Another Ravens Season Down, Natives Restless

The 2016 Baltimore Ravens season ended this afternoon in Cincinnati.  In reality, it ended when Antonio Brown stretched the ball over the goal line Christmas Night in Pittsburgh with the clock running out and the Ravens poised to escape Western PA with another hard-fought win.  It wasn’t meant to be.

A casual fan with no hard rooting interest in either team would have likely classify that game as an NFL regular season classic.  Here in Baltimore, it was a knockout blow.  The fight is over, you get up, dust yourself off and get ready to fight again.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, without much at stake today, the team played poorly and was handled easily by the Bengals, 27-10.  I put zero stock in today’s result.

The internet, being made more famous everyday for a good knee-jerk post by the next President of the United States, was full of complaints and overreaction this afternoon.  Joe Flacco should retire and John Harbaugh should be fired  are the salvos being tossed into the air.

They are the easy targets.  They are the two guys who have to face the music after every game.  They are two guys that i would grade about C+ for 2016.  I am not giving up on them.  Remember, this team went 5-11 in the injury marred 2015 season.  They bounced back.  Just not all the way. They were one foot away of holding first place going into this last game.  I don’t know if they would have won today, but i would bet the entire feel of the game would have been most discernibly different.

Looking at Flacco specifically, he WAS coming off an ACL tear.  He DID set a career high for yards in a season.  He completed his 9th season that includes 6 playoff appearances, one Super Bowl MVP, three AFC Championship games. 9667353-joe-flacco-nfl-cleveland-browns-baltimore-ravens-vresize-780-440-high-96 If it’s Joe’s demeanor that just rubs you the wrong way, you surely couldn’t have dealt with Unitas and his stoicness – or either Manning brother for their “Aw shucks” looks.  Whether he looks the part, to me, is irrellevant.  I never really saw Cal Ripken as a fiery leader either.  And Joe’s career has kind have been like Cal’s (minus the two MVPs).  He plays everyday which he is physically able.  His numbers are solid though never really off the charts but at times – and over time – he started to be taken for granted.  He takes the heat like Cal did too.

As for Harbaugh, the team has been .500 or better all but one season.  There is no sure-fire alternative.  The AFC North has three competitive teams.  And the Browns.  Cincinnati has been to the playoffs 6 of the last 8 seasons, all under Marvin Lewis – though with little playoff success.  The Steelers have been to the playoffs 7 of Tomlin’s ten seasons.  And then there is Harbaugh’s playoffs in six of nine seasons.  Each comes under fire.  Each should be in their team’s Ring of Honor one day.  And each team’s owner need only to look to Cleveland to see the dangers of playing head coach roulette.  The Browns have been led by 6 men since Tomlin and Harbaugh have taken over (Crennel, Mangini, Shurmur, Chudzinski, Pettine and Hue Jackson).  Coaching stability is a big reason each team has been relevant recently.Image result for baltimore ravens

Going forward, to me, the draft picks have to beef up the coverage on defense and the search for the playmaking WRs are still the priority.  The offensive line has a chance to be really good if they can find a better center and stay together.  The running backs show promise.  The loss of Smith and the less then impactful performance of Perriman are bigger issues than the quarterback. If everything can get just a little better in 2017, the Ravens should be back in the playoffs.

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The Ticker Should Go The Way of the Dinosaur

It’s 2016.  I have smart phone.  You have a smart phone.  We all have a smart phone.

It’s 2016.  I have the internet at home.  You have the internet at home.  We all have the internet at home.

It’s 2016.  I have a DVR.  You have a DVR.  We all have a DVR.  (Well sports fans do.  Other folks have Netflix).

I DVR sporting events.  I used to be able to watch games live but commercials, timeouts and further review (good grief – further review – the words make me cringe).  I can watch live with a group.  Shoot the breeze during the lulls.  Grab a cold one.  But alone?  I’ll go the DVR route.

I’ve watched about 40 Capitals games this season.  Only two live.  Caps games regualarly end about 9:30pm when they play in the east.  I can condense the 2hrs and 30mins into half of that time.

There are dangers involved in taking this route however.bam  Danger number 1 – I’ve hidden my sports page my cell phone by forcing myself to scroll down to find it.  If i accidently scroll down…BAM!  Viewing plans foiled.

Danger number 2 – facebook.  Don’t check it out.  Not only will friends comment and post scores, powif you like the team they will invariably announce victory.  Even if you don’t read the post, it’s always a picture of the celebration…Pow!  Viewing plans foiled.

Danger number 3 – the TICKER!  In 1998, it was invaluable.  Get all the days scores right there.  In 2016, you have a phone,boom you have the internet, and if you  DVR’d another game, you end up invariable staring at it the instant your DVR’d game’s score flashes.  BOOM!  Viewing plans foiled.

It seems as if Batman is having a field day with ruining my quiet time at the end of the day with my remote.  I understand the phone.  Dont look.  It’s not as hard as anyone thinks.  You can do it.  Put it down and walk away.  facebook?  It’s not cool anymore anyway.  This guy hates Hillary. This dude thinks Trump is Hitler.  These folks have kids that are better than yours.  Drama loves facebook too, like bacteria likes a petri dish.  facebook has a purpose.  Sometimes its just hard to tell what it is.

But the TICKER!?  C’mon ESPN.  FoxSports and NBCSports Network too.  It’s 2016. lotl If i need a score, i have plenty of options.  I could even watch ESPNNews.  Oh wait, they don’t do news anymore – like MTV doesn’t do videos.  It needs to go the way of the dinosaur…and not the really cool dinosaurs from Jurassic Park.  I am talking about the really cheesy ones from Sid and Marty Kroft’s Land Of The Lost circa 1975.  THAT’S when we needed at ticker.  1975!  Now it’s time to go watch that Caps game.

With Last Super Bowl Breath On the Turf, Cam Decides It’s Not Worth It

I’ve never had anything bad to say about Cam Newton.  I followed his career in college at Auburn and enjoyed watching him win the Heismann and a National Title.  He seems to be a decent community guy and his NFL career was certainly on the rise with winning the MVP and making the Super Bowl this season.broncos-panthers

He had a tough go against the NFL’s number 1 rated defense on Sunday in San Fransisco.  Denver pressured him.  Sacked him.  Hurried him into bad throws.  They tracked him when he took off running.  There is no doubt Cam struggled even times when he wasn’t under pressure.

Cam didn’t commit 5 false starts though (contrary to popular belief, they were NOT all on Michael Oher).  He didn’t whiff on DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller every other snap (Oher wasn’t responsible for all the sacks himself either).  He didn’t fumble at the end of runs like Mike Tolbert.

He didn’t drop a critical pass in the first quarter like Jericho Cotchery that would have given Carolina it’s first big play. (Sidenote: If i am the replay official, i uphold the incomplete pass – personally I am a huge believer in the “50 drunks in a bar should all agree” to overturn something.  Which we all know never happens so that makes replay a dumb idea to me).

Cam didn’t drop another that would have set up first and goal for the Panthers in the third quarter.  It was Cotchery again and Graham Gano doinked the field goal attempt.  Cam didn’t let a pass later in the quarter slip through his hands and into the arms of Denver safety TJ Ward at the Broncos’ 10-yard line thwarting another scoring opportunity.  Ted Ginn Jr. did that.  Carolina’s defense played admirably but their special teams gave up a 61-yard return in addition to missing a kick.

I’m a forgiving guy.  I can forgive Cam’s post-game interview.  I could hear the Broncos interview going on and it was annoying ME.  I undertand his dissappointment.  I get being 26 and thinking everyone let around you let you down.  I can forgive Peyton Manning for basically saying he was going to get ripped on crappy Budweiser.  Thats what i would have done!  I can forgive the halftime performers for political messages interpreted by media types about their performances that i doubt 95% of us even picked up on during the show.  Which makes me believe that 5% of us can be offended by anything.

Where my kind spirit declines to forgive is when the biggest prize of your profession is slipping away…and the very possession of the ball that would allow you to score the 6 points you need to tie the game with four minutes to go rests on the grass next to you. cam-fumble.w529.h352 Anyone that has played the game knows when you lose the ball, job one is to get it back.  Anyway, anyhow.  DeMarcus Ware wasn’t concerned that someone could have snapped his left arm in half when he lay prone and outstretched for the ball.  I counted 8 players rolling across the ground – and one referee.  And there was Cam, sidestepping at first, then dropping to all fours and weakly swiping at the pigskin.

I’m sorry, Cam.  Never have I had a bad word to say until that moment – even about the pre-game gold shoes.  How could anyone not think, “Oh Sh!t!  Dive on it!”  Maybe at some point he WAS too close and realized he couldnt jump on it ….but not when i see a still photo like the one below that just makes me think Cam decided it wasn’t his fault to this point…so why bother.

stillcamSo in response to Cam’s comment today about “Show me a good loser and i will show you a loser.”  I say, “Show me Cam Newton and I will show you a bad loser.  Either way, you’re still a loser.  I never really cared how you acted before or after the game.  You’re just a football player.  It’s what you do (or don’t do) on the field that counts.”

Offense Hurries Up, College Refs Race Them

So Clemson is playing hurry up offense in the National Championship game against Alabama.  It’s late in the first half and Clemson is rushing to beat the clock to get a late score.dabo

For some reason, now they have another competitor in the mix, in addition to the stingy Alabama defense.  It’s a group of officials that have gotten caught up in the speed in which the offense has assembled to snap the ball and now are racing to get the ball ready for play.

The problem is, there is no reason for the referees to be in hurry up mode.  Clemson is doing their best to be in position so when the game administrators are ready for play, the offense is in position to run their play.  An official’s job is to allow the chain crew to set the chains and whistle the ball ready for play in a timely manner.  At that point, Clemson can snap the ball.  Just because Clemson is rushing does not mean the chain crew and the referees have to as well.  I see week in and week out on Saturdays in the fall.  Why change the way things are managed in the final seconds of a half?

In fact, in the closing seconds of the half, the referees should be focused on managing the game and clock to ensure things do go off the tracks – taking their time to get things right.  Instead, the game clock mistakenly continued running after the first down was signaled for a few seconds – when it should have stopped according to the college rules.  Then, referees missed that fact that, while they scrambled around like chickens without heads, the clock started again not only before the chains had set, but before the ball had even been set down for Clemson to be able to snap it.  The fiasco took place in this video at the 1:07:40 mark.

By my count, the clock melted from 13 to 7 in the mishap.  It cost Clemson at least one opportunity to advance the ball and they settled for a field goal try without snapping the ball again.

During regular game flow, I counted 12 seconds between a first down time out signaled and a ready for play signal.  In those waning seconds in Miami, Clemson was afforded only six seconds, three of which had the clock running, before they called a timeout and kicked a field goal.  What’s the hurry?  For all the talk about “getting it right”, this was a big oversight.  In the NFL, yeah, you gotta get the ball down for the offense, but in college ball, that’s not the case.  Slow down.  Get the easy things right.  We all know the difficulty in getting the tough calls right.