Luke Jones gets you ready for Rams and talks Kimbrel signing

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
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In his weekly appearance on the Dennis Koulatsos Show, Luke Jones sounded off on the Craig Kimbrel signing, the Orioles’ lease false alarms and stalls and the Ravens tackling a tough holiday slate beginning with the Los Angeles Rams on a cold, wet December day.


year, ravens, game, orioles, bullpen, talking, baltimore, craig kimbrel, play, rams, team, week, lamar jackson, question, win, postseason, quarterback, injury, afc north, marlon humphrey


Luke Jones, Dennis Koulatsos

Luke Jones  00:00

Be welcome back.

Dennis Koulatsos  00:03

My next guest My first guest as always is a great if not brilliant? Luke Jones always doing great things covering all things that are sports here for Baltimore positive 1570 Am wn St. Luke. Welcome in.

Luke Jones  00:16

Dennis How are you my friend? It’s great to talk to you.

Dennis Koulatsos  00:19

You too my friend couldn’t wait to talk to you especially with the with the latest oil signing you know I’m I’m still a neophyte when it comes to, to covering and watching the Orioles and on the surface I saw we we signed a 35 year old picture. I believe his record is eight and six last year 35 years old, I would think is best baseball behind them versus ahead of him. Certainly, it’s gonna it’s a step towards helping the rotation but not in the category of Felix Batista.

Luke Jones  00:48


Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s this is certainly the kind of move that they’re going to need to make for the bullpen. There’s no doubt about that. As we know Felix Batista underwent Tommy John surgery back in October, he’s expected to miss the entire 2024 season which is nothing new. So we knew all along that the Orioles are gonna have to do something as it pertained to their bullpen when you look at their postseason pitching staff 25 career saves Craig Kimbrel last year 23 saves for the Philadelphia Phillies and look, I mean, what you said is true. He’s 35 years old. This is someone who’s had a Hall of Fame caliber career somebody is going to be in that conversation. At the very least he’s a nine time All Star helped the Boston Red Sox won a World Series back in 2018. His best years are were early on with Atlanta when I mean this guy for a time was the best reliever in baseball. So he’s not that guy anymore. And I think where a lot of Orioles fans are taking pause, and understandably so is seeing how he really struggled in the postseason last year for the Phillies were in the middle of that series when it looked like the Phillies were on their way to go on four back to back National League pennant and going back to the World Series. He really lost his command and did not pitch well and was one of the factors not the only factor as I’ve seen, some people suggest, but one of the factors that led to the Phillies falling to Arizona and the NLCS so there’s certainly some volatility. I’ll say that there is volatility with any reliever and the reality was the Orioles weren’t going to go out there even if they could have even if they should have even if they have the financial flexibility. They weren’t going to sign Josh Hader you know, who was projected by some to ultimately get $100 million contract and we’ll see what the numbers fall fall for him whenever he lands somewhere. So if you’re talking about a one year bridge, if you’re talking about a one year stop gap, if you’re talking about someone with closing experience that can maybe have a little bit of a Kyle Gibson lake effect for the bullpen in the same way that Gibson mentored Grayson Rodriguez and Kyle Bradish last year, on the way to those two having breakout years. I know you’re hoping that Craig Kimbrel can have some of that effect. But certainly when you’re investing a $13 billion contract $12 million, and then a million dollar buyout. If they don’t exercise, a club option for 2025. You’re looking for production, and there were things to like. It’s not as though he had a terrible season by any stretch of the imagination a 3.26 era as I mentioned, 23 saves still has a strikeout rate that ranked I saw one source indicated ranked in the top 10 among relievers in Major League Baseball where we talked about this a lot when Batista went down in late August last year, the Orioles struggled to miss bats. You know, their bullpen didn’t strikeout, strikeout enough people down the stretch, save for just a couple guys, you know, DL Hall and CNL Perez on occasion. But for the most part, they were depending on pitch to contact guys, which you don’t really want in your bullpen when you’re talking about trying to protect late leads. So there’s risk involved with this. There’s no doubt about this, as I’m working on right now at Baltimore It’s interesting that this is the third straight year now, in early December that the Orioles have reached a one year contract with a pitcher last year it was Kyle Gibson right around this time, of course for the rotation. Two years ago, it was Jordan Lyles for the starting rotation, but obviously the stakes are much higher. Now. Even last year, there was an unknown as far as okay, just how good are the Orioles going to be in the season to come? We’ve seen this team won 101 games. Now it’s not a case of taking the next step in terms of wins and losses in the regular season. It’s now taking the next step in terms of repeating as a division champ repeating as a team going to the postseason and much more so and more importantly, taking the next step in October. So from that standpoint, you look at Craig Kimbrel and you say okay, you know, the postseason track record isn’t the best, but this is some One has been around a long time. And if you’re the Orioles and they’ve had some success with some pitchers that they’ve been able to quote unquote fix or tweak a little bit you know whether you’re talking about more so unknowns, but also some some some pitchers who, whose careers seem to be kind of at a crossroads and the Orioles have been able to fix them. So, you know, I, you certainly don’t want it to be a case where they have to, you know, there’s the risk that he completely falls apart, which you know, when you’re 35 and you’ve struggled late in the season, there’s a little bit of concern there but at the same time, as much as I have concerns about ownership and the business side for the Orioles, I do trust the baseball operation side of very, at a very high level. So from that standpoint, you know, I feel good that I think Craig Kimbrel can give them good production. I’m you know, I’m fine with this signing I am I over the moon about it? No, but I’m not as down on it, as I’ve seen some people be because overall Kimbrel still pitch pretty well, but at the same time, if this bullpen is going to thrive without Felix Batista, yes, Craig Kimbrel is going to have to be an important part of that and they’re signing him to be an important part of that, but it’s probably still going to come back to guys like DL haul if he’s not in the starting rotation. Tyler wells if he’s not in the starting rotation, you’re Cano repeating what he did last year for the Oreos, which was being an all star setup, man. You know, CNL Perez, I mean, go down the list of Mike Bauman. You know if he can hone his command a little bit better as he gets more more and more accustomed to the bullpen. So I think it’s still going to depend on some younger guys. Maybe there’s still another a bullpen addition to be made at some point here this offseason, but certainly the Orioles are, you know, they placed a $13 million bet on Craig Kimbrel anchoring that bullpen raising the floor of that bullpen and not just pitching well, but also, you know, being someone who gives that group a little bit more of a veteran presence, you know, someone that can mentor some of these younger guys in the way that like I said that Kyle Gibson did that for the rotation last year. So you know, there’s definitely some unknown here but Dennis, anyone who knows baseball will tell you that bullpen arms Yeah, say for the all time greats, you know the the best of the absolute best volatilities just part of it, and you’ll find even some of the best relievers over the last 2025 years. Yeah, they have their their ebbs and flows, they have their peaks and valleys, they’ll have some years where, you know, things are up and down. So Kimbrel bounce back last year from a rough 2022. So you know, you’re hoping that can continue and you’re hoping that the Orioles maybe a couple tweaks here and there, maybe make make that command a little, you know, refine that command a little bit, make them a little more successful against left handed pitcher or left handed hitters, but overall, I’m okay with this deal. I don’t think it’s a homerun. But I don’t think it’s the the failure that I’ve seen some fans kind of panicking over I do kind of chuckle I mean, we we say we want the Orioles to spend money and and I get it. You want them to spend it wisely. But Craig Kimbrel among the options that were out there that weren’t going to require a multi year contract, I think you can do a lot worse than him at this point in time. Luke,

Dennis Koulatsos  08:24

I guess if you’re like Elias, you have a certain budget that you have to work within. So it’s not shocking that the they’re not going to make a splash signing, perhaps a splash trade. Sometimes it’s summer, but you know, you need ingredients to make chicken salad. Right. So that will leave it at that. I will No disrespect to anyone. But I guess they’re going to hope that the young team gets better that you know, all the young guys are a year older, more mature, the game has slowed down for them in the weight room, all these things and hoped that the pitching come together for him.

Luke Jones  09:03

And no question about it. I mean, as I mentioned, you know, I was talking a lot about the bullpen. I mean, I will say this much. If this ends up being your big time acquisition and you don’t do as much for the starting rotation, which we’ve talked about it at length. I mean, I love Kyle Bradish I know Kyle radish earned Cy Young Award votes. I mean, that’s how good he was in 2023. I love the upside of Grayson Rodriguez who I get it. He was disappointing in his postseason start. I can tell you Hall of Fame pitchers who that does disappoint. Disappointing playoff starts including Clayton Kershaw last October, but you know beyond those two to me, you still want to add another starting pitcher that you can slot into, even if it’s not the number one spot or the number two spot at least in the number three spot that you can kind of say okay, if you’re talking about the Orioles, the top half of the rotation, you’ve got Bradish you’ve got Grayson Rodriguez and you’ve got pitcher X whoever you’re bringing in You know, and as you alluded to, it could very well be a trade. So, you know, that’s still very much something that’s that’s hopefully in the cards for the Orioles. If it’s not, then you know, you look at the Craig Kimbrel signing and say, okay, is that going to be enough to help the Orioles as the rest of the Al East continues to try to get better, you know, as we saw with the Yankees acquiring Juan Soto late Wednesday nights. So, you know, it’s not as though the other team stayed the same. And we talked about this same concept with the Ravens in the AFC north, you know, with the Bengals and the browns and the Steelers every offseason. So you’re you’re getting better, you’re getting worse. So the Orioles hope that they’ve gotten better in their bullpen with Craig Kimbrel. But certainly, they still have work to do as it pertains to their starting rotation. And I think that’s where the focus now shifts, as Mike Elias alluded to Wednesday night as the winter meetings were wrapping up. And

Dennis Koulatsos  10:54

then there’s the matter of the lease expires, December 31, I saw with a stadium authority said that they’re gonna go to a month a month, type of a deal until they get the matter resolved. Again, it’s still it’d be nice if they put it behind them now look.


Luke Jones  11:18

Yeah, I mean, I don’t really even know what to say about it at this point in time. I mean, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not following the minutiae of that extremely closely as I’m trying to walk, you know, cover the ravens and keep tabs on what the Orioles are trying to do on the baseball side. But as we’ve said, Now, for the better part of a few years, I know, Nestor and I’ve talked about it at length, Dennis, you and I’ve talked about it at various times. I mean, it’s a story until it’s not anymore, and John Angeles can continue to offer empty platitudes about you know that the Orioles are gonna be here as long as Fort McHenry and all these different things. We’ve heard him say where his actions, I don’t want to say his actions suggest otherwise. But his actions don’t reflect what he says right? He’s not backing up what he says we’ve seen him be dishonest with dealings with the media over the last calendar year. So until there’s a signed lease, yeah, there’s not so much for me, it’s not so much doubt that the team’s going to move. But until this is resolved, it continues to impact everything they do, including on the baseball side in terms of setting a payroll in terms of telling Mike Elias, what his budget is in terms of being able to acquire players and resign Gunnar Henderson to a contract extension or Adley, rutschman, to a contract extension, or Grayson Rodriguez, to a contract extension or Jackson holiday. So it’s it’s part of the story until it’s not anymore. And you know, in the case of what we hear, and John Angelos has talked about this, I mean, they, they, the Orioles and Angelo’s clearly want development rights to, you know, around the ballpark. And, you know, is the state willing to do that? Should the state do that? You know, would that be a good deal for the city and for the state, and I think that’s where, you know, Nestor has talked about this, and really sunk his teeth into this so much deeper than I have, you know, that’s where of the there are some very fair questions as far as what makes the most sense. So, you know, I think this deal, it’s important to get it right. It’s important not to rush in and anything for either side, you know, if they’ve got to do some short term leases, you know, I don’t know, if it’s so much month, a month, or you sign, you know, a one year extension to your extension, however, you know, the structure looks fine, but, you know, that that, then that continues to be a part of the part of the discussion, a part of that long term concern, as far as the Orioles being viable and being able to thrive in Baltimore long term, you know, and, you know, not so much from a standpoint of believing them and in terms of crying poor, but you want to make a deal that’s going to make sense for all parties involved. And sometimes that takes time. But I think, with everything that’s happened, including the public, you know, what is now very obviously, what was a publicity stunt with the announcement, which ended up being a Memorandum of Understanding rather than a real lease, the night that the Orioles clinched the Al East when we saw John Angelos and governor of West Moore, on the video board, celebrating kind of presenting it as though they had a deal done. And obviously, they don’t, as we’re now approaching mid December. So, you know, it’s something that, you know, I wouldn’t expect the casual fan to be paying much attention to and there’s, you know, as is the case with anything pertaining to government, and stadia, and all those details, you know, it’s not terribly compelling, you know, as it pertains to sports or something like that, but it’s still it’s very important and It impacts everything else they’re trying to do so until a deal is struck it’s part of it and we’re going to continue to talk about it and in the absence of a lease there’s still that you know that shred of doubt that you know, okay, what what’s going on with the long term, long term health and prosperity of the Baltimore Orioles? Well,

Dennis Koulatsos  15:22

thankfully and gratefully, Luke those doubts do not exist with the their NFL counterpart, the Baltimore Ravens, solid organization, solid ownership, everything’s signed, no chance of the Ravens going anywhere anytime soon. Not that I think there’s a chance that we’re really going to go anywhere, either. But the stability of the organization, I think it’s, it’s phenomenal. And now at nine and three after the VI, they’re getting a little bit healthier. So it seems took care of business against the Chargers. And now we have the Rams coming in as well as weather. One of my colleagues just told me before we went on the air, that close to two inches of rain are expected high winds. But that doesn’t bode well for the Rams passing game. Although the quarterback Matthew Stafford does have a cannon for an arm.

Luke Jones  16:16

Yeah, I mean, whenever you have weather like this, you never really know what’s going to what it’s going to mean. I mean, certainly for teams that, you know, depend on their fat their passing game heavily, you know, it’s something that wouldn’t bode well. But when you’re talking about heavy rain, when you’re talking about the possibility of high winds, you know, which I’ve seen that I mean, that wreaks havoc on just about everything. And even, you know, even talking about the running game, how’s the footing of the field, you know, of the field, which from what I understand, I think they put in new new sod during the bye week, you know, from from what I understand that there is going to be a new field, which is it’s pretty typical this time of year at m&t Bank Stadium, but, you know, in the case of the Rams, I mean, for me, I and I think this was going to be pretty pivotal for them. Anyway, I look at the running game with Cameron Williams. I mean, you know, I think if there’s a relative and I don’t want to say weakness, because I think that would be way too strong. But if there’s a relative softer, not soft spot, but softer spot for this ravens defense, it probably is their run defense. And we’ve seen that on occasion. Although certainly, they cleaned it up the last couple, you know, their last couple games after they had the really bad second half against the Browns back in week 10. But, you know, if the Rams can stay on schedule, and give themselves manageable third downs, you know, regardless of the weather, which is going to be an unknown and, you know, until kickoff, you know, we’ll see what the forecast looks like between now and Sunday at one o’clock, but nothing can get Cameron Williams running the football effectively. That’s when this rams offense to me becomes really dangerous because it puts a little less on Matthew Stafford’s plate, who I think is having a good season obviously had the injury. A little while back. But I mean, you know, you have Cooper cup who obviously has dealt with health concerns, but he’s, you know, he’s back. He’s on the field. And you have pook and Akua, who has been? Yeah, one of the great stories of the 2023 season, I mean, if not for CJ Stroud, pooping Akua would be the slam dunk offensive Rookie of the Year, you know, over 1000 yards already as a fifth round pick. It’s just been nothing short of remarkable. So this is a rams team that has some firepower. There’s no doubt about it. And I think yeah, a month ago, it was looking like this was going to be much more of a layup kind of game. And now I still fully expect the ravens to win but you know that this is still rams team that has some good. I mean, obviously, they have hauled you know, some Hall of Fame talent on either side of the ball. But they’ve got some young players who have stepped up and played well for them. So, you know, this is not a team that was just going to lay out, you know, lay down there, they’re not just going to roll over and just, you know, take the kind of beating that the ravens are certainly capable of laying on them I don’t think so. You know, I think again, with the weather running game becomes more important footing become so important the kicking game becomes much more interesting. So we’re gonna have to see how it played that plays out but I do think if the Rams the Rams formula for keeping this game close and having a chance, and Matthew stat not putting too much on Matthew Stafford’s plate, and then the Rams having a chance to hit on some big plays. For me, it really does begin with their running game and Karen Williams is averaging What 5.1 yards per carry, you know, he’s certainly capable and it’s a Sean McVeigh offense you know, you definitely don’t sleep on that group despite the fact that there was such small expectations for the Rams going into the 2023 season.

Dennis Koulatsos  19:52


No, absolutely. And ravens looks like Marlon Humphrey is going to be a go. Any updates on just a matter BK?

Luke Jones  20:03

He was listed as limited on Wednesday which indicates he’s still in the concussion protocol. So he wasn’t made available to talk to reporters on Wednesday in the locker room but the fact that he was on the field that lends itself to think you never know with concussion so let’s be very clear about that. We know that that that’s the caveat that we should all remember no matter what but the fact that they had the bye week the fact that he’s been on the practice field this week should be a good sign for him being cleared in time you know, we’ll get a better indication as we get towards the end of the week certainly want to be on the wn St. Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by couldn’t afford a Baltimore for full clarity on that. But him practicing on Wednesday, I’ll be at still listed as limited. That should be a pretty good sign that he’s at least advancing through the concussion protocol and getting closer and closer to being cleared which would put him on track to be able to play on Sunday because we know how important Mata BK has been for their pass rush having that interior pass rush presence is just it’s been a game changer for this ravens defense. There’s no question about it. The Ravens

Dennis Koulatsos  21:07

also gained some ground by being off right during the bye week with the Browns losing and the Steelers losing to the Cardinals and then even the Bengals actually beating the Jaguars helped the the Ravens in terms of AFC conference seedings.

Luke Jones  21:23

Yeah, no question about it. I mean, it was a very fruitful week for the Ravens despite the fact that they’re technically no longer in the the number one spot going into the week, which luck, it’s week 14, there’s still a long way to go. But they do still technically control their path to a postseason berth. If they would win out because they obviously have the head to head with Miami. I’m not really expecting this team to win out. You know, that doesn’t mean they can’t go for one. But it is a very daunting schedule. There’s no question about it. So everything you just laid out there, they’ve got a full two game cushion in the AFC north now, I think even through the lens of looking at the Bengals, the Bengals are not out of it. Not so much in terms that I feel that they’re any kind of a threat to win the division. But as they’re playing other teams, you know, whether you’re talking about division foes or other teams in the conference, I mean, yeah, that that gives them a little more juice to keep playing hard. And maybe, you know, given the during the ravens and other solid like they did on Monday night. So you know, Kansas City lost Kansas City has a really, really interesting matchup this week, with with buffalo. I mean, it’s, you know, you look at that game, you’re half the bills. They’re six and six, I get it, and the math is not looking good for them. anybody watched the bills against Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, I still think the bills are from a true talent level. Or I still think they might be a top four team in the AFC. But this is another one of those games where it’s like, at some point, you’ve got to, like you can’t, you know, especially gets tough teams, it’s you’re not in a position where you can lose a heartbreaker like they did against the Eagles, right? I mean, they they looked really good. Josh Allen looked phenomenal in that football game. But they just they dropped so many games early in the year and we talked about this with the Bengals as well, you get to the point where you just the math is probably not going to add up. But the point is, they knock off Kansas City then then you’re talking about the Ravens their path to a number one seed improving even more, you know what with if Kansas City drops this game Sunday, so yeah, there’s a long way to go. But the ravens are in such excellent position right now. If they handle their own business, if they can go for one. I really liked their chances to be the number one seed I really do. But going forward one knowing not just as we alluded to the rams are better than you thought they were a month ago. So but that’s the easiest game left, then you’re talking at Jacksonville, which I’m guessing Trevor Lawrence will probably be back for that game, even though it looks like probably won’t play this week. I’m guessing that they’re hoping for that scenario. I mean, who knows? It’s glad to see by the way, I was glad to see that ankle injury not that, you know, don’t want to see the league continue to deal with it. Maybe it’s good for the Ravens but from an entertainment from a compelling standpoint. I don’t want to see this just war of attrition continue where we’re seeing backup quarterbacks playing every week just in general, but we’ll see about Trevor Lawrence, but tough, tough tests go into Jacksonville, San Francisco, I mean, everyone’s gonna be talking about that as a potential Super Bowl preview and rightfully so. I mean, we’ll see. I’ve said for about a month now, Dennis that no one in the league is playing better than the Ravens 40 Niners playing better than the Ravens right now. 40 Niners playing better than they’re kind of on their own level right now. That’s how dominant they’ve been since getting everyone back. But that doesn’t mean that doesn’t mean the Ravens won’t win that night doesn’t mean the Ravens can’t win that night doesn’t mean the Ravens won’t be better. When it’s all said and done. But that game then you come home, New Year’s Eve You’ve, what’s the weather going to be like? Because to me, that’ll be everything talking about the dolphins who, you know, I just talked about the Rams, dolphins can run the heck out of the football. And obviously they’ve got such an explosive passing game. So, you know, if it’s 30 degrees and windy, then that’s a different you know, that’s a different story as far as the matchup if it’s unseasonably warm on New Year’s Eve, then who knows what’s going to happen in that game? So no, so yeah, that game and then through after all, that the Steelers come to town week 18. And I get it the Steelers, Kenny pick, it’s out now who knows what’s going to happen? Their offense is still lousy, their defense laid a total egg against the Cardinals this past week. But the Steelers have had the Ravens number than for the last three years. I mean, they just have Let’s call a spade a spade. So you know, that’s. So if it’s coming down to week 18. And the Ravens need to win that game to you know, whether we’re talking about the the number one seed whether we’re talking about the division, whether you’re talking about wanting to have the number two seed, whatever, whatever is at stake in that game for the ravens, Steelers coming to town, there’s you don’t make any assumptions, right. You know, we’ve seen that we’ve seen that movie on either side way too many times. So, you know, long story short, if the ravens, if we’re talking about the Ravens on January 10, having the number one seed and a first round by and they’re getting some rest, and they’re getting a little bit of work in before players get off their feet that week, they will most certainly earned it because that is that is quite the gauntlet that they’re going to have to run here over these last five weeks. So the good news is they’re relatively healthy, as we just mentioned. And you know, there’s some questions. I still have my questions about this passing game, especially with Mark Andrews status in flux until at least late in the postseason. So, you know, there’s questions there, but every team has questions. And I think from that standpoint, you feel really good about where the Baltimore Ravens are. But they’ve got to start fast. Certainly don’t want to be sleeping on this rams team on Sunday because it’s a rams team that as the Browns found out, you know, with Joe Flacco at the helm, who played well enough for them know when their defense really stunk on Sunday. You know, that that vaulted Browns defense is really what costs in that football game on Sunday. So so from that standpoint, I think the ravens and you’d like to think they were paying attention and said hey, you know we’ve got to come out and start fast, be sharp, be ready to play after coming off the bye week because the Rams team that hey, they’re right in the mix in the NFC wildcard race as well.


Dennis Koulatsos  27:31

They are and looking at the division the Steelers host the Patriots Thursday night. Featuring and out Mitch Trubisky at quarterback so they’ve got a quarterback change and can’t be much worse and Kenny pickets the Browns host the Jaguars and I don’t even know who the backup quarterback the travel Lawrence’s haven’t even looked at that far ahead. And then we have the the Bengals right the Bengals are hosting the Colts and the cold sir. We saw they were decent team when they ravens lost to him earlier in the season at m&t Bank Stadium and Jake Browning played very well in the victory against the Jaguars. But anything can happen on any given Sunday with these division games. No

Luke Jones  28:17

question about it. And to clear up your question CJ bethard Is the backup for Jacksonville? Yeah. You know, he actually I mean, it’s

Dennis Koulatsos  28:26

a year is a year of the backup quarterback. It really is.

Luke Jones  28:29


It’s amazing, right? I mean, that’s, that’s where, you know, and we’ve talked about this for a while. And we look at the calendar. And we remember where the Ravens were last year at this time. We remember where the Ravens were about to be last year at this time, two years, or two years ago at this time, where they were about to be going into that Cleveland game where Lamar Jackson got hurt. I mean, Lamar Jackson is the last starting quarterback standing in the AFC North right now. I mean, it sounds like pick, it will be back for the very end of the season. But

Dennis Koulatsos  28:57

if you had a bunch of money at the beginning of the season, who the last quarterback will be standing after 12 games in the AFC north, it wouldn’t have been it wouldn’t have been Lamar Jackson.

Luke Jones  29:06

No, no, I’m

Dennis Koulatsos  29:07

glad it is.


Luke Jones  29:08

Yeah, not after the last couple years. But but that right there is a reminder, and you and I talked about this. So we don’t need to, you know, we don’t need to beat this subject to death. But it’s a you talk about it all the time. You know, you play long enough. It’s 100% injury rate. I mean, it just is. There are so few players who go through their career without suffering a major, major injury or at least some moderate injuries along the way. So you know that part’s always been a little overblown, but it’s also why you need to take advantage of your opportunities. And we talked about this at length after the 2019 season the way that it ended. And you look at this football team right now. I mean, the Andrews injury stinks. There’s no doubt about that. And there’s no downplaying that injury, but that said, overall they are relative The Healthy football team certainly in better shape than they’ve been here in recent years. And like you said, you look at the rest of the division. You know, Joe burrow. Jake Browning nice story this past week. Bengals aren’t doing anything with a Jake Browning they’re probably not making the playoffs let alone doing anything beyond that of, of meaning to Shaun Watson done for the year now, Joe Flacco. Can he lead the Browns to help get the Browns to the playoffs? Yeah, do I think a 38 year old Joe Flacco is gonna do what a 28 year old Joe Flacco did. No, I don’t. So now you go down the list. I mean, you kind of look at it. And that’s why everyone talks about obviously, begins with Kansas City, Patrick mahomes. Tua has stayed healthy this year and the dolphins while I still have very legitimate questions about their ability to beat tough opponents because you look how flimsy their strength of victory is. At the same time, they’ve got some extraordinary talent. And at some point in time, they might put it all together. And you know, once you break through, you break through, right? Every team kind of starts out as an unknown until they break through and win it, you know, so. So you have those two teams, and you have the Ravens with a healthy Lamar Jackson right now. I mean, those, those three teams right now, Jacksonville, if Trevor Lawrence gets back and his ankle was okay, here in the next week or two, then I’ll still put them you know, because they’ve, if their quarterbacks upright and healthy and moving around, okay, in a couple of weeks, then they’ve got a chance. I saw someone make the comment. I think it was late Monday night after Lawrence left that game, that if you have a decent, if your quarter, if your starting quarterback is decent and healthy, you might be a Super Bowl contender at this point in time. And that’s what it feels like right now. I mean, it’s just, it is such I mean, it’s unbelievable. The attrition we’ve seen at the quarterback position in both conferences. So from that standpoint, knock on wood, you know, hold on to your lucky rabbit’s foot, you know, cross your fingers, say a prayer, whatever he wants to do to try to give up hope to contribute to Lamar Jackson’s sustained good health, as you know, as we all remember the last two years and even remember the scary had in that Thursday night game against the Bengals. But it is wild. Yeah. To your point. If you think back to August, if someone had told you then that three of the four starting quarterbacks in the AFC North would be injured in early December, two of them out for the year one of them out indefinitely. I don’t think too many people at that point in time would have said Lamar Jackson would be the one standing so again, I’m sure everyone listening to us right now Dennis are shrieking, saying that we’re putting the big Jinx on reality right now. Right? And we don’t believe jinxes

Dennis Koulatsos  32:50

we don’t believe it was nice to hear the more exactly no speaker, he’s matured a lot. Right? This speak about the opportunity? What’s in front of them, and he referenced 2019 and the lessons learned from that. And he said, I believe I’m paraphrasing something to the effect of you know, we go this year doesn’t mean we’ll ever go again. I mean, it’s he understands that the opportunities are fleeting. And you made mention this several times on the show about this group of ravens whether it’s Lamar, whether it’s Marlon Humphrey and a few others. They’ve won one playoff game, right? So they need to get in the playoffs and make a lot of noise. Yeah,

Luke Jones  33:28

I mean, Dennis Let’s call a spade a spade. I mean, even John Harbaugh has two playoff wins in the last, you know, since Super Bowl 47. Justin Tucker is the only player the only player left from the Super Bowl 47 team. I mean, that’s that’s a long timeline. Joe Flacco was in his 20s then Joe Flacco is getting ready to turn 39 next month. So, you know, that tells you how long it’s been. I mean, that’s an amenity. So yeah, this isn’t just the Lamar Jackson thing. But of course, hey, he’s the one making $260 million. The quarterback is at the top of the list, quarterback and head coach, are the two associated with wins and losses. Right? We know how that works. I mean, that’s, that’s that’s the business, right? That’s why it’s why the quarterback makes the big bucks. So but it’s not just Lamar, it’s all of these guys were, you know, they’ve had a lot of regular season success. There’s no, there’s no question about that. You know, we talked at length about the Mars win loss record in the regular season. But legacies are defined in January. And and that’s why I said at the time, and I know so many people said it at the time, because why wouldn’t you because you’re trying to make yourself feel better, because it was so disappointing at the time, you know, all these sentiments that the Ravens were young and they were a year ahead of schedule, and they’ll be back. And since then, we’ve seen what first of all COVID happened. No one could have predicted that and I mean, that was just a global event that impacted the NFL season. Lamar is injuries. The overall injuries they Add in 2021. Sure. I mean, it’s just other guys, you know, getting heard other guys moving on, you know, guys retire. I mean, you know, so there’s the NFL we say it all the time not for long right, you know, and that’s not to say that the Ravens have this window that’s closing, you know, Lamar is going to be what 27 Next month, you know, is he’s still, you know, even if you’re of the of the mind of having some question about how his game will age, you know, with his mobility and whatnot. And that’s, that’s fair, you know, if you just have a question about that, but even that, you know, 27, he’s not 32. So, but that said, look at this roster, look at the free agents that they put that are pending, look at what Lamar Jackson’s cap numbers going to be starting next year. I mean, that’s, that’s part of it, it’s part of it, that’s not a knock on the mark. That’s the cost of having a franchise quarterback. So you do look at this opportunity, you look at the injuries around the landscape of the AFC. And you say If not now, when? If not now, when is going? When is going to be the best opportunity? And yeah, that’s why I think there is some urgency and this team better than any other team in football today that hasn’t been to the top or hasn’t gotten to a Super Bowl, let’s say and last, this team should know better than anyone because of what happened to them in 2019. I mean, they were a great, great football team in that regular season. You know, I mean, we’ve talked about us, best point differential in the NFL since going all the way back to the O seven patriots, the famously undefeated patriots until the Super Bowl, and all these records that they set offensively and for all the all the grief that Greg Romans gotten since then, I mean, that was a historically great ravens offense, best ravens offense in franchise history, all that they lost, and they haven’t gotten back to that. Yeah, that benchmark. Since now, they’ve got a chance here. They could be the number one seat, they could be the team that has a first round bye. And look, that’s not the end all be all. But you’d rather have that than not, you’d rather have that than have to go on the road and play an extra game, just to get to the Superbowl. So they’ve got a heck of an opportunity here. But Tamara’s point, they remember 2019 They remember how quickly that evaporated. They were the best team in football until three hours later, and they were done. I mean, that’s how quick it is. I mean, you know, we talked about this with the Orioles getting swept by the rangers and a three and a best of five, they got swept in three games. I mean, that’s three games that over four days, this is three hours that it can just be over like that. So yeah, you want to take take advantage. But part of you know, part of the task in doing that is compartmentalizing and focusing on this week. And knowing that you have to beat the Los Angeles Rams. And ro Quan Smith said that, you know, it’s all about this week, we can’t get ahead of ourselves, we’ve got a great opportunity, we know that these guys aren’t dumb. They know what the standings look like, they know what the health situation looks like for the rest of the division. And looking around at, you know, much of the rest of the AFC in the NFL, for that matter, you know, with some of the quarterback injuries and whatnot. But you can’t do all that in one one day, you can’t do all that in three hours, the only thing you can do in three hours Sunday is beat the Rams to improve the 10 and three and you do that you’re improving your odds, you’re improving your chances, you’re leaving yourself less work to do for the remainder of the season to get to where you want to go. So got a great opportunity, but it can, it can end just like that. And I think that’s the biggest lesson. Not that there are, you know, there aren’t that many guys left from the 2019 team, which is another reminder of how things quickly change. I mean, they’re a good number, but it’s not as many as you would think quite frankly, if you go back and look at that roster. So, you know, they, they certainly have a great opportunity here. But boy, they got to take advantage because on paper, it’s it is going to become more difficult, you know, after this year, you know from a roster building standpoint.

Dennis Koulatsos  39:12

Well, they have to get healthy and Luke I think the lessons that we took away is here in Baltimore, the 2000 Super Bowl team as well as the 2012 Super Bowl team. There was nothing to indicate at midseason that those teams would walk away with the Lombardi Trophy right but they they caught lightning in the bottle I mean it 2000 I mean the difference the offense and then in 2012 they had the camp cabourn fiasco it’s going on and a lot of turmoil and mount McKenney at left tackle or not and and so they put it together to hopefully this team catches fire it gets hot the last few weeks of the season gets momentum about them then does some damage in the playoffs. Yeah, and

Luke Jones  39:50

that’s what’s gonna be so interesting about this five game stretch. I mean, we’ve talked a lot about the you know, the number one seed we talked about the first round by you know those possibilities but you Look at this team right now. And what they’ve won six of their last seven, you know, you would always already kind of say that they’re pretty hot as it pertains to just looking in terms of wins and losses. So you do look at that and say, okay, they could run the table, and they’d be the number one seed and they’d have the first round die. But then, then, then those doubts start to creep on and say, okay, you know, are they? are they setting themselves up for a repeat of 2019? So, you know, is it a case of, you know, you go out to save, for example, and I’m just throwing this out there as one example, since you brought it up, but go out to San Francisco, play your hearts out, maybe lose on a late field goal or something like that. But that game has a playoff kind of feel to it. And maybe, maybe that allows you to recalibrate a little bit, and then you do get hot. I mean, who knows? You know, that this is

Dennis Koulatsos  40:48

luck that happened. But there’s, do you think that John Harbaugh would would do things differently this time? Should the Ravens get a home for the number one seed out of a first round? Bye?

Luke Jones  40:59

I do I think what he would do is, and I think you have to be smart about this. I don’t, I am not at all suggesting that you shut things down entirely in week 18. If if you’ve clinched and the chances of that happening are probably not very likely given the landscape of the AFC right now. But I think you probably give guys some action, you probably treat it how the Ravens kind of played the finale in Cincinnati last year, right. I mean, they they set out a few of their starters, but other guys played and you know, they they kind of did things that way. So but I also think that Dennis, I think that rest verse rusting also, I think that becomes such a self fulfilling prophecy. I don’t think that’s the reason why the Ravens lost to the title. I think the Ravens went out there and they, they played a lousy football game that day, they turn the ball over, they had been so great on fourth downs, fourth, fourth, and ones all year and they got stopped on two of them. Marlon Humphrey gets beat for a touchdown. You know, they let Derrick Henry, you know, kind of push them around field


Dennis Koulatsos  42:04

position was an issue. They missed a lot of different things in that game. But again, I would think that they would do things a little bit differently. I’m sure they would. Sure. Sure. Having lessons learned from 2019, which again, was something that really resonated with me and I just listened to Lamar Jackson. Talk about it. Yeah. Also ro Quan Smith, Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, really glad to see that. I remember when class Campbell wanted, he actually won the award, I believe the year before he got the the Ravens always great to have these kind of guys in the locker room, as well as on the field.

Luke Jones  42:35

It is I mean, we, we so easily forget, because of the money because of fantasy football, because of gambling. Just fandom, you know, just wanting your team to do well, you know, whether you’re a season ticket holder, or someone that just tunes in every week, and, you know, we sometimes forget about there’s still humanity to this, right. And these are still human beings, these are still individuals who are fathers, their, their husbands, their brothers, their, their uncle’s, you know, their, their, their children to their own parents, and they deal with life things that anyone deals with, regardless of what your your tax bracket is. So so there’s that there’s an opportunity to make an impact that so many of these guys have. And, you know, it doesn’t get a lot of publicity, because, you know, frankly, it’s I don’t think most fans are that terribly interested in who a lot of these guys, you know, what they do off the field? I think a lot of people say they are and I don’t? And I’m not saying that the picket fence, I think, you know, there’s a reason they’re entertainers, right, they’re athletes in the same way that you watch an actor in a movie, you’re not really thinking about who that person is, you know, off off the set, but they are human beings. And so many of them do so many good things in something, you know, negative attention, you know, off field issues, arrests, you know, different things like that garner a lot of attention, understandably so. But for every situation like that, there are so many more where these guys make such a positive impact. And specifically speaking ro Quan Smith, someone who’s been here, just, what, 13 months now, you know, a little over a calendar year. And he’s he’s endeared himself to the community. He’s done a lot of work off the field. You know, he did a lot of work in Chicago off the field as well, you know, when he was a bear, so I think it’s important to, at least from time to time, understanding that, yes, first and foremost, their job is to succeed and play well on the football field. But I think it’s also important to recognize the work that so many of these guys do. And look, are there cameras involved some at times? Is there social media involved at times with that stuff? Sure, no question about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I can also tell you to Man, the number of players involved in the community who don’t get publicity for it don’t want publicity for it. And that, you know, that really says something about these individuals who yes, they are constant compensated very handsomely, but they are under no obligation, they are not required to do the things that so many of these individuals do in the community, but they choose to do so. And I think they should, they should be recognized for that properly. So, you know, great to see ro Quan Smith be the ravens, their nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, and we’ll see if he wins it if he does great. If not, you know, there are 31 other very deserving candidates around the league, who, you know, we’ll see how it plays out. But yeah, it’s important, especially this time of year, as we’re approaching the Christmas season and you know, coming off of thanksgiving to remember, yeah, you know, we were so concerned with 40 times and how many touchdowns a guy throws or catches or runs for how many tackles or sacks a player collects, but there are guys that are making a far greater impact than just what they do on the football field. There’s no question

Dennis Koulatsos  46:11

great stuff as always, Luke, please send our listeners where they can find you on WSJ. 1570 am Baltimore positive other great stuff you do your blog, and all of the other works. absolutely

Luke Jones  46:22


encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter at wn st can follow me personally at Baltimore. Look, check out my blog at Baltimore sponsored by Koons for the Baltimore the latest on the Ravens. I’ll have my thoughts on the Craig Kimbrel signing. But you can check out all of that at Baltimore. You wanna be on the wn St. Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by coons for the Baltimore any significant local sports news sent directly to your mobile device like the Craig Kimbrel signing on Wednesday via the wn S T Baltimore positive text service and of course anything throughout the week on AM 15 Seven eight with Nestor, ravens players and coaches interviews from Owings Mills postgame reaction from ravens rams check out all of that at Baltimore.

Dennis Koulatsos  47:03

All right, my friend you have fun this Sunday. You stay stay dry. Stay out of the elements. Are we looking forward though? We’ll all be looking forward to your tweets.

Luke Jones  47:11

Sounds good Dennis. Enjoy the game and we’ll reconvene next week. You

Dennis Koulatsos  47:15

got it. There it goes. Luke Jones here in 1570 Am Baltimore positive wn S T we’ll take a quick break and come back right after this.

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