Ravens to play Bears in 2018 NFL Hall of Fame Game

On Tuesday morning, the NFL announced that the Baltimore Ravens will participate in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game on Thursday, Aug. 2 from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium from Canton, Ohio.

The Ravens will play against the Chicago Bears, two days before legendary linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Every year, the Hall of Fame Game kicks off the NFL’s preseason slate. This marks the Ravens’ first appearance in the Hall of Fame Game. The Bears have made four appearances, the most recent being in 2005 against the Miami Dolphins.

Along with competing in the Hall of Fame Game, the Ravens and Bears will still play four normally-scheduled preseason season games along with the rest of the NFL. With that said, should we see any starters play in this game, it won’t be for long.

Ticket packages for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement week are already on sale at hofexperiences.com, or by calling 844-751-0532. Individual tickets for the Hall of Fame Game and Enshrinement Ceremony go on sale on Friday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. ET at profootballhof.com/tickets.

Image Credit: Dawgs by Nature

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Podcast: Nolan and Jake react to Super Bowl 52, latest Ravens news, and latest Terps loss

Welcome to the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast! On today’s show, Nolan McGraw and Jake McDonnell break down a number of topics, including:

  1. Superbowl 52: Well-deserved for Philadelphia, the empire crumbles, and discussion on the strange McDaniels / Colts saga
  2. Reaction to last Friday’s ‘State of the Ravens’ press conference with Mr. Bisciotti (including the Ozzie Newsome / Eric DeCosta transition), and Ray Lewis’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2018
  3. The Terps’ tough 74-70 loss to Penn State on Wednesday night

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Thanks for listening!

Ray Lewis elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame’s star-studded class of 2018

Five years ago on February 3, 2013, Ray Lewis played his last game for the Baltimore Ravens. Unlike many legends that came before him, Lewis had the honor of raising the Lombardi Trophy above his head as he exited the game of football.

Despite an unforeseen blackout, the Ravens were able to hold on to their lead and defeat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 with a last-minute goal line stand. This would end up being one of many story book moments in Lewis’ illustrious career, but it is the one many fans will remember most as Lewis was announced as a NFL Hall of Fame inductee on the five-year anniversary of the game.

During his 17 year career Lewis suited up in 228 games for the Ravens. He accumulated 1,562 tackles, 41.5 sacks and 31 interceptions. To this day, these numbers stand as some of the best for a middle linebacker. However, the stats are only part of his legacy. Lewis was also awarded the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award twice (2000, 2003) and named to the All-Pro team in ten of his 17 seasons.

Known for his intense passion and motivational pre-game speeches, Lewis was all about leading his team. His two Super Bowl wins (2000, 2012) will stand the test of time as the true mark of his leadership. The 12 year gap between those victories stands as the longest for any player in NFL history and it’s hard to imagine the Ravens reaching either of those Super Bowl’s without Lewis. This was recognized in 2000 when Lewis was awarded the MVP award for the Ravens first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Joining Lewis in the class of 2018 will be Terrell Owens, Brian Urlacher, Randy Moss, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Bobby Beathard and Robert Brazille. There was no shortage of worthy players for this years Hall of Fame class. Some even thought that there could be some notable snubs due to the number of worthy first ballot candidates joining the list for consideration. In the end the committee seems to have made room for everyone and the result is one of the most star-studded classes in recent history.

It will be a special moment to see Lewis and Urlacher get inducted in the same year since they were compared to each other throughout their careers and finished with similar numbers. The same could be said about Moss and Owens who continue to spark debate among fans as to who was the better receiver.

Photo credit: ESPN

Ozzie Newsome to step down after 2018 season; Eric DeCosta to take over as Ravens GM

OWINGS MILLS, MD — On Friday afternoon, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti spoke to the media for about 45 minutes. Local reporters drilled Bisciotti with a number of questions, focusing on key issues like attendance, on-field play, and retaining John Harbaugh after missing the playoffs in four of five seasons.

When Bisciotti discussed what went into his decision to keep Harbaugh, he mentioned general manager Ozzie Newsome’s name without being prompted. Bisciotti revealed that 2018 would be Newsome’s last season as the Ravens’ general manager, and that assistant general manager Eric DeCosta will succeed Newsome, with Ozzie sticking around in a lesser role to help with the transition period.

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Image Credit: The Japan Times

“We had talked after the 2013 season and it was about Eric,” Bisciotti said. “Ozzie agreed to re-do his contract for a five-year extension, in which case he would turn the 53 [man roster] over to Eric, and that’s a year away. Ozzie will step down as GM and has assured me that he is not going anywhere, and that he will work with me and work with Eric for a smooth transition. He will be the highest-paid scout in America when Eric takes over next year.”

 

Both Newsome and DeCosta have been with the Ravens since the team’s inception in 1996. Newsome played 13 seasons in the NFL as a tight end for the Cleveland Browns. He had a Hall-Of-Fame career, finishing with 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999 for his successes on the field. Four years after his retirement as a player, the Browns hired Newsome as an assignment scout. He worked his way up to being named the Browns’ director of player personnel, a role he would flourish in. When the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens, Newsome was named the general manager and has been in that role ever since.

In his 22 years as general manager of the Ravens, Newsome has drafted two Hall of Fame players in Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis (and several potential future Hall of Famers, including Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Marshal Yanda), and won two Superbowl Championships in 2000 and 2012. 18 of Newsome’s draftees have seen selected to the Pro Bowl. Newsome, now the third longest-tenured general manager in the NFL, has long been regarded as one of the best in the business.

Along with Newsome, DeCosta has been around since day one for the Ravens. He joined Baltimore’s staff in 1996 as an area scout. He worked his way up the ranks, serving six years as the director of college scouting, three years as director of player personnel, and finally as the assistant general manager, a role DeCosta has been in since 2012.

Although the Ravens’ brass kept this announcement a secret for four seasons, it should not come as a surprise to anyone. For years, other NFL teams have tried to steal DeCosta away from Baltimore, most recently the Packers. Every time DeCosta was offered or recruited for a job opening around the NFL, he turned it down. Now that the Ravens’ plan initiated in 2013 has been made public, we now know why DeCosta turned down several attractive jobs.

Newsome will go down as one of the best general managers in the history of the NFL. He had a Hall of Fame career on the field, and after he retires he will be considered again for his stellar career in the front office. Now 61-years-old and having battled a couple minor health scares, the time has come for Newsome to hand the keys to the castle to DeCosta. Keeping Newsome around in a smaller role for a few years is a brilliant idea. DeCosta has watched Ozzie for over two decades now, and if he has any questions, Ozzie will be right there for advice. With that said, DeCosta will be the one putting pen to paper and making the final ruling on decisions regarding the roster.

This is a move that Ravens fans have been anticipating for a few years now. After the 2018 season, we will finally get to see what DeCosta is capable of.

Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey arrested Wednesday night

TUSCALOOSA, AL – According to the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey was arrested and charged with third-degree robbery early Thursday morning.

A Tweet from Alex Byington, University of Alabama beat writer, is included below with the booking charges given by the Sheriff’s Office.

No further details have been released on Humphrey’s arrest, and the Ravens have yet to publicly comment on the matter. Humphrey, the Ravens’ 16’th overall pick in last year’s draft, is coming off a stellar rookie season. He finished 2017 as one of the six cornerbacks in the NFL who did not allow a touchdown this season, a list that also includes Jimmy Smith.

Following Smith’s season-ending Achilles injury sustained on Dec. 3 in a 44-20 victory over the Detroit Lions, Humphrey’s role in the Ravens’ defense increased. He started Baltimore’s final four games and finished his rookie campaign with 30 tackles and two interceptions.

While we do not know all of the details about this story yet, this is bad news for the Ravens, no matter how you look at it. The Ravens ended the regular season in devastating fashion and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. There were a large amount of empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium all season long, and a number of factors went into that. There’s a strong disconnect between the Ravens and their fanbase right now, and this news will only add fuel to the fire.

UPDATE: Humphrey is being accused of stealing a phone charger, worth $15 in value. More details will be revealed as time goes on, but ESPN‘s Jamison Hensley tweeted the following early Thursday afternoon:

“Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey allegedly stole a charger valued at $15, according to the incident report. The incident occurred Jan. 13 at the Hotel Capstone on the University of Alabama’s campus. Humphrey was suspected of using alcohol, according to the report.”

UPDATE: Around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Ravens released a statement regarding the situation:

“Marlon told us that it was a misunderstanding regarding a $15 telephone charger, which he thought was his. Our understanding is that he has been interviewed by University of Alabama Police and is cooperating. We are monitoring the situation.”

UPDATE: Tuscaloosa News Crime Reporter Stephanie Taylor tweeted the following at 12:34 p.m. Thursday with more details on Humphrey’s arrest.

According to the details contained in Taylor’s tweet, Humphrey asked an Uber driver to borrow his phone charger, and refused to give it back upon being dropped off. The Uber driver is accusing Humphrey of elbowing him. The driver sustained no injuries.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

Podcast: Vasilios and Jake dive into the NFL Divisional Playoffs, Martindale promotion, and latest Terps buzz

On the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast, reporter Vasilios Nikolaou joins owner Jake McDonnell for a half-hour of sports talk.

A few days before the NFL Divisional round, the guys break down the key things to watch for during “the best football weekend” on the NFL calendar.

On Monday, we heard Nolan‘s take on the recent rumors surrounding the brass of the New England Patriots. How does Vasilios feel about this story that is sure to linger into the offseason?

On Tuesday, the Ravens promoted linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale to defensive coordinator. Is this a yay or nay move?

Last up on the podcast is some college hoops talk. Despite departures and injuries to several key players, the Terps look impressive as conference play gets underway. What can we expect to see from this 2017-18 Terps squad? Vasilios and Jake have you covered.

Subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Check out Vasilios on the LegacyMaker Sports Network as well. Thanks for listening!

Ravens promote Don Martindale to become new defensive coordinator

OWINGS MILLS, MD — The Ravens have not wasted any time finding a new defensive play-caller. On Tuesday afternoon the team announced that linebackers coach Don Martindale would be taking over the defensive coordinator position for 2018.

This move comes just days after John Harbaugh addressed the media for his season review press conference. In that presser, Harbaugh stated that the team was searching “inside and out” for their next defensive coordinator but is favoring those who are familiar with the Ravens system.

“He knows the ins and outs of what we have been about on defense and has been an important contributor to our success on that side of the ball,” Harbaugh said following Martindale’s promotion.

Martindale, 54, is extremely familiar with the Ravens defense as he has been the linebackers coach since 2012. Before coming to Baltimore, Martindale was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.

Martindale will also adopt a much more talented defense than he did last time he was named coordinator. The 2010 Broncos defense, which Martindale led, gave up the most yards and points per game in the league that year.

Looking within for new hires has worked well for the Ravens in the past. Former defensive coordinators, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano, and Dean Pees were all promoted from within the organization. In addition to Martindale’s promotion, the Ravens named Mike McDonald as the new linebacker’s coach.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun