Friday, October 12, 2007


After 2 years rocking in the Camden Yards dugout, the O's have fired Leo Mazzone as pitching coach. Mazzone joined the team to be able to hang out with his boyhood friend Sam Perlozzo, and was never able to work his Atlanta magic here in B-More. Maybe he should have been given the benefit of the doubt and more than 2 years to get the O's pitching staff straightened out. On the other hand, however, it may be a good sign that the O's are letting manager Dave Trembley pick his own coaches, something they have been reluctant to do in the managerial revolving door recently. What do you think, Nestgoers?

Ravens TV Notes

Several pieces on the Ravens will be airing on television this weekend. Right around noon on Sunday's ESPN NFL pre-game show, they will be airing a segment they filmed on the Ravens' road trip to San Francisco last week. Included will be many off-the-field aspects of the team that we as fans don't normally get to see.

Also, Saturday night at 8 pm, the NFL network will be showing a special program they did for the Ravens-49ers game. During the game, the network had microphones on 10 players and used 12 cameras to capture a much more in-depth version of the game than we saw last Sunday.

The Nest wonders how disappointed the networks were that they chose the Boredom Bowl to put all this money and effort into. Probably a good bit of cussing in both production meetings this week, but Hell, maybe they can actually make that game seem interesting? Now that would be some impressive work.

Be sure to check them out Ravens fans!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rams @ Ravens

This week the 3-2 Ravens take on the 0-5 St. Louis Rams at M&T Bank Stadium. The Rams, a preseason sleeper pick by many to win the NFC west, have had a dismal year so far. Like the Ravens, the Rams have had to deal with the injury bug. Perennial pro-bowl tackle Orlando Pace is out for the season, and the Rams have also been playing without QB Marc Bulger and RB Steven Jackson. Both will miss Sunday’s contest, which bodes well for the purple and black, although neither was producing at nearly their 2006 levels when they got hurt. After finishing 6th in total offense last year (4th in passing), the St. Louis O has spit and sputtered from the get-go in 2007, currently standing 27th in total offense at 287.4 ypg, 28th in passing (211.2), and 21st in rushing (91.6). They have not faired much better on defense, coming into B’More 27th in the league, allowing 356 total yards per game, and 146 on the ground (28th). …wait for it….

They faired a bit better in last week’s matchup with Arizona, however, racking up 123 yards on the ground and 262 in the air, as backup QB Gus Frerotte threw for 3 TDs (but also 3 INT). The defense also held the Cards to 102 yards on the ground, as Edgerrin James averaged 3.4 yards on 26 carries.

The Ravens, on the other hand, dropped from 8th to 11th in total offense last week on the “other” bay, and sit as the #14 team in the league rushing, at 113.2 ypg, and #18 in passing, at 241.8 ypg. Steve McNair is set to start again this week, ailing groin be darned. From the Nest’s poll we can see that many of you agree with us that Steve should be sat down for a few weeks to heal completely before the Ravens' post-bye week murderers row of a schedule starts. McNair will again be likely looking for his favorite target, WR Derrick Mason, who leads the NFL in receptions with 44. Mason has been bothered by a bit of a stomach problem this week, but is expected to start Sunday. Also returning to the lineup is TE Todd Heap, whose presence will hopefully help spark some dead zone success. Running back Willis McGahee comes into the game 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards, trailing only Willie Parker (PIT) and Travis Henry (DEN). ….wait for it…

On defense, Trent Dilfer and the 49ers were just what the Doctor ordered for the Ravens, who are now 4th in the league in total D, 2nd in rushing, and 13th in passing. Cornerback Samari Rolle practiced in full gear this week, and is expected to return to the lineup, although he may not resume full starting responsibilities just yet.

Elsewhere on the injury front, don’t be surprised to see the Ravens with an offensive line very similar to the one that finished the game against the 49ers, as Mike Flynn and Adam Terry continue to recover from boo-boos sustained in that game. Jonathan Ogden does not appear ready to go. As good as the young guys were last week, the presence of all that inexperience in the trenches could prove troublesome on Sunday. Expect a few more drive-killing false start penalties, at the very least. Late word is that Steve McNair missed practice on Thursday with a stiff back, but seems likely to play.

A winless team can be a very dangerous team. Fortunately, according to their comments this week at least, the Ravens realize this and will not take the Rams lightly. The Rams have nothing left to play for this year other than pride and ruining other team’s seasons. With the 2nd half schedule the Ravens have, a loss this Sunday would almost certainly accomplish the latter. The Rams would be wise to not even try to run the ball against the Ravens, which is pretty much impossible, especially with a back-up running back (Brian Leonard). As such, the Nest expects Gus Frerotte to come out firing. If the Ravens are able to get pressure on him, as they did to Dilfer last week, and force him into some early mistakes (and of course, capitalize on these mistakes with, well I dunno…TOUCHDOWNS?), then the purple and black should have little trouble in this one. A perfect recipe for success Sunday (and in any game, really) would be to get early turnovers, punch the ball into the end zone building the lead, and then let Willis loose on this awful Rams defense. If, however, the Ravens allow them to hang around until the end as they have done with now all 3 victories this year, Frerotte-to-Torry Holt may just be able to steal one in Charm City.

...still waiting for it, aren't you?

Ok, here goes: RUN THE BALL!

This isn't to say that the Ravens have not ran the ball 'enough' this season, per se. Willis McGahee is tied for 3rd in the league in carries with 102 through 4 games. 20-25 carries for Willis, along with another 5-10 going to Musa Smith, should be enough runs to be able to have a successful day on the ground. The problem is that the Ravens (ridiculously) short passing game creates double-digit drives whenever they are able to move the ball down the field. 22 runs for 88 yards (McGahee's stats in SF) would seem much more productive if there were a few intermediate to long range passes mixed in. The fact that the Ravens run such an overwhelming majority of their plays in between the 20s makes it tough to appreciate what Willis has been able to accomplish so far this year. The Nest hopes to see Mark Clayton and Todd Heap more involved in the offense moving forward, which will help make what has so far been a nice campaign for McGahee all the more impressive, by creating more space near the line, and also allowing him more carries from scoring range.

So maybe a more appropriate request would be: THROW THE BALL (more than 5 yards) and then RUN THE BALL!

The Nest sees the Ravens D, swagger regained (a little at least) last week, coming out and totally dominating a backup QB and RB (as well as several offensive linemen), handing the offense gift-wrapped points, and the O coming alive (for their standards) in front of the home fans against a soft, porous Saint Louie defense.

While the Nest had sworn off predicting blowouts until they actually proved they were capable, we just don't see this one being close.

Ravens 23 Rams 6

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Mr. Reed (better than Ms.Polamalu - duh)

An article on ESPN today named "Five to Fear," 5 NFL players who force teams to alter their gameplans just by being on the field. A panel of 11 "experts" made up of GM's, players, scouts, and coaches came up with the list - Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Steve Smith, Randy Moss (crazy how much can change in a year), and Antonio Gates. While no Ravens made the list, the player coming closest was (surprise, surprise) Ed Reed.
From the article:
"Baltimore's Reed and Pittsburgh's Polamalu were the only safeties who came close to earning spots on the short list of scheme-changing players. Reed came closer than Polamalu.
Quarterbacks marvel at Reed's range and overall playmaking ability. An interception Reed made against San Francisco on Sunday left the 49ers in awe. Reed somehow picked off a short pass to the flanker after lining up in the middle of the field, as if he'd been in two places at once.
Polamalu moves around constantly and blitzes from various angles. He moves around so much that some offensive coordinators tell their quarterbacks not to worry about him too much. They would rather ignore Polamalu than let him bait them into guesswork.
In that sense, safeties can be wild cards to the extent that teams resist making significant changes to their plans for fear of outsmarting themselves.
"Polamalu is an issue in protection while Reed is a factor for the quarterback and where his throws are going," the defensive coordinator said. "He's supposed to be in the post, but he might be jumping a route on the other side of the field."
Two scouts believe even the greatest safeties are generally too far from the football on most plays to force significant changes to game plans. Quarterbacks disagreed, saying Reed could change what they do.
"Ed Reed is special," another GM said. "The guy at Pittsburgh [Polamalu] is really good, not overrated, but there are some holes in his game."
Well put, agrees the Nest. However, we also think they forgot to point out that teams need to account for Mr. Reed in punt blocking schemes as well. The fact that he has not blocked a punt in several years is a testament to teams scheming for his presence moreso than an indication of declining skill in this part of his game.

Read the whole article here:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Im Matt Stover

c/o WHFS Morning Show, "Kirk and Mark"

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ravens 9 49ers 7 (The BOREDOM BOWL)

In a game that was about as exciting as watching paint dry, the Ravens survived their first trip to the west coast this season, holding on to beat the San Francisco 49ers by the yawn-inducing score of 9-7 (Not quite the 20-17 "Barn-burner" predicted here, but a nail-biter nonetheless). It was the first time since the Super Bowl season of 2000 that the Ravens had won a game in which they managed to score solely by the leg of Matt Stover. The offense managed to move the ball fairly effectively, racking up 314 total yards, but - and stop me if you've heard this one before - failed to convert for TDs in their 2 red zone opportunities. The Ravens are now a dismal 5 for 16 in the red zone this year (28th in the NFL). Until things change, the Nest will now refer to the area inside the 20 yard line as the "dead zone" as it applies to the Ravens.

Luckily, the defense was up to the task of stopping the absolutely TERRIBLE 49er offense, led by backup QB Trent Dilfer. Give a degree of credit to the Ravens defense, who had their best game of the season to date, but lets call a spade a spade: the Niner offense was anemic. Several times during the first half, the home crowd booed the 49ers playcalling on offense (sound familiar?), as the coaching staff was clearly afraid to let Dilfer even begin to let loose against the purple and black. The Ravens, to their credit, took advantage of the overmatched Niner O, sacking Dilfer 3 times and picking him off once. Of course, the secondary had their usual brain-farts (as foreseen by the Nest), allowing Dilfer to throw for 42 and 23 yards on consecutive plays in the 4th quarter, the latter for the TD that made it a one-score ballgame.

Injuries were again a story, this time on the offensive line as Mike Flynn and Adam Terry both went out. Filling in were Marshall Yanda, Ben Grubbs, and Jared Gaither, who, along with Chris Chester and Jason Brown, played remarkably well for a group having only 8 total years experience between the 5 of them. As of this writing, little has been disclosed about either injury, save that Brian Billick seemed to hint that Terry's was the more serious of the two. Terry had been doing a terrific job of filling in for perennial Hall of Famer Jon Ogden, who may now be forced to come back sooner than he had expected to. Lets hope there has been significant healing since we last saw J.O. on September 10 in Cincinnati, so he is able to rejoin the lineup at near full strength.
There isn't a whole lot more to say about the game itself - it was a snoozer, the Ravens did just enough to win, and still needed Joe Nedney to miss a 53 yard field goal attempt late in the 4th quarter to avoid having to put together a waning-moment score to win.

Point after
The Nest wonders: Could the problems in the Ravens secondary be partly attributed to the Ravens offense? Not that we are looking to blame everything on the offense and absolve the D of all responsibility, but think about it: If the D is never tested in practice by a Ravens passing game that is completely unable to stretch the field, find holes in coverage, and fit passes into the 10-20 yard range, might that make it difficult for the Ravens defensive coaches to diagnose problems in coverage schemes, communication, etc? Does the fact that they never see them in practice make it more likely that the Ravens cover guys (especially the younger, inexperienced ones) will be beat on WR double moves come game day? Thoughts, Nestgoers?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chamberlain's B.O. Declared Unfair Advantage

New York- Umpires in Friday night's American League Division Series game between the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees stopped play in the 7th inning, deciding that Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain's body odor was giving him an unfair advantage over Indians hitters.

"The Indians hitters were visibly woozy after stepping into the box against him," said home plate umpire Laz Diaz. "So we decided we had to either eject him, or come up with a way to get rid of that God awful scent."

"It was bad, real bad," said Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner. "You know that smell when you leave sweaty clothes in a workout bag for a few weeks at a time? Well, like that, but if somebody took a dump in your nostril as you were sniffing."

Another problem was that Chamberlain's stench resulted in a swarm of flies constantly swirling around the pitcher's body.

"Man, you remember 'Pigpen' from the Snoopy cartoons? Thats what that fool looked like, but it was bugs instead of dirt. You ever try to pick up a baseball comin out of a swarm of insects?" asked Tribe center fielder Grady Sizemore.

The umpires decided to spray Chamberlain with industrial strength deodorant to level the playing field.

Robbed of his "performance enhancing bugs", Chamberlain was no longer the dominant force he has been since joining the Yankees, throwing a wild pitch that allowed Cleveland to tie the game, which they would go on to win.

"Teams around the league should start to take notice for next season," said Indians skipper Eric Wedge. "Deodorant is Joba's kryptonite."