Archive for September, 2008

Ravens (1-0) @ Texans (0-1)

September 10, 2008

The Ravens travel to Houston this week (or they might not, if Hurricane Ike has anything to say about it) to take on the Texans. Houston is already on my shit-list this season for coming out and laying down against the Squealers last week to the tune of 38-17. For a team that was supposedly improved after last season’s first .500 mark in franchise history, they sure looked like the Texans of old.

Gary Kubiak’s squad allowed “Slow” Willie Parker and the ‘yins’ ground game to rack up 183 yards on the ground, at the rate of 4.7 yards per carry. They only “allowed” 122 yards to Baby Ben through the air, but don’t be fooled: he was 13/14, and 2 of those went for touchdowns. The low output of the air attack was mainly because the game was over by midway through the 3rd quarter. On offense, the Texans were just as bad. Quarterback Matt Schuab was sacked 5 times and picked off twice, and they managed only 75 yards on the ground.

It was a rough day in Steeltown for Houston, and they will certainly be looking forward to coming home and showing their fans that they are a much better team than they showed in week 1.

The Ravens, unlike Houston, were on the right side of an absolute beat-down last week. The defense played like it was 2000 (or at least 2006), and will look to show that the performance was no fluke. Helping the cause will be Kelly Gregg, who practiced today and will get his first reps of 2008 coming off arthroscopic knee surgery. B’More also gets two players back from suspension, cornerbacks Derrick Martin and Fabian Washington. Washington, however, is still bothered by a neck injury, and may not play. Rex Ryan’s guys did a great job of putting the pressure on Carson Palmer last week, and will need to do more of the same. The Texans have 2 legitimate studs on their roster, one on each side of the ball. On offense, it is wideout Andre Johnson. Johnson doesn’t get much recognition since he has spent his career in Houston, but he has as good a combination of size and speed as any WR in the league. The Ravens could really use another strong performance by Chris McAlister, who was reportedly a bit hobbled on that injured knee earlier in the week.

The Texans’ other star is defensive end Mario Williams. Even in the sorry showing by his team last week, Williams still managed 2 sacks and a forced fumble. He will truly be a test for the Ravens’ 3-headed tackle monster of Jared Gaither, Adam Terry, and Willie Anderson, who will get some playing time this week. I mention all 3 of them because Williams doesn’t just come from one side – rather, he will jump from side to side on the line to cause matchup problems. Look for him to see which of the three gives him the least trouble, and attack from that side. Because of Williams, rest assured that Joe Flacco is having the mantra of “protect the ball!” beaten into his head ad nauseam this week in practice. Flacco’s calm, poised effort last week was definitely impressive for a rookie in his first NFL game, but it will be interesting to see if he can remain “Joe Cool” on the road in a VERY loud stadium in front of 70,000 fans trying to get in his head. You think they don’t know the value of rattling a rookie QB in Texas? These people live for football (admittedly, more high school than anything else, but still).

Also working against Flacco will be the fact that Coach Kubiak knows exactly how the Ravens will try to protect their rookie signal caller, especially after all the success the purple-and-black had on the ground against Cincy: run, run, run. Kubiak sounded very impressed with the Ravens’ ground game in an interview this week, so Houston will be ready for it. After one week, it looks like the “running back by committee” approach is in full effect in B’More. Ray Rice and “Le’Run” McClain split the carries last week, and now Willis McGahee is coming back into the mix, participating fully in practice on Wednesday. McGahee may have been “unofficially benched” by Coach Harbaugh last week, and he is probably chomping at the bit for his chance to regain his starting spot. While we’d all like to see Flacco take some more shots down the field (his longest completion in week 1 was 15 yards), look for Cam Cameron to continue with the quick routes, especially at the start of the game, to try to keep Williams at bay. Another thing Cameron is sure to have noticed is that the Squealers had success running right at Mario as he crashed upfield to try to get at the QB.

The first 20 minutes or so of this game will probably decide it. If the Ravens can jump out to an early lead, the will be able to get to work teeing off on Matt Schaub and using their very capable 3-man rushing attack to pound the Houston D into submission as they did to Cincy. If, however, the South Park Cows are able to get ahead, the prospects of Joe leading his first comeback victory on the road against a pass rush like Houston is capable of generating are….well, let’s just hope we can get the lead.

I picked a 2 touchdown loss last week, and we won. So I hesitate to do this, but….

Ravens 20 Texans 16

Lookalikes!

September 9, 2008

Hey there, B’More fans!

Loyal reader Phil(atio) suggested a new idea for the site. He calls it “lookalikes” and he even submitted the first few to get us started.

Here are his contributions:

1.  Our new QB savior in B’More looks a bit like former “Man Show” host Adam Carolla, no?


2.  In case you don’t recognize him, that’s Squealers’ Kicker Jeff Reed on the left, and his brethren on the right.  Kickers should be a bit more humble, douchebag.

3.  And finally, we have Shitsburgh wide receiver/cheap shot artist Hiney Ward, at the ESPYs this year.


That’s all of those for now. If you have any of your own, feel free to send them in!
nestminder@bmorebirdsnest.com

Ravens 17 Bengals 10 (The JOE VICK-O EXPERIENCE Game)

September 8, 2008

Well, now are you a little more excited?

The Ravens put an absolute beat down on the Cincy Bungles yesterday, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. The purple and black (pants) dominated every facet of the game, and notched both Coach John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco victories in their first real NFL action.

The day started off a bit sour, as Todd Heap promptly fumbled away the first completion of Flacco’s career on the team’s own 33 yard line. No matter though, as the B’More defense was eager to get on the field, and held Todd up, sacking Carson Palmer on consecutive plays to knock the Bungles out of field goal range. That was a preview of things to come for Palmer and the Cincy O, as Rex Ryan’s defense channeled the Ravens’ defenses of yore, laying the smack down all afternoon. Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Bengals “Offense”:
First downs: 8
3rd Down Conversions: 2/13
4th Down Conversions: 0/2
Total Net Yards: 154
Time of Possession: 23:45
Points Scored: 3

Seriously, who saw that coming? The Cincinnati offense, which usually carves up the Ravens, was inept all day. Even though Palmer was only sacked twice, he was under intense pressure all day. Ginger boy will probably be having nightmares about Tom Zbikowski, who flattened him twice just after he got the ball away.

And those receivers that always give our secondary fits?

T.J. Houseouanvelkajhma: 3 catches, 44 yards
Chad Ocho Cinco Johnson: Uno Catcho, dos-dos yardso

Speaking of the secondary, it was a sight for sore eyes to see both C-Mac and Ed Reed not only on the field (the latter of whom we feared we may have never even seen play again), but also contributing. McAlister had a couple very questionable pass interference calls on him in the 2nd quarter, but blanketed his man all day and picked off a pass that was tipped by Reed.

Defense, defense….feel like I’m forgetting something…

Of course, the offense! After so many years of giving mad props to the D after any win, the other side of the ball is almost an afterthought.

Seriously, though, Cam Cameron lived up to his hype in this one. Even though they were only able to put up 17 points, the Ravens could have easily had about 17 more on the board if not for a few miscues.

  • Flacco put a screen pass on the hands of Ray Rice that could have turned into a long TD scamper if he’d secured the ball before trying to run
  • Joe slightly underthrew Mark Clayton down the seam, allowing the defender to break up the pass, on another play where the receiver had a ton of green in front of him
  • Todd Heap dropped what should have been Flacco’s first career TD pass (Joe can’t be gaining a good deal of faith in the Stormin’ Mormin so far)
  • Matt Stover missed badly on his first attempt of the season, a 47 yarder

Otherwise, though, the Ravens offense was damn good. They racked up 229 yards on the ground, getting 64 from Ray Rice, 86 from Le’Ron McClain (who is a certifiable BEAST), 42 from Clayton, and, on a play that we won’t soon forget here in B’More, 38 from Flacco on a busted play that he turned into a naked bootleg and lumbered his 6’6” ass all the way to the end zone.

The offensive line, such a big question mark coming into the season, played superbly. Jason Brown was about 30 yards downfield blocking for Flacco on his TD run. When the team needed a tough yard to convert on 3rd down, they were perfect. Flacco was not sacked once in the game, and the Ravens were able to pound Cincy into submission in the 4th to seal the win as they held the ball for the final 7:15. Obviously, the Cincy defense isn’t nearly as tough as some we will face later in the year, but this was a great starting point to improve from.

I suppose I could point out how the officals were in mid-season form against the Ravens, pulling phantom calls out of their behinds (one of which negated a punt return TD), but why bother? Hopefully, as the team continues to display to the league that they do indeed have a newfound sense of discipline, the yellow flags will become less and less frequent.

I’ll also choose to sugarcoat Flacco’s day and not spend time talking about the couple times he was inaccurate when he had a man open, or how the team had to use all 3 timeouts way to early in the 2nd half. It was a rookie QB in his first game, and if that was the extent of his mistakes, he still gets an “A” for the day (especially after he impressed us with his downfield blocking on Clayton’s TD run). Also, Ray Rice’s fumble that resulted in the Bengals’ only TD of the day was pretty inexcusable, but since they still won, we’ll give him his rookie mulligan on that one.

For now, let’s enjoy this week and our undefeated football team.

1-0. Go Ravens.

Bengals @ Ravens

September 4, 2008

Football season is upon us, B’More!

Whats wrong? Why aren’t you more excited?

Oh, you’re buying into all this talk around town about how horrible the Ravens are going to be? Well, get over it.Seriously, with all the negativity around this town surrounding the football team, you would think we were the Arizona Cardinals or Atlanta Falcons or something. So we probably won’t win the division in 2008. There’s a good chance we will miss the playoffs. Hell, most would say .500 would be a major accomplishment for the Ravens. But try and remember for a minute what it felt like to not even have our own NFL team on Sundays to cheer for. From 1983-1995, when we were forced to watch other cities in envy that our town wasn’t out tailgating with friends and family on game day. Those days are over, so try to remember how fortunate we are to have a team again, and keep this season in perspective, huh?

Now, on to the preview.

The John Harbaugh era begins in B’More this Sunday, as has been the plan since last winter. However, the Joe Flacco era is starting a tad prematurely due to some unforeseen circumstances plaguing the other Ravens quarterbacks. This has some fans a bit uneasy, as the last quarterback we drafted and started as a rookie didn’t turn out all so well. But reservations or not, Joe Flacco will be under center at M&T this week, so we might as well get behind #5.

Coming to town are the newly minted Chad Ocho Cinco and the Bungles. As we have mentioned before, no matter how bad Cincy is, the Ravens always seem to bring the best out of them. Well, most expect the Bungles to battle the Ravens for AFC North punching bags, so they will probably look Super Bowl-bound on Sunday. Carson Palmer has had no trouble dicing up the Ravens defense, no matter how healthy they are, and has led Cincy to wins in 5 of the last 6 contests against B’More. Unfortunately, his job gets a little easier, as the Ravens will likely be without the services of Ed Reed and Kelly Gregg due to injury, and Derrick Martin and Fabian Washington due to suspension. Throw in a knee injury that may or may not sideline Chris McAlister, and Palmer is probably licking his chops (in between swabbing the blood from his broken nose, of course).

The Bengals’ defense finished 27th in the NFL last year, but of course had no trouble stopping the Ravens. The last time these teams met, we were treated to the Worst Offense in All the Land game. Well, the Bungles lost two of their best players from that craptastic unit, DE Justin Smith and S Madieu Williams. So if the time was ever right for old Cam Cameron to impress all of Baltimore with his offensive genius, then this is surely it. Willis McGahee will likely be a game-time decision, but rookie Ray Rice has looked strong in the preseason, and will see a good amount of carries regardless. Also helping in the ground game, that the team will try to use to protect their young QB, is FB Le’Ron McClain, who Cameron likes to use as a power back compliment to Rice. With McClain and newly acquired Lorenzo Neal in the backfield, not many teams can match up with the kind of bruising running game the Ravens can bring. The running game will need to be in midseason form for the purple and black to have any shot in this one.

Of course, everyone is much more interested in the passing game that Joe will hope to resurrect. He will at least have his full compliment of weapons, as Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Demetrius Williams, Todd Heap, and Dan Wilcox are all expected to play this week (when was the last time that happened?) The key will be protecting Joe. We at the Nest aren’t quite sure why everybody is so down on the Ravens offensive line. The interior of Ben Grubbs, Jason Brown, and Marshal Yanda has the potential to become one of the best in the league over the next few seasons. On top of that, Jared Gaither had a very strong game against Atlanta, and Adam Terry didn’t look half bad either. Granted, they only played for less than 1 half, and they will need to carry that kind of play for 4 quarters, but what we saw was promising. Also, rumor has it that the Ravens are set to sign former Bengals tackle Willie Anderson on Friday. We’ll go out on a limb here and say that the O-Line will pleasantly surprise.

Still, we have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach in their respective debuts. Those two elements usually don’t add up to a lot of success. Flacco will hold his own, but if the Ravens are going to win this one, or even keep it close, it will probably have to be with that old combo of special teams and defense. Unfortunately, Carson Palmer does not blink in the face of the Ravens D, and Yamon Figurs isn’t quite Devin Hester (even if he did beat him in track in High School).

Bengals 27 Ravens 13

Boller on IR, Likely Done in B'More

September 3, 2008

With today’s announcement that Kyle Boller will be placed on injured reserve for the 2008 season, there is a very likely chance that his career in purple is over. Kyle is an unrestricted free agent in 2009, and will probably not be resigned by the Ravens. Nor would the guy have any desire to stay in Baltimore, if he has any sense left at all.

B’More, the city that cheered on national television when he got hurt in the opening game of the 2005 season (embarrassing the entire fan base in the process).

Charm City, we who booed the guy when he threw his first incompletion of the night, after 8 straight completions, in a PRESEASON game.

Yes, it’s pretty safe to say, as of today; Kyle Boller and Baltimore are, for all intents and purposes, divorced.

Most in town are definitely not shedding too many tears over the news, either. Our ugly duckling of a quarterback who just never quite turned into that swan that Ozzie and Brian must have thought he could be after using a 1st round draft pick on him in 2003, is finally leaving the nest. Kyle Boller is a guy that we watched go from a bumbling, stumbling, fumbling rookie to a ….well, a bumbling, stumbling, fumbling veteran. Kyle turned out to be a pretty serviceable backup (one who we may miss severely yet in 2008), but he never matured into a solid NFL quarterback.

You know, I saw somewhere the other day where this guy wrote a book about this phenomenon, which is supposedly sweeping the nation, whereby young men refuse to “grow up” after college. The book is all about these guys who live in this state of perpetual partying, hooking up, and skirting responsibility, a place known as “Guyland.” Perhaps Kyle Boller is just stuck in his own sort of NFL-Guyland. Not growing up, not maturing, and just floating around from day to day doing just what got him by in college.

Maybe his trial by fire as a rookie in 2003 really did stunt his development so severely that he could never recover. Maybe having his coach tell him “Now, just don’t lose the game,” one too many times produced the erratic Kyle Boller that we came to know.

Or, alternatively, maybe Kyle Boller really was just never going to be any good. He was a one year wonder in college at Cal, and his mechanics were always atrocious. That shot-put throwing motion is pretty vomit-worthy, and he never even pretended to look downfield when doing his version of “scrambling.” But hey, we’re not here to kick a guy while he’s down.

Boller will land a job as a backup quarterback on an NFL roster in 2009 – that much is for sure. Hell, look no further than the guys the Ravens have brought in this week for concrete evidence of the dearth of QB talent in the league right now.

But not here.

The best thing for Kyle, the Ravens, and the city of Baltimore, is to turn and walk away.

Good Bye, Mr. Boller. If nothing else, we will definitely always remember you.

Share your favorite (or most aggravating) Kyle Boller memory in comments.

photo: AP – Lenny Ignelzi

Bouman, Boller, Harrington, Simms…. Whats the Difference?

September 2, 2008

Edit #2:  The team has now made it official:  they signed Todd Bouman.  Kyle Boller has been placed on IR, ending his season (and likely his Ravens career).

Despite what ESPN would have you believe, the Ravens did not sign Joey Harrington yesterday. They did work him out, along with Chris Simms and Todd Bouman. Apparently Bouman did the most to impress, as he was inked to a 1-year deal this morning. A lot of people around B’More seem pretty peeved about the signing, which is sort of perplexing to us here at the Nest.

Let’s take a look at the 3 guys’ resumes:

Joey Harrington

College: Oregon
Draft pick: 2002, #3 overall
Professional Teams: Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons
Career Stats:
1424-2538 for 14,693 yds.
79 TD 85 INT
124 Sacks
69.4 Passer Rating
25 fumbles – 9 lost

Harrington has had a couple chances to resurrect his career after being deemed a “bust” by the Detroit Lions. Short stints in Miami and Atlanta were no kinder to Joey, and he is currently unemployed. Our old friend Chris Redman even beat him out for a roster spot in Atlanta. So we’ll give the Ravens an “A+” for passing on “Joey Heisman.” They had no reason to sign a Joey Harrington, unless (as I heard on sports talk radio today), they were also going to sign David Carr – then Carr, Harrington, and Boller could start their own boy band, “The Sacked Sacks.”


Chris Simms
College: Texas
Draft pick: 2003, #97 overall
Professional Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Career Stats:
291-492 for 3,087 yds
12 TD 17 INT
43 Sacks
71.2 Rating
9 fumbles – 6 lost

Simms has really only had one decent season, and it wasn’t even a full season. He started 2005 2nd on the Bucs’ depth chart, but ended up taking over for Brian Griese and winning some games, leading the team to the playoffs. Then in 2006, the Ravens embarrassed him in week 1 (ah, those were the days) and the Carolina Panthers broke his spleen in week 3. His career has been crap since. Some feel that, without his famous pedigree, he wouldn’t even be in the league, and furthermore, would not have even been the starter at Texas in college. We don’t know anything about that, but what we do know is that we have no desire to see “Simms” on the back of a purple jersey any time soon.

AP- Dick Whipple

Todd Bouman
College: St. Cloud State (yes, really)
Draft Pick: 1997, Undrafted (undrafted?? From St. Cloud St?!?)
Professional Teams: Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams
Career Stats:
129-230 for 1,683 yds
11 TD 11 INT
16 Sacks
75.3 Rating
8 fumbles – 5 lost

Despite being in the league for 11 years, Bouman is the guy that, out of the 3, elicited the most responses of “Who??” Bouman, as evidenced by his stats, is a career backup, usually having been signed (just as he was in B’More) to be a sort of “emergency” backup. That is, teams that experience some injuries to their QBs during the season or camp, sign Bouman to fill a spot on the depth chart. So Todd Bouman is pretty much exactly what the Dr. ordered for the Ravens.

Don’t get upset over the signing, Ravens fans. As our dearly departed former leader would tell us, “it is what it is.” The team has no plans for Todd Bouman to get a bunch of snaps from Jason Brown in 2008. He is simply here because the team NEEDED SOMEONE – a warm, clipboard holding body to serve as emergency backup until Troy Smith recovers from his Ebola. Otherwise, should Joe Flacco go down in the first couple weeks, Mark Clayton would then be the Ravens quarterback. Bouman is the least likely to come in and feel like he deserves a chance to start, and to cause a fuss pining to get the quarterback derby up and running again. No thanks. They needed somebody, they got somebody. Step back from the cliff.

Kind of makes you start to miss Kyle Boller, though, no?


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