Tag:Baltimore Ravens
Posted on: January 25, 2012 6:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:34 pm
 

Baltimore defense is a head-coaching pipeline

Almost everyone on Billick's sideline got a head-coaching job at one point. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Have you always dreamed of becoming a head coach in the NFL? Well, then you should find work with the Ravens defense, because doing so will all but guarantee you land a head-coaching job in the NFL.

Alright, it's a bit more difficult than that, but on Wednesday, Chuck Pagano became just the latest in a long line of former Ravens assistants to land gigs running NFL teams elsewhere.

The very first year the Ravens existed, 1996, the defense featured Marvin Lewis as defensive coordinator. Lewis, of course, is on his way to becoming one of the longer-tenured head coaches in the NFL and just took the Bengals to the playoffs. Lewis would leave Baltimore in 2001, coach the Redskins defense for a year and then take over the Bengals.

Working under Lewis up until 2001? Defensive assistant Jim Schwartz, who left to take the same position with the Titans, before being promoted to defensive coordinator and then taking over as head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2009.

(Notably, Eric Mangini -- 1996 as an offensive assistant -- and Ken Whisenhunt -- 1997-98 as a tight ends coach -- went on to land coaching gigs after working with the Ravens.)

In 1999, Brian Billick took over as head coach, and things really took off. He retained Lewis as defensive coordinator, but the team also hired Jack Del Rio (linebackers), Mike Smith and Rex Ryan as defensive assistants.

The Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2000. But it didn't pay off for the assistants until a year later, when Del Rio took the Jaguars job, where he stayed until being fired in 2011. Smith followed him there as defensive coordinator and would leave for the Falcons head coaching job in 2008, where he remains today.

In 2002, Mike Nolan, who'd been hired as the wide receivers coach previously, took over for the departed Lewis. Nolan, of course, went on to become the 49ers head coach in 2005. The man who replaced him? Mike Singletary, who took over as linebackers coach for the Ravens the same year Nolan became defensive coordinator.

Ryan replaced Nolan and eventually took the gig with the Jets. Greg Mattison took over for Ryan and after leaving for the University of Michigan (he took the same position under Brady Hoke), he was replaced by, you guessed it, Pagano.

Besides the Ravens, there's two other common threads with these guys: Ray Lewis, who's captained the defense since being drafted in the first round in 1996, and Ozzie Newsome, who took over as general manager that same year.

Read into it however you want; Newsome clearly has an eye for players and personnel, and Lewis clearly makes any defense better, regardless of how old he is.

But whoever takes over for the defense next should be thankful for the would-be springboard they're getting set up on.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:28 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:17 pm
 

Chuck Pagano hired as next Colts coach



By Will Brinson


Chuck Pagano only spent one season as an NFL coordinator with the Ravens, but it was enough to land him a head-coaching gig with the Indianapolis Colts, CBSSports.com Mike Freeman confirmed Wednesday.

Latest Coaching News, Rumors

The team since announced the news and will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. CT on Thursday.

"It's difficult to leave the Ravens but I couldn't pass up on this great opportunity," Pagano said in a statement released by the team. "I'm just thrilled and so excited."

The news, as first reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, means that the Colts have now almost completely re-booted their organization.

Pagano took over as the Ravens defensive coordinator in 2011 when Greg Mattison left to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan. Pagano had previously been the Ravens secondary coach for two years after a season as the University of North Carolina's defensive coordinator under Butch Davis.

It was Davis who gave Pagano his first gig in the NFL, when he left Miami University to become the secondary coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2001.

Pagano becomes the latest in a long line of folks working on the Baltimore defense to leave for a head-coaching gig in the NFL.

He also becomes yet another defensive-minded coach to take over the Colts, coming directly after Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell. Pagano, however, isn't from the "Tampa 2" school, and is likely to shift the defense to a 3-4 style, a la what the Ravens run.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 10:25 pm
 

Pollard hopes NYG 'put thrashing on Patriots'

B. Pollard tackles R. Gronkowski (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

If Bernard Pollard wanted to ingratiate himself to the Patriots fanbase -- and really, why on earth would he want to do that? -- he’s going about it the wrong way.

While he was interviewed by KILT radio in Houston (via sportsradiointerviews.com), Pollard was asked his opinion about the Super Bowl XLVI matchup between the Patriots and the Giants.

“I really hope the Giants -- I just hope they just put a thrashing on the Patriots,” Pollard said. “I really do. To lose to a team like that the way we played. We played a good game.”

While it’s true that the Ravens played better than expected -- especially quarterback Joe Flacco -- and the Patriots (especially quarterback Tom Brady) didn’t play quite as well as we would have thought, the simple fact of the matter is … well, Pollard will be watching the game on TV. Because sometimes the team that plays better loses the game anyway.

But he makes a good point about the Super Bowl when he said this, “You gotta look at the experience of the team. What do the Giants have? They got a front four that is relentless. They got a secondary that is really, really good. They got a linebacking core that has been with them. The (Patriots) dinking and the dunking, man? It’s just not going to happen. They are going to have to take shots down the field. I think the Giants watch our film and watch the film of the season. They gotta take away their big time players. [Rob] Gronkowski I think he is coming off that ankle, so I don’t know if he will be 100 percent.”

Chances are, Gronkowski won’t be 100 percent. Even though he’s set to play in Indianapolis, the Boston Herald reported today that Gronkowski sustained ligament damage when Pollard tackled him in the third quarter of the AFC title game.

Speaking of Gronkowski and Pollard, what does Pollard think about adding to his reputation as a Patriots killer (first Brady, then Wes Welker and now, Gronkowski)?

“Oh man, that is fine and dandy,” Pollard said. “It is part of the game and this is what happens. If you don’t like it? So what. I am going to go out there and I am going to play me.”

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:05 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 10:13 pm
 

Suggs, Kluwe defend Cundiff, take aim at Bayless

Suggs and Kluwe have no time for silliness. (US PRESSWIRE/Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

ESPN First Take co-host Skip Bayless is known for many things: unconditional faith in Tebowmania, contrarian viewpoints, and TALKING IN A VERY LOUD VOICE when making his case. 

Shortly after Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff honked what would've been the game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship game against the Patriots, Bayless tweeted this:

RealSkipBayless
Honestly, I felt sorry for Suggs/Ray/EReed. Fought guts out, lost b/c a nonplayer missed easy kick. WHY I HATE FG KICKING. Ban it!
1/22/12 6:31 PM

Doing away with kickers is a predictably tired argument that pops up every time a game is lost on a botched field-goal attempt. 

On Monday, Cundiff's teammate, linebacker Terrell Suggs, called into First Take to talk about what transpired in Foxboro the night before. Bayless asked Suggs if the confusion leading up to Cundiff's missed kick was because the Patriots were beneficiaries of "home cooking" from the officials.

Suggs was having none of it. In much the same way a grizzled parent dismisses their unruly kid begging for attention, an unemotional Suggs kindly asked Bayless to join him back on Earth.

“Stop that. I know what you’re doing,” Suggs said, chastising Bayless. “Once again, stop it. Be an analyst. Don’t be a d-----bag. You know what I meant.”

(You can watch Suggs calmly put Bayless in his place here.)

A great moment in unintentional comedy, for sure. But it gets better.

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe weighed in on Bayless' "I hate FG kicking...ban it" tweet. (If you're not familiar with Kluwe's work, he's not your typically mild-manndered punter. He has opinions on matters outside football, is smart, and wickedly funny. In short: he's somebody you want to keep on your good side. Just ask former NFL wide receiver Nate Jackson.)

After Suggs scolded Bayless for his over-the-top schtick, Kluwe piled on via Twitter:

ChrisWarcraft
Couldn't have said it better myself. T. Suggs to Bayless on First Take: "Skip, be an analyst. Don't be a d-----bag." #wordsofwisdom
1/23/12 1:21 PM

And this, a few hours later...

ChrisWarcraft
I'm confused @RealSkipBayless. After Super Bowl XXXVI, you wrote that Vinatieri should be in the HoF. But now kickers are non-players?
1/23/12 6:09 PM

ChrisWarcraft
How is Adam going to make it to the Hall of Fame if you abolish his position @RealSkipBayless?! YOUR WORDS MAKE MY BRAIN ASPLODE #factssuck
1/23/12 6:10 PM

So, yes, don't make Kluwe angry. You won't like him when he's angry. The NFL can confirm this (Kluwe has taken great pleasure in mocking the league for, among other things, using season-ending injuries to promote fantasy football and their wishy-washy rules on injuries, fake or otherwise.)

Bayless has yet to respond to Kluwe.

Meanwhile, SportsIllustrated.com's Richard Deitsch, who follows the media closely as part of his day job, offered this frank assessment Monday afternoon:

richarddeitsch
ESPN execs have no idea how badly Bayless's flotsam reflects on its network & those at ESPN trying to do good work.
1/23/12 1:56 PM

via Shutdown Corner 


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Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:18 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 9:20 pm
 

Scoreboard mistake caused Cundiff to rush kick?

Cundiff isn't making excuses but admits there was confusion on the sidelines Sunday. (AP)

By Ryan Wilson

Not long after kicker Billy Cundiff pull-hooked a 32-yard field-goal attempt that would've likely sent the Ravens and Patriots to overtime, we wondered why Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh didn't use the team's last timeout. He said it never occurred to him, even though Cundiff was clearly rushed as he set up for a pretty important kick. By the time the ball was finally snapped, there was just one second remaining on the play clock.

A day later, there were reports that Cundiff "wasn't paying attention" which, frankly, seemed ludicrous.

Stefan Fatsis, who wrote a book on his summer as a training-camp kicker for the Broncos, spoke Monday with Cundiff who explained exactly what happened on that final, fateful play.


Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime, and instead sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl. 

Like most kickers, Cundiff has a routine on every drive that starts on first down and ends on fourth down, either with him on the field attempting a field goal or with the Ravens' punting. As he explained to Fatsis, because NFL sidelines are a crowded place, it's easiest to follow the action by watching it live on the stadium scoreboard. Except on the Ravens' final drive Sunday, the scoreboard read third down when, in reality, it was fourth down. Fatsis explains:

"Then, suddenly, chaos on the sidelines. Coaches were screaming — from the opposite end of the field to where Cundiff was thinking his third-down pre-kick kicker thoughts — for the field-goal unit. The play clock was ticking and Cundiff, as per normal, was back from the sideline and farther from the line of scrimmage than his teammates. As he was not expecting to go in yet, he had to run to get into position for a game-tying kick."

The confusion stemmed from an Anquan Boldin catch-and-fumble that was mistaken for a first down. (Boldin had fumbled the ball forward past the first-down marker. The rules state the ball must be returned to the spot of the fumble, which is what happened.)

According to the Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel, "[Terrell] Suggs said there was a discrepancy between the scoreboard at Gillette Stadium and what the officials were saying about what the down and distance was after Boldin’s fumble. The Ravens took shots at the end zone on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1 before bringing out Cundiff for a 32-yard field goal attempt."

The problem: what was actually second and third down on the field was shown on the scoreboard as first and second down, respectively. Hence Cundiff's confusion and the subsequent scrambling to get the kick off.

Which again raises the question: why didn't Harbaugh call timeout.

It doesn't matter now, of course. Cundiff, to his credit, isn't looking to shirk the blame. And his teammates, to a man, have his back.

"Every single guy who said something to me after the game, in the locker room, or on the plane" was supportive, Cundiff told Fatsis, including Harbaugh.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 3:04 pm
 

Was Cundiff not paying attention before kick?

B. Cundiff missed a 32-yard FG to tie New England.By Josh Katzowitz

There’s been a mini-controversy brewing over why Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn’t call time out in the final seconds of regulation Sunday, just before kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal that would have tied the Patriots and sent the game to overtime.

As my CBSSports.com colleague Ryan Wilson wrote, Harbaugh said it never occurred to him to call timeout and that Cundiff said, "It's a kick I've kicked probably a thousand times out there … I didn't convert and that's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it."

Well, there might be an excuse after all, though it’s not coming from Cundiff and it places all the blame on him. According to TMZ, Cundiff, while practicing kicks on the sideline, was unaware of the Ravens field position and coaches were “furious” that Cundiff wasn’t ready to kick.

That could explain why you saw Cundiff sprint from mid-field to the 22-yard line with time running out on the playclock, and that could be why Cundiff so badly missed wide left on the game-tying field goal.

According to TMZ, “coaches repeatedly called for Cundiff -- at least 6 times -- to no avail -- he wasn't responding.  … Our sources say players and coaches are saying Cundiff was distracted ... not paying attention and not ready to immediately execute a kick.”

Maybe Harbaugh was furious at his kicker (just like the other dozens of times coaches are furious at their players during a game), but in the aftermath, he also was reassuring. "I just told [Cundiff] it's going to be okay," he said. "Everybody has a bad day ... Billy's going to be fine."


The Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday after Baltimore's Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the score. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms recap all the action. 


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Posted on: January 23, 2012 1:23 am
Edited on: January 23, 2012 8:05 am
 

Ray Lewis on retirement: 'Absolutely not'

Lewis says he will 'absolutely not' retire after 2011. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Way back in August, Ravens linebacker told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that if Baltimore won the Super Bowl, he'd strongly consider riding off into the sunset to spend more time with his family.

But after a loss to in New England leaves Lewis and the Ravens two wins short, is the linebacker still thinking about retirement? "Absolutely not," he said Sunday.

"I’m hungry again," Lewis said after Sunday's game. "I'm thirsty again. Is this my last time as a Raven? Absolutely not."


There are lots of reasons for Lewis to retire: he's old(er), he's got a Super Bowl ring, he wants to spend time with his family and he's a step slower than he was in his heyday.

But he's also coming back to a team that will absolutely compete for a Super Bowl again, and one that might be even better than this year's rendition, depending on how they address some issues (Ray Rice's contract, for one) in the offseason.

And even if Lewis has lost a step physically, he's still the engine that makes the Ravens mighty defense go; look no further than a recent column from our own Pete Prisco, who pointed out just how much Lewis motivates his younger teammates.

A lot can change between now and next season, but it's hard to imagine, especially given his comments Sunday, that Lewis won't be back on the field doing the same thing.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 7:26 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 7:46 pm
 

Why didn't Ravens use last timeout for Cundiff?

John Harbaugh will have to answer questions all offseason about why he didn't use that last timeout in Foxboro. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

One of the Ravens' biggest questions heading into the Patriots game -- the play of quarterback Joe Flacco -- turned into their biggest asset. Flacco outplayed counterpart and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, and if not suspect coaching on that final, fateful drive, Baltimore -- not New England -- might be celebrating an AFC Championship victory and an impending trip to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

Instead, the Ravens have the offseason to assess and reassess what went wrong, and to decide if Flacco truly is their franchise quarterback. We'll get that conversation started by pointing to one critical mistake in the game's final moments that had everything to do with the outcome.

First, let's set the stage: the Ravens held the Patriots to four plays on their previous two drives, the first ended in an interception in the end zone and the other was a three-and-out that gave Baltimore the ball at their own 21, trailing 23-20, and with 1:44 on the clock.

Flacco calmly moved the ball down the field, needing seven plays to get the Ravens to the Pats' 23-yard line. Facing a 2nd and 1 from the New England 14 with 27 seconds left, Flacco hit Lee Evans in the hands, in the end zone for what should've been the go-ahead touchdown. Pats cornerback Sterling Moore broke up the pass before Evans got two feet down. Incomplete pass.

After the game, some Ravens' supporters -- including coach John Harbaugh -- thought Evans had scored. "I'm surprised they didn't look at it," Harbaugh said in his post-game press conference. (The likely reason it wasn't reviewed: again, Evans only got one foot down. You can see it in the video here. And read the NFL's official explanation here.)

And while Lee's drop was big, it wasn't the primary reason for the final result. That would come two plays later when Baltimore, with one timeout left, instead chose to rush kicker Billy Cundiff on the field and attempt a field goal to tie the game. Cundiff looked hurried as he sprinted from midfield to Pats' 22-yard line. When arrived at his holder there were 10 seconds remaining on the play clock. And, of course, that one timeout that would ultimately go unused. The ball was snapped as the play clock ticked down to :01 and Cundiff promptly honked it. Game over. Ravens lose, despite one of Flacco's best efforts in his four-year career.


Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left that would have sent the game into overtime, and instead sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl. 

Harbaugh was asked afterwards if he thought about using that timeout and he said it never occurred to him.

"It's a kick I've kicked probably a thousand times out there," Cundiff told reporters after the game. "... I didn't convert and that's the way things go. There's really no excuse for it."

"I just told [Cundiff] it's going to be okay," Harbaugh said. "Everybody has a bad day ... Billy's going to be fine."

Cardinals kicker Jay Feely tweeted after the game that it's the kicker's job to call timeout if he feels rushed.

Or, you know, the coach could do it.

And if you're still skeptical that icing the kicker is a good strategy (it's not), credit to Bill Belichick for not using one of New England's timeouts to "ice" Cundiff. We're guessing he saw the chaos unfolding and didn't want to do anything to help the Ravens out.


The Patriots beat the Ravens 23-20 in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday after Baltimore's Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds remaining that would have tied the score. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms recap all the action. 

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com