Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Ravens offense mired in nine-week slump

Five Ravens stats that stand out from Week 15
www.baltimoresun.com

Launched by the powerful right arm of Flacco, the Ravens rocketed off to their best offensive start through four games in team history. The Ravens averaged 344.4 net passing yards in those games. But since then, they have averaged 187.2 net passing yards per game. The statistical decline is not just limited to the passing attack, though. They have averaged 23.3 points after averaging 30.3 in the first four weeks and averaged 309 net yards of offense after averaging 424 in their first four games. Now, even with that great start, the Ravens rank 18th in total offense and 16th in passing offense.

Since Week 5, Baltimore's Net Yards per Attempt has been a woeful 5.39, which is 21st in the NFL during that span. They're also 21st in yards per rush since then, which helps explain why Cam Cameron lost his job the other day.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have allowed the fifth-lowest Net Yards per Attempt in the league this season, and are tied for the second-lowest yards per rushing attempt allowed. The Ravens needed to make a change at OC, but this doesn't appear the week their offense gets going again.

Knowshon Moreno is a hero

AFC grades: It's the Pats, then everybody else
www.usatoday.com

The Broncos had an unlikely hero in their 26-13 win Thursday night in Oakland: Running back Knowshon Moreno, who rushed for 119 yards on a career-high 32 carries. On a short week, Denver proved it could close out a game on the ground, something that was in question after losing starting running back Willis McGahee last month.

Having never read the words "hero" and "Knowshon Moreno" in the same sentence, I thought I'd pass this along.

The winds of fortune can change quickly.  One day you're supposed to be the next Herschel Walker.  Then you're running with the scout team.  A month later, you're back on the field playing as well as you ever have.

Regardless of your view on Moreno and his future with the Broncos, right now, it's okay to be excited to see the kid get another shot and to hope he makes the most of it.

Coach Manning?

Tony Dungy explains why Peyton Manning could never be a coach
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

Tony Dungy coached Peyton Manning for seven seasons in Indianapolis and gave him wide leeway to call the plays, run the offense and generally act like a coach on the field. But Dungy doesn’t think Manning could ever be a coach on the sideline…

“No, absolutely not, because he would expect that from everybody, and he doesn’t realize, everybody’s not Peyton Manning,” Dungy said. “Everybody doesn’t work that hard, everybody can’t be at that level all the time. It would frustrate him to death.”

Of course Peyton Manning isn't going to be a coach.  He's got pizzas to sell--a lot of them.

Ravens in turmoil as they prepare for Broncos

Cam Cameron fired by Baltimore Ravens as offensive coordinator
www.baltimoresun.com

Tired with the offense’s inconsistency and the lack of significant progression from quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens today let go much-maligned offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, according to team sources.

Clearly not an ideal way to head into the stretch run of a season, and while preparing for a game the magnitude of Sunday's looming visit from the Broncos.

The Sun's writers offer their reactions; Kevin Cowherd calls it a panic move, while Peter Schmuck says it was time for a change.

Jason Cole says the inability of Cameron and QB Joe Flacco to coexist necessitated the switch, while Jamison Hensley says the firing of Cameron - who had been on a one-year deal - is sure to please Baltimore's offensive players.

Updated 2:01pm ET

A watershed moment in Broncos history, and a name for us

Broncos-Raiders rivalry steaming Excerpt: "'77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age"
www.denverpost.com

Tom Jackson, in addition to covering backs out of the backfield and making tackles, devoted his energy to unleashing disdainful broadsides in the direction of the Oakland bench, including coach John Madden. After recovering a fumble late in the game near the sideline, Jackson got up, waved the ball, and spotted Madden a few feet away. “It’s all over, fat man!” he yelled.

On the NBC broadcast, sage play-by-play man Curt Gowdy, the voice of American sports and ‘The American Sportsman,’ mused that Sunday “has to be the greatest day in the history of the Denver franchise.”

Up to that point, it was.

Most of you know where our name came from, and some have learned the story from our About page. This excerpt from Terry Frei's book is an excellent retelling of the leadup to the 1977 showdown in Oakland, and the stunning touchdown pass from holder Norris Weese to kicker Jim Turner.

Reversing the Curse of Brett Kern

Holliday Gives Boost to Broncos
blog.denverbroncos.com

Since the Broncos signed wide receiver Trindon Holliday on Oct. 11, the 5-foot-5 return man has given the team exactly he was brought in for.

His contributions go well beyond his touchdown returns in back-to-back weeks against Cincinnati and Carolina. Dating back to Week 6, when he became a Bronco, Holliday leads the NFL with a 37.4 kick return average and ranks second in the NFL with a 13.0 punt return average.

When the Broncos acquired Holliday, they were 2-3. Since then, they are 7-0. With his 5-0 start as a Houston Texan before being let go, he is the only 12-0 player in the league.

Hey, remember when Josh McDaniels cut Brett Kern during a bye week?  And remember when the Broncos were 6-0?  And hey, do you remember when McDaniels replaced Kern with Mitch Berger (and fries)?  Finally, remember at the time, I tried rationalizing and defending the move?  Yeah, me too.  After the Broncos tanked, the move became known as the Curse of Brett Kern.

Well, that curse can kiss its ass good bye.  Trindon Holliday has restored the Broncos' karmic balance.

Now, about that Matt Prater voodoo doll...

Want a shot at the NFL?  Persevere, get lucky, and unlearn everything you know

The Hard Life of an N.F.L. Long Shot
www.nytimes.com

“Dude,” he said, as I stood staring at his dresser. “I swear to God, if someone tells me right now there’s some miracle body cream out there that would make me feel 100 percent and prevent me from getting hurt but that could also cause cancer or liver damage down the line, I’d use it in a heartbeat. I would.”

He picked up an empty bottle of anti-inflammatory pills and tossed it in the trash.  “Even if I make it,” he said, “the average career is what, three or four years tops. But if I get hurt now, I’m gone. It’s nothing personal. If I’m injured, I’m dead weight. I’m stealing their money. Do you know how many linebackers there are sitting home right now that want my job? Hundreds. I mean, let’s get real. As much as Coach Smith or Coach Pires might like me, it would be: ‘Hey, it’s been a fun ride. You’re a good kid. But see ya, Schiller!’ ”

What's life like for an undrafted NFL rookie?  Look no further than this excellent piece by Charles Siebert.  It's been sitting on our reading list for about a week, but it's well worth your time.  It will also make you appreciate guys like Tony Carter, Chris Harris, and Wesley Woodyard that much more.  

This piece also reminds me that I need to take the time to run the earnings numbers for a variety of NFL players over the course of different career scenarios and compare them to workers across several different fields.  I'd like to really understand the opportunity costs associated with pursuing what amounts to a long shot for most of these kids coming out of school.  After reading this article, one wonders if they really know what they're getting into.  

Paige: Fox, Elway, Manning seek Elway-like exit

Magazine: Denver is John Fox’s last stop
milehighsports.com

“I’m 57, and I don’t want to be coaching forever. I can’t see myself coaching well into my 60s, so this is it.”

There is, though, the other side. If they don’t win a Super Bowl this season or next, or the next, or perhaps the next, this also will [be] their final stop, and a new quarterback, a new coach and a new executive vice president would take over.

But Manning, Elway and Fox strive to ride off together from the Broncos and the NFL as champions.

It's not clear if Woody's suggesting any of the Elway/Fox/Manning triumverate would consider retirement if the Broncos were to win this year's Super Bowl. Rather, it reads likes a vague prediction that he'll later spin as proof of his own genius reporting. Either way, let's hope they're presented with that dilemma in a few months' time.

Ditching his wife for Manning led Stokley back to Broncos

Brandon Stokley knows it's good to be Peyton Manning's friend
www.usatoday.com

Manning promised Stokley tickets to the Duke-North Carolina basketball game if Stokley would come to Durham, N.C., to play catch. Stokley, after promising Lana they would reschedule the anniversary trip, accepted, even if he didn’t feel like he had much to offer…

“I never thought I would be part of the deal. I really didn’t. I never asked him for that,” Stokley said.

“That’s not why I wanted him to come here, so that I could come back. I wanted him to come here because I love watching him play, and I wanted my son to go to games and watch Peyton Manning play. I tried to sell him on the organization and the city, let him know it’s a great place to play football and raise a family.”

Anyone think Lana Stokley would take a trip to New Orleans for their 11th anniversary as a makeup for their postponed 10-year celebration?

Ray Lewis to return Week 15 against Broncos

Source: Ray Lewis back Dec. 16
espn.go.com

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, sidelined with a torn triceps, is expected to return on Dec. 16 to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, a team source told ESPN.

Back when Lewis suffered this injury, the matchup in Baltimore may have looked like just another hurdle to Denver making the playoffs. Seven weeks later, the game instead looms as a showdown that could determine whether one of these teams lands a first-round bye, or even home-field advantage throughout.

Of course, each team has two more games in the interim which could altogether change the narrative yet again, so we'll see just how big Broncos/Ravens turns out to be. But without having to go very far out on a limb, our prediction is that it will be ginormous.