Podcast Episode 18: Talking Orioles with MASN’s Steve Melewski, introducing our Maryland Football expert Jay Stavros

Welcome to episode 18 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

At the start of the show, our Maryland Football expert Jay Stavros makes his podcast debut (3:46). Stavros has been covering the Terps all season long for Charm City Bird Watch. Jake and Jay dive into Maryland’s 42-13 win over Minnesota from this past Saturday and examine where the team is after their 3-1 start.

Up next, we welcome in a very special guest as MASN Orioles reporter Steve Melewski joins the program (11:20). In this exclusive interview with Jake, Melewski shares his insight on the futures of Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Buck Showalter, and Dan Duquette. Melewski also offers his opinion for how the Orioles will address these big decisions after the 2018 season ends over the weekend.

After Melewski hops off the phone line, Nolan and Ian come on to react to what was discussed between Jake and Steve (28:04).

READ – 10 for #10: Reflecting on Adam Jones’ Orioles career

Up next, it’s time for more football talk. The guys reveal what they learned from the Ravens’ 27-14 win over the Broncos (42:21), go over Who’s Trending in either a good or bad way (48:32), and break down some things to watch for on Sunday Night Football when the Ravens go to war with the Steelers in Pittsburgh (1:07:51)

To wrap up the show, we dive into our weekly numbers segment, taking a look at the best Ravens & Orioles players to wear the number 18 (1:20:48).

The Charm City Bird Watch Podcast is brought to you by Seven Sports Bar & Grille. Starting October 1, you can get 10% off any entree when you mention the promo code ‘Charm City‘ to your server at Seven!

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and Google Play. Please leave us a review on iTunes, we love to hear your feedback and may read it on a future episode. Thank you for listening!

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Ravens take down Broncos 27-14: Five things we learned

BALTIMORE — Despite allowing the Denver Broncos to score touchdowns on their first two possessions and jump out to a 14-7 lead, the Baltimore Ravens did not allow them to reach the end zone again as Baltimore took down Denver 27-14 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Both teams now hold 2-1 records. With the Bengals losing to the Panthers 31-21 on Sunday, Baltimore and Cincinnati share the lead for first place in the AFC North, followed by Cleveland (1-1-1) and Pittsburgh (0-1-1).

For the Ravens, Sunday’s win over the Broncos could prove to be a valuable win. The Ravens will play four of their next five games on the road. Their next three games are all on the road, and two of them are against divisional opponents – the Steelers and Browns. The Ravens historically struggle away from home but will hold the rest advantage over the Steelers ahead of next week’s primetime classic. The Steelers play the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football tomorrow night in Tampa.

Now that the postgame festivities have wrapped up, let’s take a look at what we learned during Sunday’s win.


1. Ravens are lucky special teams blunders did not prove too costly 

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and head coach John Harbaugh, formally a special teams coordinator, must have been furious with the unit’s performance in the first half. After the Ravens went three-and-out on their first offensive drive, linebacker Joseph Jones blocked Sam Koch‘s punt before Buck Allen recovered it at the Ravens’ 4-yard line. Then the Broncos scored a touchdown on their very first offensive play as Royce Freeman found a hole and dashed forward for a six-yard score.

With the Ravens leading 17-14 in the second quarter, Justin Tucker came on to attempt his second field goal of the afternoon, a 43-yarder. After the ball was snapped, out of nowhere, safety Justin Simmons appeared behind the line of scrimmage and blocked Tucker’s kick. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. recovered the ball and sprinted to the end-zone for what would have been a 58-yard return touchdown. But, the score was called back due to an illegal block call on lineman Billy Turner.

Denver took over at midfield afterwards, but Tucker should have been awarded another attempt at the kick, because Simmons jumped over long snapper Morgan Cox, which isn’t allowed anymore.

The third and final special teams blunder came on a kickoff in the first quarter when Robinson Daniel was flagged for an illegal formation. These penalties only turned into seven points for Denver, but it’s disappointing for a unit that’s been regarded as one of the best in the NFL during Harbaugh’s tenure. The Ravens waived Janarion Grant on Saturday because of his special teams slip-ups. If this trend continues, the coaching staff will find other options.


2. Buck Allen is a touchdown machine (and a fantasy sleeper)

The running backs took care of scoring all three touchdowns against the Broncos, and Allen accounted for two of them. Joe Flacco connected with Allen for a 12-yard catch-and-run about midway through the second quarter put the Ravens up 17-14. Allen found the end-zone again at the 7:26 mark in the fourth quarter with a one-yard run for the Ravens’ final score.

Allen has accumulated four touchdowns over the first three games of the season, and he’s scored in every contest. He’s only registered 76 all-purpose yards so far, but the coaching staff recognizes his knack for finding the end-zone and has utilized him effectively.

If you’re a fantasy football team owner exploring different options for your flex position, Allen is likely still available in several leagues and could be a steal if picked up.


3. Kenny Young should start even when C.J. Mosley returns from injury 

One of the brightest spots of Sunday’s win over Denver was watching fourth-round rookie linebacker Kenny Young shine in his first NFL start. Young filled in for C.J. Mosley, who suffered a bone bruise in Cincinnati. Mosley practiced on a limited basis last week, but was ruled out shortly before kickoff.

Young didn’t waste any time making his presence felt. He led the team with 10 tackles (eight solo), including one tackle-for-loss. He flies around the field and is around the ball often. He’s easily been the most impressive rookie on defense so far.

It’s no secret that Mosley is in his contract year and, according to reports, has not been approached by the Ravens yet over signing an extension. Mosley is a very intelligent football player. When he’s in the game, he wears the helmet connected to the headsets of defensive coaches who relay the play calls to him. However, there are flaws in his game, particularly in pass coverage. If he doesn’t put together this best season after coming back from this bone bruise, and Young continues to impress in his rookie campaign, paying Mosley could become less likely.

Young has a long way to go before replacing Mosley becomes a real possibility, but his first start could not have gone much better.


4. Run game needs improvement, but balance helps Flacco

By no means was the Ravens’ rushing attack impressive on Sunday. Both Alex Collins and Allen combined for 75 rushing yards and struggled to find open holes to burst through. With that said, it was refreshing to see offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg commit to the run game and at least try to get it going. Flacco operates best when the running game clicks. Even though the Ravens averaged under three yards-per-carry, it took some of the pressure off Flacco.

With a commitment to the run game present, Flacco completed 63% of his passes, threw for 277 yards with a touchdown and did not turn the ball over. Against Cincinnati, Flacco threw the ball 55 times and turned the football over twice while only 22 running plays were called. The offensive line still has a long way to go, but at least the Ravens showed a commitment to running the football.


5. Brandon Carr could be a huge liability against the Steelers next week

Without Jimmy Smith last season, Brandon Carr got exposed against top wide receivers. Carr put together a solid performance with an interception in week one against Buffalo, but since then he’s left a lot to be desired.

In the second half, Case Keenum picked on Carr and it worked out well. It didn’t matter if it was Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, or Courtland Sutton, Carr gave up plays of 22 and 21 yards, as well as plays of eight and nine yards that resulted in first downs. He was also flagged for pass interference which turned into a 17-yard Denver gain.

It’s no secret that the Steelers’ wide receiving corps is loaded with the likes of Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Darrius Heyward-Bey. In a December matchup against the Steelers last season, Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 500 yards without Smith in the Ravens’ secondary. It will be hard for Big Ben to match that total, but the thought of Carr covering Brown makes Ravens fans cringe.

Hopefully the Ravens learn from their mistakes and keep Marlon Humphrey on Brown next Sunday. Facing the Steelers offense is daunting enough, but without Smith it’s that much more of a challenge.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun 

Three things to watch for as the Ravens host the Broncos in Week 3

BALTIMORE — The 1-1 Baltimore Ravens will welcome the 2-0 Denver Broncos to M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday looking to bounce back from a disappointing 34-23 setback last Thursday night in Cincinnati.

Some of the same problems we’ve seen from the Ravens in recent seasons plagued the team again on Thursday. An offense sputtering out of the gate coupled with a C.J. Mosley-less defense found the Ravens behind the eight ball faced with a 21-0 deficit less than two minutes into the second quarter.

The defense and offense both woke up to some extent to lead a furious charge back into the contest. The Ravens sliced the Bengals’ lead to five with roughly nine and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. After a Tavon Young holding penalty extended the Bengals next drive which led to a field goal, quarterback Joe Flacco fell victim to a sack fumble on the next possession which ultimately put the game away.

A road loss on Thursday night football isn’t the end of the world, but it was still against a division opponent who’s had the Ravens’ number in recent seasons. Now, the Ravens find themselves in a must-win situation at home against the Broncos before facing the Steelers, Browns, and Titans all on the road. As for Denver, the Broncos share the lead in the AFC West with the also undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos began the season with two impressive victories at home over the Seahawks and Raiders. Here’s what to watch for during Sunday’s contest.

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Alex Collins is praying for more carries this week against the Broncos. Image Credit: ESPN

1) Can the Ravens commit to the running game?

Much of the story for the past few seasons surrounding the Ravens offense has been the team’s inability/unwillingness to commit to the running game. Starting tailback Alex Collins has just 16 carries through two weeks which is a number that Ravens fans want to see go up significantly.

Flacco provides the greatest value when he is able to run play action effectively and hit deep passes to his new look receiver corps. It is impossible to establish the play action passing game when you prove to offer no threat of running the football. 10 out of 13 Ravens drives last week featured first down passes. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg needs to change that this week.

Given the Ravens’ offensive line struggles, one of the best ways to get an offensive line feeling confident about themselves is to allow them to run block. The Broncos are sixth against the run through two weeks this season but have faced Seattle and Oakland to this point; neither team offers the run threat that the Ravens can present in Collins.

If the Ravens don’t commit to the running game this week against the Broncos, it could be a long day for the offense.

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Ronnie Stanley will need to come up with a gutsy performance this Sunday. Image Credit: Getty Images

2) How in the world do the Ravens block Von Miller and Bradley Chubb?

The Ravens’ offensive line are coming off of a night in which they allowed four sacks and several additional hurries against the Bengals. The Bengals’ pass rush disrupted Flacco and the offense all night making it difficult for them to find consistent rhythmn. Flacco moved well in the pocket to make the most of a rough night from his guys up front, but if the line struggles Sunday, the problem may be too great to overcome once again.

Von Miller is one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL. He consistently presents the ability to absolutely wreck your offensive game plan. He is nearly impossible to single team and that challenge gets even greater when you consider that Ravens starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was limited in practice yesterday with an arm injury.

A one-arm Stanley figures to present a greater challenge for Miller than a two armed James Hurst, who could arguably be the worst left tackle on the planet. Miller has four sacks on the season and is looking to put together his fifth straight 10+ sack season.

Another issue for the Ravens is that Miller now has a formidable pass-rushing sidekick in 2018 fifth overall pick Bradley Chubb. While the North Carolina State product doesn’t boast the experience or consistency of Miller, he did record 10 sacks in each of his last two seasons in Raleigh. Chubb has a half-sack on the season and the Ravens will hope his slow start carries over into Sunday.

The Ravens will undoubtedly have to chip with tight ends on Miller and may have to leave extra backs in to help out as well. This is a huge test for the Ravens’ offensive line and we will see if they can answer the call this Sunday.

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Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce need to help shut down the Denver rushing game in the absence of C.J. Mosley. Image Credit: WJLA

3) Can the Ravens defense make the Broncos one-dimensional?

The Ravens gave up over 100 yards on the ground last week to Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard and company. With Mosley out of the game early, the Bengals churned out yardage to the tune of four yards per-carry. Mosley doesn’t project to play this week which will put more pressure on Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce.

Enter Phillip Lindsay and the Broncos second ranked rushing offense. Lindsay, a rookie out of the University of Colorado, is currently third in the NFL with 178 rushing yards to-date. The Broncos also have 2018 third-round pick and projected starter Royce Freeman who put up 99 yards and a touchdown in two games despite Lindsay taking a majority of the snaps.

It is imperative for the Ravens’ defense to shut down the Broncos running game and make Case Keenum and the Denver offense one-dimensional. Keenum has three touchdowns and four interceptions to-date on the season and although he boasts a 2-1 record against the Ravens lifetime, his numbers are poor.

Prior to last season’s breakout year and subsequent free agency score, Keenum had just 27 passing touchdowns and 24 interceptions in 28 career appearances. He is a gunslinger who is prone to turning the ball over and the if the Ravens make him beat them, it bodes well for a Baltimore victory this Sunday.

Prediction: Ravens 23 Broncos 17

I think the Ravens look more like the team that dismantled the Bills than the one that struggled against the Bengals. This is a bigger game for the Ravens than it is for the Broncos with the Ravens heading to Pittsburgh next week. They don’t want to be staring a 1-3 first quarter of the year in the face. They won’t be.

The Details:

Image Credit: The Sports Daily