THE GRAPEVINE: Has Marty ball invaded Baltimore?

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Has Marty ball invaded Baltimore?

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The Ravens will need to make some roster moves if they plan to activate Ed Reed and Brendon Ayanbadejo from the PUP List. The Ravens have until 4PM on Saturday to make such declarations and don’t be surprised if they use every minute of the allotted time.

The two candidates mentioned most often as roster bubble guys are Jared Gaither and Ken Hamlin. Gaither is dealing with a thoracic disc injury suffered during the first week of training camp and has practiced only once since Aug. 5. The Ravens would clearly prefer to keep Gaither on the active roster because he provides quality depth at an important position.

"I asked him how he’s feeling and he said it’s unchanged through the weekend," John Harbaugh explained yesterday. "So, that’s going to be part of the equation."

The Ravens doctors can’t seem to find anything that should keep Gaither on the sidelines and consequently the team may buy a bit more time with the enigmatic offensive tackle.

The release of Hamlin makes sense with the return of Ed Reed. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg might prefer to keep the former Cowboy but that loss is more than offset with the return of three-time Pro Bowl special teams ace Ayanbadejo.

As for Gaither, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens buy even more time and cut loose Jalen Parmele instead prior to the Saturday deadline. Parmele has hardly been as productive on kick returns this season as he was in 2009 and the Ravens do have Josh Wilson who is more than capable of handling the chore.

Parmele’s struggles don’t exactly attract other potential suitors for his services and if later the team determines that they have no choice but to IR Gaither, there’s a good chance that they will have the option to bring Parmele back.

NBC analyst and former New England Patriot Rodney Harrison had some interesting things to say regarding the effectiveness of fines in discouraging flagrant helmet to helmet hits. Harrison, once an aggressive hard hitting Pro Bowl safety explained on Sunday Night Football that he used to set aside $50,000 each season for fines that he expected to receive because of his style of play. The fines he explained, did not discourage his style of play but he admitted that if the element of a suspension was introduced that his dedication to his team and the possibility of a lost game and 1/16th of his annual salary (a game check) would influence him to throttle down on the aggressive hitting.

Current Patriot Brandon Meriweather should be suspended immediately. He leads with his helmet and leaps into defenseless receivers repeatedly. There were at least three situations, arguably four during the Ravens v. Patriots contest on Sunday when Meriweather launched into Ravens. If the connection on Heap was the only evidence of his eagerness to injure opponents, you might simply fine him and hope he learns a lesson going forward. But repeat offenders like him are dangerous and as explained by Rodney Harrison, a fine isn’t enough.

Disagree? Then maybe you should consider this from Meriweather on WEEI Monday via the Boston Herald:

"I was playing aggressive and something happened. I’m going to be aggressive. Point blank. I won’t change my game, period. I’m sorry it happened."

Doesn’t sound to me like he’s sorry enough and if this loose cannon isn’t dealt with properly the NFL will have some explaining to do should this reckless player maim another later this season.

Tom Brady is clearly a bit of a pansy. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a great quarterback but there’s no denying he is a spoiled one with a sense of entitlement (see video). But Brady does score the game, set and match in the verbal sparring with Ravens LB Terrell Suggs.  

After the 23-20 loss in New England, Suggs had this quip when Brady’s stats on the day were brought up.

“He just better hope he don’t see us again.”

Brady’s response?

“He had his chance,” the quarterback said during his weekly interview with WEEI. “Maybe if he gets another chance he can try to back those words up. You know, we’ve played those guys a lot, and they’ve beat us one time in all the times that I’ve played them.

“They talk a lot for beating us once in nine years.”

Gisele’s other half has a point.

Last week following the Ravens victory over the Broncos John Harbaugh admitted that the victory wasn’t completely satisfying.

"The thing I’m disappointed with is finishing at times, finishing at the half, finishing at the end of the game."

Comments like that would suggest that the Ravens would put forth a more determined effort to finish teams and go for the jugular. Fast forward to the Patriots game and that wasn’t the case.

Joe Flacco said after the game that the Patriots did not present any new challenges in the second half that weren’t there before halftime. Yet offensive coordinator Cam Cameron seemed to attack New England’s defense more passively.

“I don’t think there was anything conservative about in that sense. I don’t think we executed it. I don’t think we did a good enough job as coaches explaining to our players exactly how to attack it. We say, ‘What can we do better as coaches and players to solve that issue?’ Here’s a team that had two weeks to prepare for us. They had some pretty good ideas against us.”

C’mon coach!

I’m ok with Harbaugh spinning it this way to the media but let’s just hope behind closed doors he’s pounding on the conference room table imploring his three of his coordinators to adopt a  go-for-the-throat mentality.

The trouble is in the case of Cameron, that it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Cameron’s tendencies as a coordinator for Marty Shottenheimer in San Diego, as head coach in Miami and as a coordinator in Baltimore aren’t exactly those of a killer. Remember Marty Ball? Who do you think was at least a co-creator of that?

This past Sunday the Ravens opted to run out of an empty backfield on third and 1. I think verbally telling the Patriots that Joe Flacco was about to run a sneak would have been more deceptive than what they actually did. At least then the opponents may have believed the Ravens were lying.

What about an audible there or a timeout when it became obvious the play was doomed?

"Audibling is overrated," Cameron said back on October 7. "It’s good to talk about and I could sit here and let you guys think that we do all of this audibiling and how clever we are. It depends on the way teams are playing you.

Cameron would add, “We could, if we choose to, audible with [Flacco] every down. But if it doesn’t fit who you’re playing, then why do it?"

Well Cam when the game is on the line I think it does fit!

How many times did we see Tom Brady audible at the line of scrimmage to check out of a play and take advantage of the Ravens’ dime package with a Danny Woodhead run? It’s not that hard and to not allow Flacco to develop in that regard is to stymie his growth as a NFL signal caller.

In six games this season Haloti Ngata has already eclipsed his statistics from last year, his first as a Pro Bowler. In 14 games last season Ngata posted 35 tackles and 1.5 sacks. So far in 2010 he has 36 tackles and 4 sacks. The man is a beast and right now he is the best player wearing purple and black.

During our annual visit from Steve Bisciotti on the Ravens Rap at The Original Greene Turtle in Ocean City, the team owner acknowledged that he will have to back up the Brinks truck for Ngata and he plans on doing exactly that. We’ll have much more from that interview coming later this week here on 24×7.

If you’d like to join Haloti Ngata on the first ever Ravens’ cruise sponsored by you should get in now! Details of the cruise which will depart from Miami on March 7, 2011 can be found HERE. Only 25% is needed to hold your spot and the balance 90 days prior to departure.

Please join me, Haloti and fan favorite Edwin Mulitalo on a trip that promises to be a bookmark in the times of your life!


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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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.

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