Podcast Episode 16: Time to book a February weekend in Atlanta, right? Featuring Logan Levy of Baltimore Beatdown

Welcome to Episode 16 of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast with site owner Jake McDonnell, editor Nolan McGraw, and author Ian Schultz.

Kicking off this week’s show is a full recap of the Ravens’ 47-3 dismantling of the Buffalo Bills (3:19). Along with revealing our players of the game (19:14) and discussing who’s trending (24:29), we discussed Lamar Jackson‘s regular season debut, the impressive effort put forth by the new wide receiver core, and the defense’s dominance. If you watched from home, Nolan and Ian will fill you in on what was featured on the new corner scoreboards at M&T Bank Stadium. They’ll also give an estimate of how full the crowd looked.

Even though Sunday could not have gone any better, the Ravens will head to Cincinnati on a short week to tangle with the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. We’ll tell you what to watch for (33:42) as the Ravens begin a five-game stretch with four of those contests taking place on the road.

Up next, we welcome in this week’s guest – Baltimore Beatdown Editor & Take it to the Bank podcast host – Logan Levy, who shares his thoughts on the Ravens’ dominant win (44:55). Levy also reveals his pick for Thursday’s game and ponders which areas of the contest will likely decide the outcome.

Ravens fans in the northern Maryland/Southern York County area: Come celebrate our first sponsorship on Thursday night at Seven Sports Bar & Grille in New Freedom, PA. Happy Hour is from 4-6 and you can also catch the Ravens game against the Bengals at 8:20. Specials are $3.50 Shock Top drafts & $8.77 half-rack ribs. We hope to see you there! 

Over the weekend, the Orioles eclipsed 100 losses on the 2018 season. Our next segment (1:03:10) dives into the club’s questionable decision to sit Adam Jones to “get a look” at other outfielders like Joey Rickard and John Andreoli. Needless to say, you won’t want to miss this rant. Jake, Nolan, and Ian also call into question the reasoning of Orioles ownership as to of why the brass of the team has not addressed the fanbase yet over the franchise’s direction.

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 16 (1:17:24).

You can find the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on SoundCloudiTunes, and now 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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Eight thoughts following Ravens’ 47-3 win over Bills

BALTIMORE — Just like I predicted on the latest episode of the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast, the Ravens blew out the Bills at M&T Bank Stadium to kick off the 2018 regular season. The score was 47-3. Six different players on offense scored touchdowns. The defense forced two turnovers and collected six sacks. Buffalo never stood a chance.

Here’s eight takeaways from Baltimore’s nearly-perfect win.

1. A balanced offense is a good offense

A common knock on offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has been his tendency to abandon the run. Due to the poor weather conditions, we all expected the Ravens to rely heavily on the run, but that wasn’t necessarily the case against the Bills.

Collectively, the Ravens ran the ball 34 times and passed 38 times. Favorable field position and numerous starters getting pulled early left the box score looking like a preseason game, and for good reason. Mornhinweg’s balanced play-calling, along with the presence of Lamar Jackson, gave Buffalo’s defense fits.

2. Ravens’ defense dominates in historic fashion

I don’t think the Ravens defense could have started off their season any better than they did on Sunday. In the first half, the unit held the Bills to 0 first downs and 33 offensive yards. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Ravens defense held an opponent without a first down for the entire first half. The previous record was two first downs in a half – set in 2000 against the Bengals and again in 2008 versus the Raiders.

The Bills finished the game with 153 total yards, but many of those came in garbage time when veterans like Terrell Suggs had already exited. The Bills even trotted first-round rookie quarterback Josh Allen out there, which they were not anticipating, but Nathan Peterman was that bad. Peterman attempted 15 passes, completing five of them for 24 yards, and came out of the game with a rating of 0. Ouch.

3. This week, Joe Flacco was elite

After coming back from a torn ACL and a back injury over the last two seasons, Ravens media spent all of training camp telling us how great Joe Flacco looked at practice every day. Whether or not his camp greatness translated to a regular season game remained to be seen, but Flacco’s first outing of the 2018 season was a successful one.

Against Buffalo, Flacco went 25-for-34 for 236 yards with three touchdown passes. He was effective and did a great job spreading the ball around to different receivers. He used his receivers (11 receptions, three touchdowns), tight ends (eight receptions), and running backs (six receptions). Flacco’s had a bad habit of relying too heavily on running back and tight-end check-downs, but on Sunday he was aggressive and took more risks, even in the pouring rain.

Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium has been a house of horrors for Flacco, but hopefully he can carry his success from this game into Thursday night.

4. Jackson already proving to be a big asset

Speaking of Jackson, we saw more than him on Sunday than we anticipated. That’s a good thing. With the Ravens up 40-0 in the third quarter, Jackson got to play the final 25 minutes as the starting quarterback after being used as a decoy.

Jackson was mainly used as a runner when he ran with the starters, finishing the game with 39 yards on seven carries. Even when he didn’t get the ball, Buffalo’s defense had to account for him and send defenders his way. As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how defenses adjust to the Ravens’ packages featuring Jackson. For now, it gives opposing defenses an extra element to devote practice time to, and that can only help the Ravens.

5. The retooled receiving corps could not have had a better debut

The Ravens signed receivers Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown this offseason, sending $20 million in combined guaranteed money their way.

On Sunday, their investment paid off. Snead caught four passes, while Crabtree and Brown each tallied three catches for 131 combined yards and a touchdown apiece. Each of these receivers brings something different to the table, and the Ravens found ways to use their varied skill-sets. They’ll be tested against better defenses, but the Ravens could not have asked for a better start with this group.

6. The offensive line remains a concern

Coming into Sunday, the offensive line was considered the worst position group on Baltimore’s roster, and that remains the same even after Sunday’s huge win. Flacco only got sacked twice, but he constantly had to scramble out of the pocket.

Starting running back Alex Collins couldn’t find any holes to run through, contributing just 13 yards on seven carries for an average of 1.9 yards-per-carry. Kenneth Dixon had better luck, leading the team with 44 rushing yards on 13 carries. However, he left the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

The Ravens got by against a bad Bills defense. When the Ravens face pass rushers like Myles Garrett and Von Miller, the offense will pay if the line struggles.

7. Pass rush shines with mix of youth and old-timers

With Terrell Suggs’ 36th birthday on the horizon, the Ravens will rely on their young pass rushers to step up and play a bigger role this season. Suggs continued to draft his Hall of Fame resume with a sack of his own on Sunday, but we also saw Za’Darius Smith, Tim Williams, and Kenny Young break into the backfield and record sacks. Not only that, but cornerback Tavon Young got involved too and led the team with two sacks.

It’s going to be important for the Ravens to limit Suggs’ snap count this season, especially early on. Several times on Sunday, I noticed that Suggs remained on the sideline for several pass rush situations, with Matt Judon and either Smith or Williams lined up on the ends. Not only will keeping Suggs rested help his motor in December, but he can coach up this talented group of outside linebackers. That will pay dividends in future seasons after Suggs calls it a career.

8. Despite terrible weather, Baltimore gathers a decent crowd for much-needed support

Weather-wise – Sunday, the entire weekend, the entire summer – have all been horrible. It’s also no secret that attendance at Ravens games has seen a massive dip in recent seasons. When I saw Sunday’s forecast earlier in the week, I was very concerned that the stadium would be half empty again at 1:00.

Judging from this picture from WNST‘s Nestor Aparico, along with seeing the stands on live television, M&T Bank Stadium was not full, but the crowd was a decent size in spite of the weather. The Ravens worked very hard over the offseason to revitalize a disgruntled fanbase. They drafted Lamar Jackson, they put in the corner scoreboards, and they reduced concession prices. A disappointing crowd would have brought all of those sad feelings back and put a damper on the season opener, but Baltimore avoided that on Sunday.

As the game went into the second half, a good amount of fans left after getting soaked. That’s understandable, and the stadium needs to be rocking for the next Ravens home game on Sept. 23 against Denver. All factors considered, I’m sure that John Harbaugh and the Ravens appreciate the fans who showed up and fought through the down-pouring rain.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun

Ravens: Why letting Breshad Perriman go could turn costly this season

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens announced their roster cuts on Saturday and much to the joy of Ravens nation, the list included former 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman.

The wide receiver didn’t make the 53-man roster despite leading the team in catches and receiving yards this preseason. Perriman’s dismissal ends what has been a disappointing tenure for the 24-year-old out of the University of Central Florida.

Perriman missed his entire rookie season with the Ravens due to injury and that quickly drew the ire of Ravens fans. In his 2016 return, he only started one game but tallied 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns including this gem against the Dolphins.

Perriman’s 2016 season gave his supporters hope that 2017 could be the year he realized his untapped potential. Unfortunately he caught just ten passes in 2017 for 77 total yards and no touchdowns. He also had several prominent drops that brought out the haters in full force.

It didn’t get any better for Perriman when this happened on the first pass of the 2018 preseason in the Hall of Fame Game against the Bears:

The above exploits represent the case for why Perriman is no longer a Baltimore Raven and I for one am not at all surprised that he was cut.

While the evidence agrees with this decision, I believe that Perriman should have made the 53-man roster. I will now try to convince you why the player who was most likely your most-hated Raven should have been on this team for the 2018 season.

Listen. Everyone in Baltimore is understandably excited for yet another new look receiving corps this season.  And while it is certainly possible that Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead can spark the Ravens passing game, it is equally as likely that this could once again be a unit that struggles for the Ravens.

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Michael Crabtree signed a 3 year $21 million contract and will be the Ravens #1 WR. Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Crabtree is the closest thing to an impact player in the passing game for the Ravens. He is their number-one wide receiver and will be looking for his fourth straight eight plus touchdown season. But don’t forget that the Oakland Raiders cut Crabtree which opened the door for the 30-year-old to sign Baltimore. As far as number-one receivers are concerned, Crabtree is in the bottom 25% of the NFL.

A quick rundown of teams that undoubtedly have a number-one WR that is better than Crabtree: NE, PIT, CIN, CLE, HOU, IND, OAK, DEN, KC, SD, NYG, MIN, GB, CHI, NO, TB, ATL, ARI, LA, SEA. Some of these teams have multiple guys that are better. Arguments can be made that BUF, MIA, PHI, DET also possess a better number-one option than Crabtree.

I like Crabtree. I liked him coming out of the draft and I loved him when he became a free agent after the 2014 season and signed with the Raiders. At this point, however, Crabtree is not a top 20 wide receiver in the NFL.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp

John Brown is the only speed threat in the Ravens new WR corps. Image Credit: USA Today

Brown has impressed throughout training camp and has been the star of the offseason in Baltimore. Brown has struggled throughout his career to stay healthy, missing multiple games with hamstring and quad injuries among other ailments. Brown played just ten games last year, starting five, and only tallied 21 catches for 299 yards and three touchdowns for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals allowed Brown to leave via free agency this offseason to sign a one-year $5 million contract with the Ravens. The Cardinals have opted to go with Chad Williams (who?), rookie Christian Kirk and veteran  J.J. Nelson at WR to assist Larry Fitzgerald.  The Cardinals believe that players with a combined 32 NFL receptions last season offer them more than the departed Brown. With that being said, let’s tamper our expectations of Brown’s potential impact in Baltimore.

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Willie Snead will be looking for a bounce back year in Baltimore. Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens

Snead has been the quietest of the offseason receiver additions this preseason. He is coming off of a season in which he caught just eight passes for 92 yards and zero touchdowns. Snead signed an offer sheet with the Ravens for two years and $10.4 million and the New Orleans Saints declined to match the offer which landed him with the Ravens.

Snead was suspended for the first three games of last season with a violation of the NFL’S personal conduct policy. He also battled injuries throughout much of last season, appearing in just 11 games all year. Additionally, he had the benefit of playing with a top five quarterback in Drew Brees during his first two years in the NFL where he posted averages of 70 catches and 939 yards. There are also no players on the Ravens that match the ability of Michael Thomas or Brandin Cooks who were the top targets in New Orleans during Snead’s tenure. He is a wild card at this point in his career.

The point is while the excitement could be validated with huge years from the Ravens offseason additions, the possibility definitely exists that this group could flop and become an issue for the Ravens. The depth behind the starters is currently Chris Moore, Jordan Lasley and Janarion Grant.

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Chris Moore could be thrust into the starting lineup if John Brown or Willie Snead prove unable to stay on the field. Image Credit: Pressbox

Moore, a fourth-round pick in 2016 is looking to build off his best season in the NFL where he tallied 18 grabs for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He is the only backup wide receiver on the roster with NFL experience and in what was a poor group for the Ravens last year, Moore produced minimal impact at best.

Lasley is a 2018 fifth-round pick out of UCLA and has struggled throughout the preseason.  He looks to be more of a project at this point, but could be pressed into action if the aforementioned starters struggle to stay on the field which has often proven to be the case with Brown and Snead.

Grant is an undrafted rookie out of Rutgers who projects to be the leading candidate to return punts and kicks this season. He does not figure to factor into the receiving game and did fumble a kick in the preseason. He had just 99 catches in his four-year collegiate career.

These are your wide receivers, Ravens fans. Three starters that were jettisoned from their previous teams, a player who made minimal impact in a poor receiving group last year, and two rookies.

I know that Perriman was a very unpopular player in Baltimore. I have conceded that I believed he would be cut. I will concur that he has not developed into the NFL wide receiver we all hoped he would be when he was drafted. I will further agree that perhaps his time in Baltimore had to come to an end because of all of the above facts.

I ask that you consider the points that I have made on behalf of Perriman and ask yourself this question: If Brown and/or Snead gets hurt or struggle (their past few seasons have indicated they will), what are the Ravens going to look like at wide receiver with Crabtree, Moore, Lasley and Grant?

They are going to look a lot like last year’s Ravens offense. And while we may disagree on Perriman, we can all agree that nobody wants to see that.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun