Archive for October, 2011

GOOBVISION: Undercover to Expose Bandwagon Steelers Fans

October 31, 2011

We kick off Steelers Week here at the Nest with this very special piece of investigative journalism from Goob. During the Ravens’ bye week, Goob went undercover to a Steelers bar down in Raleigh to talk to some towel wavers. He asked them some “tough” questions to try to expose them for the fairweather bandwagon riders they are, and the results were…well, see for yourself:

In honesty, all of these people seem very nice, and we wish them happy healthy lives. Of course, things would have probably went over a lot differently were Goob to have worn his signature Beak Hat and purple jersey. So let’s just hope those long aforementioned happy healthy lives involve LOTS of watching their beloved group of yellow-and-black-wearing criminals losing football games, specifically to the purple and black, and especially this coming Sunday night.

Ravens 30 Cardinals 27 (The GREATEST COMEBACK IN TEAM HISTORY Game)

October 30, 2011

Like most of you, at about 2:30 Sunday afternoon I was ready to put this game in the rear view mirror and never speak of it again. Just as the Ravens completely phoned in the first half of the game, I was preparing myself to do the same with this recap – something like “Ravens lose. You don’t want to hear about it. The end.” Entering the locker room trailing 24-6 to a 1-5 football team that hadn’t won a road game in their last 10 tries, following directly on the heels of the debacle in Jackonville Monday night, it was looking like the Ravens’ 2011 season was coming apart at the seams before our eyes.

Then, of course, the second half happened.

The Ravens came out and scored a touchdown on their opening drive, with Anquan Boldin putting the team on his back Greg Jennings/Marshawn Lynch – style, and they would ultimately outscore Arizona 24-3 over the game’s final 30 minutes for a last-minute victory that sealed the largest comeback (21 points) in franchise history.

It was truly a tale of two halves. In the first, things were going about as expected, with the defense stifling the Cardinals and the offense relying heavily on Ray Rice after Monday’s struggles, but ultimately failing to manage points, even when they did move the ball.

Then the oblong pigskin started bouncing the Cards’ way. Just like a few weeks ago against Houston, it seemed as if every time the ball hit the turf, it went right to an Arizona player.

Jarret Johnson causes a Kevin Kolb fumble, Arizona recovers.

Joe Flacco gets hit and fumbles, and the Cardinals fall on it on the Ravens’ 1 yard line.

The B’More special teams unit misses five tackles to allow a punt return touchdown.

Flacco puts one right in Torrey Smith’s chest, Smith bats it up in the air, and it goes right to a waiting white jersey.

It was looking like just another of those days.

But the Ravens went into the locker room and decided collectively – Anquan Boldin most specifically – that they weren’t going out like this. They weren’t going to fall to 4-3 in front of a home crowd that had been basically forced into booing them as they left the field following what was now six consecutive quarters of horrific offensive football (13 points total over the past 1.5 games).

It was a new team in the second, as Flacco would snap out of his funk with the team going shotgun no-huddle. He was 5/5 on the opening drive, and Boldin drew a pass interference flag in the end zone to set up what would be the first of Ray Rice’s three touchdowns in the half. Two drives later, Joe would hit Boldin four times for 80 yards on a single series, including ANOTHER pass interference in the end zone that led to a Ray Rice score.

As the quarter came to a close, the game’s third end zone PI – Rice TD sequence put the purple and black up 27-24.

On Arizona’s ensuing drive, though, they were the ones that were beneficiaries of the yellow laundry raining down on the M&T Bank Stadium turf. Twice Ravens penalties kept the Cardinals’ drive alive on what initially looked like failed 3rd down attempts. The second negated an Ed Reed interception that likely would have helped seal the game. Throw in a rare dropped pick by Ray Lewis (that would have probably went for six), and Arizona, despite themselves, had pulled the game back even.

A beautiful Sam Koch punt with just over three minutes to play that pinned Arizona at their own two could have very well been the play that really decided the game. That punt put the Cards in a precarious position of trying to move for the winning score but also having to be cognizant to not go quickly three-and-out to give the Ravens the ball right back. Though they managed a first down on a Kolb scramble, they ended up having to punt from their own 5 with just over a minute to play anyway.

On second down, Flacco hit Torrey Smith – after missing the rookie from Maryland a handful of times throughout the game – for a 36-yard gain that set the Ravens up at the five yard-line and a chip-shot game winning kick.

Boldin’s beastly 7 catch, 145 yard performance against his former team certainly earns him the offensive game ball. Credit is also due Flacco, who set career highs in attempts and completions once Cam Cameron got his head out of his own rear end and let the fourth-year quarterback do what he does best.

Speaking of that, the Ravens unfortunately find themselves at a bit of an offensive crossroads. Their best offensive player is their running back, and they have perhaps the NFL’s best blocking fullback. However, their quarterback does his best work – by far – in the shotgun, due in no small part to the offensive line’s complete inability to block anybody for any appreciable amount of time or pick up blitzes effectively (Arizona sacked Joe three times in the first half, and defenders were in his face on seemingly every drop back).

There is no clear answer. It will be very interesting to see what the game plan is next week against a Pittsburgh defense that is again playing at a high level (today holding the great Tom Brady and his New England passing attack under wraps).

On the defensive side of the ball, Terrell Suggs had perhaps the game of his life. He sacked Kolb once, but barely missed on two others, had nine tackles (at least four for losses), and hit Kolb as he was throwing to force the lame duck that Jameel McClain would ultimately intercept.

Paul Kruger had his first multi-sack day as a Raven, hauling Kolb down twice. As a whole, the defense racked up six sacks on the day, and had another overall strong performance, allowing only 207 total yards and stopping 9/11 Arizona third-down tries.

This schizophrenic B’More team needs to find some consistency, and fast. They travel to Heinz Field next week, and since nobody told the Patriots that Pittsburgh is now old and slow, the Steelers and Ravens enter the game even in the loss column with two each. Following that, they travel cross-country to take on Seattle before coming home for crucial matchups against the upstart Bengals (5-2) and 49ers (6-1).

The team that played the final two quarters on Sunday – and not the one that played the previous six – needs to show up for these games.

On offense, anyway.

The defense is fine.

It would also be great if some of these fumbles would start bouncing to the good guys.

Todd Heap Thanks Baltimore in Sun Ad

October 28, 2011

Again proving just what a classy individual he is, Todd Heap took out a full page ad in today’s Baltimore Sun thanking Art Modell, Steve Bisciotti, and Baltimore Ravens fans for what he calls “so many wonderful memories.”

While Heap “hopes” to take the field Sunday, the tight end has been slowed with a hamstring injury. He will undoubtedly receive a warm welcome from the M&T Bank Stadium crowd (unlike Derrick Mason did a few weeks ago…and then again a couple weeks later).

You’re welcome, Todd. But really, it’s us fans that should be thanking you.

Here’s to one last HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAPPPP!

For a decade, my wife Ashley, and I took great pride in calling Baltimore home. We greatly appreciated the way the city embraced our family and took us in as your own. We wanted to publicly and emphatically thank you for all of your incredible support over the years.

I would like to personally thank Art Modell for all that he has done, not only for me, but for the passionate people of Baltimore. Mr. Modell brought football back to the city and restored fans’ pride in cheering for their home team. Our thoughts are with Mr. Modell as he mourns the loss of his wonderful wife Pat. I would also like to thank not only Steve Bisciotti for his great leadership of the Ravens organization, but also all of those within the organization who have been like family to me. I have played with so many great Ravens teammates over the years, and am honored and proud to have stepped on the field with each of you. And last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank you…the fans. I am blessed to do what I do for a living. And I know that this great game is what it is because we have you supporting us. Your support has touched my family, and I will never forget the cheers of the crowd each and every time you roared “Heeeeap.” Ravens fans, you are tremendous!

Although it was not my decision to leave Baltimore, I accept that change is sometimes necessary. Certain that I have a few good years of football left in me, I’m excited about my future with the Arizona Cardinals. But the city of Baltimore will always be special to me and my family. Thank you for so many wonderful memories.

Sincerely,

Todd Heap

Cardinals (1-5) @ Ravens (4-2)

October 28, 2011

Coming off one of their worst offensive performances in team history Monday night in Jacksonville, the Ravens look to get back on track against the Arizona Cardinals this week at M&T Bank Stadium. The debacle against the Jags most reminded me of The Worst Offense in All the Land Game from back in 2007, when Shayne Graham kicked 7 field goals as the Bengals beat the Ravens 21-7. There are some unfortunate other similarities between this team and the ’07 purple and black, most notably that they too, started 4-2 before forgetting how to score points. Sunday is a chance for this year’s squad to right the ship and hopefully avoid a fate resembling in any way that team that ended up a dismal 5-11 after a promising first six weeks of the season.

They couldn’t ask for a better opponent to “get healthy” against, as the Cardinals have been struggling mightily all year. Their only victory came in week 1, by the skin of their teeth, against Cam Newton in his first NFL start. They have since lost five straight, falling to such powerhouses as Washington (3-3), Seattle (2-4), and Minnesota (1-6). Throw in that they are a west coast team flying east for a 1 PM game against a Ravens team that is 22-5 at M&T Bank Stadium under John Harbaugh, and the deck is clearly stacked in the Ravens’ favor here.

After what we witnessed last week, though, it’s hard to imagine any sort of cakewalk for this team, even if it was the Towson Tigers lining up against them on Sunday afternoon. While all Ravens fans (and defensive players) will be clamoring for a heavy dose of Ray Rice against Arizona, the numbers suggest that attacking the Cardinals’ secondary is the best way to beat them. Joe Flacco has always played better at home through his three-plus years in Baltimore anyway, and Arizona has been torched through the air here in 2011, coming in with the 28th-ranked pass defense. Hell, they even gave up 291 yards to Rex Grossman back in week 2. They’ve intercepted only four passes and registered just 13 sacks in their six games, both near the bottom of the NFL.

They’ve been much stingier on the ground, having allowed only Adrian Peterson of the Vikings to break the 100-yard plateau this season, and coming in at #14 in rush defense. Last week, they held Pittsburgh’s Rashard Mendenhall to just 2.5 yards per carry on 13 attempts (though Isaac Redman managed 4.8 on 6 carries). While getting Rice going will (and should always) be a priority for the Ravens, this may be a situation where the passing game can open up the running game, as opposed to vice versa. If that’s the case, we have to hope we have “Good Joe” this Sunday, and not “bad Joe.” It looks like Ben Grubbs and Lee Evans will again sit out, so there are no white horses coming over the horizon to rescue this Ravens offense. It will simply be a matter of continuing to jell on that offensive line (especially Bryant McKinnie and Andre Gurode on the left side), and of Joe making the proper decisions and better throws than he did on Monday night.

Again, everything in his past suggests that he’ll do just that, as he usually not only plays better at home, but follows up a bad game with a good one, especially here in 2011. While that kind of inconsistency is not exactly comforting, and won’t fly long-term, it at least bodes well for a strong performance against Arizona.

Of course, the Cardinals can sling the rock in their own right. While new quarterback Kevin Kolb has not exactly lit the world on fire through six games after coming over in the offseason from the Philadelphia Eagles, he is at least a much more formidable opponent than the likes of Blaine Gabbert, who the Ravens handled easily last week. Kolb was a respectable 18/34 for 272 yards 2 TD and 1 INT against a strong Pittsburgh pass defense last week, and even though nobody is confusing him with Kurt Warner (who nearly led Arizona back from a huge deficit the last time they came to B’More), he still has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, which would make even you or I dangerous under center.

The Ravens’ secondary is finally starting to get healthy. Jimmy Smith returned for a few snaps in Jacksonville, and both Chris Carr and Tom Zbikowski could make their returns to the lineup this week. While nobody expects Smith to step right in and lock down Fitty in what would amount to his first real coverage assignment in the NFL, it’s at least nice to have somebody who can even come close to matching Fitzgerald in physical stature (6’3″ 218 lb to Smith’s 6’2″ 211) running around with him. Ed Reed is due for a pick, having not pulled one in since week 1, and Kolb would be just the guy to get one from. Kevin knows all about #20, as he was the one that threw Ed’s 108-yard interception return touchdown back in 2008 after the Ravens knocked Donovan McNabb from the game.

Again, the Ravens couldn’t have really asked for a better situation to rebound from their embarrassing loss to the Jags. Which isn’t to suggest that the Cardinals will simply roll over and die; they’re an NFL team. As Jacksonville showed, even an inferior squad can rise up and pull off an upset if you don’t bring your “A” game. But if the Ravens are anywhere near the team they fancy themselves to be, they’ll rebound – and in a big way – this week in front of the home crowd. If they’d won on Monday Night, I’d worry about this being a bit of a trap game, with the team perhaps looking forward to Pittsburgh in week 9. They can make no such mistakes now though. Let’s hope New England, coming off their bye, can stomp the Steelers at Heinz Field, which would help put the Ravens back on top in the AFC North (assuming they take care of business against Arizona).

Time to show that last week was a fluke. The margin for error has been cut dramatically moving forward.

Ravens 27 Cardinals 13

GOOBVISION: Cardinals @ Ravens Preview

October 27, 2011

Last week, Goob didn’t do a Jaguars pregame video – and we all know how that turned out. So just to make sure the Ravens don’t lay another turd on Sunday, here’s some Cards/Ravens GOOBVISION!

Keeping Cam Cameron Around is Complete Insanity

October 26, 2011

Insanity (adj.): Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results ~ Albert Einstein

Football is a team sport and a team not only wins but loses together.

Once again, the defensive side of the ball was dominant for the Ravens while the offense struggled to maintain drives with even a single first down until the third quarter.

The head coach is ultimately held accountable for the performance of the team but he also must be held accountable for the decisions made by his coordinators. Every bit of praise Chuck Pagano receives for the Ravens defense is deserved; the same can be said for Cam Cameron and the criticisms he takes for the ever-struggling Ravens offense.

After being fired after a 1-15 record with the Miami Dolphins, Cam Cameron has, over four seasons in Baltimore, left a bad taste in the mouths of Ravens fans and it has people calling for his head.

Cameron hasn’t received a bit of praise for his impression left on a football team in over five years and it’s all due to one thing:

Cam Cameron does the same things over and over again, ergo he’s insane!

The Baltimore Ravens playbook lacks creativity and doesn’t utilize the talents of the very same players that treat it as their bible.

Pointing fingers after a heartbreaking loss is easy to do, however, the consistency of our inconsistent offense can only be traced back to the person responsible for their everyday efforts.

The Ravens offense has only put together a complete game plan twice this season; the rest of the games have left plenty of decisions and efforts to be criticized.  After each miserable offensive performance, it becomes more evident that Cam Cameron has somehow found a way to ride the coat tails of his talented players, not his football IQ.

The four years Cam coached in San Diego as their offensive coordinator, record-breaking seasons from LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates were purely based off their talent, not Cameron’s creativity.

Currently, Cameron is the beneficiary of Ray Rice’s talents. Rice is called upon weekly to make something out of nothing. When Rice is thrown the ball, it’s typically because it’s a check down from Joe Flacco due to every receiver is being covered; what Rice does with the ball after he catches it can only be attributed to his talents. Receivers in the Ravens offense are covered way too often because the playbook lacks complicated or unpredictable passing patterns.

Without Ray Rice being able to make something out of nothing, this team may only win six games.

On Monday, Rice carried eight times for 28 yards while fumbling twice. Rice has done more than his share to earn the respect of this coaching staff to not have his role reduced just because of two fumbles. Even though his NFL leading streak of 522 consecutive touches without a fumble was snapped on Monday, he can’t be abandoned.

The quarterback play was slow and abysmal. Cam cannot be to blame for Joe Flacco’s inaccuracy, but creating separation from the wide receivers in the secondary is his job. No slant patterns were called until the end of the game and nothing was done to try to jump-start this offense.

Flacco’s demeanor is constantly questioned and I blame that on Cam as well. Flacco clearly still has an issue with the dismissal of former quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn and the main reason Zorn is gone was because he and Cameron butted heads over control of the offense

Joe Flacco’s mannerism on the sideline and his attitude during discussions with Cam only further proves that point that the two don’t get along.

It’s pretty easy to see that if you connect the dots all the problems trace back to Cam Cameron. Unfortunately, it may not be in the best interest of the Ravens to fire him mid-season a la Jim Fassell in 2006.

No one on the coaching staff could effectively replace Cameron. The only way the Ravens may make a move is if the front office decides that attitude is more important than experience.

After the dismissal of Jim Zorn, John Harbaugh made his bed and now he has to lay in it too. Many whispers dictate that Harbaugh solely vouched for Cameron to stick around this season and gave him another shot.

Harbaugh’s personnel decisions may be just as bad as his end of game management and could ultimately one day cost him his job, and the Ravens another Super Bowl.

The bottom line is this – it’s all Cam Cameron’s fault and he has to go. It may not be the best decision to do it now but who knows how much more this offense can struggle with him at the helm.

Regardless if he finishes out the season or not, it just puts more pressure on Harbaugh, Flacco and the rest of the 53 men in what could be becoming a divided locker room.

Jaguars 12 Ravens 7 (The MOST EMBARRASSING THING ON MNF SINCE DRUNK JOE NAMATH Game)

October 25, 2011

On Friday night, I dislocated my knee while swinging a bat during a coed softball game. I ended up on the ground in the fetal position literally screaming at the top of my lungs in pain while waiting to be carted off the field on a stretcher.

That’s how my weekend started.

What a fitting end to the weekend, then, that the Ravens would have me figuratively screaming at the top of my lungs as I watched them completely embarrass themselves in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football.

However misguided and unfair they may be, there have been comparisons of this year’s Ravens defense to the 2000 squad that ended up winning Super Bowl XXXV and going down as one of the best of all time. Perhaps feeling left out, the offense did their best impression of that 2000 team – you know, that one that went five games without scoring a touchdown – last night, failing to pick up even a first down until late in the third quarter.

That’s right, the Ravens’ first nine drives went like this:

3 plays 4 yards PUNT

3 plays -2 yards PUNT

1 play 3 yards FUMBLE

3 plays 3 yards PUNT

3 plays 3 yards PUNT

3 plays 3 yards PUNT

3 plays -33 yards (yes, they faced a 4th and 43, thanks to penalties) PUNT

3 plays 2 yards PUNT

3 plays 5 yards PUNT

They punted EIGHT TIMES and turned the ball over on a fumble before the first time they even THREATENED to pick up a first down, which finally came with 4:55 remaining in the third quarter. Forty minutes of game time elapsed before the Ravens’ supposed high-powered and efficient offense managed to move the chains even once.

Utterly pathetic and embarrassing, on every level.

The numbers don’t even really do the Ravens’ level of SUCK justice though. They looked completely out-of-sorts in every facet on offense, from the offensive line’s inability to hold a block in either pass protection or in the run game, to the quarterback’s complete dearth of emotion and glassy-eyed incompetence, to Ray Rice putting the ball on the turf for the first time in a regular season game in nearly two full calendar years.

I’m still convinced, though, that it all starts with the man in charge, that pariah of Baltimore football scorn, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Never was this more evident than just two plays after the Ravens had picked up that aforementioned first first down of the game. Facing a third-and-2 following an 8-yard completion to Ed Dickson, the Ravens were forced to take a timeout as the play clock ticked down while they had several different personnel grouping trotting on and off the field. The ESPN cameras showed Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin staring incredulously at the sideline, exasperated with Cameron’s inability to get a damn play in on time.

Same thing later in the game…

Once the Ravens FINALLY decided to play with some sense of urgency on offense – trailing 9-0 with just over 5 minutes to go in the game and taking over from their own 10-yard line – running a version of the no-huddle in an attempt to stage a late comeback, they were STILL taking the play clock down under 10 seconds on most snaps.

What the hell kind of “hurry up” is that?

The result was getting the ball into the end zone with just over two minutes left, forcing coach John Harbaugh to make what would ultimately be the wrong decision to attempt an onside kick. Had the Ravens gotten the score with 3 or more minutes remaining – as a true championship-caliber team would have been able to do – the decision to kick the ball deep and try to force a 3-and-out by the Jags would have been much easier.

The fact that Flacco is not allowed to call his own plays during the hurry-up offense in this, his fourth year in the league and his fourth in Cameron’s system, just reiterates what a complete control freak Cameron remains, to the detriment of the team’s growth and goals.

Part of me wants to be mildly encouraged by the loss. As awful and inept as the offense was for 55 minutes of the game, they still had a chance to win it at the end, and were it not for a few inches here and there (Cundiff’s onside kick attempt going 9.9 yards instead of 10, Lardarius Webb missing the block on the Jags’ final field goal by a fingernail), the outcome may have been much different.

Unfortunately, the fact remains that the Ravens still lost, and did so to an inferior opponent that was starting a rookie quarterback (who picked up his first NFL win, by the way). The Ravens’ defense did their job, making the Jags offense look just as inept all night – they got 9 of their 12 points on 50+ yard field goals, and equaled the Ravens’ 0/8 mark on 3rd downs in the first half.

As always in B’More, it was the offense that held the team back.

One defender in particular, Terrell Suggs, voiced his displeasure with the offensive game plan in the locker room following the game:

Amen, Sizzle.

Cameron continues to be enamored with the potential of the passing attack, which time and again refuses to live up to said potential. When #27 touches the ball, good things happen. Rice must have said something to get under the skin of either Harbs or Cameron though, as he sat for two straight series following his fumble. At one point, he was shown alone on the bench looking none too happy.

Eight carries for Rice in a game where the Ravens didn’t trail by more than a single score until midway through the third quarter, and even then were still down by just nine, is absolutely inexcusable.

Maurice Jones-Drew averaged only 3.5 yards per carry, and put the ball on the turf seemingly every time he touched it, but the Jags still kept giving it to him and as a result he ended up with a 100-yard day.

Rice had an equal 3.5 yards per carry, and far fewer fumbles, but was only handed the ball eight times all night.

I don’t get it.

Oh, right, yes I do. Cam Cameron sucks.

Of course I’d be remiss to not mention the fact that Flacco took over at his own 20-yard line with 1:43 remaining, needing only a touchdown to win the game and help build his legend in Baltimore…and managed all of zero completions and zero yards before being intercepted to end the game.

The Jaguars were sitting back in Joe’s old nemesis, the Cover 2, and he again proved that he is no closer to figuring it out than he has been for the past 3 years, throwing the ball right to where the linebacker knew he would.

Everything the Ravens had been attempting to build towards this season – from the home playoff game, to the AFC North title, to the top seed and playoff bye – has been put in jeopardy on the back of these two inexcusable road losses to Tennessee and Jacksonville, two teams with a combined 4-8 record.

They’ve planted themselves firmly behind the 8-ball, as they now find themselves tied with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in the loss column, with road contests still remaining at Heinz Field, Cincy, Cleveland, Seattle, and San Diego. With the way they’ve represented themselves in two of their three tries on the road so far, how can you mark even one of those games as a sure win at this point?

Disappointing, Ravens. Disappointing.

GOOBVISION: Goob's Instant Reaction From Ravens/Jags Debacle

October 25, 2011

Goob’s got a few things to get off his chest after the Ravens completely embarrassed themselves on Monday Night Football in Jacksonville…

Ravens (4-1) @ Jaguars (1-5)

October 24, 2011

The Ravens make their first appearance on Monday Night Football in 2011 tonight, taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars in J’Ville for the first time since way back in 2005. They need a win to keep pace with New England and Pittsburgh as the AFC’s only 5-win teams through the season’s first seven weeks.

The Jaguars are but a shell of the contender they have been in the past under former Ravens linebackers Coach Jack Del Rio. Del Rio’s job is in quite a bit of peril as his team sits at a dismal 1-5, losers of five straight since somehow knocking off the Tennessee Titans 16-14 back in Week 1. Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert has started the last 4 games, throwing 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions while completing 48.8 percent of his passes and taking 14 sacks. The Ravens, for as long as anyone can remember, thrive on making young quarterbacks uncomfortable on defense, and Chuck Pagano’s squad should be licking their chops heading into EverBank Field Monday Night.

Jacksonville’s only hope to take some pressure off their first-year signal-caller is running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who was Ray Rice before Ray Rice showed up in the NFL. The diminutive sixth-year runner out of UCLA has managed a hefty 4.8 yards per carry this season despite opposing defenses being pretty much able to focus their efforts on slowing him down. In the last meeting between these two, in Week 17 of 2008, the Ravens managed to hold “MJD” to 78 yards on 23 carries. They’ve been their typical stingy selves to running backs here in 2011, with defensive tackles Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody, and Cory Redding all playing at high levels. No runner has managed more than 53 yards against B’More here in 2011.

Mike Thomas is the Jags’ leading receiver, with 27 catches for 301 yards, while Jason Hill is averaging 17.1 yards on 14 catches. They also resigned Mike Sims-Walker last week. Sims-Walker was the #1 in Jacksonville for the last two seasons before starting 2011 in St. Louis. The Ravens have the league’s 12-ranked pass defense despite playing much of the season with a depleted secondary. They may be starting to get healthy again though, as Chris Carr is listed as questionable for tonight and rookie Jimmy Smith as probable. The Ravens have racked up 15 sacks through five games.

Don’t be lulled into too much of a false sense of security by the Jaguars’ 1-5 record. Their defense is stout, ranked ninth in the league. Defensive end Matt Roth has three sacks, and the secondary has picked off opposing quarterbacks six times. They are 13th in the league, allowing 22.0 points per game.

For the Ravens to put Jacksonville away early, and avoid having to grind out a four-quarter victory, they’ll need to improve on their red zone efficiency. They have scored touchdowns on just 36.8% of their possessions inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, good for 29th out of 32 teams. They were 2/4 last week against Houston, but one of those was aided by several Texans’ penalties near the goal line. While this new big strike offense is a blast to watch, teams that go deep into the postseason need to be able to consistently put it in from goal-to-go situations as well.

Since John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco arrived in Baltimore in 2008, the team has lost just two games to teams that entered the game with a sub-.500 record. Both of those losses came in Week 2 of their respective seasons, to teams sports 0-1 marks. Recent history suggests nothing to indicate that the Ravens should have any problem disposing of the hapless Jags tonight. Rookie quarterback, bad team, run-focused attack – all of these things should play right into the good guys’ hands.

However, Del Rio, in addition to being in a fight for his job at this point, would love to stick it to his old team in front of a national audience. Expect the Jags to come out fired up, and maybe even take an early lead. I won’t be surprised if the crowd to is at least 30% Ravens fans though, and the team should be able to fight through any early Jacksonville success for a workmanlike road victory.

Ravens 23 Jaguars 14

Lookalikes! Jaguars Edition

October 20, 2011

It’s time once again for some Lookalikes! The Ravens roll into Jacksonville on Monday Night Football this week to play a team they haven’t seen since the 2008 season finale (a 27-7 Ravens victory in B’More). So who on the Jags’ roster conjures up visions of somebody else?

Let’s have a look, shall we?

First off, some blasts from Lookalikes! past. Punter Nick Harris has been featured on Lookalikes! before, when he was playing with the Detroit Lions back in 2009. Harris moonlights as Dr. Andre Nosik on the FX comedy “The League.” The League, a show based around a group of friends who play fantasy football together, was just in its infancy in ’09, with the season 1 finale airing the week of that Ravens-Lions contest. Since then, the show has really hit its stride, and is now chugging along in season 3. Good news for Harris, as at least one of his “teams” has shown him some loyalty by keeping him around.

AndrePunter

Next up we have linebacker Paul Posluszny, who we featured last season when he was a member of the Buffalo Bills. We implored Paul to spend more time in the training room and less time swinging from trees to try to resurrect his as-of-yet injury-ridden NFL career.

He seems to have been taking our advice so far, as Paul hasn’t missed a game since the start of the 2010 season. You’re welcome, big guy.

Ok, enough with the retreads. Let’s move on to the fresh material.

Jacksonville running back Deji Karim had a decent rookie campaign last season backing up Maurice Jones-Drew, averaging 4.6 yards per carry on a handful of attempts. This season his average is down to 2.3 though, so his career arc is moving in the wrong direction. What is still going strong though is his Whoopi Goldberg impression on Saturday Night Live. Has me in stitches every time!

Maybe if you took off your damn crocs, you’d average more than 2.3 yards per carry. Just a thought.

The injured reserve list is no sanctuary from the B’More Birds’ Nest Lookalikes! informants. Defensive end Austen Lane thought he could escape us, but just like his dad couldn’t hide from the United States military forever, he can’t hide the fact that he looks suspiciously like a twin brother of Omar Bin Laden.

Ok, things are getting a little dark around here. Let’s lighten up the mood. What better to lift our spirits than some good old 90’s pop music?

As a former member of the band Hanson, Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert is just the guy to sing a catchy tune for us.

Wow, Blaine. That’s an even more spot-on resemblance than I originally realized. That guy would have been right at home on the cover of one of my sister’s “Tiger Beat” magazines back in the day.

As a stand-in for former “Home Improvement” cast member Zachary Ty Bryan:

Or maybe fellow heartthrob Brad Renfro?

Hm, wrong position.

In any case, T. Sizzle, Haloti, Ray-Ray and crew should have no problems knocking the pretty right off of Mr. Gabbert on Monday Night.

Go Ravens.


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