Not A Single Raven Leads Fan Pro Bowl Voting
Less than one week remains for fans to vote for Pro Bowl candidates, and not a single Raven leads the voting at his position.
That wasn't the case two weeks ago when the NFL revealed that Sam Koch led all punters. But Koch has dropped to third place behind the New England Patriots' Ryan Allen and Indianapolis Colts' Pat McAfee.
Call me crazy, but I don't think Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg is happy to see his punter fall behind. Rosburg went on an awesome rant last year about why Koch deserved a trip to the Pro Bowl, and the coach stands by every word again this year.
"I said this a year ago, and I'll say it again: He's changing the way the game is going to be played," Rosburg said of Koch. "It's remarkable to me that more have not necessarily followed the lead. Perhaps that's an indication of how difficult it is to do what he's doing."
The good news is some Ravens are ascending in the polls. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk moved up a spot in the voting, and both linebacker Albert McClellan (special teams) and defensive tackle Brandon Williams have broken the top 10.
Kicker Justin Tucker is the only Raven to make the top two at his position, trailing Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski by 95,000 votes.
Below are the changes in vote tallies from the last time the NFL revealed results on Nov. 25:
Punter Sam Koch: No. 1 --------------------------------------------> No. 3
Kicker Justin Tucker: No. 2 -----------------------------------------> No. 2
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk: No. 4 --------------------------------------> No. 3
Guard Marshal Yanda: No. 8 --------------------------------------> No. 8
Linebacker Albert McClellan (special teams): n/a -----------> No. 3
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams: n/a -----------------------> No. 9
Can you tell some of the players really want to go to Hawaii? Now get to voting and give them a hand …
Tyrod Taylor Underscores A Cruel Twist Of Irony
I typically don't like dreaming about scenarios that are never going to happen. It's just depressing and helps nobody. I prefer to stay grounded in reality.
But a cruel twist of irony with the Ravens' quarterback situation is worth noting, as it feels befitting of a 2015 season in which seemingly nothing has gone right.
With Joe Flacco out for the season and backup Matt Schaub so beat up that he might not play a full game Sunday, the Ravens are faced with potentially leaning on two quarterbacks (Jimmy Clausen and Bryn Renner) that have been signed in just the last two weeks.
"Might be nice if Tyrod Taylor was still in town," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Alexander Pyles.
Taylor was Flacco's backup for four seasons, but never had a chance to get on the field as Flacco was in the middle of his streak of 122 consecutive (regular season) starts.
The belief was that Taylor was a capable starter, but nobody knew for sure … until he signed with the Buffalo Bills last March. He won the Bills' starting job, and has them in playoff contention with four games remaining this season.
Interestingly, Taylor has been lights out in the fourth quarter, a time when the Ravens have faltered this season.
He owns the NFL's best fourth-quarter quarterback rating (117), which, as Pyles and the Bills' website point out, is better than MVP candidate Cam Newton (115) and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady (114.1).
"Every Ravens game this season, by the way, has been decided late in the fourth quarter," wrote Pyles. "None of the Ravens' first 12 games have been decided by more than eight points, an NFL record."
Taylor's not just playing well in the fourth quarter either. He has the fourth-highest overall rating (104.3), and is safe with the football. He's only thrown four interceptions to 17 touchdowns this season. To put that in perspective, Schaub has thrown four interceptions in two starts.
Let's be clear. Nobody is saying Ravens brass should have kept Taylor in Baltimore. No realistic amount of money from Baltimore for a backup role was going to keep him from exploring the market and finding an opportunity to be an NFL starter. And a long-term starring role just wasn't going to happen in Baltimore.
After all, Taylor only attempted 35 regular-season passes during his four-year stint with the team since being drafted in 2011.
The timing of it all is just cruel.
Russell Wilson Is 'So Dang Filthy'
The Ravens defense has quite the test with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson coming to town. He makes plays with his arms and his feet.
Last week, Wilson made a Minnesota defender look silly in the backfield.
"This is] what it looks like when Russell Wilson happens to you,” wrote SB Nation’s Michael Katz. “This isn't football, this is an AND1 mixtape. This is playground freeze tag. This is so [dang filthy."
The Ravens defense is fully aware of what Wilson is capable of, and outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw will be one of the defenders tasked with making sure Wilson doesn't get outside the pocket and make plays up field.
"You never want to be that guy coming to the sideline and coach is yelling, 'Keep the edge!'" Upshaw said Wednesday. "At the end of the day, we all, as a whole – the front seven – are going to try to contain [Russell Wilson], keep him in the pocket, try to make him make plays in the pocket."
Juszczyk Does Double Take In Offensive HuddleWhen running out to the practice field Wednesday, here's what Juszczyk saw:
Clausen and Renner taking snaps under center, receiver Kaelin Clay and tight ends Richard Gordon and Konrad Reuland running routes and Terrance West in the backfield. All of them have been added to the roster over the last few weeks.
That's the state of the offense, a unit that has lost seven of its 11 starters.
"You go into the huddle and you have to do a second look to make sure you're in the right one," Juszczyk told The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Do You Agree With Dumervil?
Unprompted, outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil told reporters yesterday that he feels the Ravens have been "taken advantage of" by refs this year.
There's all the obvious miscues this season, including the missed false start at the end of the Jacksonville Jaguars game, the non-whistle when Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson's progress was stopped and he went on a 62-yard run, and the phantom offensive pass interference called on receiver Daniel Brown that erased a touchdown.
But Dumervil also pointed to the lack of holding calls.
Some reporters around town looked into it, and here's what they found.
Ravens opponents have a league-low nine offensive holding penalties (two others were declined), with only one coming on a pass play, according to The Sun's Jon Meoli.
The one holding call on the pass play came out of a possible 454 opponent passes this season, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley. There has been zero called in the past 10 games.
Overall, the Ravens have been penalized 90 times (fourth most in the NFL, tied) and their opponents have received 77 penalties (sixth fewest), per Hensley.
Dumervil has been trying to make up for the loss of Terrell Suggs in the pass-rush department, and it seems he feels he's got an extra burden with holding fouls not being called.
"With that in mind, you can understand Dumervil being miffed over the lack of holding calls as John Madden used to famously say you could call the infraction on nearly every play," wrote WNST's Luke Jones.
Hensley wants to know: Do you agree or disagree with Dumervil?