Monday
October 31
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 31
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fact is, this has been a pretty good world series thus far


FACT: The Oakland Raiders are now 5-0 on the road this season after yesterday's 30-24 OT win at Tampa Bay. There used to be this "thing" about West Coast teams traveling east and not being able to win, but the Raiders have squashed that theory in 2016; they've won at Jacksonville, at Tampa Bay, at Baltimore, at Nashville and, heck, New Orleans is at least east of Oakland and they won there, too.

OPINION: I'm not sure Oakland's defense is going to be ready for prime time come January, but Derek Carr and that offense is pretty freakin' good. The AFC West is going to be a dogfight and it's easy to see three teams (Oakland, KC, Denver) making the playoffs.

FACT: The Redskins' kicker missed a 34-yard field goal in OT yesterday that would have sent the DC boys back home from London a winner. Sebastian Janikowski of Oakland missed from 50 at the end of regulation yesterday, then duck-hooked a 53-yarder in overtime and missed that one, too. Last week in Arizona, both kickers missed from inside the 30-yard line in overtime with the game on the line.

OPINION: Justin Tucker wouldn't have missed any of those kicks. If nothing else, we know we have the best kicker in the league on our team here in Baltimore.

FACT: Cubs' manager Joe Maddon gambled and won last night when he used closer Aroldis Chapman to record the game's final eights out in Chicago's 3-2 World Series win over Cleveland. The Indians can wrap up their first title since 1948 tomorrow night at home.

OPINION: This has been a very entertaining World Series to date. Even the semi blow-out losses by the Cubs in Chicago in the 3rd and 4th games were made entertaining by the folks at FOX who simply focused more on the glory of a World Series game in Wrigley than what was going on out on the diamond. And last night's Game 5 was really special, as the Cubs won a nailbiter and the fans witnessed something they thought they might not EVER see again -- the Cubs winning a World Series game at Wrigley Field. Pretty cool stuff...

X
A balanced offense has helped the Caps get off to a 5-2-1 start and Alex Ovechkin looks energized and solid at both ends of the ice. If the Cubs are in the World Series, is it too much to think the Caps might get there this season, too?

FACT: The Capitals have rebounded nicely from a brief 2-game skid by winning twice in the last 48 hours, beating Vancouver on Saturday night and Calgary on Sunday evening, 3-1. They'll wrap up the early season 4-game Canadian road swing with a game in Winnipeg tomorrow night.

OPINION: It would have been a perfect hockey Sunday -- what, with the Caps winning and all -- had those rat finks from Philadelphia also lost. Somehow, the Flyers managed to steal a win in Carolina, 4-3, which diminishes the Capitals' win in Calgary just a hair. (Wait, that's not an opinion. That's a fact.)

FACT: The Browns fell to 0-8 yesterday with a 31-28 loss to the Jets. That might have represented Cleveland's best chance to win a game this season. Their remaining schedule at home includes Dallas, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, the Giants and San Diego, while on the road they are at Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

OPINION: It's obviously VERY hard to go 16-0 in the NFL, but it's almost as difficult to go 0-16. The league is just too even across the board for a team to play 16 times and not beat someone, somewhere. I know it doesn't look like the Browns are going to beat anyone in 2016, but they will. Most likely they'll either beat the Giants or the Chargers in Cleveland.

FACT: In the 18 years they've been playing World Golf Championships events, no Asian player had ever won one until yesterday when Hideki Matsuyama captured the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

OPINION: Just a guess here, but Matsuyama won't be catching Tiger Woods anytime soon in WGC wins. Matsuyama has one; Tiger has eighteen wins. Some guys don't win 18 times in their career. Tiger has 18 wins in ONLY the World Golf Championships events. Unreal...

X
The Cubs are putting their hopes in the right arm of Jake Arrieta tomorrow night in Game 6 at Cleveland. Are the Indians about to sew up their first title since 1948 or can Arrieta keep Chicago's hopes alive for at least one more game?

FACT: The Cubs are giving the ball to Jake Arrieta for tomorrow night's Game 6 in Cleveland. Josh Tomlin will start for the Indians.

OPINION: Arrieta isn't a free agent until after NEXT season, but tomorrow's outing in Cleveland is a potential money-maker for the former Oriole on the biggest stage baseball can provide. His numbers this season were good; not nearly as great as his Cy Young campaign of a year ago, but his second half wasn't all that inspiring in 2016. This game tomorrow night gives him a chance to showcase his abilities to everyone around the league and remind them of his stature in the game.

FACT: Matt Ryan threw a perfect strike to Mohamed Sanu with a half-minute remaining in the game on Sunday to give Atlanta a thrilling 33-32 win over Green Bay.

OPINION: Something looks different about Ryan this season. Maybe it's just the fact he has a few weapons at his disposal or perhaps it's an improved Atlanta offensive line that's making Ryan look less jittery, but I've seen him play a few times now and he looks like a quarterback that knows he will beat you with a minute left if you're not able to get to him. I'm not saying Atlanta's going to the Super Bowl or anything, but the NFC is still wide open in my opinion. Maybe it could be the Falcons playing the Patriots in Houston?

FACT: After losing at home in blowout fashion to San Antonio last week, the Golden State Warriors rebounded with two road wins, including a 106-100 triumph at Phoenix last night. Kevin Durant scored 37 points for the Warriors in the win.

OPINION: Funny the way it is, as the great Dave Matthews says. After they dropped their opener, NBA "experts" were opining how Durant might not be a great fit with "the Dubs". This morning, they're saying he adds a new dimension to a team that was already loaded with talent. "They might threaten last year's 73 win total if they stay healthy," someone wrote on Twitter last night. Three games in and we're starting the "chase for 74" already.

FACT: The Ravens return to action at home this Sunday against the Steelers. Three weeks ago, it looked like Ben Roethlisberger would miss the game after undergoing minor knee surgery. But he practiced last week in Pittsburgh and looks like he might actually start this Sunday's game.

OPINION: People like to poke fun at Roethlisberger for his career-injury-list, but he's one tough S.O.B. If your offensive line was as bad as his has been at times over the last decade, you'd have had eight surgeries too.

FACT: The MIAA boys' soccer playoffs in the A-Conference begin today, with Calvert Hall hosting Loyola at 4 pm and Gilman visiting McDonogh at 4 pm. The CHC-Loyola winner travels to Mount Saint Joseph on Thursday while the Gilman-McDonogh winner draws top-seed Curley on Thursday.

OPINION: Calvert Hall and McDonogh both win today. The Cardinals will then have to figure out a way to beat the Gaels on Thursday; MSJ beat Calvert Hall twice in the regular season.

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three things the ravens must do in the second half of the season


With the Ravens returning from their bye-week, lots of media folk in town are listing what they think the Ravens need to do in the second half of the campaign to get back in the AFC playoff race.

I'll take a hack, too, in that case.

And I'm not going to say things like "stay healthy", "avoid penalties" and "take the points when they're available", because none of those things can controlled directly by the players.

Instead, I'll just give you three ON-FIELD elements that the Ravens need to do in the second half of the season.

1. Run the ball more -- and differently: I know the Ravens have a $22 million quarterback who likes to gunsling the ball, but they need to get back to a more balanced offense that includes running it somewhere in the 24-30 times per-game range. This might mean, even, running it a handful of times early in the game on 3rd and 3 and 3rd and 4 just to, a) see if it works and, b) remind the defense that 3rd and 3 or 3rd and 4 isn't always a passing down with Joe Flacco and Company.

And while we're running it more, how about sprinkling in some work to the right side, maybe try a reverse or two with one of the speedy guys (Perriman, Wallace?) and, in general, just be a bit more creative than we've seen thus far in 2016. If the Ravens aren't running it 25 times per-game, they're doing it wrong.

2. Go to Aiken more: Last year after Steve Smith Sr. went down with his injury, Kamar Aiken stepped up and had a career year. Somehow, this season, he's sort of retreated back to what he was in 2015, namely, a guy who gets the ball thrown to him a few times in the first half and if something good doesn't result from that, he's pretty much overlooked the rest of the day.

Through seven games, Aiken has been targeted 23 times. Total. That's just over three passes thrown his way per-game.

I'd like to see Flacco throw to Aiken at least eight times per-game, if not more. Here's a tip: Take the targets you're giving Perriman and immediately cut them in half and give those left overs to Aiken. The offense will be better for it, I assure you.

3. Find a reliable return man: Here's what I think we all know at this point...the Ravens thought Devin Hester could still do it and they thought wrong. Someone needs to be identified as the return specialist in the second half and the Ravens need to give him the job and tell him "it's your job for the rest of the season".

Hester can't do it anymore. And the punt return and kick-off return opportunities are just too valuable to have a stiff in there handling those duties. Who is it? I don't know, I'm not on the coaching staff. But I know who it isn't -- Hester. Let's get someone in there with reliable hands and a good sense of judgment (granted, easier said than done) of when to catch it and when to let it go. And let's turn punts and kicks into offensive scoring opportunities via good field position.

KELLY
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show me the money, week #8


I felt OK about my chances on Sunday when the Bucs were up on Oakland and the Bills were hanging tough with the Patriots.

Then, it all fell apart, like it often does when you're trying to figure out who is going to win in the NFL and by how many points.

I went 2-4 on Sunday in Week #8, winning on the Jets (-2.5) and the Texans (-1.5), but losing on the Buccaneers, Bengals, Bills and Chargers.

I did hit on my "Best Bet" pick, so for those of you who put down $5,000 on that one, I made you some money by going with the Texans (-1.5) over the Lions.

Overall, though, I stunk again.

It's getting to the point now where I'm going to need a handful of 4-2 weeks just to pull myself back up to even on the season.

RECORD TO DATE: 19-29

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 1-6

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 4-4

Tonight's game at Chicago should tell us a lot about Minnesota. If they're as good as their early season record (5-1) and defense says they are, they'll win tonight. If they're just another team who got off to a hot start but doesn't really have anything under the hood, they'll fall to the woeful Bears.

The Vikings are 4.5 point favorites. They'll win by twice that many -- Minnesota 27 - Bears 18.

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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


Sunday
October 30
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 30
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remember what today represents -- only this time -- enjoy it


Some of you will be unaffected by what today represents during the NFL football season.

There are lots of us, though, who will remember what it was like to have a Sunday in late October with no football team playing a meaningful game.

I like to do this once a season, on that Sunday during Ravens bye-week when the purple birds aren't in action.

I simply remember and reflect what it was like here to have NO football, from 1984 through 1995.

I'm not bringing this up to help stitch up the wound of a 3-4 start, or give last season's 5-11 team a "pass".

X
There was a time when Baltimore had a "bye week" every Sunday -- for 12 years.

You don't need to soften your criticism of Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh or Lardarius Webb just because I remind you that the city went a dozen years without football.

But, today, you should remember simply how great it is to have football in our city.

The Colts leaving on March 29, 1984 crushed my mom and dad. And I mean crushed them.

My mom was the biggest Colts fan in my family. She knew more about the players and their stats than both my dad and I, and pre-gamed like a super-fan on the morning of a football game.

When the team left town, my mom's heart was broken. I was 21 at the time, having attended 30 or so Colts games at Memorial Stadium with my father, and even though I was working in sports myself at that point in 1984, I too was thrown for a loop when the team ventured off to Indianapolis. My dad just stopped watching football on Sunday when we had no team here.

So, today is 1986. Or 1990. Or 1992. We had no team back then, and no real promise of getting one, either.

A Sunday in October in 1987 meant catching up on yardwork. Or playing golf. Or anything else on your calendar...except football.

Baltimore was Birmingham, Alabama, or Charleston, South Carolina or Louisville, Kentucky for those twelve years.

Everyone else in the country had a football team on Sunday, except for us.

And the fact that we once HAD a team and let it get away was even more painful, I suppose. We knew what we had and couldn't keep it, somehow.

Thankfully, I'm guessing that in the lifetime of my two children, they aren't going to experience what I experienced in 1984.

Football will remain here, I suspect. I think Baltimore has done a whale of a job of showing the NFL that the city will support a franchise.

But from 1984-1995, the NFL didn't think Baltimore deserved a team. Or, at the very least, the owners of the respective teams in the league didn't think so.

So, at some point today, take in the silence in your neighborhood. Feel the boredom when you're at a store or a supermarket. Sense, if you can, the lifeless feeling in our city today when there's no football game being played by the Ravens.

There are lots of us who remember all of that stuff very well for twelve years when we didn't have a team.

Today was like every other Sunday in the NFL season. We had nothing...no games, no team, no scores, no fun.

Take it all in today and be thankful we have a team in 2016.

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show me the money, week #8


I should probably take a "bye week" like the Ravens so I, too, can re-group.

Alas, I don't have that luxury.

I have to get right back up on that horse and figure how to turn this losing skid around that I've been experiencing for the last six weeks.

I wish I could blame it on Joe Flacco.

Or bad drafting.

I've just hit a bad patch, that's all, but I'm going to start my mid-season turnaround TODAY.

Let's face it, I can't get much worse than last week's 1-5 showing, right? What's the worst I can be? 0-6...

Without a Ravens game, I'll simply add one more game to the schedule to keep up with my six-games-per-week offering.

Here we go...


REDSKINS AT BENGALS (-3.0) -- I hardly ever touch the London games because I think so much of what happens over there is simply who wakes up on the right side of the bed that morning, but I think the Bengals might be starting to make a little bit of a move in the AFC North. I'm not feeling all that warm and fuzzy about this one, but let's take Cincy to win and cover, 27-20.


RAIDERS AT BUCCANEERS (+1.0) -- Oakland is 4-0 on the road this season and playing their second straight game in the state of Florida. They've already come East this year and won at Baltimore in addition to last Sunday's pounding of the Jaguars. I don't think Tampa Bay is all that good. I think Oakland is potentially a pretty decent team with a percolating offense. Everything points to Oakland winning here. So I'm going with the Buccaneers in a mild upset, 33-31.


LIONS AT TEXANS (-1.5) -- This one is the opposite of the Oakland-Tampa Bay game. Houston is 4-0 at home and 4-3 overall. They can't win anywhere EXCEPT at home. The Lions are also 4-3 and they're 1-2 on the road. Detroit appears to be better than we might have thought earlier in the season, but I'm going with the home team today, so let's take the Texans to win here 24-17.


JETS AT BROWNS (+2.5) -- Is this the week it happens? Are the Browns going to win their game of the season today? Is it possible that the Jets can't beat the Browns? Having watched how awful the Jets looked at times last week against the Ravens, I suspect anything is possible in Cleveland today. But the Browns have to NOT be the Browns at some point this afternoon and I'm not sure that's possible. They'll always figure out a way to lose. Let's go with the Jets here in a close one, 19-16.


PATRIOTS AT BILLS (-6.5) -- I'd like nothing better than to see New England beat Buffalo by 24 points today. But I don't think that's happening. For whatever reason, Bill Belichick doesn't run roughshod over Rex Ryan-coached teams. And Buffalo really needs this one today at 4-3 and in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race. I think New England wins, but it's going to be a close one, so let's take the Bills and the points in a 24-22 Patriots victory.


CHARGERS AT BRONCOS (-4.0) -- Forget the point-spread part of this -- I expect this is going to be a heckuva football game in Denver today. San Diego has played well of late, while the Broncos are steady as they come in the AFC West. San Diego would be right back in the division race with a win today, as they're at 3-4 and Denver sits at 5-2. I like Philip Rivers and wouldn't mind seeing him run off a bunch of wins in the second half of the season and make the playoffs, but I don't know if that's happening given how good the AFC West is these days. But I'm taking the Chargers and the four points today as Denver wins, 23-21.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- I'll go with the Texans giving up 1.5 at home to the Lions as the "Best Bet" today.


RECORD TO DATE: 17-25

LAST WEEK: 1-5

RAVENS ONLY: 1-6

BEST BET: 3-4

KELLY
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no need for the 4-letter network, we have the good stuff right here


The Cleveland Indians are one win away from their first World Series title since 1948 after last night's 7-2 thrashing of the Cubs in Chicago.

Corey Kluber went six strong innings and won for the second time in the series as the Indians offset an early Cubs lead with two runs in the second and a run in the third to give Kluber all the room he would need.

Jason Kipnis hit a 3-run homer in the 7th inning to put the game away.

I'm not saying Chicago is going to quit at this point, but they look like a beaten team now, trailing 3-1 and knowing they'd have to win twice in Cleveland (in addition to this evening's Game 5) to steal the title from the Indians.

The Capitals broke a mini-slump on Saturday night with a 5-2 win at Vancouver, as Washington won for the first time in three starts.

March Johansson scored twice for the Caps and T.J. Oshie, Karl Alzner and Tom Wilson added single tallies for the Caps, who are back in action tonight in Calgary.

The Caps are now 4-2-1 on the season.

One other piece of good hockey news came out of Philadelphia last night, where the Flyers lost to the Penguins, 5-4.

One week after a "program building win" over Michigan State in College Park, the Terps laid an egg at Indiana yesterday, losing to the Hoosiers 42-36.

Perry Hills threw for 248 yards and Ty Johnson ran for 142 more, but the Maryland defense was punctured for 13 points in every quarter except the second, as Indiana improved to 2-3 in Big Ten play while the Terps fell to 2-3.

Maryland (5-3 overall) faces three difficult conference opponents next, as they're at #2 ranked Michigan next Saturday, home against Ohio State the following week and then at #7 Nebraska on November 19 before a season-ending layup game at Rutgers, which should get the Terps bowl eligible.

Hideki Matsuyama made PGA Tour history on Sunday in Shanghai, becoming the first Asian player to win a World Golf Championships event when he blitzed the field at the HSBC Champions event with a 23-under-par total for four days.

It was Matsuyama's 10th career victory and 3rd on the PGA Tour.

Henrik Stenson and Daniel Berger finished tied for second.

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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


Saturday
October 29
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 29
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grading the ravens at the halfway point


OK, I know what you're going to say.

The Ravens (3-4) have only played seven games, I know, and the halfway point is eight games.

Well, the bye week is a good time to hand out grades, so that's what I'm doing today. And it's really close to the actual half-way point of the season.

As you'll see below, report card time isn't too favorable to the Ravens. I've decided to grade 16 players, total. Several of them have been hurt for some period of time -- a familiar refrain when discussing the Ravens over the last two seasons -- but I still did my best to give them a grade nonetheless. And, just like your teacher in elementary school might have swayed your grade based on your attendance, I've sort of done the same thing with some of the injured players.

Let's first give out the basic definitions of the grades: (A) = excellent. (B) = good. (C) = average. (D) = poor. (E) = failure.

And on we go to the grades.

Of the 16 players I'm grading, only three are receiving "A grades" today.

Justin Tucker, (A) -- What can you say? He's the team MVP at the bye-week break. That tells you all you need to know about this Ravens team, I suppose. The field goal kicker is the team's "best" and "most valuable" player to date. Wow...

Mike Wallace, (A) -- The newcomer really HAS been excellent thus far in 2016. He leads the team in receiving yards (490) and is tied with Terrance West for individual TD's with three. He's not the go-route speedster he was with Pittsburgh a decade ago, but he's turned the page nicely in Baltimore in 2016 and has been better than I think most of us assumed he would be.

Eric Weddle, (A) -- The newcomer from San Diego has been terrific thus far. It's just a shame no one else in the secondary has matched his performance. Not only can he play, still, but he looks like a guy with lots of leadership skills, as well. A welcomed addition to say the least.

X
You know your offense isn't do much of anything when the kicker is the team's MVP at the 7-game mark of the regular season.

Zachary Orr, (B+) -- Here's something you probably didn't know. Who leads the Ravens in solo tackles thus far in 2016? Zachary Orr, that's who. And, ready for this? -- Orr has 44 solo's and the next closest guy has 22. The linebacker also has an interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Very quietly, Orr has been a reliable contributor on defense.

Timmy Jernigan, (B) -- Had to dock him some percentage points for not falling on that ball in the Meadowlands last Sunday in the loss to the Jets, but Jernigan has four sacks and 11 solo tackles to date and has turned in a decent first half. Has also cut down (for now, anyway) on the dumb penalties that he seemingly picked up every week or so last season.

Tavon Young, (B) -- The rookie cornerback out of Temple has also been "good" through seven games, with some johnny-on-the-spot special teams contributions, two interceptions in the secondary, and some reliable coverage in the nickel package. Yes, he was involved in the OBJ catch that won the game for the Giants a couple of weeks ago, but that was more scheme than coverage issues. Right now, he looks like one of the team's better draft picks of the last couple of seasons.

Terrance West, (B-) -- He's been better than you realize. Averaging 4.4 per-carry and basically made Justin Forsett expendable. The Ravens have four runs of over 20 yards this season and West is the owner of all four. He's also become fairly dependable in the red zone. Leads all running backs with three TD's (no other RB has one, in fact).

Dennis Pitta, (B-) -- It has been an extraordinary return to the field for Pitta, but he's made a contribution for sure. Actually leads the club in receptions (38), but hasn't yet caught a TD pass. Just getting back out there and playing is a tribute to him.

Brandon Williams, (B-) -- Turning in another good season and will be a big-ticket free agent when his time comes. Not pressuring the quarterback quite like he has in the past, but still adept at run stopping and leads all defensive lineman in solo tackles with 14. "Plays like a Raven" is probably the ultimate compliment for him.

Joe Flacco, (C) -- Too much on-again, off-again for Flacco, but the offensive line has been dangerously awful over the last few weeks with injuries to three starters and Flacco's grade gets a little bit of "good" bump because he's hung in there and fought the good fight. Still, his play has been spotty and some of his mistakes (Wallace near the goal-line in the Giants game stands out) have been game-costers for the Ravens. He's better than he's displayed thus far. Right?

Terrell Suggs, (C) -- Suggs' actual "numbers" aren't all that bad, but there are now far too many games where you don't hear his name mentioned for three quarters. True, he's been better against the run in the last couple of years than earlier in his career, but he's still paid handsomely to chase the quarterback. He does have five sacks, but that's about the only time you hear his name mentioned these days.

Marshal Yanda, (C-) -- Tough to get a really good grade when you're injured and not playing. Yanda's loss has been felt over the last few weeks, but even when he was healthy and playing he wasn't having a "great" season. Still a reliable offensive lineman, but maybe not as dominant as he was a couple of years ago.

Jeremy Zuttah, (D) -- This might be the first grade I've handed out where I've gone "soft". Honestly, Zuttah might deserve an "E". He's been that bad. The Ravens need to bring in a new, FAR more dependable center in 2017.

Lardarius Webb, (D) -- It's just not happening for Webb any longer. Moved to safety to try and take some of the coverage pressure off of him, but that hasn't changed the fact that he just doesn't have the wheels to keep up with NFL receivers. You might be looking at his last year in Baltimore.

Breshad Perriman, (D) -- Not a flop yet, by any means, but he sure doesn't look like a first-round draft pick, albeit 18 months after he was originally selected. Isn't a great route runner and his hands are shaky (at best). He does have good speed, but there's lots more to being a receiver in the league than just being fast. Doesn't look the part -- yet.

Devin Hester, (E) -- Done. Was great for a long time. Might even be a Hall of Famer someday. But he's finished, now. Nothing left.

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curley captures regular season a-conference boys' soccer crown


With a 4-1 win at Gilman on Friday, Curley finished off the 2016 season in impressive fashion, winning their last nine games overall and eight straight in the MIAA to capture the regular season A-Conference title with a 13-2-1 mark and 38 total points.

The Friars lost only to Calvert Hall and McDonogh during the regular season.

Mount Saint Joseph knocked off St. Paul's by that same 4-1 score on Friday, October 28 and finished 2nd in the conference at 12-2-2.

Calvert Hall concluded their regular season conference slate with a 4-2 victory over Spalding on Friday and owns the #3 seed at 11-4-1. They'll take on #6 Loyola in the quarterfinals of the A-Conference playoffs this Monday, October 31.

McDonogh (#4) will host Gilman (#5) in the other quarterfinal match-up on Monday.

If Calvert Hall wins on Monday, they'll face Mount Saint Joseph in the semi-finals. If the Cardinals do beat Loyola, the McDonogh-Gilman winner gets to visit Curley next week.

Should Loyola win on Monday, the McDonogh-Gilman winner will then play MSJ and the Dons would travel to Curley for their semi-final match-up.

For complete coverage of all local high school sports, visit www.varsitysportsnetwork.com, the area's leader in high school athletics coverage.

KELLY
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


Full
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Friday
October 28
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 28
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"you want answers?"


I don't get much opportunity during the day to stay connected to #DMD so I don't often see the comments from readers until late at night, or, perhaps, even a day or two later.

I need to do a better job of staying connecting and answering your questions when they appear there.

But, today, I'm giving you some answers.

I've gone back a week or so and picked out some questions that were left for me and will give you some answers here.

Mike in Catonsville took me to task for reporting ONLY on private schools and not covering public high school athletics, to which I say this:

"I can only do what I can do from a time standpoint. Covering MORE stuff probably isn't an option for me, unless they come up with two more hours in the day. And because my affiliation with Calvert Hall naturally leads me to be more interested in the MIAA than any other conference, I'm more inclined to report on that conference and, frankly, boys' sports more than girls' sports. I'm not "anti-public school" by any means. I went to three public schools growing up in Glen Burnie.

But I've picked the MIAA as the one conference I'll follow here at #DMD and report on semi-regularly. Now, that said, if anyone out there has a story about a public high school team or athlete that they'd like to see featured here at #DMD, by all means reach out to me and I'll give you the freedom to write it up and I'll publish it here for everyone to see."


Last week, JL asked me who I thought a good potential replacement would be for John Harbaugh if he doesn't return for the 2017 Ravens season, to which I say this:

"Let me first say, for the record, I'm not advocating John Harbaugh be fired at the end of this season, no matter what the Ravens' final record is...but I'll play along and answer your question. To me, the most natural guy and the name I suspect you would hear at the very beginning as the "favorite" would be Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator of the Patriots.

"Matt Patricia (defensive coordinator of the Patriots) is also a name you would hear, for sure, but there are some whispers that he's destined for the job in Detroit once Jim Caldwell steps down. I don't know this, but I'm guessing: Steve Bisciotti would want to go with an offensive-minded coach -- and McDaniels is regarded as one of the top offensive minds in the game today. McDaniels would be the favorite, Patricia would be number two."


Yesterday, Ron K Dematha chirped about my disdain for the Flyers and mentioned "at least Philadelphia has a hockey team...and called Baltimore hockey fans a bunch of hypocrites because we root for a team in D.C. and we've called them "the Crapitals" in the past". To which I say this:

"I don't care what anyone else in Baltimore thinks about the Capitals or has said about the Capitals in the past. I've NEVER in my life called them "the Crapitals" because I've been a fan of the team since I started going to the Capital Centre in 1976. I'm not really anti-Washington in the least. I don't root for the Redskins because we have a football team here. I don't root for the Wizards because I'm not an NBA fan and, thus, don't have a "favorite team". But I'm a Capitals fan and have been since 1976.

"There are a lot of hockey fans in Baltimore. Most of them, I think, are Capitals fans. And you're right, Philadelphia has a hockey team and Baltimore doesn't. You know how I know this? By watching that video I put up earlier in the week, the one where the Blackhawks scored in overtime IN Philadelphia to win the Stanley Cup and send all 18,000 of those rat-fink Flyers fans home with tears in their eyes." (hee hee hee!)


Earlier this week, Patrick provided a list of quarterbacks and asked me if I would trade Joe Flacco straight up for any of them right now, to which I say this:

"Of the five names Patrick listed, none of those guys have been to a Super Bowl (Dalton, Rivers, Stafford, Palmer and Ryan), so it's not like the Ravens would be getting some kind of world-beater in exchange for Flacco if this mythical deal played out and we swapped QB's. My answer? Right now, today, I'd take Matthew Stafford over Joe Flacco. I might take Andy Dalton over Flacco. I might take Philip Rivers over Flacco. I would NOT take Carson Palmer or Matt Ryan over Flacco.

"It's not easy to analyze quarterback-vs-quarterback because all of the other factors are critical. Example, Matt Ryan's throwing to Julio Jones these days. Joe Flacco is NOT. If Ryan came here and had to throw to Kamar Aiken and Mike Wallace every Sunday, his numbers and performance, particularly with the offensive line in Baltimore, might be similar or worse than Joe's numbers. Flacco might go to Atlanta and throw for 5,000 yards, 2,500 of them to Jones. But if you're just asking me to play along and make a trade, even up, I'd take Matthew Stafford over Flacco at this point, today."

And, now, you can also tell everyone which one YOU would take. The poll below gives you that chance. Please participate!



 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: Which of these two is the better "winner"?
#1 seed, Tiger Woods
#3 seed, Michael Phelps
- x
- y
- z
Name
Email address
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either way this world series goes, i'm good with it


There's no way you can possibly be unhappy with whichever team wins this World Series.

Unless you don't have a heart, that is.

The Cubs haven't been to the Fall Classic for 71 years and haven't won the World Series since 1908.

The Indians haven't won the World Series since 1948.

X
Cleveland got a NBA title last June and now they might see a World Series winner with the Indians. Could the Browns be far behind? OK, maybe not.

Yeah, I know we're sort of predisposed to not liking Cleveland all that much around here, but I'm perfectly fine with the Indians winning this (even though I don't think they will) year's world championship.

And I'm cool with the Cubs winning it, too.

I was elated to see the Royals win last year.

Why?

Anytime one of these perennial bottom-feeders wins, it gives us hope in Baltimore.

The Cubs, Indians and Royals all went through rough patches -- REALLY rough patches -- in the last twenty years, just like our Orioles, and all three have now reached the World Series in the last three years.

The Royals, of course, went in 2014 and 2015 and won it all last October.

The Cubs or Indians are going to win this year.

Maybe it's not that far-fetched to think the Orioles could win a ring sometime soon.

I've heard people recently call in to talk radio (local and national) and complain about the Cubs' "attitude" and how they're as arrogant as the Royals were a year ago in winning. To that I say: I wish MY team had that arrogance in October playing in the World Series!"

In other words, I don't care how "arrogant" the Orioles are...if they're arrogant in the World Series, that only means one thing to me -- they're IN the World Series.

People in Baltimore whined about the Royals back in 2014 when they sent the O's packing in four straight games, but I loved the way they played the game that year -- and last season, too. They played like they REALLY, REALLY wanted to win. You could see it with every at bat, every run they scored, every great defensive play they made. Kansas City had "it" in 2014 and 2015.

The Cubs and Indians have "it" this season.

Anytime I see these teams that were cellar dwellers for a decade -- like the O's were -- come out of nowhere and get really good, it gives me a smidgen of hope that something like that could happen to us in Baltimore.

Maybe next October?

KELLY
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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL

With eight of the ten teams in the top half of table dropping points last weekend, Matchday 10 of the English Premier League moves past the quarter pole of the season with a log jam developing at the top of the standings, with a three-way tie at the top of the table and two more teams lingering only a point behind. The foundation looks to be laid for a season long battle for the Premier League trophy and you can catch all of the action live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra.

Saturday, October 29 (all times eastern)

10am – Leicester City @ Tottenham – White Hart Lane, NBC Sports Network

Tottenham missed their chance to go top of table but remained unbeaten on the season, thanks to goalkeeper Hugo Lloris coming to their rescue throughout to save a point for Spurs in a 0-0 draw with Bournemouth. They will welcome Leicester City to White Hart Lane on Saturday with the Foxes finally transferring their sensational Champions League form, where they remained unbeaten last week to virtually guarantee the European debutants a spot in the knockout rounds, over to league play as they ended a three-match winless run in a comfortable 3-1 home victory over Crystal Palace.

The win kept the defending league champions unbeaten at home this season (W3 D2) however, it has been their road form away from the King Power Stadium that has Leicester languishing in the middle of the table, eight points off the pace, with their shock defeat away on the opening weekend to the newly promoted Hull City followed by losses to Liverpool, Manchester United, and Chelsea, leaving the Foxes still searching for their first away victory of the season, one in which they will hope to finally secure this weekend in their visit to White Hart, where they have lost just once in their last five visits (W2 D2).

12:30pm – Liverpool @ Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park, NBC

X
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp brings a red-hot team to Crystal Palace on Saturday as the Reds have won 8 of their last 10 games overall.

Liverpool remained unbeaten in their last ten games across all competitions (W8 D2) with two first half goals enough to see them past the always resolute West Brom 2-1, and move the Reds into a three-way tie at the top of the table on twenty points, trailing Manchester City and Arsenal only on goal differential. They will look to continue their rise up the standings when they travel to the cauldron of noise that is Selhurst Park where they will face the struggling Crystal Palace, whose loss to Leicester was their second in three games and dropped the Eagles into the bottom half of the table.

After going unbeaten in their previous five league games (W3 D2) to earn their eleven-point haul on the season, the dip in form has brought back still fresh memories of Palaces’ dismal second half showing in last year’s campaign, when a fourteen-game winless run took the Eagles from fourth place all the way down to a relegation battle by seasons end, with a trip to the FA Cup Final and survival in the top flight their only consolation prizes from a lost season. With wins in three of their last four meetings against the inform Liverpool (L1), they will hope to put to bed any notion of a repeat performance.

Sunday, October 30 (all times eastern)

9:30am – West Ham United @ Everton – Goodison Park, NBC Sports Network

West Ham United had chances throughout as they tried to get past bottom dwellers Sunderland, but it was their final chance of the game in the final seconds of injury time that proved the difference, as defender Winston Reid’s effort found its way through a sea of legs and into the back of net and a 1-0 victory for the Hammers. They will try to make it three wins in a row when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton, who remained winless in their last four games (D2 L2) after they overcame a first half deficit only to be done in by a 90th minute decider against the run of play in a 2-1 loss to Burnley.

The recent dip in form has threatened to undermine the Toffees blazing start to the campaign, where they went unbeaten in their first five matches to kick off the season, with wins in four of those contests cementing their place in the top half of the table. Despite West Ham looking as if they have shaken off their early season struggles, the home side will be confident of getting back in the win column this weekend in what is likely to be a barn burning affair, with losses in just one of their last sixteen meetings with the Hammers (W10 D5) and only one of their last nine matchups at Goodison Park (W5 D3).

LYNCH
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!


Thursday
October 27
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 27
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


what fixes the ravens now and later?


My friend Tony Lombardi, host of the outstanding Ravens-centric website, RussellStreetReport.com, published an interesting piece on Wednesday titled, "Ravens Repair Man".

I won't spoil an excellent read, so please head over to the website and check it out for yourself, but Lombardi's main theme was figuring out what the Ravens need to do better in the second half of the season in order to climb back into playoff contention in the AFC.

While the remainder of the 2016 season matters, what about 2017 and beyond? How do the Ravens fix themselves for the next couple of years?

One of the basic components with any successful franchise in the NFL is consistency. If you look at the last decade in the league -- all ten of those years -- the same six teams are always sniffing around come late January: Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Packers, Colts and Seahawks, although Seattle's "run" is probably more like the six years or so. While Peyton Manning played in Denver, they, too, were perennial title contenders, advancing to a pair of Super Bowls with #18 at the helm and winning one of them.

For those teams, the phrase "window of opportunity" kind of doesn't exist because they always figure out a way to restock their shelves with free agents and key draft picks who come in and make an immediate impact.

X
Has the career calendar of Terrell Suggs finally reached the month of December? In Baltimore, it likely has, yes.

The Ravens, for a variety of reasons since winning the Super Bowl in 2013, are a bad second half away from missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

If that happens, John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco would be in uncharted territory. And people around town will say "Our window of opportunity has closed".

So, just how DO the Ravens get better in 2017 and beyond?

By making tough decisions, that's how.

Some won't be popular with the fans, some might not be popular in the locker room and some won't be popular with the player(s) involved. But there's no doubt some tough talks are on the horizon.

I'm the guy, if you remember back to last spring, who said it was time for the Ravens to cut ties with both Steve Smith Sr. and Terrell Suggs. Why? One word: age.

Look, both of those guys are much younger than your's truly, so for me to call them "old" is a little bit ridiculous, but in football terms, and body wear-and-tear terms, they're both OLD.

To me, it's obvious: Suggs and Smith Sr. can't return in 2017, sorry guys.

I wouldn't make every personnel decision about age and age only, but I'd look long and hard at the roster make-up in 2017 and if there was any kind of decision to be made about keeping an older player or letting him go, I'd choose to let him go.

"Better to let a player go one year too early than one year too late," was a favorite saying of former Steelers' head coach Bill Cowher. I didn't like much about that guy, but that's a true saying if I ever heard one.

Lardarius Webb? Sorry, my soon-to-be-32-year-old-friend. Your time has come as well.

Elvis Dumervil? Enjoyed having you here as well, but at age 33 next season, I think we'll pass.

Jeremy Zuttah, at age 31 next season...thanks for the hard work, but we're moving on.

Dennis Pitta? We all admire your return from those two hip injuries, but the bell has rung for you, sir.

I realize there are potential salary cap implications with some of the aforementioned players and there are occasions when cutting a player is just cap-impractical, but most of those listed above would also have some trade value, albeit with minimal expected return.

Here's my quick summary and advice about repairing the Ravens -- not this season, but down the road.

GET. YOUNGER.

It's that simple, really.

I don't think the fans really want to see a full-scale demolition of the roster and a couple of years of (potential) losing, but sometimes that's an inevitable part of the process of returning to glory.

And that's not to say that the club doesn't have some useful pieces, because they most certainly do.

But there's a lot of aging wood on the roster. It's not "dead wood", but it's old and brittle for sure.

When all else fails in sports and your team is in the beginning stages of a decline -- with good players on the roster who are getting long in the tooth -- just dedicate yourself to "getting younger". That's what I say, anyway.

Yes, some losing might follow for a season or two, but the fan base would likely understand it much more if you purged the roster of the older players and breathed some new energy into the team's foundation with the addition of some young, fresh faces.

No one likes to lose -- and I'm not really saying you have to lose if you gut your roster -- but it's far worse to lose with an aging roster than a young one.

So, while my friend Tony Lombardi suggests to the Ravens in his piece they need to "run the ball more" (I agree), "cut down on the silly pre-snap penalties" (I agree) and "avoid in-game coaching mistakes" (I agree) in order to improve in this season's second half, I have a simple suggestion for improving in the future.

I'll repeat that statement I made way back in the spring when the Ravens were just starting to compile their 2016 roster: Get younger, Ravens.

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avoid the 4-letter network's site and come here for the good stuff


The Cubs got a really good start from Jake Arrieta on Wednesday night and breezed to a 5-1 win in Game 2 of the World Series, evening the series up at 1-1. Arrieta didn't allow a hit until the bottom of the 6th inning and by then it was already 5-0 in favor of the Cubbies.

The Kyle Schwarber story is emerging as potentially the "memory" of this 2016 Fall Classic. Schwarber tore his ACL back in April and missed the entire season (except for the first few games he played), but was reactivated for the World Series and started as the DH in both games at Cleveland.

Last night, he went 2-for-4 with a couple of RBI and is going to make Chicago manager Joe Maddon lose some sleep tonight as he tries to figure out how to get Schwarber's bat in the lineup for the next three games at Wrigley Field. You see, Schwarber is an outfielder by trade, but not a great one, and the Cubs would rather not flip their lineup upside down on Friday just to get his bat in there.

But Maddon might have to do just that.

I'm over the pain of watching Arrieta pitch (well) for the Cubs. It's a little like watching the Colts play these days. I know they used to be in Baltimore, but I'm over it now. I don't know how the hell Arrieta got so good in Chicago, but he did and good for him.

The NFL gets a break tonight with no World Series game up against their Thursday night thriller, but if circumstances were different and a World Series contest opposed this Jacksonville at Tennessee game, no one would be watching football this evening.

As it stands now, there are only three types of people who WILL watch the game. Those who bet on it, those who love the Jaguars and those who love the Titans. No one else will bother to turn it on.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you ARE going to watch it. I'm not, though. And I can't imagine many others will, unless they fit into one of those three categories above.

By the way, Titans win this one, 26-20.

The Capitals started their Western Canada road swing with a 4-1 loss at Edmonton last night. Alex Ovechkin scored nine seconds into the third period to cut Edmonton's lead to 2-1, but the Oilers followed up with a goal roughly a minute later and scored again later on in the third period to put it away.

Edmonton, by the way, is definitely a team to watch in the Western Conference this year. They're off to a 6-1-0 start and have the makings of a very potent offense out there in the capital of Alberta, Canada.

The Caps have now lost two straight and their offense has been sluggish at best to start the season. Washington stands at 3-2-1 on the season and they've scored just 14 goals to date.

They'll be in Vancouver on Saturday night and Calgary on Sunday night this weekend.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is dropping hints that at season's end he's going to make the Cleveland Indians change their famous "Chief Wahoo" logo in response to public outcry.

Here's what I don't get about this situation: Are you going to let them still be called the Indians but make them stop using an actual depiction of an Indian as their logo?

I don't understand.

I do understand the logo issue. The "red faced" Indian they currently use offends someone, somewhere, and for that reason alone the league has to look into it all. I do get that. We're in a day and age where if just a handful of people complain, their protest must be looked at and taken seriously.

But calling them "the Indians" is going to still be OK?

Personally, I'm all for keeping the name AND the current logo intact, but I'm not the Commissioner of baseball. If I'm Rob Manfred, I worry more about why 24,000 people a night are going to 50% of the baseball games in the regular season.

Somewhere out there, a horse is upset with the Broncos for using HIS picture on their helmet...

The MIAA A-Conference boy's soccer standings are taking shape just in time for next week's playoffs. Curley (6-0 winners at St. Paul's yesterday) and Mount Saint Joseph (2-0 winners over John Carroll) are locked in as the #1 and #2 seeds, but their final place of finish in the standings won't be known until tomorrow's games are completed.

Calvert Hall is going to be the #3 seed and they'll host #6 Loyola next Monday at CHC at 4 pm.

Up for grabs still? The 4th and 5th seeds. McDonogh and Gilman will occupy those spots, but in what order? We'll know after tomorrow's slate of games. The #4 seed will host the #5 seed next Monday and the winner will face the the top seeded team in the semi-finals next week.

KELLY
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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!

STECCO
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Wednesday
October 26
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 26
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


wednesday musings


It finally dawned on me last night that the Royals (twice), Indians (twice) and Cubs (once) have all been to the World Series more recently than the Orioles.

We haven’t seen a World Series game in Baltimore since 1983.

I went to Game 2 in Baltimore and Game 4 in Philadelphia in that World Series and piled into a car with other friends from Glen Burnie and headed up to Memorial Stadium to greet the champions when they arrived back from Philadelphia after their Game 5 clincher.

That was 33 years ago.

I never realized it would take this long to see another World Series game in Baltimore.

Cubs fans waited 71 years for their “next opportunity”. I’m willing to wait three to five more years, at least, but not much more than that.


Jon Lester not being able to throw the ball to first base is so awkwardly odd that it’s now funny.

He really can’t throw the ball over there on a pick-off play. In fact, he nearly can’t throw it over there when he fields a ground ball.

I haven’t seen anything like it since the days of Chuck Knoblauch at the end of his career. He was 50/50 to make a complete throw from 2nd base to 1st base as his career was coming to a close. Oddly enough for Knoblauch, if he had to rush the ball or get the ball to first quickly, he could handle that one OK. It was the soft-toss, easy throw to first that baffled him.

Lester just locks up when he has to throw the ball to first base. It’s really, really weird.


If you didn’t see the Tiger Woods/Charlie Rose interview from last week, it’s definitely worth checking out on YouTube or from any other source. Rose asked Tiger all the pertinent questions you think he should have asked with the exception of three things:

1. No questions directly about the events of Thanksgiving Night, 2009, when Tiger crashed his vehicle after some sort of “incident” involving his ex-wife.

2. No questions at all about Tiger’s relationship with Lindsey Vonn.

3. No questions at all about PED’s or Tiger’s alleged relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea.

X
In happier times, Tiger Woods looked like a sure thing to surpass Jack Nicklaus and his total of 18 major titles. Woods, without a major since 2008, recently told Charlie Rose he's still going to break Jack's all-time record. We'll see about that.

Now, it’s VERY possible that as a pre-condition to obtaining the one-hour interview with Woods that Rose and his producers had to agree to NOT ask about those three things and, if so, it’s understandable why he didn’t pursue those topics.

But the interview itself – even without those issues addressed – was riveting TV, with Rose asking Tiger several direct questions about his career, the failure of his first marriage and his relationship with his father, Earl.

Woods, as you probably know by now, claims he’s still aiming to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ career record of 18 major championships won.

I don’t think he’s winning 19. I don’t think he’s winning 18, either.

If you made me bet right now, one way or the other, I’d bet that Woods doesn’t win another major championship, but I wouldn’t put much on that wager, admittedly.

I think he could win again – a major, that is – but the only likely venue for a return to the winner’s circle would be at Augusta National, which he can still play for at least the next five years because the length of the course isn’t going to change at all and he knows the place as well as anyone alive.

But if you made me bet it -- I say Tiger stays at 14 major titles.

My guess? Woods wins again at some point on the PGA Tour, but his days as a major champion are over.


I saw the Oakland Raiders punter do a jig the other day in Jacksonville after an impressive punt pinned the Jaguars deep in their own territory. Earlier this season in Baltimore, he mimmicked the Ray Lewis dance at midfield after he pinned the Ravens deep in their own territory with a nice punt.

It was definitely kind of funny watching the punter dance like that, but then it hit me: Our Ravens field goal kicker does the exact same thing when he connects on a kick.

It’s funny and all, but sort of embarrassing, too, when you realize other folks around the country are laughing at Justin Tucker when he’s hopping around like Kevin Bacon in Footloose after he splits the uprights with a kick.

Then again, what the heck else is a kicker going to get excited about other than making a kick? Right?

Same for the punter. All he does is punt. So, when he hits a really good one and pins the other team inside their own 5-yard line, why shouldn’t he show a little emotion and excitement?

That’s one way some people look at it.

I don’t know – I’m just not a fan of all that hopping around and dancing. I’m old school, obviously, but I just don’t dig it. Make the field goal, slap everyone’s hand, and get back to the bench.


Remember last year when Golden State started the season 24-0 en-route to their record setting season of 73-9?

They added Kevin Durant to the mix in the off-season and were expected to barnstorm their way through the whole league again this year as well.

Well, they might do that, but they aren't going 24-0 to start the 2016-2017 campaign. With Durant scoring a team high 27 points last night, the Tim Duncan-less San Antonio Spurs went into Golden State last night and whooped the Warriors, 129-100.

It always starts like that, doesn't it? Team gets new, star player. Team falls flat on its face in his debut.

Something tells me the Warriors will figure it out, but the pressure of duplicating that 24-0 start from a season ago is officially gone.

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here's a great holiday gift -- our caps/flyers bus trip on feb. 22


If major retail stores have their Christmas stuff already, why can't #DMD start selling something for the holiday season?

So, we are.

We're heading back up to Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 22nd to see the Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 8 pm.

You remember the Flyers -- that's the team the Caps booted out of the playoffs last April, 4-games-to-2.

If you're a Baltimore-based Capitals fan, this is a GREAT night of hockey coming up on February 22nd in Philly. And we'll make it even better for you and your friends if you'll take the ride up with us to the City of Brotherly Love.

All the information on the trip is located here at #DMD. Just go to the top of the page and click on "Caps-Flyers" and you'll be taken right to the full information and payment page.

We're offering seats in both the upper deck and lower deck, so we have a seat for everyone!

Your trip package includes a pre-game party at Glory Days Grill in Towson starting at 4 pm, dinner and drinks on the bus ride to Philly, your game ticket, and a special Caps trivia contest with $100 cash going to the winner!

Upper deck seating is available at a package price of $135 per-person and lower deck seating is available at $165 per-person.

Best of all, you'll be sitting with others from our #DMD hockey bus, so you're not stuck smack-dab-in-the-middle of a bunch of rowdy Flyers fans.

We'd love to have you on our trip to Philadelphia! Those purchasing before the holiday season will be sent a "holiday card" they can use for presenting the gift during the season.

Oh, and while I can't promise things will go as well for the Flyers as they did in the video below, I can promise you that at least once during the game on February 22nd, I'll bring up this special Wells Fargo Center memory to at least one Flyers fan.



Watching that clip never gets old.

I laugh harder every time I see it.

Please join us on February 22nd in Philadelphia. You'll love our bus trip and we'll get to see the Caps put a hurtin' on the Flyers!

KELLY
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let me tell you about ryan howard


NOTE FROM DF: This story originally ran this past Saturday, October 22nd. Given that our weekend viewership numbers are smaller than those during the week (less people look at the internet on the weekend, for some weird reason) I wanted to run this again because I was so excited to write it last week. I'm hoping a lot of you who didn't catch it on Saturday will enjoy reading it today.

I played golf last Saturday with Ryan Howard.

You might not know him like I know him, but you will in a few minutes if you'll read on.

I think you'll be impressed.

Almost four years ago, I was privileged to be hired as the head coach of the varsity golf team at Calvert Hall High School. It was right around this time, in fact, when I was brought on, sometime in mid-to-late October of 2012.

Shortly after I was hired, I met with the returning members of the team to introduce myself and learn a little more about each of them.

I passed out a brief written questionnaire, talked about my coaching style and philosophy with them, and planned out the pre-season workout schedule with them, which would begin when they returned to school from the Christmas break.

When we finished, one of the players - Nick Smearman - hung back and said, "Coach, can I have a word with you?"

"There was one guy who wasn't here today that I think is worth looking at next spring," said Nick, a rising senior who would go on to be an integral part of our championship team in 2013 as both a player and a co-captain along with Jimmy Grem.

"His name is Ryan Howard. He didn't play last year but he's definitely worth looking at," Smearman continued.

"Why didn't he play last year?" I asked.

"I'm not sure, you'll have to find all of that out from him, but he's a decent player and he can help us, I think," Nick said.

Two weeks later, I met with Howard at the school.

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Ryan Howard (top row, 2nd from the right) was a member of the 2013 Calvert Hall golf team that won the MIAA A-Conference title and is currently a senior at Coastal Carolina University.

He had, in fact, tried out for the team the season before but, on the heels of just returning to school after a bout with an illness, didn't perform well on the first day of tryouts, shooting an 83.

"I didn't play very well that first day, but it was my first round of the year," Howard explained. "I had just been cleared by the doctors two or three days before."

After that first day of try-outs, Howard was told there was no reason to return. He wasn't going to make the team in 2012.

"Well, you're welcome to come out for this team," I told him, "and I assure you that you'll be given more than one day to make the team."

We started our workouts in mid-January and Howard -- along with the rest of the team -- participated with great enthusiasm. I hadn't seen him swing a club yet, but I liked his demeanor and attitude right from the start.

Howard made the team and was one of ten players competing for the six "playing spots" for each match.

We carried 13 players in my first season, mainly because we were losing seven seniors in 2013 and I wanted players to return the following season who were familiar with the program, my style, the competition, etc.

Ryan was one of the better players early on in the season and worked his way into the starting lineup. We got off to a nice start, going 3-0 at the outset of the schedule.

After that third match, I decided to try and work a couple of other players in who had been practicing well and patiently waiting their turn to play in a match.

Howard, by no fault of his own, would be the odd guy out for the fourth match and I sat down with him after practice to deliver the news that he wouldn't be playing in the next match. There's nothing more difficult in coaching than telling someone he (she) isn't playing. I'm sure it's difficult for John Harbaugh and Buck Showalter and it's equally as tough for a lowly high school golf coach.

"Ryan, you've done everything I've asked so far, but I'm going with (another player) against Gilman this Wednesday. You'll be back in the lineup soon, but I'm trying to give everyone a chance to play and (the other player) has worked hard and I want him to be rewarded for that, so you'll sit against Gilman and I'll get him in there," I explained.

Those next two seconds of "dead air" are nerve wracking, as a coach, because you don't know what sort of reaction you'll get.

"Coach, I understand completely," Howard said, "You have to do what's best for the team and if you think (him) playing is what's best, I'm totally cool with it. Let's go beat Gilman," Howard said as he stuck out his hand and shook mine.

I wasn't sure what response I would get from him, but that was about "as good as it gets" in terms of a player on the team totally understanding and accepting the "team concept" I had tried to preach with them since taking over the program.

Howard would go on to play in several other regular season matches, then sit one out late in the season when, again, I inserted another player into the lineup.

We had the same exchange and Howard, again, offered the same response. "Coach, it's cool. I understand. As long as we win, that's all that matters."

He would return to the lineup to play against McDonogh in our first playoff match at Country Club of Maryland and, for one of the rare times during the season, didn't play particularly well against the Eagles, but we won the match to set up a showdown with then undefeated Mount Saint Joseph at their home course, Rolling Road.

Going with my gut, as coaches often do, I decided to use a sophomore who hadn't played in a match of this proportion all year (he had played against one of the winless conference teams earlier in the season, but hadn't faced competition of of this magnitude) because Rolling Road is a short golf course and this player's strength was accuracy off the tee.

I brought Howard in after the McDonogh match and explained he wouldn't be playing against Mount Saint Joseph, gave him my reasoning, and told him to be ready to play at Caves Valley on Saturday in the championship final.

Again, Howard was the ultimate team player in that exchange. "I think (Paul) should play...he's been hitting the ball really well in practice," Howard said. "I can't wait to get to Caves Valley after we win tomorrow."

And win we did, in convincing fashion, 14-7 over a Saint Joe team that hadn't lost on their home course in 19 matches, dating back almost four years.

I then faced a tough decision or two heading into Saturday's championship match against Gilman at Caves Valley. Because of an injury to one of our seniors who had played quite a bit at the beginning of the season, I really had eight players jockeying for six playing spots. I just needed to pick the right six.

One of the six I chose was Ryan Howard.

He had now worked his way from not making the team as a junior to playing in the championship match against Gilman.

When I addressed the players before the match, I went through everyone on the roster and mentioned what they had brought to the team during the season. Each player, even those who saw only limited action, had made a contribution in some way.

I then told the team about my exchanges with Ryan Howard during the season when he was told he wasn't going to play. "Every time I told him he wasn't going to play, all he said was, 'It's OK coach, I just want the team to win', which really shows me what kind of young man he is," I explained.

The match against Gilman was a barnburner. We were down early, rallied on the final couple of holes on the "front six" (we play 12 holes in MIAA golf, a "front six" and "back six") and by the time we got midway through the "back six", we were in good position to win if we just finished our business.

I was stationed near the 3rd green (the final hole of the match...we started on the back nine and played the course in reverse, so the 3rd hole was the 12th hole) watching the first couple of groups finish and as I started to add up the points, I realized the match was coming down to the last group on the course, the players playing in the #5 and #6 slots.

I started walking back in the direction of the 2nd green to see what was going on there when a father who routinely kept score, and did so with great accuracy, approached me. "Ryan Howard just closed out his guy on the back six with a 4-foot putt at #2. He halved the front six, so he's guaranteed at least one and a half points."

That putt, it turns out, clinched the championship for us.

With his 1.5 points locked up, we had at least 11 points on the day, which is all we needed to win (21 points are at stake in each match).

Ryan Howard made the putt that clinched Calvert Hall's first golf title since 1997.

Now, all of the other players made enormous contributions, obviously. Jimmy Grem, Nick Smearman, Grant Burton, Matt Muddiman and Jake Hormes also played that day and each of them were major contributors to our regular season and playoff run and each played in the final match at Caves Valley. Without those five, we weren't beating anyone.

But, much like you see every other year in the Ryder Cup, someone has to make "the clinching putt" and in this case, it was Ryan Howard who did it for us.

I use that story about Howard every year when I address the team at the beginning of the season. I remind them that golf is a strange, strange game. You never what lies ahead, whether it's the next shot, the next hole, the next match or, even, the next season.

Had I told Ryan Howard in October of 2012 that I had seen the script for the 2013 season and he would not only make the team and play, but that he would also sink the winning putt in the championship match at Caves Valley, he probably would have thought the new coach was nuts.

But that's how it happened.

Last week, I went on a golf trip to Myrtle Beach with some guys from Eagle's Nest.

One of our travelers took ill early on and wasn't able to finish the trip with us, so, in an attempt to keep "even teams", we brought in another player from the area to fill the field.

That player? Ryan Howard.

It turns out Howard's father was boyhood friends with someone on the trip who remembered Howard was in his senior year at Coastal Carolina. I, sadly, never even put two and two together, despite knowing Howard attended Coastal Carolina and commenting on his Facebook page just two weeks before about a tournament he had won down there.

But I was thrilled to hear that Howard would be joining us on Saturday and, better yet, he would be playing in MY foursome.

We had a great day together and at one point on the back nine, he went eagle-birdie-birdie and just missed a birdie on the 17th hole. His game has improved dramatically over the last four years, that's for sure.

My day was made, though, on the 18th hole when he sprayed a drive to the right, off the fairway, and into the rough.

"I can still make par from there," Howard said as he picked up his tee. That phrase was -- and still is -- my favorite coaching axiom for high school golf. Anytime one of my players hits a bad tee shot (providing it's not out of bounds), I say, simply, "You can still make par from there."

Hearing Howard say those seven words told me everything I wanted to know and didn't have to ask him. "Did you learn anything about golf when you played for me?" I wanted to ask.

When he saw an errant drive and replied with "I can still make par from there", I knew he had.

And to think in October of 2012, he didn't even show up at the first meeting of my tenure because he hadn't made the team the year before and just assumed it wasn't in the cards for him in 2013.

Then he sank the clinching putt.

And now, he's about to graduate from Coastal Carolina in their professional golf management progam and become a PGA professional someday.

Golf's a great sport. The greatest of all, if you ask me.

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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

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Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Tuesday
October 24
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 24
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it's time for flacco to take ownership of things


It's not a shocking revelation when I remind you that the NFL is a quarterback's league.

Typically, unless there are some seriously extenuating circumstances (injuries to other key players, mainly), the NFL teams with the best quarterbacks are the perennial title contenders.

Brady, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Manning (Peyton, when he was playing) -- those four have stood out in the league for a long, long time and each of those guys has multiple Super Bowl rings except Rodgers, and he won the only title game he's played in thus far in his Hall of Fame career.

Joe Flacco has a Super Bowl ring as well, but he isn't playing like a Super Bowl quarterback these days.

Sunday's loss to the Jets in New York was an offensive disaster, from Flacco to the running game, to the route running by receivers to, well, just about any aspect of offense you want to name.

Yes, injuries affected the offense on Sunday, no doubt about it.

But the story of the team, offensively at least, continues to be the quarterback.

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Joe Flacco leads the league in pass attempts through week 7 of the NFL season. If you know anything about Flacco and the Ravens, that's not a good statistic on their behalf.

There will be those that argue in defense of Flacco who point solely to the injuries and bark, "What's Flacco supposed to do?" and then some of his supporters will quickly remind you that Baltimore's wide receiving corps isn't any great shakes, either.

True -- and true.

But other quarterbacks of similar ilk have worked with patchwork offensive lines and mediocre-at-best wide receivers and figured out a way to win, so why can't Flacco do that?

That's the question his critics will ask.

Baltimore is a city with a memory of convenience. Flacco arrived here in 2008, helped the Ravens get to the AFC title game in his rookie season, and wound up a Super Bowl MVP in 2013 in New Orleans when the Ravens used his historic playoff performance to roll through the AFC and beat the 49'ers in the Super Bowl.

There was no argument at all about Flacco's play in that 2013 post-season. It was sensational.

Since then, he hasn't been chopped liver, either, but that title-winning version of Flacco hasn't been seen much since the Super Bowl victory.

He hasn't stunk (overall) mind you, but his performance has been choppy over the last four seasons.

Which brings me to Sunday's performance in New York and the reason I'm mentioning all of this today.

I typically like hearing Joe speak after games. He's always there, win or lose. I admire that about him more than just about anything else. He's a stand-up guy in that way.

When I was on the radio and covering the team on an active, "extensive" basis, I actually ghost-wrote a blog for Flacco on our station website and had the chance to sit down with him once a week (usually by phone) and talk about the upcoming game.

He was always candid, as honest as he could be, and usually somewhere in the middle of saying just enough to give me something interesting to write and saying something that I would say, "Ummm, Joe, I'm not sure you want me to publish that."

I like Joe Flacco. I always have.

But I didn't like what I heard on Sunday after that Jets loss.

Now, granted, it could have just been the way he worded it that bothered me. It's only one word, admittedly, but it still bothered me nonetheless.

Joe used the word "we" a lot in that post-game press conference to discuss the woes of the offense.

"We" have to get better. "We" have to make better decisions out there. "We" have to make sure we're handling our individual responsibilities.

I would like to hear Flacco start using the other word when discussing the game -- and his performance. The "I word".

It might be a small thing, yes, but it irritates me nonetheless and I'm not so sure it isn't symbolic of some other things going on at Owings Mills these days.

It's almost like the quarterback is trying to distance himself, personally, from either the game-plan, the in-game play calling or, the offense in general.

I could be reading too much into it, but like I said above, I know the guy a little bit having covered him and worked with him -- albeit six-seven years ago now -- and he generally says what's on his mind. I could be wrong, but he's not saying "I" on purpose or, even worse, hasn't yet grasped how mediocre-to-bad his play has been in 2016.

"It starts with me...I need to play a lot better," is what I wanted to hear Flacco say on Sunday after that loss to the Jets.

That's typically what you would hear Brady or Roethlisberger or Rodgers say after a game where they stunk it up.

In fact, I heard the Steelers' QB say exactly that after Pittsburgh lost earlier in the season to the Eagles. "You can put this on me," Big Ben said. "We aren't beating anyone in the league scoring three points on offense."

Sure, Pittsburgh lost 34-3, so their defense wasn't any good, either, but that's the kind of comment you want to hear from your quarterback: "You can put this on me."

I didn't hear that from Flacco on Sunday.

I heard "we" a lot. I heard "we have to get better" a lot. I didn't hear much "I" in there.

Flacco is a good quarterback. At times in his 9-year career, he's been -- wait for it -- "elite". These days, though, he's not elite. He's not a liability by any means, but his performance this season hasn't been anywhere near good enough to help the club overcome the injuries they've sustained to their offense.

And maybe that's just what he is -- a quarterback who is good-to-very-good when everything is clicking on all cylinders, but a guy who can't get you out of the foxhole when things aren't going great.

If so, that's OK. Every team can't have Tom Brady, after all.

But in games where his performance isn't good enough, it would be good to hear Flacco "own it" a little bit afterwards. He still gets his $22 million no matter what, so why not take some accountability afterwards and just 'fess up?

"I need to play better, that's for sure..."

Maybe I'm nitpicking. Maybe this just a by-product of a 3-4 start and a 4-game losing streak.

But something about Joe's demeanor after the game on Sunday bothered me.

Too much "we" and not enough "I" for my tastes.

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the best six and worst six in the nfl


THE WORST SIX --

27. BALTIMORE RAVENS -- I never thought I'd be doing this. But right now -- and I mean, today -- the Ravens are one of the worst six teams in the NFL. Some of that is due to injuries, for sure, but if we're doing this rankings on a week-to-week basis, the Ravens are bottom feeders at this point. They've lost four straight, including home games to Oakland and Washington, and just lost to the hapless Jets on Sunday. It's bad in Baltimore right now...

28. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS -- A home butt whooping at the hands of Oakland leaves the Jags at 2-4 and starting to wobble, big time. It's looking more and more like the Blake Bortles experiment is going to come to an end in 2016. This is a bad team, going nowhere.

29. NEW YORK JETS -- Yes, yes, I know, they beat the Ravens on Sunday. That was a fluke, though. They are a bad football team, especially on offense. And with Ryan Fitzpatrick now back at the helm due to Geno Smith's injury, there's a 4-12 season in the making in the Meadowlands.

30. CHICAGO BEARS -- At 1-6 and with Jay Cutler apparently returning from injury, the Bears are on the fast track to a three or four win season as well. They actually battled the Packers pretty hard last Thursday night before finally caving in.

31. SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS -- A 17-point home loss to the Bucs? Holy cow. The 49'ers are now 1-6 and in a real battle for that 1st pick in the 2017 draft. Looking like three wins max for them.

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS -- The good thing about doing this list is I start every week by just putting Cleveland in at #32 and work backwards from there. They COULD get a win this week at home vs. the Jets. If not, 0-16 is a real possibility.


THE BEST SIX --

6. OAKLAND RAIDERS -- It was between Oakland and Seattle here and I can't put the Seahawks in at #6 when they just scored six points in a game. Don't look now, but Oakland is 5-2 on the year and 4-0 on the road, including two road victories on the East Coast, where they remain this week for a Sunday afternoon game in Tampa Bay.

5. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -- Talk about a nice bounce-back win...the Eagles got one on Sunday when they knocked off previously unbeaten Minnesota. Yes, I know it was at their place, but beating Minnesota wasn't something no one else in the league could do prior to Sunday and Philly manned up for that one. We'll see how "real" they are this Sunday night in Dallas.

4. DENVER BRONCOS -- That was a nice, tidy 27-9 win over the Texans last night. That Denver defense is stout, but is it good enough to stop Tom Brady and Company in January? I'm not sure about that. The AFC West could produced three playoff teams this year, by the way.

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It's looking like Tom is going to fill up another finger this season unless something unexpected happens in the next few months.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS -- Let's not allow one loss to tarnish what they've done thus far in Minnesota. That was an Eagles team desperate for a win, coming off of two straight losses, playing at home. It's going to take more than one loss to knock the Vikings down a peg or two. I'm still not 100% convinced they're a NFC title contender, but let's see what happens this Monday night in Chicago when they face the Bears. If they're any good at all, they win in Chicago.

2. DALLAS COWBOYS -- Can't move them out of this spot just because they didn't play. They'll get a test this Sunday night when the Eagles visit Dallas. One of those teams will get the "Cleat of Reality" and the other will be flying high.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- It's a shame the Steelers didn't have Big Ben on Sunday; it would have been fun to see what New England had under the hood in a "real" game. Nonetheless, New England did what they needed to do to win, and they roll on as the most dominant team in the the league. Truth of the matter? They might be pulling away from the pack.

KELLY
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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.


tuesday morning quarterback


The situation regarding the professional football team in Baltimore has officially reached the status of "tire fire," after a 24-16 loss to the previously 1-5 and downright awful Jets dropped the Ravens to 3-4.

It's the team's fourth straight loss, the first time that's ever happened in the John Harbaugh era, and the Ravens are presently in a full blown tailspin with any chance of making the postseason very nearly gone.

To make matters worse, Joe Flacco and the offense turned in quite possibly the worst half of offensive football I've ever seen from an NFL team, with just 42 total yards and two amazingly bad interceptions on 27 offensive plays in the second half. And on top of that, they didn't score a touchdown in the first half either!

They were never down by more than a possession, but who among us actually thought there was any hope of pulling this one out once the Jets went up a touchdown? This week's version of Thoughts & Observations:

Because I'm writing this is in a state of severe agitation at what I just wasted 3 hours of life watching, let me start by saying that it continues to be impossible to tell the story of the Ravens prolonged struggles without talking about injuries.

I know it sounds like excuse-making because it's been a constant refrain since early last season but, well, it's still true.

The Ravens were missing Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, C.J. Mosley, Ronnie Stanley, Steve Smith Sr., and Marshall Yanda on Sunday. That's five Pro Bowlers including the best offensive lineman in football and the sixth overall draft pick and starting left tackle. It's just really darn hard to overcome that many injuries to crucial players in premium positions and go one to win a game at the professional level.

It's not impossible, but if we're going to spend the bye week figuring out whether we ought to blame another coordinator, John Harbaugh, or Ozzie Newsome for what's going on these days, we need to start with the recognition that there's a lot of ammo missing from the cache due to these injuries.

And I think if it were the Steelers or Packers or Cowboys who had a similar rash of injuries to such important players none of us would really expect them to win either, and wouldn't really understand why fans would be bashing Mike Tomlin or Mike McCarthy for not winning under the circumstances.

All of that said it's not all about the injuries, and this was a very winnable game. And while this isn't usually the case, this week it really is possible to lay very nearly all of the blame for the loss at the feet of one person: Joe Flacco. In a game where he eclipsed 30,000 career passing yards and set the franchise record for pass attempts without an interception at 176, the wheels completely fell off of his performance, and his second half was as bad as you will ever see a QB of his talent level play in an NFL game.

I mean that without the slightest bit of hyperbole. He threw two awful interceptions that gift wrapped the game to the Jets thanks to a couple of short fields that provided New York their only points of the second half.

From there, Flacco was erratic with both his accuracy and his decision making, intermittently throwing up his customary blind deep balls down the sideline (including on the Ravens' final play, a 4th and 8 where he threw 50 yards down the field to Chris Moore, his worst receiver) and missing open receivers in the middle of the field in every direction. Flacco looked "good" in the first half, but even that was a bit deceiving: His 53 year yard completion to Mike Wallace absolutely should have been intercepted as well, and literally went right between Calvin Pryor's hands before Wallace reeled it in.

Yeah yeah, he had a sore shoulder, but it's certainly not like this is a new issue. Flacco's accuracy has been a problem all season, he's constantly throwing off of his back foot and sailing throws, and at times he just looks completely lost on the field.

There's always been the problem of him deciding, seemingly at random, to just chuck the ball up on the sideline in one-on-one coverage, usually wasting an entire play, and after the game Flacco seemed to provide proof that he's basically just winging it when he identifies man coverage on the outside. That's because Flacco acknowledged that, on the first of his two interceptions, he decided before the snap he was going to throw it outside against the man coverage.

The problem? He was throwing an out pattern, and the cornerback had it covered the whole way. The result was one of the worst picks you're ever going to see, gift wrapped to the defender so neatly he might as well have just called for a fair catch.

Flacco identified it as a timing issue in the presser, but if he actually believes that he ought to be sat down just to get his head straight. The route was covered, Flacco threw it anyway without even reading the play, apparently, and turned the ball over as a result.

I don't know what Flacco's problem is right now, and it didn't help that the Ravens only ran for 6 yards in the game, but there's no denying he's playing like crap right now, it's getting worse every week, and you just can't win games in the NFL when your quarterback play is this bad.

Whatever the Ravens need to work on going forward, it has to start with fixing Flacco or, maybe, even giving some thought to putting Ryan Mallet in if it's not going to get any better.

If nothing else, I think this is the first game you can clearly say there were no obvious coaching issues in the game. No aggressive decisions from Harbaugh that irked anyone, defense played reasonably well, and while maybe you'd complain that the offense didn't run the ball enough, when they DID call up a running play it was generally a disaster, so it's not like it's hard to understand why they more or less gave up on it completely.

Special teams was, again, a mixed bag for the Ravens. A huge blocked field goal in the fourth quarter kept the Ravens within one possession and was maybe the biggest, positive, play of the game for Baltimore, but Devin Hester continues to be an obvioius disappointment. When he's not letting punts drop without catching them, he's muffing them apparently, and has yet to provide the consistent game changing performance the Ravens no doubt hoped for.

Even if we're past that point, as a return specialist the least Hester can do is catch punts reliably, and if he can't do that, either because he's dropping them or not trying to catch them and letting them bounce, he's not doing anything at all to earn his salary. With the bye week looming, it won't surprise me at all if he doesn't have a job by the time you read this.

I'd like to add more about the total team effort, but the offensive performance, or lack thereof, really makes that difficult. I mean seriously, no touchdowns and 42 total second half yards really tells you the entire story of this game.

There was a really bone headed play by Timmy Jernigan to fumble the ball and give it back to the Jets after recovering a fumble himself on the goal-line, but even absent that the Ravens still lose 17-16 without any additional offense of their own. If nothing else, this game goes a long way towards arguing that Marc Trestman was not the problem with the offense in the beginning of this year, and if anyone thought replacing the playcaller was going to fix everything they're going to need to come up with a new answer now.

Big picture, I said last week that this was a must win game for the Ravens, and nothing about that has changed now. John Harbaugh's team sits at 3-4 after the easy part of their schedule, and lost all four of the games that made up the group of "game changers" on the schedule.

That is, the games you'd look at before the season and identify as the ones that would probably swing the difference between, say, records of either 7-9 or 12-4.

But after losing all four, and with seven games left against the Steelers, Bengals, Cowboys, Patriots, and Eagles, the Ravens will need to make a MASSIVE turnaround to have any chance of hitting the 10 win mark and having a real shot at the playoffs. As it is I just don't see it happening against the post-bye schedule, and with the way the team is playing now the over/under on this group is probably 6-10.

Chase Fitzgerald
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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

X
Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

We'll have the payment and reservation page up here at #DMD in the next day or two, but in the meantime, e-mail me directly to get on the list of those who are going with us to Augusta next April.


Monday
October 23
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 23
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


that’s baltimore’s second worst loss to the jets – ever


Once upon a time, an unlikely victory by the New York Jets saddened the Baltimore football community.

The folks in Baltimore weren’t pleased yesterday, either, although Sunday’s 24-16 loss at the Meadowlands wasn’t nearly as damaging as the Super Bowl III loss in Miami.

But that was a bad, bad loss yesterday at MetLife Stadium.

Everyone has their own list of reasons why the Ravens suddenly can’t beat anyone, even a bottom feeder like the Jets. Most of us will agree on the components, but might debate the order of their importance.

But we all know what’s going on.

The offense stinks, for starters. They scored nine points yesterday in New Jersey and all of those came courtesy of the ever-important foot of Justin Tucker.

That’s right, the Baltimore offense didn’t get in the end zone yesterday. They didn’t even get inside the Jets’ 25 yard line, in fact.

Injuries to the offensive line have made competing against even a mediocre defensive front seven nearly impossible. Without Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley in there, it’s really a coin-flip on virtually every passing play. Their replacements just aren’t good enough, plain and simple.

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John Harbaugh and the rest of his Ravens are frustrated with their 3-4 start. And now they face a bye week to get the ship righted before the Steelers visit on Nov. 6.

Joe Flacco didn’t have much help yesterday, but once again in the second half he wasn’t able to come up with the big play when he needed it. Oh, and he threw the ball to the other team on two consecutive series’ in the 3rd quarter.

But the woes of the offense right now run much deeper than Flacco’s on-again-off-again performance(s).

The running game was embarrassingly inept on Sunday. They gained six yards on the ground yesterday. That’s six, as in "six". For the whole game.

Terrance West led the team with ten yards on the ground...on eight carries.

Those of you clamoring for Marc Trestman to go -- I hope you're proud of yourselves.

The Baltimore passing game wasn't much better, but at least they had a modicum of success, that is, if you call Joe Flacco basically running for his life and throwing the ball up for grabs "a modicum of success".

Receivers didn’t get any separation, save for the occasional burst from Kamar Aiken, who yesterday looked like the only receiver interested in making himself available to catch the ball on every passing attempt.

Not having Steve Smith Sr. has hurt the Ravens, for sure, but there’s not much chance he would have been the difference yesterday.

Smith might run the routes correctly -- something Breshad Perriman doesn't do -- but he couldn't have helped the Baltimore offense yesterday when Flacco threw two awful passes in the third quarter that led directly to the ten points that flipped the outcome of the game.

Flacco isn't playing like a $22 million quarterback, but he's not getting much aid out there, either.

And let’s stop for a second and give the Jets some credit. Their defense, which was humbled on Monday night in Arizona, manned up big time on Sunday, particularly in the second half.

Now…back to the Ravens and how they lost to a 1-5 football team.

Two plays in the game were real back breakers, and both involved significant individual mistakes. In the 2nd quarter, Terrance West broke off a 52 yard run that took the Ravens down to the NYJ four yard line, but the play was brought back due to a holding call on rookie Alex Lewis.

Three plays later, the Ravens punted the ball away and would never again threaten to enter the New York red zone.

Late in the 3rd quarter, with the Jets up 17-16, Matt Forte had the ball stripped near the goal-line and Timmy Jernigan got his hands on it to stop the New York scoring threat…except Jernigan tried to run with the ball instead of just falling on it and he then fumbled – and as fate would have it, the Jets pounced on it to retain possession AND get a first down on the 5 yard line.

Three plays after that (un)fortunate set of circumstances, Forte rumbled into the end zone to finalize the scoring at 24-16.

If Lewis isn’t called for holding there (and it was a good call, admittedly) and Jernigan just falls on that ball, who knows what happens in the end?

But make no mistake about it, the Ravens clearly didn’t deserve to win on Sunday.

You can make a fair argument that the Ravens coulda, shoulda, woulda won the Oakland game, the Washington game and the Giants game.

That same argument can’t be made for Sunday’s game against the Jets.

The second half offensive performance was about as bad as we’ve seen from a John Harbaugh team since he took over the coaching reins in 2008.

Not to mention, the loss comes with the Ravens about to enter their bye week, which is traditionally a glorious occasion for NFL players, particularly when it comes near the mid-way point of the season and they can use the seven days off to get some much needed R&R.

But if you’re Harbaugh and his staff, how do you give the team a week away from the facility?

How do you let players get away when you’re 3-4, making mistake after mistake, and simply not executing anywhere close to the best of their ability?

The injured guys will use the time off to heal and, hopefully, be ready for the Steelers in two weeks time in Baltimore.

What to do with everyone else? Players have likely already purchased airfare, rented our rooms at resorts, made travel plans to see family, etc. Do you just let them carry on as if the team had a record of 5-2 instead of 3-4?

That’s a tough call for Harbaugh and his staff to make.

And, no matter how much practice the Ravens engage in between now and November 6, the kind of mistakes they made vs. the Jets simply can’t continue.

They could probably use a handful of better players, too, but those guys don’t grow on trees in the middle of a 16-game season.

No, this is what the Ravens have to work with…and for the first three weeks, at least, it was good enough, if only by a small margin.

For the last four weeks, it hasn’t been close to good enough.

They couldn’t even beat the lousy Jets.

Back to the drawing board…

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everyone's seat is getting warmer now


Steve Bisciotti has been through this before, namely back in 2007 when the Ravens slogged their way through an awful 5-11 season that saw in-fighting, public bickering and a team that essentially couldn't get out of its own way.

Bisciotti eventually determined that a change in the coaching position was in order, and he fired Brian Billick (after publicly stating six weeks earlier that Billick was "safe" and would return for the 2008 campaign) and brought in John Harbaugh.

That move by the Baltimore owner paid off handsomely, I'd say.

Except now, potentially, Bisciotti is in the same situation.

I'm not hearing as much about locker room strife as we did back in 2007, but you can bet some exists. That's the way it is in sports when a team starts losing with regularity.

With all due respect to the players, they're anything but personally accountable in times like these. They're VERY accountable when the team is winning, but not willing to take the blame when the team is losing.

X
The Ravens owner has been down this path before, but this time, his decisions might have to also involve Ozzie Newsome, the decorated two-decade general manager of his football organization.

Fans? They're pretty much the same if we're going to tell the truth here.

When the team is winning, "player A" is the greatest thing since sliced bread and "player B" isn't far behind. Fans are nothing if not predictable when it comes to assessing how a team is suddenly winning a lot of games.

When the team is losing, it's coaching. That's typically how the players look at it and that's DEFINITELY how the fans look at it.

And, at least back in 2007, that's how Steve Bisciotti looked at it.

In 2016, he might be forced to look at it like that again.

Only this time, he may have to look deeper than John Harbaugh.

If this losing skid doesn't get turned around in the second half of the season, Harbaugh is most certainly on thin ice. He'll have just one year left on his contract, which means Bisciotti will face the difficult decision of either extending John in the off-season or allowing him to enter the season as a "lame duck" coach.

Harbaugh won't like that lack-of-confidence in the owner, for sure, and rightfully so. No coach worth his salt goes into a season operating on the final year of his deal.

But the decisions facing Bisciotti will be more complicated and sensitive than Harbaugh.

Ozzie Newsome will face scrutiny this time around, and it might be time for the inevitable to finally take place. If things don't get better, soon, this could be Newsome's swan song as the head of the Baltimore on-field football product.

The drafts over the last several years haven't been world-beaters and that was once Ozzie's bread-and-butter. Mix in the 5-11 season of a year ago and what looks to be a potentially down year again in 2016 and you might be looking at a "perfect storm" for Newsome and his two decade tenure in Charm City.

These are things that will get sorted out on their own over the next ten weeks, but rest assured the pages are turning in Bisciotti's mind as he decides how to move forward from here.

Unlike 2007, when players were undermining Billick -- as well as some of his own coaches -- this time around Bisciotti will likely be at the forefront of it all and have plenty of evidence in place to go one way or the other with his coach and general manager.

Like most things in sports, it all comes down to winning and losing.

And, as I've said for a long, long time, the toughest thing to do in sports is to stop losing.

Right now, the Ravens can't stop losing.

If it keeps up, changes are inevitable, I'd say.

KELLY
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around the nfl in thirty seconds


GIANTS 17 - RAMS 10 -- Case Keenum threw four interceptions as the Giants win a borefest in London.

CHIEFS 27 - SAINTS 21 -- K.C. now 4-2 on the year and 3-0 at home. Starting to look like they're coming together.

BENGALS 31 - BROWNS 17 -- Browns fall to 0-7, use their 6th QB of the season. Bengals now tied with Ravens at 3-4.

DOLPHINS 28 - BILLS 25 -- What a crazy league. Dolphins beat Pittsburgh and Buffalo in successive weeks -- out of nowhere.

LIONS 20 - REDSKINS 17 -- Some guy named "Boldin" caught the game-winning TD throw in the final minute. Wish we had a guy like that...

COLTS 34 - TITANS 26 -- Weird team they have in Tennessee; they're 2-1 on the road and 1-3 at home now. Colts stink, but that was a good win for them.

EAGLES 21 - VIKINGS 10 -- Nice bounce-back win for Philly after two straight losses; Minnesota no longer unbeaten.

PATRIOTS 27 - STEELERS 16 -- Predictable. Pittsburgh isn't beating anyone (including the Ravens) without Big Ben at the helm.

RAIDERS 33 - JAGUARS 16 -- Another weird stat; Raiders are now 4-0 on the road in 2016, 5-2 overall, after easy win in J'Ville.

BUCCANEERS 34 - 49'ERS 17 -- One thing for sure, the Ravens aren't the worst team in the league. There's Cleveland -- and San Francisco.

CHARGERS 33 - FALCONS 30 OT -- Philip Rivers is the current-day Brett Favre. Never count that dude out. Never.

SEAHAWKS 6 - CARDINALS 6 OT -- The Seattle kicker missed a game-winning attempt in OT from 27 yards. But wait, the Arizona kicker missed one from 24 yards that would have won it for them. Holy bizzarro.

Glory
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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

X
Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

We'll have the payment and reservation page up here at #DMD in the next day or two, but in the meantime, e-mail me directly to get on the list of those who are going with us to Augusta next April.

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Sunday
October 23
#DMD GAME DAY

week seven

Volume XXVII
Issue 23
Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at New York Jets (1-5)

1:00 PM EDT

MetLifeStadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

Spread: Jets (-2.0)


if we lose to these bums today…


It seems like I write the same thing every Sunday morning about the Ravens and their opponent for the day.

”This is a game the Ravens SHOULD win…”

Granted, last week’s game in New Jersey against the Giants wasn’t quite as (seemingly) easy as the home contests against Oakland and Washington. Those two were “should win” affairs. The Giants – in their building – not quite as automatic.

This one, today, though, should be close to automatic for the Ravens.

Except it’s not.

Too many injuries, too much losing recently, and too much uncertainty all the way around makes this game one the Ravens could lose if they’re unable to hit on all cylinders.

I can’t see the Jets beating the Ravens this afternoon.

X
These two might not be quite this dramatic today with a road win in the Meadowlands, but each needs a win to quiet their critics this afternoon.

But I can see the Ravens beating the Ravens.

They beat themselves, essentially, in week #4 against Oakland and again in week #5 against Washington.

And we all know what happened last Sunday when the defense gave up a late 66 yard touchdown pass and then Joe Flacco couldn’t get the team into the end zone with four cracks at it from the 20 yard line in the game’s final 45 seconds.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Ravens beat themselves last Sunday, but they sure did have a hand in it.

Today, though, SHOULD be different for John Harbaugh’s team.

There’s nothing about this game that worries me other than New York’s defensive front seven, which could be a factor if the Ravens’ offensive line struggles like they’ve had a habit of doing over the last three weeks.

Some of that, of course, depends on the injury situation. If Ronnie Stanley, Rick Wagner and Marshal Yanda all return, that’s a major feather in Baltimore’s cap. And a huge hurdle for the Jets defensive line to overcome.

But if those three aren’t able to go today, that levels the playing field quite a bit.

Up until Monday night’s fiasco in Arizona where the New York defensive line was run over, through and around all night by a surprisingly effective Cardinals running attack, the Jets were fairly adept at handling the opposition’s ground game in 2016.

I assume that performance on Monday night by the Jets was an outlier and that today they’ll look more like a team capable of stopping the other team’s running backs.

So, what’s that mean for the Ravens offense?

Well, for starters, how much will Joe Flacco play and how effective will he be?

Flacco missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday of this week but returned on Friday and looked sharp, albeit in limited action. I doubt that John Harbaugh would risk further injury to his quarterback by trotting him out there as a Friday decoy.

In other words, there’s no reason to think that Flacco isn’t getting the start today in New Jersey. He practiced on Friday – he’s playing on Sunday.

Even then, how healthy is #5? Can he make all the throws? Is he limited in any way? Those are all legitimate questions heading into today’s game.

If Flacco is OK, I see a run-throw ratio of 30 rushing attempts and 35 passing attempts. Expect Baltimore to run the ball a lot in the first half to see if, in fact, Monday’s outing in Arizona was a one-off thing or if the Jets have suddenly been exposed against the run.

All told, the Ravens want to be balanced on offense, and this represents a good game for them to try and be even in the run-throw category.

The Baltimore defense, even somewhat shorthanded without Dumervil, Suggs and, possibly, Jimmy Smith, should be able to handle a much-maligned Jets offense that will turn their hopes over to Geno Smith for the first time this season.

Geno Smith isn’t beating the Ravens today.

The Ravens might beat the Ravens, but Geno Smith isn’t going to be a star this afternoon, you can bet on that.

The Ravens should waltz to a win today, but we all know they could also lose by a field goal in the game’s final minute because, well, that’s the way things have been going for them in 2016.

All things being equal, and with a few of their previously injured players back in the lineup, this one should go to the Ravens.

But if the injury bug continues to bite and the Ravens are forced to use their depth, look out for another nailbiter. 20 of the team’s last 22 games have been decided by a touchdown or less, remember.

My guess is today’s game will be closer than it should be, but the Ravens will figure out a way to win.

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show me the money – week #7


I haven’t a winning record since week #1, so I’m due, right?

Then again, there’s a reason why all the guys who run gambling houses in Vegas have big (paid off) houses with huge swimming pools. It’s hard to beat “the man” in picking NFL games against the spread.

After another 2-4 mark a week ago, I now stand at 16-20 through six weeks of the regular season.

I’m not sure I’m hot-and-heavy on any of the six games below, but I do feel pretty confident about a couple; namely Indianapolis at Tennessee and Minnesota at Philadelphia.

On to the picks we go.

COLTS AT TITANS (-3.0) -- Indy is 0-3 away from home this season and the Titans are actually better than their 3-3 record shows, if that’s possible. Tennessee could be a team to watch in the second half of the season, and if they are decent enough to challenge a .500 record, they’ll win this game today. I like the Titans in a close one, but they cover, winning 25-21.


VIKINGS AT EAGLES (+3.0) -- The Eagles GETTING three points at home is quite a stick in their eye, I’d say, after starting the season 3-0 and losing two straight road games to Detroit and Washington. The Vikings are coming off their bye and Sam Bradford is returning to his old stomping grounds, but I don’t think that helps them, as the Eagles get back in the win column and hand the Vikings their first loss of the season, 22-20.


REDSKINS AT LIONS (-1.5) -- It’s hard to say if the Redskins are for real, but they are coming off a confidence builder over the Eagles a week after beating the Ravens in Baltimore. If Washington can win in Charm City, they can certainly go to Detroit and win, which is what I see happening today. Let’s go with the Redskins to win on the road here, 27-23.


BILLS AT DOLPHINS (+2.5) -- Buffalo has played well of late and the Dolphins just beat the Steelers a week ago. What’s that add up to? Either of these teams could lay an egg today and it wouldn’t surprise me. There’s no telling which Buffalo team shows up, but they have a better chance of playing well today than does Miami, I think. I’ll buy some Buffalo stock today, as they win 28-20.


CHARGERS AT FALCONS (-5.5) -- The “total” in this game is a whopping 55 points, which means the guys in Vegas think there won’t be much defense. San Diego plays a lot of close games, but they won’t do so today, as the Falcons win in a mini-romp, 33-17.


BEST BET OF THE DAY: -- I like Tennessee at home today giving the Colts three points. I know Indy is due for a breakout road game at some point, but I don’t think it’s coming today. And I see the Titans as a team quietly on the upswing, so let’s take the Titans (-3.0) in our “Best Bet” pick this afternoon.


HERE’S HOW DREW SEE THE RAVENS AT JETS (-2.0): Flacco getting the start is a big advantage for the Ravens. They could still beat New York with Ryan Mallett in there at QB, but Flacco is 3-0 lifetime against the Jets and there’s no reason to think he won’t be 4-0 after today’s game. My guess is Marty Mornhinweg gets committed to the run early on and the Ravens get the Jets to play a little more honest at the line of scrimmage, which should open the passing game in the second half. Baltimore leads 13-10 at the half, then falls behind 20-13 before rallying in the 4th quarter -- and eventually the Ravens win 27-20 to improve to 4-3 on the year.


OVERALL RECORD TO DATE: 16-20

LAST WEEK: 2-4

GAMES INVOLVING THE RAVENS: 1-5

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 3-3

KELLY
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and since we have to talk about josh brown, i will

I hate this topic.

I hate it for a variety of reasons, but mainly I hate it because this really isn't a story we, as football fans, should be all that worried about.

Law enforcement officials should be worried about the Josh Brown domestic abuse crime. Football fans shouldn't be worried about it.

But we are, because, in some cases, our own teams have had players run afoul of the league's policies connected to domestic violence and we want to make sure "fairness" is attained.

After all, if Ray Rice got black-balled by 32 teams in the NFL, shouldn't Josh Brown be gone, too?

That's what I hate about these stories.

It's really none of our business to tell teams who to employ and who not to employ.

I don't want to re-hash the Ray Rice story again, but I think everyone knows why Rice isn't in the league anymore. There was VIDEO of his crime.

My guess is Josh Brown won't ever kick a ball in the league again, either, but without a video of some sort, a team desperate for a kicker at least wouldn't have that element working against them if, in fact, they decided to give him another chance.

Any team signing Rice would have that video played on the nightly newscasts in their city for several days in the aftermath of Rice signing with them.

In Brown's case, he admitted to domestic violence and a case was investigated by the police and the NFL, so the snowball effect is rolling now and building steam with each passing day.

But, like Rice -- and a lot of others in the league who have committed similar (and worse) crimes -- aren't these athletes afforded a second chance at some point?

Or is the NFL simply too high-profile to allow for it?

If Brown worked for a financial services company, would he be fired after his first domestic violence offense and also be personna non grata with every other financial services company in town?

I don't know the answer to that, of course, but it's a fair question.

Are these guys "one (mistake) and done" in the NFL right now just because it's the NFL and every major media outlet in America covers the league's every move?

I understand the delicate nature of employing Ray Rice or Josh Brown.

There are lots of moving parts. Female front office members, female corporate sponsorship contacts and female fans, all wanting to be represented by the franchise in a way that supports their right to not be abused by a male.

I get it.

In Brown's case, as we now know, his "incident" wasn't a one-time thing. There were years of torture -- both mental and physical -- and lots of crimes that went unreported by his then-wife.

We were led to believe Ray Rice's elevator incident was a one-off occasion, a night of drinking and partying gone bad.

So, maybe there should be a difference between the two.

Perhaps Josh Brown shouldn't ever be employed again.

Maybe Ray Rice should be.

I hate these stories because I don't know the answer.

I think everyone deserves a second chance.

I don't think Josh Brown will get one, though.

And it doesn't look like Ray Rice will, either.

And I don't know that I blame teams for not wanting either one of them.

Which is why I hate these kind of stories. You just don't know what's really right or wrong.

SAFFER
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Saturday
October 22
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 22
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let me tell you about ryan howard


I played golf last Saturday with Ryan Howard.

You might not know him like I know him, but you will in a few minutes if you'll read on.

I think you'll be impressed.

Almost four years ago, I was privileged to be hired as the head coach of the varsity golf team at Calvert Hall High School. It was right around this time, in fact, when I was brought on, sometime in mid-to-late October of 2012.

Shortly after I was hired, I met with the returning members of the team to introduce myself and learn a little more about each of them.

I passed out a brief written questionnaire, talked about my coaching style and philosophy with them, and planned out the pre-season workout schedule with them, which would begin when they returned to school from the Christmas break.

When we finished, one of the players - Nick Smearman - hung back and said, "Coach, can I have a word with you?"

"There was one guy who wasn't here today that I think is worth looking at next spring," said Nick, a rising senior who would go on to be an integral part of our championship team in 2013 as both a player and a co-captain along with Jimmy Grem.

"His name is Ryan Howard. He didn't play last year but he's definitely worth looking at," Smearman continued.

"Why didn't he play last year?" I asked.

"I'm not sure, you'll have to find all of that out from him, but he's a decent player and he can help us, I think," Nick said.

Two weeks later, I met with Howard at the school.

X
Ryan Howard (top row, 2nd from the right) was a member of the 2013 Calvert Hall golf team that won the MIAA A-Conference title and is currently a senior at Coastal Carolina University.

He had, in fact, tried out for the team the season before but, on the heels of just returning to school after a bout with an illness, didn't perform well on the first day of tryouts, shooting an 83.

"I didn't play very well that first day, but it was my first round of the year," Howard explained. "I had just been cleared by the doctors two or three days before."

After that first day of try-outs, Howard was told there was no reason to return. He wasn't going to make the team in 2012.

"Well, you're welcome to come out for this team," I told him, "and I assure you that you'll be given more than one day to make the team."

We started our workouts in mid-January and Howard -- along with the rest of the team -- participated with great enthusiasm. I hadn't seen him swing a club yet, but I liked his demeanor and attitude right from the start.

Howard made the team and was one of ten players competing for the six "playing spots" for each match.

We carried 13 players in my first season, mainly because we were losing seven seniors in 2013 and I wanted players to return the following season who were familiar with the program, my style, the competition, etc.

Ryan was one of the better players early on in the season and worked his way into the starting lineup. We got off to a nice start, going 3-0 at the outset of the schedule.

After that third match, I decided to try and work a couple of other players in who had been practicing well and patiently waiting their turn to play in a match.

Howard, by no fault of his own, would be the odd guy out for the fourth match and I sat down with him after practice to deliver the news that he wouldn't be playing in the next match. There's nothing more difficult in coaching than telling someone he (she) isn't playing. I'm sure it's difficult for John Harbaugh and Buck Showalter and it's equally as tough for a lowly high school golf coach.

"Ryan, you've done everything I've asked so far, but I'm going with (another player) against Gilman this Wednesday. You'll be back in the lineup soon, but I'm trying to give everyone a chance to play and (the other player) has worked hard and I want him to be rewarded for that, so you'll sit against Gilman and I'll get him in there," I explained.

Those next two seconds of "dead air" are nerve wracking, as a coach, because you don't know what sort of reaction you'll get.

"Coach, I understand completely," Howard said, "You have to do what's best for the team and if you think (him) playing is what's best, I'm totally cool with it. Let's go beat Gilman," Howard said as he stuck out his hand and shook mine.

I wasn't sure what response I would get from him, but that was about "as good as it gets" in terms of a player on the team totally understanding and accepting the "team concept" I had tried to preach with them since taking over the program.

Howard would go on to play in several other regular season matches, then sit one out late in the season when, again, I inserted another player into the lineup.

We had the same exchange and Howard, again, offered the same response. "Coach, it's cool. I understand. As long as we win, that's all that matters."

He would return to the lineup to play against McDonogh in our first playoff match at Country Club of Maryland and, for one of the rare times during the season, didn't play particularly well against the Eagles, but we won the match to set up a showdown with then undefeated Mount Saint Joseph at their home course, Rolling Road.

Going with my gut, as coaches often do, I decided to use a sophomore who hadn't played in a match of this proportion all year (he had played against one of the winless conference teams earlier in the season, but hadn't faced competition of of this magnitude) because Rolling Road is a short golf course and this player's strength was accuracy off the tee.

I brought Howard in after the McDonogh match and explained he wouldn't be playing against Mount Saint Joseph, gave him my reasoning, and told him to be ready to play at Caves Valley on Saturday in the championship final.

Again, Howard was the ultimate team player in that exchange. "I think (Paul) should play...he's been hitting the ball really well in practice," Howard said. "I can't wait to get to Caves Valley after we win tomorrow."

And win we did, in convincing fashion, 14-7 over a Saint Joe team that hadn't lost on their home course in 19 matches, dating back almost four years.

I then faced a tough decision or two heading into Saturday's championship match against Gilman at Caves Valley. Because of an injury to one of our seniors who had played quite a bit at the beginning of the season, I really had eight players jockeying for six playing spots. I just needed to pick the right six.

One of the six I chose was Ryan Howard.

He had now worked his way from not making the team as a junior to playing in the championship match against Gilman.

When I addressed the players before the match, I went through everyone on the roster and mentioned what they had brought to the team during the season. Each player, even those who saw only limited action, had made a contribution in some way.

I then told the team about my exchanges with Ryan Howard during the season when he was told he wasn't going to play. "Every time I told him he wasn't going to play, all he said was, 'It's OK coach, I just want the team to win', which really shows me what kind of young man he is," I explained.

The match against Gilman was a barnburner. We were down early, rallied on the final couple of holes on the "front six" (we play 12 holes in MIAA golf, a "front six" and "back six") and by the time we got midway through the "back six", we were in good position to win if we just finished our business.

I was stationed near the 3rd green (the final hole of the match...we started on the back nine and played the course in reverse, so the 3rd hole was the 12th hole) watching the first couple of groups finish and as I started to add up the points, I realized the match was coming down to the last group on the course, the players playing in the #5 and #6 slots.

I started walking back in the direction of the 2nd green to see what was going on there when a father who routinely kept score, and did so with great accuracy, approached me. "Ryan Howard just closed out his guy on the back six with a 4-foot putt at #2. He halved the front six, so he's guaranteed at least one and a half points."

That putt, it turns out, clinched the championship for us.

With his 1.5 points locked up, we had at least 11 points on the day, which is all we needed to win (21 points are at stake in each match).

Ryan Howard made the putt that clinched Calvert Hall's first golf title since 1997.

Now, all of the other players made enormous contributions, obviously. Jimmy Grem, Nick Smearman, Grant Burton, Matt Muddiman and Jake Hormes also played that day and each of them were major contributors to our regular season and playoff run and each played in the final match at Caves Valley. Without those five, we weren't beating anyone.

But, much like you see every other year in the Ryder Cup, someone has to make "the clinching putt" and in this case, it was Ryan Howard who did it for us.

I use that story about Howard every year when I address the team at the beginning of the season. I remind them that golf is a strange, strange game. You never what lies ahead, whether it's the next shot, the next hole, the next match or, even, the next season.

Had I told Ryan Howard in October of 2012 that I had seen the script for the 2013 season and he would not only make the team and play, but that he would also sink the winning putt in the championship match at Caves Valley, he probably would have thought the new coach was nuts.

But that's how it happened.

Last week, I went on a golf trip to Myrtle Beach with some guys from Eagle's Nest.

One of our travelers took ill early on and wasn't able to finish the trip with us, so, in an attempt to keep "even teams", we brought in another player from the area to fill the field.

That player? Ryan Howard.

It turns out Howard's father was boyhood friends with someone on the trip who remembered Howard was in his senior year at Coastal Carolina. I, sadly, never even put two and two together, despite knowing Howard attended Coastal Carolina and commenting on his Facebook page just two weeks before about a tournament he had won down there.

But I was thrilled to hear that Howard would be joining us on Saturday and, better yet, he would be playing in MY foursome.

We had a great day together and at one point on the back nine, he went eagle-birdie-birdie and just missed a birdie on the 17th hole. His game has improved dramatically over the last four years, that's for sure.

My day was made, though, on the 18th hole when he sprayed a drive to the right, off the fairway, and into the rough.

"I can still make par from there," Howard said as he picked up his tee. That phrase was -- and still is -- my favorite coaching axiom for high school golf. Anytime one of my players hits a bad tee shot (providing it's not out of bounds), I say, simply, "You can still make par from there."

Hearing Howard say those seven words told me everything I wanted to know and didn't have to ask him. "Did you learn anything about golf when you played for me?" I wanted to ask.

When he saw an errant drive and replied with "I can still make par from there", I knew he had.

And to think in October of 2012, he didn't even show up at the first meeting of my tenure because he hadn't made the team the year before and just assumed it wasn't in the cards for him in 2013.

Then he sank the clinching putt.

And now, he's about to graduate from Coastal Carolina in their professional golf management progam and become a PGA professional someday.

Golf's a great sport. The greatest of all, if you ask me.

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saint joe moves into first place in boy's soccer with 1-0 win at calvert hall


Jake Mazzei scored a goal late in the first half and the Mount Saint Joseph defense stymied Calvert Hall scoring star Ben Alexander to pull off a 1-0 win at Calvert Hall on Friday afternoon that gives the Gaels sole possession of first place in the MIAA A-Conference boy's soccer standings.

MSJ improved to 10-2-2 on the year, good for 32 points, while Calvert Hall lost for the second time in three days and dropped to 10-4-1 on the campaign.

Mount Saint Joe's playing style wasn't all that impressive, as they were content to sit back in their own half of the field and defend, while Calvert Hall looked to play more "entertaining" soccer, but the Gaels' goalkeeper, Nick DeShong, was extremely sturdy in goal, making a nice save on a header in the game's 25th minute that represented one of CHC's best scoring chances of the game.

Shortly after that, as usually happens when a team doesn't convert on a golden scoring opportunity, Mount Saint Joseph made one of its rare trips deep into the Calvert Hall defensive end and a ball that probably should have been challenged more by the Cardinals' goalkeeper slipped through the box and was one-timed into the net by Mazzei from three yards out.

And that was all the scoring the game would see.

The Cardinals kept up the pressure in the second half, but by that time, MSJ was packing ten guys into the defensive end, and playing that system very well.

As I often say about teams playing on the road -- "It doesn't matter how you win...just win".

The win gives MSJ the inside track to the #1 seed in the upcoming MIAA playoffs. They have two conference games remaining, home vs. John Carroll and away at St. Paul's. Two wins there will give them the top seed.

Calvert Hall is now tied with Curley (31 points) for 2nd in the conference, but the Friars have three games remaining while the Cardinals have just one, next Friday at home vs. Spalding.

The 2nd seed in the conference playoffs is important because the championship game is played on a neutral field, so the #1 and #2 teams don't have to meet until then.

Curley still has two games left with Gilman, who currently have an 8-game unbeaten streak on the line.

KELLY
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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

X
Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

We'll have the payment and reservation page up here at #DMD in the next day or two, but in the meantime, e-mail me directly to get on the list of those who are going with us to Augusta next April.

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Friday
October 21
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 21
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smart move for ravens – sit flacco and beat jets with mallett


Sure, this might be a mega-roll-of-the-dice, but I’m going to suggest the Ravens do something a little out of the ordinary on Sunday at the Meadowlands.

In fact, I actually think the Ravens might already be planning to do this, though I have no insider information or secret source telling me so.

If I’m John Harbaugh, I sit Joe Flacco out on Sunday and go with Ryan Mallett to beat up on the hapless Jets.

Flacco didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday while he continues to nurse a sore right shoulder.

No matter what he says to the media about his status (“I think I’ll be fine for Sunday”) or the shoulder (“It’s nothing. Just a little sore, that’s all.”), the fact that Flacco didn’t practice this week is a telling sign.

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It seems strange to even suggest it, but giving Joe Flacco a day off on Sunday against the Jets might be the best thing for both the quarterback and the Ravens, long-term.

Flacco doesn’t like to miss practice – ever – and Harbaugh doesn’t want his starters missing practice. When they do, something’s wrong.

If Flacco misses Sunday’s game, he can then take the next week to heal up while the Ravens enjoy their bye. He’d then have an entire full week to return and prepare for the Steelers in Baltimore on November 6.

I’m not a doctor, but two full weeks of healing would really help Flacco if, in fact, his current shoulder injury is “only minor”.

The Ravens themselves might already know Flacco isn’t going to play this Sunday vs. the Jets. If that’s the case, they’re playing this whole thing perfectly, feeding the media just enough information to stay in compliance with league rules regarding injury news and not giving the Jets any kind of indication who may or may not start at quarterback on Sunday.

Either way, though, I think the smart move is to sit Flacco and go with Mallett on Sunday.

Yes, I know, Mallett isn’t very good, which explains why he’s carrying a clipboard in Baltimore instead of starting for one of the 10 teams in the league with quarterback woes.

But I think he’s good enough to beat the sorry Jets on Sunday.

Harbaugh might be afraid to go with Mallett since losses to AFC teams are infinitely more damaging than NFC losses, but it’s a gamble worth taking if you ask me.

It’s always dangerous to look at the remaining schedule and pick out which games your team is going to win and lose, but let’s be honest for a second here. The Ravens should be able to handle the Steelers on November 6 if Roethlisberger can’t play.

They’re beating Cleveland on Thursday, November 10, we know that already.

They have a home game with Miami later on in the season which is another win.

Forgetting the Jets game for a second, those three wins alone get the Ravens to six victories. Throw in this Sunday’s game as a win for the boys in purple and suddenly the Ravens have seven wins.

They might only need nine wins to capture the AFC North.

Without Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s goose is cooked. Hell, they just lost to the Dolphins – a bottom feeder -- with Big Ben playing. If he’s on the sidelines for six weeks, Pittsburgh will be lucky to go 2-4 in those games.

The Bengals are struggling.

And the Browns might not win a regular season game until sometime in 2017.

So, this all adds up to hedging your bets a little bit if you’re the Ravens and going with Ryan Mallett on Sunday in New Jersey.

The Ravens will figure out a way to squeeze a 16-13 win from the Jets and just like that – once Pittsburgh gets clobbered on Sunday night by New England – the Ravens will be tied for first in the AFC North.

They’ll save their franchise quarterback from any further shoulder damage and give him a couple of weeks to rehab and treat his ailment.

Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?

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skip the 4-letter network and come here for the good stuff


It's looking like a Chicago-Cleveland World Series, as the Cubs' bats continued to stay hot on Thursday night with an 8-4 win over the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday night. That win puts Chicago up 3-2 in the NLCS and forces the Dodgers to use Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night at Wrigley Field. Chicago showed some guts the last two nights, I'll give them that. After losing Game 3 on Tuesday, they were looking a little wobbly, but two straight wins have turned the series in the favor.

The Capitals are off to a strong start, winning 4-2 on Thursday night in South Florida over the Panthers. The Caps are now 3-0-1 to start the season. Alex Ovechkin's 3rd period goal broke a 2-2 tie to give the Caps their first road win of the season.

Boy, the Chicago Bears really stink. The Bears are now 1-6 on the year after getting drubbed by the Packers on Thursday night, 26-10. Aaron Rodgers had three TD throws in that one, as Chicago is now 4-2 on the year.

Calvert Hall is the place to be today at 4 pm as the Cardinals (10-3-1 in MIAA play) take on Mount Saint Joseph (9-2-2) in a key A-Conference boy's soccer showdown. The winner has the inside track at the #1 seed in the upcoming MIAA playoffs which start later this month.

And Tiger Woods made some noise on Thursday when he told television host Charlie Rose that he is still going to break Jack Nicklaus' major championship record (18) before his career ends. Woods -- with 14 career major wins -- hasn't played in a golf tournament since August of 2015 and hasn't won a major since capturing the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. But he still says he's going to win at least 19 major titles. Well, OK, then...

KELLY
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this weekend in
english soccer


Contributed by #DMD's English Premier League Reporter
MATTHEW CARROLL


Matchday 9 of the English Premier League kicks off with a log jam beginning to build in the top of the standings as Arsenal, on the backs of a five-game winning streak, have pulled even with Manchester City on points while Tottenham and Liverpool linger only one and two points behind respectively. With every game available live on the NBC family of networks or online at NBC Live Extra, tune in to see if we will have a new league leader by the end of the weekend.

Saturday, October 22 (all times eastern)

10am – Sunderland @ West Ham United – London Stadium, NBC Live Extra

Beset by injuries, without a win in their last five league games, and down to ten men for the final twenty minutes, West Ham United held on to pick up a crucial three points on the road over Crystal Palace 1-0 and pull themselves out of the bottom three in the table. It was the type of gritty performance that could turn a season around and the Hammer’s will hope to build on only their second victory of the season when they welcome Sunderland to the London Stadium on Saturday, with the Black Cats and David Moyes in absolute freefall following a 2-0 defeat to Stoke City at the weekend.

As we approach the quarter pole of the season, Sunderland and Moyes are still looking for their first win (D2 L6), having taken only two points from eight games and sitting in their all too familiar place at the bottom of the table, four points from safety. Sunderland are just the second team in top-flight history to fail to win any of their opening eight league games in consecutive seasons and that could very well be nine by the end of Saturday, as the Black Cats have not won in their last six meetings with the Hammers (D3 L3) and taken all three points only once in their last nine visits to the east of London (D2 L6).

Sunday, October 23 (all times eastern)

8:30am – Southampton @ Manchester City – Etihad Stadium, NBC Sports Network

Just before the Giants and Rams get underway in the next installment of the NFL’s foray overseas, Manchester City and Southampton will kick off the first of two Sunday games from the Etihad Stadium, with both games having the potential to shake things up in the top half of the table. After winning ten games in a row across all competitions, City have now gone four in succession without a victory after they controlled the game but could only muster a 1-1 draw with Everton last weekend before they were dismantled 4-0 in their midweek Champions League showdown with Barcelona.

It was an unwelcome return to the Camp Nou for City manager Pep Guardiola, where the Spaniard had previously won fourteen trophies over a four-year period before his self-imposed sabbatical, and they will face a Southampton side who may have started the season slowly, but with their 3-1 win over Burnley last weekend completed a haul of ten points from their last four games (W3 D1) to move up to eighth place in the table. Climbing higher this weekend looks to be a daunting task however, with the Saints losing four of their last five meetings with City (D1) and their last six trips to the Etihad Stadium.

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Jose Mourinho returns to his old stomping grounds this Sunday as Manchester United visits Chelsea in a big early-season EPL showdown.

11am – Manchester United @ Chelsea – Stamford Bridge, NBC Sports Network

It might have taken eight weeks, but the park-the-bus defensive approach so often employed by Jose Mourinho over the years was put into action against Liverpool, with the tactic paying off as Manchester United snatched the always important away point in a tepid 0-0 draw on Merseyside. Mourinho will return this weekend to very familiar grounds when he takes his side to Stamford Bridge for a showdown against the club that fired him less than a year ago, with Chelsea looking as if they are finding their rhythm under new manager Antonio Conte following their comfortable 3-0 victory over Leicester City.

It was the most complete performance of the season so far for the Blues, who have now won three of four across all competitions (L1) and have begun to settle in nicely to Conte’s tactically preferred back three formation. Though Chelsea have not lost in their last ten meetings with United across all competitions (W5 D5), and have failed to take all three points in just one of United’s last five trips to Stamford Bridge (D1), don’t expect Mourinho to exercise the same caution on the road this weekend, with the Portuguese looking to make a statement in the return to his old stomping grounds.

STECCO
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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

X
Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

We'll have the payment and reservation page up here at #DMD in the next day or two, but in the meantime, e-mail me directly to get on the list of those who are going with us to Augusta next April.

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Thursday
October 20
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 20
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really roger, you don’t know what’s wrong?


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with the media on Wednesday in Houston as the league’s “Fall meetings” concluded, and chief among the topics addressed was the league’s 10% drop in TV ratings thus far in 2016.

I’m surprised it’s only 10%, honestly.

There are lots of reasons for the ratings decrease, as I’m sure Roger and the owners know, but might not be willing to admit publicly.

Goodell acted kind of dumb during the press conference, saying he and the others assigned with the task of figuring out what’s going on with the TV ratings “have a lot of different ideas but nothing concrete where we can say for sure we know what’s gone wrong.”

Part of it, without question, is entirely their fault.

How many people do you know who now spend most of their Sunday glued to the “RedZone” channel instead of just watching one game or their favorite team?

You might be one of those “RedZone” folks yourself, so you know all too well what I’m talking about.

Goodell didn’t bring up the “RedZone”, but when you – the league – intentionally steer people away from the “live action” and send them to a channel that only shows scoring plays, essentially, what kind of reaction do you think you’re going to get?

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Roger Goodell had to answer the tough questions on Wednesday in Houston, one of which was: "How come a lot less people are watching your league's games on TV these days?"

I hear from people all the time who say – when I ask them if they watched “so and so vs. so and so” – “No, I just watch the RedZone now. It’s way better than sitting through a boring game.”

There are plenty of other reasons why the ratings have dropped off.

Goodell touched on one of them when referenced a general lack of competitive, high quality games.

This is the central theme of something I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago at #DMD – the quality of the teams, players and games around the league is pretty watered down, in my opinion.

Did you check out that Monday night thriller this week? Arizona beat the Jets, 28-3. If you made it through halftime, you should get some sort of medal.

The subject of nationally televised games is a delicate one.

The league now mandates that every team makes at least one national TV appearance each season (Thursday night, Sunday night or Monday night).

They do that mainly to appease the owners, who have this bizarre attraction to seeing their team on national TV even though their coaches can’t stand ANY game that doesn’t take place at 1 pm on Sunday afternoon.

So, shoving the likes of the Browns, Jets, 49’ers, Jaguars, etc. into a prime time spot on national TV might make the owners warm and fuzzy, but it stinks for people like us who want to see good football and wind up watching Arizona run up, over and through the Jets for sixty minutes.

Except we aren’t actually watching it as the ratings are indicating.

Just wait until November 10 when the Ravens host Cleveland on a Thursday night. That thriller will make last night’s Presidential Debate seem like “must watch” TV.

Part of what hamstrings the NFL from a TV standpoint is the same thing that is potentially connected to a general attendance malaise in Major League Baseball: every game is on television, in high definition, with enough pre-game and post-game coverage to drive even the most ardent fan a little batty.

In short, the league has simply over-saturated the market(s) with their product.

Farmers go through this every summer. It won’t rain for six weeks and they’ll bellyache about their crops drying up unless they get some wet weather soon.

A couple of days later they’ll get three inches of rain and all will be well.

Two days later they’ll get three more inches of rain.

Three days after that, they’ll get three more inches of rain and suddenly say, “Damn, I wish it would stop raining. We needed some rain, but not this freakin’ much.”

The same goes for football. We wanted to see more games, but we didn’t want to see every single one of them.

The league didn’t consider the fact that they could, possibly, offer us too much of their product.

You can almost hear the owners scoffing now during one of their three-martini lunches at a league meeting somewhere near a beach resort.

”Are we sure all of these games on TV isn’t a little bit of overkill?” someone with a brain might ask in between sips of their drink.

”You’re not serious, are you?” says an owner. “We couldn’t possibly televise enough football. People are eating this product up. We could play a game at 2:00 am and people would watch it.”

Except now, 10% less people are watching – and that’s if the league is actually receiving and publishing the legit numbers.

I’m also not completely sure that people actually care who wins and loses the games anymore. Twenty years ago, the ONLY thing we cared about was the final score and who won and who lost.

These days, my guess is 20% of the people care who wins or loses, 40% care if the point spread gets covered or not and 40% care about their fantasy stats for the day.

You’ve probably done it. I know I have.

”Damn, the Steelers won today? That stinks. But I’m actually OK with it because I had Roethlisberger as my quarterback and he got me 44 fantasy points.”

I’ve said that before -- or something like that. And I bet most of you have, too.

I don’t need to watch the games. I just need to check my phone every 20 minutes or, better yet, have the information texted directly to me by someone affiliated with the NFL who is actually encouraging me NOT to watch the games but to just garner the information through my smart phone.

Unless it’s your team, specifically, playing in a precise time slot that’s conducive to your schedule that day/night, there’s really no reason to set aside three and a half hours to watch whatever (bad) game they’re force-feeding you.

Be honest: Did you watch any of the Houston/Indianapolis game last Sunday night?

I sure didn’t. I think Houston won, in case you’re wondering.

If the league REALLY cared about the quality of their programming, they’d make EVERY Sunday night game a flex option that gets decided on three weeks prior.

You would have known a month ago that last Sunday’s Houston/Indianapolis game was going to be a snoozer. Shift those two teams into the 1 pm slot and “promote” the Philadelphia vs. Washington game from 1 pm to the 8:30 pm Sunday night position, for instance.

The league’s TV ratings are down because they’ve made an obligation to all 32 owners that the spotlight will be shared by everyone, including the awful teams, and then, every Sunday, there are simply too many viewing options available to the football fans of America.

Not to mention, you can now “watch” the games on your computer, tablet or smart phone, another greed move by the league to scoop up every available dollar you’re willing to spend, without regard for their own product on a real television set.

The optimum word in the NFL these days is just that – greed.

It’s everywhere.

Nothing is ever enough.

They’re already rich, trying to get even more rich.

And the sports fans in America keep on forking over their money for a game, product and league that just isn’t that captivating right now.

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we haven't seen a world series game in baltimore since '83, but cleveland...


Somehow, it doesn't seem right.

Cleveland, you know, that city we all make fun of here in Baltimore, will be enjoying their second World Series since 1997 next week when the Indians play host to either the Cubs or Dodgers in the Fall Classic.

We haven't seen a World Series game in Baltimore since 1983.

How in the hell has that happened?

They were showing a graphic of all the teams who haven't won a World Series for decades upon decades last night and they flashed up the logos you would have expected: Cubs, Astros, Padres, Brewers. "Poor bastards", I said to myself as each new logo came up.

Then I realized it. We haven't won a World Series in 33 years now.

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It seems almost unimaginable that the Indians will have played in two World Series' since the Orioles last appeared in one.

For some reason, they didn't put the Oriole logo up there on the screen, but I know it all too well, having lived here in Baltimore for all of my life.

Thirty three years.

That's how long it's been since we've BEEN to a World Series as well, let alone win one.

And now Cleveland has gone twice in the last nineteen years.

We do have a pair of Super Bowl trophies to brag about here in Charm City, while the Browns make the NFL playoffs once a decade if they're lucky.

But the Cavaliers did the city proud last June with a stunning NBA title over Golden State, so Cleveland has that going for them...which is nice.

I don't have a horse in the race, so I couldn't care less who wins the World Series, but no matter which team comes out on top, it's going to be a pretty cool story.

The Dodgers haven't won a title since 1988. The Cubs haven't won since 1908 for cryin' out loud. And, Cleveland, well, they've NEVER won a World Series.

So, someone's finally going to break through.

I don't care who wins, frankly. It would be cool to see the Cubs finally do it. But if Cleveland happens to win, I'd feel good for those folks out there in Northern Ohio who have to endure pathetic football for four months every Fall and Winter.

I just wish we'd win a baseball title sometime soon.

We deserve it, too, you know? I mean, it hasn't been all peaches and cream with our baseball franchise since 1983.

KELLY
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curley scores huge miaa soccer win over calvert hall, 3-1


As far as late season wins go, Wednesday's 3-1 victory for Curley was about as big as they come.

The Friars beat Calvert Hall to move into third place in the A-Conference at 9-2-1, while the Cardinals slipped to 10-3-1 in league play.

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Curley head soccer coach Barry Stitz (right) saw his Friars produce one of their best efforts of the season on Wednesday in the Friars' 3-1 win over Rich Zinkand (left) and Calvert Hall.

The win avenged an earlier 2-1 loss to Calvert Hall and keeps Curley's chances alive to earn the #1 seed in the upcoming post-season playoffs. The Friars still have two games left with red-hot Gilman, who now owns an 8-game unbeaten streak after a 1-1 tie at Mount Saint Joseph on Wednesday.

Dylan Poetzel, Dylan Holy and Brenden Hollingsworth scored first half goals for Curley in the win over Calvert Hall, with Cardinals scoring star Ben Alexander tallying in the second half to finalize the scoring at 3-1.

“We scored some good goals," said Curley coach Barry Stitz. "We had a ton of chances and thought we played pretty good the second half as well. We didn’t sit back on the lead. We kept attacking and we limited their chances. We didn’t give them a chance to gain some momentum.”

For Calvert Hall, the loss was their first in conference play since mid-September when they fell 1-0 at Mount Saint Joseph.

“I was disappointed in our effort today,” said Calvert Hall coach Rich Zinkand. “We had a few chances early and didn’t capitalize and that can't happen on the road. We didn’t defend well enough or create enough on the offensive end to win. Curley wanted it more today.”

Calvert Hall and Mount Saint Joseph (9-2-2) lock up in a big late-season showdown this Friday at 4 pm at Calvert Hall. That game may very well determine the #1 seed in the playoffs providing the winner finishes their season unblemished.

LYNCH
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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

X
Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

We'll have the payment and reservation page up here at #DMD in the next day or two, but in the meantime, e-mail me directly to get on the list of those who are going with us to Augusta next April.


Wednesday
October 19
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 19
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


fact is – ravens could win their next three games


FACT: The New England Patriots have easily been the NFL’s most successful franchise since 2000. Yes, I realize they’ve played in one of the easiest divisions in sports, let alone the NFL, but they’ve been successful nonetheless. They're also among the most disliked franchises in all of sports, partially because of the fact they changed from the best logo in the world (Pat the Patriot snapping the ball on that red, white and blue helmet) to the worst logo (flying Elvis).

OPINION: I find myself strangely less and less “hateful” towards the Patriots in the last couple of years. Maybe it’s the way the NFL tried to railroad New England for that awful “DeflateGate” saga even though other quarterbacks around the league went on record saying they, too, mess with the air pressure of the footballs they use. I’m not sure why, but I’m not nearly as much of a “hater” of the Patriots as I was, say, in 2010. I don't root against them at all these days, although I'll admit it's tough to see Boston sports fans happy when it's at the expense of our teams in Baltimore.


FACT: Maryland football beat a couple of chumps to start the 2016 season and I actually heard folks whispering “Top 25 team” in early October. Losses to Penn State and Minnesota (at home) have silenced those whispers.

OPINION: I was out of town on a golf trip last weekend so admittedly I wasn’t here to gauge the reaction to that Minnesota loss firsthand, but was anyone really worked up over the Terps getting run out of the gym by Minnesota? My guess is “no, they weren’t”. I don’t think people get “worked up” about Maryland football in any way, shape or form these days.


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Here's your next Orioles right fielder. Look familiar? He's the guy we thought we had in 2016. And he'll be in Baltimore in 2017.

FACT: Dexter Fowler turned down $33 million from the Orioles to take $13 million from the Cubs in 2016. I’ve never turned my back on $20 million, so I’m not exactly sure how that feels, but if the Cubs win the World Series, I’d say Fowler made the right call about spurning the O’s and staying in Chicago.

OPINION: Dexter Fowler will be the Orioles starting right fielder next April. The Cubs have some decent prospects in the wings and Fowler will be “expendable” this winter – and the O’s will swoop in and get their man (again). The only question -- will he be able to better that $33 million deal from last March?


FACT: The Ravens get a scheduling benefit over the next three weeks, facing a terrible Jets team this Sunday, then a bye week to get some healthy players back before hosting the Steelers on Sunday, November 6. Whether or not Roethlisberger is back from his knee surgery by then is anyone’s guess, but if he’s not, that’s a “W” for the boys in purple. And then the Browns come to town four days later for a Thursday night “automatic win”.

OPINION: If the Ravens win this Sunday in the Meadowlands, they’ll win the next two after that and be 6-3 just like that. Lots of 6-3 teams go on to make the playoffs, by the way.


FACT: The Indians lost two of their (best) starting pitchers during the regular season, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco, but are still chugging along nicely, just one win away from winning the ALCS and advancing to the World Series.

OPINION: The best teams are the ones that can overcome injuries and somehow stick together and win despite their blemishes. The Orioles lost Chris Tillman for six starts and it cost them a home game in the wild card and, perhaps, their own date with the Indians in the ALCS. The Indians have survived and thrived without two of their best pitchers for two months now and we couldn't stay above water for three weeks without Tillman. Weird...


FACT: Davis Love III and Ian Woosnam were both selected for induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame this week. Both guys only won one major championship; Love captured the 1997 PGA at Winged Foot and Woosnam won the 1991 Masters. Both are also now winning Ryder Cup captains, which I assume helped them earn their Hall of Fame status.

OPINION: Woosnam spent most of his career playing the inferior European Tour, so it’s tough to say what his record would have been had he played a decade or more as a “full time” PGA Tour member, but his overall career was nowhere close to as solid as Love’s. And, honestly, I’m not 100% sure Love is a bonafide Hall of Famer without his play in the Ryder Cup and his recent victory as a captain. I always thought he was overrated.


FACT: Speaking of baseball free agents, both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays will be available to the highest bidder this winter.

OPINION: Both players are far from everyday designated hitter material. Encarnacion can play a pretty decent first base and, thus, will be attractive to teams in the National League and the American League. Bautista is decent with the glove in right field, nothing more, and will have less suitors than Encarnacion I would think. I doubt the Blue Jays let both of them walk in the same off-season. Oh, for the record: I’d take Encarnarcion on my team any day. Bautista? Don’t see how he helps the O’s all that much. I don’t dislike him like most folks do, I just think the Birds need a different kind of player than he brings to the table.


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One of the great pictures in all of sports. A sad Flyers fan, lamenting yet another heartbreaking loss.

FACT: Philipp Grubauer of the Caps recorded his first career shutout last night in Washington’s 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The win moves the Caps to 2-0-1 on the young season.

OPINION: The Caps quietly have a very formidable 1-2 goalkeeping duo with Braden Holtby and the aforementioned Grubauer. Holtby will make 65 starts (barring injury) and Grubauer will get the other 17 starts. All things being equal this season, Washington should once again challenge for the President’s Trophy if those two stay healthy in goal.


FACT: Staying with hockey for a second, the Flyers lost 7-4 in Chicago last night. The Flyers were down 4-0 late in the 2nd period but eventually battled back to tie the game at 4-4. Chicago then reeled off three straight goals to win. That's a tough way to lose. Coming back like that only to have it all go for naught. Such a shame. (hehe)

OPINION: Anytime the Flyers lose a game, an angel gets its wings. There’s nothing better in sports – NOTHING – than the Flyers losing.


FACT: My old radio buddy Glenn Clark recently penned a piece for PressBox and opined that the Orioles should look to trade Manny Machado this winter if they can’t sign him to a long term extension.

OPINION: Clark makes some valid points in his column about dealing Machado, but I wouldn’t sign off on that. Not now, anyway. He’s under team control for another two seasons; let’s keep on keeping on with him and see what happens in 2017 and if we don’t make any progress by this time next year, maybe we deal him before the 2018 campaign. Yes, we’d get less for him by waiting a year, but I want Machado on the team in 2017 . . . when the O’s still have a puncher’s chance of getting to the playoffs.


FACT: The Dodgers are two wins away from the World Series after last night’s Game 3 win over the Cubs and Jake Arrieta.

OPINION: I haven’t been in every baseball stadium in America, but I’ve seen a game in all of the parks that really matter (I think) and nothing compares to seeing a baseball game in Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles. The weather helps, sure, but it’s the only stadium I’ve been in where the word “majestic” comes to mind.


FACT: The Dallas Cowboys are 5-1 without Tony Romo at quarterback.

OPINION: Unless Dak Prescott gets hurt, Romo has played his last game -- as a starter -- this season. I realize Ezekiel Elliott has added a new dimension to the Dallas offense, but Prescott looks like everything Romo isn't -- calm, cool, accurate and not prone to the big turnover.


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four quarters of
college football


Contributed by #DMD's College Football Reporter
KEN GREELEY

#DMD's college football contributor, Ken Greeley, checks in with a look at the mid-season playoff picture.

First Quarter: Alabama – At the midway point of the season, the Crimson Tide is the clear choice as the best team. Alabama’s 7-0 performance has matched their pre-season number 1 ranking, but with a few new twists.

Defense/special teams are scoring touchdowns at a record pace. Here are the crazy stats: scored 11 touchdowns in 2016, which is more than South Carolina’s offense; scored by seven different defensive players; and recorded a touchdown in nine consecutive games.

The offense has evolved under the direction of true freshman Jalen Hurts. The first dual threat quarterback under Nick Saban creates matchup issues when you have the skill position talent that the Crimson Tide does. Jalen’s mobility also makes up for an inexperienced offensive line.

Alabama is delivering explosive plays from both sides of the ball.

Second Quarter: Big Two – It’s easy to argue either Ohio State or Michigan as the second best team in the country. Their paths to 6-0 have been impressive, but traversed quite differently.

The Wolverines have been dominating most games, led by the defense. Jabrill Peppers can singlehandedly wreak havoc from numerous positions. Offensively they are not very dynamic. While mostly playing a weak slate of home games, Michigan handled the only ranked team they have faced so far, Wisconsin, by just seven points.

Ohio State also beat Wisconsin by a touchdown last Saturday night. The Buckeyes appear to be more balanced, especially in their two road wins over top twenty teams. As Urban Meyer has done time and time again, he puts the ball in his quarterback’s hands to be the catalyst. Hopefully some of the supporting cast will take some of the load off of J.T Barrett over the last six weeks of the season.

The debate will be settled on the field on November 26th at the Horseshoe in Columbus. The winner will go to the championship game and most likely enter the college football playoff as the number two seed.

Third Quarter: "Clemsoning" – Defined as: The act of delivering an inexplicably disappointing performance, usually within the context of college football involving a very good team. It became such a common occurrence by Clemson that the school’s name was turned into an urban dictionary verb.

To be fair, head coach Dabo Swinney has guided the Tigers past that era of disappointing losses - no “clemsoning” since 2011. But this year Clemson may redefine the term.

Three of their seven victories over unranked teams have been by less than a touchdown. Last Saturday’s opponent, NC State, missed three field goals, including a potential 33-yard game winner as time expired. Dabo probably doesn’t want to discuss the 6-point win over Troy in week two.

A major cause of “clemsoning” is turnovers. The Tigers have turned the ball over 16 times this year, surprising with such an experienced offense lead by last year’s Heisman nominee Deshaun Watson. Seven turnovers occurred in the two games mentioned above.

The Tigers have the playoff’s number three seed without a “clemsoning” down the stretch.

Fourth Quarter: Hoping for Clarity – At the mid-point of the season, there are 11 unbeaten teams which is on par with the last five years. The remaining games usually help sort out the truly playoff-worthy teams.

This year, three of the current unbeatens could cause serious debate if the playoff committee needs to decided between two of them.

West Virginia or Baylor of the Big 12 and Washington of the Pac 12 could have the same resume at seasons’ end. How would the committee decided between two teams that won a conference championship in a weak conference, was unbeaten, and played a lousy out-of-conference schedule?

Clarity will come over the next month as teams start to distinguish themselves (hopefully).

KELLY
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time to start thinking about augusta and the 2017 masters


Fall is starting to settle in here in the mid-Atlantic, but we're officially thinking "spring" at #DMD.

And spring, of course, brings the Masters to the famous 18-hole layout of Augusta National Golf Club.

#DMD will again be hosting a one-day trip to the Masters practice round on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, and you are welcome to come along.

X
Join our #DMD trip to Augusta National on April 4, 2017 and see the greatest players in the world prepare for the 2017 Masters tournament.

Our travel group will depart at 5:30 am on the 4th and be on the grounds of Augusta National by 9:00 am. You'll spend the entire day there, watching the greatest golfers in the world on the greatest course in the world, and return to BWI at 11:00 pm that night.

As I always tell everyone who makes the trip with us: "It's a long day, but a great day."

And it's the only way to do it without spending a gazillion dollars, since overnight hotel rooms and rental cars go through the roof during Masters week. In fact, you can only get hotel rooms on a 3-night minimum for Masters week.

Our one-day trip includes round-trip airfare from BWI, ground transportation to the course, an all-day ground's ticket and lunch at Augusta National. The cost: $995 per-person. $500 of that is due at the time of your reservation, the remaining $495 is due on February 1st.

If you're interested in securing space on the trip, e-mail directly please: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

We'll have the payment and reservation page up here at #DMD in the next day or two, but in the meantime, e-mail me directly to get on the list of those who are going with us to Augusta next April.

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Tuesday
October 18
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 18
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memo to harbs: don’t listen to these people, just coach the team


I could tell by the way he answered a few questions during his weekly press conference yesterday that John Harbaugh is starting to get aggravated with the armchair quarterbacks.

You can hear it in the tone of his voice and just the way he answers certain questions.

”You guys can do all the second-guessing you want,” he told the media gathered in Owings Mills. “But we’re going to be an aggressive football team and we’re going to try and score touchdowns when we’re on the one yard line.”

Second guessing, of course, is what we all do best, whether it's as privileged ticket owners or privileged members of the media.

After all, we’ve watched enough football to be experts.

Right?

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That's the Harbaugh we like to see, the one smiling and laughing -- and not letting the media and fans get under his skin.

So, while I get that Harbaugh is starting to let the great unwashed get under his skin, I’m here today to remind him of something: “Don’t do it, coach.”

Do NOT let us get to you. There's an old saying about coaches that goes something like this: "If you start worrying about what the fans think, pretty soon you'll be sitting in the seats wtih them."

Don’t let the beat reporters tick you off, either. They're more prone to grating on you because they're always hanging around. You know that old chiche -- "familiarity breeds contempt".

And, please, please, please – do not take anything serious that a national media member says or writes about you and your coaching acumen.

Your coaching record speaks for itself, John.

You’re going to hear a bunch of garbage about Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leaving and all of YOUR magic also departing with them, but don’t buy into it.

All you’ve done since you showed up in Baltimore is win, basically. There was that down year after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, which was as predictable as Coldplay’s next single rising to #1 on the charts.

And then there was last season, where injuries wrecked the team so much the Ravens might have been a 3-point underdog against the University of Alabama.

But all in all, the last nine years with you at the helm of the football team have been pretty glorious here in Charm City.

Just keep coaching your players, John, and don’t fret over what’s being written on social media. Or in the newspaper. Or – ahem – on sports websites authored by “experts” who used to be on the radio.

Getting aggravated and sniping at media members is a bad look for you, Harbs.

It’s not going to help anything, for sure, since most of the chirping comes after a loss and, as you know, once the game’s over, it’s over.

I loved how the one guy in yesterday’s press conference asked why you don’t have a “fine jar” to help curb your players’ penalty habits.

”We’re not allowed to do that. It’s against the rules,” you said, quickly.

I could tell from your tone, Coach, that you wanted to add, “It’s pretty funny that you’re in here quizzing me on the rules of the league and you don’t even know them yourself,” but you didn’t do it. I was proud of you in that moment, because I know you wanted to crush that Neanderthal for asking such a silly question.

But you’re on edge, John, and it’s coming through loud and clear.

Take a deep breath. Relax. Watch some game film and prepare for the Jets.

And, please, stop worrying about what everyone is saying or writing. I can’t imagine Steve Bisciotti puts any stock in any of it. And you shouldn’t, either.

We’re just frustrated fans, that’s all.

We want the team to win.

And when the Ravens don’t win, someone has to take the blame.

Those of us with a morsel of smarts know you’re not the sole reason the team is 3-3 and has lost three straight, but there are those out there who think the club would be 6-0 if not for your various interferences over the last three weeks.

It’s best if you ignore those folks, John.

If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself nuts.

Now, about that 4th and 1 play-call in the fourth quarter last Sunday...and the fake field goal against Washington...and that wasted time-out in the Oakland game.

I'm kidding, coach.

Ignore it all. Just coach the team and stop worrying about answering to us.

It's impossible to make everyone happy in the long run. The only way to shut everyone up is to win games. Go do it.

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the nfl's best six and worst six


We're back with another edition of the NFL's Best Six and Worst Six.

Rather than list all 32 teams, which lots of websites like to do (that means, if they do it right, they'll get you to click from team-to-team -- 32 clicks in all), we simply tell you who the best six teams are in the NFL and who the worst six teams in the NFL are.

In case you're wondering where the Ravens rank in my book, right now I'd say somewhere safely in the middle or thereabouts. Probably around #20.

On we go...starting with the NFL's six worst teams.

THE WORST SIX

27. CAROLINA PANTHERS -- I can not get over how bad their defense is in Carolina. Did Josh Norman really make that much of a difference? From the Super Bowl to the basement of the NFC South in one long leap. Sad to see, but not all that shocking. The post-Super Bowl hangover isn't made up -- it's real.

28. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -- I'm not sure how Chuck Pagano is keeping his job these days. The Colts are really bad. Up 14 with about seven minutes left in the game on Sunday night in Houston and, predictably, they scarfed up that lead and lost in overtime. They somehow have two wins, but they won't have more than six by season's end.

29. SAN FRANCISCO 49'ERS -- It wouldn't surprise me if the 49'ers are 31 or 32 on this list in a few weeks. They're going backwards, quickly. Hey Torrey Smith, how's that contract with the 49'ers treating you?

30. CHICAGO BEARS -- Any team that loses at home to Jacksonville belongs on this list, for sure, and there's probably an argument Chicago is worse than the Jets, but I can't get last night's game in Arizona out of my head as far as the Jets are concerned. Chicago is terrible, too, though. Hard pressed to win five games all year. Hard pressed.

31. NEW YORK JETS -- I'm trying not to let last night's national TV blowout affect me, but I can't. The Jets were downright terrible last night and their run defense, previously thought to be pretty decent, got run over for 172 yards by the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens should beat them like a drum this Sunday in NJ. But, on any given Sunday...

32. CLEVELAND BROWNS -- Nothing surprises me about the Browns. They could go 0-16 or they might win a game at some point soon. They play host to the Jets in two weeks, so that will be one of their better chances to win this season. Either way, they're terrible. The worst team in the league, at least for now.


THE BEST SIX

6. WASHINGTON REDSKINS -- Really? The Redskins here? I don't know. But they did just beat the Eagles, who were looking awfully good themselves for a few weeks. All of those 4-2 teams (Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Washington, Denver, Oakland) are good enough to be here at #6. Let's go with the 'Skins just to be nice.

5. ATLANTA FALCONS -- Now 4-2 after losing at Seattle by two points, but looking more and more like a team that's on the verge of having a good season. Matt Ryan is enjoying a nice start to his 2016 campaign and Julio Jones is having a whopper of a year to date as well. If that improved Atlanta defense keeps showing up, they could be dangerous in January.

4. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -- Don't look now, but the Seahawks are 4-1 and have allowed just 78 points in their five games to date. The NFC West isn't all that good, obviously, so we'll have to judge them on some of their non-division stuff, like Sunday's home win over a good Atlanta team.

3. DALLAS COWBOYS -- When you go to Lambeau Field and win, you're for real. The Cowboys are looking more and more legit with each passing Sunday, particularly when Ezekiel Elliott gets involved in their offense. He's going to set all kinds of rookie rushing yards this season, that's for sure. And that quarterback controversy? Not really one at all. It's Dak Prescott, plain and simple.

2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS -- The NFL's lone unbeaten team comes off their bye week and heads to Philadelphia this Sunday, where the Eagles will be licking their chops after two straight losses.

1. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- They just keep on rolling. And to think Cincinnati was actually ahead at the half on Sunday and looking like a threat. And then, BAM!, the Patriots came alive and blew them out in the second half to win 35-17. One thing to note: New England has already played half of their eight home games. I don't think that matters, but they will have to do some winning on the road at some point soon. Which, of course, they will.

KELLY
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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.


tuesday morning quarterback - reviewing the loss to the giants


The Baltimore Ravens early season free-fall continued this week with their third straight loss, this time against the New York Giants.

On the back end of a truly embarrassing second half effort, especially from the defense, the Giants racked up over 200 yards passing in the final two quarters alone and scored 20 point to put the Ravens away 27-23 and drop the purple birds to 3-3 on the season.

That's incredibly disappointing after the three consecutive wins they notched to open up the 2016 season, and with a brutal schedule looming after next week's bye, losing all three of these imminently winnable affairs may ultimately prove to be a crucial factor if the Ravens come up short in their quest to return to postseason play. Notes and observations from the latest loss:

In the first game since Marty Mornhinweg replaced Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator all eyes were on the coaches and, on balance, I thought those guys did a pretty representative job, maybe even turning in their best game of the season.

Mornhinweg isn't going to be running any record breaking offenses in his career in football and, honestly, if he becomes the permanent coordinator next season it will be a massive disappointment given his career track record, but in this game he showed that he can be a solid interim option and probably is an upgrade over Trestman at this point. His playcalling, in particular, was very solid in all of the ways Trestman's was deficient.

Where Trestman abandoned a running game that was proving highly effective against Washington, Mornhinweg stuck with it throughout Sunday's game, and utilized more play action than we'd seen from Trestman all season. He also got Flacco throwing into the intermediate passing zones vertically, with much less horizontal offense than Trestman had featured, and ultimately that combination finally gave the offense a chance to hit some deep balls down the stretch.

I've been critical of the offense's reliance on go-routes all season, to be sure, but not all bombs are created the same. Blindly chucking the ball down the sideline and hoping your guy wins the battle with the defender and pulls it down is a very low margin play in the NFL. Laying out a deep ball for a receiver who's already behind the defense is another matter entirely, and those are the kind of passes you want to see Flacco throwing to guys like Mike Wallace, and the commitment to running and throwing into the 6-10 yard range forced the safeties to play more aggressively underneath, opening up more room deep than Flacco has seen all year.

It helped that the Giants defense isn't very good, sure, but neither were some of the defenses that befuddled Trestman either.

On the other side of the ball, Dean Pees had his usual good-as-it-could be effort to my mind. The unit turned in a solid effort in the first half, including holding Eli Manning and crew without a first down into the second quarter, but losing Jimmy Smith to a concussion in the second half was a huge, huge blow.

The corners on this team aren't very good to begin with, and without Smith out there they're downright woeful. Manning picked apart the Ravens zone coverages consistently through the second half, and when the Ravens switched to man he found Odell Beckham Jr. for two touchdowns that went 75 and 66 yards, respectively.

The last one was the game winner on 4th and 1, and really highlighted the futility of what Pees is working with as a play caller at times. You have to be in man coverage in that situation, but the Ravens' defenders ran into each other covering a rub route combination and then no one could tackle Beckham, even though he was running with a bum hip. What else do you need to say to sum up this secondary unit?

The big story out of the game is going to be John Harbaugh, and though the head coach has deserved some criticism in recent weeks, at this point I think it's just piling on. The main controversy stemmed from a decision to go for a touchdown on 4th and goal from the one yard line down 17-13 rather than kick a field goal.

The attempt failed after a horrendous play-call (what is this team's obsession with pitch runs on fourth and short?), and if the Ravens had had those three points on the board at the end of the game they'd have been in position to kick a field goal to win. It seems perfectly straight forward, but the problem is that it's about as pure a form of the fallacy of the predetermined outcome as you could come up with.

In a nutshell, that's when you reach a conclusion about likely outcomes by changing one event then holding everything else constant. So, in other words, giving the Ravens the field goal on the goal line and then assuming the rest of the game's scoring goes on unchanged.

That's not how things work though; different circumstances produce different decisions by those involved, and changing one outcome produces a ripple effect of changes to subsequent events. In this case, the Ravens handed the Giants the ball on the 1 yard line, they drove out to their own 20 and then had to punt. It was one of only two times they didn't score in the second half, and the Ravens ended up getting a field goal on the subsequent possession.

But if you make the field goal, the Ravens have to kick the ball off, and the Giants most likely start the drive between the 20 and 30 yard lines instead of on their own goal line, completely changing their offensive play-calling options. From that point, there's no way to tell what would happen.

Maybe the Giants drive down and score like they did on four of their six second half possessions. Maybe they flip field position and pin the Ravens deep, and that subsequent Ravens' field goal doesn't happen.

Or maybe one of a hundred other possible outcomes happen. Either way the point is that choosing the field goal over going for it immediately changes the contour of the entire rest of the game, and if you're bashing John Harbaugh by assuming the rest of the scoring would have played out the same way you're literally committing a textbook logical fallacy.

Oh, and it's not as like Harbs didn't have good reason to doubt his offense could get them into field goal range again, as until the Giants went into prevent mode on the last drive the Ravens really only got chunk plays through a couple of huge defensive pass interference calls, the second of which was one of the worst officiating calls you'll ever see. Absent those two penalties, it's entirely possible that the Ravens wouldn't have even given Tucker a chance to kick that hypothetical game winner anyway.

Speaking of penalties, Sunday's game was a mess, right? Flags were definitely the story of this game, for both sides really.

The big ones all went against the Giants late in the game, with the aforementioned pass interference call but also a ticky-tack roughing to passer penalty on fourth down that extended the game for the Ravens. Heck, even the flaunt for excessive celebration on Beckham was a bit eye-rolling given the circumstances. If you were a Giants fan and thought the refs had bet the Ravens to cover I would have been hard pressed to argue with you.

But the Ravens made more than their share of penalties too, and though there weren't a ton of big ones, they were back breaking all the same. A steady litany of holding, false start, and illegal procedure plays put the offense behind the chains too often and precluded any sort of rhythm being built.

I know people want to pin that on coaching, but like Drew wrote yesterday here at #DMD, I think that's unfair.

Not only do backups commit more penalties basically by definition, but this game was refereed by Jeff Triplette, so it basically doesn't count. That Triplette still has a job is a nice encapsulation of the NFL's problem in making the program watchable at times, as Triplette not only consistently boasts the highest number of flags called and clearly loves to hear himself talking on the mic on gameday, but he's got a long and distinguished career of incorrectly applying rules and not being able to keep up with what's going on on the field.

Tripplette is just awful, and you should basically assume penalties are going to be the difference anytime you see him on Sunday.

I did appreciate Harbaugh asking the ref if the Ravens could move the extra point back after Beckham's unsportsmanlike conduct foul, since Triplette very nearly almost let the Lions do that to the Broncos last year. He'd never admit it, but I'm going to choose to believe that was on purpose.

If the coaching improved somewhat this week, it's maybe time to start having a serious discussion about Joe Flacco's play this season.

While the Ravens' quarterback hasn't been stellar or consistent so far, he's escaped a lot of scrutiny amidst problematic performances from his offensive line and coaches.

On Sunday the play-calling was at least league average, as was the line's pass protection (if only because the Giants' pass rush is terrible, but still) and Flacco still didn't exactly cover himself in glory. His throws were inaccurate throughout much of the game, including of course the two bad misses of a wide open Mike Wallace on the final drive. Additionally, his decision making in where he goes with the ball is almost inexplicable sometimes.

I mean, how many times do you have to throw a quick, short pass to Dennis Pitta or Kyle Juszczyk before you just admit that they aren't breaking anyone's tackle and picking up extra yards?

Flacco's worst moment, however, came just before the team had to use their final timeout of the game. With the clock running and some 50 seconds left, the team took their time getting to the line for the next play, and rather than spike the ball, Joe decided to just line up and throw.

It was an odd sequence, but understandable enough. There was plenty of time to get multiple shots to the endzone AND a timeout left to work with, and with a young line you don't need another illegal procedure penalty forcing you to lose that timeout. But then, rather than push the ball downfield, Flacco threw a simple 5 yard in-route directly to the middle of the field...which meant the Ravens had to take that last timeout right there.

So if you're keeping score at home, the Ravens ended up losing about 20 seconds AND their last timeout, all to pick up five yards (that they'd end up giving back on a delay of game penalty but that's neither here nor there). That's just downright inexcusable, and a demonstration of really bad situational IQ. Flacco has to either get the clock stopped there by throwing to the sidelines or just chucking the ball out of bounds, or the gain has to be big enough to make expending the timeout worth it.

It's hard to strike the right balance in responding to an early loss like this. You don't want to overreact and come off as hysterical, but you don't necessarily want to play the role of pollyanna either.

3-3 might look okay on paper, the NFL season is only 16 games long, one game almost always keeps one or two teams out of the playoffs, and the rest of the schedule really is brutal for Baltimore.

They've got four road games against the Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers, and Bengals, the last three of which all come in the final four weeks of the season. Lose all four of those games and you're already at 7 losses, and that probably keeps you out of the playoffs. Win one of them and you're still in it with 6 losses, but you've also got home games against the Steelers, Bengals, and Eagles to deal with.

And this is presupposing that they'll win all of the games they "should" handle relatively easily. Literally, every single one of them from here on out.

So no, 3-3 isn't bad in isolation, but with the landscape ahead being what it is this team is most definitely in a bad spot. They'd better show a sense of urgency, because if they lay another egg in New Jersey this week you can officially start working on your obituaries for the 2016 season.

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it's "last call" for sunday's ravens-jets bus trip


OK, we have TWO seats left on our Ravens-Jets bus this Sunday.

Who wants them?

We're leaving from Towson at 6:30 am, enjoying some great food and drinks on the way up to New Jersey, and tailgating beforehand with some awesome subs from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We'll have plenty of Harpoon beer to set the mood, and then we'll watch the Ravens whip up on Ryan Fitzpatrick and Company at MetLife Stadium.

Who wants those last two seats on the bus?

E-mail me pronto if you're in: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

Monday
October 16
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXVII
Issue 16
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this one wasn't on harbaugh, it was on everyone involved


In some ways, the Ravens would have been better off just getting blown out yesterday at MetLife Stadium.

They could have just said “Eh, every team has one of those kind of games once a year or so” and moved on to the Jets.

Instead, for the 20th time in their last 22 games, the end result was a one-score game and the Ravens – for the third straight week – came up on the bad end of things in a 27-23 loss to the Giants that officially left Ravens Nation howling.

John Harbaugh was the favorite whipping boy in the social media aftermath yesterday, but he didn’t hold, jump offsides or get called for pass interference.

And Harbaugh didn’t miss a wide open Mike Wallace in the game’s final minute with the outcome up for grabs as the Ravens drove down the field for the potential winning score.

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You can't expect John Harbaugh to be happy when his team is flagged for 15 penalties in a game.

Now, yes, Harbaugh definitely instructed his offense to stay on the field in the 4th quarter and go for a touchdown on 4th and 1, but I don’t think it was the head coach who called that dumb play that was stuffed by the New York defense.

Let’s start there, first, because Harbaugh’s decision to eschew the automatic three points and go for a touchdown was the hot topic of the post-game discussion.

I can sum up the whole thing pretty easily, I think.

Was the smart move there to take the three points?

I think so, yes.

But I will also say this: Nearly every coach in the league would have gone for a touchdown in that set of circumstances. There was still plenty of time left (over 14 minutes) and the Ravens had been running the ball fairy well throughout the first three quarters.

The play call there – a pitch-back to Terrance West, putting him six yards behind the end zone when all they needed was a one-yard run – was awful. The decision to go for it wasn’t the problem, in my opinion.

Marty Mornhinweg simply dialed up a lousy call on 4th and 1. It happens.

Lots of folks barked long and loud later on in the 4th quarter when the Ravens kicked a field goal to pull within one point at 17-16.

”We would be up 19-17 if not for Harbaugh being an idiot,” someone opined on Twitter.

”If we would have taken the three points earlier in the 4th quarter, all we would have needed at the end of the game would have been a field goal instead of a touchdown!” another supporter cried.

Except it doesn’t work that way.

Every series in the game, particularly in the fourth quarter, is orchestrated with four things in mind; score of the game, position on the field, down and distance to go.

Had the Ravens kicked a field goal originally to cut the lead to 17-16, there’s no telling what the Giants would have done on their next series.

You can try and put two and two together there and come up with “four”, but it’s just not that black and white.

I do think it’s VERY fair to say the Ravens should have kicked the field goal on 4th and 1, but I’m also realistic enough to admit that nearly every coach in the league would have gone for the TD there.

But let’s be clear on this: Taking the automatic three there wouldn’t have guaranteed a Baltimore victory. Not in the least.

Enough with Harbaugh. He has his own troubles to deal with this week.

The Baltimore defense was actually really good in the first half and, despite what you'll hear from those NFL "experts" today, Odell Beckham Jr. didn't have a "whale of a game" on Sunday vs. the Ravens.

He caught just two passes in the first half -- for 11 yards -- when Jimmy Smith was on the field and following his every move.

But when Smith left the game with a concussion, Beckham Jr. went bonkers in the second half, with 211 yards receiving on 11 catches, including the game-winner on 4th and 1 with 1:24 left.

Injuries might not be an excuse...but that one on Sunday to Jimmy Smith was a game-changer, for sure.

OBJ was a non-factor in the opening thirty minutes and the big factor in the final thirty minutes. You figure it out. If you're a Flyers fan or an Old Mill High School graduate, it might not be easy, but for everyone else, you'll see it pretty clearly.

Now -- let’s talk about those penalties.

The Ravens were flagged 15 times on Sunday.

You’re never going to win in the NFL with 15 penalties. I mean, you might win here and there, but as a rule, when you get 15 penalties in a game, you’re not winning.

We might as well bring Harbaugh up again on that note.

Please don’t tell me it’s “his” fault the team picked up 15 penalties on Sunday.

”Lack of leadership!” – “no discipline” – “team unprepared”. Those are the things people say when they try to connect the coach with penalty flags.

The reality is that a team using 2nd and 3rd stringers on both sides of the ball will ALWAYS be prone to more penalties. That’s a pretty simple concept to understand, I think.

Non-starters aren’t as good as starters. They’re either not as athletically gifted or football-functional as the guys ahead of them on the depth chart, so when they’re going head to head with more talented players on the other team, they’re more apt to break the rules – or try to, at least – in an effort to level the playing field.

It’s a fact that nearly every penalty committed in a game is done so because the offending player got beat. It’s the only way they can try and “stay in the play”.

I don’t see that as a coaching blunder at all.

Sorry to bring up Harbaugh again, but I hear and see a lot of goofs try to pin team penalties on the head coach and it’s so outrageously dumb I can’t stand it.

Harbaugh doesn't compile the roster, he just uses what is given to him.

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That's the look of a quarterback who missed an open receiver with the game on the line in the last 30 seconds of the 4th quarter.

You also can’t blame the coach for the quarterback not hitting a wide open receiver near the end zone with the game on the line.

Joe Flacco isn’t to blame for the Ravens’ 3-game losing streak, but in each of the last three losses he’s had the offense on the field at the end of the fourth quarter and couldn’t engineer the go-ahead game-winning—score.

We can argue about whether or not Flacco has had a “good” season thus far, but we can’t debate the facts about the last three losses and his inability to generate a “big moment” when he had the game on his racket.

We also don’t need to discuss how vulnerable the Ravens are without the likes of Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, C.J. Mosley, Steve Smith Sr. and Elvis Dumervil in the lineup.

All of those guys missed Sunday's game with injuries, and then the Jimmy Smith injury dented Baltimore's hopes even more.

Injuries happen to every team, yes.

But when you have five starters out, like the Ravens did on Sunday, you’re behind the eight ball from jump street.

The Ravens aren’t 3-3 because of any one thing. If there was, in fact, just one issue holding John Harbaugh’s team back, it would be a lot easier to accept and, perhaps, fix.

There are a lot of moving parts to this Ravens slide.

There have been some puzzling coaching decisions in the last three weeks, no doubt about that.

Harbaugh and his coaching staff have played a role in it, including Marty Mornhinweg’s strange play call on 4th and 1 yesterday after the head coach decided to keep the offense on the field rather than take three points.

Joe Flacco hasn’t been all that great in the last three weeks.

But he’s been running for his life, too.

Injuries have wrecked the team’s continuity.

Oh, and the opponent tries, too, remember.

So, as is usually the case, there’s more to it than most people are willing to admit.

Harbaugh didn’t lose yesterday’s game.

Neither did Flacco.

And even though the defense gave up an awful late touchdown to Odell Beckhman Jr. on 4th and 1, they weren’t completely to blame, either.

You can only succeed if there’s talent there that allows you to do so.

Just remember this: You’re never as good as you look when you’re winning and never as bad as you look when you’re losing.

The Ravens could be 6-0, some folks will boast.

And they could also be 1-5.

They are what their record says: 3-3.

Right now, that’s about what they are…an average team, with lots of holes, and a coaching staff feeling the heat and trying desperately to do anything they can to produce a victory.

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around the nfl in thirty seconds


Bills 45 - 49er's 16 -- Buffalo pounds a hapless San Francisco defense and Colin Kaepernick shows why he's now a back-up.

Redskins 27 - Eagles 20 -- The NFC East is suddenly the toughest division in the NFL, somehow. Washington gets a huge home win over the Eagles.

Titans 28 - Browns 26 -- Cleveland, of course, loses again. Looking more and more like 0-16 is a real possibility for the Browns.

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Like the sun setting in the west, you know there's always a mid-season injury to Ben Roethlisberger on the horizon. The Steelers QB suffered a knee injury on Sunday and will miss 2-4 weeks.

Saints 41 - Panthers 38 -- From Super Bowl participants to 1-5, Carolina's defense is attrocious. Holy canoli, they can't stop anyone.

Lions 31 - Rams 28 -- Detroit now suddenly 3-2 as Golden Tate piles up 165 yards receiving in the win.

Dolphins 30 - Steelers 15 -- Miami pounds the ground with Ajayi rushing for 204 yards; Roethlisberger will undergo minor knee surgery today and miss 2-4 weeks.

Patriots 35 - Bengals 17 -- Tom Brady and the Pats roll on; Bengals now 2-4 and looking uninspired.

Chiefs 26 - Raiders 10 -- Another big day for Oakland's Amari Cooper (129 yards receiving) goes for naught as Chiefs score big division win on the road.

Seahawks 26 - Falcons 24 -- Seattle scores 9 points in the 4th quarter to come back and beat Matt Ryan (3 TD's) and the Falcons.

Cowboys 30 - Packers 16 -- It's official. Tony Romo has been Wally Pipp'd by Dak Prescott, as Cowboys move to 5-1 with win at Lambeau Field.

Texans 26 - Colts 23 OT -- Chuck Pagano's seat is officially hot after Colts blow 14-point 4th quarter lead at Houston.

KELLY
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show me the money, week #6


Just like the Ravens, I went my third straight week without a win, going 2-4 thanks to that half-point hook in the Ravens-Giants game and those bums out in Oakland who couldn't beat the Chiefs.

I hit two of the six games yesterday, getting it right on the Bills (-8.5) and the Browns (+7) and losing on the Ravens, Raiders, Bears and Steelers, who laid a colossal egg in Miami.

Overall through six weeks, I'm now 16-20.

I fell to 3-3 on the season in my "Best Bet" pick with that Chiefs win over the Raiders.

And I'm now 1-5 in games involving the Ravens. Now I know how the Cleveland Browns feel every Monday morning.

I'd give you a pick on tonight's game between the Jets and Arizona, but I think I'll take the day off and lick my wounds.

Aww, hell, who am I kidding? Let's go with the Cardinals (-8) to win easily, 27-13.

LYNCH
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it's "last call" for sunday's ravens-jets bus trip


OK, we have TWO seats left on our Ravens-Jets bus this Sunday.

Who wants them?

We're leaving from Towson at 6:30 am, enjoying some great food and drinks on the way up to New Jersey, and tailgating beforehand with some awesome subs from our friends at Palmisano's of Baldwin.

We'll have plenty of Harpoon beer to set the mood, and then we'll watch the Ravens whip up on Ryan Fitzpatrick and Company at MetLife Stadium.

Who wants those last two seats on the bus?

E-mail me pronto if you're in: drew@drewsmorningdish.com


Sunday
October 16
#DMD GAME DAY

week six

Volume XXVII
Issue 16
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at New York Giants (2-3)

1:00 PM EDT

MetLifeStadium
East Rutherford, New Jersey

Spread: Giants -3½


can new offensive coordinator
spark ravens today?

They don’t make many “must win” games in the middle of October, but this one, today, is “we really need a win, badly” for the Ravens.

The Ravens will call New Jersey home for the next two weeks, starting today against the Giants and continuing next Sunday vs. the Jets.

A split of those two games is almost a must for the Ravens, who have a brutal stretch of schedule in December that must be pre-negotiated now against teams without the same kind of pedigree as New England, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

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Marty Mornhinweg was a four-year starter at Montana, where he set 89 offensive records.

The spotlight today will shine on new Baltimore offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who steps in this afternoon for the recently departed Marc Trestman and will be entrusted with improving a Ravens offense that has scored just one touchdown in three of the team’s first five games.

Mornhinweg has a lot of experience at the offensive coordinator position, but none of it is impressive enough to think that the Ravens’ woes are going to be cured just by switching coaching personnel.

Joe Flacco and Company will get the chance today to work against the league’s 22nd ranked defense, as the Giants allow an average of 262 yards per game in the air.

New York is a tad better against the run, ranking 12th of 32 teams, surrendering 96 yards per game.

In other words, the Giants’ defense is vulnerable, but the Baltimore offense has to come together, on the road, no less, and there’s nothing so far this season that suggests that’s going to happen at MetLife Stadium today.

X
Eli Manning set 45 offensive records in four years at Ole Miss.

Offensively, expect the Giants to do most of their damage in the air.

They’re 11th in the NFL in passing, averaging 266 yards per game, as Eli Manning has one of the game’s elite receivers – Odell Beckham Jr. – at his disposal.

Running the ball just isn’t something that interests the Giants . . . so don’t expect them to do much more than use the ground game to soften up the Baltimore defense this afternoon.

Today's game will center on both teams' passing offenses.

If the Ravens can overcome the expected loss of Marshal Yanda and Steve Smith Sr., they’ll have a chance to leave New Jersey with a win.

That is, if Joe Flacco can stay upright all afternoon.

The Baltimore offensive line has been less-than-adequate over the last couple of weeks – mostly due to injuries – and the result was a pair of home losses to Oakland and the Redskins.

If Flacco gets harassed today and can’t get enough time to set his feet and make the throws, it might be another long afternoon for the Ravens’ ninth-year quarterback.

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who has the edge?


On Offense — Based on the expected inactive (injured) list the Ravens will submit today, the New York offense is likely a tad more dangerous than the one the Ravens will send out there. While the Ravens can run the ball more effectively, the Giants’ passing game has the ability to make the big play in a way Baltimore can’t. There’s not much difference between Eli Manning and Joe Flacco, and the Ravens can dictate the game on the ground if they decide to go that way, but the New York passing game is enough to give them a slight nod here.
Edge on offense: Giants

On Defense — Through five games, the Baltimore defense is rated much better than New York’s and doesn’t have a weakness that’s surfaced to date. New York doesn’t run the ball effectively, and even if they did, the Ravens' front seven is solid enough to combat the Giants’ ground game. The Ravens’ secondary was vulnerable against Derek Carr and the Raiders a couple of weeks ago, but the Giants don’t have the game-changing threats – minus Beckham Jr. – to overly concern Dean Pees.
Edge on defense: Ravens

Special teams — There’s rarely a week this department doesn’t go to the Ravens. Today is no different. If it comes down to a field-goal game, Baltimore gets the nod on the leg of Justin Tucker. The playing field gets leveled a bit with recent concerns about Baltimore’s punt-coverage unit and the unsteady play of return-man Devin Hester, but the nod still goes to Baltimore.
Edge on special teams: Ravens

KELLY
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show me the money
week #6


After a 3-3 performance in week #5, I’m now 14-16 on the year against the spread, 3-2 in the “Best Bet” department, and 1-4 in picks involving the Ravens.

It’s time to turn this around, pronto.

49ers at Bills (-8½) — I’m not sure it’s smart to buy into the Bills yet, particularly when they’re going up against a Chip Kelly-led 49ers team that is in desperate need of a win. But I’ll purchase a chunk of that “West Coast traveling East” stock and assume that San Francisco isn’t going to play well in Buffalo. Let’s go with the Bills to continue their recent roll in a 29-13 win.

Browns at Titans (-7½) — OK, so I had to do a double-take when I saw this spread. The Titans are a 7½ point favorite? Who are they playing, Gilman? I mean, I get it, the Browns aren’t very good, but is Tennessee really good enough to beat anyone by eight points when they’re supposed to beat them by at least eight? I don’t think so. I’ll take the Browns and the points as the Titans win, 23-17.

Jaguars at Bears (-1½) — The Jaguars aren’t going on the road and beating anyone. Sorry, they’re just not. Let’s take Chicago here in a 27-19 win.

Steelers at Dolphins (+7) — This one looks too easy. No way the Dolphins can’t cover seven points at home, right? Aren’t they due for a win? And isn’t Pittsburgh due for a letdown? Maybe. But I’m going with Pittsburgh here, on a late cover, 30-21.

Chiefs at Raiders (+2½) — I don’t get this one, either. The Raiders are 2½ point UNDERDOGS at home vs. the Chiefs? That one looks odd. Like they’re just dying for you to take Oakland. So, I will. Oakland wins 24-21.

BEST BET OF THE DAY: Let’s take the Raiders getting 2½ points at home vs. the Chiefs. I just don’t get this point spread. But I get the fact that Oakland is going to win outright.

Here’s how Drew sees the Ravens/Giants game: I actually think the Ravens have a decent chance of winning today. The offensive-coordinator change might breathe new life into Joe Flacco and Company and I think Dean Pees will employ a game plan that focuses on taking Odell Beckham Jr. away from Eli Manning, and if successful, it’s a level playing field. In the end, though, I think Yanda and Wagner missing the game (likely) means more trouble for the beleaguered Baltimore offensive line, and the Giants' defense holds up a bit better than the Ravens' defense in a 23-20 win for New York.

Glory
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please click here to see previous issues of #dmd.

RETRIEVER ROUND-UP

UMBC baseball fell to in-state rival Maryland, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon in College Park. The Retrievers fell behind early, but got a two-run home run from Hunter Dolshun to take the lead. However the Terps scored four runs in the sixth to take the victory.

The Retrievers fall to 18-20 on the year while Maryland improves to 32-15 in 2017.

breakfast bytes

A.L. East: Yankees give up two runs in bottom of the 9th, lose to White Sox, 4-3.

Red Sox move into first place with 9-2 win over Minnesota; Rays win 4-2 at Pittsburgh.

NBA: Phil Jackson/Knicks to part ways today.

Nationals steal team-record 7 bases off of Arrieta/Montero as Cubs lose in D.C., 6-1.