Today, Goob joined Thyrl Nelson for a great interview about his winning the 2010 Ultimate Displaced Fan contest from DirecTV. Thryl really gave Goob (and by extention, The Nest) some great air time, so please take the time to listen to both segments below (total about 13 minutes).
Archive for January, 2011
Sure, we’re just six days away from Super Bowl XLV, but seeing as how “the team that shall not be named” is participating, we have much bigger priorities around here this week. First off, on Satuday our own Goob Theoharris is taking part in the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl. He’ll need to be in top form as he faces up against former NFL greats and other various celebrities. We’re going to take this opportunity to scout the game, and hopefully give Goob a leg up on his competition.
Now, Goob doesn’t yet know which team he’ll be a part of, or who his teammates will be, so we’ll just have to go through the lineups one by one and discuss how each could benefit/hinder Goob’s performance.
Warren Moon – Moon, a 2006 Pro Bowl inductee, went to 9 Pro Bowls in his NFL career, in addition to winning the Grey Cup (CFL’s version of the Super Bowl) five times. He threw for nearly 50,000 yards and 350 touchdowns during his time with the Houston Oilers, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, and Kansas City Chiefs. One of the teams will be led by Moon. Hopefully Goob’s. Because the other team will have…
Jesse Palmer – Palmer is best known for being “The Bachelor.” He threw three touchdowns and four interceptions as a member of the New York Giants after being drafted in the fourth round from the University of Florida in 2001. If Moon doesn’t want Goob on his team, Palmer will be forced to give our boy a rose. Hopefully if he picks Goob, their relationship will turn out better than the one where he picked Jessica Bowlin. ZING!
Eli Manning – One of the coaches will be Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning. I’d expect Eli will be too busy eating Oreo cookies and wondering where his mommy is to do a whole lot of actual coaching. Should Goob find himself on Elisha’s team, drawing his own plays in the dirt seems like the way to go. And, knowing Goob, he’ll do at least one thing to elicit this response from his coach:
Colt McCoy – The other coach is Browns’ QB Colt McCoy. In this case, Goob will have to avoid the urge to make fun of Colt for throwing two interceptions to Ed Reed and just being generally awful back in Week 16 when the Ravens visited Cleveland. On top of that – it’s Colt McCoy. Given the choice between a relatively unaccomplished rookie who performed decently at times or a former Super Bowl winner – even if it is the aforementioned Elisha – we have to hope that Goob gets placed on Manning’s team.
Former NFL Players
Merril Hoge – Hooooo boy. We’ve often remarked here at the Nest just how much we think of the unabashed Steeler-loving/Raven-hating Hoge. Here’s hoping Goob gets lined up on the opposite side of Hoge, and gets in a cheap shot as the former fullback looks the other way. Then he can just say he learned it from watching Hoge’s girlfriend, Hines Ward. Though, if Hoge’s “uniform” from last year’s bowl is any indication, he’s more likely the girl in the relationship.
Daryl Johnston – What is this, the Celebrity Beach Former Fullback Bowl? “Moose” will likely be on the opposite team of Hoge. Johnston went to two Pro Bowls during his career, while most Steeler fans don’t even remember Hoge playing for them. Moose is the one we want on our team.
Eddie George – Another player that Goob will be able to taunt for being a Ravens’ whipping boy. “Don’t drop this one like you did that pass in the 2000 AFC Divisional Game, Eddie!” should be a nice little bit of smack talk to get in the former Ohio State Buckeye and Tennessee Titan’s head. Of course, Eddie and the Titans smashed the Ravens’ dreams in 2003, winning a playoff game of their own at M&T Bank Stadium. Still, in general, the Ravens have always owned the Titans when it matters. If all else fails, Goob can ask the alien-looking George when his spaceship is coming back to take him home.
Barry Sanders – I have a Barry Sanders replica jersey that I won in a bar contest back when I was like 14 (being the only sober one playing definitely helped), so I know what I’ll be wearing to watch the game. Sanders’ slick moves will probably be less effective in sand than they were on artificial turf back in his playing days, but I, for one, am still very much looking forward to Barry juking the hell out of Goob and leaving him in the dust/sand. I promise to get it on camera for your viewing and mocking pleasure.
Darren Woodson – Woodson was on the Cowboys team that handed Pittsburgh their only (to date) Super Bowl loss, back in Super Bowl XXX, so the first thing Goob needs to do is thank him for that. In addition, they can make fun of the Buffalo Bills together, both having a bit of a history with that franchise. Woodson was also on the Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII teams that both defeated Buffalo, while Goob has his own interesting relationship with the fine people of Buffalo. Otherwise, Goob will be wise to avoid Woodson, one of the hardest hitting players to suit up back in the 90s.
Tomorrow: Part 2 – Celebrities (i.e. Marisa Miller, Brie Larson, Hunter Parrish, Jerry Ferrara, more)
My buddy Glenn Clark of WNST posted this dramatic reenactment of the Steelers’ 3rd-and-19 conversion that led directly to their win over the Ravens in the Divisional round of this year’s NFL playoffs.
Because we have to laugh, or else we’ll cry.
Once again – unfortunately a few weeks earlier than we would have preferred – it’s Draft Season here at the Nest.
First, our usual disclaimer:
Admittedly, we take a very unscientific approach to our mock drafts. I’m the first to admit that the true draft geeks amongst you, dear readers, would probably be better served getting your information elsewhere (Glenn Clark, for one). These posts are done knowing full well that 1000’s of variables will come into effect between now and the time the Ravens turn in their pick for the first round, and that literally anything can happen. However, that being said, chances are we won’t be appreciably further off on our predictions than any of the other “gurus” out there will turn out to be.
So, if you are just looking for some fun, informal information, we hope you’ll give us a look from time to time as the big April date approaches.
We now know that the Ravens will be picking 26th (in the absence of any trades) in the first round this year. That’s one spot down from last year, when they ended up trading out of the 25th spot anyway.
The way we do things around here this early in the draft season then, is to look at the 26th ranked player on some “big boards” from around the web.
Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
Scouts, Inc. has Houston as their #3 ranked OLB currently, behind Von Miller (#9 overall) of Texas A&M, and Akeem Ayers of UCLA (#18) . The junior, listed at 6’3″ 254 lb, started all 13 games for the Bulldogs in 2010 and totaled 67 tackles including a team-leading 18.5 for loss and 10.0 sacks to go along with 44 quarterback pressures, two pass break ups, an INT, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Houston was named the Bulldogs’ Most Valuable Defensive Player, and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Butkus Award and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award. He totaled 20.0 sacks during his three seasons in Athens. (source: http://www.georgiadogs.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/houston_justin00.html)
The Ravens have swung and missed on the outside linebacker pass-rushing type twice lately. First with Paul Kruger in the 2009 second round; Kruger was largely ineffective for his first 1.75 seasons or so, before showing life down the stretch and into the postseason in 2010. Then there was the Sergio Kindle mess from a year ago. At this point, it’s still largely up in the air whether or not Kindle will ever play a down in the NFL. It is a well-known fact that an area of huge need for this team is more pass rushing help, in the form of a compliment to Terrell Suggs on the other side. You have to wonder, though, if Ozzie & Co. will start to get a bit gun-shy about drafting pass rushers, given their recent string of bad luck. If they’re 100% sold on Houston, he could be a very welcome addition to Charm City. Otherwise, the Ravens may be better off opting for a more established free agent-type.
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Harris is listed as the #3 cornerback on the CBS board, behind Patrick Peterson of LSU (#1 overall) and Prince Amukamara of Nebraska (#7). Another junior, Harris stands 5’10.5″ and weighs in at 193 lbs. CBS has this to say about Harris:
Read & React: Quick to recognize run and does a nice job of coming up in support. Reads the body language of the receiver and is typically in good position to a make a play on the ball due to his instincts and standout athleticism. Rarely out of position, especially when playing man to man. Does a nice job of focusing on his receiver rather than peeking into the backfield, though this leads to fewer interceptions than he’d have if he “cheated” more.
Man Coverage: Better in man to man coverage than zone due to his pure athleticism. Quick feet, loose hips, good balance and outstanding speed to remain in the hip pocket of his opponent. Doesn’t back down from the challenge of playing bigger receivers. Keys on the receiver and gets his head around late. Quick hands to knock passes away, but doesn’t have the time to locate the football, leading to more PBUs than INTs.
Zone Coverage: Improved his overall recognition as a junior, but remains a better man to man corner than zone defender. Good feel for where receivers are around him, but can get flat-footed and savvy QBs can “push” him laterally, opening up holes for receivers to expose. Generally a reliable open-field tackler, but isn’t a punisher.
Closing/Recovery: Possesses outstanding game speed, including a late burst to recover if beaten initially. Can plant and drive downhill on the ball. Good recognition to know when he’s beat and to make the tackle and when he has a chance to break up the pass or go for the interception. Times his collisions well so he doesn’t draw the flag. Times his leaps well to compete for jump passes and shows good hand-eye coordination to slap away the ball as the receiver is attempting to secure it. Doesn’t turn enough PBU’s into interceptions, however, only securing four despite 26 passes defensed over his career.
Run Support: Recognizes run quickly and isn’t afraid to come up in support. Good agility and flashes physicality to break free from receiver blocks. Maintains his containment responsibility and will force the back inside. Isn’t a physical tackler, too often resorting to duck and swipe techniques, but gets the man on the ground.
Tackling: A reliable open-field tackler, but isn’t always pretty doing it. Has a tendency to lead with his shoulder and/or lunge at the defender, resulting in some precarious tackles. Flashes the ability to deliver a pop, but relies too much on arm tackles. Has to do a better job of wrapping up the ballcarrier, though important to note that he did not miss a tackle on the games reviewed. Occasionally asked to blitz off the edge. Times the blitz well, shows good closing speed and the wherewithal to strip the football. Did take a terrible angle on a big play by Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd in the Sun Bowl.
Intangibles: Passionate and accountable. Quoted as saying that he and his classmates (2008 signing class) should dedicate their 2010 season to head coach Randy Shannon and that they were largely to blame for Miami’s inconsistency. (Despite Harris’ words, Shannon was ultimately fired.) Ran track for Miami as a freshman in the 60 meter (indoor), 400 meter (outdoor) and 4×400 meter (both). Good bloodlines. Coached in high school by his father, Tim Harris, USA Today’s National Coach of the Year (2007). His brother, Tim, Jr. was a four-time All-American in track for Miami. Only needs to serve a two-month internship to earn his bachelor’s degree in Business.
Cornerback is another area of (at least, perceived) need for the Ravens. Unfortunately, Harris doesn’t really fit the bill as the kind of big, physical guy Baltimore really needs. The fact that he’s listed at “Five ten and a half” is a red flag to me that he is a bit on the small side. Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, and Fabian Washington are all free agents though, and it seems likely that no more than one of the three will be wearing purple and black in 2011. While Harris may not be the prototypical “shut down” corner, CBS still touts his coverage skills as “among the best available in the 2011 draft.” The fact that he is a University of Miami Hurricane, and would be eager to join fellow ‘Canes Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, only increases the odds that the Ravens would target him in my book. Good cornerbacks are hard to find, and in my estimation Harris would be a solid selection.
That’s it for the first installment of Mock Draft ’11 here at the Nest. We’ll do this at least a few more times though, and try to bring you as many different opinions from the wide world of draft gurus as we can between now and April.
Over the weekend, the Ravens agreed to terms with kicker Billy Cundiff for a new contract, the value of which is reported to be 5 years and $15 million.
Cundiff, who tied the modern NFL record with 40 touchbacks, will be planting kickoffs into the end zone for years to come. Let’s hope that 2010 was his new “norm” and not an anomaly. Prior to last season, Cundiff’s high for touchbacks in a season was…wait for it…THREE! He had three or more touchbacks in a game NINE times this year. An outlier in his career numbers, to say the least. The Ravens, though, must be satisfied with Cundiff’s assertion that he has simply “found the sweet spot” on the ball, and must not be in the least bit suspicious that he’s pumping horse steroids into his right quadriceps.
Cundiff also had his best year kicking field goals in 2010, at 26/29. That 89.7% success mark was 10 points better than his previous high of 79.3, set in 2003 with Dallas.
Billy Cundiff had, by all markers, a career year in 2010. Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti rewarded him for that career year with a huge (for a kicker) contract. Let’s hope Billy can repeat the success he experienced this season in the coming years, or the Ravens could easily regret ignoring their long-held policy of not paying specialists top dollar.
Last month, we posted Goob’s entry into DirecTV’s “Ultimate Displaced Fan” Contest, and begged for your votes. Well, apparently you guys came through, because out of the more than 3000 entries into the contest, Goob’s was chosen from among the finalists as the GRAND PRIZE WINNER!
That’s right, our very own Goob Theoharris is DirecTV’s 2010 Ultimate Displaced Fan. As part of his Grand Prize, Goob wins a trip to the Super Bowl in Dallas! As his videographer skills were honed right here at B’More Birds’ Nest (and some of his past Nest videos were a big part of his winning entry), Goob is being kind enough to take me along as his guest.
So, next month will be “NestMinder and Goob Do Dallas” time here at the Nest.
Also as part of his win, Goob gets to hang out with his favorite Raven for a full media tour, and play in the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Flag Football Game, where he will be catching passes from the likes of Joe Montana or Steve Young, and hopefully matching up in (wo)man coverage with Marisa Miller.
Here is a video of last year’s winner for an idea of what Goob has in store (minus Whines Hard, of course):
Congratulations, Goob. This whole thing is absolutely insane, and is still sinking in for the both of us.
We’ll be at the Super Bowl. Unfortunately – although we had seen this contest win as a GREAT sign for them when we first found out last week – the Ravens will not be joining us. In an even crueler twist of fate, should Rex Ryan’s Jets not be able to pull off a huge upset on Sunday night, we’ll have to go watch the mf’ing Pittsburgh Steelers play in the Super Bowl.
It’s like the universe is playing a terrible, terrible joke on us. It’s as if we made a deal with the devil – but instead of getting our souls, we have to watch the Steelers play in the big game. Can’t wait to be surrounded by Steelers’ “fans” that grew up in Arlington and Fort Worth, Texas.
At least we’ll get to cheer against them, I guess?
Ugh. GO JETS!
Here is the full press release, lest you think we are joking: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/press/2010-ultimate-displaced-fan,1622732.html
After the Ravens’ lack of offensive weapons were again woefully exposed in the Playoffs in a 20-3 loss in Indianapolis in January 2010, Ozzie Newsome had seen enough. He went out and traded with the Arizona Cardinals to acquire wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Boldin was expected to be the missing piece to the Ravens’ passing attack, having amassed 80+ receptions and 1000+ yards in five of his seven seasons in the league. The “big name” wide receiver that the Ravens had been missing for their entire existence in Baltimore was finally on the roster. “Q” was going to be the difference for the Ravens.
While not a burner, Boldin’s M.O. has always been yards after the catch. He has been described as “a running back playing wide receiver,” for his prowess once the ball is in his hands in the open field. Cam Cameron, of course, never figured out how to make this situation – Boldin with the ball in his hands in the open field – a consistent part of the offense. Boldin was woefully underutilized, finishing 2010 with career lows in receptions and yards for any season in which he played at least 11 games. The Ravens passing attack was actually worse, going from 18th overall (213.7 yards per game) in 2009, to 20th (208.4) in 2010.
It’s not Boldin’s fault that Cam Cameron is a god damned moron and can’t get his best players the ball.
However, Boldin had a chance on Saturday night to truly be the difference that the Ravens brought him here to be. He had a chance to bail out his quarterback and his team for their awful third quarter in Pittsburgh, during which they absolutely gave away a berth in the AFC Championship Game.
For as bad as Joe Flacco was after halftime at Heinz Field (and make no mistake, he was awful), the fact is, in crunch time, he made the two throws he needed to, when given the chance.
After Lardarius Webb’s punt return was called back on a dubious holding penalty, Flacco and the offense took over at the Pittsburgh 29 with 5:55 to play, trailing by a score of 24-21. On the first play, Flacco hit Todd Heap for a beautiful 21-yard gain in front of Troy Polamalu.
With 1st-and-goal from the Steelers’ 8 yard line, Cam again took the ball out of Joe’s hands, running two straight ill-advised a-gap rushing plays. These plays picked up a predictable two total yards.
Facing 3rd-and-goal, with the season on the line and 4:02 on the clock, Joe threw a perfect pass to Boldin that looked to give the Ravens a 28-24 lead. The ball was low and away from the defender, where only Q could catch it. It hit him right on the shoulder pads before falling to the ground, incomplete.
The Ravens would settle for a field goal to tie the game at 24, and 3rd-and-19 later, the rest was history.
Of course, Flacco would again be let down by one of the Ravens’ big-name WR acquisitions, this time T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Housh dropped what should have been a first down completion on 4th-and-18 on what would be the Ravens’ final offensive snap of the 2010 season.
Mark Clayton, anybody?
To his credit, Housh at least admitted his error:
“It’s unbelievable,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I can’t believe that happened. I would bet every dollar I have that I make that.”
Boldin, on the other hand, blamed a poor throw for his drop:
“It was just a low throw,” he said. “I tried to come up with it.”
Q, you weren’t brought here to TRY. You were brought here to be the difference, to make the big catch in the key spot. You failed miserably. The throw was fine. You should have caught it. Just say so.
Boldin and Houshmandzadeh were brought in to be the difference for the Ravens.
On Saturday, they were.
Just not in the way we had hoped.
In a somewhat surprising – but nonetheless very welcome – move, Ravens’ defensive coordinator Greg Mattison decided this evening to leave Baltimore to join the Michigan Wolverines to take the same position.
While I believe Mattison was the recipient of some slightly unfair criticism during his two years as mastermind of the Ravens’ defense – his units finished #3 and #10, respectively – I’m not absolving him of his share of the blame for Saturday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Mattison’s decision to use his patented 3-man rush on the 3rd-and-19 that the Steelers would ultimately convert is, in my mind, a fire-able offense on its own.
The Ravens immediately announced that secondary coach Chuck Pagano would be taking over for Mattison. Pagano, 50, has been with the Ravens since 2008. He has previously coached at the University of North Carolina (defensive coordinator), in Oakland with the Raiders (defensive backs), in Cleveland with the Browns (secondary), and at the University of Miami (defensive backs) among other stops.
Let’s hope Pagano’s first act as DC is to rip out every page from the Ravens’ defensive playbook that has the words “3-man rush” on it.
Oh, and, hey Michigan – you guys need an offensive coordinator too, riiiiiight?
And it’s not, as many Ravens fans will argue, because he is “too conservative.”
As a matter of fact, the Pittsburgh Steelers have came out and said that the reason they were able to so easily and effectively harass Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense in the second half Saturday was because they knew all too well that Cam would NOT be conservative.
Safety Ryan Clark said that the Steelers knew that the Ravens would come out throwing the ball on first down in the second half, likely off of a play-action fake. One can imagine the defensive line being explicitly told to go full bore after Flacco, and to not fall for the play action.
“We played this team tons of times,” said safety Ryan Clark, who created both turnovers that helped the Steelers tie the score. “We know this team. We kind of knew what Cam Cameron was going to come out and do to us. We knew he wasn’t going to shut it down totally. He was going to try to get some yards on first down with the pass, and then run and protect [Ravens quarterback Joe] Flacco. We really guarded the pass on first down.”
Result? Sacks on the Ravens’ first two first downs (of two separate possessions) in the third quarter.
This was a situation where, leading 21-7, and with the defense playing lights out, the only way Pittsburgh could get back into the game was likely with turnovers. “Run the ball, run some clock, punt it away” should have been the Ravens’ MO to start the second half. Instead, Cameron was aggressive when he should have been conservative.
Later, it was just the opposite.
After Lardarius Webb’s 55-yard punt return touchdown was nullified by penalty (this is me zipping my lips about that particular call), Flacco connected with Todd Heap for 21 yards to set up 1st-and-goal from the Steelers’ 8 yard line, with the Ravens trailing 24-21.
What does Cam Cameron call? Perhaps another wonderfully designed pick play like the one that resulted in Heap’s 4-yard score in the second quarter? Or a spread draw like the one that Ray Rice was able to turn into the team’s first touchdown of the day? Maybe something else equally creative and potentially effective?
No. Cameron calls back-to-back runs – from running formations – right into the teeth of the Steelers defense. Even after being completely shut down on those types of plays ALL DAY to that point, that’s what Cam went with. Willis McGahee got two yards on first down and Rice was stopped for no gain on second.
Then, of course, Anquan Boldin dropped what should have been the go-ahead touchdown (a topic for another day).
I will argue that Cameron’s problems are much more complicated than the blanket issue of “being too conservative.” Instead, Cam just has absolutely no feel for the game, and for when it is appropriate to be conservative compared to when it is time to attack.
Of course, there are also reasons why Cam should NOT be fired, and those are being discussed all around town today as well. It’s an argument that seems very likely to be taking place at the Castle in Owings Mills as well. Much to the dismay of many Ravens fans, early indications are that Cam will return in 2011. Some have suggested that may change though, after John Harbaugh meets with owner Steve Bisciotti later in the week.