Best Win -- There's no doubt about this one. The Ravens beating Seattle, soundly, was the biggest noisemaker of week #7. And it wasn't like they just had "one of those days" offensively. The previously maligned Baltimore defense stepped up with an improved performance and basically squelched Russell Wilson for the final 30 minutes of the game. Honorable Mention -- It's remarkable what the Saints have done without Brees. They haven't just "won" 5 games (and lost none), but here's who they've knocked off with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm. At Seattle, vs. Dallas, vs. Tampa Bay, at Jacksonville, at Chicago. That's impressive.
Worst Loss -- The Chargers had three chances to win the game in Nashville and couldn't get in the end zone from the 3-yard line. On three occasions. Of course, they *thought* they got in once until the officials got involved. But that was nearly a must-win for the boys in L.A. and they suffered a major loss instead. Honorable Mention -- It seems unfair to put the Bengals here, but you lost at home to the Jaguars. So, here's where you go. In the "worst loss" department of #DMD.
Best Team Performance -- The Cowboys put together a clinical performance in that 37-10 romp over Philadelphia on Sunday Night Football. They limited Carson Wentz to 191 yards in the air and the Eagles were only able to register 115 yards total on the ground. Prescott was solid and Zeke ran for 111 yards himself. The Cowboys are tough in their building. Honorable Mention -- This probably should go just to Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers put together an impressive afternoon of balanced football with a 42-24 win over Oakland. Rodgers had six touchdown throws. He's pretty good, I hear.
Most Impressive In Defeat -- They're winless, yes, but the Dolphins and Ryan Fitzpatrick gave the 5-1 Bills all they could handle on Sunday before bowing out gracefully at the end, 31-21. Miami's probably going to beat someone soon. Maybe the Steelers? Wouldn't that be something? Honorable Mention -- We looked long and hard for someone who put up a good fight and fell just short. We almost went with the Chargers until we realized they lost to Ryan Tannehill. This is a rare occasion where we'll leave the category blank, in honor of the Jets, who lost 33-0 last night at home to the Patriots one week after beating the Cowboys. What a league...
Team On The Hottest Seat In Week #8 -- It has to be the Falcons, right? They're 1-6, which pretty much means their season is over, but they're now playing for their coach's job, you would assume. They can't win on the road. And they can't win at home. The only problem? There's nowhere else to play. Honorable Mention -- For all the bluster about the Browns this season, they haven't done much of anything except beat a depleted Jets team and fluked their way to a win over the Ravens in Baltimore. If they're the real deal, let's see what happens next Sunday when they head to New England. Tall task, I know. But it's fun to put the heat on a team that talked their way to the Super Bowl back in July.
Best Game of Week #8 -- The Mahomes injury makes this one even more interesting. Green Bay at Kansas City should be a real doozy next Sunday night, although you know NBC is shattered at not having Rodgers vs. Mahomes in the prime time slot. Honorable Mention -- Well, somehow the Panthers vs. 49'ers game looks especially intriguing given Carolina's emergence under Kyle Allen and their 3-0 record on the road. And despite not having a great offense, the 49'ers are somehow 6-0.
Five Best Teams Through Week #7:
1. New England Patriots (last week, #1)
2. New Orleans Saints (#4)
3. Green Bay Packers (#2)
4. San Francisco 49'ers (#3)
5. Kansas City Chiefs (unranked)
Notes and Comments -- How about a mini-session of overrated and underrated to commemorate the upcoming halfway point of the schedule? Let's take five players and have at it, shall we?
Jimmy Garoppolo -- Overrated. They haven't lost yet, sure. But saying Jimmy G. is the reason why they're 6-0 is liking saying "But Trent Dilfer was a Super Bowl winning quarterback with the Ravens!"
Bobby Wagner -- Underrated. This guy will be in the Hall of Fame discussion someday, so perhaps it's unfair to call him "underrated". But we don't know much about him in these parts because we get to Seattle play 2-3 times a year, max. That dude is a beast.
Carson Wentz -- Overrated. Yeah, I know, he has a Super Bowl ring. Except...he didn't actually play in the three playoff games when they won the title. Ever since he returned, the Eagles have been average at best. I'm not seeing it.
Chris Godwin -- Underrated. Don't look now, but the Tampa Bay wide receiver is emerging as a legit pass catching threat. 662 yards on just 43 catches...with 6 TD's. If the Bucs get a real quarterback sometime in the future and can keep Mike Evans and Godwin together, watch out.
Pete Carroll -- Overrated. OK, so we'll evaluate four players and a coach. I'm not going to bring up the goal-line throw in the end zone a few years back that cost his team a title. I'll bring up that foolish decision to kick a 53 yard field goal in the rain in a 13-13 game when the other team's quarterback was clowning your defense on the ground. Go ahead, Pete, give Lamar that short field and see what happens. Nice...
Started writing: 7:55 pm
Stopped writing: 8:37 pm
There's no telling where this season is going to take the Ravens.
It's a week by week league. Back in week #4, the Ravens lost to the Browns and folks around town were trying to give their tickets away without much success. Yesterday, I called a bunch of hotels in the Fort Lauderdale area to see if they have any rooms available for Super Bowl week.
So...who knows what happens from here.
But we sure do know what happened on Sunday. Lamar Jackson established himself as a league MVP candidate with that performance in Seattle. And part of the game hinged on a crucial situation in the 4th quarter when the Ravens were faced with a 4th and 2 on the 8 yard line in a 13-13 game.
The obvious two choices were: Kick the automatic field goal and go up 16-13. Go for it on 4th and 2 and try and put an extra four points on the board by eventually getting into the end zone.
John Harbaugh -- smartly, on the road -- wanted to kick the field goal. It was the proper thing to do. That said, it would have marked the team's third unsuccessful red zone trip on the day. But Harbs knew -- particularly with the weather worsening -- that coming up empty there could have been a major blow. So, he called for the kicking team.
Lamar Jackson had other ideas.
And as you'll see in the video below (which was produced by and is the property of the Ravens, we should add), the coach let the student make the call. You can sum it up in one word: Trust.
Jackson wants to go for it. And Harbs says, "Go get 'em". When you have an extraordinary athlete like Lamar, you're more likely to pick up two than not. At least that's what the stat nerds and data will tell you. And the coach knows if they don't get it, he'll get the heat.
The best thing that Harbaugh did besides listen to Lamar? He and Greg Roman actually allowed their quarterback to make the play himself. Nothing fancy. Just one of those 8 yard touchdown runs that might have changed the Ravens' season.
Started writing: 5:04 am
Stopped writing: 5:15 am
George's time preparing video for presentation: 5 minutes
Total time spent: 16 minutes
1. Gerrit Cole will have one start where he goes less than five innings and gets nicked up for an unheard of (this season) five earned runs. He can't keep up this pace, even for just two more starts. Right? The bet here is that the Nationals get to him in Game 5 in D.C. next Sunday.
2. There will be a massive controversy in one of the games. It will likely involve -- you guessed it -- a botched call of some kind that can't be reviewed. While MLB umps aren't nearly as inconsistent as their NFL counterparts in the striped shirts, they're still on the hot seat in this World Series. It better go well for them. Unfortunately, we're thinking something's going to go wrong...big time.
3. Houston wins Game 1 behind Cole, 4-1. The Nationals trail Game 2, 3-0, heading to the top of the 9th, where they rally for 3 runs off of closer Roberto Osuna, then win it in the 11th inning on a Juan Soto home run.
4. The Nationals will be up 2-1 in the series and have a chance to extend it to 3-1, but Sean Doolittle will inherit a 6-3 lead in the 8th inning of Game 4 and give up a grand slam to Carlos Correa as the Astros pull off a near-miracle win, 7-6.
5. Max Scherzer pitches 2.1 innings in relief, allowing just one hit and striking out five, as the Nationals nip the Astros in Game 7 in Houston, 4-3, to win their first World Series. Scherzer is the Series MVP.
Started writing: 5:25 am
Stopped writing: 5:38 am
The "Skins Game" in Japan on Monday turned out to be better than I thought it would be. Yes, I'm one of the 345 goofs in the U.S. who stayed up until midnight on Sunday and watched it until 4 am on Monday morning. What can I say?
In case you missed it, Tiger, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama teed it up in a yuk-yuk format where they played for certain dollar amounts on each hole. It was a spin-off of the old "Skins Game" that used to be played over Thanksgiving Weekend back in the 1990's. In those days, they'd get old stick in the mud Nicklaus out of his mansion down in Florida and bring him out to California for a few days where he'd pleasantly have to remind Lee Trevino that he had six green jackets and Lee never managed to win one.
Over the years the event got to be a lot of fun. A putt here and there for $50,000 would make things interesting and the banter between the players was unique and interesting.
But once Tiger came along and TOUR purses tripled within a decade, no one really need to play in the event. So, it died off.
With Japan hosting the Zozo Classic this week and a strong field showing up to try and cash in, tournament organizers brought those four to town a few days early for the Monday Skins Game. Woods and Rory were natural selections. They're the two most popular golfers in the world. Jason Day was a good choice, too. As we would find out, Matsuyama...not so much.
Day "won" the event with $210,000 worth of holes won. Tiger and Rory were next at $60,000.
Poor Matsuyama, who didn't understand half the jokes the guys were telling, claimed a measley $20,000.
All in all, it was worth watching. The golf was decent enough, especially on the back nine once everyone got loose and the per-hole money totals made it really worth deciding if it was a hard eight iron from 185 or a soft seven iron.
Day drove the ball great. He looks healthy and ready to go after battling a back injury throughout a lot of 2018 and 2019.
Tiger, playing in front of people for the first time since his late August knee surgery, looked good as well, particularly on the incoming nine.
Rory was his usual self...hitting great drives, leaving wedges 30 feet short, laughing at some of Tiger's dumb jokes, and realizing how fortunate he is to have grown up on the heels of Woods' career, where everyone still gets to buy an extra house in Madrid because of the impact Tiger had one the game circa 2005.
But poor Matsuyama. He was there because he had to be there, of course. He was the event's "unofficial host" (as the woman on the first tee called him) and never really looked all that comfortable. He's a terrific player. But that format just didn't fit his personality very well.
There's already talk of next year's event. I say bring those three back, tell Hideki to buy it on pay-per-view, and add Brooks Koepka to the list. I imagine he's a fairly sharp needler, especially if McIlroy continues to plod along without a major championship between now and then.
Started writing: 5:49 am
Stopped writing: 6:13 am
Paused for 2.5 minutes to get a cup of coffee
|Vince October 22|
The Pats haven’t played a good team yet.
They may not look as good when they finally do.
This is the only sports website I visit on a daily basis.
I do it because I like it better than the rest.
There’s nothing stopping any of you from starting your own blog/website/podcast.
You should stay out of the comments section and start your own as soon as possible.
I’ll still only visit this one every day.
Keep up the good work Drew, when you have success in life, there will always be those to criticize.
|Some guy October 22|
|I'm with @KF, @Sybil had me chuckling on the head on that one, well done right there. Some of y'all need to take the lighten up approach ala @Sybil. Bravo indeed!|
|Predictions October 22|
|1. We do not see Brady, he gets hurt by the dangerous Myles Garrett this week.
2. Myles Garrett is executed by Firing Squad the following week in an a speedy Roger G. trial and sentence.
|HERMAN October 22|
|Fact : Through almost half-a-season the Patriots are allowing less than a touchdown a game. 6.9 points.
Opinion : For a team heralded for offense under the great Tom Brady this kind of defensive performance should be worrisome for every AFC team.
Fact : Through 1/2 their road games the Patriots are undefeated on the road. 4-0.
Opinion : Division games left with the bills and Miami put them at 9-0. Even a 3-3 record in the rest puts them at home field advantage for the entire playoffs.
Fact : The Pats lead the league in points scored at over 31 a game.
Opinion : Whether it's KC, Baltimore, or even a surprise Texans team, it's all going to come down to a cold and dreary night game in NE in late January, where watching Edelman run crossing routes ten yards in front of a wide bodied linebacker and turning upfield for 22 yard gains as Brady is untouched for six seconds at a time, tears will be shed in the old road hometown.
|KJ October 22|
That is A quality TROLLING....Bravo
|Sybil October 22|
I have 16 different personas in the comment section, not one of those personalities ever gets their feelings hurt.
Name Calling is for losers...or winners...or anything you want it to be.
it's all in how you view things.
As the Avett Brothers sing,
"there is a darkness upon me that's flooded in light"
2 of the personalities are radio station plants.
6 of the personalities get paid by Drew to stir up the comments section.
5 are completely insane.
2 just write things when they get bored.
And the last one is Monk.
|Dr. Braino October 22|
|The reality is that all commenters here seem to get feelings hurt, not just SOD. Those who do the criticizing are also thin skinned about getting called out. I think it's fair to point that out too.|
|Grand Anse October 22|
|There was a Glen Burnie High School kid who graduated a few years before Drew who was in Medical School in Grenada in 1983. I talked w/him years later. When the Marines landed and pushed their way onto the campus and barged in saying "We are here to rescue you"....the Glen Burnie kid said "From What, I have an exam tomorrow''. The students knew little about what was going on. And that kid's first name was DREW as well. EERIE.
The SOD is the Marines in Grenada. They are attempting rescues where none are needed.
And make no mistake, today's well crafted, lengthy and good contribution is a direct result of yesterday's comments.
And SOD solutions? Let's limit the clicks. Not a great plan.
|out of the fray October 22|
|Wow, just wow. The poor SOD seem the ones with the hurt feelings here, good gracious, yesterday was yesterday, can SOD ever move on?
My singular opinion was today’s column had much better content than yesterday. As someone likes to point out from time to time, pretty hard for any of us to do the “best work of our career” EVERY SINGLE DAY. In fact, only one person on this planet narcissistic enough to believe that. But regardless, today’s content might have been good enough to get a C+ from The Great Mike Preston.
I’m with @MFC (which doesn’t happen often BTW!), not sure why “time to compose” the content matters. Truthfully, not sure that was the main point of any of yesterday’s critics, but for some bizarre reason, many have latched onto that – even the site owner.
As for restricting comments, that seems so Trumpian does it not? People say something we don’t like, ban them! I give @Drew a ton of credit for just letting people post what they want – unless profane or clearly inappropriate, it gets left alone.
The notion that if someone says “hey today’s column was pretty weak” ruins the whole web site is beyond inane. Thank goodness @Drew is not as sensitive as the SOD. Comments draw clicks, I know I come back often to see new posts, why would this not be a good thing?
In a perverse kind of way, I think I enjoy the hurt feelings posts, from an unintentional comedy standpoint, so I am actually kind of glad the SOD is not scared off by their many critics. I mean commenters seem way more offended than Drew and he is the one who is getting criticized (and only occasionally, if that). So I take back my first comment, please SOD, stay on that high horse of yours, even if it is a dead high horse!
And thanks to our host for believing in freedom of speech.
|DJ October 22|
|I know you only list the top 5 but I assume Ravens are no. 6 on your list?|
|Neutral Observer October 22|
|What were the actual ratings for the Skins Game? If it was on from 12 AM to 4 AM as you say, you might be right about only 345 people watching it!|
|Brian October 22|
|Thin skin? You guys shit on him almost every day for something, whether it's about Tiger Woods or the Orioles or the fact he likes the Ravens. He responds to your silly comments from yesterday about how long it took to write a story and you get butt hurt and call him thin skin? I can't believe he doesn't jab back more often. Every day the same people come here with their stupid nicknames and bash him about something. I agree with the guy who said he should charge $$ for commenting. Open up an account and every comment you write is a quarter. Then we'll see how active you are in the comment section.|
|mike from catonsville October 22|
|Funny as all get out today.
I have suggested in the past that DF take a day off here and there to recharge but Ripkens record is in sight and it's taken on a life of it's own. Best thing would be to stop the streak and recharge. No disgrace in that.
Will still visit daily as I enjoy all of the posts and don't give a dam how long anything takes. Never understood the "lazy' comments directed at the former boss boss to each his own or her own. In all walks of life people complete things in different timelines. Some can work and accomplish things in much lass time than others. Who cares if it takes 2 hours or 30 minutes? The lords prayer is spoken in about 45 seconds and defines christianity.
|Rich October 22|
|LOL @Ham Operator. Dumb post of the day material. Congratulations.|
|Blue Tee Golfer October 22|
|Drew wrote: "Rory was his usual self...hitting great drives, leaving wedges 30 feet short, laughing at some of Tiger's dumb jokes, and realizing how fortunate he is to have grown up on the heels of Woods' career, where everyone still gets to buy an extra house in Madrid because of the impact Tiger had one the game circa 2005."
Ain't that the truth? Without T-Dub these guys would still be playing for a $244,000 winner's check every week instead of $950,000.
|ham operator October 22|
|There is a solution to this quality flap and I will say, today was good, the last month? NOPE, seems that thin skinned owner took the criticism to heart. Sponsors react, length and breadth of column increases.
All that is needed is to just state at the end of every submission. THIS IS THE BEST WORK OF MY CAREER. It is a win win situation, everyday is the best work and it will be better than tomorrow. It is a con job, but it could work.
|Tim October 22|
|I also had to LOL when I saw the "started writing" and "stopped writing" addendums. I guess I have a sense of humor.|
|Dr. Braino October 22|
|Boy... someone a little thin-skinned with the "trolls", huh? LOL!
Started writing at 10:10 am
Stopped writing at 10:10 am
|Day One Reader October 22|
|This site is interesting if nothing else.
Yesterday a bunch of people lashed out at Drew for the lack of quality (their opinions) content and the fact it took 30 minutes to put the website together (their opinions).
Today he publishes four unique stories (all of which I thought were interesting and I don't really like golf at all but do remember the skin's game being important) and has a really good day of content (my opinion) and the only thing people harp on was his timing of the articles, which was clearly a way to poke the bear a little bit.
Can't you guys just for once say "today was a good day" and leave it at that instead of complaining? I'm sure he would appreciate one day where you all weren't on his case about something trivial.
Just my thoughts. Been here since day one, although I don't make it here every single day. Had to go back to yesterday (missed it) and see what the uproar was about.
|Brett B October 22|
|Hey Drew. An idea for the comments section. Make it a paid feature of the website. It'll generate some fabulous revenue since most commentators here fancy themselves professional and need to get their voices heard. You could quickly put The Athletic under.|
|James October 22|
|Awwwww. DF hurt the snowflake's feelings. Talk about thin skin.|
|JohnInEssex October 22|
|As I inched toward the bottom of the first segment, was wondering how long it took to write, and lo and behold, there was a start and stop time posted! Had to LOL at that one!|
|Readers block October 22|
Right on the critics, wrong on the Offense. 2nd in the league in PPG. Dynamic offense. Kicking field goals is scoring. And since each game is its own story, scoring 16 in a game is sometimes enough. It matters little, the only thing you need is to score more that day than the other team. It has nothing to do with settling for FG's. Just score more. And no matter what experts say, defensive scoring relies more on luck than anything else. That Wilson was deked by Peters and Marlon picked up a ball that a guy dropped is just happenstance. They were the better team and had the better player at QB that day.
The water that was served at Hart Rd has long lasting effect. It makes for a new ailment. Terminal Thin Skin Syndrome[TTSS]. Good lord, timing the writing? To prove what? Any sane person knows that running an operation like this is time consuming. Lining up and keeping sponsors. Scouring for new blood, answering E-Mails and worrying that any sponsor could bail? All are major concerns. BUT I would agree with Herman and many others, the effort has been poor for at least a month. Content is why we are here, all want to see the quality that DMD has been pumping out regularly...but it hasn't been there and it appears that other concerns have far outweighed the content side. And I will say it again, Mondays contribution was very low effort. It packaged up tweets from the day before and little else. And from what was reported today...Drew did yesterdays column in 6 minutes not 30.
There is a cure for TTSS.....work harder and earn back the trust factor for quality content.
|J.j. October 22|
|Drew trolling the trolls made my morning!|
|unitastoberry October 22|
|Yeah let the celebration end... take a few days off and try to figure out how to put 30 up on NE.|
|HERMAN October 22|
|Take a breath people. Lamar was impressive at times on Sunday but he put up a grand total of 16 points. One TD out of 4 scores isn't going to cut it against NE. Settle for field goals in the big games you'll settle for a loss. Absent Lamar demanding to get a fourth down chance, the play shown above, they'd have been 4/4 on field goals. They had the field goal team on the field.
Dial it all back a bit.
Lamar made some incredible plays to keep us in the game, keep the O alive. He is electric, must-see-TV, the most entertaining player in the league.
But the D put up 14 for us on Sunday. And those scores were timely, and we needed them.
Lamar is heading toward all-world for sure, but the O Coordinator better figure out how to score more than 16 with him, or all this hype will lead to a crushing defeat later this season.
And.......And I'm gonna get destroyed for saying this, but mocking the criticism here with time durations doesn't address the fact it's been a weak effort the past month or so. A lost focus. Formulaic. Could use some new punch. Still the best site out there, but somewhere around Poppy Hills things got weak.
|Chris in Bel Air October 22|
|NFL prime time games? Overrated. That's twice now the Jets have been embarrassed in prime time. Giants have one also. Skins had one and they are playing another Thurs night against Minn. Browns have also had two already (although they beat the hapless Jets). This is how the NFL wants to market itself? It's a poor product. Another reason to ditch Thurs games (Monday is a tradition at this point). There just aren't enough good teams to showcase 6 teams each week.
After hearing Lamar plead his case, I heard Yanda lobbied to go for it on 4th down too. Says a lot when Yanda gets behind his young QB and the coach trusts his players to execute.
|eric October 22|
|Come on DJ, nobody takes Mikey Bag O Donuts seriously. He's the Jerry Coleman of the newspaper industry. Shocking that the industry is tanking right? I see NE just overpaid for M Sanu. Why? Title is already wrapped up, just overkill at this point|
|GK October 21|
|Lamar is the fastest guy. When Andrews kept dropping everything, Lamar then did his best Paul Crewe imitation and starting running through the Seahawks, but that was not movie magic.
On the Peters interception, a really fast guy had an angle on him and couldn't catch him. Wilson is fast. Lamar probably would have tackled Peters on the 30. I almost want to see him chase down a interception from behind. He is so competitive we might see his top line speed, which obviously is way faster than everyone.
And all of the same analysis. Can't maintain this type of offense, he is going to get hurt. Bobby Wagner said it best. He is one of one. All of the lazy takes that he cant do it long term are off. There is and has never been anyone like him when it comes to speed. Just look at the film, he is moving so much faster.
|DJ October 21|
|Mike Preston gave Lamar a C+ for yesterday's performance. Was he watching the same football game we watched?|
|long time observer October 21|
|A commenter asks for maturity and he is quickly bashed as a “lib”, how perfect is that!
BTW, I am over 50 and don’t tweet, but you know, you can read comments on twitter like you can any old web site, you don’t need to be “on “ twitter.
That said, if DMD reposts his twitter comments, I see no harm in that. Some might call it “mailing it in”, but to others its fresh content, both are just opinions.
As always, David’s article was strong today, his contributions remain the best available on this site.
Speaking of which, did @Brien’s contract expire? More David, no @Brien, both big content upgrades if you ask me.
|George October 21|
|@Michael Creese -- I do some of Drew's IT work for the site. When he decided to put in a Comments section a few years ago, I found a freelance coder to build it, an Indian guy named Sri who works in IT for the New Delhi Airport. He did a good job for the price we could pay. It didn't include machinery for requiring user-ID confirmation.
I talked to other publications about their Comments sections. The guy at the NY Times said even if you did spend the outrageous cost of having such a confirmation system, the idiots would easily figure a way around it. The only sure way to keep the goofs off is to moderate, and they have people on staff, three shifts a day, seven days a week, who do just that. I don't think DF has the budget (yet) for four full-time employees , with one working a double shift.
As a reader myself, I love the Comments section, and don't get overly upset with the trolls. I think they're pathetic, but sometimes in cute sorts of ways.
|Vince October 21|
I get questioning not leaving Ingram in inside the 10, but the box is stacked by default in that part of the field and you’ve become predictable. I would much rather see different plays called out of the same grouping rather than a clear “pass” grouping come in the game. I’ve seen it a lot in the red zone this year. Yes they need to execute but good offenses put the players in position to be successful and we didn’t yesterday other than 8 making a play. I think it was a little frustration on his part with the calls the previous 3 plays. Obviously he gets it, they haven’t stopped me all day, please don’t ask me to throw it to Andrews again. I have to say I was very skeptical of Lamar even after the playoff run last year. The kid is a baller like the one in New England, just in his own way.
|Clock Watcher October 21|
|Just for kicks I just typed out David's "story" today. It took me 12 minutes to do.
I can't believe David didn't put any effort into his story either.
|BO October 21|
|Some of you need to get a life.|
|Tom October 21|
|I thought today's Dish was among the best of the football season so far. Not seeing what all the griping is about. Drew gave a great description of the game and David came through with his usual good stuff.|
|G-Man October 21|
|Ummm, Pete Carroll was a buffoon for trying to kick that FG yesterday. What's wrong with calling it like it is? Or can't the Libs here handle that?|
|Neutral Observer October 21|
|I'm as neutral as they come (hence the nickname) and more closely with Drew's age than not. I don't do Twitter. I haven't been on Facebook in 10 years. I have no idea what was posted on Twitter so if these thoughts are regurgitated from yesterday what's the harm in that?
Is it just assumed that everyone in the world Twitters? I don't and I'm guessing a lot of people in my age group (over 50) don't as well.
I found nearly all of Drew's 30 points to be well thought out and worthy of discussion and banter. Instead of doing that a large number of you would rather just beat him up for reposting his social media work.
I don't know Drew personally. Met him once at a work related function where he spoke to a group of us. But this constant badgering of him seems to be a bit over the top. Just my .02, as always. I remain "neutral".
|Alias Smith and Jones October 21|
Right on. I'd add this. We know he can do better work, but this is not his best effort. The kid is in a slump. Maybe he needs to spend more time at the facility or have a more gung-ho attitude or study more film.
@Anon DMD Reader
No one gets run over by the SOD, few[if any] would ever cop to being in the club. They are troll busters, by trolling the trollers.
|Nick lowe October 21|
|And so it goes and so it goes. but where its going, no one knows.
The trolls blast, the SOD defends by calling troll, thereby emulating and copying troll behavior by trolling the trolls and call out the sub trollers. It never ends.
I'd prefer people to really read the first post[or starter troll] of Readers Block.
It is true that the column is yesterdays tweets during the Ravens game.
It is true that the last few weeks have been fairly light in content in terms of number of contributions in totality.
It is true that this is what the owner does for a living, he writes daily columns of various interests and it tilts heavily to the Ravens during the season.
It is true that the number of columnists has been light.
It is true that a site like this is driven by number of clicks and length of time spent on the site.
And I will still contend that those that criticize the site are actually positive. That they take the time to point out realities and contribute is a good thing. No one needs SOD types to populate and constant praise makes you think that you can do no wrong.
Refute what Reader Block says.
He might be right. This is a great gig for Drew, he can spend less than 30 minutes/day on content and that satisfies his readership.
I guess some are looking for a bit more effort. There can be no doubt that the last couple of weeks has been LIGHT, very light in content. And today's rehash of yesterdays tweets is pretty low effort.
Facts are stubborn things. But if it is enough, carry on.
|Anonymous DMD Reader October 21|
|Wilson choked, Brown is soft, Pete Carroll is a buffoon. And you know if Jackson “talked Harbs into it” and it failed, Harbs would not get the “nice call coach”, he’d be a buffoon too for listening to “an emotional player” instead of “putting points on the board”.
Also love how Ravens went from a “just a good team, not great” to “battling for the #1 seed” After. One. Game.
And BTW, Roch Kubatko wrote about Fan Fest on MASN.com, the whole “sources have told DMD” sounds a little LF-esque.
There are just my comments on some of the DMD opinions and insights published today, hope that is allowed and I am not called a Troll, or any other number of names being thrown out here today.
While the above could be construed as negative, I assure all the loyalists I find much of much Drew writes to be enjoyable, it’s why I read daily.
But it gets old that whenever anyone dare utter a criticism they get run over by the SOD. My favorite is “definitely a plant from the radio station”. Does someone really think that would even make any sense at all?
Forget using real names, how about we simply accept differences of opinion with more maturity? Trolls exist, but usually it’s because people allow themselves to be upset by something that differs from their own view, then they take the bait and boom, we have conflict.
If y’all just read these comments and moved on, there’d be much less angst out here. If you want to counter negative views, try posting your own positive views instead of attacking those who see things differently. That seems pretty simple to me.
|Troll Detector October 21|
|DMD is in troll overload today. Griping about how long it takes someone to write a column is SUPER TROLL MATERIAL!!|
|mike from catonsville October 21|
|The "time element" , I believe, grew from the unfair, negative comments for 5 years about the former boss and laziness.
DF never ever partaked in those discussions except to say he'd like it to stop. He always took the high road.
|Michael Creese October 21|
|A lot of these chickens**t comments wouldn't be here if @Drew would just make people register their comments with their real names.
The keyboard warriors would become keyboard cowards overnight.
I don't know why he won't do it.
|Skyhawk October 21|
|KJ had the second dumbest comment All of you must work for the DNC What????|
|SOD Proud! October 21|
|I love Drew's and all of the writer's contributions to this site! Drew said it looks like the Ravens will win 11 games, and I agree. Although I also agree with Drew that they could lose their next 3 games.
I don't care what anyone says, I always enjoy Drew's writing, especially when I can read it in Tweets during the game, then reread again the next morning here at DMD!
|Chris October 21|
|Have to agree that the whole "it only took 30 minutes to write" objection is really dumb. What's it matter?|
|What Drew Wants To Say October 21|
|Who cares how long it takes him to write his story? What's wrong with you jerks? The team wins a huge game and he devotes 30 points to it and the best you asshats can do is question how long it took him to write it? How long did it take David to write his column? Who cares? Just go away please. Don't pass go. Do not collect your $200.00. Just leave.|
|Chris in Bel Air October 21|
|The key plays Drew mentioned were certainly key factors. For me, the defining play was, 3rd & 8 at Balt 12 yd line, 11:20 remaining in the 4th, Ravens lead 20-13. Lamar scrambles 30 yards and a first down. Back breaker for Seattle as Ravens go on to get a FG and a 10 point lead. Most teams in that situation are not able to dig out and end up punting the ball back to the other team. Lamar's running ability is phenomenal. His passing skills still need to improve but he certainly deserves to be mentioned in the MVP discussion.
Drew says "There might not be many really good rush ends available when the Ravens pick at #32 next April, but that's obviously where they should be looking." Is he saying what I think he's saying? That's getting a little ahead of ourselves at this point. I'm still waiting to see them navigate the stretch against NE, Cincy, Hou, LA, SF before I can assess. Yesterday's win is certainly a great step forward.
It is nit-picky but I agree with @Herman. They were gashing the Seattle D and then get inside the 10 and get cute. Why? Seattle was gassed. Just pound the ball in.
That Altuve is something else. What a player.
|Skyhawk October 21|
|Hey Blockhead, the vast majority of people who visit this site every day love the content so I think it is you who has a bad case of writers block|
1. Lamar Jackson is, somewhat officially, now in the discussion as league MVP at the 7-week mark of the season. Not saying it's his to lose or anything that over-the-top, but certainly he must be among those discussed at this point. He's as valuable to the Ravens as Mahomes is to the Chiefs. Or Wilson is to the Seahawks.
2. Yesterday's game hinged "open" for the Ravens on 3 critical plays. The Marcus Peters pick 6, the idiotic decision by Pete Carroll to attempt a 53-yard field goal, and the 3rd and 15, thirteen yard scamper by Jackson that set up the 4th and 2 from the 8-yard line, where he ran into the end zone for the score that put the Ravens up for good.
3. Much was made of the day Mark Andrews had. It wasn't good. Everyone drops a ball or two occasionally. It was only the third one that "looked" bad, as the 2nd year tight end short-armed one across the middle. My guess is he won't have many days like that in his career. But yesterday was a real stinker.
4. The win in Seattle goes a long way towards proving that the Ravens' home loss to Cleveland was really a fluke. It was just one of those days each season where everything the other guy does just pans out for them and you're swimming upstream most of the game.
5. L.J. Fort has been very impressive over the last few weeks. The Ravens were having some serious ILB issues earlier in the season (see: Cleveland loss) but Fort has stepped in and done more than an adequate job. At some point yesterday, a friend probably texted Patrick Onwuasor and asked, "Have you ever heard of Wally Pipp?"
6. Russell Wilson wasn't the same quarterback after that horrible flat-footed throw that Peters picked off and returned for a TD. You don't often see veteran QB's turtle up like that after a mistake, but Wilson was done for the day after that miscue.
7. Baltimore's win in Seattle now means Cleveland (2-4) will likely have to win at least 10 games (including beating the Ravens again) in order to have a shot at the division title. The Ravens -- at 5-2 -- seem very likely to win at least 10 games given their remaining schedule.
8. Brandon Williams getting shifted into more of a nose tackle role in the second half of Sunday's game seemed to be a nice change of pace for him and the defensive line. Williams ventured into the backfield on numerous occasions and chased Russell Wilson around twice on the same series. A nice halftime adjustment there from Wink Martindale.
9. The Ravens will be faced with an interesting situation when Jimmy Smith is set to return. Does he have any trade value given his current injury situation? Where do you play him when he returns? How is Marcus Peters impacted by Smith's return?
10. This was really Lamar's "coming out" game in the NFL. He engineered a nice road win last December at L.A. against the Chargers, but there were 25,000 people in the building that night and half of them were Ravens fans. This was a road win in Seattle, one of the toughest opposing buildings in the NFL, if not all of sports. Jackson outplayed Russell Wilson by a mile. In his barn. Lamar arrived, officially, on Sunday in Seattle.
11. The absence of Hollywood Brown for the second straight game has to be a little concerning. It appeared in training camp he might be soft/injury prone. The early regular season returns on his toughness aren't exactly positive.
12. What on earth was Pete Carroll thinking about when he authorized that 53-yard field goal attempt, in the pouring rain, with the score tied at 13-13? Buffoon alert. From the Baltimore 35, on 4th and 3, at home, you either go for it there or pooch punt it and try and dump the Ravens deep in their own territory. A 53-yard field goal on a decent day is one thing. A 53-yarder in the rain? Amateur hour decision by Carroll.
13. Harbaugh's big gamble on 4th and 2 from the 8-yard line wasn't actually John's "gamble" at all. Jackson came to the sideline and implored Harbaugh to let him get the two yards and John -- like a good coach would do -- relented and let Jackson do his thing. Afterwards he said had it been 4th and 3 he would have overruled him, but felt 4th and 2 was worth the gamble. Nice call, coach.
14. Yesterday's win in Seattle makes it into the top five of regular season road wins in John Harbaugh's Ravens' tenure. Torrey in the last 30 seconds in Pittsburgh. The win at Dallas to close out the old Texas Stadium. 4th and 29 in San Diego. Beating Drew Brees in New Orleans. Those were all big. But that win yesterday was as good -- and important, potentially -- as any of those.
15. The final was 30-16. Imagine what happens if the Ravens cash in on those two first half red zone trips that made it a 7-6 Seattle lead instead of a 14-7 Baltimore advantage. The game wasn't really as close as 30-16 would indicate, actually.
16. If Pernell McPhee's injury is serious, the Ravens will need to find someone else to come in and replace him. He's been very good in the team's run defense scheme. Will they just give the job to Jaylon Ferguson or try and make a trade or sign a veteran FA? Ferguson had some bright moments yesterday, but he was also pushed around a lot in the second half. McPhee will be hard to replace in the team's run defense.
17. A win before the bye, especially a massive road victory like the one we saw yesterday, does wonders for a team's mental health. The players will likely get 5 days off (Wednesday through Sunday) this week and they can fully enjoy their time away from football without really having to concern themselves with their record or recent play. They're 5-2 and just beat one of the league's best teams.
18. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and I'm still here, still writing it now. Lamar has "it". He's a winner. His athleticism makes him a threat on every play. He's Michael Vick with more size and strength. Jackson has now played 15 games and realistically only one team shut him down completely (Chargers in the playoffs).
19. Just for kicks and giggles. What if the Browns show up against the Patriots with their chakras in line and beat New England? And the Ravens do the same thing the following week in Baltimore? The two teams are now 6-2 at the halfway point but the Ravens would hold the tiebreaker edge. Is it out of the question that John Harbaugh's team winds up as the #1 seed in the AFC?
20. Marlon Humphrey had a terrible first half on Sunday, but acquitted himself better in the final 30 minutes and, of course, saved his day with the scoop-and-run TD scamper late in the game. Good move getting both feet back in bounds before picking up that loose ball. Who knows if he really knew the rules or not...either way, it was the smart thing to do.
21. It will be interesting to see what that performance does to Russell Wilson next Sunday when the Seahawks visit Atlanta. Does he bounce back against a terrible Falcons defense or will it take a couple of games for Wilson to recover from one of his worst outings in recent memory?
22. Here's betting that Bill Belichick doesn't wait until Monday, 10/28 to start scouting Lamar and the Baltimore offense. I bet he has someone on his staff doing a week's worth of advance work this week while everyone else continues to prepare for the Browns.
23. Because this is what we do: The Ravens' final 9 games look like this: vs. New England, at Cincinnati, vs. Houston, at L.A. Rams, vs. San Francisco, at Buffalo, vs. NY Jets, at Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh. Sure looks like at least 11 wins to me. Maybe even 12 if things bounce their way. You?
24. Lamar is 11-4 in his brief career. His losses were at home to Cleveland and L.A. in the playoffs -- and two regular season defeats at Kansas City. Remarkable, right? He hasn't lost a road game in any stadium except Kansas City. Lamar has won in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta and Los Angeles, among others.
25. The Browns loss really seemed to trigger something in the Ravens front office, even if it now turns out that game was obviously somewhat of a fluke. They reacted by letting Tim Williams go, for starters, and eventually pawned Kenny Young off on the Rams for Marcus Peters. Maybe those two moves served as wake-up calls for a defensive unit that was mostly mediocre throughout the first six games.
26. Ravens fans now officially know what's it like to be a fan in Green Bay, New England and New Orleans over the last decade. If *something* happens to Lamar, the season's over. Same in Green Bay, same in New England, and it would have been the same in New Orleans if not for the fact that they had a more-than-capable back-up in Teddy Bridgewater to take over when Brees got hurt. If Jackson goes down due to injury, it's night-night on the season. I guess it was that way when Flacco was here, too, but this *feels* different in that Jackson is playing, right now, at a higher level than Joe ever did in the regular season.
27. Earl Thomas wanted that one on Sunday. It was very personal to him. Some athletes can close out a run in a city and go to a new place without having to "prove themselves" to their old employer. Thomas couldn't do that. He had to have a "prove it game" on Sunday and he did just that.
28. There might not be many really good rush ends available when the Ravens pick at #32 next April, but that's obviously where they should be looking.
29. Say what you will about Harbaugh and his coaching. I'm a fan, obviously, so this is easier for me to say. Very, very, very rarely are his teams not in the football game at some point in the 4th quarter. Look back through his 12 years here and find me more than 12 games where they were completely out of the game before the 3rd quarter ended.
30. The NFL is nuts. There's no way of knowing from week to week what's going to happen. The Ravens could lose their next three games and I'd say, "Yeah, that's not a shock."
"The Keen Eye" of
|DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.|
Sunday, 2:07 pm…
The condition of the turf at FedExField in Prince George’s County is not up to the standard of an NFL franchise or an NFL game. Has the Washington-area football team not spent the requisite money or done the research on drainage technology? Was there no ability to cover all or part of the field until absolutely necessary? Neither would be surprising, of course, considering the owner.
The Ravens played each of their first two home games last year, against Buffalo and Denver, in the rain on a natural-grass field. Like yesterday, it had rained throughout the morning before the game on both days. The field at M&T Bank Stadium looked nothing like the one in Landover.
It’s easy to look at a field like that and harken back to Soldier Field in the 60s or Memorial Stadium in the 70s. Football! Mud! What’s a forward pass? Three yards and a cloud of, well, not dust, but you know what I mean. And that’s fine…bad weather has always had an effect on NFL games.
At some point, however, a team ought to be protecting its own players when it comes to field conditions over which it has some control. And the fact is that, while a team can’t stop it from raining, it can make certain modern investments.
Sunday, 3:15 pm…
Then there’s Lambeau Field, located in a city of slightly more than 100,000 people 120 miles north of Milwaukee. For comparison purposes, the population of Prince George’s County itself is more than eight times that.
Despite that fact…did you know that Lambeau is currently the third-largest stadium in the NFL by seating capacity? Only MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and the aforementioned FedExField seat more, though Dan Snyder has started to close off some seats in the upper deck, from what I understand.
It’s gotta really burn ol’ Jerry Jones that his palace in Arlington now ranks behind the old stadium in Green Bay after the most recent renovations there.
For some reason, I feel like I haven’t watched too many 1:00 ET games from Lambeau on beautiful and sunny October days like today. It felt weird, as if the game wasn’t being played in northern Wisconsin at all. Still, I bet the 81,000 in attendance on Sunday were taking advantage of the weather before a certain early winter hits up there.
Lambeau, by the way, has for many years had a wonderful sub-surface system for games which otherwise might be played on a frozen…um…tundra. I bet the fans up there are quite happy Dan Snyder doesn’t own the team, for that reason and a few others.
Sunday, 4:25 pm…
Back in 2012, Jon Gruden was on ESPN, not coaching the Raiders at Lambeau Field. And he said the following about Russell Wilson, about to hit the field against the Ravens. “The only issue with Wilson is his height. That’s the only reason he won’t be picked in the first couple rounds.”
And so he wasn’t…having to wait until the third round (75th pick) before he was chosen by Seattle that year. And now, he’s a pretty scary proposition for opposing fans, especially ones that only see him every four years.
It’s easy to forget that Wilson, despite falling to the third round, was a controversial choice. Just a few weeks before the draft, the Seahawks signed free agent Matt Flynn to be their starting quarterback. That was sort of controversial too, I suppose, since the signing basically came because of one game, on New Year’s Day 2012, when Flynn started a meaningless game for Aaron Rodgers and threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns, both Packers’ records.
Wilson, thanks to a $140 million contract extension signed in April, is currently the highest-paid player in the NFL. You can debate whether that should be the case, and I’m sure it won’t be the case for long. But the Seahawks sure were lucky the kid was too short to star in the NFL.
Sunday, 5:56 pm…
Back to only seeing the Seahawks once in a while...they’re really similar to the Ravens in the way they want to play offense, at least anecdotally.
Obviously, the quarterback for each team allows coordinators some flexibility in play calling that some teams might not possess. There’s always a chance for something spectacular from the quarterback besides just a great throw.
Really, though, it just seems like a mentality. It’s not so much the cliché of wanting to run the ball a lot, which many teams would say. And it’s not so much the potential trickery of “option” football, which the Seahawks have too. By the way, how about that actual triple (kinda) option play the Ravens ran with Willie Snead in the second quarter?
Basically, each team is just going to do whatever is working that day, even if it wasn’t what they wanted to do when the game started. They’re trying to win one play…one set of downs…one game, whether it comes from their “system” or somewhere else.
Pete Carroll may be a bit more famous than John Harbaugh — what with the national championships and all the stars at USC — but they seem incredibly similar to me, at least during the game. They are looking to lead and motivate, and looking for their players to figure out what to do.
Sunday, 7:32 pm...
What did we learn, besides the fact that the Marcus Peters trade is already paid for, so to speak? Oh, and let’s not forget that Marlon Humphrey seems pretty good at picking up fumbles off the ground…
First thing…the Ravens were struggling on offense. A quarterback of Lamar Jackson’s limited experience could have let that get to him, in particular Mark Andrews’ ridiculous foibles. Instead, Jackson went ahead and won the game for his team. In fact, it looked like he convinced John Harbaugh that he would win the game right there on fourth-and-two. And he basically did!
When Jackson threw for 900 yards and 11 touchdowns against Miami in the season opener (slight exaggeration), there was some goofy one-week MVP talk. Since then, we’ve heard about McCaffrey, Mahomes, Watson and Wilson, all of whom are great.
Is there anyone more deserving of the award than Lamar Jackson, though? As far as most valuable to his team, it’s hard to argue against him.
I think we’ve also learned that the Ravens knew they had some real defensive issues after the Cleveland debacle, and they decided to do something about it. The defense with Kenny Young and Patrick Onwuasor playing important roles wasn’t going to win in Seattle.
This win was somewhat reminiscent of last year’s win against the Chargers. Luckily, the Ravens wouldn’t have to play Seattle again until Groundhog Day in Miami.
#DMD GAME DAY
|Baltimore Ravens at Seattle Seahawks
4:25 PM EDT
Spread: Seahawks -3
If the Ravens are looking to distance themselves from the Browns in the AFC North, today's the day to do it.
Not that Cleveland possesses any kind of real threat to the Ravens, but six of their final seven games are semi-walks-in-the-park. They could wind up winning 9 games by accident if a few things swing their way.
So the Ravens need to keep their sights set on that 10-win mark, which should all but sew up the division title. A win in Seattle today would get them halfway there.
And with the Patrick Mahomes injury in Kansas City figuring to bring the Chiefs back to the pack, Baltimore could wind up fighting the Texans for the #2 seed in the AFC playoffs. A win today would go a long way in that battle, too.
There are games that come along during the course of the season that prove your team's mettle. Anyone can beat up on the Dolphins or the Cardinals or the lousy Steelers and Bengals. It's these games today that separate teams. The Ravens had a game of this ilk in week 3 and went out to Kansas City and lost. This one today is of a similar nature.
A good team goes out there, competes, keeps it close, and loses by five points.
A really good team goes to Seattle and figures out some way to win, with the way they pick up the "W" not mattering one bit.
The Ravens look like they're a good team, but not much more than that, honestly, at the six game mark.
They'd move into "really good" status with a win out there today.
It won't be easy.
The Baltimore offense needs to stay on the field as long as they can, thereby keeping Russell Wilson and the Seattle offense off the field. That means eating up the clock, running the football, scoring when given the opportunity, and forcing a handful of three and outs defensively. That's the recipe. But it's not an easy meal to cook.
They're calling for rain today in Seattle. Sure, they're used to it in the Pacific Northwest, but Wilson's numbers have shifted downward throughout his career when he plays in the rain. He doesn't become Kyle Boller or anything like that when the ground and ball are wet, but he takes a step down from being Russell Wilson, too. That might help the Ravens today.
The quarterbacks are key today, as they are in almost every game. Wilson is approaching "best in the league" territory these days, which says a lot in a circuit with Brady, Rodgers, Brees, and Mahomes. If the Ravens beat him in his own building, that not only pushes them to 5-2, it gives them a massive shot of confidence in two weeks when the Patriots come to town.
Note: For those interested, I'll be joining Glenn Clark Radio immediately after today's game on his Project GameDay Facebook show. Just go to www.GlennClarkRadio.com for details on how to get in and watch and participate.
Run it, run it, run it -- We mentioned it above, but it has to be part of our "Keys To The Game". For the Ravens to win today, it's a multi-part scheme. Utilize their own strengths and, at the same time, keep the Seattle offense off the field. One way to do that is to stick with running the football. Greg Roman is a "run first" offensive coordinator, but he's had his moments this year (at K.C. and home vs. Cleveland) where he abandonded the run game when it didn't appear necessary to do that. Today's game plan should include an emphasis on running the ball, shortening the game, and keeping Wilson off the field as much as possible. Some of that philosophy connects with the game score, obviously. If you fall behind 14-0 or 21-7 in the second quarter, it requires a shift in thinking to get back in the game. But on the whole, the Ravens first key today should be to engage their running game and stick with it.
Be careful of the gambling, John -- This is precisely the kind of game where John Harbaugh throws caution to the wind and becomes "Riverboat John". There's no telling why he picks these kinds of games to do it, but they almost always come on the road, and typically against the better teams in the league (see: Kansas City earlier this season). As I've noted before, by nature I'm someone who likes having a coach who is willing to take a gamble or two in every game. But I also know this: Every time you gamble and win...that just means a gamble and a loss is likely up next. I don't mind a gamble or two today, but let's hope Riverboat John doesn't settle in and we're going for it on 4th and 3 on four occasions, gunning for two points instead of the extra point, taking points off the board after a 29-yard field goal, and so on. You know what I mean. You've been watching him coach like I have.
Keep the Seattle receivers in front of you -- There's no reason to mention "pressure Wilson" as a key to the game because we know that's not going to happen. The Ravens' pass rush is potentially the worst in the entire NFL. Instead, the defensive philosophy today should be simple. Don't let their receivers get behind you for the big play. That means the likes of Humphrey and Peters have to step up with big games today, and the safeties have to settle back and help out on big play coverage. Fortunately, if anyone on the defense knows how to limit Russell Wilson, it's Earl Thomas. His presence alone should help the Baltimore secondary in a big way today.
The rainy weather doesn't seem to bother Wilson and the Seahawks on their first series, as they march down the field with ease but have to settle for a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Jackson and the Baltimore offense don't get anything going and Seattle tacks on a touchdown pass from Wilson to Tyler Lockett just as the first quarter expires to make it 10-0 Seattle.
The Ravens stick with the running game and it provides a moment of success when Mark Ingram explodes for a big run to take the ball deep into Seahawks' territory. That's as close as they get, though, and a Justin Tucker field goal makes it 10-3.
Wilson again engineers a nice drive, complimented by a couple of questionable pass interference and defensive holding calls (of course), and he runs it in himself from 4 yards out to make it 17-3 at the half.
The game looks eerily similar to the one we saw in Kansas City earlier in the season.
The Ravens kick a field goal on the first series of the 3rd quarter to make it 17-6, but Seattle again moves the ball easily on the Baltimore defense and Wilson again finds Lockett for his second TD of the game. It's 23-6 after Seattle misses the extra point.
Jackson and the offense get it going with a 75 yard drive that culminates in Lamar hitting Mark Andrews from 9-yards out. It's 23-13 now.
Early in the fourth quarter, Thomas intercepts Wilson as the Seahawks drive into Baltimore territory. Minutes later, Ingram runs it in and it's suddenly 23-20.
The Seahawks produce an efficient 9-play, 69 yard drive that kills a lot of clock, but they have to settle for a field goal with 4:05 to play.
Jackson and the offense get the ball back, but a strip sack and fumble return deep into Ravens' territory seals the deal. Chris Carson scampers in from 11 yards out with 1:45 remaining in the game for a means-nothing TD and Seattle wins this one, 33-20.
Well, we fired our buddy Nick Smearman here after one week. As I told him last Sunday morning, "You get results or you get canned."
He went 1-4. He's gone.
And because the Ravens couldn't cover against the woeful Bengals, we posted a dismal 1-5 mark overall in week #6.
So, it's time to start trying now. This is getting out of hand. After a great year in 2018, where we helped a bunch of you buy ocean front property in Bethany, we're in a deep funk to start the campaign. We're hyper focused this week. We've studied the forms. We know every team's tendencies. We're locked in.
We've reached that moment already in the season. Yes, it's coin flip time.
Simple and easy. Flip a coin. Go with that. Let's be honest. That's how the officials are making 75% of their calls these days in the NFL. Maybe it will work for us today.
JAGUARS AT BENGALS (+4.5) -- OK, so heads it's Jacksonville, tails it's the Bengals. I really hope it comes up heads here, because I think Jacksonville goes in there and wins by a touchdown. I know, Cincinnati is due to win one at some point soon. But not today. And.....of course......it's friggin' tails. Maybe Jacksonville still wins but the Bengals cover, right? So, we'll go with that outcome as the Bengals cover the 4.5 at home but the Jags win late, 24-20.
RAIDERS AT PACKERS (-5.0) -- Heads it's Oakland, tails it's Green Bay. I love the Packers today, for what it's worth, but the coin will decide this one. I just don't see Oakland going to Green Bay and hanging in there, although the Raiders are starting to develop a little bit of a "what will they do today?" personality. The Packers are coming off that wild Monday night win over Detroit and could be set up for a let down. The coin is in the air. Yes!! It's tails. We'll go with Green Bay to win this one 29-20.
TEXANS AT COLTS (-1.0) -- It's basically a pick 'em game in Indy, with the Colts giving up one point to the Texans. Who knows what happens in this division, but today's game could go a long way in deciding the champion and the home playoff game recipient. Heads it's Houston. Tails it's Indy. I think Houston wins this one, by the way. But the penny says otherwise, as it comes up tails. I don't feel strongly enough about this one to do "best of 3", so we'll go with the coin flip and say the Colts win a thriller in OT, 26-23
49'ERS AT REDSKINS (+10) -- I sure wish we weren't doing coin-flip-week here, because I love, love, love the Redskins today. San Fran, flying east, playing in the rain. Redskins, terrible, but capable of hanging around for a while and making it tough. Heads it's San Fran, tails it's Washington. Yikes. It comes up heads. Oh well, maybe Washington won't be able to score much against that awesome 49'ers defense. That's the angle I guess we'll take, as the 49'ers improve to 6-0 with a 23-10 win over the Redskins.
DOLPHINS AT BILLS (-17) -- NOTE: This was a late change when we learned around 12:30 pm that Mitchell Trubisky was questionable for the Bears. The coin flip is a brutal way to handle this Bills/Dolphins game, because there's just no way Miami gets blown out again, right? Not another 20-point loss. Can't happen. But we'll trust the coin for whatever reason. Heads we get the Dolphins, tails we get the Bills. And it thankfully comes up heads. Buffalo still wins, of course, but not by 17, as the Bills improve to 5-1 with a 30-17 win over the hapless 'Fins.
BEST BET OF THE DAY -- There's no way to coin flip this one...so we'll draw a name out of the hat from the five winners we posted. And...it's the Colts. (I wouldn't have gone with them, for the record. But our Best Bet is the Colts.
RECORD TO DATE: 12-24
LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 1-5
RAVENS AGAINST THE SPREAD: 2-4
BEST BET OF THE DAY: 1-5
Earlier this week, someone asked me --
If I thought the U.S. soccer program should fire head coach Gregg Berhalter...
By nature, I'm not a "fire the coach" guy. I'm just not. I think they're far more valuable than everyone realizes, for starters, and also believe a player's style and approach to their sport has to mesh with their coach's style and approach. Sometimes it takes a while to find that right "meshing", if you will. Marcus Peters, for instance, is now on his 3rd team in less than six years. He clearly didn't mesh with Andy Reid or Sean McVay. Maybe he'll mesh with John Harbaugh in Baltimore.
Berhalter was a good player in his days with the U.S. men's team. Nothing more, nothing less. He was the kind of player that you assumed someday might be a head coach somewhere...and that's the path he chose after retiring. His Columbus teams in MLS were decent enough, making the playoffs four times and advancing to one championship final, where they lost at home to Portland in 2015. But coaching an MLS team in your 40's and coaching the U.S. men's national team in your 40's are night and day.
I've seen some good soccer from the Americans in the last year under Berhalther. I've seen puzzling soccer, too. And I've seen really bad soccer from them, like on Tuesday night when the players cruised through a shocking 2-0 defeat to lowly Canada up in Toronto. It was, by far, the worst performance by an American side since the 2016 Costa Rica loss (4-0) that ended the coaching tenure of Jurgen Klinsmann. Those players quit on Klinsmann that night -- and the American players came really close to doing that in the second half of Tuesday's loss at Canada.
Fire the coach?
I don't know. It's still early in the process. World Cup 2022 qualifying begins next year. The new-fangled qualifying process heavily favors the American side as long as they don't completely throw a shoe, but they'll still have to win games and play representative soccer in order to qualify. The question about firing Berhalter now -- or any point -- is the age old one that most people tend to forget about when they're barking about the coach.
If we fire him...who are we hiring?
Sure, there are gobs of out-of-work soccer coaches milling around the world, some with impressive resumes, but this isn't a situation where a fired coach can bring in his players. The coach of the American men's team has a pool of players from which he can draw from, and those players are mostly the same ones Berhalter has access to right now.
Style, tactics and formations do matter in soccer, no doubt. The argument against Berhalter right now is that his tactics and style aren't "clicking" with these players. In fairness to Berhalter, though, he hasn't really had his full team yet. Or at least not enough to warrant any kind of formal declaration on his coaching acumen. John Brooks, Jozy Altidore and Tyler Adams have been hurt at various times over the last year. Jordan Morris is just getting back into the team after an injury. A large number of U.S. players are with European teams and that makes their availability of the on-again, off-again nature.
In the end, though, soccer is just like any other sport. You're judged by the results of the game. You can play "beautiful soccer" but if you lose 3-2, you're not quite as good as the coach who demanded a "defense first, counter attack them to death" philosophy in a 1-0 win.
At this point, we're now starting to judge Berhalter by the results he's getting. And they're not all that promising. Fire him? I think it's a little too soon to pull the trigger on that one. Watch the games much more closely and start thinking about looking for a new coach if things don't improve? Yes, sadly we've reached that stage.
Earlier this week, someone asked me --
What I think about the situation in China and Hong Kong as it relates to the NBA...
There aren't many sports topics I take a pass on, but this is one of them. Pass.
I'm just not well versed enough on the situation over there to understand it all, and then when sports gets mixed in somehow, I'm really at a loss to figure it out. I understand the uproar concerning the Houston Rockets GM and his comments about China. I understand he now says he wasn't completely aware of all the circumstances and situations in the Far East and that perhaps he shouldn't have made his comments. I also understand that here, in this country, we've been preaching that everyone's opinion matters and that everyone has the right to voice those opinions in a decent way, which, I guess, is what the Houston GM did.
But as for having a formal opinion on the whole thing and who is right and who is wrong and who should or shouldn't be saying something? I'll pass. I don't know enough about it. And I'm just not all that interested in knowing enough to figure it out.
I'm more concerned about whether the Dave Matthews Band or Depeche Mode are going to make the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame next February. Now, that subject, I have enough information to form an opinion on.
Earlier this week, someone asked me --
What I think about Joe Flacco's play in Denver...
I haven't seen all of his games, but the two I have seen look very much like the same Joe Flacco we saw here in Baltimore over the last few years. He's just not all that good anymore.
His defenders are saying the same things about Joe in Denver as they said about him in Baltimore.
"Their offensive line stinks."
"Their wide receivers can't hold on to the ball."
"Joe gave them a late lead (Jacksonville) and then the defense coughed it up on the final drive."
Those things might all be true, by the way. Denver's offensive line is definitely lousy.
And I'm sure Joe has thrown good, crisp passes that have, in fact, been dropped.
And, yes sir, Joe engineered a 2-minute drive at the end of the Jacksonville game that gave Denver the lead, only to see the Jags march down the field and win it on a last second field goal.
But at some point, the quarterback is the guy who gets most of the spotlight. That's just the way it is. That, in fact, is why guys like Joe Flacco get $25 million a year and other position players don't make that kind of money.
His performance on Thursday night at home against Kansas City was borderline dreadful. That Chiefs defense is never going to be confused with the 2000 Ravens. And Flacco couldn't do anything against that group. At home, no less. It was an awful showing.
Flacco is today what he was last year and the year before that. He's a professional quarterback. He has good moments and bad moments. He's not Aaron Rodgers. He's not Drew Brees. He's not Russell Wilson.
Here's a news flash for you: Flacco's probably not one of the 20 best quarterbacks in the NFL these days. You can take Flacco and I'll take Nick Foles. Or I'll take Andy Dalton. Or I'll take Derek Carr. And we're probably winning the same number of games you do. That's about where Flacco ranks. Maybe a tick higher or lower than any of those three.
At this stage, Joe is a smidge above someone like Eli Manning. We're splitting hairs here, obviously.
That said, this career decline doesn't make him a bad guy. In fact, Joe's a good guy. One of the better athletes (in any sport) I ever met in my 12 years on the radio.
I would love to see him do well in Denver. Or I guess I should have said, I would have "loved" to have seen him do well in Denver. It's past tense time already, sad to say.
At this stage he's basically a placeholder quarterback. Nothing more, nothing less. My guess is he doesn't make it out of the season as the starter in Denver. They're going to keep losing and, eventually, Drew Lock will have to come in and start getting his feet wet.
Two greats -- one on his way out, one just getting started -- might have seen their respective seasons end within minutes of one another on Thursday night.
One of the injuries could spell the end of the season for his team. The other just brings everything to a conclusion more quickly.
We're talking about C.C. Sabathia and Patrick Mahomes, of course. Things sure can change quickly in the world of sports.
Mahomes suffered a dislocated kneecap in the Chiefs' 30-6 win at Denver. It was an ugly injury, but there's still no word on how long Mahomes will be out or if he might be able to come back and play this season. Even if he does, will that injury linger on throughout the last two-plus months of the season?
Make no mistake about it. If Mahomes is done for the season, so, too, are the Chiefs. They might be able to cobble together a few more wins with Matt Moore at quarterback, or, perhaps they try and swing a trade for someone more worthy to try and keep their post-season hopes alive. But without Mahomes, they're no threat to anyone long term.
For what it's worth, Mahomes told Andy Reid after the game that he's "going to be OK", whatever that means. A knee dislocation isn't the end of the world, but you're also not going to be playing pick-up soccer in the backyard a few days from now, either.
In New York on Thursday night, the Houston Astros pushed the Yankees to the brink of elimination with an 8-3 win in Game 4 of that series. Of note in that one was what appeared to be the final pitch in the career of C.C. Sabathia, who grabbed his shoulder and buckled in pain in the 8th inning.
Sabathia was set to retire at the end of the season and had become somewhat disposable in the post-season anyway. The Yankees didn't even include him on their ALDS roster when they faced the Twins.
But there he was last night, in the ALCS, trying to help the Yankees get out of an 8th inning bases loaded jam. He'll likely be a Hall of Famer someday, but the final pitch of his terrific career wasn't what he wanted. Instead of striking someone out and having that awful whistle-sound go off and 50,000 New Yorkers standing in unison, Sabathia grabbed his arm and gingerly walked back to the dugout. He still got an ovation, but he probably didn't think it would be under those circumstances.
One play. And Mahomes' season is in jeopardy.
One pitch. And Sabathia's career comes to an early halt.
It served as a stark reminder that no matter how old, how much experience, and how much protection you have around you, it only takes one moment in time to go against you.
The Chiefs will hold their breath today while the MRI results are generated and published. They know their season depends on the outcome.
The Yankees will move on without Sabathia. Their 3-1 hole might be too much to overcome, no matter who pitches for them tonight in Game 5. We know Sabathia won't be out there, though. His career came to close on the mound last night, his body no longer able to deliver the kind of performance he once got out of it.
After Tuesday night's 2-0 loss to Canada, questions came fast and furious about the lineup being used by manager Gregg Berhalter.
We asked our resident soccer expert, Randy Morgan, to dissect the American player pool and tell us who he believes should be in the starting 11 for next month's games against Cuba and Canada. Randy then gave us his desired 11 and what he thinks Berhalter will do with his starting 11.
Randy's starting 11 for U.S. soccer:
G - Steffen
LB - Dest
LCB - Brooks
RCB - Long
RB - Cannon
DM - Adams
CM - McKennie
AM - Pomykal/Holmes
LW - Pulisic
RW - Morris/Weah
ST - Altidore
Berhalter's starting 11 for U.S. soccer:
G - Steffen
LB - Dest
LCB - Brooks
RCB - Long
RB - Cannon
DM - Bradley
CM - Adams
AM - McKennie
LW - Pulisic
RW - Morris
ST - Altidore
Notes from Randy: The U.S. closed the current international window with their loss to Canada on Tuesday night. They will regroup in November with the reverse Nations League matches away against Cuba and home against Canada. The American side will hope to regain some key players they have been missing due to injury.
World Cup Qualifying is also less than a year away, making it important for the team to find its best lineup and build cohesion. With that in mind let’s examine the best possible starting eleven that could be selected with all players available. For the sake of this exercise we will assume all players are at full health and that Sergino Dest will decide to continue to play for the US. I will provide the lineup I project as the strongest and highlight positions where I believe Gregg Berhalter has different opinions. I will be slotting the players into the 4-3-3 formation that has been used by Berhalter most recently.
There are four players that are locks to start at their respective positions. Zack Steffen is the first-choice GK, John Brooks is the left CB, Christian Pulisic is the LW (or attacking mid), and Jozy Altidore is the Striker. Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest are locks to start as well, but their best position is not as clear. Dest is probably the best RB the team has, but given the depth at that position and the lack of quality LB options I believe the strongest lineup has Dest at LB. Weston McKennie has played several different roles in midfield for the US but I believe his best role is the box-to-box center mid working between the defensive mid and the more attacking center mid.
The rest of the starting eleven is not as clear cut. Aaron Long and Matt Miazga have both taken turns at right CB and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. However, Aaron Long’s speed and athleticism makes him the better complement to John Brooks, who sometimes requires cover when facing pacey attackers. There have also been several options at right back over the last year, but in the past few windows Reggie Cannon has outperformed the competition and should be the choice. Deandre Yedlin has the Premier League pedigree but has seen his form drop over the last season or two.
Midfield has often been a weak spot during the Berhalter era. This has been partly due to injury and partly to player selection.
Michael Bradley has had an amazing career for the U.S. but he is far past his prime. While Berhalter seems to still see Bradley as the top choice in the defensive midfield role, I believe a healthy Tyler Adams provides a huge upgrade at that position. The second, more attacking central midfield role has been a revolving door throughout this year with Weston McKennie taking his turn in these last two matches.
It’s time to give the young FC Dallas star, Paxton Pomykal this role. He has improved by leaps and bounds in this MLS season and provides a more well rounded skill set than the likes of Roldan, Lletget, etc.
Duane Holmes is another intriguing option for this role that we have only seen glimpses of for the US. Berhalter seems to prefer experience over youth, so his first choice midfield is probably Bradley at DM, with Adams in the box-to-box role and McKennie in the more attacking CM role. He has even experimented with Adams at RB, but the emergence of Reggie Cannon will probably make that unnecessary.
The final spot in the starting eleven, the winger opposite Pulisic, presents the most difficult choice.
There are currently four options for this role: Tim Weah, Jordan Morris, Paul Arriola, and Tyler Boyd. None of the four have played well enough to separate themselves from the pack.
Tim Weah clearly has the highest potential of the group. However, injuries and transfers have severely limited his experience against top competition over the past two seasons, making it difficult to choose him over the more veteran options.
If forced to choose a team right now, Jordan Morris would have to be the choice at RW. His touch limits him, but he’s had a great season for the playoff bound Seattle Sounders, has improved his movement and passing, and possesses athleticism that can break the game open against any team.
There's no denying that Bryce Harper is a terrific baseball player. He has his warts, like all the rest of the great ones. But Harper's numbers and career achievements speak for themselves.
So, it stood to reason that the Nationals would take a step back in 2019, and maybe even 2020, with Harper no longer sporting the "Curly W".
Except a funny thing happened along the way.
Harper's new team, the Phillies, meandered along to an 81-81 record while the Nationals are headed to the World Series.
Without Bryce Harper...the Nationals rebounded from a 19-31 start to whisk their way through the National League playoffs and into the Fall Classic.
Even more distinct is the way D.C. got past the Brewers and Dodgers. They were down to their final four outs of the season in the Wild Card game before rallying to win there, 4-3. And they were trailing 3-1 to start the top of the 8th in Los Angeles in the series finale of the ALDS.
Those two games are classic "big player, big moment" scenarios. The exact kind of spotlight someone like Harper would bask in and deliver the big blow. Except Harper wasn't on the Nationals, which meant the likes of Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick were left to make history.
There's been a lot of talk over the last 24 hours about the whole "winning without Harper" movement. It does seem strange, to say the least, that the Nats would lose a player of his caliber and then immediately reach heights they had previously failed to reach when he was actually with them.
Perhaps with Harper in their lineup this past season, the D.C. squad wins 100 games. No one knows.
Or maybe there's something tangible to the old theory of "we'll show him how important he was to us". It's not all that difficult to imagine that Harper might not have been the most popular guy in the Nats' clubhouse. His departure could have been just the impetus the Nationals needed to get them to play over their heads.
If you took a straw poll right now and asked people who the three best players are in baseball, the common response would be: "Trout, Harper, Machado". And while the sage baseball follower might dispute that given all of those wacky computer programs that spit our WAR and fWAR and WARwhenthewindblowsfromthewest, the reality is those three make gobs of money and have the numbers to back up their enormous contracts.
And yet, none of those three have ever been able to lift their team in a moment like Howie Kendrick did last week in Los Angeles.
Harper and the Nats made the post-season four times ('12, '14, '16 and '17) but couldn't ever win the big game when it mattered, losing the 5th and decisive game of the NLDS on three occasions. And the former #1 pick hasn't exactly been the life of the party in the post-season, with a stinky .211 batting average in 19 games.
We know it's not all on Trout to get the Angels to the World Series. But shouldn't they be better than a 75-87 squad? That's sorta-kinda what they've been in L.A. over the last decade. They've made the playoffs once in Trout's career. That seems almost impossible given his greatness.
And, of course, we saw Machado up close and personal in Baltimore. He was part of winning teams in 2012, 2014 and 2016, although it's fair to point out he was injured for a considerable amount of both the 2012 and 2014 campaigns and didn't even play in the ALDS or ALCS in 2014 because of a knee injury. But just like we can attach Machado to the 2016 squad that was more than solid and woulda, shoulda, coulda defeated Toronto in the wild card game, we can also staple the mercurial infielder to the 2018 team that quit by mid-May and produced the worst season in franchise history.
And we now also know the full conclusion to Harper's story in DC. Great player, big numbers, huge contract -- with no real "team accomplishment". Then, he leaves. And suddenly they're in the World Series.
There's no way of knowing all the hows and whys of the deal in DC, but it's indeed a strange situation to see the Nats do more without Harper than they were able to do with him.
"The Keen Eye" of
|DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.|
Let’s Not Get (More) Soft…
I played No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles on a middling high school tennis team. Singles was difficult, since I was often matched up against somebody bigger, stronger and better. Doubles was fun, since my partner was a close friend I’d known since kindergarten.
Anyway, Sureel Choksi and I were playing a match against somebody, somewhere; those details escape me. Unless it came at the county tournament at Towson University, it was likely on hard courts that desperately needed to be resurfaced.
And we were winning, and could barely do anything wrong, and even when we did our opponents couldn’t do anything right. That was, until we were one game away, when those roles completely reversed. We lost, in stunning fashion.
As we tried to process exactly what happened, our coach walked over to us. His name was — no lie — Mr. Boner. Goswin Boner. He was a chemistry teacher, an immigrant from Germany, with a distinct accent I always had a hard time getting right.
Looking us straight in the eyes, no doubt wanting to offer an encouraging word, we thought, Mr. Boner spoke calmly and clearly…“I think you guys choked…”
In the picture here, you’ll see Sureel Choksi standing next to the mayor of Santa Clara, Calif. He’s the President and CEO of a big company that builds data centers for companies like Amazon. He looks exactly the same as he did 30 years ago.
I don’t know if Sureel remembers what Mr. Boner said to us that day, though I’m positive he remembers all the time we spent together on a tennis court. If he does remember those words, I’m sure he’d say the same thing I would.
We definitely choked. Big time. And yet…it seems like it was all part of a bigger learning experience that left him in decent shape at this point.
Been There, Done That...
I received an email the other day with the news that a fifth 18-hole golf course will soon be opening at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. The course is called “The Sheep Ranch,” a nod to the fact that the property was for years a mysterious piece of unfinished golf land not open to the public.
When I left the resort 15 years ago, my caddie told me he hoped he’d see me again one day. I laughed, thinking that maybe I’d checked that one off the list. But he was insistent. “Everyone comes back,” he said.
Anyway, I really would like to go back soon. And no…I’m not crowdfunding…
Bandon isn’t for everyone. The golf magazines will tell you that it’s best for a “buddies” trip, but even that might only make sense for a few of your buddies.
If you think getting to Pebble Beach from the Bay Area is a bit of a hike, then you’ve never been to Bandon, which is a four-and-a-half hour drive from Portland. There is an airport in North Bend, about a half hour away, but the cost of the few flights there will make your head explode.
Meanwhile, Bandon is walking-only. The good news is that walking is the way you’re supposed to play golf. The bad news is that sometimes you feel like you’re walking on the moon…if the moon had 30 mph wind gusts in your face.
Here’s the good news. You can play two great courses on one day at Bandon and, with a replay discount, spend $150 less than you’d spend on one round at Pebble Beach. If you somehow found time for part of a third round on one day, it would be free.
I might be looking for some buddies in the future. Either that, or go it alone one more time.
“That” Rivalry is Over…
The Ravens and Steelers played an ugly game two Sundays ago, not surprising with one team still trying to figure it out on defense and the other being forced to the 2009 Junior World duck calling champion at quarterback. Also not surprising…the game was decided once again by a field goal.
For some reason, I thought back to the 2016 Christmas Day game in Pittsburgh, the one where Antonio Brown (remember him?) stretched the ball across the goal line with nine seconds left to win the game. I took a look at the boxscore from the game, and here’s what I saw: 13 Baltimore players were credited with a pass, rushing attempt or reception in the game. Only one of them — tight end Nick Boyle — is still on the team. None of the Ravens’ top four tacklers in that game is a member of the 2019 team.
Forget about the Ravens. Honestly, it’s stunning how many guys on the list are simply out of football entirely. And you can say similar things about the Steelers, of course. Their defensive stars in that game, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons, don’t play anymore, though for different reasons obviously.
Surely it didn’t help that a Ravens’ team that made the playoffs six times in John Harbaugh’s first seven years then missed the playoffs three years in a row. The Steelers won 34 games in those three seasons, and it stunk that nobody was good enough to get close to them.
But that game was less than three years ago, and neither team on the field in early October was even close to the team on the field on Christmas 2016. That’s today’s NFL.
When the Ravens officially traded Joe Flacco on March 13, 2019, a particular era of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry unofficially ended. It’s unlikely that such a time will happen again.
The Best Thing about Lamar Jackson…
I’m upset I didn’t attend the Glen Burnie High School homecoming game last week, at which Lamar Jackson showed up and did a great job engaging the players and fans. My girlfriend teaches at GBHS, and she gets a free ticket and a plus-one. Maybe I could have gotten a selfie…
And all of us have seen what was mentioned here earlier this week, that apparent self-recognition that he’s got a lot to learn and his willingness to speak in team-first language, whether he means it or not.
To me, though, the best thing about Lamar Jackson is that the Ravens were right.
The Ravens saw rewards when others saw risks. The Ravens didn’t just move around the way they did and draft him because he won the Heisman Trophy and was really fast. They honestly believed he was the next starting quarterback in Baltimore.
I really don’t know how many teams would have felt that way, had they been in the Ravens’ situation. I think a lot of them might have talked themselves into the ways that Jackson was a potentially bad choice as opposed to a potentially brilliant one.
It’s tempting, of course, to hit the brakes on Jackson. He hasn’t even started a season’s worth of games in the NFL. As good as he is at avoiding big hits, the mere fact that he’s out in the open taking them makes him different than the other 31 NFL starting quarterbacks.
And it’s tempting, somewhat, to hit the brakes on praise for the Ravens’ front office, if only because, as good as Jackson can be, it might be for a shorter time than the fans would like it to be.
But there’s no denying that the Ravens won this one. That’s nice to know, even if we can’t know what might happen next week or next year.
There are sample sizes. And then there are "sample sizes". In pitching, let's say, ten games is a small sample size. Twenty five games, though, is not.
And that brings us to Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros. With yesterday's 4-1 win over the Yankees in New York, his last 25 starts are now in the books. That stretch runs all the way back to nearly the end of May.
Here's what he's done.
Record: 19-0. That's, ummm, pretty good.
ERA: 1.62. He's allowed less than 2 earned runs per-nine innings in that span. In the American League, friends.
WHIP: 0.83. Less than one-hitter per-inning has reached base on him over those 25 games. Think that one through. In pitching, 1.080 (Jim Palmer's career WHIP) is considered to be exceptional. Hall of Fame worthy. Cole is at 0.83.
In his two starts vs. Tampa Bay in the ALDS last week, Cole went 2-0 and faced 54 total batters in those two appearances. Get this: He struck out 25 of those 54 guys. He allowed six hits and one run in two games.
The Astros have gone 23-2 in his last 25 starts, by the way. When Cole pitches, they win.
Has there ever been a better 25-game stretch in the history of modern baseball pitching?
I'll say "no" and let someone else do the research to refute it. I don't think you're going to win this one, though.
These things tend to ebb and flow, of course, but right now, Gerrit Cole -- yes, Gerrit Cole -- is the best pitcher in baseball.
There have been a few others over the last decade who have been annointed with that same distinction. Tim Lincecum was a beast in 2008 and 2009. Clayton Kershaw had an amazing run starting in 2011, winning 3 Cy Young awards in a 4-year stretch. Max Scherzer was brilliant in 2016 and 2017. And still is, for that matter.
Jacob deGrom of the Mets had a remarkable 2018 campaign, even though his team wasn't very good.
But none of those guys did what Cole has done over the last 25 games in 2019, three of which came under the intense pressure of playoff baseball, where one bad start could doom your team.
19 straight wins. 1.62 ERA in 25 starts.
And remember this...Cole was a former 1st round pick of the Pirates who couldn't make it in the National League. He had one terrific season for the Bucs (2015) where he went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, but other than that, he was good, but certainly not great.
The Pirates thought so little of him they dealt him to the Astros prior to the 2018 campaign.
And now...he's having a historic run and is most certainly part of the "best pitcher in baseball" conversation, although it's likely his teammate, Justin Verlander, will capture the Cy Young award this season.
Oddly, most pitchers move over to the National League to lower their numbers and upgrade their chances for Hall of Fame consideration. Roy Halladay was a notable American-to-National jumper, as is/was Scherzer, who was really good in Detroit but has been sensational in Washington. Zack Greinke started in K.C. before fully flourishing in the National League.
In a strange turn of events, Cole was good in the National League...but is now virtually unhittable in the American League. "Funny the way it is", as Dave Matthews says.
With each start he makes now, Cole is carving himself into the modern pitching record books.
If anyone has ever pitched better over 25 starts, roll them out please. We'd like to know their name.
A friend of mine texted me on Tuesday afternoon and said, "Your Ravens are panicking." You can probably figure it out. He's not a fan of our purple birds.
"No," I replied. "The Rams are the ones that panicked. They gave away two first-round picks for a cornerback who might help them win 10 games instead of 9. The Ravens simply added a "rental" for three months that might help them beat New England in New England come late January."
That's the way I see it, anyway.
I understand what the Ravens are doing.
I have no idea at all what the Rams are doing.
Not that I care about the Rams...because I don't. But they clearly hit the big red button yesterday when they mortgaged their next two drafts for Ramsey, a half-a-malcontent who has been great at times and not so great at times over the last couple of years.
The Ravens did what they had to do given the plethora of quality offenses they're going to face over the final 10 games of the season. This move makes even more sense when you look at what lies ahead for Wink Martindale's defense: Seattle, New England, Houston, L.A. Rams and Cleveland. Five of the final ten games are against teams that can put up points in a hurry. And in case you just flew in from Pluto and haven't seen the Ravens -- they can give up points in a hurry.
Sure, there's an argument to be made about helping the pass rush before helping the secondary, but you can only trade for players that are available. It would be great if the Ravens could pry Von Miller away from Denver, for example, but if he's not a trade candidate, he can't be had. Peters was available and was most certainly not an extravagant purchase for the Ravens. They gave up last year's 4th round pick, Kenny Young, and a conditional pick next spring. Young showed some flashes, but was recently a healthy scratch. Not much was lost there, although it's fair to point out he likely hasn't reached his potential yet, either.
In the end, the Ravens made this deal to not only try and sew up the AFC North (which is pretty much already a done deal), but to also perhaps claim one of the two first-round byes in the AFC playoffs. If Peters helps them go 3-2 in those five games listed above, the pick-up was more than worth it. If they go 4-1, it was the steal of the century.
Peters has some baggage, apparently. The Chiefs and Rams both thought so highly of him they let him go. It's not often an organization throws away Pro Bowl players just for the sake of doing it. But the Ravens only need 10 games out of him, plus the playoffs. They don't have to keep him around in 2020 if he's a bad fit or a locker room distraction.
The US Men’s Soccer Team lost to Canada 2-0 on Tuesday night. It was their first loss to the northern neighbors in 34 years.
TV play-by-play voice Ian Darke called it a "horrifying loss" as the final whistle sounded and the Canadian side celebrated their Nation's Cup victory.
Make no mistake about it. Canada was the better team on the night and earned the win.
This was not a game where the US dominated but lost on some fluky goals. Alphonso Davies was the best player on the field, giving the US defense fits until he was subbed off in the 66th minute.
The US were toothless in attack and disorganized in defense. It’s one thing to lose to a much deeper and more talented Mexico team, but this was a Canada team that should be thoroughly out matched by the US talent. Canada has a few bright young stars, but not nearly the depth of talent of the US team.
This game seriously calls into question whether Gregg Berhalter is the right coach to lead this team through World Cup Qualifying. Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this game was the lack of chances created by the US attack. The US opted not to press Canada high and thus allowed them to have a decent amount of possession. When the US had the ball they attempted to patiently pass through the Canadian defense, but too often could not find the right pass or had a poor touch let them down.
The few half-chances the US did create were mostly hopeful crosses that failed to find their target. It was unclear if that was a feature or a bug of the system tonight, but it would be expected that the US could generate higher quality penalty area chances against a supposedly lesser opponent.
Soccer is often described as a weakest link sport and that the US struggles in this Berhalter possession and passing system is a prime example of this sentiment.
It only takes one or two weak links to break down a passing sequence with a poor touch or errant pass and turn the ball over. The US simply has too many of those weak links in the current player pool.
Today the weakest link was often Christian Roldan, who turned the ball over nearly every time he touched it and gifted Canada a golden chance in the first half with a horrendous pass to no one. Roldan is a solid MLS player but he has been exposed against serious opponents at international level and is surely not the best option in central midfield for this team.
However, he was not alone on Tuesday, as there were poor touches and missed connections all over the field for the US. It is hard to come up with many positive individual efforts from this game.
Zach Steffen saved his defense several times and prevented a more disastrous score line.
Weston McKennie provided his usually grit in midfield but struggled to create any dangerous chances.
Jordan Morris used his pace to create some opportunities but was often let down by his final touch.
Tim Ream passed the ball very well out of the back but was involved in the breakdowns on both Canada goals.
Christian Pulisic was isolated in attack on lost possession far too often before his odd substitution in the 60th minute (supposedly due to flu-like symptoms).
There needs to be a great deal of introspection for this US team during the remainder of the year to determine if this system and coach are the best options to avoid a second straight World Cup Qualifying disaster.
Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area, graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. He is an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and US soccer supporter, he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16. Randy serves as #DMD's international soccer contributor.