2011 Baltimore Ravens Notebook: First Quarter Review by Barry Barnes

Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens definitely should have a restful bye week after starting the first quarter of the 2011 NFL Season in good fashion.  Taking It to the House’s Barry Barnes breaks down Baltimore first four games

The Baltimore Ravens are where they want to be at 3-1 (even though 4-0 would be better), sitting at the top of the AFC North division. 

It’s early.  However, the Ravens are sitting in unfamiliar territory. As usual, the Ravens’ defense is ranked in the NFL’s top ten – currently are 3rd in total defense allowing 284.5 yards per game.  Shockingly, Baltimore’s offense is sits in the 6th spot in total points, averaging 29.8 points per outing. Continue reading

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Terrell Suggs: “We Are Going To See What Happens With #57 in The Hole” by Barry Barnes

Baltimore Ravens standout OLB Terrell Suggs “Can’t Wait” for his team’s Sunday Night Football match-up with his former teammate Bart Scott and the rest of Rex Ryan’s New York Jets

Owings Mills, MD – It’s not uncommon to witness a defender carrying the rock from the backfield in the NFL.  In the mid-80s, William “The Refrigerator” Perry helped made it popular for defensive players to carry the ball on occasion. 

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs want to carry the ball, not because he believes he can be famous for being a ball carrier or the offense need his help.  The sole position for Suggs (who leads the team in sacks with four) to tote the rock is to have a date in the middle with number 57 – New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott. Continue reading

Ravens-Eagles: Pre-Season Game Preview and What to Watch For by Jason King

You know that future Hall of Famer and Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis will be “fired-up” when he leads his team versus the Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team” in 2011 NFL Preseason Week 1

Date/ Time:  August 11, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Place: Philadelphia,PA

Venue: Lincoln Financial Field

Playing Surface: Grass

Television: 6 ABC inPhiladelphia

The Eagles open the preseason Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field.  If you’re looking for the Eagles big off-season acquisitions to make a big impact right away, you will be surprised. 

Expect the first team offense and defense to play one series each.  Most reports out of training camp are that the defense is ahead of the offense.  This seems the norm around the league.  If the offense lacks timing, rhythm, and the explosiveness we have become accustomed to don’t be alarmed.  The Eagles offense could be without both projected starting wide receivers.  Jeremy Maclin hasn’t been practicing due to an undisclosed illness.  DeSean Jackson ended his 11 day holdout Monday by reporting to the team in time to take a physical and participate in the afternoon walkthrough. 

Contract negotiations are expected to commence between the Eagles front office and Drew Rosenhaus,Jackson’s agent.  In a perfect world, Jackson would like to get his contract situation solved to his liking before he steps foot on the field, further putting himself at risk of an injury.  Jacksonis on the final year of his rookie contract, which pays him just $600 thousand this year.

The Eagles offensive line is expected to boast a whole new right side.  Danny Watkins is the projected starter at right guard and free agent signee Ryan Harris the projected starter at right tackle.  Harris has seized the opportunity taking first team reps for the last several days at Lehigh. The longest tenured Eagle center Jamaal Jackson is looking to bounce back after he missed all of the 2010 season due to injury. 

The defense was where the biggest questions were raised in the off-season.  Don’t expect many tactical questions to be answered on this side of the ball on Thursday.  While it’s no secret how the Eagles want to attack on offense, the defense is somewhat of a mystery. 

Juan Castillo, the new defensive coordinator, was the Eagles offensive line coach last year.  Jim Johnson and Sean McDermott both employed a blitzing style of defense predicated on getting pressure on the quarterback.  Castillo is expected to give the defense a new identity especially with the new signees.  

With the brain condition Mike Patterson was diagnosed with, the Eagles first defensive line is projected to be Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Anthony Hargrove, and Trent Cole.  In 2010 those four combined for 30.5 sacks.  Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha are expected to be the starting cornerbacks, but everyone knows the Eagles have three pro bowl corners with the addition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. How quickly Asomugha and DRC adjust will be indicative of how well the defense plays.  

The linebackers are the biggest question personnel wise on defense for the Eagles.  Rookie Casey Matthews is penciled in as the starting middle linebacker with Moise Fokou and Jamar Chaney on the weak and strong sides respectively. Don’t expect any position battles to be won on Thursday night, as it’s simply too soon in the process for coaches to get an accurate read on the talent at various positions.  The goal for the Eagles is to try and build some cohesion on both sides of the ball without getting anybody hurt. 

The Ravens are led in by former Eagles Secondary and Special Teams coach John Harbaugh and they are another team, like the Eagles, with Super Bowl aspirations.  Led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, they are a veteran team with defense as its calling card.  Jimmy Smith, the heralded rookie cornerback fromColorado, has been hampered by a groin injury and his status for this game remains unknown.  

With Haloti Ngata anchoring the defensive line, Lewis anchoring the middle of the field and Reed anchoring the secondary,Baltimoreis sure to have one of the league’s best defenses once again.  It may not show in this game because veterans Ngata, Lewis, and Reed may play one series if at all. 

Baltimore’s offense is in a bit of a transition year. Veterans Todd Heap, Willis MaGahee, and Derrick Mason were all cut. Quarterback coach Jim Zorn was fired in a move that rubbed starting quarterback Joe Flacco the wrong way.  Cam Cameron took some criticism withBaltimore’s questionable play calling at times last year.  One thing is for sure about the Ravens offense.  It will be led by Flacco and Ray Rice.  They will both be helped out tremendously by the re-signing of right guard Marshal Yanda.

The Ravens will have the same game plan as the Eagles.  Keep the play calling simple, rest the veterans by sitting them or playing them one series, and letting the undrafted free agents and rookies gain some game experience.  For both teams, this game is just a footnote toward the ultimate goal.      

 
 
Jason King is a contributing writer at Taking It to the House and can be reached at jdk2032@yahoo.com

A Glimpse at the 2010 NFL Season according to a so-called expert

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance believes that the 2010 NFL season will be a big year for the Baltimore Ravens and their on-the-field leader Ray Lewis

Once again it is time for me to get out my crystal ball and see if I can prognosticate the upcoming NFL season. However as all of my friends can attest, I have never been totally right or wrong in my predictions.

I can already tell you now that I have never gotten the Super Bowl match-up or champion completely right. Because in the NFL, nothing has ever been won on paper and you always need to remember former NFL Commissioner Bert Bell’s famous line, “On Any Given Sunday”.  Our usual game keys of injuries, luck, preparation and pure want-to will all be huge factors as to who ends up playing at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Super Bowl Sunday (February 6, 2011).

And please tell me who could have predicted in the 2009 NFL Season that the hard-luck New Orleans Saints would finally shake off their long history of failed seasons to win the Super Bowl.  Maybe this is my year to be the envy of my doubters (Big V, I am specifically talking to you).  However you know I will have to eat some crow later this NFL season for some of these predictions.

Of course, my NFL tea-leaf reading is all in good fun, so with the season ready to kickoff –Thursday September 9th with the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings in a 2009 NFC Championship Game rematch…. We can rejoice and say “Hallelujah” as the 2010 NFL Season is finally here.

NFC

NFC South

New Orleans Saints       11-5

Atlanta Falcons               10-6

Carolina Panthers            5-11

Tampa Bay Buccaneers    3-13

 

NFC North

Green Bay Packers      11-5

Minnesota Vikings     9-7

Chicago Bears            6-10

Detroit Lions             5-11

 

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys         12-4

Washington Redskins 10-6

Philadelphia Eagles      8-8

New York Giants          7-9

 

NFC West

SF 49ers                     10-6

Arizona Cardinals      9-7

Seattle Seahawks       5-11

St. Louis Rams           3-13

 

AFC

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts     13-3

Houston Texans         11-5

Tennessee Titans       8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars  3-13 

 

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens       12-4

Cincinnati Bengals     10-6

Pittsburgh Steelers    9-7

Cleveland Browns      4-12 

 

AFC East

New England Patriots 11-5

New York Jets              9-7

Miami Dolphins          7-9

Buffalo Bills                 2-14

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos            10-6

San Diego Chargers      8-8

Oakland Raiders           8-8

Kansas City Chiefs       4-12

 

Playoffs

NFC

Division Champions: Dallas Cowboys (Bye), New Orleans Saints (Bye), Green Bay Packers, SF 49ers,

NFC Wild Cards: Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins

NFC Wild Card Round: Green Bay Packers over Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons over SF 49ers

NFC Divisional Round: Dallas Cowboys over Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers over New Orleans Saints

NFC Championship: Dallas Cowboys over Green Bay Packers

AFC

Division Champions: Indianapolis Colts (Bye), Baltimore Ravens (Bye), New England Patriots, Denver Broncos

AFC Wild Cards: Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals

AFC Wild Card Round: Cincinnati Bengals over New England Patriots, Houston Texans over Denver Broncos

AFC Divisional Round:  Cincinnati Bengals over Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens over Houston Texans

AFC Championship: Baltimore Ravens over Cincinnati Bengals 

Super Bowl XLV: Baltimore Ravens over Dallas Cowboys

Awards

NFL Coach of the Year: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

NFL Defensive MVP:  OLB DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year:  RB Ryan Matthews, San Diego Chargers

 **Also keep an eye on Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best, Cincinnati Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham, and Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: DT Ndamukong Suh, Detoit Lions

** Also keep an eye on Philadelphia Eagles DE Brandon Graham, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry, and Oakland Raiders ILB Rolando McClain

NFL Comeback Player of the Year: WR Mike Williams, Seattle Seahawks

** Also keep an eye on Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler, Cincinnati Bengals Cornerback/Kick Returner Adam “Pacman” Jones and New England Patriots WR Wes Welker

Co-NFL Breakout Players:   RB Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders and WR Johnny Knox, Chicago Bears

First Pick of the 2011 NFL Draft: University of Washington QB Jake Locker by the Buffalo Bills

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Season – Week 5 Preview

joshmcdaniels

In one of Week 5’s best games, it will be “The Hoody” vs. “Hoody Jr” as Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels leads his young team against his old boss Bill Belichick and the Patriots

 Week 5 of the 2009 NFL Season is upon us and around the league many trends are starting to form.  The most important trend of them all is that “Separation” has definitely begun amongst the NFL’s 32 teams.  After an exciting first quarter of the season has been completed, five undefeated teams are looking towards the playoffs (Giants, Saints, Vikings, Broncos, and Colts) and five winless teams are  planning for the 2010 NFL Draft already (Bucs, Rams, Chiefs, Browns, and Titans).  Between these two groups are twenty-two teams stuck in the parity middle of the NFL, trying to figure out if they are “Contenders” or “Pretenders” before November and December hit. 

But remember there is still a lot of time left on the NFL calendar and much more work to do for teams around the league.  “We know we’ve won four games but four games will never qualify us for the playoffs or win our division,” said Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels.  Pretty much every team that has at least one win still has a chance to climb into the playoff hunt.  We already know that in modern NFL history that only one team, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, climbed from a 0-4 start to make the playoffs.  But history has shown that a losing record at this point in the season does not negate a team’s chances of making the playoffs.  Since the current playoff system (12 teams) was instituted in 1990, 22 teams have rebounded from a losing record through a season’s first four weeks to qualify for the postseason. Four of those clubs advanced to their conference championship games, including the 2001 New England Patriots (1-3) who also just happened to win Super Bowl XXXVI.

In looking at this week’s games there is clearly not many marquee match-ups.  Especially with front line teams the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and San Diego Chargers on a bye.  Five games have over 8 point favorites (Eagles-Bucs, Vikings-Rams, Steelers-Lions, Raiders-Giants, and Cowboys-Chiefs).  The week’s best games include two divisional battles in the Bengals-Ravens (see Preview) and the Jets-Dolphins on Monday Night Football.  But the big enchilada this week is the match-up that I like to call, “Young Belichick vs. Old Belichick”.  The New England Patriots will travel to Denver to face a red-hot Broncos team led by former Patriots offensive coordinator and Belichick want-to-be Josh McDaniels (worked on the Patriots staff for 8 years).  The young protégé coach has mimicked his mentor right down to a sometimes icy relationship with players and the media plus of course the cutoff hoody. McDaniels said, “We’re not going to make more of this game than what it is…It’s the fifth game of the year.  It’ll be a great challenge to play against one of the best franchises in this league.”

The Patriots were thought to have been on their way down after an embarrassing loss to the trash-talking NY Jets.  But something strange happened on their way to the bottom of the AFC East, where the Buffalo Bills dwell, the Patriots led by the familiar duo of Belichick and comeback kid quarterback Tom Brady woke-up.  The Patriots knocked off upstarts the Falcons and Ravens in successive weeks and now they are also looking to knock the Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten.  If the Broncos are smart, they better try to figure out how to stop Brady from hitting his favorite receiver Randy Moss (scored his first touchdown of 2009 versus the Ravens).  The game will give a true gauge of whether the Broncos are a contender or just plain lucky at this point in the season. 

Against the Bengals in Week 1 it took Brandon Stokely’s “Tremendous Tip” to win and last week it was receiver Brandon Marshall to the rescue.  However as much as everyone has talked about the key breaks that the Broncos have received offensively, it is their defense that is the true story.  Led by new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Broncos’ defense looks nothing like the group that routinely gave-up 400 total yards and had a per game average of over 20 points.  Nolan has instilled his fiery attitude into a group that has over five new starters.  Some players stepping forward for Nolan is veteran safety Brian Dawkins – came over from the Eagles in free agency and has been a tackling machine – and undersized defensive end Elvis Dummervil, who leads the NFL in sacks with eight through four games.  Through four games, the Broncos’ defense has yielded 26 points (6.5 per game).It should be a great match-up and fans can probably even  expect a warm handshake, for a change, between Belichick and his opposing head coach.

Before we got to our featured game for this week, let’s grab some Lloyd’s Leftovers.

Big week for NFL primetime games on television – The Packers-Vikings game on ESPN Monday night drew the largest audience in cable history with 21.8 million viewers.   The FOX doubleheader game (mostly Cowboys-Broncos) was the week’s most-watched show with 22.0 million viewers. And the NBC Sunday night Chargers-Steelers game ranked third with 18.4 million viewers.  

LeBron still runs Cleveland and don’t you forget it – After an alleged incident between former Browns WR Braylon Edwards and a LeBron James’ crony, apparently Browns head Eric Mangini had seen enough.  Edwards was traded to the NY Jets for WR Chansi Stuckey, LB Jason Trusnick and a pair of draft picks.  The former 3rd overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft never lived up to his “Diva” status and other than a breakout year in 2007 (16 TDs in a Pro Bowl year), Edwards has seemed to care more about being a future actor than football player.  Injuries and drops have plagued Edwards throughout his Browns career and hopefully Jets no-nonsense head coach Rex Ryan will break him of his bad habits. In 62 career games, Edwards has 238 receptions, 3,697 yards and 28 TDs.  Look for the Browns to give more time to young wide receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi.

40 is the new 30 – Fresh off his magical win over his old team last week, Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre (85-125, 68%, 837 yards, 8 TDs, and 1 INT) will celebrate his 40th birthday on Saturday, October 10.  On Sunday when the Vikings play the St. Louis Rams, Favre will become the 12th 40-year-old quarterback to start an NFL game in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).  Only four quarterbacks have started at least 5 games after their 40th birthday since 1966 (Warren Moon, Len Dawson, Vinny Testaverde, and Doug Flutie).

Viva NFL — The NFL’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month will culminate in a series of special events surrounding the Jets at Dolphins Monday Night Football game on Monday, October 12, on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and on the radio via Univision Radio.  Telecast will have a customized version of Hank Williams Jr.’s opening video featuring Grammy award-winning singer Gloria Estefan and including lyrics in Spanish.  Grammy award-winning singer Marc Anthony will highlight gameday activities by performing the national anthem.  Also Land Shark Stadium will have several activities inside and outside of the stadium.

NFL Week 5- Featured Game

CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-1) AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (3-1), 1:00 PM ET (CBS)

Broadcast Team: Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker

I will call this one, “The Battle for Hard Knocks Supremacy”.  The Ravens were the series original team back in 2001 and the Bengals appeared in this year’s version.  It didn’t seem that long ago that the AFC North division was the sole stomping grounds of the 2008 Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.  But the times seem to be changing as the Steelers are surprisingly now looking up at both the Bengals and Ravens.  The stage is set in the Charm City as the two organizations that have some ties, including current Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis used to be the defensive coordinator for the Ravens back during their Super Bowl run in 2000, will meet to see who is the AFC North driver’s seat.

To make things even more exciting for Sunday, Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco (17 catches for 258 yards, 15.2 ypc, and 3 TDs) has spent the past few days taunting Ravens defensive backs Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington via Twitter. Ochocinco tweeted to Washington, “Tell Vivica Foxworth he better just sit this game out!!!”  Wrong move No. 85 as the Baltimore Ravens aren’t happy over their treatment in New England last week.  In Week 4, the Patriots handed the Ravens a 27-21 loss, which was their first of the season.  Then there is also the little matter of the Ravens perceiving that the officials “jobbed” them on some personal foul penalties – season-high 9 penalties.  After the game, the Ravens players could not hold their tongues.   “Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game” linebacker Ray Lewis said.

The match-up that I am most interested in is the Ravens stellar defense (allowed only an average of 291 total yards per game) led by Lewis, safety Ed Reed and OLB/DE Terrell Suggs against the Bengals offensive playmakers led by QB Carson Palmer.  The former first overall pick from the 2004 NFL Draft has won six of his first eight starts against the Ravens.  Palmer was on a roll against the Ravens until last year when he had one of his worst performances against them last year.  In the 17-10 season-opening loss in Baltimore, Palmer threw for numbers: 9-24, 94 yards and 1 INT.  Palmer will try to get the ball to Ochocinco, RB Cedric Benson (84 rushes for 367 yards, 4.4 ypr, and 2 TDs) and big play receiver Chris Henry.  The Ravens pass rush can bring pressure from a variety of players and head coach John Harbaugh’s D is always looking for turnovers (+2, tied for 3rd in the AFC) that often time turn into points.

The crazy thing about the 2009 season is that the Ravens are not known for their attacking defense as their offense is piling up yards like crazy – averaging 413.5  yards (3rd in the NFL).  After a rookie season where he was more of a caretaker, 2nd-year starter Joe Flacco has become a Mad Bomber.  In his first four games this season, Flacco has completed 95 of 151 passes for 1,103 yards with eight TDs and three interceptions, which is a major improvement his rookie season.  The young quarterback from the University of Delaware will have help though from his running tandem of Ray Rice (49 rushes for 295 yards, 6.0 ypr, and 1 TD) and rebounding veteran Willis McGahee (leads the NFL with 7 TDs).  The Ravens also be counting more big plays from veteran receiver Derrick Mason (19 rec, 284 yards, 14.9 ypc, and 2 TDs).  The Bengals will be counting on DE Antwan Odom (8 sacks) to get pressure on Flacco so that rookie of the year candidate LB Rey Maualuga and their secondary led by Leon Hall and James Joseph can make plays.

In terms of injuries, the Bengals will probably be without DT Tank Johnson (foot), S Chinedum Ndukwe (hamstring), and S Kyries Hebert (hip).  The Ravens will more than be without OT Jared Gaither (head/neck), but the good news is that the big former Maryland O-lineman is making a big recovery after being taken off the field on a backboard against the Patriots.

LV’s Pick:  The last time these two met, the Ravens ran up and down the field as they pulled off a 34-3 win last November.  Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has a 2-0 record and I believe that he will continue to stay undefeated against the Bengals.  Marvin Lewis’ team is coming off a skin-of-their-teeth win over the hapless Browns, while Ravens are fighting mad.  There will probably be more offense in this game than most people expect, but I still believe the Ravens will get a key turnover, possibly for a touchdown – Ravens 24, Bengals 20

Week 5

SUN, OCT 11 

Cleveland at Buffalo 1:00 PM (CBS) 

Pittsburgh at Detroit 1:00 PM (CBS)

Dallas at Kansas City 1:00 PM (FOX)  

Minnesota at St. Louis 1:00 PM (FOX)  

Oakland at NY Giants 1:00 PM (CBS) 

Tampa Bay at Philadelphia 1:00 PM (FOX)  

Washington at Carolina 1:00 PM (FOX) 

Cincinnati at Baltimore 1:00 PM (CBS)  

Atlanta at San Francisco 4:05 PM (FOX)   

Jacksonville at Seattle 4:15 PM (CBS)

Houston at Arizona 4:15 PM (CBS) 

New England at Denver 4:15 PM (CBS)  

Indianapolis at Tennessee 8:20 PM (NBC)

MON, OCT 12 

NY Jets at Miami 8:30 PM (ESPN)

Bye: Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, San Diego

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

The NFL should stop trying to protect Patriots QB Tom Brady

ngata

Ravens defenders including Big DT Haloti Ngata were rightfully perturbed over some “iffy” roughing the passer calls that benefited Pats’ QB Tom Brady

Let’s think way back to Week 1 of the 2008 NFL Season.  Kansas City Chiefs safety Benard Pollard lunged at “Captain America” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and knocked the NFL’s biggest prize out for the season with a knee injury.  As we all know, the hit didn’t end the Patriots season as everyone seemed to predict.  The Patriots picked themselves up and posted an 11-5 season without Tom Terrific. 

However NFL owners in their infinite wisdom decided at the NFL Owner’s Meetings last spring that more needed to be done to protect the NFL’s greatest commodities, “Golden Boy” quarterbacks.  Thus “The Brady Rule” was born, where defenders who are knocked to the ground can no longer lunge into quarterbacks if the play is still going on.  Of course the owners didn’t bother to ask defensive players or the quarterbacks themselves about needing such a rule. 

As soon as the rule was on the books, you knew there would be a game situation that highlighted the ambiguity (at the referees discretion) and overall ridiculousness of the ‘Brady Rule’.  It had to be fate as the Patriots-Ravens game this past Sunday was the model for the misinterpretation of the rule that basically makes NFL quarterbacks into China dolls and of course Tom Brady was the “victim”. 

In the Patriots 27-21 win over the Ravens, the NFL officiating crew led by referee Ron Winter called two ridiculous  personal fouls against the Ravens that of course extended Patriots’ scoring drives.  The first came on a crucial third-and-9 play in the first quarter and the ball at the Baltimore 37.  Ravens DT Haloti Ngata was hit with a “roughing the passer” on a play where he was clearly trying to deflect Brady’s pass as it was being thrown.  Ngata’s left arm as it was coming down barely grazed Brady’s facemask and of course Tommy “the actor” – BTW: Did you see his work on HBO’s Entourage earlier this season — went down like he was hit by a Mike Tyson haymaker.   The second instance of roughing the passer against the Ravens was the most agregious and occurred with 5:16 left in the first half and the ball at the Baltimore’s 43-yard line.  On a second-and-11 play, Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs beat his man and applied pressure to Brady as he threw a pass. Suggs fighting through a block went low, but clearly tried to avoid contact with Brady’s knees.  But Winter’s crew threw the flag citing the “Brady Rule”.  Brady even motioned to an official to throw the flag even though Suggs was nowhere near his knee.

The two calls amplified the NFL’s continuing “sissy-fication” of the game and further fueled the debate that the league cares more about their million-dollar passers than any other position.  After the game, the Ravens players could not hold their tongues.   “Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Brady is good enough to make his own plays, let him make the play. When you have two great teams that are going at it, let them go at it. Both of their touchdown drives had personal fouls that kept drives alive. Did that win or lose the game? No, but it got them 14 points.”

I could not agree more with the Ravens as the NFL that I grew up watching in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was a league where a quarterback put his shoulder pads and helmet on like everyone else, so he was rightfully fair game.  In a paradox, retired passers that I have talked to cannot believe the level of “compassion” that today’s quarterbacks are afforded.  Recently on HBO’s Joe Buck Show, Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway said that it irked him that quarterback are treated with kid gloves today and that he could have probably played another couple years under these rules.

As former Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan used to say, “They should just put flags on the quarterbacks and get it over with”.  C’mon let the defensive guys play hard…can anyone tell me if the same kind of measures are taken on chop blocks and zone blocking knee diving blocks.  I also saw where during this same weekend that a different set of  NFL officials did nothing when Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell suffered the exact hit used to write the “Brady Rule” in his team’s loss to the Texans.  Maybe there are two NFL rulebooks, one for Brady and one for everyone else. Have fun explaining away these two calls head of officiating Mike Pereira!

On NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Brady’s former teammate Rodney Harrison jokingly told Brady, “Take off the skirt and put on a pair of pants”.

2009 NFL Training Camp Questions – AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

After a breakout rookie season where he won two road playoff games, will quarterback Joe Flacco be more than a “Game Manager” in 2009?

How will the loss of defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, LB Bart Scott, S Jim Leonhard and others to the New York Jets affect the team?

How much is left in the tank of MLB Ray Lewis and can he and head coach John Harbaugh fill the leadership void left by Ryan’s departure?

Even though receiver Derrick Mason unretired, are any of the Ravens’ receivers ready to be QB Joe Flacco’s go-to guy?

Are there enough carries to go around for their running backs (LeRon McClain, Willis McGahee, and Ray Rice), if not who will be the featured back by midseason?

Cincinnati Bengals

After a weak 53-catch and 4 TD season in 2008, will receiver Chad Ochocinco put aside all of his shenanigans to return as quarterback Carson Palmer’s go-to receiver?

If the Bengals have another losing season, will on the hot seat head coach Marvin Lewis survive?

How is the health of quarterback Carson Palmer’s elbow and can an O-line that yielded 50+ sacks in 2008 protect him?

Can the myriad of Bengals players with poor off the field pasts (WR Chris Henry, RB Bernard Scott, DE Frostee Rucker, RB Cedric Benson and others) stay out of trouble enough in 2009 to help the team?

How will having the cameras from HBO’s Hard Knocks series at training camp effect the team?

Cleveland Browns

Is the Browns’ starting quarterback going to be Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn?

Can new head coach Eric Mangini restore the bark of a Browns team that had many difficulties under departed head coach Romeo Crennel?

Is receiver Braylon Edwards healthy (ankle) and can he shake-off offseason trade talks to return to his former Pro Bowl form?

How will the departures of TE Kellen Winslow, head coach Crennel, and GM Phil Savage affect the 2009 Browns?

Can defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s new defense help a unit that gave up an average of 151.9 rushing yards per game and only had 17 sacks?

Pittsburgh Steelers

How will head coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers team handle being the “hunted” after winning their franchise’s 6th Super Bowl title in 2008?

How will quarterback Ben Roethlisberger handle the offseason allegations against him and how many times a game will he throw the ball?

Is running back Willie Parker healthy and will he share carries with 2nd-year running back Rashard Mendenhall?

Can the Steelers defense led by safety Troy Polamalu and NFL Defensive MVP linebacker James Harrison continue to stop teams like in 2008 (led NFL with only 223 points allowed)?

Is the Steelers’ offensive line finally solidified enough to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (sacked 51 times in 2008 including the playoffs)?

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)