THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens & NFL News & Rumors

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens & NFL News & Rumors

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The Ravens offensive line sure has had its fair share of criticism, some deserved, some not.  After awhile you just have to ask yourself if their struggles are on them or on the system.  Is it their fault that the snap count is so often on 1, giving speed rushers a competitive edge and inspiring Pashos to cheat?  Is it their fault that the offensive game plan has little imagination and often leaves the team with second and third and long situations?
 
Time and time again, we hear about the formulaic approach to winning football.  Funny how after all the changes at quarterback since Super Bowl XXXV we find ourselves right back at square one where low and behold there’s that “manage the game” philosophy.  That philosophy can only work if your defense is consistently dominant and produces turnovers.  Yet it places too much pressure on one side of the ball.
 
Looking back on Brian Billick’s career prior to his head coaching job here in Baltimore, the defining moment in my mind isn’t his record setting offense in 1998.  It’s the way in which the Vikings offense went into that “manage the game” mode against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game during the 1998 season.  With a little over 2 minutes to go in the game and leading 27-20, the Vikings had a first down in the red zone.  Then they got conservative…they “managed the game.”  Or so they thought.  When Gary Anderson missed a 38 yard field goal, it left the door wide open for Atlanta and as you know, they took advantage of the opportunity and went on to play in Super Bowl XXXIII.
 
History suggests that Billick’s offense with the Ravens lacks a killer instinct.  After turnovers or change of possession with great field position, rarely do they go for the jugular.  Twice this past Sunday after turnovers, the Bengals went for the jugular on the very first play after the change and scored touchdowns.  The first time Charlie Frye and the Browns started a drive in good field position, they took a shot with Braylon Edwards down field on the very first play.
 
How often to the Ravens simply run it after a turnover?
 
Well since you asked….On the first play after 10 turnovers (excluding the CMac pick 6) the Ravens have taken a knee twice to end the game, handed to Jamal Lewis for gains of 0, -1, 2 and 1; handed it to Mark Clayton on a reverse for a loss of 8; thrown incomplete to Clarence Moore in the end zone; thrown an interception on a pass intended for Todd Heap; and they completed a pass to Derrick Mason for 15 yards.
 
That my friends, isn’t exactly going for the jugular and I bet if the players were asked for their input, they would want to do exactly that!
 
Hey did you hear about Terrell Owens?  Me too!  Get well soon!
 
Derrick Mason had his 15th 100-yard receiving game of his career last Sunday when he caught seven passes for 132 yards, some of which were highlight reel material.  "Today was one of those days where it seemed like I was a basketball player," Mason said. "The basket was as big as the ocean. You feel like every time you throw up a three-pointer, it was going to go in. That’s how I felt today. Anytime Steve threw up something, I was going to be able to make the catch."
 
Terrell Suggs is listed as questionable but claims to be feeling  "a lot better" than Sunday when he left the game with a pulled right hamstring. Suggs says he’ll start…Brian Billick in so many words says they are hopeful but let’s wait and see.  "We’ll have to see how it progresses," he said. "There is always hope. I wouldn’t categorize it right now."  Either way, Dan Cody should be active for the first time this season.
 
Bulletin board material: No doubt these quotes will grace the walls of the Ravens’ locker room, courtesy of a couple of zealous Chargers:
 
“I know they’re not going to be able to run the ball this week.” ~ DT Igor Olshansky (wasn’t he in a Mel Brooks movie?)
 
“We have to go in there and outplay them.  And we will.” ~ Shawne Merriman
 
Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was busted on Tuesday after DEA agents intercepted two packages containing 18 pint bottles of codeine.  That’s a lot more than Kiel will intercept this Sunday.  The drugs have a street value in Texas (the intended destination) of $325 per bottle.  Kiel has admitted to the possession and transporting of the drugs. I suppose suggesting he had a bad chest cold wouldn’t fly.
 
Starting in Kiel’s place is Clinton Hart who had five starts last year in his fourth season and has a total of 26 tackles and 2 interceptions to his credit.  His interceptions were both returned for scores, one of 40 yards against New England in 2005 and then later in 2005 against the Raiders.
 
“I’ve got something to prove is the way I look at it,” Hart said. “This is my opportunity. I’m going to play with a little chip on my shoulder and prove I belong.”
 
Titans head coach Jeff Fisher now has his own website but it’s not by his design.  It’s called firecoachfisher.com.  If things continue to go poorly for Fisher and by some unfortunate set of circumstances Brian Billick follows him down that path, might someone in these parts then create Fisher’s second website, hirecoachfisher.com?  Why not, Baltimore is the place for wayward Titans, right?
 
You know initially I thought the Ravens playing the Bengals so late in the season for the first time was a disadvantage, since by then Carson Palmer would have his legs under him.  It now might be an advantage.  At the rate the Bengals are going, more of their starters might be incarcerated by the time the clubs hook up for the first time on November 5 at The Vault.  Next up, Chris Henry.
 
Sometimes things have a way of working out for the better.  Certainly that can be said of the trade that T.O. successfully squashed that would have made him a Raven.  Another move that thankfully didn’t work out is the then St. Louis Cardinals migration to Baltimore.  Bill Bidwill believe it or not is a worse owner than the one WNST has been trying to oust.
 
While Bidwill and his family counts the gobs of money pouring in from the new stadium, folks in Arizona aren’t too pleased.  First the product on the field stinks and to make matters worse the family doesn’t seem to give a rat’s hind parts.  And their audaciousness worsens by the day.
 
Recently the Bidwills announced a $154.5 million naming rights deal for the new stadium with the University of Phoenix.  They did so without the approval of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority despite being bound to do so under the terms of their stadium agreement.  To make matters worse, the stadium actually sits in Glendale, AZ which paid $9.9 million towards the stadium as part of an effort to boost the awareness of their city.  Gee, that should work well now with Phoenix set to be emblazoned upon the stadium’s façade.
 
Be wary of men in bow ties.

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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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