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Ryan Mallett's Out Of The 'Old Regime'


Sometimes a fresh start is what can turn around a person's life.

"Everybody gets a second chance; it's what you do with it," quarterback Ryan Mallett said. "It's my second chance, so I'm trying to take it and run with it."

The Ravens didn't immediately sign Mallett after they first worked him out on Dec. 2. He still had some things he needed to prove.

But after General Manager Ozzie Newsome did his research on Mallett's background, and plenty of conversations between Mallett, Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens decided to give the strong-armed, 6-foot-6, 245-pound gunslinger a shot.

That's what happens when you've got talent.

"It was worth the risk, so to speak," Harbaugh said.

So far, Mallett has made good on his second chance. It doesn't get much better than beating the arch-rival Steelers, 20-17, in front of the hometown fans (and a bunch of Terrible Towel waving ones) in your first start with the new team.

For Mallett, the win was the greatest moment of his five-year career because it represents the beginning of a new chapter both on and off the field.

"Hopefully, there's more to come in the future, but it was pretty good," said Mallett, who shared a long hug with Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman on the field after the game. "It was a great feeling after the win, so hopefully we can go get another one this week."

The first major change that had to come for Mallett was he had to convince the Ravens that his off-the-field issues are behind him.

Mallett hasn't gone into specifics as to what those problems were. He said his conversations with Harbaugh and Newsome are "in-house."

According to reports, Mallett slept through his alarm clock and missed a training camp practice shortly after losing the Texans' starting job. He later missed a team charter flight to Miami, leading to his release on Oct. 27.

"Being able to bring me in through everything and let me prove myself – [with] what I've done and what I'm becoming – is awesome for me," Mallett said. "Whatever happened, happened. It was put out a certain way, so whatever … I'm not worried about it anymore. I'm a Baltimore Raven, and I'm going to do what I can to help this team."

Harbaugh isn't ready to jump on board as labelling Mallett a changed man yet, however. There's still more work to be done, especially during the offseason when Mallett isn't at the Under Armour Performance Center nearly every waking hour and under close Ravens supervision.

"I think the risk is still out there," Harbaugh said. "There are always things that can happen, but you would hope and pray that Ryan is to the point in his life where he has realized there are things more important than the things that were bringing him down before. He has an opportunity here to turn things around, and it'll be up to him to do that."

The other big change for Mallett comes between the white lines, or at least in the mental part of it. Mallett was drafted by New England Patriots in the third round in 2011. He spent his first three seasons backing up Tom Brady, which meant he only had four passing attempts.

When Mallett was traded to the Texans before the 2014 season, he remained in the Belichick-style offensive system. Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien got his first NFL job under Belichick and grew up in New England from 2007 to 2011. He was the team's offensive coordinator that final year.

So Mallett didn't have to exert himself too much when he landed in Houston. It was more of the same.

"I'm out of the old regime – I guess you could say – of the Belichick [coaching] tree, which is not a bad one, but I'm out of it now," Mallett said. "It's good to get something new. It makes me work a little bit harder now, because I don't know everything about the system."

Harbaugh wasn't exaggerating much when he said Mallett was at the Under Armour Performance Center pretty much 24 hours a day during the 12 days before his start against the Steelers. Mallett studies so much that he needs to sneak in little naps at the facility because he's not going home.

It says something about the type of teammates they are, but also about who Mallett is, that the Ravens' other two quarterbacks, Matt Schaub and Jimmy Clausen, also came in early and stayed late to help Mallett – knowing they had been passed over for the starting gig.

"You saw him come in and, a guy that's never really been in a system like this or with this terminology, you want to help," Schaub said. "He was getting so much from the coaches, that, as players, I wanted to give him the important nuggets from our perspective, because it can be information overload. He handled it really well."

Schaub said Mallett was "totally swimming" in his first week in Baltimore, and even early during Steelers week. Schaub encouraged him not to look at the offense as a whole, but to break it down and compartmentalize certain aspects.

Schaub had heard the criticisms of Mallett's professionalism, but he saw a "great guy, great teammate." He said Mallett was open about his past with them in the quarterback room.

"Everyone has a history, everyone has a past, everyone has things they probably regret or wrong decisions they made," Schaub said. "Some are aired on national television for everyone to see and some aren't. He's a stand-up guy from my perspective, so it makes it even that much more gratifying to help him out and watch him succeed."

Mallett's other teammates were impressed too.

"I thought he did an outstanding job," Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda said. "Obviously, Ryan had a lot of confidence, and he went out there and played a good game. … The stats don't lie, and he made a lot of big plays in the passing game."

Now Mallett has to keep the ball rolling this Sunday against the Bengals, a team that has tormented the Ravens offense in years past. If Mallett can finish on a high note, it will make him an especially popular guy in Baltimore going into next season.

Injured Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco has a career quarterback rating of 71.9 against the Bengals, about 20 points below his overall career average (91.0). Flacco has thrown 19 interceptions to 15 touchdowns versus his foes in stripes.

"Well, my name is not Joe," Mallett confidently said, getting a chuckle out of the assembled media.

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