Ravens Week 4 Review

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Tyler's BylineSteve Smith promised that the game would have blood and guts. I didn’t see any of that, but I did see the 35-year-old play out of his mind in the Raven’s 38-10 win.

The former Panthers receiver had seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns against his old team.

Smith was easily the player of the game for Baltimore, but the whole offense played well and ripped apart the Panthers’ defense.

Joe Flacco, who finished the game with three touchdowns and a 137.4 QB rating, had his best game of the season. He favored throwing the ball to Smith, but also spread the ball around and finally hooked up with Torrey Smith for a touchdown.

Flacco looked poised in the pocket and aside from a bad throw that could have picked; he looked to be in postseason form.

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The running game was impressive as well, as Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro split carries. Both backs were able to break off for big runs and look to have passed Bernard Pierce for the bulk of carries.

One final note from the offense was the play of James Hurst. It’s not easy to step into your first NFL start at left tackle, but Hurst played exceptionally well. The whole offensive line did a great job, but it was a positive sign to him play so well, since Monroe is going to be out for a while.

The defense went back to their bend-but-don’t-break ways, but the secondary seems to be a concern. Cam Newton was able to throw all over the secondary and Matt Elam seemed lost in coverage at certain times.

It doesn’t help that the team is without Ladarius Webb, but the Ravens will have trouble against Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, etc. if the secondary can’t fix the issues.

A standout on the defense today was C.J. Mosley. The Alabama product came away with 11 tackles and has future Pro-Bowler written all over him.

It was a solid win for the Ravens, as Steve Smith made good on his promise. The Ravens will have to keep up this offensive output if they want to beat the high-scoring Colts next week.

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Maryland vs. WVU: Looking Back

Byline JasonMaryland hosted the Mountaineers of West Virginia Saturday afternoon at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The Terps entered Saturday’s contest 2-0, hoping to extend their undefeated season before Big Ten conference play begins later this month.

The Mountaineers came in at 1-1, with their one loss being a mere 10 point defeat at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide. After turning the ball over an astronomical six times last week at South Florida, it was time for the Terps to protect the ball and prove to the country they are a force to be reckoned with after beating up on weak teams the first two weeks.

However, that’s not exactly how things went down. After falling behind by as many as 22 points in the 2nd quarter, Maryland fell short as a last second Josh Lambert field goal pushed the Mountaineers to a 40-37 victory. Here are my five takeaways from Saturday’s showdown between West Virginia and Maryland:

Terps Defense. I’m just going to assume they were all sick and a random intramural squad was chosen as its replacement. This was easily one of the worst defensive performances I have ever witnessed. The tackling and pass coverage was atrocious, worse than my brother’s high school junior varsity squad.

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There were numerous occasions where the Terps left wide receivers and running backs completely uncovered. When they were covered, the tackling was so poor they might as well have been uncovered.

Twice a simple slant route was taken all the way in for a touchdown, as Mario Alford and Kevin White tore up the Terps secondary.  Clint Trickett torched the Terps defense, completing 37 of 49 pass attempts for an incredible 511 yards and four touchdowns.

Trickett’s 511 yards are 2nd most in school history. The lone bright spot was the defense’s 4th down stops. Twice the defense was able to make a stand and get the ball back into the hands of the offense.

Terps Running game. Again. Where was it? Take out CJ Brown’s QB runs and you’ve got nothing. Albert Reid, Jacquille Veii, and Brandon Ross combined for seven yards on eight carries. That’s good for a solid 0.88 yards per carry.

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Maryland seemed to abandon the run early, especially when midway through the second quarter they found themselves trailing 28-6. While I can’t blame them for that, not establishing the run early and often is typically a recipe for disaster. CJ Brown can’t be relied upon to pass the ball over 30 times per game and be the team’s primary running back.

Terps Offensive Line. It was a rough showing for the Terps offensive line. They created no holes for the run game and seemed to routinely get beat by three and four man pass rushes. CJ Brown routinely found himself on the ground after pass plays.

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While Brown isn’t the best pocket passer, he can be effective if given enough time to find the open receiver. With Stefon Diggs and Deon Long out catching passes, it is imperative Brown has ample time to get these playmakers the ball.

Turnovers. If there was one big bright spot for the Terps on Saturday, it was in the turnover department. After an abysmal six turnovers a week ago, seeing the Terps +3 in the turnover differential was a pleasant surprise.

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Maryland forced four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception. In addition, the Terps special teams department came up huge with a blocked field goal and Will Likely’s 69 yard punt return touchdown to tie the game at 37 in the 4th quarter.

Which team wanted it more (or less)? If there was ever a game that you look back on and say, ‘man, neither of these teams deserved to win’, this was it. Between the over 1,100 yards of total offense and five total turnovers, this was not the game to watch if you like defense.

Factor in the blocked field goal, the muffed punt, and the rain from start to finish, and you have a 40-37 last-second field goal that left fans of both teams wondering if their team was any good.

To sum it all up: A good team does not turn the ball over four times (including a muffed punt), have a field goal blocked, and fail to convert on 4th and one on multiple occasions (ahem… WVU). A good team also does not commit seven penalties, allow over 500 yards passing and nearly 200 yards rushing, and convert on a meager four of 15 3rd down opportunities (ahem… UMD). Both of these teams have a lot of work to do.

What’s next: Maryland travels to New York on Saturday to battle the 2-0 Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome.

We Don’t Know Athletes

Tyler's BylineThe Ray Rice situation proved to be too much for Baltimore, and the Ravens had to solve things by cutting the former Rutgers star.

Cutting Rice upset a lot of fans, as he was a big part of the team for so long, and many questioned the Ravens for not sticking by him.

The situation helped prove one thing though: We don’t know athletes on a personal level and the lives that they lead anymore.

Back in the day, Colts great Johnny Unitas and Orioles legend Brooks Robinson actually lived in Baltimore during their careers. They not only lived in the city, but worked there in the offseason.

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These two stars would be seen walking around Baltimore all the time and were treated like normal citizens.

Robinson was actually known for his personality around Baltimore and was known to have a conversation with anyone that wanted to talk.

Those times have changed though, as most players on the Ravens and Orioles live elsewhere and aren’t as personable.

Sure, most of the players will do charity events, fan fests, etc., but you won’t see them walking around the streets of Baltimore.

Everyone has this image in their heads on how athletes are off the field and think they act the same as when they are seen on TV.

However, Ray Rice helped proved that we simply don’t know what goes on in an athlete’s life anymore.

Rice was shown as a good guy, doing multiple charitable events, leading anti-bullying talks, and never having offseason arrests.

Now Rice’s image has completely flip-flopped. He’s shown as a terrible person, who abused his fiancé, and is out of the NFL for now.

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Whether you think Rice is good person who made a mistake or if he’s a terrible person that finally got shown in the spotlight is beside the point.

The point is that we don’t know who these athletes are. We only what happens on the field and we get ideas in our heads on how they act.

The saddest thing about the Rice incident is realizing this fact. The era of personable Baltimore athletes like Robinson and Unitas is far gone and not coming back.

Ravens Week 1 Review

Tyler's BylineThe Ravens weren’t able to take care of business at home against the Bengals because of a few simple reasons.

If you think one of those reasons is because of Joe Flacco, then you’re wrong. Many fans seem to love using Flacco as a scapegoat for losses, but according to Pro Football Focus, Flacco had eight of his passes dropped by his receivers. That’s a big number.

Dropped passes are one of the bigger reasons the Ravens couldn’t come away with a win. The drops killed many drives, including a couple from Steve Smith and a key one by Jacoby Jones. It’s hard to get into an offensive rhythm when the ball isn’t being caught.

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Another negative from the games was the Ravens’ pass rush, which had zero sacks in the game. Andy Dalton was able to throw with ease during his drives and it allowed him to develop a comfortable chemistry with his receivers.

The biggest concern from this lack of a pass rush was from Elvis Dumervil, who only had one tackle. It’s only the first game of the season, but Baltimore needs a better performance from Dumervil if the team hopes to pressure quarterbacks in the future.

The final reason the Ravens lost was the secondary. There seemed to blown assignments all over the field, including one play that resulted in Giovanni Bernard breaking out a huge gain off a swing pass because there was no corner on the right side of the field.

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It didn’t help that Ladarius Webb was out of the game, and it seems like the Ravens won’t be able to rely on Chykie Brown in big roles.

There are obviously a lot of negative things that come out of losses, but there were a few positives that Baltimore fans should be excited about.

One of these positives was the bend-but-don’t-break defense that the Ravens put up. Even though the pass rush and secondary were lacking, the Ravens only gave up one touchdown in the game. The red-zone defense was impressive, which is what Baltimore fans like to see.

Another positive in the game was the emergence of Justin Forsett, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry. The Ravens have parted ways with Ray Rice and with Bernard Pierce looking slow, the team may have to rely on Forsett more. He ran hard, which is what you want to see from a running back.

It was a tough game to swallow, but it’s only the first game of the season and the Ravens still have a very good chance at winning this division.

Ravens Move on from Ray Rice

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Tyler's BylineIt’s a sad day to be a Baltimore Raven’s fan, as TMZ released a video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancé.

Everyone already knew that the Rice abused his spouse, but fans were willing to move on and accept them.

However, the video has come out of Rice giving his fiancé a left hook, which knocked her unconscious. Now forgiveness will be hard for Rice, as fans have seen just how bad the situation was.

The media and fans are now in uproar over the video and the Ravens are going to have to do some serious damage control soon. In fact, the best way for Harbaugh and the Ravens to save face to is to release Rice.

It seems like a dramatic thing to do, but it’s the right move for the Ravens. The backlash of allowing Rice to come back on the field and play for Baltimore will give the team a terrible reputation and it’s not something that Rice deserves.

It’s going to be a tough thing for the Ravens to do, but it’s the NFL’s fault for making Baltimore have to act. The Ravens would have had an easier decision had the NFL done its job by suspending Ray Rice for the season.

However, the NFL failed at doing the right thing and now it’s up to the Ravens to solve the issue.

No one should feel bad for the situation of cutting Rice though, as he’s the one who destroyed his career. Domestic violence is something that is inexcusable, disgusting and has no place for in this world.

The Ravens will be able to move on from this by cleaning their hands of Rice and moving forward with Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Talks of Rice’s decline were already beginning last season, but now the decline of his character is in full effect and it’s time to move.

It’s a sad way to end a career in Baltimore, but it’s for the best. Time to make a change.

Orioles Trade for De Aza and Johnson

Byline IanOver the weekend, the Baltimore Orioles made a couple of interesting trades. One makes a little more sense than the other. The first one happened while the Orioles were playing but did not include any major league players. The second one happened about 15 minutes after the game ended.

In the first trade, the Orioles acquired Alejandro De Aza from the White Sox for two minor league pitchers. The second trade involved Kelly Johnson. Johnson, who has played for every AL East team, was acquired with Michael Almanzar when the Orioles traded Jemile Weeks and Ivan De Jesus Jr to Boston.

Johnson will be useful as a backup infielder who has a power bat. The Orioles will now need that more than ever with Manny Machado being done for the season. He can also play three infield positions which can be useful come playoff time.

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More importantly, however, he can play second base. All year the Orioles’ second basemen have struggled offensively, with flashes of power, but have showed they can play really well defensively. Johnson can do both which will possibly give the Orioles a player who can be the everyday second baseman who is not overmatched with major league pitching.

The Johnson acquisition makes more sense than the De Aza acquisition. The Orioles have fewer players who are capable of playing more than one infield position. They have plenty of players who can play the outfield but are not that good at defense.

De Aza is a left handed hitter who can play all outfield positions, something all teams fighting for a playoff spot could use. This season the Orioles have struggled to find a left handed bat off the bench that could produce when called upon. De Aza fits the role the Orioles are looking for, something David Lough failed to do at the beginning of the year.

This season De Aza is hitting .243, has an on-base percentage of .309 and has 15 stolen bases, something the Orioles are lacking. De Aza is a viable upgrade to Lough. Lough is hitting just .226, though he had a good game Sunday when he went 3-for-5 and scored two runs, but only has seven stolen bases. Lough’s on base percentage is also lower than De Aza’s at .294.

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It is great to have a guy like De Aza come off the bench when you need a pinch hitter, if someone gets hurt or if you need a defensive replacement, but will he get any playing time? This season the Orioles have platooned the likes of Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, Nelson Cruz and David Lough as left fielders. Since Manny Machado’s injury, Pearce has primarily been playing first base while Chris Davis fills in at third.

If the Orioles wanted to, they could continue to use either Young or Cruz in left field and the other as the DH and then use Lough as a defensive replacement late in the game. Young and Cruz have been two of the best Orioles hitters this season. So where does that leave De Aza?

Lough, as mentioned, has not been one of the greatest of hitters this season but the Orioles seem to have the most depth for outfield positions than anything, not just in the minor leagues. Guys that have been on the major league roster all season are struggling to get playing time, the acquisition of De Aza seems like it will make things harder for them to get it.

Though, De Aza is able to give Nick Markakis and Adam Jones some breaks in the late part of games if the Orioles are winning comfortably or if they just need days off. Because Young and Pearce are not as good as defensively as Lough and De Aza are, the Orioles were not able to use them like the might use De Aza now.

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Do not get me wrong, I like the move. Every team needs help defensively off the bench and that is what De Aza can do. It is just a plus he can help offensively too.

I’m just curious to see how the Orioles will use him. Last season he hit .264 with the White Sox. All three of the Orioles outfielders have played more games than any other Oriole. Should De Aza play for Cruz or Jones or Markakis to have them rested for October? The answer is most likely yes but when should the Orioles rest them, now or at the end of the month?