Tuesday
January 15
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#1604



memo to eric and harbs: don't ring that bell


Someone reached out to me on Sunday with a juicy rumor. He got it where a lot of men probably pick up tidbits-on-the-street: at the gym.

"Heard from a good source the Ravens are interested in bringing Le'Veon Bell to Baltimore," the e-mail said.

My first blush reaction was probably the same one you might have: "No way."

And that was my reaction without giving any thought at all to the team's salary cap situation in 2019. I realize it's only January and there are lots of ways for the Ravens to shed money from their 2019 cap, but I'm not sure they can do all the things they want to do, free agency wise, and still cough up the dough it would take to lure Bell to Baltimore.

So I reached out to a reputable Ravens source myself and floated the Bell rumor past them.

"What are the chances you guys would be interested in Le'Veon Bell?" I asked. I didn't say "sign Bell", as you can see. Merely asked what the chances are the team would be interested in Bell.

The reply came back a minute later. It was short and sweet.

Should the Ravens pour money into their running back position now that Greg Roman is the team's offensive coordinator? If so, an ex-Pittsburgh Steeler is available.

"Zero," the text said.

So, there's that. Now, I've been around long enough to know it could be "zero" right now while Bell is looking for $75 million or something like that. And it could be 50% in March if his number is suddenly $50 million.

But when I get a "zero" (chance) reply a minute later, my gut tells me that means Le'Veon Bell isn't coming to Baltimore no matter what the price.

And to that, I say: Good!

The Ravens don't need Le'Veon Bell. They might need a running back in 2019, yes. But they don't need that running back.

You remember Bell, right? He's the guy who reportedly turned down $70 million last July and then sat out the entire season, almost single-handedly wrecking Pittsburgh's chances of owning the NFL's most potent offense.

It's no secret that the Ravens are likely going to be a run-heavy offense themselves in 2019. The recent promotion of Greg Roman to offensive coordinator just about seals the deal. In his years with the 49'ers and Bills, their respective running stats ranked within the top 10 of the league. And, not surprisingly, their passing numbers ranked near the bottom of the league.

It doesn't take Will Hunting to figure out the math in this scenario. The Ravens will run the ball a lot in 2019. And they likely won't throw it all that often.

So, who will carry the load? A handful of the running backs on the team's 2018 roster are pending free agents, including Gus Edwards, Alex Collins, Buck Allen and Ty Montgomery.

That means, to me, the Ravens are in the market for a running back. Let's just hope it's not Bell. How about Alabama running back Josh Jacobs? There's some talk he might actually wind up being a first-round pick, but if the Ravens can grab him in a value-spot in the second round, why not?

I won't bore you with draft talk in January. We have three months to break down all the various players and positions.

But there are gobs of decent running backs available in the draft. And the Ravens should probably take a couple of them, at least.

And here's the thing...if the Greg Roman-led Ravens offense is going to be run first, run second and then, maybe, throw third, they need a game plan that includes a solid offensive line and two or three running backs who can sync up with Lamar Jackson and play the RPO scheme to perfection.

I don't know for sure that "running the ball" works in today's NFL, which is to say, at some point, you also have to throw it effectively. But you can't just sling it around the field 55 times per-game either. It's called balance. And the Ravens will need it in 2019.

I watched veteran C.J. Anderson lumber his way through the Cowboys last Saturday night as the Rams moved on to the NFC Championship game. I also saw some guy named Gus Edwards -- a practice squad player for the Ravens on Labor Day -- go on a four week tear in November and December and turn into a legitimate NFL player almost overnight.

You guys remember Gus Edwards. When the NFL Draft was finished last April, 256 college players were selected. He wasn't one of them. In other words, the Ravens managed to squeeze favorable production out of a player that no one else wanted.

I'm not trying to demean the individuals or the position as a whole when I remind you that running backs are like gin joints in L.A. -- there's one on every corner.

The Ravens would be well served to make an old cast-off part of their offense before they turn their team over to a player who loves football so much that he turned down $70 million to play for his team. Or draft a couple of rookie running backs and "have at it" as Coach Billick was fond of saying 15 years ago.

Anything or anyone but Le'Veon Bell. The Ravens will have offensive headaches next season. Every team does. But they don't need that headache in 2019.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.



terps blow 21-point lead but survive wisconsin's rally


Under most circumstances, a 64-60 win against a formidable foe could be deemed satisfying. Despite the “coach speak” by Mark Turgeon, who emphasized how hard it is to win conference games and how happy he was with the victory, last night’s Terp win against Ethan Happ and the Wisconsin Badgers was anything but satisfying.

It was more of a relief than anything else.

After blowing a 21-point second half lead, and even falling behind by one point with 1:53 left in the game, the Terps were able to survive a second half barrage of Badger three-point shots and win a game that had “loss” written all over it.

Anthony Cowan hit what proved to be the game wining three pointer with 44 seconds left in regulation to put the Terps up for good, 62-60. It was a heroic shot from Cowan as the shot clock was winding down to 5 seconds.

Wisconsin's Nate Reuvers, who had made 4 of his 5 three-point attempts in the second half, had two opportunities at shocking the XFINITY Center crowd. His first was a potential go-ahead three with 33 seconds left, but he missed a wide-open shot after Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan misplayed a “pick-n-pop” screen.

The miss kept the score at 62-60 and Wisconsin fouled Darryl Morsell on the rebound. Morsell could convert only the back end of his two foul shots leaving the game at a one possession difference, 63-60.

Some tough Terp defense forced the Badgers to call a timeout with 9 seconds on the shot and just 11.6 seconds left in the game. Wisconsin ran the same play for Reuvers that they had just run, with the same players involved, and got the same result. This time it was Ricky Lindo Jr and Cowan misplaying the screen, leaving Reuvers without a defender anywhere near him. The game tying shot went halfway in, and then came all the way out.

Anthony Cowan's last minute 3-pointer gave Maryland a lead they wouldn't relinquish as the Terps earned a hard fought 64-60 win over Wisconsin on Monday night.

After Eric Ayala tipped the carom to Cowan, the game was over. All that was left was for Cowan to shoot two foul shots to put the game away. He made one of the two, giving the Terps a two-possession lead at 64-60, and giving those that made a little short-term investment on Maryland minus the 3 points a return on their dollar.

But again, it should have never been this close.

After several games in a row where Maryland started out with little enthusiasm and wound up getting behind early, they came out on fire last night. The Terps defense was so suffocating that Wisconsin only managed to make two field goals during the last 14:09 of the opening half.

The first 20 minutes saw the Badgers go 0-8 from the three-point line and 1-4 from the foul line. Meanwhile, the Terps were connecting 5 times from beyond the arc (including 4 of their first 6), and knocked down 6 of 7 foul shots. The combined result of stingy Terp defense and poor Wisconsin shooting was a half in which the Badgers tallied just 15 points.

The only negative point for Maryland was that they had a field goal drought of their own, connecting only once in the final 5:56. I sensed a bit of an emotional let-down from Maryland after 16 minutes of what could be described as “fury”. My sense was correct.

The scoring issues would remain in the second half, but unlike the first half, Maryland’s defense collapsed. The hosts held a 33-15 halftime lead.

The Terps were absolutely horrid on defense in the second half. They continually failed to guard the three-point line, and as a result, when Wisconsin got hot, the Terp lead evaporated. A lot of the damage was done with their star player, Ethan Happ, on the bench with foul trouble.

It didn’t make sense to me why Maryland didn’t sell out on stopping the long-range shots when Wisconsin had no one that could do much damage inside. But time after time, the Badgers found plenty of room to get off three pointers, and they began to go in.

First it was Reuvers at 17:29 to cut the lead to 18. Then Kobe King hit one after Cowan and Ayala missed an assignment. A minute later D’Mitrik Trice made a "3" after running Cowan into a pick...and the lead was 15. Maryland kept getting to the foul line, and Wisconsin kept hitting threes. In a 1:40 span, Reuvers hit two more threes and a layup. The Terp lead was now just 10 points, 51-41 with 8:12 remaining.

When Aleem Ford hit a three with 7:25 left, Wisconsin had trimmed the margin to single digits, 53-44. The Badgers weren’t finished knocking down long-range jumpers. Trice hit one with 6:11 left. Brad Davison made yet another with 4:54 left. This time it was Morsell and Cowan who became confused on switching and Davison made them pay. It was a 5-point lead and you could sense the panic on the faces and in the body language of Turgeon’s young team.

Another turnover by Cowan (he had 5 for the night) led to two foul shots by King, which cut even deeper into the Terp lead. It was now a one possession game, 57-54, with 4:18 left. Another three-point shot cost Maryland their lead. Reuvers, again, at 3:09. This time it was a result of Fernando abandoning Reuvers to help on Happ. Reuvers was uncontested and the game was tied at 57.

Wisconsin finally took a lead after Davison hit -- take a guess -- another three pointer. Morsell was victimized by a double move after Davison faked going across the lane, and popped back out to the corner off of a Happ moving screen.

Instead of running Happ over and drawing a foul, Morsell avoided the contact and Davison hit nothing but net. Even if Morsell didn’t get the call there, putting the 49% free throw shooter, Happ, on the line would have been way better than letting Davison shoot an uncontested three.

Cowan then answered with the clutch three pointer mentioned above and Maryland was able to run their Big Ten record to 6-1 and in the process preserve, for now, their #19 national ranking.

I wrote yesterday that Wisconsin needed to go crazy from the three-point line to stay in this game. That’s exactly what they did, but Maryland surely helped the cause by failing to execute on the offensive side of the court.

A couple of numbers are staggering. In the second half, Maryland made only 2 shots from inside the three-point circle. They made 3 from outside, giving them just 5 made field goals in the second half. They made just 6 field goals in the last 25:56 of the game. That number is mind numbing.

Cowan led all Terp scorers with 21 points, but he was 4-14 from the field with 5 turnovers. Jalen Smith struggled again offensively, going 2-7 from the field and looking like his body is not ready for the NBA. The physical Big 10 play is really bothering the slender freshman.

One person it’s not bothering is Ricky Lindo Jr. Lindo grabbed a game high 9 rebounds in just 23 minutes of game time. I hyped him during the preseason as an under-the-radar guy and he is delivering quality minutes. He still needs to find his place offensively, but he’s an asset on the court whenever he plays. Foul trouble limited Fernando to just 21 minutes of action. He had 10 points and just 4 rebounds.

I watched the replay of every second half three-point shot that Wisconsin attempted. I played each one multiple times just to see where the breakdowns occurred. Miscommunication was a common theme, but more disturbing were the sloth-like closeouts and the space that was given to the shooter.

Maryland should have overplayed the three ball and forced the Badgers to penetrate for a two-point attempt. It seemed so simple. Basketball 101.

Turgeon has work to do before the Terps head off to Ohio State for a Friday game. Then then go right to East Lansing for a date with the top 10 Michigan State Spartans on Monday. Both games start at 6:30 p.m.

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Monday
January 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1603


chargers needed something else for brady


This is our once-a-year, written through gritted teeth, complimentary piece about Tom Brady.

The good news: I'm hearing he's set to retire after the 2027 season, so we only have a few more years to watch him.

The bad news: We still have to watch Brady -- and the Patriots -- for one more week, at least, this season.

Gus Bradley came to Baltimore eight days ago and embarrassed the Ravens. The Chargers' defensive coordinator threw a scheme at the Ravens that baffled rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson from the very first snap and essentially cost Marty Mornhinweg his job.

Bradley stepped up in class yesterday when the Chargers went to New England. The result? Not quite the same as the one he experienced in Charm City.

Brady and the New England offense carved up the Los Angeles defense, exploding to a 35-7 halftime lead en route to a walk-in-the-park 41-28 victory and a spot in next Sunday's AFC title game in Kansas City.

That will mark eight straight trips to the AFC Championship for Brady and the Patriots. Eight straight.

Tom Brady and the Patriots are headed back to the AFC title game but this time around they won't be hosting it.

You can cite the Patriots' easy romp through the AFC East if you want, but eight straight of anything -- other than losing -- is pretty remarkable in the NFL. In a league built on parity and everyone winning this week and losing next week, New England getting to the AFC title game in each of the last eight years is nothing short of amazing.

And it's all about Brady.

Yeah, sure, Bill Belichick is important. That's a given. But he's Sheriff #2 in New England. He's Barney Fife, if you will, while Brady is Andy Griffith.

By the way, Belichick has an impressive stat of his own: He's coached in the NFL for 33 years, both as an assistant, coordinator and head coach. He's reached the conference championship game in 17 of those 33 years. That's pretty good.

But Brady is the reason Belichick has experienced so much success in New England. Once again yesterday, he sliced and diced his way through an opposing defense. And the Chargers weren't just any defense, remember. They were one of the top overall defenses in the entire NFL in 2018.

Brady went through them like a knife through warm butter. Not even John Coffey in The Green Mile could have brought the Chargers back to life in the second half after Brady and the New England offense butchered them in the opening 30 minutes yesterday.

But next.......Brady and the Patriots face a real challenge. For once, they have to go on the road and earn their spot in their Super Bowl. They're headed to Kansas City.

Brady and the Patriots' offense will have to go toe-to-toe with wonderkid Patrick Mahomes and his high-powered Chiefs offense. I don't even know what the betting total is for the game, but you should just take the "over" and be done with it.

Can New England go to Kansas City and win? Of course they can. But the Chiefs present a significant problem in that their offense is just as good as New England's, even if their quarterback isn't. Brady will have to pull out all the stops on Sunday.

As much as it pains me to see the Patriots back in the AFC title game, this one is different. For once, instead of beating up on Pittsburgh or Indianapolis or the Ravens, they'll have to take their act on the road and do to the Chiefs what so few teams over the years have been able to do to them in New England...namely, beat them in their own building in the post-season.

They're still writing their book up in New England. This opportunity on Sunday will present them with a memorable chapter if they can pull off another January victory.

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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.


yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: The Terps

Yesterday…

In an interview with the Big Ten Network’s Robbie Hummel after his team’s win at Minnesota last Tuesday, Maryland basketball coach Mark Turgeon mentioned that his team’s offense is “hard to guard.”

I chuckled out loud about that, knowing that Turgeon couldn’t hear me from Minneapolis. I’m not sure what’s so hard to guard about a high ball screen and then figure it out from there. If Turgeon is right, why does his team always rank in the bottom half of Division I in possessions that end in turnovers?

That’s why I was happy to see the coach’s assertion finally come to fruition in the second half on Friday, when the Terps fashioned an outstanding comeback from an atrocious start to the game to beat a good Indiana team. The win, the Terps’ fifth straight, pushed Maryland to 5-1 in conference play.

There was one play in particular that caught my eye. It came after the Hoosiers had steadied themselves a bit following a 16-0 Maryland run in four-minute span early in the second half. With Maryland up by one, 45-44, Bruno Fernando caught the ball in the post. He waited a bit to see how much help his defender would get, and made an excellent decision to throw the ball to Ricky Lindo in the corner.

Instead of shooting, however, Lindo drove, occupying both his defender and others who had helped on Fernando. He threw an outstanding pass to Anthony Cowan, who has never been that open in his career. Cowan’s three-pointer was good, the Terps led by four and never led by less than that margin the rest of the game until a meaningless Indiana three-pointer in the final second.

That’s an offense that’s hard to guard. A post player who can score but also has the patience to make the right decision. An unselfish freshman knowing that there can be a better shot on an important possession. A pass to a wide-open teammate when you could have easily attacked the basket.

Maryland has a lot of individual players who can be hard to guard, but that’s not a formula for success every night. Freshman Jalen Smith is one of those players, but he finished 0-for-9 from the field on Friday. Especially with freshmen, including ones with NBA dreams in front of a bunch of scouts, those kinds of games can be expected.

If the Terps can make more of those plays like Lindo made, however, Turgeon is sure to be correct.


Today…

Turgeon’s team is back at it tonight at Xfinity Center against Wisconsin, the second of four straight games for the Terps against teams ranked in the KenPom Top 30.

#DMD’s Dale Williams has an excellent preview in today’s edition, so I won’t go into Xs and Os, except to say that the Terps are better off fouling Wisconsin center Ethan Happ than any other defensive strategy on a player that, according to KenPom, ranks second behind only Duke’s Zion Williamson for national player of the year.

Mark Turgeon and the Terps are coming off a Big Ten win over Indiana last Friday night...and now face equally dangerous Wisconsin at home this evening.

With road games coming up at Ohio State and Michigan State, Maryland really needs this home win against another good team. More on that below…

Of note on Monday, off the court, is that the Maryland athletic department is offering up to two complimentary general admission tickets to the game to federal government employees. Just show your government ID (United States, not Russia) at Gate A at Xfinity Center and two tickets are yours.

Not all federal government employees are furloughed, temporarily not allowed to go to work or working unpaid due to the partial government shutdown, but that doesn’t seem to matter for this promotion. Since we talk a lot about empty seats here at #DMD, there’s something to be said about this offer and the demand for Maryland basketball tickets.

If the Terps were playing Duke or North Carolina tomorrow, there wouldn’t be any tickets available, of course. But that’s water under the bridge.

In the Big Ten over the last decade or so, the two preeminent programs have been Michigan State and Wisconsin. The Terps do not play Michigan State at home this year, so maybe a few extra fans in the seats for the Wisconsin game can make a difference. The crowd at the Indiana game was a good one, and enthusiastic, something that Mark Turgeon mentioned postgame.

Maryland’s Big Ten schedule, particularly the times of games, is determined by the league’s television partners. 8:30 on a Monday night isn’t an especially great time and day as far as hopes for attendance, but at least it’s late enough to allow rush hour to finish.

Speaking of which…I’ll let others talk about government shutdowns, but I can tell you that it makes a big difference in the traffic between Baltimore and Washington. If you’re ever looking for an easy trip to a Maryland basketball game, this might be the best time for that in many years.


Tomorrow…

If you didn’t notice, the Big 10 went to a 20-game conference schedule in basketball for the first time for the 2018-19 season.

Previously, with an 18-game schedule, each team would play five league opponents twice and eight once, with four of those coming at home and four on the road. With the 20-game slate, each team plays seven opponents twice and six once, with three of those coming at home and three on the road.

With a 14-team superleague, the 20-game schedule makes a bit more sense. I think it also gives a better sense of a what a team’s conference record means by NCAA tournament time. All of which is to say…

If Maryland can beat Wisconsin tonight and go to 6-1 in the Big Ten, that’s great. But there are still 13 games left, so a great start to the league season means even less than it did in the past.

The Terps have a road schedule that can only be described as brutal, though Ohio State, their opponent on Friday, has lost three straight games. In addition to the game in Columbus, Maryland also plays on the road at Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Michigan. All of those teams are currently ranked in the KenPom Top 15.

The home games for Mark Turgeon’s team are imperative, beginning tonight.

One of those “home” games is, unfortunately, being played at a neutral site, in two Saturdays at Madison Square Garden against Illinois. Luckily, the Fighting Illini are fighting it out with Penn State and Rutgers for the honor of worst team in the league.

After that, the remaining games at home come against Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota. With the exception of Northwestern, all of those teams are good enough to beat Maryland in College Park. John Beilein’s Wolverines are good enough to beat any team anywhere.

The fact is, however, that any team with a record of .500 (11-9) or better in the Big Ten this year is likely going to make the NCAA tournament. The Terps certainly have that in their vision right now, though the potential is certainly higher than that.

After its 2017 and 2018 sojourns to Washington, D.C., and New York City, respectively, the 2019 Big Ten Tournament is back where it belongs, in the Midwest at Chicago’s United Center. Maybe a return to a somewhat distant venue can help the Terps get one or two wins at the conference tournament to improve an NCAA tournament resume that might already be pretty good.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps host wisconsin tonight


Any analysis of the 2018-2019 Wisconsin Badger basketball team begins and ends with their senior leader, Ethan Happ. Happ, who has seemingly been in Madison forever, leads his team in virtually every offensive statistical category.

The Maryland Terrapins will get their chance tonight to stymie Happ when they take on the Badgers in College Park at the unusual starting time of 8:30 p.m.

Happ tops all Wisconsin scorers with 20 points a game. His 10.5 rebounds also lead the team, as does his 4.8 assists-per-game. His offensive game is limited to back-to-the-basket work. He’ll slowly back his defender down to a spot where he can use a dizzying array of quick baby hooks and scoop shots.

He is so effective with his back to the basket that he draws countless double teams and then will kick it out to an awaiting teammate. It’s the reason Happ accumulates high assist totals. The main recipients of the Happ kick-outs are D’Mitrik Trice and Brad Davison.

Trice (the brother of former Michigan State star, Travis Trice) averages 14.4 points per contest while hitting an impressive 47% of his three-point attempts. Davison knocks down 45% of his threes, and gets 10.4 points per game. It’s essential that Maryland not leave these two open when they elect to double down on Happ.

Wisconsin's Ethan Happ got the better of Bruno Fernando twice last season, including once in the Big Ten conference tournament.

Rounding out the likely Badger starting lineup are 6’5” guard Khalil Iverson and forward Nate Reuvers. Reuvers is big, but his 6’11” 240-pound frame doesn’t provide a defensive presence with the ball in the paint. He does possess some finesse with the ball, but he is far from a “banger” down low. Close to 40% of his field goal attempts are from behind the three-point line. His front-court partner, Happ, has only attempted 4 long range shots. All were missed.

Wisconsin likes a slow tempo to their game. They will exhibit patience on the offensive end and will force their opponent to use a bunch of shot clock when running half court sets. They only allow 63 points-per-game and are one of the best teams in the Big Ten in defending the three-point shot.

I look for Maryland to counter the tough Wisconsin defense with a focused attention to running fast breaks any chance they get. The chances should be numerous because when Wisconsin does miss a shot, they very seldom grab the offensive rebound. They are last in that category in the Big Ten. Maryland will dominate the boards tonight in much the same fashion that they dominated the glass against Indiana a few nights ago. They will push tempo at every opportunity.

There are several intangibles tonight that will work in the Terps favor. The first revolves around the nightmarish offensive performance of Maryland’s Jalen Smith in his last game. Smith was shut out from the field in that contest and comes into tonight’s game with extra motivation and a favorable match-up with the slower Reuvers.

The second piece of extra motivation belongs to Bruno Fernando. Bruno locked horns with Happ twice last year. In the first game, Maryland won by 5 points at home, but Fernando had only 6 points while Happ dropped 18. Happ outscored Fernando 14-12 in last year’s rematch, a 59-54 Terp loss in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Fernando wants to impress and he knows the XFINITY Center will be filled with NBA scouts who have come to watch Happ, Fernando, and Jalen Smith.

Wisconsin likes to extend their defensive pressure to way beyond the three-point line. That could spell trouble against the quicker Terp guards. This benefits all the Terp guards, but especially Anthony Cowan. Cowan, who has really picked up his play recently, should get numerous drive and dish opportunities. Smith and Fernando will be the main beneficiaries.

I see no way for the interior Wisconsin defenders to handle Fernando and even Smith. Both Terps will reach double digits.

The only way I can see Wisconsin hanging in this game is if they go nuts hitting threes. Happ will get his points, but if the rest of the cast are adequately defended, Maryland should secure a victory in a game that does not go down to the wire.

Two weeks ago, Wisconsin was ranked 15th in the country. I said at that time that they didn’t deserve that kind of respect nationally, and they have since dropped out of the top 25 after losing 4 of their last five games.

With both teams having played a home game on Friday, but the Badgers having to travel east for tonight’s game, I look for the fresher Terps to come away with the win.

If I thought Wisconsin was going to hit 60% from the three-point line, and Happ would make more than his horrid 49% from the foul line, I might be inclined to grasp the points and hope for a cover. But neither of those will happen and the Terps will roll to a 70-60 win. Vegas says the line is Maryland (-3). It’s not enough.

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Sunday
January 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1602


open the mic and let everyone talk


With six inches of snow on the ground out there, I guess I picked a pretty good day to unveil a new #DMD feature.

What else are you going to do today other than shovel and get the cars cleaned off? Watch football, perhaps?

Well, if you'll be in the recliner or on the couch this afternoon, I have something else you can do. You can join me and others (how many? I have no idea) in the #DMD "chat room" that we'll be affectionately referring to as #DMD Open Mic.

It's like talk radio, I suppose, except you're typing instead of talking. But you get the idea.

I used to love the host-caller interaction back in my days on the radio. As it still is today, radio "experts" back then were not thrilled with having people call in and take over the airwaves for a few minutes. I remember once a member of our station saying, "The callers add nothing except a new level of dumb."

You can hear "radio philosophy" anywhere you tune these days. Heck, some stations loathe the interaction so much they simply don't take calls anymore. Others will let the caller have their say and then quickly usher them off the air as soon as they finish their question or statement, "Bill, thanks for the call, I gotta run..."

I heard one of the FM hosts say that several times a couple of nights ago. Dave called in with a comment about John Harbaugh. "You know, I just think Harbaugh has a certain amount of loyalty to his coaches that gets in the way of his ability to make sound, smart decisions on them." I thought it was a fair point and could have sparked a couple of minutes of dialogue between the host and caller.

As soon as Dave ended his statement (...smart decisions on them."), he was briskly cut off.

"Dave, I appreciate the call. I gotta run..." And it struck me: Run where? You're not going anywhere. Why not sit there and talk to the man for a few minutes? He might even eventually make a valid point. Instead, Dave was gone and then the host gave what almost amounted to a canned, pre-written response about how loyalty was Harbaugh's achilles heel and blah, blah, blah.

Where the host missed it was in the potential for exchange and interaction. What if he disagreed with Dave's assessment about Harbaugh's loyalty? The two might have enjoyed a couple of minutes of smart, interesting sports talk banter where the caller makes his case and the host makes his.

Instead, the caller got to ask a question or make one statement and then he was gone.

But that's what Radio 101 teaches these days. "Everything has to be quick," hosts are told now. "Keep it moving. Listeners tune in to hear you talk about sports, not other callers. Treat every caller like an old radio DJ treated a record. Play it, tell everyone who the artist was, and play another song right away."

Then there are some hosts who feel callers are beneath them, as in, "These people calling in don't have nearly the expertise that I do. Why give them a chance to show how little they really know?"

I used to get criticized in staff meetings because I kept callers on the air too long. Heck, I let one maniac call in every Monday during football season and make snide remarks about the Ravens, all the while disguising himself as a certain fellow from Indianapolis. I even let the fool sing at the end of his "bit".

My overview of sports radio was -- and still is -- that it was supposed to be "entertaining". I was told on numerous occasions I was wrong. Maybe I was.

Starting today, though, we're going to use a new feature here at #DMD.

It's called #DMD Open Mic. It's basically a live comments section. Today's will run from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The room will open in time for us to chat about the end of the Chargers/Patriots game and we'll be around throughout the first half, at least, of the Saints-Eagles contest.

You'll be able to log-in, create an ID, and chat away with me and anyone else who is in the room with us. It might only be me. Who knows? I plan on doing this several times a week. It might be today during football games. And then Tuesday during lunch hour. And then maybe one night this week we'll do it during a Maryland basketball game or Caps hockey game.

There will be some very basic rules. No swearing is the non-negotiable one. If you come in and use foul language, you're out.

"Don't Be A Jerk" is the other simple rule. If you come in to the room and act like a jerk, you'll be shown the door. This is where you might be thinking, "Who decides what being a "jerk" is?" I guess I do. Someone has to...it might as well be me.

I think those are two pretty simple rules. Don't swear and don't be a jerk. If you can't follow them, I don't know what else to say. Just try and add something positive to the room.

PLEASE RETURN TO #DMD AT 3:30 PM TODAY AND YOU'LL SEE AN "OPEN MIC" LOG-IN AREA JUST ABOVE THE COMMENTS SECTION

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could 2019 be kuchar's year?


After going four and a half years without a win on the PGA Tour, Matt Kuchar is on the cusp of winning twice within a span of just two months.

Kuchar leads the Sony Hawaii Open by two shots at 18 under par after a third round score of 66 on Saturday. Andrew Putnam (-16) is next, followed by Kevin Mitchell and Chez Reavie, both of whom sit four shots behind at 14-under par.

The former U.S. Amateur champion has had an outstanding professional career. Kuchar has won eight times on TOUR and made over $43 million in career earnings. He's finished top 10 in every major championship at least once, nearly winning the 2017 British Open before losing a back nine battle with Jordan Spieth.

But, Kuchar is a member of a less-than-desirable group out on the TOUR. He's definitely among the first names mentioned whenever someone asks the dreaded question: "Who is the best player without a major championship victory?"

For a long time, it was Colin Montgomerie.

He never did win one.

Then it was Lee Westwood. He came close a bunch of times. But he's still major-less.

For a while, it was Sergio Garcia. That is, until he won the Masters in 2017.

Henrik Stenson was on the list. Then he won the British Open at age 40 and he was free from the scorn that comes along with being a great player that never won a major title.

If money matters to you, then "Kooch" is definitely in the running to wear the "Best player to not have a major title" label these days.

Of the top 18 career money winners on the TOUR, there are only two guys without a major title. Kuchar, at #14, is one of them. Steve Stricker, at #13, is the other.

But Stricker's days out on the PGA Tour are mostly gone now. He has won 12 times, but Father Time has him playing a split schedule between the "regular" PGA Tour and what we all still call the "Senior" Tour.

Kuchar, at age 40, still has lots and lots of quality golf ahead of him.

Could this be the year he finally breaks through and wins a major? Maybe. Augusta National has treated him well in recent years. Kuchar has four top 10's at the Masters, including a span of three straight years in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Is a green jacket in Kuchar's future, perhaps?

If so, he can give that nasty label to someone else. Like Rickie Fowler, perhaps.

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show me the money


Some days you're the windshield. Other days, you're the bug.

We got bloodied yesterday, losing on both our Colts and Cowboys picks. I won't bore you with the silly details about how we got ripped off in both games. The Colts dropping touchdown passes left and right and missing 23 yard field goals. The Cowboys hanging in there long enough to be trailing by eight points with 2 minutes left, only to have Jared Goff lumber for eight yards and a 3rd and 7 that essentially salted the game way.

We were on the good end of some of those wacky finishes this past season. It happens to everyone.

So we now sit at 3-3 in the playoff campaign, with two more games to go today. And off we go...

CHARGERS AT PATRIOTS (-4.0) -- It's a little scary to see how much the public has been on the Chargers all week. That was the kiss of the death for the Colts yesterday, in fact. I've loved the Chargers all week, but now I'm starting to get nervous about it. I don't see the Chargers playing a tougher defense than the one they saw in Baltimore last week. And I think they'd LOVE to go back to K.C. next Sunday for the AFC title game. They know they can win there. But can Philip Rivers beat Tom Brady in New England when the season is on the line? I'm taking the Chargers and the four points, but I think New England pulls out a 26-24 win on a last second field goal. I hope I'm wrong, by the way. I really would like to see Rivers and the Chargers win today and win again next week and advance to the Super Bowl.

EAGLES AT SAINTS (-8.0) -- The mystery of Nick Foles ends today. This one's a blowout, friends. The Eagles got a week 17 gift from the schedule makers, having a lay-up in D.C. that helped them make the playoffs. Then they drew the offensively-challenged Bears last Sunday and got the benefit of a shabby field goal kicker. They'll get no such gifts today. The Saints score early and often in an easy 36-21 win that's not even that close.

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Saturday
January 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1601


it's roman's turn to get beat up


The two most popular sports figures in Baltimore: The back-up quarterback. And the guy who is next in line to be the offensive coordinator of the football team.

The guy who was the back-up -- Lamar Jackson -- was the darling of the town for about seven weeks, or right up until he laid a Flintstone's size egg last Sunday against the Chargers.

Now...he's paying for his own drinks again.

The man who was next-in-line to run the Ravens' offense got his promotion yesterday. Welcome to the jungle, Greg Roman.

I assume you know by now that Marty Mornhinweg got "demoted" on Friday. Sure, the more convenient term would be "fired", but technically the football team didn't terminate Mornhinweg. They merely wanted to re-assign him within the organization. And Marty declined that offer.

The reason Mornhinweg was even re-assigned in the first place was because a team or teams in the NFL started sniffing around Greg Roman for their top offensive position. Not wanting to lose Roman for 2019 (and beyond), John Harbaugh elevated him to the offensive coordinator spot.

You're all caught up now.

On the surface, this looks like a smart move. Mornhinweg was in the crosshairs after last Sunday's offensive debacle and Roman's past successes with both running games and mobile, athletic quarterbacks in San Francisco and Buffalo made him a round peg/round hole kind of fit for Harbaugh and the Baltimore offense.

Seemingly a better fit for the anticipated offensive scheme the Ravens will use in 2019, Greg Roman was elevated to the offensive coordinator position on Friday.

But let's not confuse Roman with a modern day version of Bill Walsh, either.

One quick trip through the internet tells you his act wore thin both with the 49'ers and Bills. He didn't lose his fastball quite as quickly as, say, the teen rock group Hanson did back in the 1990's, but let's just say he wasn't able to make it through three albums before the record company bailed on him.

That's not much of an indictment, though. Offensive coordinators get chased out of town all the time. It's just the nature of the business.

The Ravens, of course, have had a long line of guys in charge of their offense. At one point, all of them curried some sort of favor with the fan base. But it didn't take long for all of them to get spit-roasted and draw the ire of the football community here in Charm City.

Cavanaugh, Neuheisel, Fassel, Cameron, Caldwell, Trestman, Mornhinweg...they all did some good things. Heck, Cavanaugh (2000) and Caldwell (2012) earned Super Bowl rings for their respective bodies of work, although the words Ravens and offense didn't collide in the same sentence very often when Brian Billick's team won the Super Bowl with Cavanaugh at the helm of the offense and Caldwell took over for Cam Cameron late in the season back in 2012 and was basically along for the ride while Joe Flacco became Joe Montana for a month.

Trust me...had Caldwell stuck around long enough, he would have been chased out of town, too.

It's the nature of the beast, for whatever reason.

Since you can't fire all of the offensive linemen and Lamar Jackson for their damnable play last Sunday, you do the next most logical thing. You fire their boss.

I don't like it. But I get it.

And this, of course, is coming from the guy who wrote here at #DMD last Tuesday that Mornhinweg needed to go. His time was up in Baltimore. I just figured it out three days before John Harbaugh, apparently.

So, I hope Greg Roman is renting a place out near Owings Mills somewhere. If history repeats itself -- and it almost undoubtedly will -- he'll be looking for a new gig in another few years.

The real question, though, is this: How long until the fan base starts throwing up their hands and asking for Roman's firing?

If Vegas asked me to set the line on how long it will be until Twitter explodes one Sunday afternoon with "This Roman dude stinks. He needs to go!" tweets, I'd go with week 7.5 next season.

The guy who sets the line probably can't wager. So put $100 on the "under" for me, please.

It won't take half a season.

But good luck nonetheless, Greg. Enjoy your time on the hottest seat in town from September through December.

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you say: lamar is ravens' biggest challenge


Lamar Jackson and the challenge he presents for the Ravens was the runaway winner of our #DMD poll -- "5 Top Thoughts from 2018" -- from Friday's edition.

Jackson garnered a whopping 41% of the vote, easily outdistancing the other four options.

The Ravens shouldn't re-sign C.J. Mosley was next with 24%.

Marlon Humphrey has emerged as a potential extraordinary player finished third with 16%.

2019 could be Sam Koch's final season registered 12%.

And Matt Judon is one season away from a massive payday claimed just 7% of the vote.


show me the money, playoff version


After punching Vegas in the face during the regular season (finishing 12 games above .500), we went right back to the throat and neck area last weekend, posting a 3-1 mark in picking playoff games against the spread. Our only loss? Yep...the Ravens. Thanks a lot, Lamar.

So here we are today, ready to kick off the weekend in style with two games for you. We'll be around tomorrow, of course, for the other two selections.

On a side note, anyone have an extra Brinks Truck laying around we can borrow?

Can Andrew Luck and the Colts make it 11-1 in their last 12 games today?

COLTS AT CHIEFS (-5.0) -- Yes, I'm buying stock in the Colts. But not because I'm buying it on them, per se, but more because I'm shorting the Chiefs. I think their fortunes have changed dramatically since losing Kareem Hunt. And now that they're facing a legitimate team in a big, big game, I think Hunt's absence becomes even more impactful. And the Colts aren't chopped liver, either. They're 10-1 in their last 11 games and playing on the road doesn't seem to faze them. Weather could be a factor today, sure, but I still like Indy to grind it out, cover, and win the football game, 22-20.

COWBOYS AT RAMS (-7.0) -- Boy, this one is hard to get a grasp on. The Cowboys are adept at stopping the run. The Rams need Todd Gurley and their run game to liven up so they can throw the ball. If Dallas can limit what Gurley does, they're in the game. But then, of course, the question centers on Dak Prescott. Is he ready for this moment? Can "Zeke" do to the Rams what Gurley can't do to the Cowboys, potentially? I don't have a great feel here, but I'm going with Dallas to fight and bite and scratch their way to a cover. Just for kicks and giggles, I'll take the Rams to win (but wouldn't be at all surprised to see Dallas pull off the upset), 27-23, but the Cowboys cover the seven.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.



terps turn back indiana


Somehow, someway, the final score of last night’s Maryland Terrapin vs Indiana Hoosier basketball game was Maryland 78 – Indiana 75.

The Terps truly took the best shot that Indiana, the nation’s #22 ranked team, had to offer.

The Hoosiers' star freshman, Romeo Langford, produced an amazing shooting night that included a perfect 9-9 from the foul line. He tallied a game high 28 points and knocked down 3 of his 6 three point tries while shooting 57% from the floor. As a team, Indiana went 16 for 16 from the foul line and hit 41% of their threes.

Both numbers were well above their season averages. They built a 14-point cushion about 2/3 of the way through the first half while forcing 8 Maryland turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Down the stretch, Indiana hit countless shots, including NBA range threes and made every foul shot they attempted. During all of this, they managed to hold Maryland’s super freshman, Jalen Smith, scoreless from the field for the entire game.

But as good as Indiana was, Maryland was better. It was an impressively hard fought and well-earned Terp victory.

Maryland was led by Bruno Fernando’s career high 25 points, with 17 of those coming in the second half. He did his best Bill Walton imitation while connecting on 11 of 12 shots from the field and corralling 13 rebounds. He was 8 for 8 from the floor in the second half.

A second straight impressive performance from Anthony Cowan helped the Terps beat a talented Indiana team on Friday night in College Park.

Anthony Cowan dropped 24, with 16 in the second half. His stat line was special. 24 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and only 2 turnovers. Fernando and Cowan more than picked up the offensive slack from Smith and his zero-for-nine shooting performance. Smith did grab 10 rebounds, with half of those coming on the offensive end.

As expected, the Terps mauled Indiana on the offensive boards. Maryland grabbed 18 of their own misses while Indiana could only chase down 3 of theirs. The overall 42-25 rebounding advantage was monumental in Maryland’s victory.

Two key runs helped turn this game around. The first came after Indiana went up by 14, 28-14 with 6:59 left in the first half. Cowan then scored 5 straight points and, after a Hoosier bucket by Justin Smith, Fernando poured in four straight. The half ended with a missed three by Aaron Wiggins which kept the Indiana lead at 8, 35-27.

The Terps were lethargic and sloppy to start the game. Jalen Smith couldn’t buy a bucket, partly because he couldn’t seem to hold on to a ball that must have been slippery only to him. Maryland could have been blown out in the first half had they not been able to tighten things up on the defensive end.

After yielding 14 points in the game’s first 4:19, they allowed only 21 in the next 15:41. The offense still wasn’t in sync, but they kept themselves in the game by playing solid “D”.

To start the second half, Indiana’s powerful forward, Juwan Morgan, made a layup off of a beautifully run set play to extend the Hoosier lead to double digits, 37-27. But from that point on it was pretty much all Maryland.

Fernando made a short jumper in the paint followed by a Cowan jumper from about 5 feet. Darryl Morsell made a nifty driving layup on a fast break, and very quickly the comfortable 10-point Indiana lead was down to a very manageable 4 points. Two made foul shots by Jalen Smith trimmed the margin to just 2 points before a monster block by Fernando, and a thunderous dunk by Bruno one possession later, tied the game at 37 all.

Back to back threes by Cowan and Morsell capped the 14-0 Terp run. Their lead was 6 points and it was an advantage they would never relinquish.

Indiana did manage to trim the Terp’s lead to just a single point, 45-44, but Cowan and Fernando combined to score 7 straight to provide a gap that the Hoosiers never could cut to just a single possession.

Indiana tried their best to stage a miraculous rally, hitting 3 three-pointers and going 8 for 8 from the foul line, all in the last 2:24. But Maryland was able to hit enough foul shots to stymie any thoughts of a comeback win by the visitors.

The same Terp team that could only produce 11 points through the game’s first 12:17, put up 67 in the last 27:43.

They accomplished this by using the biggest mismatches on the floor, and we focused on both of these in Friday's pre-game #DMD column.

Indiana lacked the size to contend with Bruno Fernando, and they lacked the speed to keep Cowan out of the paint. Once the Hoosier defenders tired just a bit, Maryland outplayed and out-hustled them.

Cowan was getting to the rim, Fernando was getting much deeper position in the paint, and the Terp team was chasing down almost every loose ball. They energy with which they played was easily matched by the enthusiastic crowd. If it were not for some heroic shooting by Indiana late in the game, that crowd induced spark may have produced a blowout win for the Terps.

Despite large unoccupied sections in the student area (they are still on winter break), the XFINITY Center got loud and electric during the Terp runs, and stayed that way throughout the whole second half. It was a home court advantage that was not lost on Maryland head coach, Mark Turgeon. Turgeon stated that the crowd energy helped his kids relax and play their best ball.

It was a fun night for the home team and the fans in College Park. It was the type of night the Maryland players hope to duplicate on Monday when they return to the XFINITY Center to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Tip-off is at 8:30 and the game will be televised by FOX on FS1.

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Friday
January 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1600


five truths about eric decosta


This is a really significant day in Ravens history.

For the first time in, well, forever, there's a general manager in place other than Ozzie Newsome.

Eric DeCosta takes over for Ozzie today at 1 Winning Drive.

If you don't know DeCosta's story, it's an interesting one. I'll share some basic tidbits with you in just a second. And I'll also dispel five "myths" about DeCosta too, things that I've heard on the radio recently or read in the local newspaper.

And these things you'll read in today's #DMD aren't "guesses" or "clickbait". I'm telling you the truth about DeCosta, not angling for a narrative that fits a certain agenda.

Myth #1 -- DeCosta never played football: Heard this one on the air Wednesday from someone who occupies a fairly important on-air radio slot in town. "He's a stats geek," the guy said. "Didn't really football at a high level." Well, that's wrong. True, Eric didn't play at Alabama or Clemson. But he was the team captain back in the early 1990's at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, a Division III school. He played in high school and in college. And, of course, he's been a member of the Ravens organization for two decades now.

Eric DeCosta officially takes over as the Ravens' general manager today.

Myth #2 -- Eric is only in the GM seat because Bisciotti "hand picked him": I heard some maniac, Lee in Bowley's Quarters, spew this nonsense on the radio yesterday. "I'm hearing the only reason DeCosta is the GM is because he's Bisciotti's hand picked guy...so Bisciotti can make all the important decisions." Lee, pay attention. Anyone who would become the GM of the team is, in reality, "hand picked" by the owner. He's the guy doing the hiring. But DeCosta isn't Bisciotti's nephew or the son of the boss like we saw in Tommy Boy ("And why wouldn't you have a window? You've been here for...ten....minutes"). DeCosta was actually "hand picked" by Bisciotti about eight years ago. It just took eight years for Newsome to retire.

Myth #3 -- Newsome is still going to do the drafting: Wrong. Will Ozzie still be involved over in Owings Mills? Of course. They'd be silly to not have Newsome provide wisdom and insight, he's one of the most successful general managers of the last 20 years. But DeCosta is the general manager now. He's in charge. Just like Ozzie taught him to gather lots of opinions and make everyone feel like they're part of the process, I'm sure Eric will do the same thing. But DeCosta, not Newsome, will have the final say on drafting matters in April (and beyond).

Myth #4 -- DeCosta can't draft wide receivers: Another on-air host in town was guilty of this one on Wednesday of this week. "Look at the team's history of drafting receivers. DeCosta was involved in all of those drafts. And the Ravens have been terrible at picking receivers." Well, there's little arguing the fact that the team hasn't been successful when it comes to drafting wide receivers. DeCosta himself wouldn't argue that point. But Eric's role in drafting them was marginal, at best. Did he provide insight and analysis on some wide receivers the team selected? Most certainly he did. But Eric never strong-armed Ozzie Newsome into taking anyone. Ozzie never selected a player he didn't want to take. Just like Eric won't do that now and in the future.

Myth #5 -- Eric and Harbaugh don't get along: I saved the best one for last. This, of them all, is the biggest fallacy you'll read or hear this week. Don't buy into it. Not even one bit. DeCosta was one of the first people in the organization to highlight John Harbaugh's name in yellow when he came through to interview for the vacant Ravens head coach position in 2008. He wasn't the only reason Harbaugh got hired, but Eric was a promoter of John right from the start. There's no "rift" between the two and this nonsense (and that's what it is...) that the two of them don't get along is so laughably from-another-planet that I don't know what else to say about it. That there are media members in town who say this and attach their name to it shows they're not doing even a sliver of homework or questioning the right sources.

I've known DeCosta for going on 13 years now. Just like I'm openly willing to say, "I'm a John Harbaugh fan", I'm not ashamed one bit to say, "I'm an Eric DeCosta fan".

I'm excited for his new role to begin in earnest today and I think Ravens fans will appreciate him in no short time. With all due respect to Ozzie and his timid nature when it comes to the media and speaking with the fans, I don't see Eric being quite that reclusive. You'll see and hear more from Eric than you did from Ozzie, I'd bet.

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my top five ravens thoughts from 2018


Now that the dust has settled on the 2018 Ravens season, I'll give you my top six thoughts from the season, in no specific order of importance.


1. There's a real potential for the Ravens to have one extraordinary player in their midst moving forward. His name is Marlon Humphrey. Not only is Humphrey potentially going to turn into one of the top three defensive backs in the entire league, I think he has some true leadership qualities. I'm not talking about doing squirrel dances or anything like that. I mean leadership in the locker room and on the sidelines and in the huddle. He's the best "football player" on the team right now.

How will the Ravens have to tailor their offensive line around Lamar Jackson in 2019 and beyond?

2. Matthew Judon is one really good season away from making a ton of money in the NFL. If Judon has another great season in 2019, he'll be one of the league's most coveted free agents heading into the 2020 campaign. Judon signed a 4-year deal back in 2016 worth -- get this -- $2.59 million. He might be a $100 million guy in 2020 if he keeps wrecking quarterbacks like he has the last couple of years.

3. The Ravens face a significant challenge with Lamar Jackson. Jackson is such a unique talent with a "different" skill set than most NFL QB's...that the Ravens are going to have to configure their offensive line to fit his strengths and weaknesses. They'll need faster, more athletic tackles and guards, for sure.

4. Sam Koch's five year deal ends in 2019. He makes more than $3 million (on average) to punt the football. He's been great, mind you. I think he'll actually wind up in the team's Ring of Honor someday. But you can get a guy out of college to punt and be decent at it for about $600,000 a year. I suspect 2019 will be Koch's final season in Baltimore.

5. I'd pass on re-signing C.J. Mosley this off-season. He's a good player. But nothing more than that. Let someone else give him a $20 million signing bonus and pay him $15 million annually. There's no reason to pay him that kind of money.

Which one of those do you most agree with? Take part in our #DMD reader's poll and let us know.



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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.



terps host indiana tonight in big ten showdown


Not many teams have been able to walk off the court after a game with the 2018-2019 Indiana Hoosiers, look up at the scoreboard, and see they've defeated Archie Moore’s #22 ranked squad.

#3 Duke did it, as did Arkansas. #2 Michigan, playing at home, beat the Hoosiers last Sunday. But that’s it. The rest of Indiana’s opponents have all suffered defeat.

The Hoosiers have a 12-3 record and a well deserved Top 25 ranking as they head into this tussle with the Maryland Terrapins in the XFINITY Center tonight at 7 pm.

When you are the #22 team in college basketball, carry the best shooting percentage in the Big 10, and feature two prominent scorers, its rational to predict a tight game against an unranked Terp team who statistically are fairly equal to the Hoosiers.

But I’m not buying that line of thinking. I can see Indiana struggling in College Park, and for good reason.

Indiana has two dynamic scorers, but after that, the drop-off is dramatic. Freshman sensation, Romeo Langford, is a 6’6” guard who leads Indiana with 18.2 points-per-game. He is smooth with the ball and scores well inside or out. He is likely a one-and-done guy who possess the best step-back jumper that I’ve seen in college hoops this year. He’ll also hit the boards, getting 5.7 rebounds per game. That’s good for 2nd among his Indiana mates.

Juwan Morgan is a seasoned senior vet who plays the power forward spot with his 6’8” 235-pound frame. Morgan is a highly efficient inside scoring threat (64%) who doesn’t shoot many three-point shots. However, his outside game must be respected, as he makes 44% of the threes that he does launch. Morgan has nice moves around the basket and can use either hand. He gets 16.7 points, and 7.8 rebounds, per game. He too is a legitimate scoring threat.

Bruno Fernando has been impressive thus far in the 2018-2019. The Maryland big man needs to have another quality performance this evening against Indiana.

After Morgan and Langford, Indiana has a bevy of guys averaging around 8 points per game. Only 6’4” sophomore guard, Aljami Durham, impresses me a someone that can beat you in a tight game. He shoots it well and goes to the hoop hard. As a group, the supporting cast is capable, but nothing intimidating.

Maryland’s Darryl Morsell is gaining league-wide respect as an elite defender. With him locked onto Indiana’s Langford, the Terps are in fine position to slow down the Hoosier scoring ace. In Maryland’s paint, Morgan can be slick on the blocks, but he doesn’t often have to contend with the length and power of a Bruno Fernando or weak side help from someone as long as the Terp’s Jalen Smith. These are major advantages that the Terps possess.

On the other side of the court, I’m not sure that Indiana’s roster has enough quality size to limit the Terps powerful inside game. I also question their speed on the perimeter. It’s become kind of cliché to say Fernando, Smith, and Cowan should be able to put up points, but the fact remains that they should be real problems for Indiana.

Although these two teams have so many identical stats, two lopsided statistical advantages for Maryland could spell headaches for the Hoosiers. The Terps are the #1 Big 10 team in offensive rebound percentage. Indiana is 13th, or next to last. When they get to the foul line, Indiana hits just 65% (13th in the league) while the Terps convert at a 73% rate (2nd in the Big 10). Again, major advantages for Maryland.

If the Hoosiers have ideas of using a favorable turnover margin to help offset some of Maryland’s advantages, they might be looking in the wrong spot. Indiana turns the ball over more times per game than the Terps do (14.9-14.5).

I see only one way that the Hoosiers make this game interesting. They must shoot a percentage from the three-point line that belies their season average of 36%, and hold the Terps well below their average of 34.5 %. Outside of that, this is a solid Terp victory.

I was expecting a line of about 7 or 8 points...in favor of Maryland. The early line came out as MD (-5). That may be a more reasonable number, but it still falls short of the final Terps margin of victory.

Recent Terp wins will have the public swaying towards the home favorite here. Many times, hot teams will revert back to their norm, and if the lines-makers have extended the number, the betters find themselves on the losing end when the dog loses but covers. In this case, the matchups just invite me to lay the points and go with the home favorite.

Maryland wins this game – big.

Indiana has accumulated 12 wins this year, but that may be a fraction deceiving. Four of those victories were by 3 points or less.

Langford and Morgan will have impressive, even spectacular, moments. But it won’t be nearly enough for the Hoosiers to get a “W” on the road. Indiana will get a bit exposed tonight and lose to Maryland by 13, 77-64.

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Thursday
January 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1599


giving the ravens credit


The analysis and breakdowns of what happened last Sunday in Baltimore are pretty much over with now.

Sure, the talk show guys are still milking it for all that it's worth. I remember those days. "We can get two or three weeks out of this," I'd say to myself in the aftermath of a season-ending playoff loss in Pittsburgh, New England or Indianapolis.

And so, they will, I bet. This week it's Lamar Jackson, the offense and Marty Mornhinweg.

If John Harbaugh's extension gets announced today, as many believe it will, that could generate another three or four days of on-air debate.

Here, though, I'm ready to put the season into the rear view mirror.

Except for one last piece.

While not "officially" a member of the organization, these four add to your game-day experience in Baltimore.

I'm here today to give the Ravens credit.

I think they spent nearly all of 2018 trying to get their organizational "ship" straightened out.

And I believe they did just that. Sure, it's their purpose and responsibility to be a model franchise and to treat the city of Baltimore and their fan base with kindness. But lots of teams fail in that endeavor.

The Ravens made great efforts this year to increase the entertainment and comfort level of the game-day experience. They went out of their way to do it, in fact.

It took longer than perhaps people wanted, but the escalators near Gate C were supremely helpful. As a 55-year old who would prefer not to walk-the-ramps from ground level to the upper deck, I can attest to their comfort.

The reduced concession prices were a great gesture from Steve Bisciotti. There's probably nothing more aggravating in the (sports) world than paying $7.00 for a hot dog that probably came six-to-a-package for $4.00.

The corner video boards are nice. They cost money, remember. And the Ravens paid for all of it.

I don't need to go to into the work the team does in the community throughout the season. One journey through the team's website and mobile app will give you hours of evidence, from video recaps to written stories, about the various civic and charitable things the team does throughout the year.

I should hit "pause" here for a minute and offer this additional thought, so no one starts scratching their Orioles-get-ignored itch. I've said and written this a lot in the last couple of years: The Orioles have also vastly improved their marketing and promotional efforts over the last few years. Like the Ravens, they, too, have gone out of their way at Camden Yards to enhance their customer's experience in the stadium.

But because this is football season, I'm thinking mostly of the Ravens today.

There are still people out there agitated with the organization about the kneeling incident from 2017 and the way Steve Bisciotti handled it. Other than using the words "we apologize for the behavior of our players" -- which, obviously, they are NEVER going to say -- the Ravens have done just about everything they could do to rebound from that 90 seconds of poor form in London.

I had a discussion with someone earlier this week who is still bristling at the kneeling thing 16 months later. He's now upset with me because I'm no longer mad about it. "I think it would be different if they had guys on a knee every week, like they've had in Miami," I explained. "I'd probably be upset to see two or three players kneeling every Sunday. But it happened once. And the team basically said, 'It won't happen again' and to my knowledge, it hasn't. So I'm good with it."

I mean, I'm not good with kneeling during the national anthem. As I've said before, in case you're new here, I'd never employ someone who wouldn't stand during the national anthem. But I think the Ravens did just about everything they could to try and clean up the damage that was done that day.

Now that the 2018 season is in the rear view mirror, I'm stopping for just a minute to recognize them for their efforts. Are they "perfect"? Nope. Find me a sports organization that is, when you get a second. I'll be here waiting.

In the meantime, other than that dreary performance last Sunday, everything about the 2018 campaign was a success, both on and off the field.

Thank you, Ravens.

Now...about that lack of coffee at the concession stands.

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about that booing


Having been a Maryland basketball season ticket holder for many years, I remember some of the losses almost as well as the great wins. On that Valentine’s Day, the Terps lost to Florida State at Cole Field House. The Seminoles entered the game with a record of 6-17, 1-9 in the ACC.

The game finished after 11 p.m. on that Wednesday night. Everyone had to get up for work in a few hours. The loss was Maryland’s third in a row. It was unseasonably warm outside, which made it even hotter in the old building than it usually was. The mood was tense.

And boy did the crowd boo. I’d never heard anything like it there. It wasn’t like the perfunctory boos of hatred-slash-respect for Dean Smith or Coach K or any of the hundreds of great opposing players who stepped on that court.

The head coach always did a radio interview immediately after home games, one that was piped over Cole’s antiquated public address system. As we were filing out, before Johnny Holliday even asked him a question, the coach responded to the setting with some excellent Gary Williams sarcasm.

“Hey. Thanks a lot. We really appreciate your support,” he said.

I thought back to that game over the last few days, what with the boos at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday and the reaction to them by a few Ravens’ players.

Kenneth Dixon said “you (sic) either with us or against us. Plain disrespectful.”

Ronnie Stanley said that “there are going to be good times and there are going to be bad times, and we expect your support in all those times.”

Jimmy Smith went so far as to talk to a group of fans behind the bench, first reported on a great real-time catch by CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.

My sense is that the people booing were doing so mostly in general discontentment with an inept offensive performance. Some of my spies in the crowd insist that people in their section were specifically booing Lamar Jackson. That’s more unfortunate, I think, though everyone should know that the backup quarterback is sometimes the most popular guy in town, even if the backup quarterback is Joe Flacco. But those distinctions don’t even matter that much.

What those guys have wrong, of course, is that booing isn’t necessarily an indication of a lack of support. Honestly, it’s quite the opposite.

It might be silly, since it’s unlikely to have any impact on the game, unlike when 70,000 people get loud on a key third-down play for the opponent. And I suppose it’s somewhat childish, an inarticulate way of indicating your frustration.

Arguing with the fans during a game probably wasn't the best look for Jimmy Smith last Sunday.

Compared to the alternatives, however? I’ll take booing any day of the week.

Guess what, Ronnie? You ought to be there for the fans too, in both good times and bad times. They invest a lot in you. They want you to succeed. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to be motivated by them, good or bad. You just have to understand them, up to and including understanding why some of them might boo.

Williams got that. Deep down, he really did appreciate the fact that 14,500 people (and lots more who wished they were in the arena) cared enough to boo a team that wasn’t playing nearly up to its talent level. He worked hard for many years to develop that passionate support, and he knew damn well what that could mean if his team stunk. He understood that the same fans had, about three weeks earlier, witnessed the Terps lose a game against a bitter rival in which they led by 10 points with 53 seconds left.

Sarcasm can be a lot of things, but in this case, it was a defense mechanism. Gary had a few of those, from what I remember.

I don’t know what he said in the locker room after his postgame interview, but I’ll take a guess, profanity excluded. “If you don’t like the booing, which I don’t like either, then you guys need to play better. I need to coach better. The booing happened for a reason. You know what it was. We have to do something about it.”

Since Sunday was the last time this Ravens team will play a game, they can’t do something about it in the same way. They won’t be able to make up for it, though hopefully every Ravens fan can take away plenty of good memories from this playoff season.

So instead, I’d ask these guys to have some perspective.

I’d tell Kenneth that I’m impressed with how hard he is to tackle, but that the world ain’t black and white like that. I’d tell Ronnie that he’s an outstanding player, and to give the rest of the offensive line props for their great adjustment this season, but even with all those empty seats this year there’s plenty of support. I’d tell Jimmy that he’s a better player than people give him credit for, but he and every other professional athlete would be better off not reacting on the sideline to what fans are saying.

It’s not even about being lucky to be a highly-paid professional athlete or being lucky to play the game you loved as a kid as an adult. It’s about understanding that the fans aren’t always going to like what they see.

Speaking of lucky, Williams and Juan Dixon and the rest of the Terps were fortunate that the Florida State game wasn’t the last game of the season. They won their last five regular-season games, including a win on Shane Battier’s senior night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After nearly beating Duke again in the ACC Tournament, they made it to the Final Four for the first time in school history.

By that time, the Florida State game was ancient history, even though it was only six weeks earlier. All these years later, only weirdos like me have any recollection of it at all.

I’ll never forget it, though. As the modern-day Terps play to a half-filled home arena, and the modern-day Ravens move on to next season, it’s a reminder of how much a group of fans can care about a team.

The best athletes at high levels don’t only miss the cheering of the crowd once they retire; they kind of miss the booing too. When it comes down to it, no matter how many games they won or lost, they really appreciate the support.

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this week on the pga tour


As you'll see below with the updated standings, I'm off to a comfortable lead in the Drew vs. George season-long PGA Tour golf challenge.

George is already so nervous about it, he's sending me emails on Monday morning (which, you'll see below as well).

With Jon Rahm's decent finish in Hawaii last Sunday and Brooks Koepka sputtering out of the gate, I'm already 2-up through two holes, if you will. Sure, there's a long way to go, and George has some nice picks on his side of the board, but I have a Gus Bradley-like-strategy for my buddy that's going to render him as confused as Lamar Jackson was last Sunday.

I'm sticking with Gary Woodland this week and George, apparently, is keeping Brian Harman. Woodland, of course, played great last weekend -- one tournament too soon for me, maybe -- falling by one shot to Xander Schauffele. Golfers tend to get hot and stay hot for about three weeks. I'm hoping Woodland stays extra warm for at least one more week. Harman's a good player. He's a fighter. You'll see him on my list later on this season, for sure.

Drew is looking for another high finish from Gary Woodland this weekend as the TOUR continues their 2-week stint in Hawaii.

And now, we get to George's crowing. See below.

I thought my boy Xander would need a few events to get his stroke tuned, but it looks like he's going to dominate from first to last. "Alpha to Omega," as they say. "Wire to Wire." He's got four PGA Tour wins in two years, which is a good career for ham-and-egg journeymen like, oh, say, Rickie Fowler, who has recorded the same number of victories in 10 years on Tour.

The rule you made about changing out a player for another up to four times during the first half of the Contest -- any time you wanna swap out your pick for Fowler, I won't count that against your four. Change to Rickie as oft as you please. If he gets hot and starts racking up those Top Tens, I'm sure you'll get as goofy as the talking heads and become giddy with anticipation. Just make your change before the back nine on Sunday, when reality will set in.

As I understand the rules, we take the number of players who make the cut, subtract from that number the finishing spot of our selections, and that gives us, respectively, our points for the week. Your guy Rahm finished T8 in a 33-man field, thus 33 - 8 = 25. My guy was 24th, so 33 - 24 = 9 points. Enjoy your lead, while it lasts. I've already used my change #1, and put Schauffele in to win the Masters. I hope there's no Game Warden around – I don't want to get locked up for shooting fish in a barrel.

It occurs to me that there should be some bonus for picking a winner in addition to the points gained for picking a guy who finishes higher than the other guy's pick. Shall we say that picking the winner of an event gives a 15-point bonus?

So there it is. George, having already fallen behind, wants to up the ante for "picking a winner". I'm all for it, though. I could use those extra 15 points when DeChambeau slips on that green jacket in April.




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Wednesday
January 9
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#1598


it's time to call marty in...


I'm not one who relishes the idea of seeing people lose their jobs.

Been there, done that, got the tee shirt. It's not fun.

But in the aftermath of Sunday's offensive debacle in Baltimore and the 23-17 loss to the Chargers, John Harbaugh needs to make a change. It's time for Marty Mornhinweg to move on.

It's not about the result, per se. L.A. has a good team. A really good team, actually. And losing to them, even at home, isn't shameful in the least.

It's how the Ravens lost that leads me to suggesting Harbaugh should relieve Mornhinweg of his duties as the team's offensive coordinator.

You can't have your "side of the ball" put up that kind of performance on Sunday and not pay the price for it. I get it, just like the other team tries too, you can also say, "the other coaches try, too" and you're right. The Chargers' defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley, got the better of Mornhinweg and his Ravens offense on Sunday. Plain and simple. Should Marty be canned for that?

I guess it's one thing if the Ravens fall 33-30 on Sunday.

Is it time for John Harbaugh to make a change at offensive coordinator and send Marty Mornhinweg on his way?

It's another thing, entirely, to watch the team wallow in offensive misery for 53 minutes, with little or no idea of how to get themselves out of it. And even then, the only reason the Ravens put up points in the end is L.A. started playing soft, trying their best not to give up the big play in the game's final minutes.

Mornhinweg had to know the Chargers were going to come to town with some new wrinkles and a different look than the one the Ravens saw back on December 22 when they went into Carson, California and won, 22-10. That's what coaches do, right? They look at the game film from the last time the two teams met and vow not to let that happen again this time around.

Bradley went to work last week, once the playoff matchup was decided.

Mornhinweg went on a family ski trip.

OK, he didn't really go on a ski trip, but you get the idea. Bradley figured out a way to stymie the Baltimore offense and Mornhinweg didn't have an answer. Any answer. Nothing.

Not even at halftime, when the Ravens were getting slapped around like The Brooklyn Brawler circa 1990. Not in the third quarter when the Ravens were boasting a grand total of 56 yards of TOTAL offense for the game.

Mornhinweg offered no adjustments or strategy changes. Bradley had him in checkmate five moves into the game.

Now, I'm not here to suggest that the offensive coordinator is 100% responsible for what happened on Sunday.

Does Lamar Jackson get some of the blame? Of course. He was terrible. Fumbling the ball, misreading his RPOs -- you name it, Jackson botched it on Sunday.

Does the offensive line get some of the blame? They sure do. The Chargers feasted on the likes of James Hurst, Matt Skura and Orlando Brown, Jr. Ronnie Stanley even got called for an important holding call in the second half.

Players play and coaches coach, so the old saying goes.

Everyone chipped in on offense on Sunday -- or didn't chip in, I should say.

But when the dust settled, the team's game plan wasn't effective. They didn't give themselves a chance to win. And that, unfortunately, falls back on the offensive coordinator.

Marty did some good things with Lamar over the first seven weeks. There's no denying that. But the NFL, as we saw on Sunday, figures you out quite quickly. The second or third time around, you're already a "known entity". What confidence does John Harbaugh have that opposing defenses won't have a cooked-to-order game plan to negate Lamar Jackson next season?

My vote goes for a new offensive coordinator.

It's just a natural part of the game. You need someone in there who is fresh and innovative and and proactive -- instead of reactive.

It's time to call Marty in....

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


second half surge lifts terps past minnesota


In beating Minnesota last night, 82-67, Maryland was able to hit every pre-game “key”.

They kept Minnesota’s big rebounder, Jordan Murphy, off of the boards, and in doing so limited his offensive output.

They made Amir Coffey work hard for buckets and held him below his season average. And they got back on defense quickly enough to prevent a barrage of easy Golden Gopher points.

On offense, the Terps took advantage of mismatches on the interior and hit shots from the exterior.

Lastly, they used a huge advantage from the foul line, 24-9, to dominate the second half and coast to an 15-point win in a game where the two teams were only separated by 1 point with 6:52 remaining. The Terps finished with a 20-6 run to earn a hard-fought win.

Anthony Cowan lead the Terps with 27 points. That total included a perfect 10 for 10 from the foul line. Jalen Smith added 21 points, including 7-8 from the foul line. Bruno Fernando grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Terps on the boards.

Anthony Cowan produced one of the best games of his Maryland career last night in Minnesota, scoring 27 points in the 82-67 Big Ten win.

Coffey led Minnesota with 16 points on 6-13 shooting while his co-star, Murphy, only grabbed 5 rebounds and tallied 9 points. Those numbers were well under his 12.5 rebound and 14.5-point averages.

Minnesota had a small lead for much of the first half. The intitial 20 minutes ended with the Golden Gophers ahead by 6, 40-34. The second half would see the Minnesota lead increase to 8, and it was 7 with 14:28 left in the game. At that point, two things happened that changed the game.

Terp coach Mark Turgeon made several lineup changes, the most significant of which included the insertion of Ricky Lindo Jr. Lindo responded with some game altering minutes, especially on the defensive side while playing the back end of a (you won’t believe this) 3-2 zone.

Yes, Turgeon had his team play a large portion of the remaining minutes in a 3-2 zone that sometimes more resembled a 1-2-2. Lindo anchored the back line of that zone, producing 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 14 minutes. He was outstanding.

Maryland didn’t stay exclusively in the zone, but they used it way more than I‘ve seen any Turgeon team in recent memory. The Terps quickly turned that 7-point deficit into a 2-point lead with a 9-0 run. Minnesota hung tough for a while but when the Terp 3-point shooters emerged from their hibernation, connecting on 6 of 7 2nd half tries, the Golden Gophers had no response.

The second half featured some serious sharpshooting by Maryland. They hit 70% from the field, 85% from the three-point line, and 83% from the foul line. They won the rebounding battle for the half by 9, 19-10. It was a dominant second half performance that was jump stated by Lindo and the zone, and maintained by Cowan’s 23 second half points.

This was a quality win by any measure. Minnesota has some talent and is very physical, but the Terps flashed some talent too. Every freshman in the regular rotation, (Lindo, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Sorrel Smith and Jalen Smith) has shown substantial improvement between the season opener -- almost 2 months ago -- and now. I’ve been impressed with the progress of every one of them.

As Turgeon is fond of saying, “This team is getting better”.

They better continue to improve because being stagnant or regressing will be disasterous considering the next two weeks feature showdowns with Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State.

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an angel earned its wings last night


Borrowing -- cheaply I might add -- from the awesome holiday movie, It's A Wonderful Life, an angel received its wings last night right around 10:15 pm.

That's when the final horn sounded down in Washington D.C. and the Capitals had polished off the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3.

Yes, somewhere on Tuesday evening, a new angel was added in the heavens above.

T.J. Oshie chipped in with two goals last night as the Capitals sent the Flyers to their eighth straight defeat.

One night after falling at home to the St. Louis Blues, 3-0, the Flyers made the trip down I-95 for their first tilt of the season with the Caps. They lost for the eighth straight time.

Eight straight losses for the worst franchise in all of sports. You gotta love that, huh?

Jakub Vrana scored a pair of goals for D.C. in the win, as Washington improved to 26-12-4, good for a two point lead over Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan division. The Caps were so sure of a win they used their back-up goaltender, Pheonix Copley. And still won handily.

While the Caps continue to hum along nicely, the Flyers are now in next-to-last place in the Eastern Conference with a measly 36 points, one point ahead of Ottawa. With any luck, and three or four more losses in a row, the Flyers will sink to last place and stay there all year.

About the only area of concern for the Caps these days is the sudden scoring drought being authored by Alex Ovechkin. After netting back to back hat tricks in mid-December, Ovechkin has just two goals in his last 11 games overall. He still leads the league with 30 goals, but scoring twice in 11 games -- for Ovechkin -- is a rarity indeed.

Maybe that new-winged-angel can touch Ovi before Thursday night's game in Boston and get him back on track.


Tuesday
January 8
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#1597


the morning after the morning after


By now, the narrative about Sunday's game is mostly connected to John Harbaugh and Marty Mornhinweg.

They're the two getting the most grief from the fan base, largely due to some post-game chirping from the Chargers who claimed their film study in the week leading up to the game revealed some very telling secrets about the Baltimore offense.

I don't doubt the Chargers' claims. It sure looked like they figured something out on Sunday as they stymied Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense. The first three quarters were a complete exercise in futility for John Harbaugh's team.

But are you really surprised by what happened on Sunday?

Really? Are you?

I certainly wasn't.

Remember those two words I used all season? They finally came home to roost on Sunday for the Ravens -- unfortunately.

Market correction.

At some point, the market was going to figure out the Ravens. And because it was a post-season game, it turned out be a very expensive correction.

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens weren't ready for what the Chargers threw at them on Sunday in the season-ending 23-17 loss.

One of the reasons why the Chargers shut the Ravens down was because the kid at quarterback isn't experienced enough to know it and, more importantly, do something about it.

No, I'm not blaming Lamar Jackson for the loss. I'm simply saying his lack of experience was a telling factor on Sunday. But it's not his fault he was thrust into duty midway through his first year in the league. All things considered, Jackson acquitted himself well in those eight games.

But on Sunday, he looked very much like a guy playing in his eighth game.

Five years from now, if he's still in the league, Lamar Jackson will have a better understanding of how to deal with the things he saw on Sunday. It's rare that a team lines up with seven defensive backs. Jackson isn't the only quarterback who would be confused by it, I promise you that.

But in another time, and another place, Jackson might be able to think that whole thing through on the fly and chase those boo birds away.

That in no way absolves Harbaugh and Mornhinweg for their failure to make in-game adjustments. But creating game plans that work for a specific opponent happen all the time. The Ravens have been on the good end of those schemes before. And on Sunday, they were on the bad end of it.

With more experience, Jackson might be able to do something about it.

Oh, and speaking of those boo birds, I'd be remiss if I didn't address what happened on Sunday.

The fans' booing was in direct response to the on-field performance of the team through three quarters.

I'd remind people like Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Kenneth Dixon that once upon a time a dozen Ravens knelt during the national anthem in London in direct response to something President Trump said two days earlier...

Maybe they'd remember that moment in London and understand more about what happened in the stands on Sunday.

Sometimes, an action deserves a response. The fans were responding to what they saw on the field.

Do I condone booing?

I don't. Truth? I've never booed the home team. Never. Not once. I've booed the Flyers a lot, though. But never the home team.

That said, I get it. It's a way of venting and showing displeasure.

I've never seen booing "work", by the way. I can't ever remember an athlete or a team saying, "Damn, dawg, we're getting booed. We better start playing better."

But I understand why people do it, even if it is kind of senseless.

And I also understand why the players don't like it. Who wants to get booed? No one.

But they have to understand it's part of the business. Like it or not, it comes with the territory of making a few million dollars per-year for running around on a field and playing a sport for a living.

All that said, as much as I can defend fans who boo, I can't defend the 20,000 people who headed for the exits on the first play of the 4th quarter when the Chargers went ahead 20-3.

That stunt was shameful.

It wasn't 20-3 with 4:04 left in the game and the Ravens were out of timeouts and the Chargers had just recovered on an onside kick at the Baltimore 44 yard line.

It was 20-3 at the start of the 4th quarter, basically.

And people ran out of the stadium like there was free beer in the parking lots.

Bush league...

It's your money and your ticket and your choice...and you can do as you please. But if you're going to give up like that with 15 minutes left in the season, you deserve the ridicule that comes with it.

Nope, it doesn't make you a bad fan.

It just makes you a fan who quit on the team.

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thank you, buck allen


I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for what I like to call "teaching moments".

I need them for myself.

I need them for my children and my family.

And I need for my Calvert Hall golf team that I coach.

We're starting up soon at Calvert Hall, believe it or not. Yes, even with snow in the forecast for this weekend, it's time to start thinking about the upcoming MIAA golf season.

We actually have two days of pre-season meetings today and tomorrow, then our fitness program starts next week and runs for five weeks.

Today when I gather with the team, I'll have a story for them that I hope will fully endose our 2019 "team theme" -- Stay In It.

Anyone who has played golf and ever seen a professional instructor has no doubt heard those words or something like them after a poor shot. "You came out of that one...stay in it a little longer."

Buck Allen's NFL career has been that of a running back, but he played a different role on Sunday in the playoff loss to the Chargers.

So, those three words that make up our 2019 team theme -- Stay In It -- represent a a true golfing axiom. But they also represent much more than that.

"Stay In It" can be applied to everything in sports.

Down 20-6 in the third quarter? Stay In It.

Trailing 7-2 after seven innings? Stay In It.

Haven't made a basket in two and a half quarters? Stay In It.

The team's lost five games in a row? Stay In It.

Eight over par through nine holes? Stay In It.

You get it, I assume. Stay In It. That means, in summary, don't give up. Keep working hard. Don't tune out the coach. Stay In It.

Buck Allen wasn't active back on December 30 when the Ravens hosted the Browns in the division title clinching game.

He also didn't suit up for the Chargers game in L.A. eight days earlier.

Prior to that, Allen played four straight games but didn't carry the ball once.

After carrying the ball 38 times in the team's first 7 games this season, Allen was essentially "benched" on November 4 when Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards took over.

From November 4 through the regular season finale against the Browns, Buck carred the ball exactly three times.

This past Sunday against the Chargers, he came up with what could of been a season-changing play.

But he didn't carry the ball. He didn't scoot through a sliver-of-an-opening between the guard and tackle and pick up a key first down. He didn't barrel through a half dozen bodies on the goal line and score a crucial touchdown.

Do you know what Buck Allen did on Sunday?

He blocked a punt.

It wasn't completely a "blocked punt", mind you. He deflected the ball as it left the punter's foot. But it was plenty good enough to cause just an 11 yard punt and give the Ravens the ball on the L.A. 40 yard line.

Moments before, Justin Tucker split the uprights with a kick that made the score 12-3 in favor of the Chargers. After a 3-and-out from Philip Rivers and Company, the crowd was jacked up and the Ravens needed to capitalize on the sudden momentum change.

And that's when Allen deflected the punt and put the Ravens in prime field position.

Buck Allen...

A forgotten man. A running back, remember. A guy who played a somewhat prominent role in the first nine weeks of the season, assigned to the bench after the bye week, and relegated to that of -- gulp -- a special teamer.

Special teams. That's usually where the guys go who aren't really good enough to secure regular playing time.

For rookies, it's part of the business. For a veteran, like Allen, it's the last thing they want to do, truth be told.

But guess what Buck Allen did?

You know...

He stayed in it.

He didn't mope.

He didn't throw a tantrum and quit.

He didn't take to social media to whine and complain about the coaching staff.

Instead, he did what the coaches asked of him. He played special teams. And he made a difference.

When they showed the replay on the big video board and I saw it was Buck Allen who blocked the kick, I leaned over to my buddy Brian Hubbard who was seated next to me and we both, almost at the exact same time, said something very similar.

"Boy, that really shows me something about Buck Allen," I said to Brian as he jumped in. "That's such a cool story," he remarked. "The guy just lines up and does whatever they tell him to do. 'Block a punt? Sure coach, I'll go in there and block a punt for you.'"

Just stay in it.

Keep your head in the game.

Keep your heart in the game.

Do whatever the team needs you to do.

If the coaches ask you to take on a new role, just do it.

Stay In It.

Thanks for the lesson, Buck Allen.

Thank you -- for staying in it.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps face big road test in minnesota tonight


Whenever a team has both a premier scorer and rebounder, my usual take is to say that those two stars will get their numbers regardless of the defensive effort.

Because of that, special attention should be given to stopping the rest of that team’s contributors. In the case of Maryland’s opponent tonight (7pm on BTN), the Minnesota Golden Gophers have a scoring star and a rebounding star, but I’d recommend the Terps focus on stopping those two and not concern themselves with being beat by the Minnesota supporting cast.

The Golden Gophers are returning home From Madison Wisconsin after giving the #24 ranked Badgers a home defeat. They also have a win over Nebraska on their 2018-2019 resume. While the supporting cast are far from stiffs, I believe if you can limit Minnesota’s top scorer, Amir Coffey, and their top rebounder, Jordan Murphy, the Golden Gophers have little shot to beat a team with the weapons that Maryland possesses.

Coffey is a 6’8” point guard who averages 16.5 points-per-game. He uses his height and long arms to get off shots that other, smaller guards could never think of attempting. He’s a more efficient scoring threat when attaching the lane, but he will put up 5 or 6 three-point shots a game. He connects on only 31% of those 3’s, but it must be respected.

Minnesota's Amir Coffey will be a handful for the visiting Terps tonight.

It’s my guess that Darryl Morsell will draw this assignment to start, but look for help from a bunch of Terps. Ricky Lindo Jr possesses the type of body to match up with Coffey, but I don’t see the Maryland freshman getting major minutes trying the slow down the crafty Minnesota junior. Morsell will though, and I hope coach Mark Turgeon elects to help with the dribble penetration.

Rebounding and Jordan Murphy are synonymous. He leads all of college basketball, collecting 12.6 boards per game. The 6’7” senior from San Antonio Texas is listed at 250 pounds, but I’m seriously doubting that number as I am the 6’7”.

He might reach 6’6” and I’ll give him a chiseled 235. Regardless, Murphy is deceptively strong, has an uninterruptable motor, and a great knack for finding the ball. Watching him work in the paint, moving bodies to get an advantageous spot around the basket, is impressive.

I would love to see Maryland’s Bruno Fernando, and his muscular body, check Murphy on the Terp’s defensive end. Allowing Murphy to work the offensive boards, and give his team possible second chance points, might prove disastrous for the Terrapins.

Keeping a body on Murphy, at all times, is required. If I’m defending him, I’m keeping him from getting the carom, even if it means that I can’t get the ball myself. Take your chances that the rest of your team can outperform the rest of theirs on the glass. Keep Jordan off the boards. He won’t get near his 15-point average if he can’t score on put-backs.

The Golden Gophers have three other players that average in double figures (or close to it) in scoring.

6’5” guard, Dupree McBrayer, is getting 10.8. Daniel Oturo is a slender 6’10” freshman starting center who averages 10.3 points-per-game while another freshman, Gabe Kelsheur, gets 9.9 points-per-game from the 2-guard position.

Coffey can score from anywhere and Murphy is tough inside, but the rest of the team, including some capable reserves, aren’t likely to carry a team offensively. Maryland should focus all efforts on stopping Minnesota’s big two threats.

Look for the Gophers to supplement their half court production by pushing the ball down court whenever the opportunity presents itself. McBrayer is a key guy getting out on the break. When they are on defense, look for active bodies and active hands. Minnesota limits the second chance points but they tend to pick up fouls while defending the paint.

Because Jordan is often undersized, he needs to be super aggressive when protecting the interior and as a result gets whistled frequently. In his 14 games this year, he has picked up 4 or more fouls 6 times. The Terps need to attack him often with Fernando, or more likely, Jalen Smith.

I’ve been impressed with the quality wins Minnesota has posted thus far. Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Washington have all fallen to the Golden Gophers. While reviewing some of their game film, I was totally expecting to see why they have had success and why they should beat the 1.5-point underdog Terps.

Instead, what I saw were reasons to make me think that Maryland has the advantage tonight.

We have come to expect Maryland to dominate in the paint with Fernando and Smith. This holds true for tonight’s game too. Oturo is too young and inexperienced to handle Fernando, and Smith has a bunch of length with which Murphy will have to contend.

Coffey doesn’t possess the speed to guard any Terp on the perimeter and I’m not sure who Minnesota has that can stop Cowan from getting inside. They will try to counter by packing the defense in, thus forcing Maryland to hit from the outside. Shots will be available.

When the Terps get the ball inside, I look for a high rate of efficiency from the Maryland bigs. This is a road game against a quality team that is very much there for the taking for the Terps.

In summary, here are the keys. Limit Coffey. Don’t let Murphy have his way on the glass. Stop the Minnesota run-outs.

On offense, attack Murphy and knock down the outside shots that Minnesota will allow.

Maryland should win this game, but don’t expect it to be easy. If Eric Ayala can continue to hit a few threes, and Cowan plays like he did his last time out (3-7 from 3, 0 turnovers), then Maryland wins tonight.

Few teams have players that can handle Fernando and Smith has shown the ability to score in many ways. Wiggins can score and Serrel Smith has flashed some nice moves. I think it all adds up to a Terp team with too much fire power for Minnesota.

Maryland gets a hard fought 70-66 win tonight. Fernando goes for 15 points and 7 rebounds and superior foul shooting provides a huge Terrapin lift.

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Monday
January 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1596


that one's going to sting for a while


Boy, Denny's could scramble that egg the Ravens laid yesterday and serve an entire restaurant with it. In other words, that was one big egg.

In breaking down what happened on Sunday, I keep coming back to this one point: The Ravens couldn't or wouldn't make any adjustments or changes in strategy on offense. It's as if the Chargers figured them out and that was that.

Much like the 22-10 win for the Ravens on December 22nd wasn't really that close, the 23-17 score in yesterday's game wasn't indicative of how badly the Chargers outplayed, outcoached and out everything'd the Ravens.

I'll have plenty to say on the game and the season this week. I'll throw five important bullet points out there today and allow you to chew on them and opine as you so wish.

Something seemed "off" on offense all day, right from the start -- I was at the stadium, and I'll be the first to admit you see things differently when you're there rather than watching at home, but Lamar and the offense looked out of sorts from the very first series. Why so many attempted runs up the middle? Why not more Gus Edwards off tackle? Why not have Lamar throw to his strength, namely those short passes in the middle of the field to Andrews and Brown?

I wondered, somewhere around the middle of the second quarter, if I recall, if the Ravens had been impacted by last Sunday's 26-24 win over Cleveland? It was almost like the Browns took some starch out of Lamar and the offense. Something just didn't seem right yesterday.

Count me among the camp who thought Harbaugh should have gone to Flacco once they trailed 12-3 and Jackson was stuck on 6 yards passing for three quarters -- This goes back to my "adjustments" statement earlier. For whatever reason yesterday, Jackson didn't have it. Maybe the Chargers figured him out. Perhaps -- as one Charger suggested afterwards -- they discovered something on tape that made it easier to go up against Orlando Brown Jr. and James Hurst. It could have just been that Lamar, as a rookie, wasn't quite ready for the step-up-in-class that is NFL playoff football.

Whatever reason you subscribe to, the answer could have been "Joe Flacco". I'm not here to say Flacco would have done any better. The Chargers might have still pinned their ears back and come after him or they might have played a different defense with a veteran, respected "thrower" in the game. I have no idea. But I know this: Flacco would have been an "adjustment". The Ravens made none of them on Sunday.

Marty Mornhinweg and John Harbaugh will have an off-season of questions to answer about the Ravens' offense and their inability to move the ball against the Chargers on Sunday.

It spoke volumes that John eschewed the 4th down gamble in the 3rd quarter -- I get it, Justin Tucker's really good. He'll hit more 50 yarders than he'll miss. But Harbaugh's decision not to go for it on 4th and 2 in the third quarter was a head-scratcher given the tenor of the game, the score (12-3) and the fact the offense hadn't done jack squat all day. There are times when going for it on 4th and 2 is wrong, even though it's only six feet. This was not one of those occasions.

Harbaugh said afterwards they wanted to kick the field goal and make it a one-score game at 12-6. Fair enough. That math works. But Harbaugh needed something more than 3 points there. He needed Jackson and the offense to get untracked. Going for it -- and picking up a first down -- would have extended the drive. If the Ravens could have made into the end zone, it's a 12-10 game with 20 minutes left and there's no telling how things shake out from there. To me, the risk outweighed the sure thing at that point. Jackson and the offense needed some momentum. And they couldn't get it once Tucker came out for his 50-yard attempt.

The coach made it clear after the game. Jackson stays, Flacco goes -- Without sounding ceremonial about it, Harbaugh bid Joe Flacco farewell during his post-game press conference. "Lamar's our starting quarterback moving forward," John said. No great shock there. But the Jackson experiment is going to present an interesting two or three year challenge for the organization and the coaching staff. It's not all about Lamar and whether he can make the necessary improvements and adjustments, but can the Ravens build and create an offense around him that compliments Jackson's strengths?

To me, as a long term fixture in the NFL, the jury is still very much out on Lamar Jackson. He could wind up being Van Halen, with a decade of great albums and 16 hit songs, or he could be The Wallflowers, with one memorable debut album and then a few years of trying to catch lightning in a bottle again. The one wart he has to get frozen off is, obviously, the ball-security wart. Jackson can't survive in the NFL if he puts the ball on the ground three or four times a game. Even when you fumble the snap but recover it for a 7-yard loss, it's still a wasted play. It's now 2nd and 17 instead of 2nd and 4.

I think Jackson's too athletic to not have a productive NFL career, but Tim Tebow was also athletic and that didn't get him much. Jackson is clearly a special talent. But can he be a special quarterback? We'll find out.

The other team tries, too. And the Chargers showed yesterday they're a really good team -- I know Philip Rivers is an easy guy to dislike. His on-field antics look a little juvenile at times. But that kid is a world-class competitor. I think he, and their whole team, were a bit embarrassed by the national TV egg they laid at home back on December 22nd. The Chargers are really good. They're effective on offense and very fast and athletic on defense. And their kicker acquitted himself well yesterday, too. They're a better team than the Ravens, for sure.

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yesterday, today and tomorrow


This Week’s Subject: The Ravens (duh)

Yesterday…

The easy thing to say about Sunday’s football game in Baltimore, no matter what the final score, is that the Ravens were embarrassing.

That’s certainly what the assembled fans at M&T Bank Stadium were indicating with their chorus of boos (of course, the media will say that the fans were booing Lamar Jackson specifically, which I don’t think is true). The word is definitely something to think about when an NFL team has negative passing yardage 45 minutes into the game.

I don’t think that’s fair though. First of all, the Ravens’ defensive effort early in the game was as good or better as it’s been the entire season. Second, the Chargers’ defense was superb, especially defensive end Melvin Ingram III. The Ravens attempted to play the way they’ve played for two months, and Gus Bradley’s unit stuffed them.

What I would say is that the Ravens made a lot of bad choices.

Separate from his fumbling issues, which are notable, Lamar Jackson immediately wasn’t making the right decisions about keeping the ball or handing it off. It was unusual to see, because Jackson spent seven games making the right call in those situations probably three times out of four. If he wants to succeed in the NFL, Jackson also needs to develop a better “clock” in his head when passing from the pocket. At this point, the best choice for him, and for the Ravens, is to pull it and run quickly.

Since Jackson wasn’t making great decisions, it was incumbent upon the coaching staff to help him. And they really didn’t. I won’t be overly technical, mostly because others can offer way more there than I can. But Marty Mornhinweg and Co. didn’t seem to adjust play calling at all to the “up-the-middle” aggression of the Chargers. Perhaps Chris Moore’s injury played a part, but I didn’t see even one fake of a jet sweep, for instance.

Finally, John Harbaugh had an unfortunate game. It was completely out of character for him to send Justin Tucker out for a 50-yard field goal on a fourth-and-two from the Chargers’ 32. Even though the Ravens scored after getting the ball back, it was kind of silly to try an onside kick (actually two) with more than six-and-a-half minutes left in the game.

And if you ask me, the situation called for Joe Flacco. If Harbaugh and his staff weren’t going to help Jackson, and Jackson wasn’t helping himself, then it was time for a change of pace. But that non-decision paled in importance compared to the others.


Today…

So the Xs and Os and the lousy first half and the fact that the Ravens somehow had the ball with at least a small chance to win the game in the final minute don’t really matter anymore. The season is over.

The Ravens won the AFC North with a 10-6 record and then lost a Wild Card playoff game. The former is great and the latter stinks, no matter how each of them happened.

The Ravens got seven good performances from Lamar Jackson, but couldn't get an 8th out of him yesterday in the 23-17 loss to the Chargers.

The feeling is sort of strange, I suppose, since the Ravens had never lost a Wild Card game in the John Harbaugh era before Sunday. In fact, every one of them had been a convincing victory. Still, it’s one game. It’s probably best to judge where the Ravens are today on a whole litany of things rather than just some sores from yesterday.

Lamar Jackson, who turned 22 today by the way, is the team’s quarterback for 2019 and beyond. Joe Flacco is on his way out of town, potentially by trade, on the way to starting for someone else next season. Those realities are no different than they were before yesterday’s game.

The team has the entire offseason to work with Jackson and hopefully to keep learning from him as well, since he possesses certain abilities that very few NFL quarterbacks have ever possessed. When he steps on the field for the season opener next year, he can’t help but be more comfortable than he was as a rookie.

As for who exactly will be working with Jackson before training camp, John Harbaugh is under contract for 2019, we’ve heard from the team that an extension is in the works, and we’ve heard from the media that things are a little hazy around all of that.

As easy as it would be to look at yesterday’s game and make a judgment on the coaching staff, it was one game. It wasn’t a great coaching performance, and there are those who might look at it as one of many poor coaching performances. But I seriously doubt that the owner feels that way.

How the coach feels? That’s a little harder to know, and despite his contract status he’s free to check out his options.

The loss was difficult. It was, to put it mildly, a hard game to watch. But the 2019 Ravens were set in motion well before yesterday’s game, and it would have been the same no matter how far the team had advanced in the playoffs.


Tomorrow…

This is hardly a new opinion, and it has nothing to do with the outcome of yesterday’s Ravens-Chargers game, but the NFL ought to seed the teams in the playoffs separately from divisional results.

Nothing would change as far as earning a playoff berth by winning the division. Nothing would change in tiebreaker procedures. I’m referring only to how the six teams in each conference are seeded once the playoff teams qualify based on the rules that already exist.

In the AFC this season, the 12-4 Chiefs and 12-4 Chargers would have earned the first-round byes, with the Chiefs earning the No. 1 and the Chargers the No. 2 based on KC’s better conference record.

New England and Houston each finished the season 11-5; the Patriots would have earned the No. 3 and the Texans the No. 4 based on New England’s head-to-head victory.

Baltimore and Indianapolis each ended the year 10-6. Again, conference record would come into play; the Ravens would have been No. 5 and the Colts No. 6.

The Chargers would have been rewarded for having more wins than any team except for the Chiefs; the Ravens would (rightly) be on the road as one of the two playoff teams with the fewest wins; the Patriots would have played on Wild Card weekend since they didn’t have one of the top two records in the AFC.

Of course, with the current rules it works out sometimes, like this year in the NFC. The Saints were No. 1 and the Rams No. 2 based on a head-to-head result, Dallas hosted Seattle due to a better conference record, Chicago at 12-4 hosted Philadelphia at 9-7.

That’s great, but why not guarantee that every year by making it official. After all, the divisional playoff matchups are determined by seed, and not by predetermined bracket, so if that “fairness” is important than why isn’t the same fairness important before the playoffs begin.

Obviously, everybody (we hope) knows the rules of the game heading into the season, and every organization goes into the year knowing that winning a division guarantees at least one home playoff game. That being said, the point is to get into the playoff tournament by winning as many games a possible. The teams that win the most games ought to be better rewarded for it.


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BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



On Saturday night, Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer authored one of, in not the, worst coaching performance I've ever seen in NFL playoff history.

Despite having one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL and two very good wideouts, and facing a defense that was markedly better against the run than the pass, the Seahawks ran the ball a whopping 39 times....for a total of 2.9 yards per carry.

Their primary running back gained a meager 3.2 YPC, but got 32 carries all the same. More astonishingly, the Seahawks never adjusted to what was actually transpiring on the field. The Cowboys consistently shut down their running plays, but Carroll and Schottenheimer never made the adjustment to put their season in Russell Wilson's hands. It was the sort of thing that almost appeared to be a parody of a Bill Barnwell column, but was actually happening on football's biggest stage.

On Sunday in Baltimore, John Harbaugh and Marty Mornhinweg did their absolute best to top the "effort" turned in by Carroll and Schottenheimer.

Now let's stipulate at the outset that coaching was far from the only reason the Ravens lost this game.

Lamar Jackson didn't make big plays when needed, nor did anyone else on the offense. Three fumbles on the first three drives was not ideal. And oh yeah, the Chargers have a very talented defense and Melvin Ingram III in particular played an outstanding game, and just flat out blew up several plays by being better than the man trying to block him.

The Chargers were one of only 5 teams to win 12 or more games in the regular season, and have been a trendy Super Bowl pick for several weeks now. They're very good, and this was always going to be a tough game.

But coaching mattered too, and Harbaugh and Mornhinweg did nothing but detract from their team's chances in this game. They weren't prepared for this game from the outset, and the worse things went for the Ravens, the more they shrank from the moment.

If I had a question to ask at the team's postseason press conference, here's what I would like to know: How many of those "read-options" that were called in the first half were actually options as opposed to straight handoff calls?

It sure looked to me like the answer is "not very many," and at halftime Lamar Jackson had all of one run that came on a designed running play as opposed to a scramble out of a passing play.

At one point, Tony Romo put up a video package that purported to show Los Angeles doing a great job of "two-gap" defense...but actually showed their defensive second level flowing with the running back and leaving pretty substantial holes on the back side of the line. Holes that Jackson could have run through if he'd pulled the ball out and run through them.

Perhaps Jackson was simply missing his reads, but that seems unlikely. Jackson is a young quarterback with a steep learning curve, but he's been running the read option for a long time, and running it well. In no uncertain terms, I don't think those were option plays at all. And I think the Chargers knew that too, as by the time the second half started their second level was crashing down on the backs. Who were still getting the ball handed to them on the "option" plays.

And then there was The Field Goal.

Will a missed 50 yard field goal by the normally reliable Justin Tucker be a moment John Harbaugh will regret?

In what will go down as John Harbaugh's equivalent to putting Ubaldo Jimenez into the 11th inning of a wild card game instead of Zach Britton, on 4th and 1 from the 33 yard line, down 12-3 with the winds gusting, Harbaugh elected to have Justin Tucker kick a 50 yard field goal rather than attempt to convert the first down.

This despite the fact that Harbaugh has spent the entire season going for it on 4th and short in those situations, and explaining that he understood why you should go for it on those plays. And yet, at a crucial moment, he reverted to the instinct to a suboptimal decision to kick the ball for no obvious reason. If you needed any proof that the Ravens' head coach was operating without any semblance of a plan at that point, there it was.

It actually got worse though.

When Los Angeles came back to score a touchdown and set up for a two point conversion, the Ravens lined up with no one covering Mike Williams on the defenses right side. Anthony Levine motioned out on him with his arms in the air as if to say "who the $%*# is covering this guy" and....no one called a timeout! The ball was snapped, Philip Rivers seemed almost amazed at what was in front of him, and then he tossed the ball out to an uncovered Williams to convert the two point conversion.

There's a lot to dissect from this game. There were some very bad plays from Lamer Jackson, plays that will only add to questions about how far he can take a team in the postseason at this level.

There was the made-for-TV argument over whether or not Joe Flacco should have been put in the game, but even I think there was a reasonable argument to be made in Flacco's favor. Then again, Jackson did throw two touchdowns after the Ravens found themselves down 23-3, so it could all be beside the point anyway.

The real takeaway from this game is the same thing that should have been taken away from the Week 17 game against Cleveland: Harbaugh and Mornhinweg coached scared when things looked like they weren't going to go their way. In both cases, the Ravens opted for conservative, "old school" decisions in what appeared to be a hope that something on the defensive side of the ball would break the game in their favor. Against Baker Mayfield that worked out. Against Rivers, not so much.

Now the question is; where do the Ravens go from here? Honestly I have no idea. I like John Harbaugh, and think he's a very good head coach. If he manages to win another Super Bowl he's guaranteed a ticket to Canton someday.

But this game was an abysmal showing from beginning to end, an instance where Harbaugh and Mornhinweg were simply out-coached by their opponents from the outset. If it wasn't for the fact that the Ravens had already announced in no uncertain terms that he'd be back next season, I'd expect to hear that Harbaugh is done in Baltimore on Monday.

But the Ravens have announced that, and that puts the team in an incredibly awkward position. They really can't fire Harbaugh now, and they almost certainly won't. Steve Bisciotti values nothing so much as his organization's reputation for professionalism, so there is simply no way he'll fire his head coach after an official announcement that Harbaugh will be back for 2019.

Maybe he gets traded, but what if he's not? Will they let Harbaugh bring Mornhinweg back? Will they let another team hire Greg Roman away?

But if Harbaugh does stay in town, this offseason looks like it will be a unique challenge for him. We've made a lot of the fact that, for however bad things have been going for the Ravens, Harbaugh has always managed to keep his team engaged and playing hard week after week after week. But now? Now things might be different.

Now, for the first time really, we've seen an elimination game in which the Ravens' staff was clearly outcoached in a convincing fashion, and in which Harbaugh himself seemed to small for the moment at multiple points. Can he recover from that? Maybe! 10 .500 or better seasons and one Lombardi trophy in 11 seasons will go a long way for a coach.

But maybe not. At the end of the day, Marty Mornhinweg is the guy Harbaugh decided to hitch his wagon to, and over the team's last 6 quarters he firmly established that he's not up to the task when the situation is tense. Frankly, Harbaugh showed the same about himself.

I'm writing this column in bits and pieces to establish some perspective on the game....and I still can't get over how badly Harbaugh mismanaged the sequence between that 4th and 1 and the Chargers' two point conversion. Buck Showalter turned a perennial bottom feeder into a team that was a genuine contender from 2012 to 2016, and we still hear about how the decision to leave Britton in the bullpen cost him the faith of his team. And not without reason.

The Chargers game could very well be a similar moment for Harbaugh, and not without reason.

The next couple of weeks will bring a lot of hard questions that Bisciotti himself will need to answer. Is he comfortable allowing Mornhinweg to return as the team's offensive coordinator, which I'm sure Harbaugh will want? Does Harbaugh want to sign an extension with the Ravens, or is there a real fire to the smoke that he wants to go elsewhere? Will Bisciotti trade Harabugh after declaring that he'd be the team's coach next season?

And how will the Ravens' locker room react to the first time that Harbaugh has been outcoached in a playoff game? The coach that simply doesn't turn in losing seasons and has never not won at least one game in any postseason he's participated in up until now is in completely uncharted territory, and how Bisciotti handles this will have ramifications for the next several seasons for the franchise, perhaps to an even greater extent than how long Lamar Jackson can be an effective NFL quarterback.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 18


Sunday — January 6, 2019
Issue #1595

Los Angeles Chargers

1:05 EDT

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens -2.5


first of three steps starts today


Crawl, walk, run. That's how you get to the Super Bowl in Atlanta if you're the Ravens.

It's a three step process. Win today over the Chargers. Win next Sunday in New England. And the beat either Kansas City or Indianapolis the following Sunday for the right to get to the title game.

Sounds pretty easy when you put it down on paper like that.

So today, it's "crawl". First step. Easiest one of them all, you'd think, since the Ravens are playing at home against a team whom they just beat 15 days ago, 22-10.

But the Chargers aren't a pushover by any means. They finished 12-4 in the regular season for a reason. And even though the Ravens have been red hot in this brief "Lamar Jackson era", the Chargers could very well bring it all to a halt here today.

Philip Rivers and his Chargers didn't lose a road game outside the state of California in 2018.

Here's the thing, though. And I have to assume John Harbaugh has laid this out for his guys in chapter and verse over the last 24 hours. This whole thing is setting up very nicely for the purple birds. With Indy's win yesterday, there's still a chance the Ravens -- yes, the team that was 4-5 on November 4 -- could actually host the AFC Championship Game two weeks from today. Sure, several things have to happen favorably for that stroke of fortune to touch the Ravens...but it could happen.

A Baltimore win today, an Indy win next Saturday in K.C., and a Ravens victory in New England next Sunday. Voila! AFC title game in Baltimore!

I'm sure Harbaugh doesn't want to get the cart before the horse and start talking about a game two weeks from now. But I also think he wants to let his guys know that something extraordinary could be happening with his football team. Things could really be swinging in their favor over the next fourteen days.

There's no real need to break down the game and go through the X's and O's. I think by now we've figured it all out.

The Ravens have to use their running game and the legs of Lamar Jackson to quicken the game and keep the Chargers' offense off the field.

Lamar has to limit the turnovers. No fumbles, no picks, no coughing up the ball in the wrong part of the field.

The Ravens need to convert in the red zone, something they haven't been able to do very well over the last seven games. Jackson moves them downfield with ease and gets them positioned inside the 20 yard, but the Ravens can't push the ball into the end zone. That needs to change today.

Defensively, the Ravens have to rattle Philip Rivers. Plain and simple. If he gets time to throw the ball, the Baltimore defense could be in trouble.

There's the game plan and the "how to". Now, the Ravens just have to do it.

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Boy, you talk about a "bad beat".

Anyone who had the Cowboys (-3) yesterday probably didn't sleep well last night after Seattle scored a TD and converted on the two point conversion with a minute left in the game to take a 24-14 score and Dallas cover into a 24-22 final and a Seattle cover.

There are 3,493 reasons not to gamble on sports. All of them make sense. That game last night in Dallas is one of those 3,493 reasons. You just can't take the heartache.

So #DMD starts the playoff campaign at 2-0 after we took the Colts and Seattle on Saturday. Let's stay on the winning track today.

CHARGERS AT RAVENS (-2.5) -- It's very tempting to take the road team here. They were 7-1 on the road this season and their only loss was actually in their home state of California against the Rams. They beat the Chiefs and Steelers on the road. They're as well rounded as any team in the league. But the Ravens are on to something, and yesterday's Indy win in Houston gives Baltimore even more reason to stand up and be counted today. All the little things seem to be favoring Baltimore over the last couple of weeks. We're going with the Ravens to win another nailbiter -- and cover, getting a Justin Tucker field goal with 1:53 remaining in the game to win, 23-20.

EAGLES AT BEARS (-6.5) -- This might be one of those low-scoring defensive affairs that no one wants to watch by the third quarter. The Bears had a good regular season and their defense is legit, but just how many points can Mitchell Trubisky and that offense generate? As for the Eagles, which team shows up today? And can Nick Foles continue his post-season wizardry that started this time one year ago as Philadelphia went on to capture the Super Bowl? We think Chicago wins the game, but the Eagles cover the 6.5, as Trubisky does just enough to nose past Foles in a 20-16 Bears victory.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



After an improbable road to an AFC North Championship, the Ravens are kicking off their postseason in Baltimore today as one of the more controversial tournament participants in recent memory. Some commentators have dubbed them the scariest team in the AFC, "the team no one wants to face," etc. Still others have declared them to be pretenders because their style of offense won't work now.

I don't know which of those sides are right, or if the answer will be somewhere in the middle. There are a couple of things I'm sure about before these playoffs start, however.

First of all, the Ravens' rushing based offense is going to work just fine. There's a lot of handwringing over how they'll fare against a Chargers' team that's already played against them, and that's just the laziest analysis you could possibly pass along about what the Ravens' are doing. The idea being that what the Ravens are doing is working because it's new, and opposing coaches and players don't know how to defend it.

Poppycock.

There might have been something to that back when Tim Tebow was running a similar offense in 2011, but 7 years later there's been enough turnover in player personnel that most defenders have plenty of experience defending the read option from their college days. The Ravens aren't relying on trickery or smoke and mirrors to make their offense work, they're making it work with personnel.

There's a reason they've taken to playing with four active tight ends, and Lamar Jackson is a singular talent at running a read option based offense both because of his speed and his ability to execute reads and fakes. Where the Ravens are exploiting opposing defenses is in the fact that they don't have the personnel types to defend this style of offense, particularly at linebacker. We saw this play out last week when Gregg Williams, generally regarded as one of the league's best defensive coaches, put together a very solid gameplan for attacking the Raven's rushing attack, particularly at the edges.

And the Ravens finished the game with 296 rushing yards.

The Ravens need a big game from Lamar Jackson today, both from his right arm and feet.

So barring turnovers I expect the Ravens' offense to do fine, on their own terms, and not be an impediment to the team's chances. The defense? That's another story.

A lot has been made of the Ravens' status as top defense over the season, for better and worse. Sometimes it's been celebrated, and in instances where they surrendered a late lead it's been mocked. Certainly there have been stretches where they haven't looked like a dominant unit, including the second half last week.

And considering the quarterback talent they'll be facing in the AFC playoffs, there's plenty of justification in worrying about how this team defense can hold up and allow their offense to play the style they need to.

Here's what worries me the most about the defense: The pass rush. Specifically, they're very reliant on blitzes to put pressure on quarterbacks.

Sometimes that's OK, and exotic blitz packages can really flummox a quarterbacks reads. That certainly happened to Baker Mayfield last week, and for as good of a game as he played ultimately the Ravens' blitz came out on top.

But today they're playing Phillip Rivers. If they win, they'll get Tom Brady next week.

Wink Martindale might be a very good defensive coach, but he's not going to beat either one of those veteran quarterbacks on the strength of his creativity. Especially Brady, who is the best ever at using cadence to get blitzers to identify themselves pre-snap and finding his hot routes. If the Ravens' have to blitz constantly to get any pressure, and can't find ways to make plays with 4 or 5 rushers at most, they could find themselves really struggling to make defensive stops and keep their offense in the game.

Key word there: could. Because the big wildcard here is the other end of any blitz call: The secondary. Specifically the cornerbacks. If you can play good tight coverage on any given blitz play, it doesn't necessarily matter if Rivers or Brady figure out where a blitz is coming from. Keep the receivers covered and they'll either throw an incompletion or have to take a sack.

This is what potentially gives the Ravens' defense an edge, even with a sometimes overwhelming pass rush. They've got a really good group of cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, and Tavon Young. They can play excellent man coverage, allowing for blitzes even in 3 or 4 receiver sets. In fact, we've already seen them excel in just this type of fashion once against the Chargers, doing an excellent job on Los Angeles' receivers and forcing Rivers to force balls to no one in particular or to take sacks/hits against blitzes.

So while all of the hype, hoopla, handwringing, and analysis will be focused on Lamar Jackson, the unit that will truly determine how far the Ravens make it into January is the cornerbacks.

If they have an off game, however, the front seven doesn't really have the ability to pick up the slack, nor is the offense built to play a shootout or come from behind to win. But if they play to their potential this defense can be dominant, and the Ravens' absolutely can string together four wins and lay claim to another Lombardi Trophy.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps cruise past rutgers


If the opening 10 minutes of the first half, and a 13-7 lead, allowed the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to have visions of an upset against the Maryland Terrapins yesterday afternoon, then the last 10 minutes of the half, and a closing 33-6 run, cleared those thoughts right up.

When the half ended, Maryland held a 40-19 lead and the outcome has essentially been determined. The second half looked like an organized pick-up game and Maryland rolled to a 77-63 victory.

The first half was an exaggerated microcosm of the Rutgers season thus far. A team that is shooting-challenged and turnover-prone lived up to their billing, and then some. The hosts went 7-27 from the field in the first half, making just 2 of 9 three-point tries, and just 3 of 6 foul shots.

Anthony Cowan scored 15 points for the Terps on Saturday in their 77-63 win at Rutgers.

The turnovers kept coming too, as the Scarlet Knights handed it over 11 times in the first 20 minutes.

With Rutgers holding a 13-7 lead at the 9:48 mark of the first half, things looked dim for the visiting Terps. The crowd was energetic and the Terp shots were either missing their mark or being blocked. In fact, more Maryland shots had been blocked (3) then had gone in (2). Add those numbers together, and you’d have the amount of turnovers Mark Turgeon’s team had committed. It was an awful start, but it changed in a flash.

In rapid succession, Jalen Smith made two foul shots, Eric Ayala made what proved to be a momentum changing three-point shot, and Anthony Cowan scored a bucket. With the Scarlet Knight lead erased and the wind out of the home sails, the rout began.

It didn’t help that their star forward, Eugene Omoruyi, was saddled with foul trouble and logged only 8 minutes of playing time in the opening half. When then horn sounded, it was more like a boxer getting saved by the bell, than the end of a half.

In surging to their 21-point halftime lead, Maryland got 8 first half points from each of their big men, Bruno Fernando and Smith, beat the Scarlet Knights on the boards, and outscored them from the foul line 13-3.

Rutgers came out with a bit of energy to start the second half and scored the first 6 points. However, as much as his big 3 turned the tides in the first half, Ayala hit another key three and for all intents and purposes ended the game.

One interesting note of the second half was the effort that Rutgers made to shut down Fernando. They played him tough with frequent double teams. Bruno responded with some passes out of the doubles, and collected 4 of his game high 5 assists in that second half.

Smith led all Terp scorers with 16. Cowan had 15 and Fernando led the rebounders with 9. Maryland got valuable minutes from Ricky Lindo Jr (6 rebounds) and an outstanding effort off of the bench from another freshman, Serrel Smith. Smith tallied 11 points with some nifty moves and efficient 3-5 shooting from the field. Contributions from those two could be vital as the Terps get deeper into their Big 10 season.

Next up are the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Williams Arena in Minneapolis on Tuesday, January 8th. Game time is 7pm. Head coach, Richard Pitino, and his rebounding machine, Jordan Murphy, are fresh off a road upset of #22 ranked Wisconsin.


Saturday
January 5
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1594


16 months later, i have to ask...


I'm scrapping today's planned piece on pre-revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.

You're disappointed, I'm sure.

Instead, I'm calling an audible. I think it's more connected to what's going on in Baltimore this weekend.

Yesterday here at #DMD, I authored a brief piece about Sunday's game not yet being a total sell-out. It still isn't, this morning, by the way. I think they have less than a thousand seats to sell for tomorrow's 1 pm game against the Chargers.

In our robust and occasionally dynamic Comments section below, a number of people responded to yesterday's "sell out" piece by claiming they still harbor resentment towards the Ravens for their lack of either a "statement" or "apology" following the September 24th incident in London early in the 2017 season.

I get it. I, too, was offended by the kneeling during the anthem, both in Baltimore (London) and anywhere else it happened around the league. It hasn't kept me from going to games or supporting the organization but I was disappointed to see Baltimore football players disrespecting the national anthem.

I acknowledge that the Ravens took their knee mainly in response to a critical comment made by President Trump two days earlier. But a knee during the anthem is a knee during the anthem, no matter how you slice it.

Anyway...

Here's my question those of you who still want the team to issue a statement or apology. Or wanted them to do it back then, even.

What, exactly, do you think they should say? Or should have said?

Tell me.

I think it makes for interesting discussion to find out what it is the team could say (or publish) that would appease you.

And while I'm at it, let me go back in time a bit and give you a similar response I once made about Roger Clemens when I was asked, on the radio, why I wouldn't vote for him as a Hall of Famer.

"I'd vote for him if they allowed an asterisk on his plaque," I said circa 2012. "If they allowed for an addendum to his plaque, noted with an asterisk and specific language, I'd be OK with Clemens going in. Note: I still feel this way today.

It would go something like this:

*The 409-page Mitchell Report, released on December 13, 2007, covered the history of the use of illegal performance-enhancing substances by Major League Baseball players, including anabolic steroid use. In addition, the report named 89 MLB players who were alleged to have used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs in the 1990's and/or 2000's. Mr. Clemens was among those named in the report, mainly based on evidence supplied by his former personal trainer.

I borrowed a lot of that from the same place everyone borrows stuff these days; Wikipedia.

But you get the idea.

If Clemens would freely permit that asterisk and addendum to the usual stats-and-stuff on his plaque, I'd let him into Cooperstown. The same for Barry Bonds. They'd create an addendum about his years of steroid use, connection to BALCO and so on and he could get in as well.

So, you get the picture, right?

What, then, do you think the Ravens should say in statement or apology form about the event of September 24, 2017 in London?

Where did they miss the boat?

I'm anxious to see what you say...

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think you can pick the nfl's "final four"?


I've offered this challenge for a couple of years now, and I'm not sure I've ever found a winner.

So I'm back again, but this time I have a significant prize on the table if you're able to beat the challenge.

The NFL playoffs start tomorrow. There are 12 teams in the post-season.

I bet you can't name the four final teams that will be left standing.

In fact, I have $250 that says you can't do it.

Will Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs make it to the AFC title game?

All you have to do is enter the contest. Pick your AFC title game participants and your NFC title game participants.

If you get all four of them right, you'll win a $250 gift certificate to Glory Days Grill.

It's that simple.

You're looking for the fine print, right?

Here it is. We have two simple rules. There's one entry allowed per-person and/or per e-mail address and if more than one person correctly picks the four finalists, we'll draw a name at random from those who get it right.

There will ONLY be one person who wins the $250, in other words.

But that could be you...if you can correctly pick the teams.

Email your four teams here >>> dmdscore@gmail.com

That's all you need to do.

You want my four? Sure. Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Rams.

Don't worry, I'm ineligible for the Glory Days gift card.

All entries must be submitted by 12:00 noon today, Saturday, January 5.

A special thank you to our friends at Glory Days Grill for their support of this contest!

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

show me the money


"Yes, sir, how much is the most expensive Tesla you have here in the dealership?"

After going 47-35-3 during the regular season, it strikes me I should be driving a bigger, fancier car.

Don't all the Vegas gambling hot shots have sweet rides?

Let's see if I can continue my torrid pace in the playoffs, where the games are much more evenly matched and the difference between winning and losing is razor thin.

INDY AT TEXANS (-1.5) -- This is a tough one. Indy's offensive line is awsome and Andrew Luck can pick you apart when he has time, but who is he going to throw the ball to? The Texans, meanwhile, have the best receiver in football on their team (Hopkins) but not much else...besides DeShaun Watson, I mean. Oddly enough, I think either of these teams can go on the road next weekend and win. I'm going with the hotter of the two in this one, with Indianapolis pulling out a 30-26 win.

SEAHAWKS AT COWBOYS (-2.5) -- Nothing about their team tells me the Cowboys are in this for the long haul, or anything. I just can't see them winning here and then going to New Orleans and winning again next weekend (yes, I know, they beat the Saints once already this season). And if they play the Rams, I don't see them winning there, either. But Dallas could win today. If Prescott has a good game and doesn't throw the ball away or fumble it, they have a real chance. Who am I kidding? The Cowboys aren't winning a big game. Seattle scores on their next-to-last offensive series to pull out a 23-17 win.

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps travel to rutgers today


The days when a team could walk into the Louis Brown Athletic Center, commonly known as the RAC (the original name was the Rutgers Athletic Center) and have your athletes dominate the Rutgers Scarlet Knight athletes are over.

Head coach Steve Pikiell has his team headed in the right direction for sure, and his lineup is beginning to fill with higher quality players resulting in a much more competitive squad. They don’t quite have enough to elevate themselves into the upper half of the Big 10, but they aren’t the laughing stock of the league either.

Maryland will make the trip to Piscataway to face Rutgers this afternoon for a 2:00 pm tip-off. For Rutgers, the improvement is showing. What used to be a blow-out loss is now a tighter game and what may have been a loss three years ago might now be a victory.

Already this season, they've had a solid win at Miami, played Michigan State tough in an 11 point loss, lost to a Top 25 Wisconsin team by 5 and fell to Seton Hall by just 6. The one large defeat they had was handed to them by a St. John's team that banged down 16 of 32 three-point attempts.

I’ll address the specifics of their improved competitiveness, but first let’s look at the glaring Rutgers weaknesses. These are deep enough to keep them from making the jump to the next level and will be exploited by Maryland.

Rutgers struggles to defend the interior. Big men Shaquille Doorson (7’0”), Issa Thiam (6’10”) Myles Johnson (6”10”), and Mamadou Doucoure (6’9”) will all take turns allowing their assignment to beat them inside.

Mike Morsell and the rest of Mark Turgeon's team might have their hands full today when the Terps travel to Rutgers.

It’s odd that they are such a solid rebounding crew but don’t defend the paint. This afternoon they’ll do battle with Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. This surely will be tough going for the Scarlet Knights unless they choose to double team, something I failed to see them do in earlier matchups against Michigan State (Nick Ward) and Wisconsin (Ethan Happ).

Shooting accuracy is another area where Rutgers needs to improve. From the three-point line, they only convert 31% of their tries. If you remove the stats of their two top scorers, point guard Geo Baker and 6’7” forward Eugene Omoruyi, that number falls to 27%. From the field overall, of their top 6 scorers, only Omoruyi shoots over 40%.

I don’t think I need to remind even the casual basketball fan how ineffective that is. Rutgers struggles with shooting from any distance, even the foul line (62%).

It’s no secret that turnovers are a big problem for Maryland, but Rutgers can be just as generous handing out gifts to the other team.

Overall, they have accumulated one more turnover than they have assists. Baker is +25, but the rest of the team is -26. They get very sloppy at times, forcing things that just aren’t there and sometimes being lazy with the ball.

The question becomes: with all of these issues, what are the Rutgers strengths that allow them to compete. For one, Omoruyi has an amazing physique and is the one Scarlet Knight that can shoot reasonably well. He’s 40% from 3, 47% overall, and leads the team with 16 points a game. He also leads the team with 8.5 rebounds a game, greatly utilizing his jumping ability and impressively nimble 6’7”, 235 pound frame.

Geo Baker can create shots off of the dribble as well as any point guard in the Big 10. He uses quick bursts and outstanding “hops” to get separation from his defender. If he ever learns to become a more focused and accurate shooter, he’ll be real dangerous. As is stands, he’s very streaky but exciting to watch.

One other player to note is 6’5” 200 pound sophomore guard Peter Kiss. Kiss, playing in his first Big 10 season, is a transfer from Quinnipiac. He is an evolving player but shows great promise and has no conscious when it comes to putting up a shot. Supposedly he possesses a 40” vertical leap, but in the handful of games that I have observed his play, I’ve yet to see that kind of special explosiveness. However, I think eventually he’ll be a solid player in this league.

One thing we can expect today is that Rutgers will compete on the glass. They have out-rebounded every opponent this year with the exception of Michigan State (40-36) and Miami (43-40). The Scarlet Knights grabbed an impressive 15 offensive boards against Michigan State and corralled 25 balls off of the offensive glass in a 52 rebound performance against Seton Hall. In fact, the Scarlet Knight offensive rebounding percentage is second in the Big 10, with only Michigan State being better.

Maryland will feed Bruno Fernando often. If Rutgers elects to let him work one on one, he’ll post huge numbers. Maryland is no longer the rebounding pushover that they once were; this will neutralize a key element of the Rutgers game.

With better shooters and more polished players, this is a game that the Terps win as long as they go hard. I’ve seen this team make mistakes, turnovers, and miss shots, but I haven’t seen them fail to go hard. Much of that stems from their clear emotional leader, Fernando. The type of effort he demands is precisely the recipe for a Terp win. Play hard for 40 minutes and make Omoruyi work real hard for shots.

I don’t see where Rutgers gets enough offense to hang with the Terps. On the other side of the court, Rutgers doesn’t possess the talent to stop Maryland down low and can’t do much damage in the paint themselves.

The opening line is MD (-3). That scares me a bit because at that number, all the money goes on the Terps. Vegas doesn’t get beat very often but Maryland wins this game by nine, 72-63. Bruno gets 17, Smith has 15, Anthony Cowan gets 15, and Aaron Wiggins finishes with 12 points.


Friday
January 4
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1593


why are there still tickets left?


This one, I don't get.

Look, I understood the massive level of discomfort 16 months ago after 12 Ravens took a knee in London.

I realize that wound was deep, as the crowds in Baltimore showed in November and December of 2017.

And for a number of reasons, including that anthem "issue" from a year ago, people still stayed away this season as well.

Bad weather. Yep.

Boring offense. Got it.

League getting on your nerves. Sure.

You'd rather stay home and watch it all on TV. Right.

Safety in downtown Baltimore. Indeed, it's an issue.

Those are all regular season excuses.

But those reasons for not attending the games mostly go out the window come playoff time. In the post-season, if you're team is lucky enough to earn a home game, the stands have to be filled.

Sunday, the Ravens host the Chargers in a playoff contest in Baltimore. Over the last 11 seasons, the Ravens have had this luxury exactly TWO other times. That's right...twice.

As of yesterday afternoon, the game wasn't sold out.

Huh?

We can't find 71,000 people for a playoff game this Sunday in Baltimore?

As I've said a number of times: They're YOUR tickets. If you bought them and don't want to use them, that's up to you. The last time I checked, you're allowed to buy a $35 steak at your favorite restaurant, eat half of it, and leave the rest on your plate.

Editor's note: And since someone will ask. Yes, I bought tickets for Sunday's game. 13 of them, to be exact. And, yes, I'm going and all of those seats will be filled with Ravens fans.

Are we really going to host a playoff game in our town and NOT sell it out?

Is that even possible?

It might be.

And we haven't even broached the subject yet of actual people in the stadium and in the seats. If the secondary market is any indicator at all, the stands will not be filled on Sunday. That could change, of course, over the next 48 hours, but the lowest priced ticket hasn't really changed at all since I started checking them early Tuesday afternoon.

The secondary ticket market works a lot like a sports point spread. If the Ravens are 2.5 points, that number doesn't move one way or the other until bets start coming in and one of the two sides gets "more action" than the other.

At that point, you'll see the number move to 3 or 2.

Ticketing works in a similar way. The lowest priced ticket on the secondary market has been $105 almost all week. No one's really buying anything at this point. If they were buying them up, the lowest price would jump up to $115 or so.

But the good news is that every ticket you see on a secondary website has already been purchased.

The bad news is that someone might not actually use that ticket to attend Sunday's game.

But the most important issue remains selling every seat in the stadium on Sunday.

I just can't shake this thought from my head. The Ravens might play a home playoff game and not sell every available ticket.

I can't believe it. But there's a chance...

If that happens, shame on us.

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think you can pick the nfl's "final four"?


I've offered this challenge for a couple of years now, and I'm not sure I've ever found a winner.

So I'm back again, but this time I have a significant prize on the table if you're able to beat the challenge.

The NFL playoffs start tomorrow. There are 12 teams in the post-season.

I bet you can't name the four final teams that will be left standing.

In fact, I have $250 that says you can't do it.

Will Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs make it to the AFC title game?

All you have to do is enter the contest. Pick your AFC title game participants and your NFC title game participants.

If you get all four of them right, you'll win a $250 gift certificate to Glory Days Grill.

It's that simple.

You're looking for the fine print, right?

Here it is. We have two simple rules. There's one entry allowed per-person and/or per e-mail address and if more than one person correctly picks the four finalists, we'll draw a name at random from those who get it right.

There will ONLY be one person who wins the $250, in other words.

But that could be you...if you can correctly pick the teams.

Email your four teams here >>> dmdscore@gmail.com

That's all you need to do.

You want my four? Sure. Ravens, Chiefs, Saints, Rams.

Don't worry, I'm ineligible for the Glory Days gift card.

All entries must be submitted by 12:00 noon on Saturday, January 5.

A special thank you to our friends at Glory Days Grill for their support of this contest!

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

the 2019 #dmd golf challenge is here


If you haven't figured it out by now, my buddy George likes the "art" of gambling. I'll let him tell his own fascinating life story someday, but let's just say he knows a lot about gambling.

To me, a game or sport is almost not worth watching if you have don't have something riding on it to keep you interested. Let's be honest, the entire NFL is pretty much built around gambling, quiet as it's kept.

Those pesky injury reports coaches have to file on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of each week? All done to help the folks in Vegas who set and monitor the point spreads, plus the folks who are looking to wager on the weekend's games.

Jon Rahm is Drew's pick to win the first event of the 2019 portion of the PGA Tour schedule.

Heck, the NFL just signed a national marketing deal with a casino company earlier this week. For years they've tried to hide their interest in gambling. Now, in 2019, they're actually going to profit from it...which is fine.

So, George and I have come up with a way to make the 2019 PGA Tour season more exciting. I know what you're thinking. "Drew, it's golf. It can't possibly be made exciting in the first place."

We're gonna try.

Each week here at #DMD, George and I are going to pick who is going to win the PGA Tour event. We have broken the season down into two halves, basically. From now until the Masters (17 tournaments) and then the RBC Heritage through the end of the season (20 tournaments).

The rules are simple: We have each picked the winning golfer (now) for the first 17 events. We can change our pick a total of FOUR times in the first 17 events (by Thursday of that week) and SIX times in the final 20 events.

George will keep tab of the points using an extraordinarily sophisticated scoring system that I'm sure will wind up favoring him, somehow.

I'm using executive privilege here and adding a small rule that I haven't even yet run by George, but I'm sure he's game. Anytime I use Rickie Fowler, his point totals increase by 125%. Anytime George uses his idol, Xander Schauffele, his point totals increase by 125%. As you'll see on the chart below, we're each using those players ONCE in the first 17 weeks of the season.

At season's end, we'll add up the points and the winner gets a $50 donation to his selected charity.

Fun, right?

You'll be able to follow along with the chart George has put together below.

I'm off to a good start with Jon Rahm (-3 in Thursday's first round). George's horse -- Brooks Koepka -- encountered traffic coming out of the gate and sits at +3 after one round.



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Thursday
January 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1592


just as important as a game...


I had this odd thought come over me last Sunday while I was at the Ravens/Browns game.

What if everyone in the stadium, 68,000 or so I surmised, donated just $10 to my friends at Helping Up Mission?

What would Barry Burnett and Kris Sharrar and the fine folks at HUM do with those kinds of "surprise" resources?

Better yet, what if everyone in the stadium brought just ONE piece of new winter apparel to a game and all of those articles of clothing went to Helping Up Mission?

Where would you store the stuff? That was the first question that came to mind after the "bring a piece of apparel to a game" idea.

Crazy, right? To be thinking about those sorts of things while you're at a football game. But it's easy for your mind to wander while the officials take yet another two minutes to figure out if they got a call correct on the field.

Alas, those are pipe dreams of sorts. We're not getting 68,000 people to donate ten bucks and there are just too many potential issues with having everyone bring a piece of clothing to a game. I know all about "dreaming big", but those two aren't really dreams, their fantasies more like it.

But we've done the next best thing, I believe, with our annual winter apparel drive that my former radio host Glenn Clark and I started way back in 2010. Nine years!!! We've not only managed to keep it going for nine straight years, we've somehow actually improved the whole thing as we've gone along.

Back on December 19, we took roughly 2,500 pieces of apparel over to Helping Up Mission and distributed it to the men in need at the facility. For many of them, this would be the only holiday gift they received in 2018. For some, they used the opportunity to pick out something they would then gift to a loved one, family member or friend.

"There but by the grace of God go I" - John Bradford.

When you walk the halls of HUM and you see the men in a room, picking out clothing, you remind yourself of that statement by Bradford. The men in there have reached their low point. They need help. God made the first move, by ushering them to Helping Up Mission. Others have to pick up from there and help the men through their recovery and healing.

Those jackets, coats, shirts, hats, shoes, socks and other pieces of clothing are significant measures of "help" that the men can truly feel. In a couple of years, HUM will open up a brand new women's shelter just a couple of blocks from the current men's shelter. We'll need two days at that point, I hope, to distribute all the clothing we might be able to pass along to everyone.

Truth be told, Glenn's the chairman of our apparel drive these days. He has a lot more energy than I do, in general, so it's safe to say I'm now the back-up singer and he's the lead man for the band. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

"We can achieve anything we want as long as we don't care who gets the credit." - Winston Churchill.

But Glenn also knows what I know. That none of it happens without the people who help out. And those who host our events. And, most importantly, those of you who donate clothing to the cause.

We have a long laundry list of folks to thank. You'll see most of them in the video below. We have lots of sponsors and supporters to thank, too. You'll see them in the video.

Most importantly, you'll see the men.

What you don't hear and see are the number of them who come up to you (me) and say, "Thank you." That's the highlight of my day, for sure. Knowing those men appreciate everyone's help is better than watching the Ravens beat the Browns.



#DMD HD-TV


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"The Keen Eye" of David Rosenfeld

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.


it’s a 16-game season


I was still recovering from the end of the football game here in town when I flipped over to the Sunday night AFC play-in game between the Colts and Titans. Back from commercial pregame, the great Mike Tirico welcomed everyone to “Game 256” of the NFL season.

256. I confess to never thinking about the number before. 16 times 16, broken up by a week off for every team and all those games on Thursdays, Mondays and even Saturdays. Not a big number, but such is the nature of the sport.

Then I thought back to the end of the game in Baltimore, and the televised scenes from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, and I realized that 256 can be a big number. A lot can happen in a 16-game season, and not just in a few minutes on the final Sunday of the season.

Mike Tomlin’s Steelers were almost written off, especially in Western Pennsylvania, at 1-2-1 after a Week 4 loss to the Ravens at home. Then they won six in a row, beating up on their own division and the NFC South.

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers went from 7-2-1 and fighting for a #1 seed to missing out on the AFC playoffs after a stunning late season collapse.

Then, inexplicably, they couldn’t beat up on the AFC West, losing to lousy teams in Denver and Oakland. Then, backs close to the wall, they responded to a step up in class with good performances against New England and New Orleans.

Finally, in a scene out of a tragicomedy, the Steelers were forced to root for the Cleveland Browns to win a football game.

Meanwhile, Marvin Lewis’s Cincinnati Bengals were the class of the AFC North, only a few seconds away in Pittsburgh from a 5-1 start to the season. By early December, however, they’d set a dubious NFL defensive record for yards allowed, fired the defensive coordinator and lost their quarterback for the season.

In a year where NFL attendance and apathy collided, there was no greater example by season’s end than in Cincinnati. Perhaps that was the last nail in the coffin for Lewis, finally let go after 16 seasons and no playoff victories.

Cleveland began the year as the laughingstock of the league, with four wins in its last 48 games and uncertainty about its first-round pick of Baker Mayfield. Though Mayfield eventually took the field at quarterback and looked the part of a No. 1 overall pick, he couldn’t (or maybe didn’t want to?) save the jobs of his head coach (Hue Jackson) and offensive coordinator (Todd Haley).

Yet what followed for the Browns were five wins, and their three losses late in the year came to division champions Kansas City, Houston and Baltimore.

And finally there were the Ravens, certainly not the first NFL team to start a season well, struggle in the middle of the year and then respond with a stellar late run to make the playoffs.

They must have been the first NFL team, however, to somewhat seamlessly transition from a veteran-led West Coast offense with a traditional running game and a penchant for the deep ball to a zone read offense with a power rushing attack led by a rookie quarterback who besides throwing the ball effectively might be the most dangerous runner in the league.

Like I said…that’s a lot! And that was only in one division out of eight.

Besides the Ravens, four other eventual playoff teams had a losing record as Week 10, Baltimore’s bye week, ended. The Colts in the AFC and the Cowboys, Eagles and Seahawks in the NFC were also 4-5 like the Ravens. In the final seven weeks of the season, the five teams combined for 29 wins in 35 games.

Two of the teams, the Ravens and Cowboys, had coaches that had to be on their way out of town at year’s end. The Eagles were just the latest team facing the Super Bowl hangover. Remember the Legion of Boom? That was officially gone, and so were the Seahawks.

And as great as it was for the Colts to have Andrew Luck back, the team around him still wasn’t good enough.

Those were the truths, or at least the educated guesses, surrounding those 4-5 teams less than two weeks before Thanksgiving. Looking backward, they still don’t seem like far-fetched ideas. But it’s a 16-game season, I guess.

Besides the collapses of the Ravens’ divisional rivals in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, others found similar fates.

The Panthers were 6-2, including a dominant win against Baltimore, but then lost seven straight games. The Vikings were an offensive juggernaut, with Kirk Cousins passing the ball all over the place at a record pace, but slowed considerably and then couldn’t do anything against a Bears team that had nothing to play for by halftime Sunday. The Redskins were 6-3 before both Alex Smith and Colt McCoy suffered leg fractures within two weeks of each other.

Things didn't go so well for Cam Newton and the Panthers after their 6-2 start. Everyone else got the last laugh when Carolina dropped their final seven games of the season.

Barring injuries like those, there was no reason to believe in mid-November that any of those teams wouldn’t make the playoffs. But hey…it’s a 16-game season.

Back here in Baltimore, home of Game 255 of the 2018 season, I’d argue this was the longest 16-game season since 2000, when the Ravens went five games without scoring a touchdown. Chief among the reasons for that was the fact that we really had two 2018 seasons…the nine games before Joe Flacco’s injury and the seven games that followed.

Still, it’s interesting to look back at just a few games that don’t seem the same now as they did then, and not just for the Ravens.

In Week 1, Flacco and the Ravens dominated a Buffalo team that couldn’t be described as anything besides embarrassing. For some reason, Bills’ coach Sean McDermott honestly believed that Nathan Peterman deserved the chance to start that game.

After the Bills beat the Dolphins 42-17 this past Sunday, however, I heard Bill Cowher complimenting McDermott and his rookie quarterback Josh Allen, and suggesting that a somewhat surprising 6-10 season was the start of something great in Buffalo. The idea that the Bills would be in line for such praise by season’s end was just a dream in Week 1.

A week after winning in Pittsburgh, Ravens’ fans were calling for Marty Mornhinweg’s head (even more than usual) after Flacco passed more than 50 times in an overtime loss at Cleveland. The Browns hadn’t won on a Sunday since 2015, after all. What we learned by season’s end, of course, is that Cleveland wasn’t an easy team to beat no matter how you tried to do it.

Even in the Lamar Jackson era…that first start against the Bengals? It was amazing to see the Ravens’ strategy work, but that was hardly an indication that the 5-5 Ravens and the 5-5 Bengals would finish so far apart from each other by season’s end.

And one more thing. In the Ravens’ final three games that were televised by CBS—at Atlanta and Kansas City and at home against Cleveland—they were blessed with the network’s No. 1 crew of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo.

Make it 4-for-4 now, as those two have been assigned to this week’s Wild Card game against the Chargers. Who knew that those two guys even knew the Ravens existed?

Like I said…256 games is a long season…

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from the desk of
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BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



Happy Festivus!

The NFL postseason is here again, and after an interminable period of want it's returned to Baltimore as well. The postseason officially gets underway on Saturday, but Ravens' fans will have to wait an extra day to kickoff their run through January.

Before the hoopla begins, some general observations from around the NFL, mostly related to the playoffs.

-In the NFC, you have some very clear favorites in New Orleans, Los Angeles, and maybe Chicago.

The AFC, on the other hand, is WIDE open. None of the six teams participating in the tournament truly feels like they're a cut above or below one another.

Each AFC team has clear strengths, and weaknesses, and it's possible to imagine how any one of them would cut their way through their conference playoff schedule to punch a ticket to Atlanta.

There's a certain feeling that the AFC still runs through the Patriots, and maybe with a cluttered mess to pick from it's not unreasonable to figure that the Pats will just find a way to reassert that they're the class of the conference once again. But on the other hand their roster is less impressive than it's been in a few years now, and even Brady and Belichick have visibly lost a bit of zip on their fastballs.

And yes, that definitely includes the Ravens. The team that was 4-5 at one point has found it's groove and identity, and if they keep playing the way they have for the past 7 weeks they're absolutely a legitimate threat to win the Lombardi Trophy.

But last year's playoffs offer a cautionary tale to John Harbaugh and staff: Don't count on your defense.

Good defenses are certainly an advantage in the playoffs, but we increasingly see that good offense beats good defense with a high degree on consistency in modern football.

Think of the 4th and 9 play in Kansas City, for example. It's great that the Ravens have done such a great job of running and playing defense for what amounts to just shy of half a season now, but if they rest on those laurels in crucial situations like they did at the end of the Cleveland game, they're going to get burned.

-Speaking of Harbaugh and the Ravens specifically, a quick thought about all of the rumors that he doesn't want a contract extension.

Have these two had some sort of falling out? Or is their relationship as strong as ever after 11 years together?

I don't doubt the reports per se, especially Peter King's. Like Drew said on Wednesday, there's just no real reason for him to make it up. His columns are destination reading that do the traffic numbers they do regardless, and I doubt that his Harbaugh report was really much of a "draw" anyway. To echo Drew again, there's a lot more for King to lose in making up rumors like this than there is for him to gain.

That said, there's one glaring piece of information lacking in this story: Why? Why does Harbaugh suddenly not want to sign up for the long term in Baltimore, when there's been no indication whatsoever of any kind of rift between him and his superiors.

Does he not get along with Eric DeCosta? Has something soured in the relationship between himself and Steve Bisciotti? Does he want a chance to have full control over personnel and truly be "the guy" in an organization's football operations department, which he clearly won't get the chance to do in Baltimore?

All of those would make sense as reasons why Harbaugh might want a change of scenery in 2020, or 2019...but no one's actually reported any of that. Or anything else. And that makes me think that there's no actual fire underneath all of this smoke.

-The Ravens, of course, will open this postseason at home this Sunday, presumably with a raucous crowd and a beneficial 1:05 EST giving them a strong home field advantage over the wild card Chargers team. And that's pretty ridiculous if you ask me.

At the end of the day, the Chargers won two more games than the Ravens. They were tied for the most wins in the AFC altogether, in fact. And their reward for that is traveling halfway across the country and a terrible draw for the time and place of their game, all because the Ravens get a higher seed for winning their division.

Again, that's ridiculous.

I'm all for division winners getting rewarded, especially since the schedule is so intrinsically built around divisional alignment, but they already do get a pretty darn big reward: An automatic playoff bid!

Heck, just in the last decade there has been more than one instance of teams making it into the playoffs with more losses than wins simply because three of the teams who were worse than that happened to share their division. And that's fine!

But its also plenty of reward for their accomplishment, and it's high time the NFL changed the rules on playoff seeding. The Chargers were one of only two teams in the AFC to win 12 games, and they deserve to have one of the top two playoff seeds because of that.

-Since it's the end of the regular season, here are my picks for the NFL regular season awards:

MVP: Pat Mahomes deserves to win, but I can't shake the instinct to go with Drew Brees on lifetime achievement either.

Offensive Player of the Year: Mahomes, easily.

Defensive Player of the Year: Again not close; Aaron Donald.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: I could make a really good case for Lamar Jackson based on the way the Ravens so drastically turned around in his seven starts, and in most years he'd have my support. Baker Mayfield is just too damn good though.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Derwin James. Incidentally we heard time and time again that the Ravens just loved him last winter, and then when he was on the board at 16 they passed him up in favor of trading down. I hope there's at least an understanding of how they missed out on one of the best players in the whole draft, and either a good rationale for it or a strategy for not letting it happen again.

Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh. You can make a case for someone else but...how? The Ravens were 4-5 and dead in the water, and then a rookie quarterback and an entirely new offense carried them to a division title. No head coach has been more impressive than Baltimore's own this year.

-And finally, my postseason picks:

NFC:

Wild Card Round:

Seattle d. Dallas

Chicago d. Philadelphia

Divisional Round:

New Orleans d. Seattle

Chicago d. Los Angeles

NFC Championship:

New Orleans d. Chicago

AFC:

Wild Card

Indianapolis d. Houston

Baltimore d. Los Angeles

Divisional:

Kansas City d. Indianapolis

New England d. Baltimore

AFC Championship

New England d. Kansas City

Super Bowl LIII:

New Orleans d. New England 45-41

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the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


The University of Maryland used a dominating performance inside by Bruno Fernando, some stellar three-point shooting, and 7 points in a row by Jalen Smith (the last 7 that the Terps scored) to beat the #24 ranked Cornhuskers of Nebraska, 74-72, last night at the XFINITY Center.

Anthony Cowan led all Terp scorers with 19 points. Jesse Palmer led Nebraska with 26. Fernando grabbed a career high 17 rebounds to help Maryland dominate the boards, 38-28.

As crucial as Smith’s play was down the stretch, it may have been some early decisions that were made by Terp coach, Mark Turgeon, that ultimately provided the edge for Maryland.

Turgeon substituted freely, especially in the first half when he used 9 players. While Nebraska coach, Tim Miles, was playing his starters for 30 or more minutes each, the only two Terps who logged more than 30 minutes were Fernando (34) and Cowan (36).

Bruno Fernando snatched down 17 rebounds on Wednesday night as the Terps beat Nebraska by two points at College Park.

Smith certainly benefited from the fresher legs as his last 7 points came from running the floor to get a fast break dunk and old fashioned 3-point pay, hustling for an offensive rebound and put back, and lastly the smooth little floater from about 5 feet to give Maryland a two-point lead with just 3.8 seconds remaining.

Just as he did last year against Michigan, Turgeon elected not to guard the inbound passer as Nebraska went for the win or tie with just under 4 seconds left and Nebraska inbounding the ball under their own basket. This time, however, the Terps played it correctly getting a mini-trap just inside the half court line on the right side. An entry pass attempt from there to Isaiah Roby near the basket was easily knocked away by Maryland’s Ricky Lindo as time expired and Maryland secured the win.

Offensively, Maryland spent a great deal of the first half getting the ball inside to Fernando. Nebraska had decided to not double team Bruno and just let him work one on one with whatever defender was assigned to him.

Fernando responded by going 7 of 12 from the field, almost exclusively on isolation moves. It was a dominating performance by the Maryland center that was only tarnished by his 6 turnovers.

For the game, Maryland shot a surprising 8-17 (47%) from the three-point line. Aaron Wiggins hit both of his attempts, Jalen Smith made 2 of 3, and Cowan made 3 of 7. Cowan also had a game free of turnovers for the first time in recent memory.

Why Nebraska elected to let Fernando play one-on-one basketball for much of the game is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the move was generated by the fact that the Terps hit each of their first three shots from beyond the arc. Fernando’s power moves and step throughs were way too much for the Cornhusker bigs to defend, yet they let him operate unobstructed for all but the last 6 minutes of the game.

This was a big win for Maryland and was their first against a ranked team in almost three seasons. A loss here would have been crippling to Maryland’s tournament chances and added substantially to the public’s dissatisfaction with the Terp head coach. The 38-28 rebounding advantage certainly played a key role in the victory as did the Terps 14-7 offensive rebounding advantage.

Maryland is now 2-1 in the Big 10 with their next game coming on Saturday at Rutgers. Tip-Off time is 2PM and the game will be televised by BTN.


Wednesday
January 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#1591


still trying to figure out "why friday?"


I might sound a little like Rosie Perez in the great movie White Men Can't Jump with this one, but here goes. Sometimes when it's supposed to make sense it does, and sometimes it doesn't. And then, sometimes when it's not supposed to make sense it doesn't right away. But it does later on.

Get it?

Read it again, maybe it will make sense the second time. Or third. I've kind of confused myself.

But maybe that was the whole point behind the Ravens' announcing back on Friday, December 21st that John Harbaugh would be the team's coach in 2019, and beyond, as the two sides were -- apparently -- working on a contract extension for the 11-year staffer.

On the surface, the announcement made sense.

The two sides like one another, they've been successful together, and there would be no reason to think Harbaugh wouldn't be back in Baltimore next season.

And since it's common knowledge that you don't let a (valued) coach operate in a lame-duck season, contract wise, it makes a lot of sense to give Harbaugh an extension on his current deal and provide him with some personal comfort moving forward that he's going to be in Baltimore for several more years at least.

On the surface, to the naked eye, that all fits together nicely.

But why do that on December 21st?

One reasonable theory I've heard recently is that the Ravens were fearful -- as has happened anyway -- that Harbaugh's name would start being bandied about when coaching vacancies were discussed in places like Green Bay, Denver and Cleveland. Those teams wouldn't do the mentioning. That would be tampering, of course. But the media can do it for those teams.

Rather than have that potentially interfere with their run to the playoffs and distract the players and coaching staff, the Ravens made a quick decision to nullify any rumors by saying that Harbaugh would return in 2019 and that the two sides would work on a contract extension moving forward.

Not only did it help temporarily squelch any "Harbaugh might not be back" rumors, it served as a motivating tool for the team the following night in Carson, as the Ravens whipped the Chargers, 22-10. The announcement did two things, in hindsight. Both of them were positive.

On the surface, all was well. That is, until a few days later when national writer Peter King mentioned that Harbaugh might not be getting an extension at all -- because he'd prefer not to have one, instead "coaching out" his contract that ends after the 2019 season and becoming a free agent for 2020 and beyond.

Remember the part above where I said "sometimes when it's not supposed to make sense it doesn't right away?"

This might be one of those times. Thank you Rosie.

It doesn't make much sense at all that the Ravens would have sent out that press release without having had a prior discussion with Harbaugh and his agent about the contract extension. Why do that? John's not a 12th grader that you can hoodwink into doing a Geometry assignment with the promise of a few extra tickets for the graduation ceremony.

The team either shook hands with Harbaugh that he'd be returning in 2019 and an extension was on the way. Or it didn't.

And if they didn't, there's no way they would have sent out that press release the night before the Chargers game. Steve Bisciotti doesn't play like that.

I'd be sort of quick to dismiss King's story from December 24th as just another media member trying to snag a big story with a hope-and-a-prayer, but from my personal experience, I know King has a number of solid, reputable contacts within the Ravens' organization. So, for starters, anything out of Baltimore that he reports as "sourced" is likely valid. And, second, he wouldn't just throw a garbage story together -- one with some potential ramifications if it's wrong -- about the Ravens because that could jeopardize the relationships he has with the folks at One Winning Drive.

I don't believe much in the media these days. Hardly anything, truth be told. Look no further than the situation up in Pittsburgh, where there are now four different "published" accounts -- from legitimate media members -- about what happened in the Steelers' practice session last week. Antonio Brown threw a fit at being asked to practice longer than usual and left. He threw a ball at the quarterback and engaged in a shouting match with him. He threw a ball at someone else and left. He was angry that Ju Ju Smith-Schuster was voted the team's MVP, threw a tantrum, got called out by a few players, and then left.

Pick the story you want to believe. There are four of them there for you.

Here's the one I believe: None of them. That's not to say I don't think something happened up there last week. There's no doubt there was an uprising of some kind.

I'd probably be more inclined to believe what I saw, personally, but since I wasn't there, and since no one seems to really have a lock on what actually happened, I don't put stock in anything except for the obvious. Brown quit on his team last week and didn't play in the final game. That's the only real fact I can gather from everything I've read or heard.

I bring that up to circle back to the point about Harbaugh and his status.

I'm not sure I believe any "media story" at this point -- about anything. But King is a solid reporter and in no way does he need this story to beef up his status as a qualified NFL scribe. In other words, Peter King doesn't have any reason at all to make something up about John Harbaugh and his contract status.

Why would the Ravens have released that information on Friday, December 21st if it weren't true?

And why, then, would someone in Harbaugh's camp give that information to King on Monday, December 24th if it weren't true as well?

Someone's not being completely honest.

Sometimes when it's supposed to make sense it does. And sometimes, it doesn't.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



The cardiac kids are back! The Ravens turned in a thrilling, stomach churning, nerve wracking performance on Sunday, worthy of their best days from 2008-12....and it turns out I don't actually miss it that much! Or at least my liver doesn't.

Seriously though, that was an incredible roller coaster ride and, in a fashion befitting the best WWE storyline, the defense got their chance to redeem themselves for two years of failed last minute stands and came through this time. It's vindication! Or third times a charm at least.

In any case, I caught the game in the car through spotty reception on the way back from Myrtle Beach, so I only have some very broad observations to offer this week.

-I know I'm not going out on a limb here, but Baker Mayfield vs. Lamar Jackson is going to define the AFC North for the next 4-5 years at least, and it's going to be fun to watch. As the regular season closes out, I'm confident in saying that Jackson is at least the third best quarterback in the 2018 class.

Josh Allen had the historically bad passing season his detractors expected, and shows no signs of being able to actually be a professional quarterback worth much of anything.

Josh Rosen didn't impress me in any way either, though he should perhaps get some benefit of the doubt because the entire Cardinals organization was a hot mess this year.

I'm up in the air on Sam Darnold: He had his highs and lows, but I thought he had the biggest upside of any of the quarterbacks in this draft. It's definitely possible that his lows are more reflective of the career he'll have though, and that Lamar is the better QB of the two.

#DMD's Brien Jackson thinks Baker Mayfield vs. Lamar Jackson is going to be interesting theater for the next few years.

Mayfield, meanwhile, is the most impressive rookie quarterback of my lifetime, including Peyton Manning. In addition to his tremendous physical abilities, he has a phenomenal understanding of the game for a rookie, and his instincts are already top notch. Like Drew is fond of saying, we're going to dislike this guy really soon. But Lamar vs. Baker is going to be a whole lot of fun in the meantime.

-I don't want to be too negative under the circumstances, but it's hard not to address that awful 3rd and 5 play call from the Ravens' final possession. With everyone in the world knowing that Gregg Williams(!) was going to bring an all out run blitz on that play, Marty Mornhinweg still dialed up a running play anyway! And not just any running play: Despite the fact that motion and misdirection had been giving the Browns defense problems throughout the game, Marty called for a straight speed option to the edge, which couldn't have been easier for the defenders, who were in fact in an all out run-blitz, to chase down.

And the fumbled pitch to Ty Montgomery easily could have lost the game right there!

I'm bullish on the Ravens' offense. I think it absolutely can work against NFL defenses that are built to stop quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, etc. and simply don't have the personnel to consistently stop a read-option running game with a quarterback with both the running ability and the skill at reading the defensive front and executing fakes that Jackson has.

It's fashinonable to worry about teams "getting film" on the "Lamar offense" but that really makes no difference.

At the end of the day, the Ravens aren't doing anything more complicated than running basic run plays from a variety of formations with a lot of misdirection. That's been basic football forever. And this isn't Tim Tebow circa 2011 anymore either.

Back then the read option had just recently become a staple of college football, so you really did have NFL defenders who had no real experience in defending it and weren't accustomed to the kind of assignment football it took to play against the set. But after nearly a decade's worth of roster turnover, the ranks of NFL defenses are loaded with players who saw this offense and these plays a whole lot in college.

This offense isn't working because opposing defenses are being tricked by something novel or because opposing defenders are being bamboozled by whats in front of them, they're getting beaten because the Ravens have good personnel to run this set and they're physically outplaying the competition. When you can do that in the running game, your offense is always sustainable and you can always play with anyone.

That said, it's also not an offense that can overcome a lot of mistakes or misfortune.

Truth be told, but for a somewhat fluky goal line fumble by Jackson and a terrible holding call on what would have been his third rushing touchdown of the day, the Ravens might have scored upwards of 40 points in this game. But they didn't. And then the Browns hit their stride, and put the Ravens' defense on their heels.

And by the end of the game it was pretty obvious they were wearing the Ravens' defense down, and I don't think any of us truly felt like the defense could keep Mayfield from getting the Browns in field goal range. They did, but it still would have been nice if the offense could have just put the game away.

Instead, we got a playcall that can only be described as somewhere between stupid and cowardly, and for as good as Mornhinweg has done in his overall design of the team's current offense, that sort of terrible call in critical situations remains a real problem, and one that could very well end up dooming the team in January.

-One more bit of semi-negativity: I was glad to see C.J. Mosley come down with the game clinching interception all things considered, but his postgame comments about the "social media" criticism of his coverage skills was eye-rolling at best, downright pathetic at worst.

Yes, I get it, pro athletes need to get their motivation from places and if that's fan criticism then so much the better.

But Mosley doesn't actually think he's good in coverage, does he? That seems like it would be a problem! And I certainly hope that no one thinks that one interception on a tipped pass when Mosley wasn't actually even covering anyone negates dozens if not hundreds of plays where he, you know, couldn't cover his man/zone and the other team picked on him to great success.

Alas, I'd say it's a good bet that that play will convince the Ravens to pay him $15 million annually all the same.

-One thing to consider going forward: The Browns found a way to confuse the Ravens' running game up front with late shifts on the defensive line. Expect to see the Chargers copy that this Sunday, which means that the Ravens will need to use more playaction looks and passes into the middle in response.

There's no reason to think that Lamar Jackson and the various receivers he has to work with (except for maybe Crabtree) won't be up to that, but there's plenty of reason to worry that Mornhinweg won't call them at the right time. In the last game against the Chargers, he called way too many passes that didn't have any kind of run action fake at all for no obvious reason, and that hampered the passing attack.

He made similar mistakes in the Browns game, although this time he was running too often when a simple playaction pass likely could have found a wide open tight end or Willie Snead in the middle of the field. Fixing that will be the biggest factor in the Wild Card game in my opinion.

-I liked the Ravens' aggressiveness on defense on the last stand, and I really liked Wink Martindale's openness about his desire to lose by being aggressive after the game. That said, contra the fans who were quick to revel in the change from the Dean Pees era, that kind of defense might work against a rookie like Mayfield, but it's a whole different ballgame calling that type of blitz dependent defense against veteran quarterbacks of the caliber of Rivers and Brady.

What makes it work? Cornerbacks who can excel in tight coverage windows at the line. In other words, barring a bunch of turnovers or some other major mistakes, how far the Ravens can go in the playoffs is going to come down to how well Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, and Tavon Young play over the next 1-to-4 games.

And on that note, does anyone have a recommendation for a good hotel in Atlanta?

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dale williams aims
the terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fourth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2018-19 season.


terps host improved nebraska tonight


Make no mistake about it, the Nebraska Cornhusker basketball that invades the XFINITY Center tonight at 6:30 p.m. is a real good basketball team.

They feature quality upper classmen at 4 of the 5 starting positions and have been my pick, since the season began, as the “surprise” team of the Big 10 this season.

When comparing sheer talent, this team has more than Maryland, and that is why the odds makers have made #24 ranked Nebraska a 1-point road favorite.

James Palmer Jr is Nebraska’s leading scorer. There’s nothing real flashy about his game, but he’s solid in every phase. He’s 6’6” and, while listed at 205 pounds, I’d be more likely to believe something in the range of 220. You’ll see him take mid-range jumpers as well as threes.

Maryland needs a big game from Anthony Cowan tonight when #24 Nebraska comes to College Park for a Big 10 showdown with the Terps.

Palmer can be streaky at times, and has posted 30 points once this season and went for 29 twice. One of his 29-point efforts was against the same Seton Hall team that beat Maryland here in College Park last week. Nebraska crushed those same Seton Hall Pirates by 23 points.

Palmer can be tough to defend. Darryl Morsell might draw this assignment, and if he does, he’ll have his hands full.

The Terps' Bruno Fernando will also have his hands full when he goes against the Cornhusker big man, Isaac Copeland. Copeland is a 6’9”, 225-pound bundle of energy who started his collegiate career at Georgetown.

At 14.5 ppg, he’s Nebraska’s 2nd leading scorer. He plays tougher than his build might have you believe and he plays “long”. Copeland must be guarded on the perimeter because he has shown the ability to hit threes.

Copeland might be the one person the Nebraska team can least afford to lose. The bulky Fernando playing against the fire of Copeland promises to be a great match-up.

Aptly manning the ball handling position is senior, Glynn Watson Jr. He is a quick guard who also hits 43% of his three-point shots. Glynn provides the kind of leadership you expect from someone with his amount of in-game experience, as proven by his 4.1 to 1.2 assist to turnover ratio.

The final Nebraska player to average scoring in double digits is junior Isaiah Roby. You could best describe Roby as long, sturdy, smart, and stable. He does all the little things for the Cornhuskers, and is the team's leading rebounder with six per game. He won’t hurt you from three-point line but is a vital part of Nebraska’s success.

There is no secret key to Maryland’s chances tonight. Their athletes simply need to play harder, shoot better, and protect the ball better then Nebraska’s athletes.

I’m not so sure they can. As I’ve said before, it’s college basketball and anything can happen. But, unless the Terps get some unforeseen production I don’t see them winning tonight.

With some late free throws, I have visiting Nebraska securing a 76-71 win that spells trouble for Maryland’s tournament chances.

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Tuesday
January 1
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#1590


the morning after the morning after


Happy New Year and welcome to 2019!

I hope your year is off to a great start.

For the Ravens, 2018 ended with a lot more excitement and hope than did 2017. Their January, this year, will most certainly be more memorable than January of 2018.

Someone asked me on Monday what I thought the three key reasons were for the Ravens surge from 4-5 to 10-6. I thought about it for a minute, just to make sure I wasn't missing anything, and gave him my top 3.

"New offensive formula, coaching and luck."

Mornhinweg (left) and Harbaugh (right) were central figures in the Ravens' late season play that saw them capture the AFC North title on the last day of the regular season.

Everything changed with Flacco's injury and Jackson's insertion as the starting quarterback. Everyone would agree Lamar's play has been spotty. He's been really good at times and not so good in other moments. But the offensive "formula" the Ravens used with Lamar in there instead of Joe was something the rest of the league hadn't come across in years. Simply put, the burden of defending against a new offense was more difficult than was the task of a new offense overcoming standard NFL defenses.

Oh, and some of Jackson's top moments were game changers. His throw to Mark Andrews in Los Angeles back on December 22 -- just moments after the Chargers had gone ahead early in the third quarter -- gave the Ravens a lead they'd never again relinquish.

His play with his feet both against the Falcons and Browns directly led to Baltimore victories. When he was good, he was really good. A work in progress? Of course. What rookie isn't? But Jackson's play was vitally important to the Ravens' late season run to the AFC North title.

John Harbaugh and his coaching staff deserve massive accolades. Frankly, it might be Harbaugh's top coaching season ever. And for all the grief he gets for "staying loyal to his people", it was Harbaugh, remember, who elevated Wink Martindale to the position of defensive coordinator after the departure of Dean Pees last January.

And the town's favorite whipping boy, Marty Mornhinweg, was quite the mastermind in the final seven weeks of the season. Greg Roman helped out, it should be added, but it was Mornhinweg's play calling and his ability to navigate the uncertain terrain of a Lamar-led offense that has the Ravens tangling with the Chargers this Sunday in Baltimore instead of putting for par on the 13th hole somewhere like the Steelers will be doing on Sunday.

If you want a snapshot of why Harbaugh is good, look no further than the November 18 post-game "Good!" speech he gave to the players. In all of my years around sports, the one thing I've discovered is most professional athletes are like race horses. Not to say they're dumb, per se. But, rather, they're "conditionable", if such a word even exists. You can make players believe just about anything, if you say it the right way and there's evidence in place to show them you might actually be right.

Harbaugh's "Good!" speech after that win over the Bengals could have been a season-changer for the Ravens. The message, at least, was almost perfectly poignant, for it summed up the whole concept of taking the good (no pun intended) with the bad and striving to overcome it.

It was the coach's way of not only admitting the players would make mistakes, but so, too, would the coaching staff. And despite those errors, the team could still win.



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If the Ravens go on to buzz through the AFC playoff race and find themselves in Atlanta on that first Sunday in February, Harbaugh's "Good!" speech might be the benchmark moment of the season.

And then there's the greatest attribute any team can have on their side. LUCK.

Boy, did the Ravens have a lot of it on their side in the final seven weeks.

Almost every break went their way, including perhaps the biggest one of the entire season last Sunday when Jackson had the ball knocked out of his hands on the 1-yard line and the Browns were going to scoop-and-score to make the score 20-14, only to have the officials blow the play dead because they thought the quarterback had scored a touchdown.

There were other moments of good fortune, too. Far too many to list here, truth be told. But the good news, for the Ravens, is that luck was on their side throughout the stretch run. They did have a moment or two of bad fortune as well. A couple of things went against them that probably shouldn't have. But in their final seven games, the Ravens were extraordinarily lucky. And good for them, by the way. Every person who has won the PowerBall or a state lottery game was also "extraordinarily lucky".

Oh, and here's the final thing.

If you're pulling for the Ravens to win three games in January and then a fourth straight game in February, you'd better hope all three of those things I just listed continue to fall the way of the Ravens over the next five weeks.

They need the offensive formula to continue to befuddle opposing defensive coordinators. They need Lamar Jackson to play well, along the likes of Gus Edwards, Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst and others. If Jackson has one truly disastrous game, the Ravens are probably going to lose.

They need Harbaugh, Mornhinweg, Martindale and Rosburg to continue to have the right game plan in place, the right words to say, and the right decisions to make. If those four fail, the Ravens are probably going to lose.

And they need those bounces and breaks to continue to provide for more good moments than bad ones. They need 7 of the 10 quirkly bounces of the ball to go their way over the next month or so. If they do, there's no telling what might happen. If 7 of the 10 go against them, instead, they're probably going to lose.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports-media work with ESPN, CBS, and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.



The college football playoff kicked off this past Saturday evening and, I kid you not, I almost missed the entire thing.

Seriously, my family and I walked into a Mexican restaurant in Myrtle Beach about 42 seconds into Alabama-Oklahoma and I hadn't the foggiest idea what the hell was going on. I had to Google to confirm that they were, in fact, playing the semi-final that night (I thought they were still wasting away on New Year's Eve) and that I had completely missed Clemson-Notre Dame altogether.

Considering that I was once a massive college football fan who would travel all over Big Ten country for Ohio State games, that's maybe not a good sign for college football.

On the other hand, I'm so far gone from giving a single hoot about the NCAA product on the field that I really couldn't tell you how well they're doing as a business either. I assume pretty well because while the NCAA isn't good for much of anything, they're certainly good for making a bunch of money on the sweat of "student athletes".

There are, however, a few things I do know about college football.

First of all, the "playoff" is a complete joke that was sold on the most laughable line of transparent BS I've seen this side The Apprentice. I wasn't a huge fan of the old BCS format per se, but it's truly amazing what obvious bad faith arguments were offered up by the nascent hot take industry to advocate for a playoff system that has become far more intolerable than the BCS ever was.

Like, I actually once saw Michael Wilbon go on national television and argue that the referees using video review to get a call indisputably right in a Texas-Nebraska Big 12 championship game was a conspiracy by the conference to make sure that Texas would get into the national title game. I swear I'm not making that up!

For the third time in four years, Dabo Swinney and Clemson football have reached the title game.

But more distasteful, in hindsight, was the way non-major conference programs were exploited by the playoff agitators. Not that long ago the supposed plight of teams like Boise State or TCU from the WAC or MWC being unable to crack the top two and make the national title game was the number one reason to support expansion to a playoff.

In 2018, however, UCF has been undefeated for two straight years and can't sniff the "playoff." But while the "playoff" was supposed to put more emphasis on conference championships, we've also seen Alabama and Ohio State get selected despite not winning their conference that year. Why, its almost as if the playoff is a vehicle for putting the premier programs into meaningful games on ESPN and nothing else!

Oh yeah, on that note, while UCF's back to back undefeated seasons couldn't get them a playoff spot, Notre Dame got one for going through one season without a loss, and then promptly got throttled by Clemson because, surprise, that "undefeated" Notre Dame team wasn't actually that good! But then, I can't say I actually care at all, really, because when it comes to Notre Dame the only thing I particularly care about is the fact that their head coach, Brian Kelly, killed a student at practice. That's not hyperbole either: Kelly sent a student videotographer up onto a high scaffold to film practice during inclement weather that included dangerous wind gusts and, surprise, the student was blown off the scaffolding and fell to his death.

I'd muse on how D.J. Durkin feels about that while watching Kelly coach his paper tiger in the so-called playoff, but given the extent to which the sports media industry has buried that story I would honestly bet you dollars to donuts that Durkin has no idea it even happened!

And then on the other side there's Dabo Swinney, who has opinions. About everything. Just ask him, he'll pontificate about anything you want him to, and he'll most likely figure out a way to tell you all about how Jesus agrees with him on what flavor of coffee the Holiday Inn should put in their lobby on Wednesdays.

A couple of weeks ago he was full of opinions about "fear" and college players who forego the Jim Bob's Trailer and Porta Potty Bowl presented by Piggly Wiggly because they're going to be a top 20 draft pick.

Strangely enough he had nothing to say about his opinion on Kelly, who came to coach Notre Dame after leaving Cincinnati before a BCS bowl game, arguably the biggest football game in that schools history. And doing so despite promising not to do exactly that, and then telling the team in a brief speech before hopping on a plane and never looking back. I wonder how much money you'd have to pay a college football "journalist" to even dare to ask Dabo that question. It'd be unprofessional, after all.

Wait, I shouldn't say that. Calling something unprofessional implies that the alternative is professionalism and college football is certainly not that. No, no, no, college athletics is the Apex of the noble ideals of amateurism, and is built upon nothing other than scholastic athletics.

Except, gosh, there sure are a lot of stories about what a joke the academic programs for football (and basketball) players are. And a quick Google search reveals that Dabo was paid $7 million this year. Oh, and he got a $200,000 bonus for winning his bowl game.

I...wonder if that has anything to do with his opinion on players deciding to sit out bowl games? Golly gee, it just couldn't. Dabo loves Jesus after all, and he's only got his players best interest at heart, it's Jesus who wants Dabo to earn that $200,000 bonus, er, I mean, the players to show no fear and play that game.

Because otherwise they're sissies in bubble wrap, and Jesus hates bubble wrap. Seriously, it's in Matthew, look it up. Or maybe it's in the Gospel of Dabo. God knows he's made enough money off of "amateur" athletics to have his own gospel printed up at this point.

Speaking of making money off of amateur football, Mike Gundy made $5 million this year. Now two things in that sentence should sound familiar to you. The first is Mike Gundy. You know Mike Gundy, he's the "I'm 40!" guy. More recently he's the coach with the awful haircut. That's what you know Mike Gundy for. You sure as hell don't know him for his success at coaching football.

In 14 seasons Mike Gundy has won exactly one conference championship. He's 1-1 in BCS bowls over the same period, and if we include the Cotton Bowl as a major bowl he's 1-3. Yes, that's right he's made four major bowl games in 14 years.

Which brings me to the other thing that should sound familiar: $5 million. If you've been reading Drew's columns this football season, you'll recognize that as roughly the same amount of money that John Harbaugh was paid this season. Yes, an "amateur" coach with one conference title in 14 years gets paid the same amount as a professional coach with a Super Bowl victory. Amazing, innit?

Mike Gundy loves Jesus, though. You what he doesn't like? Transfers. And snowflakes. He went on a big rant about both a couple of months ago, although he oddly didn't have the guts to actually name the players who transferred from his program, although that would be a cowardly thing to do and that's definitely not Mike Gundy. He's a man. He's 40. And he loves Jesus. And amateur football, from which he makes $5 million a year.

But thankfully our noble purveyors of the values of amateurism who take great pride in molding the character of needy and impressionable young men would stand steadfast in their unbending disgust and opposition to decades long serial child rape. Or serial abuse of underage female gymnasts as young as 8 by a doctor claiming that sticking his finger up their vagina was a treatment for knee pain.

Or domestic violence by a wide receiver coach whose chief qualification for the job, by his boss's own admission, was that his grandfather was a mostly undistinguished coach that said boss was mentored by and looked up to.

OK, none of that stuff is actually funny, or anything that should be joked about. But if nothing else, if the NCAA adds no more to the sporting landscape than this, they stand steadfast in their opposition to college athletes getting a single dime of the billions and billions (seriously the Pac-fricking-12 is selling off 10% equity in their cable network for $500 million!) of dollars in annual revenue generated by the sport they turn their brains into mush to earn.

And really, can we possibly thank them enough for that? I mean, if college football players were to get paid for their labor, we'd probably be stuck with Alabama and Clemson in the national title game every year!

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what to expect in 2019


From the file of: "Everyone else is doing it, so why don't we?" comes this.

I can't let the start of 2019 come and go without offering up a bunch of things that either WILL or WON'T happen over the next 364 days.

Go ahead and post it on your refrigerator if you like. I'm definitely not keeping it around, but I would appreciate it if someone would, just to have it for reference next December 31st.

Here we go...with a look ahead to 2019.

#DMD says the title reign of the Golden State Warriors will end in 2019.

The Orioles will win more than 47 games this coming season. Probably not many more than that, mind you. I'll say, right now, they win 55 games. I reserve the right to change that if they somehow sign a quality veteran or two, but even then, they won't win many more than 55. For now, I'm going with 55-107. That tells you just how much the 2018 team gave up, huh?

I have this weird feeling that the Washington Capitals, after failing to win a Stanley Cup title from 1974 through 2017, are going to win one in 2018 and 2019. Yes, I think the Caps are going to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. They need to stay injury free, as there's not a lot of salary cap room for them to make any major adjustments at the trade deadline.

The Golden State Warriors are not going to repeat in the NBA. Who wins it all? I don't know. Let's just say the Toronto Raptors for a change of pace.

Tiger Woods will win a major title this year. The biggest reason why? Three of the four courses are places he's captured majors previously. Augusta National (Masters), Bethpage Black (PGA) and Pebble Beach (U.S. Open). Of those three, I'd suspect the one he has the best shot at winning would be the PGA at Bethpage.

I don't know if the Yankees are getting Manny or not, and there are still lots of moves to be made between now and the start of spring training, but I have a bad feeling those creeps in New York are going to win the World Series. Boy, I sure do hope I'm wrong on that one.

Maryland men's basketball will make the NCAA tournament as a "play in" team and will fall to Iowa State in the opening round of March Madness.

Joe Flacco will be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins in 2019.

Final prediction: Only two of these predictions will come true. I have no idea which two...

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