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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

FACT CHECK: Mike Preston's Column Faulting the Ravens' Season



It has been awhile, hasn't it?

A good friend of mine, fellow Raven, said to me a couple of weeks back: "Mike Preston is the most negative person in all of sports."

Wow.

America needs to meet this man.  It is reminiscent of Howard Cosell, the vitriol people have towards him, and the anger he inspires with his devil-may-care opinions and call outs.

It is hard to deny that the Baltimore Sun columnist is oppositional in his demeanor.  He seems to revel in a season such as this, where there is a lot going wrong for the Ravens.  Then again, to his credit, I have observed that he has been consistent in giving kudos where due.  So, I have decided to Fact Check this latest article, "Ravens can't use injuries as excuse with far deeper problems leading to poor season," from the Sun on Thanksgiving Day of this year,  Is what Preston asserts true?  Or is this more of the Preston Negative Express flying down the decline?  Hit the jump to find out.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Thought



Happy Thanksgiving.

As I have gone out running the annual-but-varying holiday errands in prep of the big meal, I've noticed something: people are now being trained, on their jobs, to not say Happy Thanksgiving.  The "T" word has been thrown in the politically incorrect bin along with Merry Christmas, God Bless America, and "Hi, I'm a defensive-back headhunter."

Insert a 3D-movie-extracted Charlie Brown SIGH here.

I guess the notion that explorers, wanting religious freedom, settled and started to modernize part of the world, is somehow patently offensive to Y2k10 sensibilities. What I see was simple settlement by settlement "rules."  Fair and square.  And, hey, I'm a Black American, so my ancestors' history of slavery around those times doesn't seem to nod favorably on Thanksgiving tradition either, does it?

This is going to get to football, I promise.

I just want to point something out.

Not everything that begins terribly and horribly, ends that way.

Let's take slavery, for instance.  A race of people went from not being considered fully human and not having freedom, to not only having freedom, but leading culture in certain areas, leading a civil rights movement that changed the world, producing  a President that is the leader of the free world, and another Presidential candidate who could very well do the same thing.

Now, pare this way down on the scale of importance, and you could speak similarly about a football season.  One that has started with every type of controversy conceivable, pretty much--#PhantomCalls and uncharacteristic losses and a mystery injury to a strategic cornerstone (Perriman)--does not have to end in bitter defeat.

I believe it will not.

So, today, I reflect not only on being Thankful for my Country, for my Family, for my Life.

I am Thankful for my team.  And for this season.

I've enjoyed it, truth be told.  This fight is a good one.  I love Harbaugh's unwillingness to concede.  And why should we? We're still in the fight.

So from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving, God Bless you, and God Bless America.  And the World.

I am a headhunting blogger.  :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

37 FMM

After our win this past Sunday, for a little while I was feeling good for getting a second 'W' in a row.

Wait a minute.

True story.


So, all these things continue to not go our way.  Flacco is gone.  Forsett is gone.  The refs are staying.  A post that I read on the Sun forum simply said, "What now?"  That sums it up.

But you can trust me to look for the silver lining, the positive side, the patch of blue sky.

Ladies and Gents, I present to you, Buck Allen.

The rookie stepped in seamlessly on Sunday.  He did very well and appeared to be a juke or towel snag away from another 50 yarder.

And I noticed something: he consistently makes the first man miss in open space.  It's fun to watch and I invite you to notice next Monday night.  He's really good at it.  This talent of his has inspired a positive video from me.  Because RavensNation has so little positivism right now.  I simply say to the doldrums, we are not mathematically eliminated yet, and we are still fighting.  Proof: holding Todd Gurley III to under three yards per carry.  A defeated team would not have done that.

Enjoy this visual, and tune in to 37 FMM.  It should be a great listen.



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

NO, Snap!! The Play That Wasn't




Coach Harbaugh was right. Again.

At the end of the Jacksonville game this past Sunday, there was a play that both defined this season thus far, was fully illegal, and fully un-flagged--just like the myriad of other #PhantomCalls from this season.

"The Facemask of Doom" was the play, but a close look before number 58's erred grab reveals that the play should have been whistled dead, Jacksonville penalized, and the game ended.

Hit the jump to see video proof of yet another goof--by the referees.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

BRAVEN'S BREAKDOWNS: JOE MORGAN'S BIG PLAY "AUDITION

Twitter


Everyone has written the Raven's receiving corps off because of the end of #89's season.  

Let's just pack it up, right?

TOO FAST MY FRIEND.  Pun intended.

I am actually excited about the receivers we have now.  We have some big-play type guys on the roster. All they need is a chance.  Chris Givens has been flashing his promise in the little chances that he has been given.  Kamar Aiken has a great amount of energy and motivation to be great, having been mentored by the great.  And now, the Ravens have signed Joe Morgan from the Saints.

Take a look at just one of the big plays this gamebreaker has made a career of.  Of course I've seen big plays before,  But the consistency of these guys, over the course of careers, along with their underdog status, bodes extremely well, in my opinion.

The video breakdown is after the jump.




Hey, I'm perfectly fine if you don't have the enthusiasm that I do about this. But I do thank you for watching!  Feel free to comment below or on the Ravens forum at baltimoresun.com.  GO RAVENS!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Oh SNAP!! Asa Jackson's Legal Head Start

For auto-updates for articles like this one, please follow me on Twitter: @chrisbraven

In Sunday's win vs. San Diego, a crucial moment came just before the half when the Chargers scored and then had the extra point blocked by Asa Jackson.  Not only was there essentially minutes of comedy (to the Raven fan) in viewing the protests of the Charger sideline at seeing his head start, but in retrospect, there is amazement at how #27 got the jump he did with no penalty.  Hint: It was legal!  We'll break it down with this week's Frame-by-Frame after the jump.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Frame by Frame: Ross's "Fumble"?


Week two of my Phantom Calls motif.

Yet, not only week two of Phantom Calls themselves.

With the Ravens up 10-7 in the second quarter last Monday night, 2 minutes left in the half, having forced the Cardinals to punt for the third possession in a row, WR Jeremy Ross went back to receive the punt.  He did, and after a useful return, he was hit by Arizona reserve corner Justin Bethel.  Bethel rode Ross to the ground, executing a nearly indefensible wrestle-strip move on the way, gobbling the ball into his arms when they hit the ground.

The question became, was Ross down?

After reviewing the play and ESPN showing what seemed to be a pretty solid evidence to overturn (regardless of the bumbling guest referee/commentator they had trying to justify the call all the way), the referees reported the call as standing (as opposed to being confirmed) and moved on.

Arizona now had the ball, the momentum, and 20 yards to score.

Along with a number of other Phantom Calls in this game, the question lingered: was the call right?  Was this a fumble?

Let's check it out after the jump.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Further Review: The Holding Penalty on Smith

ARTICLE 5. LEGAL USE OF HANDS OR ARMS BY DEFENSE
A defensive player may use his hands, arms, or body to push, pull, or ward off offensive players:
  1. when he is defending himself against an obstructing opponent while attempting to reach the runner
  2. when an opponent is obviously attempting to block him
  3. in a personal attempt to reach a loose ball that has touched the ground during a backward pass, fumble, or kick
  4. during a forward pass that has crossed the neutral zone and has been touched by any player.
Exception 1: An eligible receiver is considered to be an obstructing opponent only to a point five yards beyond the line of scrimmage unless the player who receives the snap demonstrates no further intention to pass the ball (including handing off the ball, pitching the ball, or moving out of the pocket). See 8-4-2–3 for rules applicable to Illegal Contact with an eligible receiver.
--from the 2015 NFL Rule Book, emphasis mine.
I react.
I physically react every time I see the play.  With a twitch of the arm, an air punch, an attitudinal jerk.
The reason is, the holding called from 25 yards away by a sight-line-obstructed ref is nowhere near the spirit of the rule at best, a blatant misfire at worst.  This call gave the 49ers a first down and took all of our remaining timeouts (this includes the 2 minute warning), leaving only one minute plus to try and navigate the field.  Why make a marginal call like that at a time like that?
Was it really holding?  Was it blatant and inexcusable?  Was it merely a breaking of the rule, worthy of a flag? Or was it none of the above?  Let's take a closer look.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Quick Slant - Week One Loss to Denver

I am not too worried about today's loss.

As usual, the press has found one perspective and one issue and have rallied around it to high heaven.

Flacco threw 2 interceptions and our offense looked terrible, they say.

But wait a minute.

Consider the familiarity of these two teams with one another--from a coaching and scheming perspective. They are immensely fresh on the mind of the other.  They spent a year practicing against the other, schematically.  It showed.

Gary Kubiak clearly had a good sit-down with defensive coordinator Wade Wilson and gave him the achilles heel of the Ravens, as well as the secret of what they are going for on the zone block rushing game.  It showed.

Dean Pees recalled very accurately what Kubiak used to do with the zone blocking, perhaps even after a strategy session with offensive line coach Juan Castillo.  He countered it and coached the D up on how to tell what's coming.  It showed.

And both teams have a lot of talent, clearly playoff caliber.  So this became a defensive battle.  In Denver. In week one.

I thought that Manning would come out firing in no-huddle shotgun.  Doing all of his annoyingly good adjustments at the line.  Yet only once did I see him make a clear adjustment at the line to counter what we did--maybe twice.  The screen pass to D. Thomas in the 3rd quarter was obviously a recognition of a blitz on his part.  There was also a run, on that drive I think, where he appeared to flip the play.  "12! 12!"  Is that the Broncos code for a flip?

And yes, I did think that Jimmy Smith's corner-turning play (for his career) put us in that old school mode of defense literally winning games.  Flacco's 2nd interception surprised me, but worse, the lack of pursuit surprised me.  I wish we would have tackled him.  Maybe they only get a FG.

No one is mentioning Daryl Smith's near interception in the 3rd quarter.  Had he held on to that, it's a TD, the score would have been 20-9 with 3:00 left until the fourth quarter.  So close!

Take heart, RavensNation.  We looked far better in defeat--in Denver, in week one--than a lot of teams did in victory.  I do not take this as a DEFCON 1 meltdown and season-threatening emergency.  It's freaking WEEK ONE!!! Even the loss of Suggs does not faze me.  What did Suggs do today?  To hold Peyton Manning--in Denver, in week one--to 0 offensive touchdowns is a real feat.  To shut down that Denver rushing game is a solid feat.  To adjust in the 2nd half and get rushing yardage as well as truly have two shots at winning with a TD, is a feat.  To overcome that pass rush and blitz attack, without the starting LT, is a feat.  What I mean there is that we adjusted and didn't allow for Denver to repeatedly sack us.  Later in the game we had a rhythm with it.

I think we looked much better than Pittsburgh, who was down 21-3 at one point, if I recall correctly.  Denver never had a lead that you felt meant ball game.  In fact, we did.  Pittsburgh couldn't stop a thing and was disjointed on offense.  We looked better than Seattle.  Again, they were down 11 points in the start of the 4th quarter and had been outplayed to that point.  When they "fluke-ily" scored 17 points in 6 minutes, the Rams re-asserted that they were the more prepared, more motivated team by forcing OT and stopping Beastmode (GASP) on 4th and short.  Seattle got run on, passed on, gave up sacks galore.  We looked better.  I even think we looked better than New England.  Yes, I said it.  They got run on, passed on, bullied backwards by Pittsburgh, who was determined to shoot themselves in the foot.  Because Pitt could not stop the run, they lost.  The entire time, I was sitting here thinking, "We would've stopped that play."

Later this week, I will break down the final interception.  I am also interested in seeing Pro Football Focus' grades for this game.  I will share highlights of them,

Until then, I will proudly say that we did not get bullied and destroyed.  We lost, and really, we beat ourselves.  I will not walk around with my chin down.  After all, I am a Raven.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Carli for Kicker! NFL style.

I have never been of the feminist ilk.  I am way traditional, for a reason.  I value highly the form of a woman, the essence of a woman, the power of a woman.  I just have different things to focus on in my life than the latest promotion of gender.

But I am a patriot.  I love my country so.  And the US Women's Soccer team got me going.  What a great experience, what a great run.  Even having the homefield advantage of sorts was awesome.

In light of it all, the most compelling performance for me, save my 6 fellow Tar Heels on the team, was  Carli Lloyd's 50-yard goal.  Was that awesome?!?!  Was that a victory lap or what?!!  I immediately began thinking, THIS is the female who deserves a shot at being the first in the NFL.  As a kicker.  Carli might be bored by it, but she would totally fit the bill.  She has the verve and the moxie.  And the LEG.  Check it out:


I'm telling you, the NFL should totally go after here right now. Offer her a futures contract.  Do something. She seems to love the game of soccer so much, she would surely turn it down.  It would be a great bit of positive publicity for the league to approach her.

Our Ravens are set for a good while at kicker, sadly (but happily!); I would still cheer for her.

She has earned it.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Anyone who beats the Ravens can win the Super Bowl."

....What little Coach Harbaugh might have known about the utter veracity of this statement, especially in his regime.

The Ravens ONLY have lost to the eventual AFC Championship winner in every, single, trip to the postseason that they have forged in the Harbaugh era; and even before that (2006).

Previously, the Ravens had two appearances that resulted in losses to non-playoff advancing teams.

And of course, there are the two Champion Ravens team that embodied the AFC, and Super Bowl, champions.

This graph shows it all (click to enlarge):


It's simple: the road to the AFC Championship ALWAYS goes through Baltimore.  Now, the Ravens should make two adjustments to this chart for future entries: 1)Get the games to Baltimore.  2) BE the AFC Champion in more of these.

I believe we're headed there.

Braven