, and Matt Stover was his usual reliable self. Thats been the formula for success here in B-More, and on this day it resulted in the 100th win for the Baltimore Ravens (79th with B.B. at the helm).

Ravens 22 Rams 3 (The BATTLE OF THE BACKUPS)

October 15, 2007

The Ravens pushed their record to 4-2 Sunday, beating up on the hapless (and winless) St. Louis Rams 22-3. Both teams were playing at less than full strength, trotting out players that certainly were not at the tops of the opening day depth charts at several key positions. Backup quarterback Gus Frerotte was expected to play for the Rams all week, but it took the late-week development of a stiff back to force Ravens QB Steve McNair to the bench in favor of Kyle Boller. That was not where the similarities ended between the two signal callers yesterday, though, as both spent most of the day running for their respective lives, taking big hits, and turning the ball over. Boller was sacked twice, fumbled, and was picked off in the red zone. Frerotte felt the pain worse, however, getting sacked 4 times, picked off 5 (a new Ravens record), and hurried or hit countless others. Boller must be commended for his effort yesterday, taking his licks and getting right back up for the next play. Had it been McNair underneath all those Rams jerseys yesterday, he almost certainly would have been injured, along with the Ravens post-season aspirations. Kyle’s play was better than that of just a “good backup QB”, as he was even able to make some plays that we’ve been hoping to see from McNair all season. Boller’s passes were crisp and his decisions sound. We saw 3 things from the offense for maybe the first time this season:

1. Passes thrown consistently past the sticks on 3rd and long;
2. Checks being made at the line; and
3. A hurry-up, no-huddle style offense.

All of these things were refreshing to see, and if nothing else, made for a much more entertaining game to watch than what we’ve grown accustomed to.

Boller is now 20-16 as a starter in his career, and a very respectable 15-4 at M&T Bank Stadium (bet you didn’t realize that). His numbers, while not gaudy by any means (18/30 183 yards 0 TD 1 INT), were enough to get the job done, and reflect the struggles of the offensive line more than his own play. The O-Line was horrendous, as is also evidenced by Willis McGahee’s season low rushing total of 61 yards against a team that had previously been completely inept at stopping the run. Third-string left tackle Jared Gaither was abused all afternoon, as was fellow rookie Marshall Yanda. The “elder statesman” of the group, 3rd year man Jason Brown, was hounded by mental as well as physical mistakes, twice being called for false starts in the 1st quarter, the 2nd of which forced the Ravens to attempt a field goal after originally lining up to go for it on 4th-and-1. Chris Chester had a holding penalty nullify what would have been Willis McGahee’s 2nd touchdown of the day. Just a poor effort all around from this group. The Ravens need to get healthy everywhere for the 2nd half, but especially up front; a defense like New England or Pittsburgh will flat out destroy the line we saw yesterday.

The Ravens defense continued to build on their superb play from a week ago. The pass rush was relentless, forcing Gus Frerotte to unload the ball under duress, make poor decisions, and be very inaccurate with his throws. The Rams’ receivers were short-arming passes, not wanting any part of the purple and black D over the middle. The D was able to hold St. Louis scoreless on a drive that started at the B-More 11 yard line, as kicker Jeff Wilkins missed a 35 yarder after the Rams managed -6 yards on 3 plays. Five different Ravens notched interceptions, Ed Reed, Derrick Martin, Corey Ivy, Chris McAlister, and Dwan Edwards. McAlister’s came as a gift though, when Frerotte severely underthrew his man who was wide open streaking past C-Mac.

The Ravens beat an inferior team handily, which is something good teams need to do. The defense held their opponent in single digits for a second straight week, the offense found the end zone, and Matt Stover was his usual reliable self. Thats been the formula for success here in B-More, and on this day it resulted in the 100th win for the Baltimore Ravens (79th with B.B. at the helm).

Rock-a-bye-bye

October 12, 2007


After 2 years rocking in the Camden Yards dugout, the O’s have fired Leo Mazzone as pitching coach. Mazzone joined the team to be able to hang out with his boyhood friend Sam Perlozzo, and was never able to work his Atlanta magic here in B-More. Maybe he should have been given the benefit of the doubt and more than 2 years to get the O’s pitching staff straightened out. On the other hand, however, it may be a good sign that the O’s are letting manager Dave Trembley pick his own coaches, something they have been reluctant to do in the managerial revolving door recently. What do you think, Nestgoers?

Ravens TV Notes

October 12, 2007

Several pieces on the Ravens will be airing on television this weekend. Right around noon on Sunday’s ESPN NFL pre-game show, they will be airing a segment they filmed on the Ravens’ road trip to San Francisco last week. Included will be many off-the-field aspects of the team that we as fans don’t normally get to see.

Also, Saturday night at 8 pm, the NFL network will be showing a special program they did for the Ravens-49ers game. During the game, the network had microphones on 10 players and used 12 cameras to capture a much more in-depth version of the game than we saw last Sunday.

The Nest wonders how disappointed the networks were that they chose the Boredom Bowl to put all this money and effort into. Probably a good bit of cussing in both production meetings this week, but Hell, maybe they can actually make that game seem interesting? Now that would be some impressive work.

Be sure to check them out Ravens fans!

Rock-a-bye-bye

October 12, 2007


After 2 years rocking in the Camden Yards dugout, the O’s have fired Leo Mazzone as pitching coach. Mazzone joined the team to be able to hang out with his boyhood friend Sam Perlozzo, and was never able to work his Atlanta magic here in B-More. Maybe he should have been given the benefit of the doubt and more than 2 years to get the O’s pitching staff straightened out. On the other hand, however, it may be a good sign that the O’s are letting manager Dave Trembley pick his own coaches, something they have been reluctant to do in the managerial revolving door recently. What do you think, Nestgoers?

Ravens TV Notes

October 12, 2007

Several pieces on the Ravens will be airing on television this weekend. Right around noon on Sunday’s ESPN NFL pre-game show, they will be airing a segment they filmed on the Ravens’ road trip to San Francisco last week. Included will be many off-the-field aspects of the team that we as fans don’t normally get to see.

Also, Saturday night at 8 pm, the NFL network will be showing a special program they did for the Ravens-49ers game. During the game, the network had microphones on 10 players and used 12 cameras to capture a much more in-depth version of the game than we saw last Sunday.

The Nest wonders how disappointed the networks were that they chose the Boredom Bowl to put all this money and effort into. Probably a good bit of cussing in both production meetings this week, but Hell, maybe they can actually make that game seem interesting? Now that would be some impressive work.

Be sure to check them out Ravens fans!

Rams @ Ravens

October 11, 2007
This week the 3-2 Ravens take on the 0-5 St. Louis Rams at M&T Bank Stadium. The Rams, a preseason sleeper pick by many to win the NFC west, have had a dismal year so far. Like the Ravens, the Rams have had to deal with the injury bug. Perennial pro-bowl tackle Orlando Pace is out for the season, and the Rams have also been playing without QB Marc Bulger and RB Steven Jackson. Both will miss Sunday’s contest, which bodes well for the purple and black, although neither was producing at nearly their 2006 levels when they got hurt. After finishing 6th in total offense last year (4th in passing), the St. Louis O has spit and sputtered from the get-go in 2007, currently standing 27th in total offense at 287.4 ypg, 28th in passing (211.2), and 21st in rushing (91.6). They have not faired much better on defense, coming into B’More 27th in the league, allowing 356 total yards per game, and 146 on the ground (28th). …wait for it….

They faired a bit better in last week’s matchup with Arizona, however, racking up 123 yards on the ground and 262 in the air, as backup QB Gus Frerotte threw for 3 TDs (but also 3 INT). The defense also held the Cards to 102 yards on the ground, as Edgerrin James averaged 3.4 yards on 26 carries.

The Ravens, on the other hand, dropped from 8th to 11th in total offense last week on the “other” bay, and sit as the #14 team in the league rushing, at 113.2 ypg, and #18 in passing, at 241.8 ypg. Steve McNair is set to start again this week, ailing groin be darned. From the Nest’s poll we can see that many of you agree with us that Steve should be sat down for a few weeks to heal completely before the Ravens’ post-bye week murderers row of a schedule starts. McNair will again be likely looking for his favorite target, WR Derrick Mason, who leads the NFL in receptions with 44. Mason has been bothered by a bit of a stomach problem this week, but is expected to start Sunday. Also returning to the lineup is TE Todd Heap, whose presence will hopefully help spark some dead zone success. Running back Willis McGahee comes into the game 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards, trailing only Willie Parker (PIT) and Travis Henry (DEN). ….wait for it…

On defense, Trent Dilfer and the 49ers were just what the Doctor ordered for the Ravens, who are now 4th in the league in total D, 2nd in rushing, and 13th in passing. Cornerback Samari Rolle practiced in full gear this week, and is expected to return to the lineup, although he may not resume full starting responsibilities just yet.

Elsewhere on the injury front, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens with an offensive line very similar to the one that finished the game against the 49ers, as Mike Flynn and Adam Terry continue to recover from boo-boos sustained in that game. Jonathan Ogden does not appear ready to go. As good as the young guys were last week, the presence of all that inexperience in the trenches could prove troublesome on Sunday. Expect a few more drive-killing false start penalties, at the very least. Late word is that Steve McNair missed practice on Thursday with a stiff back, but seems likely to play.

A winless team can be a very dangerous team. Fortunately, according to their comments this week at least, the Ravens realize this and will not take the Rams lightly. The Rams have nothing left to play for this year other than pride and ruining other team’s seasons. With the 2nd half schedule the Ravens have, a loss this Sunday would almost certainly accomplish the latter. The Rams would be wise to not even try to run the ball against the Ravens, which is pretty much impossible, especially with a back-up running back (Brian Leonard). As such, the Nest expects Gus Frerotte to come out firing. If the Ravens are able to get pressure on him, as they did to Dilfer last week, and force him into some early mistakes (and of course, capitalize on these mistakes with, well I dunno…TOUCHDOWNS?), then the purple and black should have little trouble in this one. A perfect recipe for success Sunday (and in any game, really) would be to get early turnovers, punch the ball into the end zone building the lead, and then let Willis loose on this awful Rams defense. If, however, the Ravens allow them to hang around until the end as they have done with now all 3 victories this year, Frerotte-to-Torry Holt may just be able to steal one in Charm City.

…still waiting for it, aren’t you?

Ok, here goes: RUN THE BALL!

This isn’t to say that the Ravens have not ran the ball ‘enough’ this season, per se. Willis McGahee is tied for 3rd in the league in carries with 102 through 4 games. 20-25 carries for Willis, along with another 5-10 going to Musa Smith, should be enough runs to be able to have a successful day on the ground. The problem is that the Ravens (ridiculously) short passing game creates double-digit drives whenever they are able to move the ball down the field. 22 runs for 88 yards (McGahee’s stats in SF) would seem much more productive if there were a few intermediate to long range passes mixed in. The fact that the Ravens run such an overwhelming majority of their plays in between the 20s makes it tough to appreciate what Willis has been able to accomplish so far this year. The Nest hopes to see Mark Clayton and Todd Heap more involved in the offense moving forward, which will help make what has so far been a nice campaign for McGahee all the more impressive, by creating more space near the line, and also allowing him more carries from scoring range.

So maybe a more appropriate request would be: THROW THE BALL (more than 5 yards) and then RUN THE BALL!

The Nest sees the Ravens D, swagger regained (a little at least) last week, coming out and totally dominating a backup QB and RB (as well as several offensive linemen), handing the offense gift-wrapped points, and the O coming alive (for their standards) in front of the home fans against a soft, porous Saint Louie defense.

While the Nest had sworn off predicting blowouts until they actually proved they were capable, we just don’t see this one being close.

Ravens 23 Rams 6

Rams @ Ravens

October 11, 2007
This week the 3-2 Ravens take on the 0-5 St. Louis Rams at M&T Bank Stadium. The Rams, a preseason sleeper pick by many to win the NFC west, have had a dismal year so far. Like the Ravens, the Rams have had to deal with the injury bug. Perennial pro-bowl tackle Orlando Pace is out for the season, and the Rams have also been playing without QB Marc Bulger and RB Steven Jackson. Both will miss Sunday’s contest, which bodes well for the purple and black, although neither was producing at nearly their 2006 levels when they got hurt. After finishing 6th in total offense last year (4th in passing), the St. Louis O has spit and sputtered from the get-go in 2007, currently standing 27th in total offense at 287.4 ypg, 28th in passing (211.2), and 21st in rushing (91.6). They have not faired much better on defense, coming into B’More 27th in the league, allowing 356 total yards per game, and 146 on the ground (28th). …wait for it….

They faired a bit better in last week’s matchup with Arizona, however, racking up 123 yards on the ground and 262 in the air, as backup QB Gus Frerotte threw for 3 TDs (but also 3 INT). The defense also held the Cards to 102 yards on the ground, as Edgerrin James averaged 3.4 yards on 26 carries.

The Ravens, on the other hand, dropped from 8th to 11th in total offense last week on the “other” bay, and sit as the #14 team in the league rushing, at 113.2 ypg, and #18 in passing, at 241.8 ypg. Steve McNair is set to start again this week, ailing groin be darned. From the Nest’s poll we can see that many of you agree with us that Steve should be sat down for a few weeks to heal completely before the Ravens’ post-bye week murderers row of a schedule starts. McNair will again be likely looking for his favorite target, WR Derrick Mason, who leads the NFL in receptions with 44. Mason has been bothered by a bit of a stomach problem this week, but is expected to start Sunday. Also returning to the lineup is TE Todd Heap, whose presence will hopefully help spark some dead zone success. Running back Willis McGahee comes into the game 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards, trailing only Willie Parker (PIT) and Travis Henry (DEN). ….wait for it…

On defense, Trent Dilfer and the 49ers were just what the Doctor ordered for the Ravens, who are now 4th in the league in total D, 2nd in rushing, and 13th in passing. Cornerback Samari Rolle practiced in full gear this week, and is expected to return to the lineup, although he may not resume full starting responsibilities just yet.

Elsewhere on the injury front, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens with an offensive line very similar to the one that finished the game against the 49ers, as Mike Flynn and Adam Terry continue to recover from boo-boos sustained in that game. Jonathan Ogden does not appear ready to go. As good as the young guys were last week, the presence of all that inexperience in the trenches could prove troublesome on Sunday. Expect a few more drive-killing false start penalties, at the very least. Late word is that Steve McNair missed practice on Thursday with a stiff back, but seems likely to play.

A winless team can be a very dangerous team. Fortunately, according to their comments this week at least, the Ravens realize this and will not take the Rams lightly. The Rams have nothing left to play for this year other than pride and ruining other team’s seasons. With the 2nd half schedule the Ravens have, a loss this Sunday would almost certainly accomplish the latter. The Rams would be wise to not even try to run the ball against the Ravens, which is pretty much impossible, especially with a back-up running back (Brian Leonard). As such, the Nest expects Gus Frerotte to come out firing. If the Ravens are able to get pressure on him, as they did to Dilfer last week, and force him into some early mistakes (and of course, capitalize on these mistakes with, well I dunno…TOUCHDOWNS?), then the purple and black should have little trouble in this one. A perfect recipe for success Sunday (and in any game, really) would be to get early turnovers, punch the ball into the end zone building the lead, and then let Willis loose on this awful Rams defense. If, however, the Ravens allow them to hang around until the end as they have done with now all 3 victories this year, Frerotte-to-Torry Holt may just be able to steal one in Charm City.

…still waiting for it, aren’t you?

Ok, here goes: RUN THE BALL!

This isn’t to say that the Ravens have not ran the ball ‘enough’ this season, per se. Willis McGahee is tied for 3rd in the league in carries with 102 through 4 games. 20-25 carries for Willis, along with another 5-10 going to Musa Smith, should be enough runs to be able to have a successful day on the ground. The problem is that the Ravens (ridiculously) short passing game creates double-digit drives whenever they are able to move the ball down the field. 22 runs for 88 yards (McGahee’s stats in SF) would seem much more productive if there were a few intermediate to long range passes mixed in. The fact that the Ravens run such an overwhelming majority of their plays in between the 20s makes it tough to appreciate what Willis has been able to accomplish so far this year. The Nest hopes to see Mark Clayton and Todd Heap more involved in the offense moving forward, which will help make what has so far been a nice campaign for McGahee all the more impressive, by creating more space near the line, and also allowing him more carries from scoring range.

So maybe a more appropriate request would be: THROW THE BALL (more than 5 yards) and then RUN THE BALL!

The Nest sees the Ravens D, swagger regained (a little at least) last week, coming out and totally dominating a backup QB and RB (as well as several offensive linemen), handing the offense gift-wrapped points, and the O coming alive (for their standards) in front of the home fans against a soft, porous Saint Louie defense.

While the Nest had sworn off predicting blowouts until they actually proved they were capable, we just don’t see this one being close.

Ravens 23 Rams 6

Mr. Reed (better than Ms.Polamalu – duh)

October 10, 2007

An article on ESPN today named “Five to Fear,” 5 NFL players who force teams to alter their gameplans just by being on the field. A panel of 11 “experts” made up of GM’s, players, scouts, and coaches came up with the list – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Steve Smith, Randy Moss (crazy how much can change in a year), and Antonio Gates. While no Ravens made the list, the player coming closest was (surprise, surprise) Ed Reed.
From the article:
“Baltimore’s Reed and Pittsburgh’s Polamalu were the only safeties who came close to earning spots on the short list of scheme-changing players. Reed came closer than Polamalu.
Quarterbacks marvel at Reed’s range and overall playmaking ability. An interception Reed made against San Francisco on Sunday left the 49ers in awe. Reed somehow picked off a short pass to the flanker after lining up in the middle of the field, as if he’d been in two places at once.
Polamalu moves around constantly and blitzes from various angles. He moves around so much that some offensive coordinators tell their quarterbacks not to worry about him too much. They would rather ignore Polamalu than let him bait them into guesswork.
In that sense, safeties can be wild cards to the extent that teams resist making significant changes to their plans for fear of outsmarting themselves.
“Polamalu is an issue in protection while Reed is a factor for the quarterback and where his throws are going,” the defensive coordinator said. “He’s supposed to be in the post, but he might be jumping a route on the other side of the field.”
Two scouts believe even the greatest safeties are generally too far from the football on most plays to force significant changes to game plans. Quarterbacks disagreed, saying Reed could change what they do.
“Ed Reed is special,” another GM said. “The guy at Pittsburgh [Polamalu] is really good, not overrated, but there are some holes in his game.”
Well put, agrees the Nest. However, we also think they forgot to point out that teams need to account for Mr. Reed in punt blocking schemes as well. The fact that he has not blocked a punt in several years is a testament to teams scheming for his presence moreso than an indication of declining skill in this part of his game.

Read the whole article here:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=sando_mike&id=3056627&campaign=rss&source=NFLHeadlines

Mr. Reed (better than Ms.Polamalu – duh)

October 10, 2007

An article on ESPN today named “Five to Fear,” 5 NFL players who force teams to alter their gameplans just by being on the field. A panel of 11 “experts” made up of GM’s, players, scouts, and coaches came up with the list – Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Steve Smith, Randy Moss (crazy how much can change in a year), and Antonio Gates. While no Ravens made the list, the player coming closest was (surprise, surprise) Ed Reed.
From the article:
“Baltimore’s Reed and Pittsburgh’s Polamalu were the only safeties who came close to earning spots on the short list of scheme-changing players. Reed came closer than Polamalu.
Quarterbacks marvel at Reed’s range and overall playmaking ability. An interception Reed made against San Francisco on Sunday left the 49ers in awe. Reed somehow picked off a short pass to the flanker after lining up in the middle of the field, as if he’d been in two places at once.
Polamalu moves around constantly and blitzes from various angles. He moves around so much that some offensive coordinators tell their quarterbacks not to worry about him too much. They would rather ignore Polamalu than let him bait them into guesswork.
In that sense, safeties can be wild cards to the extent that teams resist making significant changes to their plans for fear of outsmarting themselves.
“Polamalu is an issue in protection while Reed is a factor for the quarterback and where his throws are going,” the defensive coordinator said. “He’s supposed to be in the post, but he might be jumping a route on the other side of the field.”
Two scouts believe even the greatest safeties are generally too far from the football on most plays to force significant changes to game plans. Quarterbacks disagreed, saying Reed could change what they do.
“Ed Reed is special,” another GM said. “The guy at Pittsburgh [Polamalu] is really good, not overrated, but there are some holes in his game.”
Well put, agrees the Nest. However, we also think they forgot to point out that teams need to account for Mr. Reed in punt blocking schemes as well. The fact that he has not blocked a punt in several years is a testament to teams scheming for his presence moreso than an indication of declining skill in this part of his game.

Read the whole article here:
http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=sando_mike&id=3056627&campaign=rss&source=NFLHeadlines

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