Sorry for the layoff, but vacation, technical issues and real work oft come into clashing with my blogging abilities. But never fear, I am back!
Okay, let me say that the last game at M&T on Christmas Eve was off the chain, another reason for my long absence! Recovery is tough.
I will say I was surprised by the markup of the playoff tickets, about 400%!!! Wow, just wow. The reward the fans get for being the 12th man and making the Ravens stadium one of the loudest and hardest stadiums to play in is to jack the price through the roof. Now, I am sure the savvy Raven fan squirrels away these dollars just for that occurrence, but me, I think I will be kicking it in front of the HD roasting up a pit beef at home. Of course if my usual seats were higher up in the stadium, it would not be so painful, but the tickets are more than my car payment! And I drive a 300!
Next up, time for fiction, fantasy, and reactionary writing! Ed Reed and Ray Lewis should NOT start the playoff game; they should be demoted to 3rd string.
There, I said it. Now I am an inflammatory writer! Where is my press pass and paycheck?
I have remained silent for the most part as many on here at Ravens24x7.com debated the merits of Ray Lewis coming out on 3rd down or Ed Reed being a liability at safety. Really? You got jokes? Seriously it is like a night at the Improv. Who is going to be better than Ray? I mean, if we have Patrick Willis waiting in the wings, by all means.
Let’s call up Tavares Gooden. He is fast right? Yeah, he will catch up to every blown coverage he gets caught out of position for! Sure, Ray has lost a step, but at least he is where he is usually supposed to be almost every time. Not to mention 52 makes the other ten players on defense better. If you do not believe me, ask them.
Ed Reed. I will admit, I went overboard when he lost the arm tackle he tried in Cincinnati. But is there a perfect player? I am sure Ronnie Lott of the 49ers is remembered more for his plays then the one day Mark Bavaro of the Giants carried him and his whole defensive backfield 20 yards in the 80’s. Give me a cardboard cutout of Ed Reed in the defensive backfield and that is enough to scare most quarterbacks. Has he had a less then Ed Reed year? Yes. I think he has not made huge plays but I also think he is avoided more then any safety in the league as well, so it is a double whammy.
Either way, Ed Reed is far better on the field then off. Ask Tom Brady if he would rather not be seeing Ed on the field.
Sports writing, blogging is of course of a subjective nature. You put your opinion out there and see what turns up. Being controversial may keep you employed, but does it entertain? Does it insult the players, the coaches, or the reader’s intelligence sometimes? Indeed this is true of all media. You need look no further than ESPN.
Speaking of ESPN and the Steelers, now that the rust is starting to settle in on the Steeler Nation and cap hell awaits, one wonders if the clock is running out on Merril Hoge. As long as the Steelers are good, then that seems to be the only reason to employ him. Once they fade into obscurity, then their will be no reason to keep his pontifications around. If only this rule was to apply to Bill Cowher who somehow has been confused by the world as Bill Walsh or Bill Parcells because their names are all Bill.
While on the topic of coaches, I used to regularly roast John Harbaugh. I originally wanted Rex Ryan. But time has a way of making one see the truth. That and the nuclear meltdown of the Jets. I guess over time, I realized that, in my opinion, Rex had undermined Brian Billick and divided the locker room. The proof is he did it to his own Jets. Offense vs. defense. I heard enough interviews with Jets players to see the same thing that happened in Baltimore is happening to the Jets. Also having Mark Sanchez play the role of Kyle Boller is key.
With an all world defense, but a coach who sought your job, Brian Billick really had no hope here. Steve Bisciotti was right. He needed to change the culture. The only way to do that was to bring in John Harbaugh. So, I admit. I was wrong. I still think Brian Billick was an excellent coach, and there are things that drive me crazy about John Harbaugh, but in the end, the results prove the point.
As for Rex Ryan, he is earning his comeuppance. He really is only a defensive coordinator material, just like his dad. And he will be recycled in the league like Wade Phillips. Neither of these men will ever lead a team to a Super Bowl victory. It is easy you say to make a prediction such as that, I mean odds are what, 1 out of 32 that I am wrong? Defense is on the decline in the NFL, holdovers from a mentality with the rule changes in affect make that way of thinking obsolete. I would not be surprised if Norv Turner and the Chargers turn it around next year and win it all.
A quick word on Tim Tebow and Terrell Suggs. No, Tim Tebow has not vindicated himself, nor silenced critics because he and the Broncos beat the Steelers. Here it is, pay attention. When both safeties are up on the line and your number one corners is playing like Antonio Langham or DeRon Jenkins, even a third string QB like John Beck would light up a defense with big pass plays.
So I do not CARE what Terrell Suggs says. I have his back. He speaks the truth. Just because Dick Lebeau and the Steelers decided to forget to play defense that day means nothing. The Chiefs certainly did not forget the week before. Before it is said and done, be it the Patriots or the Ravens, the Broncos are going to be shown to be the frauds they are.
One last reason to hate the Steelers: I guaranteed them to win and what do they do? Blow a game they could have and should have won, so much for our worthy adversaries. Hopefully Sunday was the last time I ever have to see Hines Ward.
Now we take on the Texans. Conventional wisdom will say despite Arian Foster, a great defense, and getting Andre Johnson back, we will win this game. And, the Ravens should. They are healthy, well rested, and it is a home game. Unless T.J. Yates turns into Joe Montana, the Ravens will win. T.J. Yates, sounds like a chardonnay does it not?
My last thought and I put this on Joe Flacco. Now is his time. He can take this team to the Super Bowl, but it is on him. It is a quarterback driven league. Sure it is a team game, but in the end, he has to be the man. HAS TO! It is incumbent upon him to play championship football. Finally one more thing:
Receivers, CATCH THE DAMN BALL!