Lombardi's Way THE MAILBAG IS IN

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The annual " single game " tickets sale has come and gone once again … I tried securing tix for out of town friends and the like, and we could not get through to the Ticketmaster folks on the phone or via the internet .. almost comical actually. We started at 9:55 AM and tried in vain for an hour!! Glad I have several sources to secure them through other means ( family business etc.) but it is a travesty with the way the Ravens ownership consider the non PSL type of fans in the area … are you listening Steve !!! The fact is drop your pants and bend over because the likes of Stub Hub and STU Tickets have all sorts of tickets for ransom ..AGAIN! Just disheartened with the way some Pro teams treat the little guy .. nothing new … i.e.’s merely "the going rate" as they say … so sad!!
Hello Tony, 
Are you going to have the ticket exchange on your new site? 
I didn’t see it today. 
Mark, Hunt Valley MD 
I wish that I could offer you a solution.  I can’t.  Companies like Stub Hub make it their business to be wired into any opportunity for tickets and they certainly seize it once it presents itself. 
I do think that the Ravens are a fan friendly organization and I believe that they would be sensitive to your concerns.  I know that from time to time, visiting teams return unused tickets allotted to them to use at their discretion.  This year, the Ravens host the Chargers and Raiders and there’s a chance that tickets will be returned by the Chargers and Raiders because they are west coast teams.  We’ll do our best to keep you informed. 
Meanwhile Mark, try our Ticket Xchange on our new message boards.  It’s a great way for Ravens fans to reach out to each other and sell their tickets to other Ravens’ fans.  Let’s keep it purple down at The Vault!
Is there any way you can change your name back, cause as far as I can see, your name change has not been good for you. I for one won’t be on your site anymore, and it sucks cause you used to have the best web Ravens coverage.  I see that Nestor didn’t like your name change either. It is all well and good to want to expand, but if your core audience leaves you, it will be much harder to expand. Please go back to the old site and name!!!
Eric Lee
Abandoning the name of Ravens24x7 unfortunately is a necessary evil that accompanies our growth.  When the lights went down on that site, I felt like I lost a friend.  Yet it was inevitable because Ravens is a team name that does not belong to us.  In order to keep in good standing with the Ravens and with the NFL, we regretfully relinquished the name.
But Eric if you were an avid a fan of the previous 24×7, you must be a fan of the new 24×7.  We are more devoted to all things purple than ever before and if you can accept that, you will soon realize that we are hardly abandoning our core audience.  We are embracing it like never before.
Still bleeding purple,
Hi Tony,
What happened to Gametime on July 30th?  I understand WNST is having Ray and Casey on every Sunday in your time slot?
I like the new website.  I look forward to hearing Gametime again soon.
Your faithful listener,
Nancy, Timonium  
Your loyalty is touching and very much appreciated.  Sometimes things happen for a reason and in time, clarity rises above the initial confusion.
We’ll be back on sometime soon.  It’s very inconvenient to be dealing with this now that training camp has arrived and the season is 41 days away. 
Somehow we’ll manage and the public support of people like you not only helps others know that we’re wanted and appreciated – it inspires us to be better.
To the future,
Hey Tony,
I was just reading the training camp matchups and thought I would drop you a line.  The website looks great and I don’t know how you do it with material through the boring June and July months of the NFL.   It has to be tough to come up with things in the summer, but you still manage to do a heck of a job.  Everyone here at work lives by the website.  I definitely hear things that I read in your columns being repeated at the water cooler, which by my standards is the best compliment you can get.
Well the excitement is starting to build.  I’m looking forward to your daily camp updates.  Like most Ravens fans I am cautiously optimistic. I want to be quick to jump on the 10 win bandwagon, but with the recent underachievement I think I’ll wait.  I guess my confidence isn’t there yet.
The Ravens do seem to have a good mix of veterans and young players. Everyone in key positions except for McNair has a year in the system which should do wonders for the on-field chemistry.  As for McNair, I think the guy has already proven what he can do.
Oh and did you happen to see the "Beyond the Glory" on Ray Lewis.  I think it may have been older because it ended after the Super Bowl win.  But I was wondering your thoughts.  I know Ray Ray is a "spiritual" man, but it wears on me after a while.  I love the guy, and would hate to see him in another uniform but right now there is something that is keeping him from the upper echelon of Baltimore icons.  He is not up there with Johnny U, Cal, or Brooks.  After it is all said and done he may be, because like most great athletes you don’t appreciate them as much until they retire and you don’t have them anymore.
Last thing, the 3 year soap opera called "Kyle Boller".  I want this guy to succeed so badly.  Great kid, never complains, tries hard and it just doesn’t click.  I think this is the perfect situation.  The most loved guy in town is the 2nd string QB right?  He goes from being one of the worst starting QB’s to one of the best backup Qb’s in the league. Plus there is a good chance his number will get called.  Kyle may have the chance to be the savior for a game or two.
Keep up the great work!
Clint, Baltimore
Thanks for the props on the new site.  We are continuing to develop the site.  Think of it as a new home that was recently completed and now we’re in the process of accessorizing it and installing some additional creature comforts.
As for the team, I’m asked often to predict this season for the Ravens.  It’s difficult for me not to get caught up in the positive vibe surrounding the team right now.  The entire team seems re-energized by the arrival of Steve McNair.  He makes them a better offense all the way around if for no other reason than opponents must respect him more than they did Boller and with that respect, there will be less pressure inside the box and more room within which to maneuver.  Opening the field will help the offensive line and it will help the running game.
On defense, the Ravens had the fifth ranked overall defense last year.  I have to think that a healthy Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Dan Cody along with a rededicated Terrell Suggs and the addition of Haloti Ngata make this team much better.  But a strong start is critical in my opinion.  I don’t think they can afford to be worse than 2-2 after turning the season’s quarter pole.  If they are .500 or better at that point, I can see a 10-6 or 11-5 season.
You mentioned Ray.  I think many have soured on Ray because of the tumultuous offseason he experienced brought on by some unusual behavior and vague comments left open for interpretation for far too long.  You should be happy to hear that Ray appears to be the Ray of old – at least from the perspective of being enthusiastic, focused and the team leader.  Ray might not be on par with Johnny U and Brooks but I believe he could be if he sheds the recently acquired rap for being selfish.  So far this camp, the signs are good.
With Kyle Boller, many say as you’ve said that he’s gone from one of least productive starters to one of the best backup QB’s.  I find that interesting because at this point, we don’t know enough to make that claim.  He’s never been a back up.  Having said that, I do think that he is one of those athletes that is more effective when he just plays and doesn’t have time to over think things.  Carrying that clipboard for a bit could reinvigorate his career and it could extend his time with the Ravens.  I hope so for the reasons you’ve described.  Good things should happen for good people and Kyle certainly is one of those.
Are you ready for some football?
Because it is getting close to training camp, and there are a lot of networks talking NFL and predictions, I would like to get your opinion on some players and possible scenarios if you don’t mind.
First of all, going back to your interview with Ed Mulitalo, where he said generally the offensive plays went on the first count, and there was never a change in Kyle’s cadence.  Shouldn’t we expect that with McNair’s experience in not only reading defenses, but his ability to know when to change the count and cadence, make the offensive line play better?  I mean, in theory, a blitzer will expose himself when the cadence is good, thus allowing the QB and line to communicate, and adapt.  Not to mention, in a battle of leverage, the man who moves first generally has an advantage.
Secondly, I really don’t understand all the concern and talk about our safety position not being filled with a proven starter.  In 2000, we had Kim Herring who wasn’t great, and was I believe in his second year (and dropped two INT’s in the first series against the Giants).  After that we had Will Demps, who was not a world beater.  So, why the big fuss over Gerome Sapp or whomever we plug in there?
Third, I haven’t heard a great deal about Adam Terry as the right tackle, and I am guessing it is because he was injured last year and Tony Pashos made great strides in his game.  What are you hearing about that competition, and how strong do you think that position will end up being?
Ok, and lastly, in regards to the other linemen, will we find out how good Jason Brown is in the last year of his contract just like Casey Rabach, or will he and Chris Chester get a real chance to start?  I really think it is crucial for the Ravens to put athletic linemen on the field so the offense can finally add a screen pass to their limited arsenal.  Honestly, (this may be a stretch, but…) without that, I don’t think the Ravens can beat the better teams, and I think Billick’s tenure and future will ride on it.
Looking forward to hearing your answers.
Mark, Hunt Valley
Let’s get right to it…
In the NFL a split second is all that separates many successful plays from those that are doomed.  Little things like cadence and varied formations plant a seed of doubt in a defenders mind.  Once they have to think through things, there’s a hesitation and even the slightest delay could be enough time for an offensive line to adjust and pick up an interior blitz.  As you know, when a blitz is neutralized, defenses are as inviting to a QB like McNair as a brothel to a sailor.
Regarding the safety position, I asked Eric DeCosta if the Ravens were ever really players for Dwight Smith.  He said, “you know Tony, we can’t have star players at every position.”  And he’s right.  At some point, you have to have faith in the players you have and give them an opportunity to step up, make some plays and succeed.  Championship teams have star players but oftentimes those that make the biggest difference are the players that step up and deliver more than you expected from them.  Perhaps one of those players this season will be Gerome Sapp or Dawan Landry.
As for Adam Terry and Tony Pashos, Pashos has that position nailed down for now.  And the truth be told, he deserves it.  Not many have worked harder to be a better player than Pashos and while he may never be great, he can be solid.  I think you will see that this year.
Staying with the offensive line, I don’t think you will see the Ravens make the same mistake with Brown that they made with Rabach.  Chris Chester is one of the club’s prized acquisitions and if they get a chance to get him in the lineup, he could be a staple for many, many years.  If Keydrick Vincent or Edwin Mulitalo slip, Chester could see a ton of playing time.  However if the team has its druthers, they’ll work Chester in slowly and by 2007 he should be a starter.
Let’s get it on,
A very interesting column [last week] by Dev Panchwagh about upcoming training camp battles. Based on Dev’s glowing description of Jason Brown, it’s a shame he can’t play both guard and center simultaneously. How about a mention on Adam Terry as to what we might expect from him this year? All hail the NFL season beginning!
Steve From Lutherville
There’s really not much to say about Terry at this point who is well behind Tony Pashos.  Personally I’d like to see a little more fire in the belly of Terry.  The more he can push Pashos, the better this offensive line can be.  Competition is good.  Let’s hope Terry provides some.
Hi Tony,
When I read the article in the Sun yesterday regarding Ed Mulitalo, I couldn’t believe how great Big Ed looked. Although he says he dropped only 15 lbs, it looks like a lot more. There’s even a hint of abs in the picture. Great job, Ed!
I’ve been pretty silent these past several months, just watching the development of the 06 Ravens squad since the draft. Now that training camp is upon us, it’s time for all of us to once again let the Orioles fall off the radar screen and don our purple-colored glasses and prepare for the upcoming season.
Basically, I like what the Ravens have done in the off season to address their needs. Quarterback (McNair), D-line (Ngata), O-line (rejuvenated Ogden and Mulitalo, addition of Chris Chester) linebackers (return of Lewis and Cody), and the special teams (Frank Gansz and gunners).
My only real concern lays in the defensive backfield. I like Gerome Sapp a lot, and think the Ravens righted a grievous wrong when they traded for him, but I’m not sure if he’s the guy at the strong safety position.
Query: Every web site and blog I’ve read seems to lament the loss of Will Demps through free agency and that it’s a big hole to fill – almost like the Ravens should have resigned him. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson (who I believe had a line like this in a movie), "if he was so damned good, why is he so damned gone?"  I know you thought Demps had a poor 2005 and he won’t be missed. What’s the skinny and how do we remedy it?
3 days and counting.
Fran from Glen Burnie
I don’t think Demps’ shoes are too big to fill.  Sapp in my opinion is as capable as Demps.  While I like Demps’ team first approach, my biggest concern with him was the void he left on special teams.  But from what I’ve seen in camp, the Ravens have many capable athletes to fill special teams positions.
But overall, you can’t really peg the Ravens as a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense or even a Cover 2 scheme like Tampa.  They will utilize their versatile athletes in many roles and force their best players on to the field.  You might see some sets where there are five linebackers on the field – players who are hybrids like AD, Dan Cody, Jarret Johnson and even Suggs who will move all around.  That versatility might negate the need for an every down safety alongside Ed Reed.  Plus depending on down and distance, a solid cover man as a nickel or dime back might be preferred in the slot instead of Sapp or rookie Dawan Landry.
But the ultimate battle for a traditional safety should come down to Sapp and Landry and in my opinion, either could perform better than Will Demps did last year.  As much as I’ll miss Demps the person, the Ravens were wise to let the Giants pay him.  I just don’t see the returns on such an investment.
Show me the money,

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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