Archive for October, 2009

Broncos (6-0) @ Ravens (3-3)

October 30, 2009

Ravens vs. Broncos

Ravens vs. Horseteeth Stats

Things certainly don’t get any easier for the Ravens coming off their bye. After facing 5-0 Minnesota in Week 6, our purple heroes now get 6-0 Denver in Week 8. Oh, and they will receive no competitive advantage from the schedule, since the Broncos too, are coming off their bye week. Realistically, the Ravens need to win 7 of their final 10 games to have a shot at the playoffs. It all starts now, and to have any prayer, the Ravens need to hold serve at M&T Bank Stadium. By winning their final 5 home games, the team will be able to finish double digit wins with perceived “gimme” games in Cleveland (Week 10) and Oakland (Week 17). Short of running the table at home though, the Ravens will likely face must-win scenarios in places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay.

The Denver Broncos, who were supposed to be pushovers in 2009, after one of the most tumultuous offseasons ever seen by any franchise, have instead come out of the gates gangbusters. First year head coach Josh McDaniels’ squad is already sporting a comfortable 3-game lead in the AFC West, and they would own the #1 seed in the AFC, were the season only 6 weeks long. They’ve remained undefeated by being surprisingly efficient on offense, and by featuring the league’s stingiest defense.

Quarterback Kyle Orton, acquired via trade for Jay Cutler from the Chicago Bears, has been a huge surprise. Expected to struggle (based on his 4 non-remarkable seasons in the Windy City), Orton has instead flourished, passing for 9 touchdowns to go with only 1 interception, which came on an end-of-half Hail Mary toss. His QB rating of 100.1 is nearly 25 points higher than his career average. Orton’s 2009 is reminiscent of Chad Pennington’s 2008 – a “game manager plus” who makes a few plays every game, and is extremely stingy with the ball. Of course, the Ravens had no problem making Mr. Pennington look quite pedestrian last year, but so far nobody is confusing the 2009 Ravens defense with the 2008 version.

Orton Kyle Show

Orton’s weapon of choice is wideout Brandon Marshall, subject of many trade rumors here in B’More last Spring/Summer. The disgruntled Marshall has put his gripes aside and hauled in 29 passes for 332 yards and 4 TDs, all tops on the team. At 6’4″ 230, Marshall is just the kind of WR that has been giving the Ravens’ undersized cornerbacks fits all year, and Sunday threatens to be no different. Not only can Marshall go up and get the ball, he is hell to bring down once it’s in his hands. If the Ravens’ secondary can’t make open field tackles, this one could be ugly. Tight end Tony Scheffler is no slouch either, and he is coming on strong after a slow start. Scheffler had 10 catches for 146 yards over Denver’s last two games.

Rookie Knowshon Moreno and veteran Correll Buckhalter share the carries for Denver’s 7th-ranked rushing attack. Normally, we wouldn’t lose much sleep over these two, but with the Ravens allowing back-to-back 100-yard rushers, things are feeling a bit different in Charm City. The Ravens are healthy on defense at the moment, but need players like Kelly Gregg and Dawan Landry to be more active in stopping the run, lest Moreno and Buckhalter find some holes early and make things even easier for Brandon Marshall down the field.

Keep an eye out for #21 on the Ravens, Lardarius Webb, who has been getting more reps with the first-team defense in practice.

Former Ravens defensive coordinator and 49ers head coach Mike Nolan has taken over the defense in the Mile High city, and has his unit playing well above expectations. Some guy named Elvis Dumervil leads the NFL with 10.0 sacks, just two shy of his career high through only six games. With the Ravens’ offensive tackle situation suddenly re-muddied (Jared Gaither missed practice Thursday with an apparent setback to his neck injury recovery), Joe Flacco may again find himself under duress. Michael Oher stepped in admirably in Gaither’s absence, and would go at LT again if needed. Dumervil, however, lines up all over the field, and RT Marshal Yanda will also have to be on top of his game.

D.J. Williams leads the team in tackles from his inside linebacker position in Nolan’s 3-4, and one of the all-time great safeties of the game, former Eagle Brian Dawkins, roams the secondary along with perennial All-Pro Champ Bailey. Flacco, who threw “red zone” interceptions in back-to-back games against Cincy and New England, before his 2 TD 0 INT performance at the Metrodome, will need to be at his best against a Denver defense that features a lot of pre-snap movement and blitzes from everywhere. Against Pittsburgh’s similar scheme last season, Flacco struggled mightily. The Broncos may not have the big name personnel, or the defensive tradition that Pittsburgh does, but they have so far made up for it in execution. The Ravens face Green Bay, along with Pittsburgh twice, down the stretch, so there is no better time than now for Joe Cool to start executing against the 3-4.

Budding NFL superstar Ray Rice saw his lead in the league’s all-purpose yards from scrimmage category eclipsed by Adrian Peterson during the bye, but he will have plenty of chances to climb back on top this week. Willis McGahee has been relegated to afterthought in the B’More offense, while Le’Ron “Pain Train” McClain can only think back fondly on his days of double-digit touches. Rice will have to earn his yards, as the Broncos haven’t allowed more than 76 yards on the ground to any opposition running back this year.

During the bye, the Ravens had plenty of problems they needed to correct. Perhaps they even saw that some of those problems are not correctable with the present roster personnel. If the latter is the case, one can only hope that they recognized that they are no longer a defensive, run-first, grind-it-out type football team. They feature one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the NFL in Rice, and a quarterback who is coming into his own in his second season. Flacco has come up just short on potential last minute game-winning drives in two of the last 3 games. It would serve the Ravens well to come out on offense picking up right where they left off in the 4th quarter in Minnesota, when they scored 21 points in the game’s final 8 minutes, rather than trying to establish a running game and play field-position with the Broncos. Go up early and make the Broncos throw the ball – don’t let them eat up the clock and keep Joe Cool and Ray Ray Jr. (anybody got a real nickname for Rice yet?) on the sidelines.

Denver has never won in B’More. Sunday can not, and WILL not be the day.

Everyone tilt your head back with me and take a big ol’ swig of that purple Kool-Aid. With a victory Sunday, we can go ahead and refill our cups. Should the opposite happen, we may well find that the fridge is empty.

Ravens 24 Broncos 13

This Man Will Not Win in Baltimore

October 29, 2009


Orton Drunk 1

Orton Drunk 2

Orton Drunk 3

Orton Drunk 4

Orton Drunk 5

Orton Drunk 6

Not. Happening.

Any Moves Coming in the Ravens' "Safety Dance?"

October 26, 2009

With the Ravens’ pass defense currently floundering near the bottom of the league (23rd), it might be time for head coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison to consider some personnel changes. Since the big play has been the downfall of this team on defense all season (the team has surrendered 6 pass plays and 1 running play of 40+ yards), the obvious scapegoats seem to be the safeties, who are getting caught out of position regularly.

I assumed it was Ed Reed who left Frank Walker 1-on-1 with Sidney Rice at the end of the Minnesota game, but after looking at the play on NFL Playbook (on the NFL Network), I saw that Reed was on the other side of the field, and it was strong safety Dawan Landry who watched Rice run right by him.

Landry has been a big disappointment this season. Despite his two interceptions, he often looks confused in coverage (as he did against Minnesota on Visanthe Shiancoe’s 2nd touchdown), and has been missing tackle after tackle in run support, an inexcusable sin for a strong safety. He is likely still hesitant after his spinal cord concussion suffered in 2008, but his trepidation is costing the Ravens on defense.

Ed Reed could stand to do a bit less freelancing, but let’s be honest – he isn’t going anywhere. So, is there anybody on the Ravens’ roster who can possibly step in and, if not start for, at least spell Dawan Landry from time to time? Let’s look at the candidates.

Tavares Gooden


“But isn’t Tavares a linebacker?” I hear you saying. Well yes, he is. However, according to Baltimore Sun rabble rouser columnist Mike Preston, he may be more suited to safety in the NFL.

I wonder if the Ravens ever considered moving linebacker Tavares Gooden to safety? He has great football instincts and hustle, but after watching him in the first four games, he isn’t very physical.

It’s a good move by the team to use Gooden as well as Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain in a rotation. Ellerbe is a bull and McClain is a good pass rusher. Gooden has to spend more time in the weight room and become stronger. Or, the switch to safety might not be a bad idea.

Physically, I’m not sure he can hold up as a linebacker for a year.

Two Saturdays ago, as I was sitting at Byrd Stadium with WNST Ravens analyst Glenn Clark watching the Terps embarrass themselves against Virginia, I asked him if he agreed with Preston.  “Certainly,” he replied, although he was quick to point out that asking a player to switch positions midseason would be pretty drastic, and growing pains would be expected.

Haruki Nakamura


Currently listed as the Ravens’ backup strong safety is 2nd year player Haruki Nakamura. Haruki has seen action in all 22 games over the past season plus, but hasn’t made much of an impact. Former coordinator Rex Ryan seemed to prefer using Nakamura to blitz rather than to help out in coverage, but he has yet to register his first sack in the NFL. Nakamura picked up 2 tackles each in the New England and Minnesota games.

At 5’10” 200 lb, Nakamura compares, physically at least, favorably to such starting NFL strong safeties as Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu (5-10 207), Indianapolis’ Bob Sanders (5-8 206), and Landry (6-0 210). Now, maybe it’s just me, but he sure doesn’t look that big out there.

Tom Zbikowski


Another 2008 draft pick, Tom Zbikowski is currently listed as the backup free safety on the Ravens’ depth chart. Zibby is also plenty big enough, at 5-11 210, and has the right attitude for the Ravens’ defense, being an amateur boxer. He was deactivated for the San Diego game, but has played in every other contest in 2009, after playing in all 19 games in 2008. However, he has contributed more to the Ravens in the punt return game than he has on defense.

According to CDS’s draft profile, Zibby had the following strengths and weaknesses coming out of Notre Dame:


Unbelievable football player who just has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Solid technique and tackling abilities. Really versatile, with enhanced value coming from his return abilities. Strong, smart, aware. Will be a leader on the field and in the locker room. Very productive. Takes good angles and overcomes his limitations with smarts. Never gave up during Notre Dame’s very tough 2007 campaign. A warrior.


Not a safe bet in coverage. Will need to be a SS paired with an elite coverage FS to be succesful at the next level. Lacks make up speed.

On the bright side, Ed Reed definitely qualifies as “an elite coverage FS.” Unfortunately, “not being a safe bet in coverage,” isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered at the moment.

Lardarius Webb


The Ravens’ new unquestioned kickoff return specialist, Lardarius Webb is quickly becoming a household name for Ravens fans (which is why I’m finally spelling his name right). Although listed as a CB, Webb can play safety as well, as his profile attests:

Lardarius Webb, a cornerback drafted in the third round, was compared by some analysts to Bob Sanders. He plays bigger than his size (5-10) and is versatile. He can make an impact as a cornerback, safety or returner. Webb has intriguing upside.

And, from CDS:


A versatile athlete who has played quarterback for one game,as well as: wide receiver, kick return punt return, safety, and corner.

A playmaking ballhawk with superior hands, ball skills and he loves to hit. His natural position is safety but can play nickel and corner because he can cover in man. Also a good punt blocker and gunner on the punt team.

He has the range and everything else except the frame you’d like to see, he can be a reserve right away at any position in the secondary. In addition to 4.46 40 speed his 6.77, 3-Cone and 4.1 in the short shuttle all illustrate his quickness.


Lean frame, I have seen him listed at 205, but I just don’t see it. I think he’s much less than that: 190-187 at most. He also needs to be as good at and solid in reading play action as he is is in other areas. Like most top CB/safety prospects at this level he is very nosy and can get out of position trying to do too much.

He weighed in at 179 at the combine to be a FS he’ll need at least 10-15 lbs.

That bit about being too “nosy” and getting out of position gives us hesitation, but Webb still seems like the best bet of the four to see increased playing time after the bye. It is more likely to be at corner though , where the Ravens’ are also obviously having plenty of problems. Whether in place of Dawan Landry or Chris Carr, or as something completely different, Greg Mattison NEEDS to figure out ways to get Webb on the field.

In summary, there is no “quick fix” when it comes to the problems at safety. Dawan Landry has proven himself to be a very capable player in the past, and perhaps he can improve on his early season play in coming weeks. If he can, and if Lardarius Webb (or Nakamura or Zbikowski) can emerge as playmakers on defense, the much maligned secondary may slowly climb back into the top half of the league in pass defense.

If not, well…just hope you have Ray Rice and Joe Flacco on your fantasy team.

Lookalikes – Friday at the Movies Edition

October 23, 2009

And now for something a tad different. With the Ravens enjoying their bye week, perhaps the team will be enjoying a lazy Friday at the local theater? Or maybe this Sunday would be a good time for us Ravens fans to take a bye week of our own, and go catch a flick or two, rather than screaming at our TVs, as the case has been of late.

On with the Lookalikes!



Please excuse the abbreviated Lookalikes this week. Nest photoshop wizard Nick-a-What!? is about to become a daddy for the first time, so he’s just a tad preoccupied at the moment. We’ll be back next week with a full slate of goofy looking Denver Broncos, as well as Kyle “Jack Daniels” Orton’s “What I did on my Bye Week” essay, a look at the Ravens’ issues at safety, and the typical game preview.

Play Like a Raven – Week 6

October 21, 2009


Played Like a Raven – Joe Flacco & Ray Rice


The Ravens’ top two draft picks from 2008 are quickly becoming NFL superstars. It was impossible to choose just one of the pair for this week’s honors, as they both played crucial roles in the team’s near-comeback win.

In throwing for 385 yards and 2 touchdowns, Flacco broke his own single-game yardage record that he set in Week 3 against Cleveland. Joe Cool is currently 4th in the NFL with 1674 yards, tied for 4th with 11 touchdown passes, and his 93.8 rating is 11th in the league. Just two small knocks on Flacco this week: First, as he has all season, he got off to a bit of a slow start. Once he figures out what defense are throwing at him, he seems to get into a nice rhythm. Unfortunately, the way the Ravens defense has been playing in 2009, the team may be much better served to get out to an early lead. Second, Flacco may have been a bit too “Cool” at the end of each half, especially the first. I’ll put equal blame on the coaching staff, but with under 2 minutes to play in the second quarter, Flacco was meandering around like he had more like 12 minutes. His 1st-down pass with 12 seconds to go needed to go into the end zone, or fall incomplete, so John Harbaugh wasn’t faced with the decision to kick a FG or not, with only 6 seconds left to work with.

And Ray Rice…damn, that guy is coming into his own with a fury this season. Sunday, he led the team in both rushing and receiving, and his 766 yards from scrimmage currently lead the NFL. His 33 yard touchdown run gave the Ravens their only lead of the day, unfortunately one that they were unable to hold for even 2 minutes of game time thanks to….

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Secondary


Good. Lord. We’ve singled out Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington (also Chris Carr, but that was more return-related) individually here before, but the whole group deserved to be running wind sprints at the Metrodome after Sunday’s game. This now makes 4/5 “Play Like a Ravens” in which we’ve called out Ravens DBs (actually 4/4, considering in Week 3 there was nobody selected).

And don’t think that, based on the photo, Ed Reed is above criticism here at the Nest. He is suspect #1 in leaving Frank Walker to cover Sidney Rice 1-on-1 60 yards down the field two plays after the Ravens took the lead in the 4th. Fact is, though, without Reed, we shudder to think just how atrocious this Ravens defensive backfield has the potential to be. Regardless, we have to think that John Harbaugh will only put up with his freelancing for so much longer, especially after calling him out publicly to play more “team” defense.

Washington, Foxworth, Carr, Walker…what more is there to say about this group? Throw in Dawan Landry as well, who looks thoroughly lost in coverage, and who hasn’t played the run nearly as well as he did prior to his injury last year.

Rookie Ledarius Webb is sure to see some more action as a CB after they bye, but what about at safety? Can Webb take a crack at SS in the NFL? Or can Haruki Nakamura or Tom Zbikowski step in and provide some relief? We would like to think so, but there is a reason they are backups, Ravens fans.

The Ravens are now 22nd in the NFL in passing defense, behind the likes of the Buccaneers, Raiders, and Texans. Fixing (or at least finding a way to mask) the leaks in the secondary is, unquestionably, priority numero uno for B’More during the bye week.

Vikings 33 Ravens 31 (The HAUSCHKA FAIL Game)

October 19, 2009

Fairly or not, when Ravens fans look back on yesterday’s game (and it will be one that we will remember for a LONG time), it will be Steve Hauschka who many remember as the goat.


Not the vaunted Ravens defense, who, suddenly awful, gave up 426 yards, 167 of those on the ground, and over 20 points AGAIN. The defense is giving up a woeful 21.7 points per game, and if you take out the Week 3 game against Cleveland High School, that number shoots to 25.4 ppg against “real” NFL teams. This is a full 10 POINT PER GAME increase over what 2008’s defense managed, with very similar personnel.

I’m not going to sit here and burn the 2nd-year kicker in effigy. Yes, it was a very make-able kick – 44 yards in perfect (indoor) conditions. Yes, had he made it, all the negatives that we saw from our purple and black during the previous 59 minutes and 58 seconds would have been seemingly washed away. And yes, going into the bye week at 4-2, in a virtual tie for the division lead, would be much more desirable than where we currently sit, riding a 3 game losing streak and a full game plus behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.

But it was a game in which the Ravens’ defensive deficiencies, both on the ground and in the air, were on full display for the entire NFL to see, and any team that is worth their salt will be able to exploit this Ravens defense as it is currently constructed. Adrian Peterson started things off ominously, gaining 26 yards on his first touch. For the day he managed 143 yards on 22 carries, a video-game like average of 6.5 yards per rush, and the Ravens were unable to pry the ball from his hands even once, despite his well-documented fumbling issues.

And even when AD sputtered (basically throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters), Old Man Brett (Favre) was able to torch the Ravens in the passing game. Favre was 21/29 for 278 yards and 3 touchdowns, his favorite target being Sidney Rice, who pulled in 6 for 176. When the Ravens were able to pressure Favre, he was rendered ineffective; however, those instances were far too few and far between to make much of a difference. Greg Mattison’s vanilla 4-3 defensive schemes are simply not getting the job done with the personnel he has at his disposal. Let’s hope he fully realizes and accepts that fact, and adjusts accordingly over the next 12 days.

The book on beating the Ravens has become painfully obvious for all to see. At this point, teams are likely to be calling the likes of Clarence Moore to sign for one game when they see B’More on their schedules. I kid, but barely – the aforementioned Rice stands 6’4″, and was yet another example of the intricate offensive scheming it takes to beat the Ravens: “send your tallest receiver deep.”

Yesterday, it was Frank Walker who was picked on during Minnesota’s final drive. However, Walker was only in the game because Fabian Washington had already been benched for his terrible play against Minnesota receivers up to that point. A huge disappointment, considering Fabe had started to step it up a bit since being named our “did not play like a Raven” in Week 2 against San Diego. On the other side, Dominique Foxworth had a slightly better game. His open field tackle of FB Naufahu Tahi stands out, but he whiffed on at least one other. And who’s to say that his “decent” game was nothing more than a function of Washington’s ineptitude?

The safeties were no better. Dawan Landry seems but a shell of the player he was prior to his spinal cord concussion last season. On Favre’s second touchdown pass to TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Landry looked like the most confused person in the building, as he stood with his back to the line of scrimmage watching Shiancoe run his route uncovered. And, on the decisive 58-yard pass to Rice that set the Vikings up for the go-ahead FG late in the game, there was no safety to be seen. John Harbaugh said after the game that there was “supposed” to be help for Walker over the top, but “the safety” bit on an underneath route. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here assuming “the safety” wears #20. Skirting our responsibilities to freelance again, Ed? How many times does that have to bite you in the rear this season for you to realize that maybe, just maybe, you should stay in position?

Perhaps the most infuriating part of the defensive “effort” was that it managed to overshadow a Ravens offense that nearly pulled off an extremely improbable comeback. Despite scoring only 10 points over the game’s first 52 minutes, Joe Flacco had himself in prime position to out-comeback Favre the comeback king, leading the Ravens to 21 points in the game’s final 8 minutes. Those three touchdowns came on consecutive drives of 7, 3, and 1 plays, and the final (kick missing) drive was a beautiful 9 play succession that covered 41 yards and bled all but two seconds off the clock to set up what (would’ve, could’ve, should’ve) been the game winner.

Flacco finished the day with a career-high 385 yards and 2 touchdowns, with no turnovers. It was a good enough effort from Joe Cool to win. His defense just let him down, time and time again.

Of course, he had help. Ray Rice was absolutely outstanding in the loss, and is quickly becoming an NFL star. He led the Ravens in rushing (10-77-2) and receiving (10-117-0). His 33-yard scamper with 3:44 to go gave the Ravens their first and only lead of the game. If I had one criticism of Rice for the game, it would be that he did not do all he humanly could to get the ball to the middle of the field on his final carry, which COULD have helped Hauschka a bit.

Even though it’s never a good sign when a RB leads your team in receiving, the Ravens’ wideouts were far from invisible. Both Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason caught touchdowns, Todd Heap and Kelley Washington each had 3 receptions, and there was even a Demetrius Williams sighting, who caught his first pass of 2009 for 17 yards and a critical 3rd down conversion early in the comeback.

Sure, we had hoped to see Cam Cameron’s offense get back to the things they did last year, running the ball and controlling the clock, but an early 14-point deficit combined with terrible field position due to special teams ineptitude conspired to work against that plan of attack. Cameron looked like he had every intention of establishing the run, but in the end was forced to air it out to try to overcome the Vikes’ big lead.

The optimist will look at the Ravens’ last 3 games, each decided in the waning seconds, and say that they are, realistically, 3 plays from being 6-0. However, the harsh reality is this: over those 3 games, not once did the Ravens manage to put together 60 solid minutes of football on both sides of the ball, and THAT is the reason that those games came down to the wire like they did.

The Ravens, both coaches and players, need to do some soul searching during this much-needed bye week, and find those 60 minutes of football. If they do, then the playoffs are still very much within grasp, with games remaining against Pittsburgh (2), Cincy, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Oakland, and Denver in the AFC, along with winnable inter-conference matches with Detroit, Chicago, and Green Bay. But if they can’t, for instance, figure out a way to mask the gaping holes in the secondary, then a once promising season may be on its way down the proverbial toilet.

Sweet, Merciful Bye Week

October 18, 2009

Go Here. Watch This.

October 16, 2009

Ravens (3-2) @ Vikings (5-0)

October 16, 2009

Ravens vs. Vikings

Ravens vs. Vikes Stats

The Ravens will try to end their 2-game losing skid on Sunday in Minneapolis, the only city in which the purple and black have never played a regular season game. The Ravens lead the all time series between the two clubs, 2-1, with all three contests having been played in B’More, the last in 2005.

If I were to tell you that, one team enters this game with the 10th ranked defense and the 5th ranked offense, and the other with the 14th ranked defense and the 19th ranked offense, and one of those teams was undefeated – you would probably assume it was the 10/5 team right? Wrong. As you can see above, the 5-0 Vikings lag behind the Ravens in most statistical categories. Nonetheless, they remain perfect, while the Ravens are scuffling.

When looking around the web at all the “expert’s” picks, I was curious how so many could be going with the Ravens this week, until I looked closer at the Vikes’ numbers and schedule to date. When I thought about this game on Monday, back when the sky was falling after the Bengals loss, I was thinking something like 27-13 Minnesota. Four days of clearer thinking, along with the added optimism that comes with every impending weekend though, have me backing away from the ledge.

Let’s dive into the game a little further.

While “5-0 is 5-0,” and “you can only play the teams on your schedule,” and blah, blah, blah…closer inspection reveals that the Vikes haven’t exactly been tearing through playoff teams so far in 2009. Their victories?

Week 1: Browns (1-4)
Week 2: Lions (1-4)
Week 3: 49ers (3-2, a game they needed a miracle to win)
Week 4: Packers (2-2, and Brett’s Super Bowl)
Week 5: Rams (0-5)

I’m not taking anything away from Minnesota; just pointing out that the Ravens will be, by far, the best team they have faced this season.

Favre Waffle 1

One area where the Vikings do unquestionably dominate is in getting to the quarterback. They lead the league with 18 sacks, and DE Jared Allen has racked up 6.5 (4.5 of those coming two weeks ago against Green Bay). Allen will be a handful for either Jared Gaither (who is still trying to come back from the neck injury suffered in New England and is yet to practice since) or rookie Michael Oher. As I said a few weeks ago, I am confident in Oher 1-on-1 against pretty much anybody in the NFL – an assertion that is likely to be put to quite the test in the Metrodome.

I’d like to see Cam Cameron and the Ravens’ offense approach this contest with a similar game plan to the one they used against another top-notch pass rusher in an extremely loud stadium last season – Demarcus Ware and Dallas in Week 16. Despite the fact that Joe Flacco was sacked five times in that game, the Ravens were still able to rack up 388 yards of total offense; and they did it by showing the kind of BALANCE (30 passes, 31 rushes) that we have yet to see in 2009.

I agree completely with what Luke Jones at WNST wrote earlier this week. It’s time for the Ravens offense to swallow their pride about “we’re not just a running team any more,” and get back to the formula that served them so well in 2008 – controlling the clock and the pace of the game with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain, and Ray Rice.

Favre Waffle 2

The Ravens are currently 15th in the NFL in time of possession, holding the ball 30:07 per game. In 2008, they were #1 in that category, at 33:22. While Greg Mattison’s defense tries to work out their issues, which include pressuring the quarterback, coverage in the secondary, and tackling, it would be a tremendous help to them if the offense could stay on the field 2-3 additional minutes every game.

Running the ball against the Vikings is no small task, especially inside where they feature DTs Kevin and Pat Williams. However, even those two will get tired of tackling “Pain Train” McClain at some point.

Please, Cam…we’re begging you. We know you and Joe Cool can throw the ball now if you want to…we know. So does everybody else. But right now it’s time to get back to basics and find our offensive identity – as a run-first team that can move the ball through the air when needed.

And what about that Ravens defense? The one that just had their “no 100-yard rusher” streak ended by Cedric (expletive) Benson. How in the world, if they can’t stop Benson, do they plan on stopping Adrian “All Day” Peterson, possibly the best runner of this generation? Well, if it makes you feel any better, Benson is currently the NFL’s leading rusher, while AD is #2. Peterson, though, is still averaging 4.9 yards per carry (nearly a full yard less than Ray Rice, mind you) and leads the NFL with 7 rushing scores. Keeping him in check will be no small task, but as Ray Lewis is always quick to tell us, “it’s just football.” As in, enough missing tackles – it’s as simple (and as complicated) as that. Let’s hope that Ray-Ray and company will take last week’s embarrassment and use it as motivation to prove that they are still a dominant run defense – a claim nobody will be able to dispute, should they shut down #28.

Favre Waffle 3

As far as the pass defense – well, that’s quite another story. Even assuming the Ravens are able to hold down Peterson, and force Brett Favre to beat them through the air, who’s to say that the back end will be able to hold up? Especially after the way we’ve seen them get torched by Rivers, Brady, and Palmer in recent weeks? All I can say is, I hope Greg Mattison has made some adjustments this week.  For starters, Chris Carr should not be “covering” anybody – put Ledarius Webb out there as the nickel back. Perhaps convince Dominique Foxworth that he isn’t Jared Gaither, and he can, in fact, turn his head to look for the ball. And don’t just tell us that “the pass rush needs to get better,” make it happen!

Favre has thrown 9 TDs and only 2 picks so far this year. Last year with the Jets, he was at 13/6 after five games, showing that he is, indeed, accepting his role as “game manager” a bit more in his old age. We know the old gunslinger is still in there though, and he is due for one of his patented 3-pick days. Fast Eddie Reed, fresh off his best performance of the season, is just the man to help Favre get there. It all starts up front – defensive line and backers stop the run and get pressure, secondary cleans up the Vikes’ mistakes.

Not saying it WILL happen…just that it CAN.

I’m not jumping off the bandwagon just yet. The Ravens have their backs against the wall, and have no desire to take a 3-game losing streak into the bye. I believe they can, and will, respond. If not…well, I’ll see you at the ledge.

Favre Waffle 4

Ravens 24 Vikings 23

Lookalikes! Vikings Edition

October 15, 2009

The 5-0 Vikings may be extremely good at football (we’ll see just how good Sunday), but that doesn’t mean they don’t feature a full cast of goofy-looking characters on their roster. Let’s dive in, shall we?

“Joe Flacco-ahhh, you-ahhh, come in here-ahh, to my Metrodomeahhh. And you-ahhh, think-ahh, that I-ahh, am just going to let you sit back there and survey the field-ahh? No sir-ahh!”


These next two take up more space on the defensive line than Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg could even aspire to. However, as huge as they look next to other NFL players, they look even more impressive during their every day lives.


He once threw 12 interceptions in a game – just to see what it would feel like.
He plays like a kid out there – but has no idea how many he actually has.
He has retired more than anybody in the history of retiring.
He is.
The most interesting man in the world.

Most Interesting Brett in the World

This next image should be giving the Ravens’ defense nightmares the next few nights. Usually these Lookalikes! are meant to be insulting to the other team…but if our purple and black don’t figure out how to tackle, and quick, this could be one of the most prescient Lookalikes! we’ve ever put up.


Vikings starting Tight End Visanthe Shiancoe is a Morgan State Alum. More like “ORGAN State,” amirite?!?!


More “experts” than I expected are picking the Ravens on Sunday. I’ll have to keep that in mind as I put together tomorrow’s game preview, but right now, I just don’t see it.


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