Friday, May 20, 2011

McNabb and Baltimore like oil and water

Recently The Sun’s Matt Vensel floated the idea of Donovan McNabb as the Ravens backup QB. Now on the surface Vensel’s rationale seems solid particularly when you consider the other available backup quarterbacks on the market (when the lockout ends). But, Vensel makes a huge assumption – that McNabb will willingly accept the role of backup to a far less accomplished quarterback in Joe Flacco.

McNabb is only 34 years old and while not a spring chicken, he does have something left in the tank by today’s standards. The first time that Flacco struggles, will the calls for McNabb grow louder and how might the player the Ravens still sees as its long-term franchise quarterback respond? And if John Harbaugh does cave to the catcalls for McNabb does he even have what it takes to make the Ravens better or even effective?

The Eagles willingly gave up their franchise record setting QB to a division rival in the Washington Redskins and they were so enamored with McNabb’s play that they benched him in favor of Rex Grossman. Are you kidding me?

Making matters even worse, McNabb would have to learn yet another offense – his third in 3 seasons and he will be forced to do so during an offseason that is shrinking every day.

While he might be more decorated than the other veteran backups on the market, McNabb is hardly suited for the backup QB role in Baltimore. If Marc Bulger does move on as expected, the Ravens need to find a quarterback familiar with the Don Coryell system that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron employs. The Ravens might not have to look much further than San Diego where a 35 year old veteran backup familiar with that style of offense could soon be unemployed.

His name – Billy Volek.

ESPN knows fashion like Donald Trump knows hair

ESPN apparently doesn’t know what to do to keep their ample staff of contributors to the “worldwide leader” busy so they’ve concocted a power ranking of the league’s helmets. Seriously?

Acclaimed journalists such as: John Clayton; Pat Yasinskas; Bill Williamson; James Walker; and Paul Kuharsky were asked to vote on the best looking helmets in the NFL. Now keep in mind most of these guys are much more familiar with DQ (Dairy Queen) than they are GQ so their prowess when it comes to fashion probably doesn’t get past the blue light specials at Kmart. They know fashion and style like the way Donald Trump knows hair!

To prove my point, the group’s choice for best helmet is none other than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now here’s a design that is so creative it was lifted from the logo of the American Iron and Steel Institute. Get it…Steelers…steel?

Creative, right?

And the logo appears on only one side of the helmet.

Did they have budget cuts the year the design was implemented and the extra sticker was viewed as an unnecessary luxury item? Well according to the Steelers were unsure how it would look on the helmet. Even they weren’t originally keen on the helmet yet these polyester pirates from ESPN gave the eyesore their highest grade.

And speaking of eyesores, also among the top 10 helmets is the candy corn dome of the Cleveland Browns; the Bears and their cutting edge “C” (he said tongue-in-cheek) and the Miami Dolphins’ cartoon blow-hole mammal.

Where did the Ravens land in the poll? Try tied for second worst (of those teams receiving votes) along with the Patriots, Bills, and Panthers. The 49ers, Bengals, Titans, Texans, Falcons and Cardinals did not receive a single vote.

I guess these dudes don’t like birds. The highest ranking bird of the five feathered teams was the Eagles at No. 17.

So what’s next ESPN, the top fight songs?

Hey want to design your own Ravens helmet and win? Click here for details!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

ESPN trashes Baltimore Ravens helmet, new design coming?

On the heels of this NFL helmet "power ranking" completed by the “worldwide leader” and given the Ravens poor showing in said ranking (they finished with the 3rd worst helmet…the Steelers’ was voted the league’s best helmet), we have decided to organize a contest to design a new Ravens' helmet. We'll take the entries and then bracket them, modeled after the NCAA basketball tournament.

To give the tournament a buzz and encourage contestants, we have reached out to potential sponsors to underwrite the contest in an effort to assemble a cash prize worth at least $1,000.00.

Winners will be determined by popular vote here on Ravens24x7 in a picture poll on our home page designed specifically for the contest. Our plan is to kick off this contest next date is Wednesday May 25. Entries should be submitted by June 30, 2011.

So for all of you creative types or those who know creative types, get busy! Entries should be submitted to

Thanks and best of luck to all.

It should be noted that this contest is not endorsed by the Ravens nor is there an effort to replace the current helmet. This is simply a fan driven effort to be rewarded by and its sponsors.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ravens think Jah will work at right tackle

Plus team is jazzed about rookie running back's style

The Ravens have been given solid grades for their 2011 draft class from top to bottom. Many have questioned the Ravens’ selection of Tyrod Taylor who some consider a less accomplished version of recently discarded Troy Smith. But generally those who study the draft like The Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin (who handed out a rare “A” to Ozzie Newsome & Company) think the Ravens scored on draft weekend.

More importantly the Ravens believe they’ve scored with this year’s collegiate talent pool and the two players that seem to generate the biggest buzz in Owings Mills are offensive tackle Jah Reid and running back Anthony Allen. Insiders believe that Reid could be the starter by the season’s quarter pole and that’s even if Jared Gaither is with the club.

Allen is a determined runner and given the likely departure of Willis McGahee (who doesn’t appear to want to accept a contract less than the $6 mil he’s scheduled to earn in ’11), the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket could provide some needed punch to the Ravens’ anemic short yardage offense.

Back to Gaither for a moment, many fans see him as the team’s best left tackle but make no mistake about it, that position belongs to Michael Oher. Oher is viewed as a long-term Raven while Gaither isn’t expected to be a Raven beyond 2011 if he’s back at all. The team just can’t trust the enigmatic former Terrapin and without that trustworthiness they aren’t prepared to pay him the top end offensive tackle money that his opportunistic agent Drew Rosenhaus will demand.

That said, if the league reverts back to the 2010 uncapped rules and Gaither is a restricted free agent, signing him to the RFA tender would equip Ozzie Newsome with some solid trade bait should the club need to sure up some thin positions before the start of the 2011 season – whenever that might be…

Could Steve be yet another Smith addition to Ravens' roster?

The Ravens are apparently enamored with the last name of Smith and they’ve added two more to the roster in the form of Jimmy and Torrey. Could they be adding another?

Some believe that Carolina Panthers Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith could be heading to Baltimore. Now before you summarily dismiss the idea think about this. Last year at the tail end of the preseason, the Ravens traded Mark Clayton to make room for TJ Houshmandzadeh. Could they make room for Steve Smith by parting ways with Derrick Mason?

Mason has clearly delivered all that the Ravens had hoped and then some. But if the Ravens can lure Steve Smith with a contract number not far north of Mason’s $4.5 million 2011 salary figure wouldn’t he be a better complement to Anquan Boldin? And at 32 it could be argued that he has a bit more left in the tank than the seemingly ageless Mason.

Clearly it’s a long-shot but then again, last August it seemed like Houshmandzadeh over Clayton was also a player swap difficult to fathom.

Rex Ryan is a big fall waiting to happen

Rex Ryan feels slighted by the Baltimore Ravens and has opted to employ those emotions to fuel his ambition.

"Coaching in Baltimore 10 years and then not getting the job, that's a thing that drives me," Rex Ryan said recently. "As much as I respect the people in the Ravens' organization, they never thought I could do the job, and that's a major chip on my shoulder.''

From what I’ve been told, the Ravens never doubted that Ryan could be a head coach. They just didn’t want him as their head coach and for good reason.

It is no secret that Ryan’s defensive unit loved playing for him. But that 2007 team was laced with cancerous cliques that eventually undermined then head coach Brian Billick leading to his demise in Baltimore. And while Ryan didn’t assemble those cliques, he did little to squelch those on the defensive side of the ball and eventually a near mutiny ensued, one that could have benefitted Ryan.

The Ravens had always supported Ryan’s efforts to land head coaching jobs in Atlanta, San Diego and other past job openings. They entertained the idea of making him their head coach as well but they couldn’t get past Ryan’s immaturity and his behavior as the Jets’ head coach validates that concern.

WARNING: Video includes extreme profanity

Sure flashing the bird at fans, his profane showboating on Hard Knocks, afternoon snacks, toe tickling and bloated bravado may be amusing while he’s winning, but let’s see who’s laughing when adversity rears its ugly head for the Gang Green.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Torrey Smith kicks off pro career with flying colors

Think about this for a second – and I know most of you have been in a similar situation before…

You go through high school, college, internships and now it’s time to put those experiences to work in the world of wage earning.

You successfully set up an interview with your ideal employer and you’ve managed to get through the initial phases of the screening process. But now it’s time to go face to face with the Big Cheese who is known to toss a few curve balls at prospective new employees.

All those hours of studying; all the investment in tuition; all of the soul searching sifting through your thoughts on exactly what it is you want to do with your life – all of it culminates in a few defining moments with the person who can open the door to your future or derail it indefinitely.

It’s a red letter day in your life.

Can you feel it?

Such was the case for Torrey Smith on April 30, 2011.

Here’s a man who had his mind set on this day his entire athletic career and he’s brought in to face the media – a collection of reporters who will poke and pry and in some way affect his future.

It’s his very first press conference as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, a team that Torrey’s mom hoped would come calling for her son.

If Smith was nervous the way most of us would have been it certainly didn’t show. If anything he controlled the press conference with veteran savvy.

Smith shared the stage with fellow rookie and first round pick Jimmy Smith. When the media drilled down on Jimmy and questioned the character issues that forced him to slide down the draft board and into the waiting arms of the Ravens at No. 27, teammate Torrey stepped up in his defense.

“I’ve had the opportunity to know Jimmy myself, getting to know him over the process, and he’s a great guy. The way the media tries to portray him, I feel that’s not him. He’s a great guy, he’s down to earth, and like you said, these things are in the past, so I just feel like people should focus more on what he’s about to do from this day forward.”

In so many words, Torrey essentially told us all to forget all we’ve read about Jimmy and the mistakes he made as a 17 or 18 year old kid. He’s learned from his mistakes and he’s grown. Let’s judge him on what he does from this point forward as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

Ray Lewis would have been proud…

The entire organization was proud.

Just imagine the impression he made on fellow new “co-worker” Jimmy.

During this defining and nervous moment (for most), Torrey Smith demonstrated veteran poise, presence and maturity, all of which will serve him well as he prepares to take on the mental and physical challenges of becoming a wide receiver in the NFL.

Although he’s yet to step foot between the lines while wearing the purple and black, Torrey Smith’s professional football career could not have gotten off to a better start.

And there’s little doubt that the Big Cheese gave him a big thumbs up!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Roger Goodell is just a puppet on a string

Paul Tagliabue will never win any popularity contests in Baltimore. If anything, he’s probably just a notch above Bob Irsay, Peter Angelos and Hines Ward as the most vilified sports figures in The Land of Pleasant Living.

That said Baltimoreans should be missing Tagliabue right about now.


His replacement looks like nothing more than a patsy.

If you can think back to the days of Tagliabue objectively and without malice, outside of his obvious bias against Baltimore, you would have to say that he did a pretty decent job fueling the game’s ascent to the pinnacle of sports while maintaining labor peace.

Never did you feel that the NFLPA would ever flip ownership on its head like its counterpart in MLB. Tagliabue’s relationship with Union Chief Gene Upshaw was solid – even friendly. It was so friendly that many questioned Upshaw’s competency because from the outside looking in it appeared that the late Upshaw kowtowed to Tagliabue.

Even the NFL owners, Tagliabue’s 32 bosses, seemed to kowtow a bit to the man who thinks Baltimore needs more museums.

My how things have changed!

On one hand you have a newcomer in NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith who has something to prove. He can’t allow ownership to roll over him – you know, the ones who want about a half billion dollar refund. So he has to take off the gloves, absorb some body blows and fight the good fight for his constituents who are watching closely.

On the other hand there is Goodell.

Now when he first hit the scene, Roger entered swinging a big stick while delivering heavy handed fines for player offenses. The penalties, relatively speaking were on par with jail time for parking tickets when compared to Tagliabue’s slaps on the wrist.

So given the new “sheriff’s” bravado you would have thought that Goodell would have been an influential force during the NFL labor wars. Instead he’s been nothing more than a puppet on the owners’ strings.

Here we have a league laced with billionaires and millionaires that continues to thrive despite a very bad economy. Salaries across the continent are flat. Millions have lost their jobs. Yet fans continue to pay the league’s rising prices.

If you build it, we will come.

But what if they tear it down instead?

Greed in the NFL is tearing at the fabric of the great game we’ve come to know and love. Each side is hell bent on “winning” while the fans, those who make the 1,700 players millionaires and the 32 owners billionaires are the losers.

Why does this have to be a zero sum game? Why can’t both sides win?

The players seem ready to litigate while they work.

The owners seem to want to crush the union while bleeding the players.

This is where Paul Tagliabue would have stood up and restored sanity. Instead Goodell tucks his tail, hides from the fan boos on draft day behind an orchestrated and insincere salute to the tornado victims in the south – a salute that was nothing more than a red herring.

Go fish!

I was once a fan Roger, but now unfortunately you have reduced yourself to a more polished version of Bud Selig.

And somewhere, while the owners puppet you around, De Smith is smiling.

Maybe even laughing!

It’s time to man up!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Some post draft meanderings…

Seven teams were poised to select offensive tackle Jah Reid at or around the time the Ravens made him the 85th overall pick. The team is said to be very high on this fast riser so much so that they believe he will be starting over Jared Gaither at right tackle.

Yes I did say Jared Gaither.

One source believes that the team will control Gaither because they anticipate that he will be a restricted free agent .

Many are embellishing the story that binds Joe Flacco and fourth round pick Tandon Doss, claiming that it was Flacco who picked Doss. If you believe that maybe you will also believe that Flacco will be calling his own plays in 2011.

Flacco was given tape of 6 wide receivers and asked for his opinion. He liked Doss the best. It will be interesting to see how Doss works out for the Ravens because if he does, maybe QB Joe will out “scout” to his resume.

The Ravens were wretched in third and short situations last year. Look for seventh round pick Anthony Allen to get a shot at changing the Ravens fortunes in short yardage situations. Word is the former Yellow Jacket is a very determined runner upon contact.

Perhaps the most curious pick the Ravens made in the 2011 NFL Draft was that of Virginia Tech QB Tayrod Taylor. Many expected the Ravens to go after Alabama QB Greg McElroy given Ozzie Newsome’s ties to the school and the outlook for McElroy which is that of a career backup. That would match up well with Flacco in Baltimore.

But then again, maybe it is Ozzie’s ties to the Crimson Tide and good buddy Nick Saban that persuaded him calling McElroy’s name.