Third and Long: Bye, Bye, Bye

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to write a post last week.

I thought about it. I had some ideas. In the end I just needed a break. Some to time to step back, relax and gear up for the home stretch. There was a lot to process after watching the Ravens get systematically thumped by the hated Steelers a few weeks ago. It was a loss that dropped the team below .500 and left many fans, including myself searching for answers.

Unfortunately this has been a habitual story for the franchise over many seasons. Injuries, inconsistency on both sides of the ball, curious coaching decisions. It’s resulted in a seemingly endless cycle of mediocrity.

So is it time for a change? Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so perhaps it’s time for a dose of sanity in Charm City and that means saying goodbye to the familiar.

  1. Lamar – Is this the week where change comes under center, and if so have we seen the last of Joe Flacco in Baltimore? It appears that Flacco will not be ready to play against the Bengals due to a hip injury suffered during the Pittsburgh game. Early in the week some were speculating that it was a ruse perpetrated by the coaching staff to give an easy excuse to change quarterbacks. That idea is well, absurd. Flacco has proven his toughness over the years and it makes no sense why he’d agree to any such plan. So Lamar Jackson appears poised to take the offensive controls in a game that is a must win if the team is to get into the playoffs. This Sunday has major implications for the future of not only Jackson but of the Ravens moving forward beyond 2018. If the team falls to 4-6 wouldn’t it make sense to start Jackson the rest of the season? And what about Robert Griffin III, remember him? What’s his role? If Flacco is out then he’ll surely be needed but does that mean that he becomes Jackson’s tutor for next season as the team cuts ties with Flacco? So many questions will be answered in the coming weeks and it could signal a major shift for this club from what we’ve seen in the past.
  2. Where for art thou, Le’Von? – Le’Von Bell did not sign the Steelers franchise tender this week and that means he won’t play in 2018 and he’ll be a free agent next season. There was a heartwarming scene in the Steelers locker room of his teammates taking as much of his possessions that they could carry that added some more drama to this story. So cue the blog posts in 3…2…1. “Should the Ravens sign Bell?” From a storyline perspective it would add some much needed juice to the Steelers-Ravens rivalry. I wrote in my last column that I felt my hatred for the black and yellow fading a bit but this acquisition would help matters. Bell would get a crack at his old mates twice a season for a revenge tour and just imagine a backfield with him and the aforementioned Jackson. It’s an intriguing thought but a lot has to happen before it may become reality. The roster would need to be reshuffled in a major way to create cap room and you still wonder if the team wants to pay a running back huge dollars. Lest we forget that there are also plenty of other teams with more cash available that would want Bell’s services too.
  3. Players to Watch – On offense it’s pretty obvious who the choice is here. On defense I choose the Ravens secondary, Jimmy Smith wasn’t available for the first match-up and he joins and now healthy Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, and Tavon Young. They won’t have to deal with Raven-killer A.J. Green this tie around either, so keep the coverage tight so the pass rush and get Andy nervous and causes some turnovers.

Legend of the Game

Qadry Ismail

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Wide Receiver

Played for the Ravens (1999-2001)

“Q” was drafted in the second round by the Vikings in the 1993 NFL draft. After four seasons he had brief stints with Miami and New Orleans before signing with Baltimore in 1999. He had his greatest success as a professional on Russell Street and complied two 1,000 yard receiving seasons and caught 18 touchdowns during his three-year tour. He caught a 47-yard touchdown in Super Bowl XXXV against the Giants. After one season with the Colts he retired in 2003. Ismail lives in Harford County and has been the Track and Field coach at Patterson Mill High School and spent time as a broadcaster on Comcast SportsNet and ESPN.

Game-Time Tailgate Playlist – Song of the Week

“So, so, so, so listen up, cause you can’t say nothin’
You’ll shut me down with a push of your button
But, yo, I’m out and I’m gone
I’ll tell you now, I keep it on and on”

I’m a huge Beastie Boys fan. Huge. This song is one of my top ten favorites of all-time not just by the band also in recorded music. The music video, provided above is the best one ever filmed and most likely why MTV and music videos in general has never been the same since. Sir Stuart Wallace as himself. That always gets me.

Cousin Justin’s Betting Parlor

So I didn’t write a post last week so that means you didn’t see that I picked the Chargers to throttle the lowly Raiders. Of course that was another victory for me since the Raiders are horrible a football.

But what about this week? Well let me mention a few things before I reveal my selection. Currently in the Survivor Pool I sit top of the table ready to take the grand prize. There are still a few worthy competitors alive but my confidence is sky high right now. Also this week I’ll be traveling to the parlor on Amsterdam Avenue in Gotham to watch the games with my cousin.

So who do I pick this week?

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Atlanta is a totally different team at home. They average 32 points in the Dome while scoring only 21 a game on the road. Dak Prescott will not be able to keep pace with Matt Ryan – bottom line.

Game-Time Snack of the Week

Italian Beef Sandwiches

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This recipe was introduced to me by my old friend Irish Jimmy. Most directions for this Midwestern favorite are pretty simple but I like to add hot and sweet peppers along with melted cheese. So good.

RECIPE

Happy Football everyone! Go Ravens!

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