Everyone excited for color rush uniforms?!
Yeah, I didn’t think so. But hey, nothing can be worse than those mustard pants from last year, right?
A few weeks ago, all the talk was about John Harbaugh being on the hot seat. That talk has died down after Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh, but this Cleveland team presents another kind of challenge. In Brian Billick’s final season in Baltimore, 2007, the Ravens were the only “W” on the final schedule of the 1-15 Miami Dolphins (led by Cam Cameron).
The Browns come in at 0-9. If Johnny Harbs wants to avoid repeating history, he would be wise to make sure Cleveland doesn’t leave here at 1-9, giving birth to the possibility of the Ravens having the honor of saving two 1-15 teams from infamy.
Let’s look at this week’s stats, quotes, and more in our CRAB BAG c/o Casa Mia’s White Marsh.
KNOW THY ENEMY
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
OLB Terrell Suggs on if this Ravens defense is one of the best he’s played on:
“I don’t know. It’s all in how you finish. If you miss the playoffs, who cares where your defense is ranked? This is about winning games, going to the playoffs, winning division championships, winning championships. At the end of the year, you can [say], ‘Oh, they had a Top 10 defense.’ Whatever, but if you don’t win, it doesn’t matter. Winning is the only thing that matters – the only thing.”
“Like I told Steve during the week, ‘With you being out there, even if you don’t catch a pass, it doesn’t matter. Just your presence brings this team to a whole other level.’ That’s just me saying that to let him know that’s how much I want him on the field. I know that he’s Steve Smith, so when he gets on the field, he’s going to ball out; that’s what he does. Just his presence, he’s a leader. I haven’t been on the team for very long, but he’s a great leader, one of the best I’ve been around from an emotional standpoint. The intensity he brings to the game, everybody has no choice but to feed off of it. I know I’m the first one to feed off it.”
S Eric Weddle on whether the Ravens’ defense gets enough credit for the team’s success:
“I think we’re just going to keep putting our heads down and keep grinding. We’re blue collar. We’re really not worried about what the outside thinks or wants or appreciates or thinks we’re good or not. We know we have to play a full 16 games, and then we can see where we’re at. Where we’re at as a team, we have to play great week-in and week-out to give ourselves a chance to win. When we limit team’s big plays, and we don’t let the ball go over our heads, you see what we can do and what we’re capable of. We got a little bit out of whack giving up big plays the last couple weeks. There’s a reason though. We’re Top 5 in the NFL in different categories. We limit the run; we limit big plays. We have to continue that the rest of the way.”
CB Jimmy Smith on what beating the Steelers in Week 9 means and facing the Browns on Thursday:
“[Pittsburgh] is just one game though. We know we have to come out and be on point against Cleveland coming up. They jumped out on us by 20 points out there [in Week 2], and it’s always a tough game against the Browns. We have our hands full coming up Thursday and need to play well to make this win meaningful.”
QB Joe Flacco on the Week 9 win over Pittsburgh:
“We have a lot ahead of us. And that’s what you have to keep telling yourself. We lost four games, but it’s funny, it didn’t matter if we would have been 5-2 going into [that] game; we would have a bigger lead right now, but the game would have meant the same. If Pittsburgh would have won [Sunday], they would be in the lead, and if we won, we would be in the lead, and that’s exactly where we are right now. Yeah, we don’t have a big lead, but we have a lot to play for, and we’re excited about it.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Jimmy Smith
How would you describe what S Eric Weddle brings to the Ravens?
“Tremendous leadership and motivation. He’s a very motivated guy, and that rubs off on you. It’s not necessarily everything vocal he says, but just the way he carries himself. He’s in here every day at the crack of dawn and the last person to leave. He’s a true professional, and I think when you watch somebody like that, it motivates you to be even better. He’s mostly playing safety on my side, so I notice it.”
You are typically expected to have one of the most anticipated individual matchups each game, which comes with a lot of responsibility and scrutiny. How do you handle that?
“I definitely accept the role and take it in stride. That’s how my oldest brother [Ryan Smalls] raised me, to take everything in stride. My oldest brother is a major influence. He is the reason I play football. All of my other brothers played, but I just grew up playing basketball and a little bit of baseball. Because of what my brother taught me, how I was raised and the fact that that’s what the Ravens brought me here for helps. I try my best.”
You seem to be a leader by example with your play on the field. Do you think you assume a quiet leadership role?
“I’m not an extremely vocal guy, so you won’t get that in-your-face type of leadership that you may have seen from a Ray Lewis. Don’t get me wrong, my emotions do get involved at times, and I like to motivate my guys, but I’m not a rah-rah type of guy. I try to be more of a leader by example.”
Knowing what you know now, what do you think is the best piece of advice you could have offered to yourself as a rookie?
“I like the progression of how things happened through my years. When I came in, I think I was very, very anxious to prove myself. I probably tried to do a little bit too much early on instead of just sitting back and learning the game and how things are done. I needed to learn the ins and outs of being an NFL corner. I think coming into my sixth year, I’m finally learning the game a lot more than I knew as a rookie. I would probably tell myself to take the advice from the veterans. Not that I didn’t, but at times, I could have done more.”
You seem to have a jovial, laid back attitude. Do you think that’s a contrast to the cocky stereotypes about the position you play?
“I don’t believe in that. When I get up after making a play, I don’t even celebrate. I don’t know why. I just try to stay humble. I’m not overly animated or overconfident. I think it’s that West Coast chill.”
HEY, YOU LOOK FAMILIAR ~ Key Connections
Ravens GM/executive VP and Hall of Fame TE Ozzie Newsome played 13 seasons in Cleveland, recording 662 catches and 7,980 yards – the most in Browns history. He then held positions as a scout, assistant to the head coach/offense/pro personnel, and director of pro personnel before moving to Baltimore as VP of player personnel in 1996.
The Ravens’ staff is comprised of many people who were invited to join the franchise when it moved from Cleveland: Sr. VP of public & community relations Kevin Byrne, VP of football video operations Jon Dubé, Sr. VP of operations Bob Eller, VP of IT Bill Jankowski, Sr. VP of football admin. Pat Moriarty and VP/head certified athletic trainer Mark Smith.
Ravens senior personnel assistant George Kokinis was the Browns’ GM for part of 2008. Kokinis began his NFL career as an operations intern with the Browns in 1991 before moving to Baltimore with the franchise in 1996.
Baltimore director of pro personnel Vincent Newsome played two seasons (1991-92) for the Browns. He then spent three seasons as a special assignment scout before becoming the Ravens’ West area scout in 1996.
Ravens RB Terrance West was selected by Cleveland in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft and appeared in 14 games for the Browns, leading the team with 171 carries for 673 rushing yards and 4 TDs.
Browns head coach Hue Jackson was the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach for two seasons (2008-09). Jackson was crucial in Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s development, helping the future Super Bowl MVP achieve the 2008 Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year Award.
Browns associate head coach-offense Pep Hamilton served as the Ravens’ pro personnel intern (2002).
Browns senior offensive assistant Al Saunders was the Ravens’ senior offensive assistant from 2009-10.
Baltimore special teams coordinator/associate HC Jerry Rosburg was the ST coordinator for the Browns from 2001-06, while Ravens defensive line coach Joe Cullen held the same title in Cleveland for one season (2013).
Browns DL Jamie Meder was originally signed by the Ravens as an undrafted free agent and spent time on the practice squad (2014).
Browns director of player personnel and Baltimore native Chisom Opara spent the 2004 season as a player personnel assistant with the Ravens after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2003. Browns director of college scouting Bobby Vega also spent the 2004 summer as a player personnel intern with Baltimore.
LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT
Ya know what? I’m not poking fun at the Browns. Cleveland just blew a 3-1 World Series lead and their football team has a very real shot of going 0-16. Hopefully the Ravens keep it that way.