As the Ravens come off their bye following a disappointing loss in Pittsburgh – and an overall disappointing 3-4 pre-bye performance – the good news is that they’re taking on the Cleveland Browns, a team that hasn’t beaten them since 2007.
The bad news is that a streak of dominance like that has to come to an end at some point. The Ravens can only hope that it won’t be this week that the Browns finally put an end to it.
Cleveland looked to be ready to make some noise in the AFC North earlier this year, as Brian Hoyer replaced Brandon Weeden at quarterback and promptly went 2-0 as a starter. Unfortunately for the Browns, the football gods decided that they’re still not allowed to have nice things, as Hoyer suffered a season-ending injury in just his third start. Though Cleveland won that game over Buffalo, they haven’t won since, dropping three straight to Detroit, Green Bay, and Kansas City, respectively.
Of course, there isn’t a team with a losing record among that bunch, so the Ravens would be wise to not take the Browns lightly. Let’s take a look at the numbers, stats, and quotes, in this week’s Crab Bag brought to you by Jimmy’s Famous Seafood.
KNOW THY ENEMY
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“It’s a tough league. We’re right in the middle of the pack right now. So, we can either go down, stay the same, or get better. We intend to get better. What we need to do is do our best and see how the chips fall when it’s all said and done. What makes me optimistic is that I’m always optimistic, because I know how hard we work, I know what good people we have – coaches and players – and I really believe in where we’re going schematically. I think we understand how to solve problems. And that’s what football is – it’s a problem-solving business. There always are problems; everybody has them. And I’m very confident in our ability to solve problems, and I know we’ve got the people to do it. So, that’s probablwhere it starts.” – Head Coach John Harbaugh
“The best thing, along with physical gifts, about Joe is his confidence. I talk to coordinators around the league. They say Joe is unflappable. He plays every play and will make the throws he knows he can, even after he’s been knocked down or had a ball picked. You know, when you win like the Ravens have and succeed like Joe has – and the team invests in you – there will be roster changes. Winning teams have to pay key people to stay, and they lose important components along the way. Knowing Joe, knowing the support he has there [and] knowing [John Harbaugh], there is no panic in Baltimore. They’ll rebound from a setback. They have and will handle this well.” - CBS’s Rich Gannon on Ravens QB Joe Flacco
“From the time I knew Torrey when he first got to Maryland, he’s been the same guy – respectable, humble and hardworking. To see the kind of player he’s become, I’m proud of him. I’ve seen that growth since he was 18 years old to now almost becoming the face of the Ravens and that city of Baltimore. He’s handled success very well.” - Dolphins CB Nolan Carroll on former college (Maryland)teammate WR Torrey Smith
“He’s one of the premier guys in the league at his position, and he proves it every year. He’s a guy you’ve got to account for in the run game, and you’ve got to account for in the passing game. You’ve got to make sure you don’t let him get off, but that’s obviously easier said than done. He’s had a great start to the season.” - Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs
“Football makes sense to him. I just can’t say enough good things about him. I think this guy is kind of unheralded in some ways because some other guys overshadow him – and that’s OK because those guys deserve it, too – but Courtney Upshaw does a lot for our defense.” - Ravens “D” coordinator Dean Pees on OLB Courtney Upshaw
DEFENSE GETTING IT DONE
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Courtney Upshaw
What one phrase comes to mind when you hear the following names?
“The head man.”
“Dominant pass rusher.”
Who is the athlete you idolized while growing up?
“Michael Jordan and Ray Lewis.”
What is your favorite moment from Michael Jordan’s career?
“The slam-dunk contests.”
What was your “welcome to the NFL” moment?
“The moment when I had to be the first on stage to sing in front of the team as a rookie. I’ve got plenty of moments, but that was the first moment.”
How does it make you feel to hear the recent praise you’ve received from media, coaches and teammates like Elvis Dumervil?
“It’s always good to be recognized, but I’m not really doing it for the recognition. I try not to read a lot of things. Fans tweet it to me, or I hear it from guys. I just come in and want to be on that field. Like I tell every reporter, I just do what I’ve got to do to help the team. The physical part about this game is what I love most.”
Like many people have said, you’re playing really well in your second year. What can you attribute that to?
“It’s definitely [related to] being more comfortable and just being healthy. You get nicked up and stuff, but these guys will tell you that it doesn’t matter. Sometimes you play through pain, and I’ll play regardless of what my injury is. It’s also just being more comfortable knowing more of the defense.”
What was your first job?
“I worked at a restaurant. It’s called Big H Chicken down in Eufaula (Alabama). I washed dishes. Sometimes I would help with putting the food out and stuff like that, but I mainly washed dishes.”
What is your favorite thing to do with your downtime?
“I just had a little boy. I go home and like being with him. I just play with him, kiss him and say I love him.”
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 operationsJon 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 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 RB Willis McGahee played for Baltimore (2007-11) and ranks third in Ravens history with 2,802 rushing yards and 31 rushing TDs
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 EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT