The Baltimore Ravens are currently 7-3. It’s the best record they’ve ever had under head coach John Harbaugh, and tied for the second best 10-game start in team history (they were 8-2 in 2006, and 7-3 in 2004, both under Brian Billick). However, listening to the local airwaves, an outsider who didn’t know any better would think the Ravens must be battling for the title of worst team in the league.
I love my team, and as a result I love my fellow Ravens fan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve high-fived (or even hugged) strangers at Ravens games, simply because they were experiencing the exact same joy that I was at that moment, and we wanted to share our exuberance together. That said, Ravens fans — at least the ones who call into the local sports talk radio stations — make me want to drive around the greater Baltimore metro area handing out dunce caps.
“Mark Bulger should be the starting quarterback.”
“Joe Flacco has regressed.”
“John Harbaugh needs to be fired.”
“Sure, they’re 7-3, but the Ravens aren’t very good!”
These and similar arguments litter the purple discourse to a sickening degree nowadays. If you’ve uttered any of the above phrases (or similar), in recent weeks, I have one request for you:
Throw yourself in traffic.
Or, better yet…off a bridge.
If you’re a Ravens fan and want to hate on Joe Flacco, go ahead and do this
A little over a year ago, I was trying to talk Ravens fans back from the ledge after the team lost to Cincinnati at home and fell to 4-4. Being despondent about the playoff chances of a 4-4 team is at least understandable. But crying in your purple camo over a 7-3 squad? This I just can’t even begin to comprehend, so I’m not even going to bother trying to talk those people off the cliff. Just go ahead and jump, man. If you’re not happy now, I’m not convinced you possess the ability to be.
None of this is to say that the team, or any players on the roster, are above reproach or beyond criticism.
The run defense needs to be fixed, and soon.
The red zone offense leaves plenty to be desired at the moment.
And we just saw our first big special teams play of the season, in Week 11.
All of these problems are glaring and could ultimately spell the downfall of this team. However, the degree of “sky is falling” woefulness that callers to local sports talk radio stations are displaying goes well beyond the rational arguments regarding the deficiencies of the 2010 Ravens. Despite all of the above mentioned issues, if the season ended today, the Ravens would have the NUMBER TWO seed in the AFC.
Yes, you read that right. Here, have a look:
That’s right. The Ravens would have a bye and a home playoff game, were the season to end today. On top of that, they have held a lead in the fourth quarter of every single game this season. Even in their three losses, they led at some point during the final period of play.
Donnie Pessimistic Ravens fan from Middle River (or Glen Burnie, or Annapolis, or Easton – not trying to single out anybody’s hometown here, just using an example) sees that and says “yeah, well, that means they should be 10-0.”
Nobody is 10-0. Get real.
Nestminder Optimistic Ravens fan would like to point out that they could just as easily be 4-6 (squeaked out wins over New York, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo) as be 10-0.
Again, the team has issues that need to be fixed. However, calling for a changing of the personnel (quarterback, head coach, GENERAL MANAGER?!) in the midst of a playoff-caliber campaign is lunacy of the highest degree. And yet, day in and day out, that’s what comes out of my speakers as I drive to and from work.
The people who have to deal first-hand with this type of idiocy — the sports talk show hosts — have the foremost ability to either:
A) Cut it off at it’s root, sparing us level-headed fans from the word vomit of talk show callers
B) Facilitate the word vomit, stoking the flames of reactionary and pessimistic fanhood.
Let’s take a look at some of those who should be commended for A), and some others who need a scolding for B).
As I stated in an earlier post about Adalius Thomas, I consider Rob Long to be the best sports talk show host in the area (for the uninitiated, he is on Fox 1370 from 8-12 AM). While there are a multitude of reasons I love Rob’s show, I need to focus on one big reason here.
Rob Long has NO problem telling idiot Ravens fans that they are being absolutely ridiculous.
At least a half dozen times this season I’ve heard someone call into Rob and start bashing Joe Flacco.
“He holds onto the ball too long.”
“He doesn’t call his own plays.”
“He can’t read a defense.”
And on, and on, and on, ad infinitum.
Usually, these fools can only get a couple words into their prepared rants before Rob cuts them off and berates them with the question nobody seems to be able to answer: “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM THIS GUY?”
Seriously, Ravens fans, WTF do you want? You want him to be Peyton Manning. Yeah, well guess what? There has only been one Peyton Manning in the history of NFL football, and there won’t be another any time soon.
What are the measures of a “good” quarterback?
There are a few schools of thought on that.
One camp will throw out wins as the end-all be-all. They’ll say that Joe Montana is obviously the greatest quarterback of All-Time, but that Terry Bradshaw and Troy Aikman should be in the discussion too, based on their respective collections of Super Bowl rings.
Others will tout stats. “Dan Marino,” they say, is the best ever. “Or Peyton Manning.” Just look at those numbers!
Then there’s the people who look at both stats and Super Bowl rings, and say that a guy like John Elway is clearly the greatest.
Joe Flacco obviously doesn’t have the stats of a Dan Marino or the trophy case of a Joe Montana.
What Joe Flacco does have are plenty of each of the main benchmarks of quarterbacking success: Wins, and numbers.
Flacco has a career record of 27-15 in the regular season through 2+ years in the league. He’s played in five playoff games in two years — all on the road, mind you — and won three of them. Along with Matt Ryan of Atlanta, in 2008 he became the first rookie QB in NFL history to start all 16 games for a playoff team.
Manning was 23-19 through his first 42 games – a full four behind Joe.
Ben Roethlisberger? Despite starting his career an amazing 14-0 as a starter, his regular season record was 31-11 after 42 games – just four ahead of Joe.
Flacco has last-minute comeback touchdown passes against Pittsburgh and Atlanta this year. Both SHOULD have resulted in wins, but only one did. How anybody can say Joe isn’t a winner is completely beyond me.
You want to talk stats? How about Joe Flacco is STILL the NFL’s highest rated passer since Week 3. Higher than Manning, higher than Brady, higher than Brees, higher than Aaron Rodgers.
He’s currently the 14th-rated passer in the league, at 92.1, which still clocks in higher than guys like Eli Manning, Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, and Carson Palmer. Take away that abortion of a game in Cincinnati in Week 2, and his season passer rating jumps to 101.7 (yes, I calculated it), which would be fourth in the NFL, ahead of all but Mike Vick, Philip Rivers, and Roethlisberger.
The fact that a still sizable portion of the Ravens’ fan base is not “sold” on Joe Flacco boggles this blogger’s mind. I’m willing to chalk it up to the fact that this city hasn’t seen a good quarterback since Bert Jones (one good season of Steve McNair notwithstanding), and as a result, doesn’t know good gunslinging when it walks it’s unibrow’d ass up to their doorstep and punches them across the face.
Back to the talking heads…
Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe and Ken Weinman of 105.7 “The Fan.”
Artist’s rendition of Yaffe and Weinman
These two are the poster boys for enabling the Baltimore fan whine party to rage on. Listening to Weinman and Bulldog this week, you’d think that the Ravens were 0-10. Every few minutes during their diatribes against everything from Cam Cameron’s playcalling to Joe Flacco’s decision making to the number of towels the towel boy hands out during the game, these two would mutter something along the lines of “of course, we’re happy they’re 7-3,” before continuing on complaining about everything purple under the sun.
This, of course, only serves to vindicate and facilitate the morons who call into these shows, lending credence to the idea that “hey, I know exactly what I’m talking about! I should be coaching the team! We’d be undefeated then!”
“Bulldog” is probably the worst local radio personality as it is. Few and far between are the times that I can listen to him spew his nonsense, cut off callers, and act like coaching special teams at the high school football level makes him an authority on NFL schemes and tactics without switching the dial after five minutes. It’s a shame that a consummate professional like Mark Viviano got stuck with “Bulldog” and his surgically attached backwards baseball cap. He is awful. This week, though, was above and beyond bad, even for him.
This isn’t to suggest that EVERYONE on “The Fan” is terrible. The only local sports radio personality who can even come close to giving Rob Long a run for his money is Bob Haynie. Haynie works sparingly on “The Fan,” (which is a crime in itself, and a whole other can of worms) after a long career at WNST. Hopefully, he gets his own show sooner rather than later (also, hopefully the suits at CBS radio don’t stick him with some turd like Bulldog or Anita Marks).
Wednesday night, Haynie opened his show with the questions “are we (hosts and fans) too negative?” It was like a breath of fresh air after hearing Weinman go off during the same time slot on Tuesday evening. Haynie voiced nearly the same opinion that I’m giving here, that he had listened to “The Fan” all week, and was floored by how negative the callers and hosts all were when discussing a 7-3 team. It was good to hear, lest I start to feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
Perhaps the best thing about Haynie is that he prefaces and follows everything he says with “this is only my opinion;” as opposed to Bulldog, who tells you to change the station if you don’t like what he says.
I really hope and believe it is simply the vocal minority who are truly unhappy with the Ravens at this point. Again, constructive criticism is always welcome over blind homerism, but this week has far crossed the line of “constructive.”
In closing, I’ll say this. Ravens fans are always quick to point out that the National media “gives us no respect.” In actuality, it’s the local guys…and WE RAVENS FANS…who sell our team short.
ESPN has the Ravens ranked #3 in their power rankings this week. That’s the highest of any 7-3 team, and above the 8-2 Jets.
NFL.com’s Solomon Wilcots, who called the game for CBS Sunday, had this to say:
After watching the Ravens dismantle the Panthers last week, I left the stadium very impressed with the team from Baltimore. Right now, I think they’re as good as any team in the AFC, and most importantly they’re ascending.
The Ravens play what I call great complimentary football, where the offense knows how to protect the defense, and the defense knows how to defend until the offense gets going.
Beware of the Ravens down the stretch.
It seems like the National guys like our team more than we do here at home.
Again…constructive criticism and voicing concerns about the team? Fine and appreciated.
Overt whining and “sky is falling” mentalities? Annoying and overplayed. The team is 7-3. Enjoy it, at least a a little bit, would ya?