Some very familiar faces roll into town to try to spoil the Ravens’ opener, as well as what we all hope will be their declaration that 2015 was nothing but an injury-fueled anomaly. Rex Ryan brings his Buffalo Bills to town, and that includes my favorite player of all-time, former Raven Ed Reed, whom Ryan hired as defensive backs coach. Joining them is also Joe Flacco‘s old backup, Tyrod Taylor, who burst onto the scene in 2015 as a decent starting QB himself.
With temperatures forecast to be in the 80’s, hopefully those western New York boys are more than a little bit out of their element. Here’s to sending all of those former Ravens back home with a reminder of what Baltimore football is all about.
Let’s check out the stats, quotes, and more in our weekly Crab Bag.
KNOW THY ENEMY
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
CBS Sports’ Pat Kirwan on why the Ravens will rebound in 2016:
“The way this team played at the end of the  season, despite an incredible rash of injuries, speaks volumes about John Harbaugh’s coaching ability and the stability of the organization as a whole. The Ravens will be back in 2016.”
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler on the Ravens’ 2016 outlook:
“Forget last season. The Ravens are a logical bounce-back candidate with Joe Flacco back in the mix. Like Pittsburgh, Baltimore won’t be held down for long.”
QB Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ 2016 motivation and feeling:
“There’s definitely motivation around the building, I don’t know if it’s added motivation, but a feeling of a little bit of chippiness and having a bit of an edge to us. So you can definitely feel that we’re excited about getting out there and getting after it.”
WR Steve Smith Sr. on what went into his decision to come back after his Achilles injury:
“When I got hurt, I felt like I let those guys down in the locker room. For me to come back and play, it’s to show that I am dependable and that they can depend on me, and to show [everyone] that at 37 years old, I can still play. I’m sick of y’all [saying], ‘How can you depend on a 37-year-old to play this game after a ruptured Achilles?’ We’re going to see, because I have people that believe in me, and I have a team that trusts me. … And I intend to lay everything out – not for myself, but for the people who believe in me and the people that invested in me 16 years ago [and] for the people that thought that I was only going to be here for a minute. This is just a chance for me to say ‘thank you’ to them by finishing what an organization allowed me to start. That’s why.”
WR Mike Wallace on joining the Ravens this offseason:
“They just know football here, and there are no games being played. When you come here, you’ve got to work, and it’s the kind of competitive environment where you can’t ever take a day off. So much is the same as in Pittsburgh really, and that’s one reason I feel so comfortable here. I’ve been here before, but I haven’t been here before. It’s just different colors now.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Eric Weddle
If you could have your children take just one trait from you, what would it be?
“My work ethic and my drive to be great at everything I do. I’ve seen it in my son for sure. His competiveness and him not wanting to lose in anything is exactly like me. They all have their nuances about what makes them special, but I can see a little bit of me in all of them.”
Who is one of the coolest people you have ever met?
“I was lucky enough to meet Kobe Bryant this past offseason. I’ve watched him since he was 18 years old, and he was my favorite basketball player growing up. Having the chance to meet him and talk for about 15 minutes was one of the coolest things I’ve been able to do. He knew all about my situation with San Diego, and he gave me some words of encouragement, and we talked about our kids and life after basketball. Meeting him exceeded my expectations. I’ve played in the NFL and have done some things, but you never know if someone knows who you are. It was pretty cool that he knew somewhat of who I am.”
Do you have a favorite interception?
“I have a couple. They both came against Peyton Manning. My rookie year, I picked him off in the red zone, one-handed, in the second round of the playoffs, and then two years ago, I picked him off one-handed again in the end zone.”
Who were your favorite safeties growing up?
“I really liked Darren Woodson, just because I was a big Cowboys fan. As I got older, I loved watching Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed. They set the standard high with their playmaking ability and how they changed games.”
What were your first impressions of John Harbaugh?
“Great coach. Leader. Fiery. Competitive. Loyal. I didn’t realize how funny he would be. I love going to work with him every day. He definitely puts his priorities first, leads family first and does the right things.”
If you weren’t an athlete, what would your occupation be?
“I would be a special education teacher. Special education is what I majored in at Utah, and I have a passion for kids and trying to find ways to help them learn. I want to make learning easier for kids with disabilities. They have really sweet ways about them. They are like everyone else, but sometimes have a harder road to get through. I’d love to help them.”
Three words to describe the Ravens’ 2016 secondary:
“Together. Tough. Playmakers.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR! ~ Key Connections
Bills head coach Rex Ryan spent 10 years (1998-2008) on the Ravens’ defensive coaching staff. Ryan served as the defensive line coach (1999-2004), defensive coordinator (2005-07) and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator (2008).
Bills assistant defensive backs coach Ed Reed became a nine-time Pro Bowler after being selected by the Ravens in the first round (24th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. The five-time All-Pro selection spent the bulk of his professional playing career in Baltimore and was essential in Baltimore’s Super Bowl XLVII campaign. Reed recorded 61 INTs for 1,541 return yards and 7 TDs as a Raven.
Bills defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman served as the Ravens’ secondary coach (2004-07) and defensive assistant (2002-03), while Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman served as the Ravens’ assistant offensive line coach (2006-07).
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor was originally selected by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Taylor spent four seasons with the Ravens (2011-14) and was a part of the team’s journey to Super Bowl XLVII. Bills S Corey Graham (2012-13) was also on the Super Bowl XLVII-winning Ravens squad in his first season in Baltimore.
Ravens WR Kamar Aiken was signed by Buffalo as a rookie free agent in 2011 and spent time on the practice squad.
Bills offensive assistant Pat Meyer served as the Montreal Alouettes’ (CFL) offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (2012) under Ravens offensive coordinator and former Alouettes head coach (2008-12) Marc Trestman. Meyer followed Trestman to Chicago, where he was the Bears’ assistant O-line coach (2013) and O-line coach (2014), while Trestman retained the head coach title (2013-14). Bills O-line coach Aaron Kromer was the Bears’ offensive coordinator/offensive line coach during the same span (2013-14).
Ravens QBs coach Marty Mornhinweg was the NY Jets’ QBs coach (2013-14) under New York’s then-head coach Rex Ryan (2009-14).
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT
1999. The Ravens were four years old. THAT’s the last time this team was in the playoffs.
And how did they exit said playoffs?
Oh, remember a little thing called The Music City Miracle?
Oof. Sorry, Buffalo.