The never-ending story that was Ravens Pre-season football has mercifully come to a close. The games actually count now and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hopes are high that Baltimore can engineer a return to Festivus and very simply, if they stay healthy it should happen.
What has me even more excited is the return of Third and Long to Purple Fridays. I’ve been hard at work in the lab tinkering with formulas and mixing beakers to get the right chemistry and I think I found it. Please enjoy won’t you.
- Three Quarterbacks … now what? – Baltimore pulled the trigger and kept three quarterbacks on the Fifty Three for the first time since 2009. So what does that decision mean for gamedays? RG3 essentially ended up on the Ravens roster because Lamar Jackson wasn’t quite ready to take over the reigns for Joe Flacco if he were to go down unexpectedly. So will the Ravens make all three active on Sundays? Harbaugh was asked a similar question about which player would be the backup and his response was, “I’m not saying.” Which makes me feel that the answer to this question may be a week to week situation depending on the opponent and game plan. The whole scenario should be incredibly intriguing to watch unfold. The key is Flacco, if he has one of his best seasons and the team wins then he’ll continue to his secure hold of the position. However if we witness a stagnant offense or a prolonged losing streak I could see Jackson or even Griffin used in the red-zone. The Ravens need to get back to the playoffs, it doesn’t matter how and I think that urgency is hanging over this group although Harbaugh won’t let anyone see it publicly.
- Bold Prediction – There’s plenty to be positive about this season if you are a Ravens fan and the main piece is that the team is healthy…finally. For the past several seasons they’ve been one of the teams with the most players on Injured Reserve, and as of right now they look at be at full strength aside from first-rounder Hayden Hurst. If that good fortune can continue I see a 10-6 record for the purple and black, an AFC North championship (something they haven’t accomplished in six seasons) and an appearance in the AFC championship game. Alex Collins averaged 4.6 yards per carry behind an injury riddled front last year. He should be even better having All-World lineman Marshal Yanda opening holes for him. Don Martindale and his aggressive schemes are just what this defensive group needs to help close out games and put teams away. The Ravens led the league in turnovers (34) in 2017 and have every starter returning. They could be a top-five unit. There’s a lot of reasons to be hopeful about this season and why not, it’s week one.
- Players to Watch – On the offensive side I expect Willie Snead IV to see plenty of touches on underneath routes. The Bills have an underrated defense and were able to get pressure with an interior presence and dropped the remainders in coverage last season. Typically this reminds me of the approach Mike Zimmer’s Bengal units would usually employ to frustrate Flacco because they want to take the deep ball away. Flacco will need to stay patient and accurate and hope to set up his receivers situations to make plays. On defense, I’m looking at Marlon Humphrey. The second year player will once again step into the shutdown role with Jimmy Smith serving his suspension. He was sensational last season and seems primed for another strong campaign.
Legend of the Game
I love how the team selects a former player to highlight for home games. It’s a great way to honor players who contributed to the success of the franchise and it helps younger fans a chance to look back to the past. This week fan favorite Anquan Boldin will be in attendance against Buffalo. Nothing against Q but I have my own choice.
Safety / Special Teams
Played for the Baltimore Ravens (1996-1999)
Pro Bowler (1998), All-Pro (1998)
Thompson was a 14-year professional who got his start in the CFL in 1986 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 1989 he joined the New Orleans Saints and was named an All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl in 1991 as a Special Teamer. He the had stints with Kansas City and Cleveland before making the move to Baltimore in 1996. Thompson was known for his intensity and heavy hits. In a 2015 interview with Press Box Thompson was quoted as saying, “I dreamed of the big hit, Football, to me, is a contact sport. Catching the guy coming across the field is what it is all about. The players are worried about the FedEx package arriving at their lockers with a fine. They should just go out and play.” During his final season in 1999 he led the Ravens in Special Teams tackles with 24. Thompson didn’t go anywhere the next season though as he joined the coaching staff as a Special Teams and Secondary Coach for the next five seasons which means he got his championship ring with the 2000 team as a member of the staff.
Game Day Playlist – Song of the Week
I’m building a playlist for game days. You know those songs. The ones that get you so pumped up that you’d want to run through a brick wall. I’ll try to mix up genres though and at the end of the season we will see what I came up with.
“People can no longer cover their eyes
If this disturbs you, then walk away
You will remember the night you were struck by the sight of
Ten thousand fists in the air”
I imagine this being played in the Third Quarter with the good guys up 24-7 after a Peterman pick-six.
COUSIN JUSTIN’S BETTING PARLOR
This season in addition to having three Fantasy Football teams I’m joining my cousin’s Knockout Pool this year. Sure I’ve got money to throw away, why not? So I thought it would be a good idea to detail my trials and tribulations attempting to pick a survivor right here. Who am I picking this week?
Baltimore Ravens (Home vs. Buffalo)
Stop laughing and read on. The Ravens are a 7.5 point favorite and the Bills named Nathan Peterman to run the offense in week one. I don’t care what his numbers were during practice games he has done little when the games count and the bright lights are on. Looking ahead at the Ravens schedule I don’t see a lot of games where I feel safe to make them my top pick to beat their opponent as they have several tough match-ups. So let’s roll with the purple on opening week.
GAMETIME FOOD OF THE WEEK
I usually go to a game or two live each season. Right now I know that I’ll be at the Bank on Week Three when the Ravens host Denver. Aside from that who knows? Of course if the team ends up actually hosting a playoff game I’ll be there as it is my tradition. This week I’ll be home watching on my 90 inch projection screen with the family. I love food so here’s what I’ll be enjoying at kickoff.
Foil Pack Chicken Nachos
Melted cheese. Tender Chicken. Individual servings.
I’ll have to make extras.
Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens!