Archive for September, 2010

Play Like a Raven – Week 2

September 21, 2010


Played Like a Raven – Ray Lewis

Best Picture Ever?

Some surmised that the performance we saw from Lewis in the season opener against New York was a result of his personal motivations against his former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, and that it wasn’t indicative of the way the 15-year veteran was likely to play throughout the 2010 season.  What those people must not have understood is that Lewis plays EVERY game with that kind of emotion.  Sure, there may have been a smidge extra saved up for the Jets, but for the most part, that was just Ray “being Ray,” as they say.

His second game was very much like his first.  His 6 tackles were tied for the team lead, and he threw in 4 assists for a total of 10.  Four of his tackles were at or behind the line of scrimmage, as well, so it’s not like he was simply bringing down Bengals’ running back Cedric Benson after substantial gains up the middle, or tight end Jermaine Gresham after first down catches.  Lewis, as he has throughout his career, was playing the game in the backfield.  He also had a sack…but we all know how that turned out.

Save for one play where he missed Benson near the line at the start of the game, Ray Lewis was all over the field once again.  And while he can’t still do all the things that we saw Patrick Willis doing for the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football this week, Ray still sets the tone for a defense that has yet to allow a single touchdown in 2010.

Two thousand and ten.  Not 2000.  Fifteen years into his career, with still only one Lombardi Trophy to show for it, and Ray is still seeing stellar performances by his defense wasted by an inept offense.  His post-game tirade at the officials was a result of some bad calls sure, but we have to consider that he may have been simply redirecting some of his frustrations onto the refs from where, if he was honest with himself, his beef was really with: namely, Joe Flacco and company.

Speaking of Joe…

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Joe Flacco

They don’t get much easier than this, folks.  Joe had arguably the worst game of his professional career (the only games that come close were at Indianapolis in his 3rd career start, the 2008 AFC Championship Game in Pittsburgh, and least year in Green Bay – all 3 were 3 INT, 3 sack days).  Enough ink and internet space has been taken up already discussing Joe’s woes, so I won’t spend much more time here dissecting his performance.

In honor of his new favorite throw, though, we put together some commemorative Nest Art for Joe the Quarterback:

Seriously, Joe, Jim Zorn, Cam Cameron…fix this, and quickly.

Beating a Dead Horse: The Suggs Penalty (f/Coach-on-Ref Violence!)

September 20, 2010

Ravens fans’ gripe du jour with the NFL officials is the roughing the passer flag on Terrell Suggs. The call has been widely panned as atrocious, and it will be interesting to see how the NFL tries to explain it away. They may just ignore it and hope the whole thing goes away (the call was THAT bad) but there are some extraordinary circumstances around the call that may force them to address it, at least in some fashion.

First, let’s take a look at the hit that drew the flag:

Ball still in quarterback’s hand, defender already falling forward, takes QB to ground fairly innocently, as far as sacks go. To compare, this hit on Vince Young by the Pittsburgh Steelers drew NO penalty:

A hit that would make WWE fans proud, but that’s just “tough Steeler football,” when it’s them. Unfortunately, Suggs has built himself a reputation (however unfairly) of being a guy that the refs have to watch out for around the quarterback. If you remember, it was his roughing flag in the 2008 Tennessee game (barely brushed Kerry Collins’ helmet) that allowed the Titans to continue their game-winning drive, and of course we all recall Brady-gate from last year’s Patriots game.

Now, what about those “extraordinary circumstances” mentioned earlier?

Well, the league would set quite a precedent if they decide NOT to fine John Harbaugh for his forcible explanation to the official of exactly where how “strike zone” is defined for an NFL defender attempting to record a sack…

Atta boy, John! Next time forgo the niceties though, and just deck the guy across the chin.

As Harbaugh said after the game:

“It’s hard for us to determine right now what roughing the passer is,” Harbaugh said. “If that’s roughing the passer, I don’t know how you are supposed to bring Carson Palmer or any other 250-pound passer down other than to tackle him.

“We hit him in the strike zone and took him to the ground. There were plenty of other times we couldn’t get him to the ground. It takes effort to get the guy to the ground. He’s a strong man. They (the NFL) are going to have to explain that to all of us this week and maybe we can figure it out.”

Well, what exactly would make Harbaugh say that Palmer is a strong guy who is tough to get to the ground?  Perhaps plays like this one, from earlier in the game?

So, to be clear…to register a legal sack on Carson Palmer (or any QB), a defender has to hit him a bit harder than Jarrett Johnson did in the above clip, but not QUITE as hard as Sizzle did, OR pick him up and bodyslam him into the turf? Got that, Ravens defenders? Jeez, how hard is that…

Anyway, this post isn’t meant to say “the refs cost us the game.” Its more of a “they are TERRIBLE at their jobs,” which is indisputable at this point, from any fan base. I have no doubt that Jets fans could go back and do this same thing regarding pass interference calls from last Monday’s game. And then of course there are Lions fans, who couldn’t catch a break if Jim Schwartz’s skunk-goatee depended on it.

Please, NFL, while you’re negotiating the next collective bargaining agreement, include a clause that makes officials full-time employees of the league. This is pathetic for the biggest sport in the country.


September 20, 2010

Damn Bengals.  They seem to have perfected this whole “beat the Ravens by only kicking field goals” thing.

In an effort to avoid wrapping my laptop’s power cord around my neck, or just throwing the whole thing through the television, let’s first take a look at the positives from Sunday’s game. Trust me, there actually were a few.

  1. The Ravens’ much talked-about (in a “they’ll be the weak link this season” way) defense has yet to allow a touchdown in 2010 in 8 quarters of play.
  2. The secondary in particular played well, holding Carson Palmer to just a 45% completion percentage and 167 yards.  Now, if they could only catch…
  3. Lardarius Webb made his first appearance of 2010, and contributed to the aforementioned strong play of the secondary.
  4. Ray Rice looked strong after being bottled up by the New York Jets, picking up 87 yards on 16 carries (5.4 average) and 30 yards on 4 receptions (7.5).  He also had a key block on Joe Flacco’s lone touchdown pass of the day.
  5. Cedric Benson, who gashed the Ravens for 227 yards in the two games last year, was held to just 78 yards on 23 carries.
  6. From a “big picture” perspective, most of the AFC is 1-1 along with the Ravens.  Only Houston, Miami, the not-really-for-real-at-all Kansas City Chiefs, and those who shall not be named are 2-0.
  7. There are still 14 games to play.

Reluctantly moving on to address the REST of Sunday’s action…

On the Ravens second play of their second drive, a 2nd-and-10 from their own 28, Flacco dropped back, scrambled around in the pocket a bit, and ended up diving forward for a 2-yard gain, barely avoiding the sack.  On the replay though, when analyst Rich Gannon was trying to describe how well covered the Ravens’ receivers were…there he was: Anquan Boldin, streaking down the right sideline, nary a Bengal within 15 yards of him, hand waving frantically in the air calling for the ball.  Of all the terrible plays that Joe made Sunday, THIS play may be the one that makes him slink lowest in his seat when the team reviews film this week.  If Joe even LOOKS to his right at any point during the play, he would have had the easiest 70-yard touchdown throw of his career.  Instead, the Ravens would punt two plays later, and the play was an ominous harbinger of plenty more terrible things to come for #5 and the B’More offense.

With all the talk about the Ravens’ new offense and all its fancy toys, they have now managed just 20 points in two games.  Granted, those 20 points were against the #1 and #4 defenses in the NFL in 2009.  However, the degree of ineptitude that Cam Cameron and his charges showed against Cincinnati was far higher than even the most pessimistic Ravens fan could have predicted.  Flacco was horrific against the Bengals in 2009, throwing four picks in two games.  After one game against them in 2010, he has already matched that interception total, and it’s easy to just say that Cincy has Flacco’s number.  Joe has played far worse against the Bengals in his career than he has against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Sunday he appeared to be playing scared and timid right from the start.

In fact, I’d have never thought I would grimace and say “ew” so many times in one game watching Joe Flacco.  His mechanics are dreadful – his signature move now seems to be what I’ve deemed the “back-foot floater,” a pass that he throws high in the air while leaning back, hoping his target can run under it.  So far this year though, he has not shown near the level of “touch” needed to consistently complete these kinds of passes.  I hated on Mike Preston earlier this week for saying that Flacco needs to step up in the pocket more like a Brady, Manning, or Elway, but I couldn’t agree more with the spirit of the argument (I just thought it was funny how he pulled a few Hall of Fame names out of his hat).  Joe DOES need to step up and put some zip on the ball.  We’ve seen him do it before, so I’m as confused as the rest of you at his seeming regression.

In both games so far in 2010, there has been one play where you can see Joe just get fed up and step into a throw and put it right on his receivers’ chest, giving them no choice but to catch it – against the Jets, it was a sideline out to Derrick Mason; against Cincy, he slammed the ball into Anquan Boldin’s chest on a play where he lined up in the slot.

Where are those passes the rest of the time?

What the hell is up with this new back-foot floater?

Can I get a Ra-Ven? (Get it…”can I get an amen?” No? Ok, fine.)

Staying on Joe for a minute: Another wildly exasperating facet of his play so far this season is that he is seemingly completely unwilling to audible at the line of scrimmage.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve seen him check out of one play in the two games to date.  In New York is one thing, but the Cincinnati crowd isn’t exactly known around the league for being one of the loudest; there is no noise-related excuse for never changing the play.  It’s especially maddening when the Ravens have some sort of slow-developing running play called, and the opposing defense walks 7 or 8 guys to to the line of scrimmage – that play is dead in the water.  Still, Joe makes no effort to change the play.  We saw him do it a couple of times in the preseason (think of the touchdown pass to Boldin in the Giants game), so why has it suddenly stopped?  I’m not suggesting Joe needs to be Peyton Manning up there, diagnosing every defensive player’s assignment, along with his fears, goals, and ambitions…but a check-off here and there would be a sight for sore eyes.

Its all a bit too disappointing to delve into too deeply.  I’m much more inclined to chalk it up to a combination of factors, including the short week, consecutive road games, Cincy “having his number,” poor offensive line play, and the failure of the Ravens’ receivers to create separation (the aforementioned Boldin play notwithstanding) or haul in catches that we’ve seen them make a hundred times before (seriously…anybody else get the feeling the T.J. Houshmandzadeh is still a closet Bengals fan?) Let’s all cross our fingers that a full week of preparation, along with a home game against a sorry Cleveland team, will be just what the doctor ordered to heal up our sputtering offense and suddenly shaky quarterback situation.

Moving on from Flacco, but sticking with the offense in general…

Cam Cameron needs to stop buying into the hype about his offense.  I don’t know if its a symptom of trying to keep all of the receivers happy or what, but on a day where his quarterback is having the worst game of his young career, and his running back is ripping off over 5 yards a carry in a 1-score game…man, come ON.  RUN THE DAMN BALL.  Rice had only 16 carries.  Willis McGahee had three.  Le’Ron McClain had ONE.

I completely understand that the days of the “three-headed-monster” in the Ravens’ backfield are pretty much over, even if I don’t 100% agree with it.  The Ravens have these highly paid guys on the outside and a young quarterback who they are trying to develop, but sometimes the game has to dictate what you’re doing as an offense.  Especially with a makeshift offensive line that is struggling mightily to pass protect, while at the same time showing that they can open holes in the running game.  Moving the ball through the air against the Bengals wasn’t happening, and the Ravens were never down by more than 6 points, so the fact that Rice had only 8 carries per half is absolutely criminal.

Goob already addressed the bogus officiating calls that cost the Ravens 6 points, so I won’t get into it.  Fact is, the key play of the game yesterday wasn’t any of Flacco’s four picks, nor was it either of those two costly penalties.  It was the kickoff return by Bernard Scott with just under 6 minutes remaining.  The Ravens had just taken a 10-9 lead, but the 60-yard kickoff return set the Bengals up in near field goal range to start the drive.  It was a hugely deflating letdown from a unit that had been solid all day, with Billy Cundiff’s two kickoffs to that point both resulting in touchbacks.

The Ravens now have a full week of preparation for their home opener against the Browns.  Identifying and correcting the plethora of offensive mistakes we witnessed on Sunday will be tantamount to not only a victory against Cleveland, but absolutely critical if this team has any hope to realize the lofty goals they have set for themselves in 2010.

Sunday Afternoon Still-drunk: Ravens 10 (again) Bengals 15

September 19, 2010

Here is the immediate reaction from “The Goob” following the Ravens 1st loss of the year.

I know we’re all disappointed in the loss from our beloved purple and black but at least you didn’t have to videotape your feelings.

Check it out…

Ray Lewis Will Be Making A Donation To The "Human Fund"

September 19, 2010

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis yells at referee Gene Steratore after he was called for a tripping penalty, which gave the Bengals a first down and new life in the third quarter.

No matter how horrible of a call is made on the field, criticizing the officials on calls made in a game is a big no-no in the NFl. Ray Lewis, no stranger to being fined by the NFL commissioners office, may find himself writing another check to the “Human Fund” for retired players after his criticizing of the officials after the Ravens 15-10 loss to the Bungles.

After the game, Lewis blamed the referees  for a six point difference which could have cost the Ravens the game over Cincinnati. The plays in question came from a controversial roughing the passer penalty by Terrell Suggs and a tripping penalty on Ray himself.

I know it’s hard to stay neutral when you are as passionate in football as I am for one specific team but the calls against Lewis and Suggs were absolute BULL SHIT! In case you don’t agree with me, we’ll hear it from the future Hall of Famer himself.

“Six points was given off of B.S.,” said Ray. “It’s embarrassing that you can put them in field-goal range off of two calls like that when they couldn’t get into the end zone themselves. That’s why everybody straps up their helmets to make sure if you’re going to earn it, earn it. But they didn’t earn it today.”

I’m sure everyone in Charm City agrees with Ray and can’t believe that some horrible calls may be the reason the Ravens lost the game. After watching this disaster in Cincinnati, I can see that the gifts we were given against the Jets won’t be replicated week to week. I hate blaming the officials and it seems that the Ravens are the scapegoat when it comes to a team blaming the men in zebra stripes, but eventually enough has to be enough. I don’t believe the referees cost the Ravens the game because of the piss poor performance of Joe Flacco, but the Ravens have to play better than every opponent they face, just in case they get screwed by horrible calls such as those we saw this week.

Update: Former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira says call was wrong:

Mike Pereira, the NFL’s Vice President of Officiating from 2004-09, said the officials were wrong in flagging Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs for roughing the passer in Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati.

“While referees are instructed to err on the side of safety when it comes to protecting the quarterback, I feel the call was incorrect,” said Pereira, who now works for Fox.

He added, “Suggs made a form tackle on [Bengals quarterback Carson] Palmer. And while he did land on top of him, he did not appear to unnecessarily or violently throw the quarterback down and land on top of him with most or all of his weight, which is what the rule states. I can see why the referee made the call that he did, but to me, it was a normal tackle and not a foul.”

Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)

September 17, 2010

Next up in the “teams whose head coach owes their job to Ray Lewis” are the Cincinnati Bengals. Now we just need the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio) and the 2005-2008 San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan) to complete the “#52’s head coach’s tree.” Marvin Lewis’ team is still licking their wounds from that 38-24 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots (a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score) in Week 1, and will look to rebound against a team that they had plenty of success against in 2009.

Those 2009 losses to Cincy were especially surprising for the Ravens and their fans not necessarily because of the outcomes, but because of the manner in which the Bengals were victorious. Running back Cedric Benson rad roughshod over B’More’s usually stout run defense, breaking their streak of 40 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher on his way to 120 yards in Week 5, and duplicating the feat with 117 yards just four weeks later. Benson managed just 43 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, but his opportunities were quite limited due to his team getting blown out of the water early and being forced to play catch-up.

The Ravens will be looking for some revenge against Benson Sunday. If rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody is able to suit up (he practiced this week), it will go a long way to exacting said revenge. Along with Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding up front, Benson will be hard pressed to find even a sliver of daylight. Even without Cody, the Ravens did well against the Jets’ vaunted rushing attack last week, as RBs Shonn Green and LaDainian Tomlinson managed 80 yards on 16 carries.

“Well, wait a minute, that’s 5 yards per carry,” you might be saying. The stat is a bit misleading, as Tomlinson ripped off two 21-yard runs in the game. Take away those two, and the numbers drop to 38 yards on 14 carries, a 2.7 ypc average. Of course, you can’t just “take away” big plays – the Ravens need to avoid giving up similar big plays to Benson and Bengals’ “change-of-pace” back Bernard Scott.

Which of course, isn’t to say that stopping the run = Ravens win. Quarterback Carson Palmer has always done well against our Ravens, putting up a career record of 8-3. Even after throwing a pick-6 to Ed Reed last year, Palmer bounced back and led his team to a last-minute game-winning touchdown in Baltimore.

Palmer threw for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns last week in New England, but again – they were in catch-up mode all day after falling behind 31-3. He again has a full compliment of weapons to throw to, including two reality TV stars.


Along with those two, rookie WR Jordan Shipley is dangerous, and Andre Caldwell (though I ripped Mike Preston earlier this week for bringing him up) is set to return from a groin injury and has hurt the Ravens in the past.

Just as getting Cody back could help the run defense, a return from injury in the secondary could greatly improve the Ravens’ chances Sunday. Lardarius Webb has been removed from the injury report, but is still “working out the kinks,” after ACL surgery. With Webby in there, the much maligned Ravens’ secondary is instantly better. Without him, newcomer Josh Wilson and safety Haruki Nakamura will be forced to line up against the Bengals’ receivers,  matchups that favor Cincy.

The Bengals also gave the Ravens fits on defense last year, holding them to 14 and 7 points, respectively, in the two meetings. This despite Ray Rice racking up 143 and 135 yards from scrimmage (mostly receiving). The problem was that Rice was the team’s leading receiver in both games, as cornerbacks Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph gave Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ wideouts fits.

2010 is a new year, though, and now Hall and Joseph have to deal with Anquan “Q” Boldin and former teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who weren’t there last year. Hopefully Housh can also bring some “insider info” to the Ravens in practice this week – the offense and defense could both use all the help they can get after being swept last season. Tom Brady had no trouble finding his wideouts last week, as both Wes Welker (8 catches, 64 yards, 2 TD) and Randy Moss (5, 59, 0) had better days than any Ravens WR had against the Bengals in 2009.

Of course, he’s Tom Brady. While Flacco looked like Brady on occasion last week, skillfully avoiding the Jets’ pressure and converting key 3rd-and-long situations, but looked downright awful at other times, holding the ball too long in the pocket, overthrowing a wide open Le’Ron McClain in the end zone, and throwing from his back foot. To show that he really is ready to step into the next tier of NFL quarterbacks, as so many experts see him doing, Joe needs to start beating quality QBs – not just the likes of Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler – in head-to-head matchups. He has the weapons to do it now, so the time for excuses is over. In his defense, he had a perfect touchdown pass dropped last week (by Todd Heap) and another likely touchdown just flat out missed (by Derrick Mason). But he also underthrew Mason on another deep route, underthrew Boldin from his back foot, and missed Ray Rice on a slant that would have given the Ravens a 1st-and-goal inside the 5. We know he can make the throws. What we need to see now is consistency from #5.

The Ravens have revenge on their minds after being embarrassed by Cincy in 2009. The Bengals have redemption on theirs, after being blown out in Week 1.

I think the Bengals do bounce back this week…just not quite high enough.

Ravens 24 Bengals 20

Lookalikes! "Batman and Robin" Edition

September 16, 2010

This season’s slate of Lookalikes! at the Nest kicks off with the Cincinnati Bengals.

We’ve had plenty of fun with the Bungholes in this space in the past so be sure to check out the 2008 edition (prominently featuring the late Chris Henry-R.I.P.) here, and the 2009 edition here.

This year we’re going to zero in our focus on two specific Bungholes, one an old nemesis and the other newly acquired by the Thundercats of North Kentucky.

Of course, the two Bengals of which we speak are Cincy’s wide receiver tandem of Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. These two have adopted the dual nickname of “Batman and Robin,” though some would suggest a more appropriate moniker would be “Dropman and Tweetin‘.” As these two are unrepentant bombastic famewhores, they took the nickname to its logical extreme and held a “Batman and Robin” photoshoot, complete with requisite Cincy Bengals “Batmobile” (Catmobile?)

Well isn’t that special?

When we look at “T.O.” and “Ocho” though, they look like a superhero tandem alright, albeit one of a slightly less dark variety.

Chad has said that he would happily play Robin to T.O.’s Batman. It seems more fitting to us that he play Ace and play with not to T.O.’s Gary.


At the very least, it will help these two console each other after the Ravens beat them to a pulp on Sunday.


Go Ravens.

Preston's Solution: Be More Like Best Players Ever

September 15, 2010

Preston’s words in italics.

In the Ravens’ 10-9 win against the Jets Monday night, Ryan was clearly outcoached by head coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens staff. It wasn’t really close.
The Ravens made some adjustments to their game plan, while the Jets stayed status quo on their way to defeat.

It was evident right from the start. Once Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked on the Ravens’ first offensive play, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron went with more tight and power formations, even an unbalanced line to help his offensive tackles and protect his quarterback.

I could be wrong here, but haven’t we heard time and again that Cameron scripts the first 10-20 plays of every game well before stepping on the field? Exactly what evidence does Preston have that the sack-fumble on Flacco resulted in Cam throwing his gameplan completely out the window? Cam was somehow SURPRISED that the Jets blitzed and got pressure?

“Oh, Rex is going to try to hit our quarterback? Well then, won’t be needing this anymore, I suppose…”

/throws playbook into the stands

/finds stick on the ground, starts drawing plays in the dirt

“Ok, team, here’s what we’re going to do….”

If Cam really did adjust his entire game plan on the fly AFTER ONE PLAY, he is either a complete moron, or…the person who suggested this scenario is.

In the passing game, the Ravens took advantage of one-on-one matchups, while Ryan never changed his blitz-happy scheme. Poor Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie. As members of the Jets secondary, they were repeatedly burned by Ravens receivers as the Ravens; pass protection schemes countered the Ryan blitzes.

Yes, poooor them. Wilson and Cromartie deserve our pity. You know who I feel sorry for? Cromartie’s kid…the one whose name he doesn’t remember.

While the Ravens were chucking it downfield, Ryan had second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez throwing mostly short passes. It got ridiculous after a while, especially since the biggest question mark surrounding the Ravens in 2010 is the suspect play of their cornerbacks.

Maybe Ryan didn’t get the memo.

Who uses “memos,” these days? Do you still use them in the newspaper business, Mike? That would certainly explain why the whole industry is on life support.

The Jets get messages to Rex Ryan the old fashioned way – by printing them in fortune cookies and on restaurant menus and the toilet paper at the Jets’ facility.

Look for more blitzes Sunday

The Ravens didn’t show a lot of exotic blitzes against the Jets because they didn’t have to, but that won’t work against the pass-happy Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer has receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, and the other player to keep an eye on is No. 3 receiver Andre Caldwell.

The Ravens couldn’t match up with Caldwell last season, and after Monday night’s game, we still don’t know have any idea if they can stop him because the Jets didn’t challenge the Ravens’ secondary.

/looks up Andre Caldwell

Caldwell has a groin injury and didn’t even play against New England. Also, he is listed as the fourth WR on Cincy’s depth chart, behind Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and Jordan Shipley. But yeah, the Ravens should focus on him this week.

Just lazy, Mike.

Flacco has room for improvement

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco turned in a decent performance Monday night against the Jets, and he “slid” well side to side to avoid some pressure, but he still needs to improve his mechanics.

Flacco is having some of the same problems as a year ago because he doesn’t step into some of his passes and he throws off his back foot. Flacco has to learn to step up in the pocket hard like a John Elway, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

Oh, is that it? Joe just has to be more like those three guys?

Fire quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn immediately and hire Mike Preston to replace him, Steve Bisciotti. He’s figured it out.

When he doesn’t step forward, he drops his elbow close to his body which causes his passes to sail. There are also times that he doesn’t know when to put air under the ball, and when to throw it on the line. It’s frustrating with Flacco because there are times when he shows the appropriate form, compared to his predecessor, Kyle Boller, who had very little technique.

Preston, showing that even though it’s been two full years since Kyle Boller suited up as a Raven, he can’t write piece without taking a jab at him.

Let it go, man.

The Ravens need to address these issues quickly because they have quality receivers who can go up and catch the ball. Sometimes with quarterbacks in this situation, they get lazy and rely more on their receivers than the appropriate mechanics.

“By week 8, I expect Joe Flacco to be throwing left-handed, no-look, behind-the-head passes because, shit…’ANQUAN IS OUT THERE!’”

Easy There Harbaugh

Harbaugh, understandably so, was extremely happy after the win against the Jets, but he got a little carried away when he said Lewis has not lost a step.

Let’s not go crazy.

Maybe Harbaugh hasn’t seen film of Lewis during the 2000 season.

This is the kind of throwaway, lazy shit that drives his readers crazy. Really, Mike? John Harbaugh never watched Ray Lewis play in 2000? Of course that’s it.

WTF is he going to go up there and say?

“Oh, well, if Ray wasn’t so old, fat, and slow compared to when he was 25, we would have won that game 10-0 easy, or maybe even 10-to-negative 12. I should really look into replacing that guy.”

Throw your keyboard into the Bay, Preston.

Nakamura the nickel again next week?

The Ravens have found a way of getting safety Haruki Nakamura on the field. Nakamura played as the nickel back against the Jets, and could be in the same situation against the Bengals even though the Ravens might be better off using another cornerback in this game.

Nakamura versus Caldwell?

I’m taking Caldwell in that matchup.

“Haruki, you may be the coach’s ‘favorite player,’ but you couldn’t cover an injured fourth-string wide receiver.”

Ravens reach settlements with two players

The Ravens have reached injury settlements with guard/center David Hale and offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers. The news about Hale is disappointing because he was one of the hardest workers on the team and was actually starting to become a solid player.

Maybe the Ravens will bring him back next season.

New game: take a shot every time Preston ends a blurb with a “Maybe…” comment.

Good effort by Suggs

Ravens defensive end/outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had six tackles against the Jets, including one sack. Suggs also had a couple of hurries.

It was a good game against a quality left tackle in New York’s D’Brickashaw Ferguson. And if Suggs can add a move or two to his repertoire and learn how to set up his moves, he could become the most dominant pass rusher in the NFL.

“What Suggs really needs to do is be more like Bruce Smith, Michael Strahan, and Reggie White. That’s the ticket.”

Keyboard, meet Bay, please.

Play Like a Raven – Week 1

September 14, 2010


Here at the Nest, we decided that, since Rex Ryan wants to take his “Play Like a ____” slogan with him to New York, Monday night’s game would be played for the rights to continue to use the phrase here. Had the Ravens lost the game, we’d have let Rex have it, and would have been forced to come up with some other name for our weekly awards post.

Of course, the Ravens won the game, so “Play Like a Raven” lives on here at the Nest.

Played Like a Raven – Anquan Boldin

The first time Anquan Boldin steps on the field for the Ravens is also the first time he receives this honor – hopefully this is but a sign of things to come from “Q.” In Boldin’s first action in purple and black, he was the best player on the field wearing those colors, at least when the Ravens had possession.

Q hauled in 7 passes for 110 yards, including receptions on 3rd-and-9 and 3rd-and-7 to convert first downs. Early in the 3rd quarter, with the team backed up on their own 11-yard line, Boldin got open down the seam for a huge 38 yard pick up. Two plays later, he found room down the left sideline for a gain of 27. According to the ESPN broadcast, Boldin had only ONE reception of 21+ yards in all of 2009, and he had just doubled that number in the last three snaps. So, for all we’ve heard about Boldin not being a “deep threat,” is that really the case, or was he just not utilized in that capacity in Arizona, where they had Larry Fitzgerald to fill that role.

Boldin also got in on the “get held by Antonio Cromartie” party (I gots rhymes, yo), which resulted in another Ravens’ 3rd-down conversion.

The only critique of Q would be if Jon Gruden was correct in his analysis of Flacco’s interception. In Chuckie’s view, Boldin was likely supposed to run a post on the play, and get his man (Cromartie) out of the play, which was designed to go to Todd Heap. Instead, Boldin hung out by the sideline, looked for the ball, and Cromartie pounced for the pick. Now, I haven’t talked to Q, Heap, or Flacco, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of Gruden’s assessment. However, if his words are true, it’s simply a matter of Boldin getting comfortable in his new offense, and issues like that will work themselves out sooner rather than later.

Anquan Boldin – welcome to the Ravens.

Honorable Mention – Sam Koch

Koch not only had a solid night punting the ball, but made a touchdown saving tackle on Jim Leonhard. Koch, who was a linebacker in high school and who Goob calls “the bodybuilding punter” showed that he can still hit a little bit.

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Tom Zbikowski

Oh, Zibby, Zibby, Zibby.

I’m sure you’re all groaning reading this, knowing exactly what I’m talking about.

With the Ravens clinging to a 10-6 lead near the end of the 3rd quarter, and having just forced ANOTHER Jets 3-and-out (which drew lusty boos from the hometown crowd), Zibby went back to receive a Steve Weatherford punt. Weatherford dropped the ball beautifully at the sideline on the Ravens’ 6-yard line, where Zibby was waiting. A fair catch was probably not completely necessary there – I just watched the play again on DVR and Tom could have easily caught the ball, skipped forward to about the 10, and went out of bounds.

Zibby had other ideas though. Forgetting momentarily that he was no longer returning punts for the Fighting Irish, he ran backwards diagonally from the 6-yard sideline to the middle of the field at the Ravens’ goalline, attempting to reverse field and run around the punt coverage of the Jets. Proving that not many players in the league can successfully pull off such a feat, let alone a white dude (no matter what Madden ’11 would have you believe), he was corralled by New York easily and very narrowly avoided one of two equally disastrous outcomes. Not only was he nearly tackled for a safety, but he lost the ball as he hit the ground, almost fumbling and giving the Jets a gift touchdown.

At that point in the game, a big special teams play was pretty much the only way the Jets and their anemic offense were going to regain the lead. After that debacle, the Ravens spent the next 10 minutes of game clock severely hampered by dreadful field position. On the ensuing possession, they punted from their 13, then the Jets punted from the Ravens’ 40, pinning them at the two. The Ravens managed ONE yard, and punted from the three. After a 22-yard return, the Jets set up shop from the Baltimore 35, got five yards and kicked a field goal for the game’s final points.

Luckily for Zibby, the defense (which he was, admittedly a part of) held despite his putting them in a terrible situation. Three points seems a small penance to pay for the kind of bone-headed play he made in running back into his own end zone.

He wasn’t quite done yet though. With 6 minutes to play, and the Ravens still clinging to that one-point lead, Zibby lined up under a Weatherford punt at the B’More 27 yard line, AGAIN eschewed the fair catch, and was immediately popped for a one yard loss. Again, a big special teams play was exactly what the doctor ordered in that situation for Gang Green. Thankfully, Zibby held onto the ball, but he had no business not waving the white flag there.

Here’s what Zibby had to say, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun:

“I took a chance on [the big mistake],” he said. “I lost track of where I was. I lined up on the 15, and I thought I was drifting more left, but I felt myself going back a little bit. I didn’t know I was that deep.”

John Harbaugh had this take:

“I thought he did a nice job of catching the ball and securing the ball, but I think he tried too hard to make a play,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Sometimes guys will do that in their first outing. You’ve got to respect the guys covering a little bit more and take the ball north and south. … Zibby will learn from that. We had a good conversation about it on the train, and it was good-hearted. He’ll be fine, but we need better.”

Harbaugh wouldn’t go as far to say that he is not considering other options on punt returns. Chris Carr averaged 8.2 yards on 32 punt returns last season.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We never rule anything out. Chris Carr’s an option and so are some other guys. But Zibby, I think he’ll be good at it.”

I’m not against giving Zibby another crack or two at it – but any more brainfarts like the one at the Meadowlands, and other options need to be explored, and quickly.

Ray Lewis Destroys Dustin Keller

September 14, 2010

For a lot of the night, Bart Scott may have outplayed Ray Lewis, causing a fumble and hurrying Joe Flacco several times. But in crunch time, it was Ray-Ray who had the final say. Two plays after this hit, Keller would step out of bounds after 9 yards on 4th-and-10, ending the game. Who’s to say if Keller just didn’t want to get hit again, or if he was still a bit woozy? Either way, the Twitter world was alive with talk of Ray:


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