Archive for the ‘Baltimore Ravens’ Category

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It took only two plays to see what kind of talent Brandon Williams has.

He was lined up over the right guard with his feet wide and his weight leaning on his toes. When the play began, he fired off the line of scrimmage with a wicked right step and locked up with the blocker. He bent his knees and then watched the quarterback hand the ball off to the running back, who took the handoff and looked to run downhill. Williams wasn’t going to be having any of it; he separated from the blocker, nimbly moved parallel to the line of scrimmage, and dived forward to bring down the runner.

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Suddenly, the Ravens’ defense is beginning to look a little less hole filled.

Your concerns about the defending champs and their ability to, well, defend are entirely warranted. But ever so slowly key gaps are being filled after the departure of Ray Lewis, Bernard Pollard, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe, and Cary Williams. Elvis Dumervil — the best defensive end on the market, and arguably the best defensive player — was signed this past weekend, and he joined Chris Canty and Marcus Spears, who are also quality signings. Dumervil’s 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons gives Baltimore one of the league’s premier pass rushing duos, as he’s now paired with Terrell Suggs.

But what of that secondary? The one that lost three starters? We have an answer for one spot: Michael Huff.

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We’re entering a brief — oh, so very brief — slow time in the NFL calendar, and I should define that word in the context of this league before we continue much further. A slow period in the NFL news cycle doesn’t mean there’s any lack of things to write about or things to say while in front of a camera. No, the league talking machine must always be fed, so we just make up more stuff during the slow-ish periods. Skip Bayless is a god in this manner.

Now that I’ve broken the fourth wall a bit, know that this specific period may be a little down because with the exception of a few major names (Charles Woodson, and all the veteran defensive ends) there’s beginning to be some fizzle with free agency, and the true draft lunacy often doesn’t kick in until the calendar flips to April. That’s why right now players shouldn’t say things that guys like me can put in headlines. So thank you, Arthur Jones.

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The Ed Reed era in Baltimore has ended, but the former Raven star opted to say thanks one more time before beginning a new chapter in Houston.
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Ravens Nation, My eleven seasons in Baltimore were more than I would have everimagined, which is why I have such deep love for you all. I will forever cherish my time with the Ravens and the chills that ran down my spine when I finally kissed the Lombardi Trophy. Special thanks to the City, Team, Organization and all the Fans! I’m going to miss being a part of this tremendous team and organization, but I’ll always be Baltimore and my Foundation will remain in this community, this is not a goodbye, but a See You Soon.

Thank you for everything Baltimore, God Bless you.

ED REED #20

The full page ad appeared in Sunday’s edition of the Baltimore Sun. Reed signed a three-year deal with the Texans on Friday. The nine-team Pro Bowler will get a chance to say thank you in person when the Ravens host Houston this season.

Image via The Baltimore Sun

There will be none of this on Sept. 5 in Baltimore. Only sadness.

The battle of Baltimore has been fought and won, and not by the Ravens.

Traditionally the first Thursday in September is a time of great celebration for the defending Super Bowl champions, as they host the season-opener showcase extravaganza in primetime. But there was a hurdle for the Ravens to host that magical night this fall because the Orioles also have a home game on Sept. 5, and the two teams share a parking lot for their respective stadiums. Although there was talk of having the O’s move their game to a matinee start at 1 p.m. (the Orioles were willing to compromise), it was eventually determined that hosting both that game and the pageantry of the NFL’s season opener in one day wasn’t logistically possible.

Either that, or Bud Selig is exacting his modicum of revenge after years of Monday night Jaguars-Panthers games crushing playoff baseball.

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Replacing Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe won’t be easy.

At this point, saying that the Ravens’ defense — a formerly fierce unit that’s long been the team’s foundation — has been gutted is an insult to things that are gutted. Fish are especially perturbed, if they’re still living.

By now you’re surely familiar with the lengthy list of starters who have moved on. But to review: Ray Lewis retired, while Paul Kruger, Cary Williams, Dannell Ellerbe, Bernard Pollard, and most recently Ed Reed have moved on. Toss in Anquan Boldin on the other side of the ball, and that’s seven starters gone due to the league’s crunchiest cap situation. The holes, they’re everywhere.

Of course the pain associated with that exodus is much easier to bear because it’s the price paid for a championship. Sure, but with both of their starting middle linebackers and safeties from that championship year now gone, the Ravens’ 2013 season could show us yet again that repeating as champions in the NFL is, well, difficult. In the 19 years the salary cap has been in existence, only two teams have successfully defended their title.

To avoid a collapse in the face of those free agency losses, multiple voids need to be filled, with the draft playing a major role in that process. After receiving four compensatory picks and a sixth-round pick from the 49ers in exchange for Boldin, general manager Ozzie Newsome has 12 picks to work with in his search for both high-end prospects who can start immediately, and youthful depth.

But where will he start? what position should be prioritized? And does he prefer a tuck or no tuck by the housekeeping staff when staying at a hotel? In our latest draft preview (35 more days!!!) I talked to Bruce Raffel, the editor of Baltimore Beat Down, and asked him those questions and more. Well, not the bed sheet one, but if you have information in that regard, please do tell.

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Baltimore Ravens Victory Parade
Ed Reed is heading back to Baltimore after spending time with the Texans. It’s believed the all-pro safety left George Bush Intercontinental Airport with an offer in hand, and will give the Ravens an opportunity to match.

Texans Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips had heavy Praise for Reed,  stating in a tweet “easy to see why Ed Reed is a hall of famer – very smart with great talent.”

The Ravens defense has been ravaged by free agency, with Cary Williams, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger departing for more money. It’s easy to see why Baltimore wants to keep their leader after the exodus. They’ll need veteran leadership to help inexperienced players–who will need to fill the void– get acclimated.