Posted on: January 9, 2012 9:40 am
Edited on: January 9, 2012 9:46 am

The Daily Shoutout: Texans starting to believe

HOUSTON – You know what everyone is saying, don’t you Texans?

“They’re saying we got no shot,” running back Arian Foster answered. “Go ahead. Keep doubting us.”

No shot against Baltimore. Dead Texans walking. Might as well stay your asses home. Yes, that’s what they’re saying.

“That’s all we’re going to hear from national media is how we can’t win this game,” said Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt.

Of all the remaining teams in the playoffs perhaps only Denver is given less respect than the Texans despite having one of the best runners and pass catchers in the sport and a defense that doesn’t suck. I’ve been just as guilty in the past.

When NBC broadcaster Tom Hammond spoke of injured Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, he pronounced the name “Shoop.” Twice. By now, everyone knows how to pronounce Shaub’s name but this is what it means to be a Texan.

They are indeed dramatic underdogs to the Ravens but there I go doing exactly what the Texans say the liberal, biased media is going to do: give them no chance. I’ve underestimated this team before and while this isn’t to say they’re going to beat the Ravens this game could be far more interesting than many believe.

Something strange has happened to this Houston team. A franchise that is down to its third string quarterback and lost Andre Johnson is starting to believe in itself.

Now, that belief might be short lived. It remains extremely questionable that a third string thrower can go into Baltimore and beat a vicious Ravens defense. Still there are few franchises that could overcome so many critical injuries and make the divisional round of the playoffs. It’s a great credit to the franchise.

But what’s left? Where do the Texans go from here?

Maybe, just maybe. They surprise us.


Category: NFL
Tags: NFL, Ravens, Texans
Posted on: November 24, 2011 11:21 pm

Ravens win in Harbowl, 16-6

BALTIMORE -- When the game was over Jim and John Harbaugh gave each other a strong embrace. Jim, the loser, didn't look too happy his brother had won but the hug was still strong. It was finished. Harbowl 2011 was done and the Ravens were winners.

Interesting, yes. The first time two head coaching brothers ever met in a game but truth is that was a sideshow. The larger story was how the Ravens -- as they have done many times, to many different teams -- physically destroyed the San Francisco 49ers.

Baltimore's defense sacked quarterback Alex Smith nine times. That's nine damn times. It was incredible to watch. After a while, it became hard to watch.

What this game showed was that the 49ers are no threat to the Green Bay Packers. In fact, it's looking increasingly like no team is.

Harbowl is over but the questions for the 49ers are just beginning.
Category: NFL
Tags: 49ers, Ravens
Posted on: October 25, 2011 10:55 am

The Daily Shoutout: Turmoil in Baltimore

OPENING HIT: The Ravens organization has always been one of the better run, classiest organizations in all of sports. No question. The GM is classy, the coach is solid and the players are pros. But the Ravens have also often been mouthy. It has long been one of the chattiest locker rooms in the league. Its players are outspoken. They'll talk about anything, say anything. Sometimes that's good and in the case of Terrell Suggs, it can be bad.

After that putrid offensive performance against Jacksonville, Suggs went off on the team's play calling. This is a defensive player publicly ripping the offensive coordinator. This is not good. This is not great. And while the Ravens will try to downplay Suggs' words or pull the "out of context" card this is a huge deal. Because you know Suggs is likely saying things the offensive players want to say but won't. After an abysmal game like that, combined with what Suggs stated, this is a true crisis for a Baltimore team that has Super Bowl potential.

This is always the risk of having strong willed players like the Ravens do particularly on defense. They will sometimes say things publicly that should probably remain in-house.

It will be interesting to see how John Harbaugh handles this crisis. And it is a crisis no matter what the Ravens will try to say.

And they'll say something because the Ravens can't help it. They love to chat.   
Category: NFL
Tags: Ravens
Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:35 pm

The tragedy of Orlando Brown

I knew Orlando Brown. Not well, but well enough, to say hello and have a conversation. He could be moody but also generous; short tempered but also introspective. He'd talk to me most about how offensive line play was under-appreciated by the media. He was right about that.

I liked Brown, who was called Zeus, because he was mean. I mean, really mean. Not in a cheap shot sort of way. But in a relenteless, you punch me, I'm going to punch you back twice as hard, sort of way. "He was the original Raven," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "He set the tone for how we were going to play tough and physical, backing down from no opponent."

"We just found out before the end of practice," said former teammate Harry Swayne. "We were close friends. It's tough, it's tough. I talked to him a month ago and told him, 'Zeus, you didn't have to block half the people you played against because they were scared of you.' He was a puppy dog, a big old puppy dog with a little bit of a bark. He had a lot of friends around the league. He was one of the best guys. It's a tough loss."

One of the biggest concerns Brown expressed to me was that he'd always be remembered for what happened in 1999. He was hit in the eye with a penalty flag from an over-aggressive game official. The flag caused massive damage to Brown's eye. He eventually reached an injury settlement with the NFL but was never quite the same after that.

Brown died on Friday at the age of 40. Ravens players who knew him are devastated and this is indeed some of the saddest news I've heard this year.

So I just wanted to say this. Brown wasn't without flaws just like the rest of us but he shouldn't be remembered for that one incident. Remember him in total context. A great offensive lineman who never quit, who never stopped, had the unending loyalty of his teammates, long after he left football, and was one of the NFL's great fighters.

Category: NFL
Tags: Ravens
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