Steve Smith Calls Out Report Saying He Won't Retire
This is so Steve Smith Sr.
He's still calling out media even though he's stuck at home rehabbing.
Over the weekend, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported that Smith is not ready to hang up his cleats despite announcing his retirement before the season, and that he’ll return in 2016 as long as he's healthy enough to do so.
"If Smith feels like his old, explosive self when he fully recovers from his torn Achilles, [sources] say he'll play again," wrote Rapoport.
Rapoport's opening line to his story insinuated that he scooped Smith himself on the news.
"It appears Steve Smith Sr.'s reports of his own retirement were a bit premature," he wrote.
Smith isn't ready to go there yet.
This isn't the first time reports have surfaced about Smith's potential return for his 16th NFL season. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported in November that the 36-year-old veteran quickly scheduled surgery with the intention of working toward another NFL season.
Smith's agent, Derrick Fox, told ESPN before his injury that there was a 50-50 chance his client would return. A day after Smith's injury, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he had a "feeling" Smith would be back, but made it clear his receiver didn't tell him one way or the other. Those that know Smith reportedly have a hard time believing his final exit from a historic career will be him leaving the field in pain with a towel over his face.
Even at 36, Smith was showing no signs of slowing down before being placed on injured reserve. Before the Week 8 Chargers game in which Smith was hurt, he ranked seventh in the league in receiving yards (588), sixth in yards per game (98) and tied for 10th in catches (41).
And he did some of that with microfractures in his back.
"Smith is out of a walking boot after he suffered a torn Achilles on Nov. 1 – a significant rehab step," wrote Rapoport. "He's focusing on hydrotherapy to minimize atrophy, staying strong to keep his options open. He needs his explosiveness to play, and there is no guarantee that he returns given the injury. He must be able to push off and cut if he returns.
"If that happens, the tough-as-nails Smith (who played through a broken back this year, too) will be back for a 16th season."
Schaub Likely Already Did Enough To Earn $1 Million Incentive
Some have wondered if the Ravens are opting to play Jimmy Clausen over Matt Schaub, in part, because they want to avoid paying Schaub incentives laid out in his one-year contract.
"The answer is no because in starting two games already, Schaub has all but assured himself of getting that extra $1 million," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Per his contract, Schaub could reportedly make an extra $500,000 for playing 5 percent of the offensive snaps. And he could get another $500,000 for playing in 10 percent.
Zrebiec dug into the numbers, via Pro Football Focus, and discovered the Ravens have played 994 offensive snaps, and Schaub has taken 140 of those snaps, equating to 14 percent.
Of course, if Schaub doesn't play going forward, that percentage will go down. But Zrebiec predicts that it won't be enough to dip below 10 percent based off the Ravens' average of 71 offensive snaps per game. At that rate, his percentage of offensive snaps will be just over 12 percent by the end of the season.
"In hindsight, the Ravens would have been better off signing a young quarterback at a minimum salary," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith. "Instead, they gave Schaub a fairly significant contract on top of the $14.55 million cap hit Flacco has, and for all that money they're spending on the quarterback position, they're now 4-10 and down to Jimmy Clausen at quarterback."
Harbaugh Has Fixed A Fumbler Before
Despite media criticism, Harbaugh stood by his Monday decision to bench running back Buck Allen for fumbling twice in as many games.
Turns out, it wasn't the first time Harbaugh has made such a move, and in the long run, it had the desired effect.
The Sun's Peter Schmuck recalls Harbaugh “fixing” a fumbler when he benched then-rookie Ray Rice after his turnover resulted in a Cincinnati Bengals score in his first NFL game. Rice carried the ball 22 times prior to the fourth-quarter miscue, then didn't step foot on the field for the rest of the day.
Guess how long it took until Rice fumbled again? It began a 23-game streak, taking almost a season and a half to cough the ball up again.
"Apparently, the new coach was onto something," Schmuck wrote.
"Bottom line: Harbaugh knows that Buck Allen has a chance to be a very valuable player on his team for a long time and he wants to make a deep impression on him about the importance of taking care of the ball."
Ravens In Line For Highest Pick In Franchise History
One of the few things that might soften the blow of each painful Ravens' defeat this season is knowing there's a chance to help right the ship with a high draft pick in April.
With the 34-14 loss to Kansas City Sunday, combined with the San Diego Chargers win, Baltimore moved up one spot to No. 3 in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns still rank ahead of Baltimore with 3-11 records.
If the Ravens stick with that No. 3 spot, or move up, they will draft higher than they ever have in team history.
The highest pick General Manager Ozzie Newsome has ever had at his disposal was a pair of No. 4 picks in the first two years of the franchise's existence. He nailed both picks, nabbing franchise left tackle and Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden (1996) and four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Peter Boulware (1997).
What are the chances the Ravens lose out and stay in the top 3?
Per ESPN's Jamison Hensley and the Football Power Index, Baltimore has a 70 percent chance of losing its final two games, which is the highest projected failure rate in the NFL. That gives the Ravens an 87.2 percent chance of picking in the top five, but only a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top overall pick.
"The challenge for the Ravens is to turn these lopsided losses into significant gains in the spring," wrote Hensley.
"If the Titans take Ohio State pass-rusher Joey Bosa and the Browns select a quarterback, the Ravens will have their pick of the top cornerback (perhaps Florida State's Jalen Ramsey), No. 1 left tackle (Mississippi's Laremy Tunsil) or best wide receiver prospect (Mississippi's Laquon Treadwell)."
Fan Uniform Designs
Well, in the CSN Mid-Atlantic interview below, Harbaugh was sufficiently informed that the gold pants his team wore Sunday were not a big hit among fans.
Harbaugh said the team can have three different color pants and jerseys, but they only have black and white base colors for their pants. Harbaugh joked that fans could get creative and come up with a third since the gold was so unpopular.
"Maybe we should do a contest for our third pant color combination with the fans, so we can have them weigh in and we'd wear them," he said.
That has opened the flood gates, and fans are already starting to chime in. Here's one rather impressive design a fan sent me on Twitter. Something tells me more of these will surface.
Pro Football Focus Grades From Chiefs Game
Below are the overall offensive and defensive grades for the Ravens in their loss to the Chiefs.
Not shown in the chart below, but of note, is that the Chiefs' top graded player on offense was former Ravens tackle Jah Reid, who Baltimore cut just before the season. The bizarro year continues.