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What to make of the Baltimore Ravens 2015 season

Well, it’s been about a week since the regular season has ended in the NFL, the playoff line-up is set, the draft order is almost completed and a Super Bowl Champion will soon be crowned.

Coming into the season, the Baltimore Ravens were expected to return to the playoffs and compete for another championship. Sports Illustrated predicted them to win the Super Bowl on the cover of their NFL preview edition.

Obviously, none of those things will be happening this season… and it’s not an easy pill to swallow.

The combination of injuries and missed late-game opportunities were too much for the Ravens to overcome. Falling to a 5-11 record, Baltimore missed the playoffs for the second time in Coach John Harbaugh’s tenure and endured the first losing season since he arrived in 2008.

It’s hard to believe that this team was never really a factor in the league at all, considering that they’re only 3 years removed from their Super Bowl victory. Oh course, it’s not easy losing your star QB, running back, No.1 receiver (who is 36 yrs. old), top defensive player and handful of impactful players.

But, even through all the turmoil that occurred throughout the year, the resilience of this football team was apparent; win, lose or draw. That resilience was shown through a 12 game stretch of close games (winning or losing by at least 8 points or less). This, of course, ended when the team was routed by the Seattle Seahawks, 38-6.
In the wake of this abysmal season, they’re plenty of questions that will need some answers before training camp arrives.

One of that will pop up in fan’s minds…Can the Ravens make the playoffs again in 2016?

For most, they would easily say ye,s but think about it. The team’s biggest need, after the loss to the New England Patriots in the divisional round last season, was the need to build the secondary and find a solid receiver for Joe Flacco.

To me, NONE of those things were fixed (of course, we haven’t been able to see what Breshad Perriman can do out there!). If anything, the secondary took a huge step back this season, and the need for a playmaker was very noticeable. Again, I know that injuries created a huge dent in what the team wanted to do this season, but this can’t be ignored any longer (unless we want to make picking in the top 10 of the draft a regular thing)

But hey, even in this disappointing season, though so much went wrong, the Ravens weren’t that far from being in the playoff picture (that’s how bad the league was this season!). They needed five more wins, but think about it. One of their losses (Jacksonville) was actually a victory not credited because of an officiating mistake. Another (Cleveland) came in overtime. And the Ravens led in the fourth quarter of two others (Oakland, Cincinnati at home). That’s four losses by the narrowest of combined margins.

I’m not saying this team was better than their record, they ended at 5-11 for a reason. But, they aren’t that far off from being great again.

This offseason is the key!!!!

The Ravens have about 30 players scheduled to become free agents in March, the three key names are OT Kelechi Osemele, K Justin Tucker, and OLB Courtney Upshaw. These players should have somewhat of priority for the front office (the biggest being negotiating Joe Flacco’s $120 million contract!)

This team will also need to focus on getting back to full health after a franchise-record 20 players ended the year on injured reserve. And, of course, some additional playmakers to the roster won’t hurt either.

Yeah, it’s going to be a long few months without football in Baltimore. But, this team has the front office, the coaching staff, and some playmakers that are currently on the roster that can turn this season in the fuel they need to push them over the edge next season.

Until next time, Baltimore!

 

 

 

 

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Return of the blogger! Let’s get back at it.

Hi there!

It’s been quite some time since I logged on here and posted…well anything really. How are you? You doing well, buddy?

Good!

Well, for those of you reading this and have gotten a chance to look through some of my older work from the past year, you would notice that I talk alot about sports.

…Because, well, this is a sports blog.

I started this little project back in Spring of 2015, a simple blog for one of my journalism courses at Salisbury University. In an attempt to build a reputation (and solid resume’!), I feel in love with blogging and talking about anything that had to do with football or the major news in the sports world.

Then I graduated…and since this wouldn’t help pay off my loans, this took a backseat on my to-do list.

But now I’m back, and I ready to go at this even better than before. I would love for you to join me on this journey (constructive criticism is always welcomed…but be easy with the use of foul language, please and thank you!)

So, kick back in your chair and let’s dive into some sports talk!

My First Podcast: 2015 NFL Draft Preview

An Ode to the Baltimore Ravens

The season for the 2014-2015 Baltimore Ravens is over, and it really, really sucks. But it was one heck of a ride and kind of makes you think, “this team is going to be scary come next year.”

The season started off pretty much on a slippery slop, the whole Ray Rice fiasco controlled the sports world and the national media for the majority of the off-season. Once the 2 game suspension  was handed out by the league office, mixed reaction came forth from the public (who seemed not to care until the punishment made national news [shows how much people pay attention], but let’s move on). Then you have early injury to Lardarius Webb’s back, kicking off the beaten up secondary they had to deal with the entire season. You have the early lost to the Bengals at home, cutting Rice from the squad, having the head coach and the front office blasted in the media and we haven’t even made to the halfway mark.

This team had more questions than answer and it’s fair to say that some of those questions had to do with whether this team will even have a winning record let alone making it to the playoffs.

Then out of no where, Joe Flacco and the offense turns it on.

The offense of the Ravens over the past several years have functioned quite simply, if they run the ball more than 20 times they’ll win the game, less than 20 they usually lose. Now without Rice in the back field you didn’t really know how that game plan would work for the Ravens, of course they weren’t expecting Justin Forsett to have the monstrous season that he did (1266 rush yards, 8 TD, 5.4 AVG). The addition of former Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith and the coming out of Torrey Smith halfway into the season made the offense one of the more successful groups in team history as well as the entire league. And let’s not forget about Flacco and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and how well these two worked together, having one of the more efficient rushing teams’ in the league and possible pushing Flacco to that “elite” status he constantly has to remind all of us, but his numbers show he’s moving in the right direction (3,986 YDS, 27 TD, 12 INT).

In my opinion, though the luxury of having a running game again was nice, the play of Steve Smith was just what the doctor ordered for this squad. The departure of Anquan Boldin during the 2013 off-season left a gaping hole in the offense as well as the leadership role on the team as a whole. His hard-nose style of play makes him one of the more feared wide-out for any defensive back to have to deal with, he might not kill you with speed but he’s going up for the ball and coming to knock you out on the way down. NO player the following year had the characteristic within them and was visible out on the field, until Smith Sr. showed up. He was known as a fiery guy, but he was going to make you work in order for you to beat him, he lost a few steps as the year’s pile on but he brought the physically and emotionally play that left Baltimore when Boldin left, and his success pushed this team to new heights offensively.

But like any team, you’re hit with adversity throughout the season that slows you down, for the Ravens it was injuries, and they seem to come in handfuls with each game. At least 18 players were placed on IR throughout the season, including their No. 1 corner Jimmy Smith, starting tackle Rick Wagner, corner Asa Jackson, long snapper Micheal Cox and of course tight end Dennis Pitta who went down with a hip injury for the second straight year. The injury bug hit the defensive secondary the hardest, an area that was a concern heading into the season, claiming 6 DBs total. Usually with this many injuries happening in one season that team is preparing to pack it up and get a head start on off-season planning, but this team just never gave up, win or lose.I mean they literally were pulling guys from off the street, back alleys, wherever and just piecing together and filling up holes left by injured players each game and still pulled off a 10-6 season.

The fact that they made the playoffs after all the adversity they went through is a testament to the team, the players and the coaches. They accomplished so much with what little they had, winning another playoff game against archrival Pittsburgh Steelers, winning at least a playoff game 6 out of the 7 years under head coach John Harbaugh, and came within a touchdown (again) from beating “Pretty Boy” Tom Brady and the New England Patriots up in Foxborough, Mass.

This team went all out right up to the end of the game, though they fell short the lost seemed different than any of the other playoff loses in recent years. Yes, playoff loses hurt and takes time to heal for both the team and their fan base, who can forget how long it took to heal after the 2012 AFC Championship game up against (you guessed it) the New England Patriots. But, those other loses seemed hurt more because of the guys that were on those teams, an aging Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, Willis McGahee or a Todd Heap. We had great teams come and go with talent that could have one multiple championships, but we always seemed to fall short to a Manning, a Brady or a Big Ben. That AFC champ game was like that boiling point where you either win it all next year or you’ll never win it. PERIOD. This team was a young,talented team that was hit hard with injuries, adversity and at times missed opportunities. But again, they came with a touchdown from going back to a AFC championship game and possible a Super Bowl.

Now, image this team with a healthy secondary, a Dennis Pitta running down the middle against that same New England defense, Forsett or even a first/second round picked running back coming out of that back field, the O-line all prepared for a playoff run. Hey, even give them a playoff game at home, this team has a chance to be as dangers or even more dangers as say the Seattle Seahwaks or Green Bay Packers.

The words “We’ll be back” could be heard from the leaders on this team, that’s why I’m not as upset about this game.

John Harbaugh’s locker speech after the lose to the Patriots, a similar situation when Ray Lewis addressed the team after the AFC championship loss the year before they won Super Bowl 47 the following year is a reason I’m not upset about this game.

The way this team played and fought all the way to end is the reason I’m not upset about this game.

I’m not upset about this game because they have been here before, took their lumps but still was able to prove the world wrong before. They have the pieces already in that locker room and in that front office, now they have to put it all together show up the world that again, and they very much can.

Thanks Baltimore for a great season. See you in August.

Black Monday…What have we learned?

photo from: www.nj.com

photo from: http://www.nj.com

Welp, another NFL regular season has come and gone, now the really fun begins!

No not the playoffs (though the Ravens are in and I couldn’t be more excited to watch them duke it out on the AFC side), no I’m talking about which team will be looking for a new head coach…yes Black Monday is here, and there weren’t any big surprises on who was let go. Rex Ryan of the New York Jets, Marc Trestman of the Chicago Bears and Mike Smith of he Atlanta Falcons were the first few head coaches to be given the old pink slip, while Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers decided to just “part ways” with his team’s front office to move forward to bigger, greater things…

**cough**…Michigan.

Some of the firings I can understand, Smith was 66-46 during his time with the Falcons, were able to snag a division title, an elite quarterback in Matt Ryan in the 2008 NFL Draft, he even helped his team be the No.1 seed during 2012 playoffs. But one thing that plagued him and his team was the consistency to win and win important games. The team was loaded with talent, the likes at which some have never seen before, I mean you had Julio Jones, Roddy White,Mike Turner and Tony Gonzalez all on one squad, and still couldn’t win the big one, on top of that having losing seasons constantly, it just made no sense, but why didn’t make sense is that Smith had to go.

With Trestman, he never seem to get the ball rolling. He was a big shot in Canada or the CFL if you’re being politically correct, but it seemed like he and Jay Cutler could never get things going which was unfortunate. The Bears are another team loaded with talent, and what doesn’t make sense why they were so bad most of the time, and why Jay Cutler never seem to become “the guy”.Yes,the team had their share of injuries to their top guys, yes they play in a hard division, ran by what Stephen A. Smith refers to him as “The Bad Man” Aaron Rodgers and yes they’re dealing with the come up of The Detroit Lions (about time too), but with what he had on his roster there’s no way they should be have anything less than 9-10 wins each season. But it’s not all Trestman fault, I put most of the blame on Cutler. Cutler has not lived up to par by anyone standards, he seems like he doesn’t want to be at the game half the time, doesn’t seem to care for the team or teammates and seems to hide In his shell when big time opportunities arrive. Let’s go back to the 2010 NFC championship game where he came out the game due to injury, but what many believed was just him not wanting to play ( which if this ever was true, that should have been a huge red flag to the Bears front office before giving that “fat” check). To this day he hasn’t been able to shut those critics up with his play ability, failing to reach the playoffs each year since, so all the blame can’t be on Trestman solely.

And then there’s “Big Rex” or I guess “small rex” now a days, and that joke of a team up in New Jersey or is it New York these days (more like purgatory). Now I’m not here to bash on Rex, personally I think Ryan is a great head coach,his father was a great coordinator with the 1985 Chicago Bears and I believe Ryan had the potential to be one of the best head coach in NFL history. But what killed Ryan’s career up in New York was the front office, and their ability to draft decent players to their roster. look at the guy said they had on the roster this past season, I mean I think Geno Smith is it okay guy, but he was better than  Mark Sanchez ?( and that’s saying a lot, isn’t that right butt fumble)

The GM and  front office failed to pick up any of the needs they needed in any of the drafts  while Ryan was in charge and because of that you have the losing seasons that came about, which is pretty dang shame after Ryan started out his head coaching career in back to back AFC championship games, I’m sure he’ll land on his feet quickly (**cough** Oakland).

do I think the firings are over, absolutely not! I can think of one right off the top my head, and if he and his squad doesn’t win this weekend up in Indy, I believe his time would finally run out (of course I’m talking about Marvin Lewis). You can’t expect to go this long with no playoff wins and still think you’re to keeping your job come the off-season, there’s no way, if so Cincinnati will never be taken seriously when they get into the tournament, and they better watch if the Browns grab ahold of the AFC North, things will get a whole lot more interesting.Jay Gurden is another guy who might need to watch over shoulder, because Dan Snyder and that front office is going to screw him over at one point or another. Your not sure if you have the answer you need at QB, your draft choices haven’t been that great, Snyder is still known for making terrible free agency choices and wasting boat loads of money, neither helping that head coach with wins or could arise within the locker room. Washington has a chance to be at the top, i mean the division title changes hands every with no team ever seeming to take over completely, so there’s always hope.

sue was a season continues to come to an end, it’s going to be fun to see how many more heads will roll underneath the NFL guillotine.

Ravens in the playoffs might be a bad thing for the other AFC teams…

As you and I beginning to get to know and understand each other better your going to notice something about me…

I AM A HUGE BALTIMORE RAVENS FAN!!!!

Have been since I was 8 years old, watching that 2000 Ravens team dominate the Giants in Super Bowl 35. I’ve grown up idealizing guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Suggs, Ngata, all of those guys. But with this I’m trying not to show favoritism to any one team, I’m just giving my opinion and what I think could happen, and I think if this Baltimore Ravens team gets into the playoffs a wildcard team it could spell trouble for any team they face.

Now out of the three AFC North teams still alive for a playoff spot, it’s fair to say that the Ravens had the easiest path to the places and possible a division crown, but last night’s lose in Houston made their path to the postseason that much harder. The team didn’t seem into it right out of the gate, allowing Houston’s fourth string quarterback Case Keenum, who they literally just signed off the street a week before the game and let him get hot, really, really quickly. The defense hold their offense to 6 field goals and a touchdown pass from Arian Foster (yeah, their running back throw a touchdown on us!), but the Ravens offense was nowhere to be found. Dropped balls, bad routes, no running game and bad QB play…the not a good recipe if you’re trying to win a game a possible secure a playoff spot, but there is still hope in this team. Yes, they do need help to get in the playoffs, yes they need to win their final game against the Browns (still not an easy win, but it’s at the Bank!) and  yes the team overall needs to play better, but I think this lose may spark this team in the best way possible and if they do get in (which I strongly believe they will) it could mean trouble for the AFC.

We have seen throughout the season how explosive this offense can be against any team that they line up against, the running game can be the best in the league when moving on all cylinders, Joe Flacco can be as “elite” and clutch as the Brady’s and Manning’s of the league and the wide receivers can look Pro Bowl caliber on any given Sunday, the real question lies within the bedrock of the team, their defense. The defense overall is ranked 9th in league, according to NFL.com, but the secondary is ranked 28th in the league, giving up in average 255.3 yards per game. Luckily, the front seven of this team has been one of the best in recent years, having the 4th best rushing defense (86.9) and 45 sacks this season, ranked as one of the league’s best with Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs leading the way with a combined total of 28.0 sacks this season. The team lacks a player in the back field like an Ed Reed, who made quarterbacks think twice when throwing back there, but due to injuries the backfield had been completely exposed, but seem to still be able to take their blows and get right back up, which is need in a championship-type team.

Their numbers might not be mind-blowing ,but numbers don’t allows wins you rings, ask Peyton! This team has the piece set to make some real noise come January, they might not go all the way to Arizona but they won’t back down from any fight which could mean some upsets against some highly projected teams. Flacco has proven he can win it all with what he has around him, he might not have Boldin, but he has this guy named Steve Smith who’s pretty darn good, he still has a pretty decent o-line and running game and the defense isn’t something to underestimate, so you best believe this is a team most teams don’t want to have to face but they might not have a choice come next week.

GO RAVENS!!!

And with the first pick of 2015 NFL Draft…

Well, the college football season has started to wrap up another interesting season as they prepare for the inaugural college playoff games. The teams are all set (though I don’t believe the best teams are playing it out for the title, but that’s a story for another day), but the really story involves the #2 ranked team in the country, the Oregon Ducks and the #3 Florida State Seminoles.

And by teams, I mean the team’s quaterbacks….Marcus Mariota and “Famous” Jameis Winston.

For now, all the sports networks and analysts will breakdown their upcoming match up come New Years Day in Pasadena, but the bigger question is who going number 1 in the draft.

Of course they’re multiple prospects that are wroth a look for that number 1 spot, but of course when you start to evaluate this year’s draft who have to start with this season’s Heisman trophy winner and of course “Famous Jameis”. Chance our one of two will be heading to Jets Camp this off-season (let’s be real, they’re probably going number 1 in the draft).

People are split on who is the better quarterback, but everyone agrees who the bigger risk is.

Mariota and Winston are like night and day compared to one another, one is like the perfect guy to bring home to the family while the other can’t seem to keep his name out of individuals who don’t even watch football. Everything from being accused of sexual assault, getting caught shoplifting and being suspended earlier in the season for shouting an obscenity on the Florida State’s campus.

The wrap sheet set aside, comparing their QB skills, it would seem Mariota has the upper hand in the category as well.According to ESPN, Mariota has thrown 3,783 yards with 36 TDs and only 2 INTs compared to Winston’s 3,559 yards, 27 TDs and 17 INTs.

So is there any upside for Winston? Well he is a proven winner. The kid hasn’t lost a game since given the starting job last season, even when he’s not playing the team leans on him to lead them to victory. I mean the guy can throw 2 or more interceptions in back to back games and still be the key reason the team gets the W. This leadership is the sole reason why FSU are in the playoffs in the first place, without Winston this team would be lucky to make it too a bowl game (which is a shame since they play in a pretty weak conference and have all the talent in the world). Marcus has proven that he can win too but the verdict is still out on how well he can perform when the spotlight is placed on him. The Pac-12 conference doesn’t always get the attention they deserve, even with powerhouses like USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon State and a few other teams. It seems if you’re not in the SEC West, you’re pretty much placed on the back burner of the college football rankings…but that’s a story for another day.

This upcoming match-up will show scouts and NFL coaches what these players are really made off when the battle it out for a championship, after all that’s the reason these teams will be fighting for either one of these guys…bring the hardware to their organizations. Even with all their awards and records that they have set, a lot is still left to be proven.

New Years Day is going to be a game for the ages, and possible a match-up to mark down on your calendars come Sundays.

…and it beginnings

Hi,

My name…Brandon Woodroffe, a kid from a small town in Maryland that most people have never heard about and probably won’t every look up.

Now I know what your thinking: “Why am I here?” “Why start a blog page?” “Why would you think anyone would care about your opinion on anything, let alone sports?” Well, I’m glad you asked that kind sir and or madam (I think that’s how you spell that, not the best speller by the way!)

I don’t think I’m special, in fact I would consider myself pretty average, maybe slightly above average compared to most, but I really don’t think I’m better than anyone, but I feel I have a right to voice my thoughts, as do the rest of you fine people who have come across this blog at some point or another (also, thank you for stopping by, I would give you a gift but I’m broke and I don’t know who you are, but welcome anyways.

A little about me, I’m from Odenton, MD (like I said you probably never heard of it), a student at Salisbury University who dreams of one day being one of the most notable sports announcer that ever was (too over the top? You got to have some confidence to make it in this field). I’m using this page to get my foot into the news media world, and express my feelings on today’s issues in sports….mainly the National Football League and college sports. So just sit back, get ya popcorn, your fingers prepared for hundreds of comments you have prepared and enjoy the ride.

M’kay…bye!