Sunday, December 31, 2006

THE MAGIC NUMBER IS 4 WINS!


So I’m sitting here waiting to gather the troops to trek on down to The Vault and I’m thinking to myself, “The Magic Number is 4!” Of course that includes today’s game. And I’m also thinking that the stars are aligning for the Ravens. It’s almost as though you can see them all gradually coming together in perfect alignment much like those synchronized swimmers gather to form some interesting hexagonal shape.

It’s a beautiful thing.

First there’s Brian Billick on the brink of being fired ascending from the woodshed to the penthouse. Then there’s Steve McNair being tossed from the Titans’ house and ascending to the house of Mickey Mouse. And then there’s all the talk about the Chargers and how balanced they are; the Colts and the best defense is a great offense (nice try Jaws); and of course who can count out Belichick & Brady, the firm that always seems to be waiting in the wings for that hostile takeover.

But everyone seems to be ignoring the wonderful story developing in Baltimore.

They said McNair would never stay upright behind the Ravens offensive line. They said that J.O. was washed up. They said that Ray Lewis was a cancer (see the ringleader behind SelltheOrioles.com). They said that the Ravens offense wouldn’t be enough. They (me included) said that until you beat a tough opponent on the road, expect nothing in the post season.

Now we all end our emails with “Happy Festivus For The Best of Us.” (At least I do.)

Yes this all has a familiar look, a familiar feel. Even this day has a similar feel to the game against the Chargers back in 2000...you remember, “If We Win We’re In!” It was cool with light rain that day too...

Four wins over the next five weeks.

Is that too much to ask?

Friday, December 29, 2006

My Wishes for 2007...What are yours?

As we prepare to close out the old (2006) and bring in the new (2007), I thought that we too would chime in by briefly reflecting upon ‘06 and set the stage for what we all hope will be a very promising ‘07. A good place to start would be right here at 24x7.

For those of you who have been with us for quite some time, the 24x7 you know today is vastly different than that which you knew as late as July 25, 2006. We appreciate your patience during our transformation and we trust that since you are still reading this, that you’ve accepted and enjoyed the many enhancements and additions we’ve made to the site. There are still many more enhancements and additions on the way which we’re sure will be to the delight of all who bleed as we do.

Looking back on 2006, the year was a success in so many ways and there are still so many ways to improve. Even the most optimistic dyed in the wool Ravens fan must be somewhat surprised by the 2006 season thus far and I’m sure optimism and confidence run like a finely tuned engine through your veins. And you have every reason to feel that way.

Clearly the Ravens are the crown jewel of the sports landscape here in The Land of Pleasant Living and we are proud of our association. Yet as stated, much could be improved upon along that sports landscape and with that in mind I welcome your commentary or any additions to these well-intentioned wishes for the coming year.

Without further ado, our wish list:

To Brian Billick…I wish for you a fair contract extension that provides the comfort zone you need for yourself and your family -- one that invites you to stay here along the shores of the Chesapeake even well beyond your days managing the sidelines of the town’s favorite team. Clearly you’ve earned it after persevering a tumultuous off-season while swallowing much more than your fair share of humble pie.

To Steve McNair…your destiny. After being locked out of the Titans’ facility, a team that you fought like a gladiator for, may you find your coveted Super Bowl Championship in ‘07 in Miami and when someone asks, “Hey Steve, where are you going?”, you emphatically and enthusiastically reply, “I’M GOING TO DISNEYWORLD!”

To Ray Lewis…I wish for you the continued desire and passion needed to lead and inspire your teammates. I also wish for you a dose of reality -- one that allows you to clearly see that a $9.3 million cap figure is far too high. And may that dose lead you to negotiating a more cap friendly deal that allows you to retire as an original and career-long member of the Baltimore Ravens.

To Adalius Thomas…may you find the riches that you deserve and may your heart be open to at least a modest hometown discount so that 96 can stay exactly where it belongs.

To Jonathan Ogden…a boatload of competitive juices that inspire you to lace them up at least one more season. You’ve proven that you’ve still got it. Do it again, please?

To Chris Chester…20 added pounds of solid muscle without the Merriman Method.

To Rex Ryan and Eric DeCosta…the patience to find the right fit as you further your respective careers. To Rex, learn from your former defensive coordinator colleague Romeo Crennel and Eric, pay close attention to the trials and tribulations of your friend Phil Savage.

To Edwin Mulitalo…the willingness and determination to rebound from your injury and push to crack the starting lineup once again. All around good guys like you don’t grace our presence enough in the world of sport.

To B.J. Sams…a bionic fibula…To Dan Cody, a clean bill of health for no less than 12 months…To Mike and Musa Smith…full recoveries. Your grit and determination are more deserving of healthier careers.

To Steve Bisciotti…the sweet smell of a Super Bowl victory cigar.

To the Baltimore Metropolitan Area…the windfall from another successful Festivus and a community galvanized by its collective passion for all things purple.

To Amber Theoharis…homesickness. Don’t leave B’more.

To Stan White…audio tapes of Tom Matte and a slightly accelerated pulse.

To the Self-appointed Vice President of All Things Dundalk…a memory of where you came from along with copies of A Christmas Carol & The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

To Peter Angelos…the willingness to heed the call of WNST and sell the Orioles. Then use part of the proceeds to buy the property that houses WNST.

To Stan the Fan and the Press Box…continued success with your broad paintbrush. May you keep finding ways to go where no other publication has gone before and may you also find innovation in your Bone Yard as opposed to bone-headedness.

To Anita Marks…a mild winter, fairness (that juice monkey thing was blown completely overboard) and a crash course on the provincial mentality of us Baltimorons (you have to be one to call one).

To the national media…the inability to Mapquest or Google Baltimore. We don’t need your support. We are proud of that chip on our collective shoulder.

To Tom Jackson…the understanding that Bart Scott is not a rookie. Jackson said earlier this season, “You talk about offensive rookie of the year being Laurence Maroney, the defensive rookie of the year obviously I think is Bart Scott.”

To Joey Porter…a size 18 foot to go with that errant bullet.

To Monday Night Football…an extension for Mike Tirico and the signing of Troy Aikman. The other two can go but if they can‘t, then the Reader’s Digest version of any explanation from Joe Theismann.

To Chris Berman…BACK-BACK-BACK-BACK-BACK away from NFL Countdown or whatever it is they are calling that show these days. You are well past your prime time. And please take Michael Irvin with you.

To Brett Favre…a decision.

To the Baltimore Orioles…an extension for Eric Bedard now before he can test the market! (see Barry Zito, 7 years, $126 million). Hopefully it’s not too late. By the way, did you know that Zito only has 102 wins in his 7 year career? If he maintains that pace over the next 7 years, the Giants will be paying him $1.235 million per win.

To GAMETIME…a daytime slot.

To each of us one and all…less Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton & Tom Cruise and more Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Beyonce and Jeri Ryan….ok and for you ladies that dude on the anatomy show.

To Miami…a town painted purple to go with the Purple Rain of Prince on Sunday February 4, 2007.

To Baltimore…a celebratory parade without rain on February 6, 2007. You deserve it!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

HEADS OR TAILS? THE VALUE OF LOSING THE COIN TOSS!

While the Ravens are growing into a more balanced team, they remain a team that relies on its defense for most of its success. And that is why I often want the Ravens to lose the coin toss, particularly at home. The thought here is to get the crowd into the game and we do that at The Vault when the Ravens are on defense.

Three and out and we’re off to the races.

When folks are just returning to their seats after the half, the stadium isn’t as loud and therefore more conducive to playing offense.

Since Kyle Boller has been with the Ravens, they are 25-6 at home (.806). When the Ravens win the coin toss at home and receive they are 11-4 (.733). When they lose the toss and defend, they are 14-2 (.875). The average margin of victory when winning the toss at home is 12.3 points. When losing the toss that figure climbs to 16.4 points (+33%).

Also the average margin of a loss is more favorable when the Ravens lose the coin toss at home (4 points) v. that when they win the toss (8.5 points).

So why not elect to play defense whenever they win the coin toss?

If it were only that simple.

Here’s how the NFL coin toss rule reads:

1. The toss of coin will take place within three minutes of kickoff in center of field. The toss will be called by the visiting captain before the coin is flipped. The winner may choose one of two privileges and the loser gets the other:
(a) Receive or kick
(b) Goal his team will defend

2. Immediately prior to the start of the second half, the captains of both teams must inform the officials of their respective choices. The loser of the original coin toss gets first choice.

So if the Ravens won the toss and elected to defend, their opponent could choose to receive when it’s there choice to start the second half. That’s the equivalent of a turnover.

So the moral of the story is to hope when the visiting team makes their coin toss call, they win every time so that the Ravens defense can get things started.

Oh and in case you are wondering the Ravens have lost the coin toss 5 of 8 times on the road this year on their way to a 6-2 road mark. Those 6 wins equal the total number of road wins during Kyle Boller’s entire Ravens career as the No. 1 QB.

A little bad luck on the coin toss call and a lot of poise go a long way…

C-O-L-T-S COLTS...GO COLTS!


Look, I’ve got it all figured out and in order for this plan to work for all of us, we are going to have to become Colts fans this weekend. Now I know that for some, such a request is the equivalent of blasphemy or the highest form of treason. But stay with me and trust me….I know these things!

If the Colts lose on Sunday and the Patriots win, the Colts will become the No. 4 seed and will more than likely host the Denver Broncos. That would send the Jets in all likelihood to the Big Razor to play the Patriots. Should all go according to my Crystal Ball, the Colts would then travel to San Diego while the Patriots would end up here during the weekend of January 13.

This is not what we want!

No not because I’d rather the Ravens take on the Colts instead of the Patriots, I’d rather the Patriots take on the Chargers instead of the Colts. I just can’t see the Colts beating the Chargers in San Diego. The Chargers had success against the Colts last year and this year’s Colts gave up 153 yards on the ground to Ron Dayne.

RON DAYNE!

The last time Ron Dayne ran for that many yards he was headed towards a free buffet in Seacaucus, NJ! Ok, maybe it was when he was a Wisconsin Badger in 1999 but you get the point. If Ron Dayne can lay 153 on the Colts, just imagine what LaDainian Tomlinson could do. And therein my friends lies the moral of this story. The Chargers win and the Ravens are packing their bags and heading west for the AFC Championship.

Now if the Patriots go into San Diego, my bet is that Bill Belichick comes up with a way to further frustrate the slumping Philip Rivers while he keeps LT in check, relatively speaking of course.

So there you have it…it’s a simple ball game. Root for the Colts this weekend and then get ready to be the host city for the AFC Championship.

The road to Miami goes through Baltimore baby!

Has anyone seen Big Wheel?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS


Look, I am hardly a Scrooge. But I have to tell you 6 weeks of Christmas music is killing me. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing these songs next to a roaring fire on a cold Christmas Eve. I can remember when WLIF would play these songs non-stop from the moment Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day right on up until 11:59 PM Christmas Night.

Now, they play these songs on and on and on from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.

And my fiance, God bless her soul…she has an insatiable appetite for these songs and an extremely high tolerance for repetition.

Thank the Lord above for my Ipod!

Anyway, I heard the classic, “These Are a Few of my Favorite Things” briefly today before I turned up the volume on my Ipod. Somewhere along the crossed wires of my sometimes wacky brain activity, I decided to change the lyrics to this classic to more closely match the things on my mind.

So clear your throat, lock in on that tune and sing along with me (imagine that little ping pong ball bouncing atop the lyrics):

Passing on first down to set up the pitches
Dynamic action without Boller’s glitches
Lighting fast defenses and blitzes they bring
These are a few of my favorite things

Fathead quarterbacks who were number 7
Flat on their backs thanks to our 57
Purple and black are the colors we bring
These are a few of my favorite things

Manning he’s running from those 96 slashes
LT is ducking from 92’s smashes
Carson is fearful of the Conference North Kings
Yes these are a few of my favorite things

When T. Pryce sacks
When Ray Lew stings
I’m so freakin’ glad
I can’t wait til they win a Super Bowl Ring
To show the whole world -- WE’RE BAD!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

RAVENS GET PRO BOWL SNUB


This morning over a cup of Joe I jotted down Ravens players who I thought would be heading to Hawaii in February to participate in the 2007 Pro Bowl. I broke the list down into the following categories while trying to be as objective as possible: 1) Stone cold lock to go; 2) Should go; 3) Shouldn’t go but probably will based upon reputation; 4) Should go but probably won’t based upon some other players’ reputations.

Here’s the way the list looked:

1. Stone cold lock: Jonathan Ogden, Adalius Thomas, Trevor Pryce, Gary Stills
2. Should go: Bart Scott, Todd Heap, Terrell Suggs, Chris McAlister
3. Shouldn’t go but probably will: Ed Reed and Ray Lewis
4. Should go but won’t: Kelly Gregg, Matt Stover

The confirmed list that you’ve by now already heard includes: JO, AD, Suggs, Cmac and Reed. Heap, Lewis, Stills and Stover are all alternates. I am shocked that Pryce and Stills didn’t even make the team. Just as shocked that neither Pryce nor Bart Scott made it as mere alternates.

Ed Reed has had a poor season considering he is the highest paid player at his position and I genuinely believe he went on reputation, just as JO did last year. That can jump up and bite players at times. It did last year for AD and this year he’s in. It did this year for Kelly Gregg and Bart Scott, both having better seasons than players chosen ahead of them as starters, reserves or alternates.

But let’s look for the silver lining in this. I think the snubs will serve to further galvanize the locker room. Those selected will be upset by the deserved not chosen. It will sharpen that chip on the team’s collective shoulder and they’ll let the snubbing inspire them even more.

Just like being a 3 point dog to a team that they dominated 4 weeks ago will…

Never mess around with the junk yard dog. It has a nasty bite.

And in Baltimore, there’s plenty of dogs in the Ravens‘ house. Just ask the Pro Bowl voters and odds makers.

WHY WOULD YOU ROOT FOR THE COLTS?

At the moment I’m out of town on biz and I happened to get a copy of The Sun. So I look at the cover and what do I see? Ravens fans celebrating a Colts’ touchdown at the ESPN Zone. Why?

Am I missing something here?

Why are fans setting their sights so low? Clearly the Ravens aren’t overwhelmed by their AFC North Championship. So why are you? Isn’t your bar set as high as the Ravens’? Doesn’t Super Bowl Champion have a better ring to it than AFC North Champion?

Silly question I know but here’s a more pertinent one – wouldn’t such a championship be more attainable as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed with the path to Miami traveling through Baltimore? So GO BENGALS, right? Colts drop to the third seed…more home playoff games…Yahoooooo right?

Well apparently not for some with less ambition….

I happened to be rooting for the Bengals almost like they were the Ravens. And I am sure glad that I am not a Bengals fan. Did Jim Fassel design that offensive game plan? Matt Cavanaugh? That was a joke. I bet Carson Palmer is pretty sore today. That Bengals offensive line was an absolute sieve. Conversely the Bengals defensive front seemed to be counting to 7 Mississippi before rushing Peyton Manning.

Anyway, I had to take a shower after watching that game. The stench of being a Bengals’ fan for 3 hours was unbearable.

Never again!

Unless of course a Cincinnati win benefits the Ravens or they are playing the Steelers.

Speaking of which, can you believe the Ravens are 3 point dogs against the Stillers this week? Didn’t we just beat them like a drum 4 Sundays ago?

Hello, McFly?

More on that later…

Thursday, December 14, 2006

GOD MUST BE A RAVENS FAN!

For the past few years I’ve been saying that, “God must be a Ravens fan.” My rationale you ask? That would be the extremely favorable weather here in Baltimore on football Sundays.

How many times have they called for rain or dicey weather only to see the clouds miraculously vanish as the skies open up for another afternoon of Ravens football? If memory serves me correctly there has never been a regular season game played at M&T that was affected by rain. The closest may have been the “If we win we’re in” game against the Chargers back in 2000. But even then the rain was never more than a light drizzle.

The home playoff game against the Broncos was a blustery and bitterly cold afternoon but somehow knocking the snot out of Denver took the edge off that chill. It also doesn’t hurt if you sit on the sunny side of the stadium like I do.

Even the home playoff game against the Titans in January 2004 was a balmy 60+ degrees. This week the forecast on Sunday is for sunny skies and 65 degrees.

Whenever I mention our meteorological fortunes to anyone that will listen, I’m told to hush up – I might jinx us. Fuggedaboutit! I’m not worried about any jinx. I’ve been making this claim for years and still, here we will be basking in the glow of a near winter solstice sunshine.

If you go back a little further in Ravens history, you may recall a game played in 1996 I believe when the Ravens defeated the Steelers 31-17 under the blanket of a steady November rain. Perhaps even God didn’t remember that the old Browns had become the Ravens and they played in Baltimore.

But other than that Steelers’ game, I challenge you to find another regular season game when rain was a factor in Baltimore. I bet you can't!

I did do some research on this topic. I looked back on all the games played in November and December here in Baltimore since the 2002 season. The average temperature during those games played here in Baltimore for November was 57.5 degrees and for December it was 44.1 degrees. The normal average temperature for those months is 46.8 degrees and 36.7 degrees respectively. Kind of like the Ravens turnover ratio this year, that's a plus 11 and a plus 7!

You feelin’ me? Feelin’ the warmth?

So, get out your SPF 30 Coppertone and enjoy the San Diego like weather down at The Vault on Sunday. And while you’re at it, if you can…wear some Chiefs underwear and Bengals socks to support those teams. It might help spread some good karma towards our second and third favorite teams this weekend.

But go light...it’s going to be hot down there at M&T.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

SEX SELLS

Chances are if you are reading this you are a Ravens fan. And thanks to the genetics of a Ravens fan your DNA suggests that you suffer from an inferiority complex when it comes to the NFL. You can’t help it really -- it’s just how you are built.

Turn on ESPN or NFL Network after a big Ravens win with high hopes that the Ravens will be deluged with praise from the national pundits and what do you get -- a Bengals’ love fest. Listen to Chris Berman (assuming you can any more) and his weekly Swami almost always picks against the Ravens by some twisted score of 12-11 or somewhere thereabout.

From being told to build a museum to the lack of nationally televised games; from the difficulty of schedule to a Christmas Eve game on the road in Pittsburgh; from referees accusing the Ravens of having malice in their hearts to Brian Billick subtly suggesting that the league has an ax to grind with our city, you think the NFL’s league office will turn the screw on Baltimore whenever it can.

Make no mistake about it, the fix is in!

The Ravens are the Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL. We get no respect!

While the league and its talking heads fawn all over the Chargers, a team the Ravens beat no less, the Ravens are tucked away like an ugly stepchild. As the league showcases Cell Block H (aka the Cincinnati Bengals) the fans of Baltimore feel like it’s their team that is incarcerated.

And you know what? You’re right. Your feelings are justified. Baltimore does get the dry shaft. We do get ignored. We are like Flick with his tongue stuck to the pole while the others are huddled inside a toasty classroom watching highlight films that don’t include us.

There’s a reason for it -- SEX SELLS and the Ravens aren’t sexy.

The Ravens are built on defense and defense while it wins championships isn’t exciting for highlight programs. Last night our quarterback made the highlight reels -- for a tackle, for being a defender! Yep, Steve McNair was featured on ESPN's Jacked Up segment.

But generally fans want to see scoring -- big plays. Gamblers want to see the plays that won them cash or sealed their fate; fantasy football players line up to watch SportsCenter and NFL Replay like Rosie O’Donnell queues up at Jonah & The Whale’s all you can eat buffet.

That’s how it is and the Ravens aren’t quite the match for that NFL world. All NFL fans want their team to play great defense yet offense is more exciting. We like Mary Ann for a lifetime but Ginger for a night on the town. We don’t run to the TV to look for the girl next door -- we want to see Angelina Jolie or Jeri Ryan. When is the last time a lawyer looked like Jeri Ryan and if I’m mistaken and she’s the norm for female attorneys then I have to tell you, I’m ready to sue somebody for something.

Hey let’s sue the NFL for character defamation or psychological abuse.

We’re tired of the neglect here in Baltimore!

Look around you. What NFL jerseys do kids buy? Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Michael Vick, Ladainian Tomlinson and (gulp) Ben Roethlisberger are at or near the top of jersey sales. Nobody wants us!

Face it folks -- the Ravens just aren’t sexy.

Offense is sexy and sex sells.

Look at all the recent changes, modifications or closer enforcements of NFL rules. Just about every one is designed to help the offense. It’s the NFL’s version of Nip/Tuck and all the enhancements boost offensive teams.

So Baltimore if you want your team to get more attention -- attention deserving of a 10-3 team, then you better hope they get sexier and sexier means more offense.

That’s just the way it is and it’s doubtful that it will ever change.

You can thank Vegas, fantasy footballers and Ginger for that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Super Bowl win could mean losses

This football season is beginning to feel quite familiar. Here comes that Festivus feeling again and given the presence of Peter Angelos and that losing feeling that settles in here in the Land of Pleasant Living around April 15, wouldn’t another Lombardi look good out there in Owings Mills?

Who could deny that such a sight is within the realm of possibility? After all the current media darlings, the San Diego Chargers, are a team that lost to the Ravens when the Ravens were hardly at their best. They could lose to the Ravens again regardless of the venue. After all Marty Schottenheimer is still their head coach and Marty on the sidelines in January is reminiscent of a scene from the original American Pie movie when the anticipation of Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) is just too much for Jason Biggs’ character Jim Levenstein to handle. Chances are he’ll blow it in the clutch with Martyball just like Levenstein blew his…ah never mind.

But back to that Lombardi…

The spoils of another Super Bowl win would be all too sweet. And what a story it would make with some very interesting subplots: Brian Billick goes from the outhouse to the penthouse; Steve McNair’s goes from a lock out to Disneyworld; Ray Lewis returns home for another title; yes Virginia the Ravens do have an offense; Eric DeCosta courted by the Ford family in Detroit (assuming they obtain all outstanding scandalous photos that Matt Millen apparently has in his safe); Rex Ryan to goes to Cleveland.

Yes there is a downside to winning a Super Bowl.

The NFL is a copycat league and the vultures that want to be like you come swirling overhead waiting for the perfect time to strike. And they will.

Some players will cash in…players like Adalius Thomas and Jarret Johnson. Eric DeCosta’s star climbs even higher and maybe some owner decides that DeCosta is the perfect architect to re-design a team in tatters. The annual coaching carousel will again be in motion and they’ll be jockeying for position to gain Rex Ryan’s attention.

Hey Rex, Phil Savage on line 2 for you!

And while those are all problems, they are good problems and they are problems that successful organizations must deal with.

That’s life in the fast lane of the National Football League.

Monday, December 04, 2006

DEREK ANDERSON: THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY?


Derek Anderson. Now there’s a name that will get a work out around the water cooler today. Wish the Ravens kept HIM, right?

“Did you see that?” “Boy Savage really pulled one over on us there?” “How could Ozzie let this stud get away for nothing?” “I can’t believe we risked sneaking him on the practice squad after that preseason performance against the Redskins back in ‘05!”

Etc., etc., etc.

People forget that on his very first snap under center in the Falcons preseason game in ‘05 that he stumbled and fumbled and turned the ball over. They forget later in that fourth quarter he threw an interception in the red zone. The same people don’t know that time and time again during summer camp Anderson locked in on receivers, bounced swing passes at the feet of running backs and tripped so often back peddling that he made Kyle Boller look as calm and collected as Joe Montana.

Yet the Ravens tried to do something with Anderson -- not cut him but to sneak him on to the practice squad.

And while we cheered for him when he rallied the third and fourth string Ravens to victory over the third and fourth string Redskins in overtime 26-20 on the heels of a 7 for 14 performance, 156 yards and two scores, that performance may have sealed his fate as a Raven. Trying to sneak him on to the practice squad was certainly risky given Phil Savage’s intimate knowledge of the former Oregon State Beaver.

As you know (perhaps even painfully) the Ravens lost the Beaver when Savage acted like Eddie Haskell and snatched him away.

These things happen.

And great performances from backup quarterbacks also happen. How many Clint Courtneys and Stoney Cases have we seen in our days?

Anderson could become a serviceable back up. He could become a decent starter. But before we get our knickers in a twist about this, let’s see how Anderson does on a national stage against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday Night or the following week against his former practice mates -- the Baltimore Ravens, after they prepare for him.

Then come and bring the topic of Derek Anderson to the water cooler!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

THERE ARE A FEW EXTRA SEATS ON THE BANDWAGON

Ok, how many of you thought the Ravens would run the table after Pittsburgh? If your hand is in the air was that really realistic? (I’m lowering my hand now by the way.)

Let’s face it, the odds were stacked against the Ravens in Cincinnati from day 1. Very short week after a facing their bitter rival, the Steelers. You know the rest.

What I don’t get is the response to the loss from many here in Baltimore. Can we have a little faith?

We’ve seen it time and time again in the NFL -- teams that can weather adversity will be successful. Look at the Ravens in 2000, the Patriots in 2001, the Steelers in 2006. They got it together and battled through difficult times and they were rewarded for their ability to handle adversity.

They say you learn more about a man during adverse times than during prosperous times. The same thing can be said about teams. The same can be said about fans!

The 2006 Ravens are NOT the 2005 Ravens. That team last year didn’t buy into their head coach’s message. They lacked discipline and when the season got away from them quickly the focus was far from the team on more on their individual careers. Maybe even the assistant coaches had doubt and worried for their careers. Matt Simon apparently did. Maybe they were already circulating their resumes anticipating that it might be Brian Billick’s turn in the queue at the head coaching guillotine.

Instead Billick visited the head coaching woodshed, took his beating like a man and made the necessary adjustments. So has the team and so too have the assistant coaches.

My bet is that the Cincinnati loss will be a good loss. I expect the Ravens to look hard in the mirror; to see the errors of their Thursday Night ways and fix them. I believe in Brian Billick. I believe in Steve McNair. I believe in Ray Lewis. I believe that their collective leadership will bring this team together and use the Cincinnati loss as a learning tool and prove to the thin-skinned bandwagon fans the value of maintaining focus throughout the journey of a NFL season.

After all at the end of a season or journey, it’s not how you get there but that you arrived and enjoy the spoils of a goal fulfilled.

I think the purple and black are on to something. I think they are going to play well in KC and whether they win that game or not, I think they have the character that it takes to run the table after that.

12-4 and a home playoff game.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Buckle up, enjoy the ride and trust the driver will ya?