THE GRAPEVINE: The latest buzz from One Winning Drive

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: The latest buzz from One Winning Drive

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The Ravens secondary is the epicenter of football criticism in Baltimore these days and deservedly so. However team sources believe that many of the problems that the Ravens experienced were of the mental and not the physical variety.

After breaking down the game film the team found that over 150 yards of Philip Rivers’ aerial assault can be attributed to communication breakdowns and/or blown assignments. Who was the guiltiest of offenders? Why none other than All Pro Ed Reed.

Many are hoping that Samari Rolle will be activated when he is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list after the October 18 game at Minnesota. Don’t count on it. Not much has changed physically for Rolle since he’s been sidelined and when you consider his age (33) together with the nerve issues in his neck, his slight build and the fact that he struggles with epilepsy, one source who preferred to remain unnamed said that retirement is more likely for the former Pro Bowler than a return to the playing field.
Ravens nickel Frank Walker was targeted often in the preseason and proved that he is mismatched when taking on speedy receivers with great change of direction skills. Yet there’s a reason Walker remains on the Ravens roster — he does match up well against physical receivers and he proved that once again with a clutch play in the end zone defending WR Legedu Naanee. Walker broke up the would be TD pass with 53 seconds remaining. That single play could prove to be the difference between the Ravens entering post season play ahead of the Chargers or hosting a playoff game v. going on the road. 

The Ravens acquired TE Tony Curtis to bolster the position of tight end. The Ravens’ personnel department scouted Curtis when he played at Portland State. The former Cowboy was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006 and has been described as a solid blocker with decent hands. His addition to the roster might push Edgar Jones to the other side of the football in order to help bolster the team’s pass rush which has come under scrutiny.

Curtis’ roster spot was made possible by the Ravens trade of Prescott Burgess to the New England Patriots for a conditional 7th round pick. The Patriots, a friendly trading partner of the Ravens, are said to have had late day 2 interest in Burgess during the 2007 NFL Draft.

Much of the talk heading into the game against the Chargers centered upon Darren Sproles. The diminutive scat back presents mismatch problems for most NFL teams and the Ravens are certainly no exception. On his 81 yard TD reception in the first quarter that started as a simple swing pass out of the backfield, Ray Lewis was responsible for the Chargers Mr. Franchise. Unfortunately for the Ravens Lewis got caught up in traffic, some of which he initiated and never could get outside leaving Sproles all alone.

The heat at Qualcomm Stadium presented challenges for all players but the one who seemed most affected by the 100 degree temps on the field was Terrell Suggs. Suggs called out of the game a couple of times and was visibly gasping for breath. The Ravens richest player missed most of training camp and he doesn’t appear to be as lean as he was at this time last year.

In his last 16 games, Joe Flacco is 13-3 – an impressive mark to say the least. Making that figure perhaps even more impressive is the fact that no other NFL quarterback is better over that same stretch, not even Super Bowl winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Only Peyton Manning can match Flacco’s record.
And finally while we’re on the topic of quarterbacks, ESPN’s Mike & Mike had frequent guest and former Ravens’ head coach Brian Billick on their program today. Mike Golic asked Billick if QB’s like Jamarcus Russell who have accuracy problems can correct those deficiencies at the NFL level.
Billick explained that accuracy is a function of many things and added that there are those who believe that you can correct flaws in accuracy. Don’t count Billick among the believers. 
"Well no you can’t [fix accuracy] or I would not be analyzing games on Fox!"
Surely Ravens fans know all too well the inferences made in that statement…

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and 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. More from Tony Lombardi


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