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STINK, STANK, STUNK
 
TL,
 
You are absolutely correct [in your post game analysis].  Even the Grinch would have gotten a little nauseated watching that game. 
 
Your comment about thinking we were seeing 2005 all over again couldn’t have been more on point.  Billick has not changed nor has his training camp.  This team isn’t close to ready.  The time-outs you pointed out in the Vikings game is a perfect example. So is the time clock management from last week’s game. 
 
While I’m whining, I’ll add this.  We have a good defense, no doubt.  But everybody gets starry-eyed when they talk about Rex Ryan’s “schemes”, but have you really seen much pressure on the opposing team’s QB’s?  They seemed to move the ball at will on us.
 
I just have to throw up my hands in agreement at the OL stuff that you mentioned.  As for Ngata, I think he’ll eventually be fine, but right now he’s a 33 RPM body trying to function in a 78 RPM world.  I agree he should play, but he won’t be a positive factor in the first half of the season.
 
You’ve said over the past few months that it could become very interesting for Brian Billick’s tenure if the team stumbles badly out of the box.  My theory is that if BB is canned, it would be during the Week 7 Bye, and that the critical games are TB in week 1 and Cleveland in week 3.  I’m assuming that we’ll lose games 4, 5 and 6.  The team we saw last night can’t beat SD, Denver or Carolina.  [I’m] also assuming we’ll beat Oakland.  They’re just too miserable.
 
But if we lose the opener in TB (not exactly a far-fetched idea), then we go into week 3 1-1, and it’s in Cleveland.  So if we lose there, we’ll almost certainly be 1-5 going into the bye, the season over to anyone but an actuary.  If we beat Cleveland, we’ll probably be at least 2-4 and BB and his apologists will just spin that we’ve lost to superior caliber teams (and we broke the can’t-win-away jinx!!).
 
I think we’ll be much better in the second half if McNair’s sternum hasn’t yet been crushed, so if BB can make it to then, he could very well survive.  But who knows, walking off the field after the Carolina game could be his last in Ravens Stadium as the coach.
 
Regards,
 
Bill, Northeast
 
Bill,
 
Many will say that Friday’s game was a preseason game and that a true game plan wasn’t in place and that the team is fine tuning things to prepare for the season.  And while that may be true, there is plenty of reason to be concerned after such an inept and pathetic performance in Minnesota.
 
Personally, I bought into last year’s problems concerning the offensive line.  I believed that another year with Chris Foerster and another year of working together and a commitment to training would manifest itself on the field of play and that the Ravens offensive line would be adequate.  And that very well may be the case – when they play at home.
 
On the road, it’s a different story.  Check downs at the line are less available due to crowd noise.  Line calls are more difficult as the play clock winds down.  Varied snap counts don’t work for the same reason and when opposing defensive lines are asked to beat the Ravens offensive line to the punch, they seem to do it time and time again.
 
To win on the road, you have to control the offensive line of scrimmage.  That takes the crowd out of the game and it then opens up things for the offense.  That is why Ben Roethlisberger won what, his first 11 starts on the road in his career!?!  It wasn’t because he’s the second coming of Johnny U., it’s because the Pittsburgh offensive line dictated the game.  They ran the football and used play action and when you smack any bully or any opposing crowd in the mouth, oftentimes they shut up.
 
I’m afraid that as long as the Ravens offensive line doesn’t control the line of scrimmage on the road, every game will look just like the Vikings game when they face teams with that kind of athleticism and speed.  Look what happens to them every time they go on the road against an athletic defense while playing in a dome – Indy, Detroit and now Minnesota. 
 
Suddenly that game in New Orleans looks mighty tough.
 
It’s not too late to fix this.  But I have serious concerns about the Ravens ability to win on the road and if you can show me 4 road wins on this season’s schedule, I might feel a bit better about my 10-6 or 11-5 prediction.  Right now, I feel that prediction was a PUI – Prediction Under the Influence of purple googles.
 
I’m keeping the faith but it’s being severely tested,
 
TL
 
PRACTICE SQUAD RISKS
 
Tony,
 
Good column about the final roster for 2006. One question – if Drew Olson ends up on the practice squad does that mean he must be cut and not claimed by another team before he can be placed on our practice squad? If this is the case do the Ravens really want to run the risk of another team claiming Olson and losing him? To me our best case scenario is for Olson to hopefully develop into our QB of the future while learning under McNair for the next 2 or 3 years.
 
Unfortunately I don’t think we can count on Boller to be our QB of the future. If any of this makes sense, I don’t see how we could afford to jeopardize losing Olson to try to sneak him onto the practice squad "under the radar" of other teams. Taking this one step further, if Olson can be claimed and signed by another team if he is on our practice squad, that too would also be unacceptable.
 
Steve from Lutherville
 
Steve,
 
When young players are cut, generally the team has a discussion with that player prior to the cut about the club’s intent to bring the severed player back on their practice squad.  Unless the circumstances and the relationship between the player and that club are strained and it potentially impedes a player’s career, the cut player is more likely to accept a practice squad assignment from the team he’s already spent months with rather than another team.
 
However, another team can sign a player like Olson from the Ravens practice squad and that is always a risk.  Once signed from another team’s practice squad, that player must remain on the 53 man roster of the acquiring team for the balance of the season.  We saw that exact same thing happen the past two years with Josh Harris and Derek Anderson, both lost to Cleveland and Phil Savage.
 
There are no guarantees that Olson would accept and stick on the Ravens’ practice squad.  I can tell you that his performance in camp hasn’t even approached Brian St. Pierre’s.  And while St. Pierre has not been impressive in limited time, he’s been better than Olson.  The Ravens may be better off only giving Olson a few snaps on Thursday against the Redskins if their intent is to put him on the practice squad, just to stay on the safe side.  I think there’s a reason why Olson wasn’t drafted in the 2006 NFL Draft and he may never be a starter in the NFL.  However, the same was once said about another undrafted free agent QB who now starts for a team that many (myself included) are predicting for the Super Bowl.  They call that QB Jake – not the one in Denver.
 
In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina,
 
TL
 
SELLING OUT
 
TL,
 
Let’s be realistic.  You work for ESPN, and you are not going to go on air and rip the root of the problem.  ESPN, the worldwide leader is the destruction of sportsmanship and moral conduct.  The only place that has 4 networks that showcases all the jerks, cheaters, liars, and criminals in sports as a rule, not the exception.  ESPN is the network that gave Barry Bonds his own show, and allowed him to spread more garbage to the growing group of idiots that are dumb enough to believe him. 
 
The theme on the ESPN networks, is not bettering yourself as a person. It’s about winning at any cost, showing up your opponent and burying any urge to show class, or compassion for anyone.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that AM 1300 takes that approach, or more specifically you and the Bulldog.  I actually think the opposite.
 
Having said that, you must realize that you are the exception in today’s media.  ESPN won’t show you clips of Shaq saying he hates white people, but will show you racism going the other way incessantly.  Who cares if it perpetuates and exacerbates the problem!  They jam microphones in the faces of athletes who have literally been caught with their pants down, and allow them to tell ridiculous lies to an ignorant, but adoring public, over and over again.  They hire sex offenders, drug addicts, wife beaters, and so on, because they have made it ok to be a bad person.  So don’t be surprised that they are ramming more of it down our throats.  Change the channel, there’s a lot to learn on television other than poor etiquette and immoral behavior. 
 
Mark Considine
 
Mark,
 
I don’t think the problem ends and it may not even start with ESPN.  Look at the video games – even Madden who is generally regarded as old school.  They feature players trash talking and they act in a generally unacceptable sportsmanlike way and as you say, they glorify the behavior to the point that kids think that it’s cool to act in such a way.
 
I call that selling out!
 
Back in the days of Babe Ruth or even Mickey Mantle, the media knew full well what these superstars did in their personal lives.  They knew there was serious boozing going on and they knew about the womanizing yet they chose to keep that private.  They chose to allow the players to be known for their accomplishments on the field as opposed to their embarrassments off it.  When Babe Ruth was shown visiting children in a hospital and then hitting a home run for the kid, that was heroic, that was noble and that was a responsible media in my opinion.
 
Kids today are exposed to way too much, not just in the things you’ve described but all over the various forms of media.  As a parent, it’s hard to preserve your child’s childhood.  They need time to be children.  There’s plenty of time to be adults and to be involved in adult things.  In many ways, the media and the easy access to information has made parenting so much more difficult.
 
I could go on…
 
I think the media in general, not just ESPN needs to be more responsible but until all of the dirt and the gossip and the showboating stops attracting advertising dollars, I’m afraid it will never stop.
 
Sorry Gordon Gekko, greed is not good,
 
TL
 
FIRST RATE!
 
Hey Tony, 
 
Your new website is spectacular!  The coverage is first rate.  Aaron Wilson is terrific and his updates are right on. 
 
I have to comment on your thoughts on Musa Smith.  Personally, I believe he is capable of making us forget about Chester Taylor, he certainly has the physical gifts and talent.  However, let’s not forget that he has been injured in one way or another every year since he was in college at Georgia and I don’t believe he has had an injury free year in the last 5 years or more.  If memory serves me, he was injured his first training camp as a Raven, a knee injury I believe, and he never played a down.  His second year he looked like he was ready to make a break through and that terrible injury occurred from a very illegal tackle. 
 
That being said, he missed all of last year.  Color my hopes purple for him but until he makes it past 8 games healthy and is capable of handling 10 carries a game, Im just a little pessimistic about Musa.  I sure hope he stays healthy, he looks awesome so far. 
 
Mark, Hunt Valley MD 
 
Mark, 
 
I couldn’t agree more! 
 
During his three year career thus far, Musa has been active for 21 games and has played in only 11 of them.  His apparent fragility is cause for concern – it certainly was in the 2003 draft when teams shied away from his because of durability issues.  Many thought that without his propensity for injury he would have been a first round selection. 
 
So if I haven’t before (although I think I have) qualified my statements about Musa Smith let me do so now.  If he stays healthy, he will make everyone forget about Chester Taylor. 
 
Unfortunately, that is a big “if” and it may be why Jamal Lewis and Mike Anderson are both on the Ravens’ roster. 
 
Thanks for the props on the site.  We are very happy to have Aaron Wilson as part of the team.  Soon he’ll have his own blog and as the season draws near, we’ll have him on for scheduled chat sessions.  His knowledge, inside sources and professionalism are as good as any when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens. 
 
Rave on, 
 
TL 
 
CH-CH-CH-CHANGES 
 
TL,
 
Congrats on the new site!  Plainly put, it’s awesome.  I am an everyday reader and while it took some getting used to (I fear change), the interface is user friendly, well designed and easy on the eyes.  Excellent work!!
 
Rave on brothers,
 
J. Walker, York, PA
 
JW,
 
Thanks for the props but I must quickly point out that this site is the result of extensive collaboration amongst our staff and certainly with the site’s designer D3 Corp.  Many props to all of them, especially D3!
 
Spread the word,
 
TL
 
O-LINE, OH NO!
 
Tony,
 
I have only one thing to say about last night’s game…….NO DAMN OFFENSIVE LINE!!!  How many times does someone have to tell hard headed Brian Billick that he needs to address the O line?  But his stock answer is "it will be alright, we have people that are good enough."   I hope that rat gets fired before the season is over.  I don’t care if you have Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning or the greatest running back in the world, if you have NO "O" line, you have NOTHING.  
 
Yes, they looked super stinky last night, but Musa Smith said in a clip on the radio today, he had NO holes to run through.  Sound familiar?  And McNair will be on his back and scrambling all season (until he gets injured) if he has NO O line to protect him. 
 
These guys are just average at best (except maybe Ogden and his better days are over).  It may be a short season for all (no playoffs) if the crap we saw last night continues.  Don’t say it’s just a preseason game.  It will be the same O line when the regular season starts.  Are they magically going to become awesome overnight? I think not!!!    
 
Horrible mistake Mr. Newsome and dummy man Billick for not upgrading that line over the winter!
 
Kelley, Halethorpe
 
Kelley,
 
I share your concerns, particularly when the Ravens play on the road.  I’ll reserve final judgment until I see how the offensive line responds on September 10 in Tampa.  A season as you know isn’t static and things can shape up and improve as a season goes on.  Unfortunately the early signs are not good and the offensive line’s performance looks frightingly familiar.
 
They have to pick it up – jobs are at stake and not just those of the players.
 
The long and winding road,
 
TL

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. 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.

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