Ravens vs. the Broncos
The value of Anquan Boldin
What do you make of the Dolphins?
Can the Browns come out and take care of business week one
Moving on after the departure of Reggie Bush
Browns leading by playing defense and running the ball [Read more...]
Ravens vs. the Broncos
There’s no doubt the AFC North is under construction this season. It stands to reason that this could be one of the bigger years of upheaval in the division considering the Ravens Super Bowl victory and subsequent player departures. So, how does the WFNY crew think the division shakes out this year?
(Also see our previous roundtable: Browns Game 3 plans should remain unchanged: Cleveland Browns Injury Roundtable)
Craig: This morning we saw a headline with an ESPN writer predicting a regression by the Steelers, even from the 8-8 they experienced a year ago. I’ve noticed a hesitancy up to now for many who follow the NFL to predict a fall-off for the Ravens, but isn’t that almost a certainty at this point? I think the Bengals are clearly top of the AFC North power rankings this pre-season. How would you guys rank the AFC North at this point?
Scott: I’ve been calling for the Steelers’ regression for two or three seasons now—it just never seems to happen. [Read more...]
Browns fans are an optimistic bunch, at least collectively. When you add up the results of our survey, it yields a 9-7 prediction. (Game-by-game results are listed below.) That’s probably a bit too confident for my tastes. I’ve said all along that eight wins should be the goal for the team if they are able to stay healthy and get better from last season. So let’s break it down a little bit, because I think there are some flaws in the logic of Browns fans this season.
First of all, let’s talk about the Bengals and Ravens. I think Browns fans have a pretty healthy respect for both teams. Only about 16% of Browns fans predicted the Browns could beat the Ravens in week two and about 45% said the Browns could beat them in week nine. Meanwhile, Browns fans think they can beat the Bengals at home week four at a nearly 60% rate, but lose in Cincy after the bye week with about 40% of Browns fans saying the Browns will win. I think this year those numbers are flipped. I think the Bengals are improved over last season and I think the Ravens are going to be running uphill. [Read more...]
Jamison Hensley of ESPN is ranking all the position groups in the AFC North and he has decided where they all fall when it comes to receivers. The Cleveland Browns, despite a recent trade for Devone Bess and despite the exit of Anquan Boldin from Baltimore, are last in Hensley’s mind. The Steelers take the top spot and the Bengals with the league’s very best receiver, A.J. Green, finish second.
The Browns feel more comfortable with their receivers after watching what Josh Gordon and Greg Little did last season. But you don’t know if Cleveland’s top two receivers are going to reach their potential this season because they have a combined three seasons of NFL experience. Gordon flashed big-play ability and Little showed signs of developing into a complementary No. 2 target. The Browns have more established depth than the Ravens after trading for Davone Bess and signing David Nelson. Bess will prove valuable on third down. Travis Benjamin provides speed on the outside. This group will be even better next season.
There’s no doubting that the Browns receivers have a lot to prove, but it still seems a little bit odd that the Ravens could be ranked ahead of them without Anquan Boldin. Torrey Smith is a dynamic, young receiver who I definitely think is on an upward career arc, but he’s only entering his third season in the NFL. He’s caught nearly 50 balls in two straight years. He’s covered 841 yards and 855 yards while catching seven and eight TDs. All that being said, he accomplished that playing with Joe Flacco and alongside Anquan Boldin.
We’ll obviously see how it all plays out on the field this year, but Gordon didn’t start the entire season for the Browns and had 50 catches for 805 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie with no established veteran anywhere to be found on the Browns roster. Greg Little added 53 catches for 647 yards and four TDs as he seemed to get over his butter fingers in the second half of the season. The Browns also add Davone Bess who caught 61 balls a year ago for 778 yards from rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.
As the news gets worse for Baltimore Ravens fans, it could continue to get better for Browns fans. Albert Breer reported on Twitter that Ed Reed hired an agent, and now Pro Football Talk is reporting that that agent might help him get to San Francisco.
I could call the 34-year-old Reed a “Browns killer,” except that Reed has been a pain for opposing quarterbacks and receivers in all jerseys in his career. It just hits especially close to home with how careful the Browns quarterbacks have been with Reed in the opposite defensive backfield, even going so far as to name him this season.
Earlier in February Ozzie Newsome said that he and the Ravens wanted Ed Reed back and that they thought Reed wanted to be back too. Even then, Ozzie knew that Reed would have options. That was also before the Ravens got Joe Flacco locked up to a historically high-priced deal.
The Ravens knew they would need some re-tooling after their Super Bowl season because of the aging roster, but it might be an especially rude awakening to have so much turnover in a season where they might hope to defend the title. With departures like Anquan Boldin, a retiring Ray Lewis and now maybe Ed Reed, a title defense could prove that much more difficult.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are looking to avenge their Super Bowl loss at the expense of the Ravens. That’s good for Browns fans. Well, that is unless the Browns miraculously find a way to meet them in the Super Bowl.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports (by way of PFT for us) that the Baltimore Ravens have traded Anquan Boldin across the country for a sixth-round pick.
While many Browns fans will be upset that the Browns didn’t get this deal, it is a pretty good bet that they never would have had the option to make a trade like that within the division. Considering the lofty numbers associated with Mike Wallace, Anquan Boldin’s $6 million salary figure looks pretty reasonable right about now.
All the talk of the Ravens wanting Boldin to take a pay cut were crazy, after all. With the market for receivers developing the way it has this off-season, there was no way Boldin would face a pay cut unless he thought the market for his services would have guaranteed him a smaller sum than $6 million. Even if he wanted to continue to play in Baltimore, there’s little doubt that had he been cut, he would have been able to replicate his financial future, if not improve it.
The only bright spot here for Browns fans is that they won’t have to see the former Eric Wright killer twice a year anymore in divisional match-ups.
[Related: Mike Wallace should give the Browns pause]
Jarrett Bell of USA Today Sports is reporting that Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin has declined to reduce his $6 million base salary for the 2013 season. Whereas the belief was that Boldin, 32, would retire if he did not remain with Baltimore, that may no longer be the case.
“Boldin has rejected a Ravens proposal to reduce his salary, and is preparing to become an unrestricted free agent if released, according to a person person with knowledge of the negotiations.
The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because talks are ongoing.
Boldin, 32, is entering the final year of a four-year contract and is due a $6 million base salary in 2013. He won’t budge to take a pay cut, as the Ravens try to maneuver under the $123 million salary cap before the start of the new league year on Tuesday.”
Boldin has been a Raven for the past three seasons after spending his first seven in Arizona. He was a key piece of the Super Bowl champion Ravens, scoring four touchdowns in this year’s postseason. The Ravens, you will recall, are in salary cap hell, and are trying their best to hold onto as many of their key free agents as possible. The belief, according to Bell, is that they hope to sign linebacker Dannell Ellerbe with the money saved by reducing and/or cutting Boldin’s figure.
The NFL needs to get far more consistent making its own personal foul calls. When the Browns lost to the Ravens, I defended the technicality of the rules on a personal foul called on Browns receiver Josh Gordon on Ed Reed. On a technicality, Gordon was moving a bit back toward the Browns’ goal line making it seem like an illegal hit according to a strict reading of the rules.
Now this week, the Ravens converted an improbable 4th and 30 with a dump off to Ray Rice that succeeded due to a bad spot and also a very questionable blindside block by Anquan Boldin on Eric Weddle that left Weddle injured. Yet this play by Boldin went uncalled even as he was pretty much running directly toward the Ravens goal line cracking a completely unsuspecting Weddle. [Read more...]
The Cleveland Browns certainly didn’t embarrass themselves (just like Josh Cribbs 1 said) in losing 23-16 to the Ravens, but this team seems to be the absolute opposite of opportunistic. You have to give the Browns credit for having a plan on defense. They got gashed at times, but they kept Ray Rice under control and got some pressure on Joe Flacco. Offensively, you have to give them credit for running plays that gave them chances to stay close with one of the best teams in the league, but you have to win at some point. Too many field goals (three) and not enough touchdowns (one.) Staying close feels like something worth building on… for a while. But just being close could very well start to weigh heavier and heavier on this team until (or if) they finally make two or three more of those big plays and win a game.
I know people are going to want to kill Greg Little for dropping passes, specifically what would have been a touchdown to bring the Browns within three in the fourth quarter. It’s frustrating to watch for sure, and that wasn’t his only missed opportunity. Still, he made a huge catch on the team’s 94 yard touchdown drive. The same player who “killed the Browns” is the same one who gave them the one spark they needed to finally put some offense together. The passing game was totally out of sync and listless before that catch, for the most part.
I don’t have a conclusion other than he and the rest of the Browns’ offense need to get better and make those four to five extra plays that they’re leaving on the field. Greg Little has proven that he can make them. He just needs to do so consistently. That’s everyone’s story on offense right now. [Read more...]
- Didn’t know exactly where to fit it into the story, but Josh Cribbs took one of the worst head shots I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t dirty at all. Just a freak angle taken by a defender on a punt return. Cribbs incredibly walked off the field under his own power, but obviously didn’t return. Here’s hoping there are no lasting injuries from that shot. [back]
As we talked about last week, the NFL has decided to release the “All-22″ video of NFL games using their Game Rewind subscription service. Fans will be able to pay $70 per year to see the top of the stadium angle of NFL games in order to see how plays are actually developing as opposed to the way TV creates drama by focusing on the QB and the line of scrimmage. For me, there’s just no downside to this announcement. But some are really scared about what it could do to the culture of the game, specifically among know-it-all fans and media types. I really don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of.
Twitter has taught us how ugly it can be for players already. Just ask Eric Wright after his infamous game against the Baltimore Ravens when Anquan Boldin caught eight balls for 142 yards and three touchdowns. After that game, Wright was subject to some of the harshest, nastiest criticism I’ve ever seen. No matter that he probably could have tossed some teammates under the bus for not helping over the top like they might have been assigned to do. 1 It proved to be an eye-opening moment for me about some of the negatives of player accessibility to fans.Won’t that just get worse if fans have access to this new angle to create Zapruder-like vendetta diaries against players they’d like the team to release? 2 [Read more...]
- T.J. Ward was a rookie safety at the time. Browns fans can be inconsistent and play favorites in case you didn’t know. [back]
- Or worse. Some fans seem to wish the NFL could be more like international soccer where a player can lose his life for an own goal, like what happened to “The Gentleman of Football” Andres Escobar after an own goal against the United States in the 1994 World Cup. [back]
Maybe someday the Browns and Ravens will have a real rivalry. Today I was given a bit of hope for the future watching Joe Haden spar with Anquan Boldin after a particularly physical first five yards. This kind of animosity is supposed to come with divisional games for the players so that they can feel at least half as desperate to win these games as the fans. Someday it might pay off for the Browns to end their season against these tough divisional foes, but not today. The Browns drop to 5-10 on the season with their 20-10 loss at home to the Ravens.
Colt McCoy had a very typical day for an NFL rookie quarterback, even if it is atypical from what we have seen from him so far this season. He threw three interceptions. Two of them were underthrown even if Mohamed Massaquoi did have a chance to bail his quarterback out. McCoy will learn, but he probably should have known better than to throw two balls anywhere near an always-salivating Ed Reed. [Read more...]
Overview: The first time these two teams met, the Browns were just over 10 point underdogs. The Browns aren’t exactly playing their best football of the season right now, but surprisingly the Browns are only 3.5 point underdogs right now. At the time, I thought the spread was crazy because it was so high. During that game the Browns trailed 14-10 at halftime and even had a 17-13 lead on a Seneca Wallace to Ben Watson touchdown to start the fourth quarter. Of course the Ravens scored ten unanswered points to finish the Browns off 24-17.
The Ravens come in pretty hot. They have won four out of their last five with the only loss coming to the Steelers. Those same Steelers are the only ones ahead of the Ravens in the standings as we speak. Right now the Ravens are on track for the final wildcard spot over the Jets due to tiebreaker advantage. Of course that could all change in an instant if the Browns find a way to play spoiler.
While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at firstname.lastname@example.org
JJ’s been dy-no-myte: “In his last 10 starts, J.J. [Hickson] is averaging 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and is shooting an absolutely wild 65% (54-of-83). In those 10 games, he has never once shot below 50% in a single game.
Yeah, a lot of those were weakside lay-ins or dunks in transition . . . but that’s exactly what the Cavs want. A player who can stay active, find his own opportunities to score and rebound, and finish strong on point-blank shot attempts.
He doesn’t need to stretch the floor (especially with the addition of Jamison) all he needs to do is be able to play off the other members of the Cavs’ frontline.” [Wine and Goldrush]