CRAB BAG: Can Harbaugh Stay Perfect Against Cleveland?

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The Ravens and Ravens fans alike have had over a week to let the beating in Denver marinate in our guts. It was ugly, painful, embarrassing, disappointing, and more. But most importantly, it’s over.

Fortunately for our purple birds, the rest of the AFC North also laid a collective egg in Week 1, as all four teams find themselves at 0-1. With the Ravens taking on the Browns this Sunday, and the Steelers and Bengals clashing on Monday Night Football, at least two teams in the division are guaranteed to taste victory for the first time in 2013.

“Victory” isn’t something the Browns have tasted against Baltimore since way back in 2007 – you remember, the famous “Phil Dawson Game” where it appeared the Ravens had won the game, only to be forced to return from the locker room to play overtime after the officials conferred and decided that Dawson’s last-second kick – which hit the left upright, then the goal post support between the uprights, then bounced back through the front of them – was indeed good.

John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are 10-0 against Cleveland. They need to bounce back from Denver and make it 11-0, but it might not be as easy as many Ravens fans hope it will.

KNOW THY ENEMY

After one week, these numbers don’t mean much, but here you go…

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“It’s only one game. The Ravens shouldn’t throw their hands in the air. They’re a smart team, and [John] Harbaugh’s one of the smartest coaches in football – and one who knows which buttons to press, too. Remember these results from Week 1 last year: The Jets scored 48 points. Indianapolis lost by 20. Russell Wilson was poor in a 20-16 loss at Arizona. It’s a long year.” - SI.com’s Peter King on the Ravens following Week 1

“Marlon is a big playmaker. He can do a little bit of everything. He has deceptive speed with his stride. He gets in and out of his breaks fast, and he’s explosive for a guy his size.” - WR Torrey Smith on rookie WR Marlon Brown’s skill set

“A key to the [Chris] Canty signing is his pass-rush skills from the interior. On throwing downs, the Ravens could feature [Terrell] Suggs and [Elvis] Dumervil as ends on a four-man line, with Canty and [Haloti] Ngata or Pernell McPhee, a very underrated passrusher in his own right, as the defensive tackles with five or six defensive backs on the field. Canty gives the Ravens all sorts of possibilities and should excel in his new home.” - ESPN.com’s Matt Williamson on DE Chris Canty’s impact

“As soon as you walk into the building, you sense the winning tradition, a winning legacy, and that’s what they expect of you. You just breed success and winning here. … It’s definitely the loudest stadium I’ve played in. Every time the defense was out there, you couldn’t hear anything. I’m glad I’ll be on their side now. We work on our communication every day at practice to get ready for home games.” - Newly-acquired S Michael Huff on M&T Bank Stadium

“Ozzie Newsome has headed up personnel for 18 years, the last 12 as GM, and he retains final say over all personnel matters, including the 53-man roster. But this behemoth is built on the strength of more than just one guy. Pat Moriarty, Eric DeCosta, Vince Newsome and George Kokinis were all part of the original Ravens staff with Ozzie in 1996, and Joe Hortiz came aboard in 1998. In few other places does that kind of continuity exist, and the benefit is a tried-and-true system that is inclusive across the board.” -NFL.com’s Albert Breer on the Ravens’ front office

GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Justin Tucker

What’s it like kicking at M&T Bank Stadium?

“Playing at M&T Bank Stadium is awesome because 70,000 fans sound like 170,000.”

What was it like to see the Justin Tucker bobblehead that was a give-away at a Bowie Baysox game?

“It’s a little surreal. They got it pretty spot on. They gave my bobblehead some pretty big ears and a big ol’ smile – seems about right. What I thought was really cool was that they put a little bobble-leg on there that if you flick it around, it’ll shake and kick. [Whether] it’s a bobblehead or a kid wearing my jersey – for anybody who experiences that in here – it’s definitely humbling. It’s cool to see that we’re appreciated outside of this building and in the community.”

What’s your favorite tourist spot in Baltimore?

“I’d say going to The Aquarium and playing with the dolphins and the puffins. Playing with the dolphins and puffins is pretty cool. I’m actually a season pass holder at The Aquarium now. I’ll stop on in every now and again just to see how my aquatic friends are doing.”

What first pops into your mind when you hear the following names? John Harbaugh:

“Leader and friend.”

Ozzie Newsome:

“The mastermind.”

Morgan Cox and Sam Koch:

“The obvious collective answer is ‘The Wolfpack.’”

Joe Flacco:

“That’s my quarterback.” (Terrell Owens impression)

What was your favorite field goal from last year? 

“The 39-yard field goal at Heinz Field after I had just missed one from 41 [yards].”

Why that one, since you kicked multiple game-winning field goals and kicked in the Super Bowl?

“It was just a hard kick to make. It was in pretty much the same spot – give or take a couple of yards. The PAT to tie the Denver [Divisional Playoff] game up was also special. I don’t think I was ever more nervous for a kick in my life.”

How was it getting a rushing attempt on a fake FG in the Super Bowl?

“Well, it would have been a lot cooler if I had scored. I would have had the sickest touchdown celebration for a kicker ever. It would never have been topped. [But,] maybe next time – maybe the next Super Bowl if we’re fortunate enough again.

Home Cookin’

The Ravens racked up the points at M&T Bank Stadium in 2012. Hopefully they start off on the right track at home this year, and light up the scoreboard against Cleveland.

HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR! ~ Key Connections

Ravens general manager/executive vice president and Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome played 13 seasons in Cleveland, recording 662 catches and 7,980 yards – the most in Browns history. He then held positions as a scout, assistant to the head coach/offense/pro personnel, and director of pro personnel before moving to Baltimore with the franchise as VP of player personnel in 1996.

The Ravens staff is comprised of many people who were invited to join the franchise when it moved from Cleveland: senior VP of public and community relations Kevin Byrne, director of football video operations Jon Dube’, VP of operations Bob Eller, VP of IT Bill Jankowski, senior VP of football administration Pat Moriarty and head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith.

Ravens senior personnel assistant George Kokinis was the Browns’ general manager for part of 2008. Kokinis originally began his NFL career as an operations intern with the Browns in 1991 before moving to Baltimore with the franchise in 1996.

Baltimore director of pro personnel Vincent Newsome played the final two seasons (1991-92) of his career for the Browns. He then spent three seasons as a special assignment scout in Cleveland before becoming the Ravens’ West area scout in 1996.

Baltimore assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg was the special teams coordinator for the Browns from 2001-06, while Ravens defensive line coach Clarence Brooks served in the same role with the Browns in 1999.

Browns LB Paul Kruger (2009-12) was originally selected by the Ravens in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In 2012, Kruger led the Ravens with 9 sacks and tied a franchise record with at least one sack in five-consecutive games.

Browns RB Bobby Rainey originally signed with Baltimore as a rookie free agent in 2012. He finished the season on IR (knee) after spending time on the practice squad and active roster (three games).

Browns T Oniel Cousins played three seasons as a member of the Ravens (2008-10), after being selected by Baltimore in the third round (99th overall) of the 2008 draft.

Browns K Billy Cundiff kicked in 28 games for the Ravens from 2009-11, connecting on 66 of 83 FGAs (79.5%). In 2010, he made 26 of 29 attempts (89.7%) and scored 117 points to earn Pro Bowl honors.

Browns college area scout Chisom Opara spent the 2004 season as a player personnel assistant with the Ravens and originally signed with the team as an undrafted free agent (Princeton) in 2003.

LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT THE EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT

Yesterday:

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About Derek Arnold

Derek Arnold
RSR/ESR Senior Editor. Derek is originally from and a current resident of Pasadena, MD. He’s a graduate of UMBC and has been a lifelong Baltimore sports fan. In 2007 he founded B’More Birds’ Nest, where he wrote about the Ravens and Orioles before joining RSR in 2012. Derek’s work has...more

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