Slowing down the Miami offense and earning the No. 1 seed

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Six months of work and there’s been one goal for the Baltimore Ravens – be the best team in the AFC when the final standings settle next week to earn some rest and home cooking in January. Luke Jones and Nestor assess the Ravens’ lofty Christmas perch and ways to beat Dolphins on Sunday to start 2024 with a playoff bye….


ravens, game, dolphins, play, lamar, team, week, defense, win, ray lewis, lost, mike florio, joe flacco, mvp, offense, flacco, niners, ravens defense, ball, baltimore


Nestor J. Aparicio, Luke Jones

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

Welcome back, W and S, G Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive I’ve got my new backdrop. It’s football season around here we have a rabid scratch offs and that we’re still talking about the past for cash and had a great conversation with John Martin about what if we go to the AFC Championship game to the Ravens winners get to throw football? Yes, they do. I don’t know what happens if they lose but either way there are no losers when you come out and you sport the Maryland crab cakes were presented by the Maryland lottery actually as the purple Oh snaps that I’m going to be giving away. Now what the schedule up as we enter the new year I have some new ideas. We’re certainly doing the biggest promotion we’ve ever done. Radio row week. So it’s about five six weeks out. Certainly all thoughts at the Ravens could be there next to us along with our friends at window nation and Jiffy Lube. And I still gotta get my oil changed. I just haven’t been doing a lot of driving here. Look up you know, it’s a weird week Right? Like they’ve every day felt like a Sunday and then there’s Christmas and then we you know we pray we eat we watch football we pray a little more and then things go well and you win and and then it’s a short week all of a sudden and for you certainly covering the team and being out there knowing how that gets crunched you know seven days becomes five when you gotta fly back from the West Coast are some thoughts about flexing the game and all of that. I know Christmas was last week but spirits are bright, aren’t they? And Owens I mean, I smell all of this coming out of these press conferences that I remember this and also smell coming out of Cleveland and watching Joe Flacco Zack there in front of a locker and saying, I remember Ray Lewis I remember all of this and the revelry around how good this football team can be and how and I’m writing my column this on this this week. They’ll break your heart quick but man when it’s high when big trust is trusting and you know when Steve McNair’s AirMech Nehring, and when Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed are defensing on you. And I think as we get into it with this campaign, what row Quan Smith and Patrick queen and where they are with Justin Mata BK and all these great players. It’s time to win a Super Bowl, as you and Brian Bailey pointed out earlier this week. Yeah,

Luke Jones  02:11

I mean, every team around the National Football League has been added for five months now straight. You know, they started in late July. You know, you’ve have a couple brief respites here and there, you get the bye week you get a few days at the end of the preseason, but it’s been five months of the grind, right? I mean, Marshall yonder, famously coined the phrase, embrace the grind, so many years ago, get comfortable being uncomfortable. And the ravens and those select teams around the NFL who have that golden opportunity now to play in the postseason. But more than that, for the ravens to have this path where you can stay at home to try to get to a Super Bowl. I mean, it’s a golden opportunity. So there’s so much excitement, so much optimism. Lots of talk this week about hey, as excited as we are about what’s ahead. We have to take care of business this week. And they know that they win. They’re the number one seed and they can talk about resting players against Pittsburgh and week 18. But if they don’t win, then that’s a different conversation. And you’re talking about a different week. 18. So as much as Christmas night was the Power Rankings game? Yeah, that was the game in terms of the last chance to really flash style points as much as you can. Yeah, they can, they can gain some more style points. If that matters at all this week, but it doesn’t, you just want to win. As I said to you a little bit earlier in the week, you can win three to two or you can win 41 to 40. Now just win this game. And you have that number one seed and you’re right back where you were 2000 in 2019, which was number one seed home field advantage. First round by and you know what, if that if that all happens, we’ll talk next week about debating rest verse rust and all that. But just the sheer probability you eliminate the wildcard round from the discussion, right, you’re already in the Final Four as it as it pertains to the AFC so it’s a great opportunity. It’s a chance to rest up and they are banged up this week. Dolphins also are it’s week 17 Everyone’s hurt and banged up around the NFL, Everyone’s tired. But this is such a great opportunity for the Baltimore Ravens and especially playing at home, especially knowing that it’s very simple. You know, there’s very little scoreboard watching at work. I mean, yeah, paying attention to Cleveland on Thursday night. Sure. But beyond that, you win and everything’s there for you in terms of number one seed and maximizing your opportunity to go to a Super Bowl. Now it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:47

Alright, we’ll do X’s and O’s in a minute. Okay, and jimmies and Joe’s and wattles and, you know, we’ll we’ll go through all of that right and who’s playing and who’s not and how that matchup goes. Let’s just talk about where their heads are and where the heads are. For the franchise because that’s what I’m writing about this week I’m writing about in my column this some legs of things we talked about the other day, which was my Wait never been here before. This is the greatest team ever. Okay? Stop 2019 MVP. Lamar is now I don’t think Lamar is in the MVP conversation. I think he is the MVP unless he throws five picks this week and two more next week and they they wind up as a wildcard. I mean, season still has to play out. He still has to stay healthy. Run around knocking are all the things that we talked about, but psychology of all of this have on the MVP were the best team. Mike Florio here’s a middle finger you know, whatever. The psychology that’s up there, Mike Florio thing was really weird. I mean, really weird, but that’s just me being a grown up like and whatever hardball psychology is or whatever Chad steel or guys find on their phone or whatever they’re fed. To be so enraged about Mike Florio, I found that to be sort of comical, like in the end, and I’m not going to write Purple Reign three. I’m kind of writing it as we go along here week by week. But the psychology of I’m not here in the MVP thing. The look on Lamar is face of sort of were locked in, you’re out there, you’re allowed to be out there, I’m no longer What are you feeling in the building and from all of them? Because these were the questions that I would be asked having been in the building for 28 years from the outside looking in. It feels like they got some cockiness about them. And that probably goes along with the structure of ro Quan Smith and feeling like there’s some Ray Lewis there. Certainly the Kyle van Noy grown up part of this and the clowny part of this and the disappointments of the cyclers in the Morgan Moses compiled with the disappointments of Lamar Jackson and Marlon Humphrey and Ronnie Stanley and all the guys that have lost four playoff games, chargers, Titans, bills, Bengals, we’ll go through the alphabet here. Right. So I would say for all of that building up that San Francisco thing that’s great for the fans and everybody. People are going to the game tickets are real playoff ticket. And that’s cool. And we’re going to skip school for a couple of weeks and come back and beat around Joe Flacco on the 21st or whenever they do this. By the way, he played wildcard games on Monday nights so I had forgotten about that. So if you’re planning your wildcard weekend, it now be playing everyday for football Thursday, Friday Christmas Eve Christmas night. They’re playing three days of football wildcard weekend for you new schoolers who had to get in line with baseball playoffs like all the rest of us last year to to say when where what what’s the format out? Who’s playing who who gets a by one team? Oh, okay. My thing for all of this is they feel appropriately cocky for their record. Certainly eyes on the prize of we’ve got a bad guy whether it’s Mike Florio the media, whoever bets against them, whatever it takes Lamar, fine, whatever, whatever gets you motivated me Ray Lewis was to let the dogs out. And you everybody barking in the huddle and Flacco sort of laughing about it and probably still laughing. Everybody has a different way of getting ready to play football, right? This team is always ready to play hardball always says they’re ready to play. They’ve made great decisions on personnel on leaders for this time of the year. They all feel to be relatively healthy, even on free getting better. It feels to me. And you could tell me because I haven’t published my column yet. Is it different? Or does it feel the same? Or you’re out there? You’ve been doing this since back in 2007 and eight and Flacco does it feels different to you.

Luke Jones  08:38

I mean, it feels like any other great team they’ve had over the course of you know, for me, personally, on a full time basis since 2011. I mean, you know, it’s a different makeup of a team, obviously, when you’re talking about Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the locker room compared to where it is today. But when this is a football team, that’s one nine out of 10 As we noted it in the aftermath of the 40 Niners game. I mean, the Ravens have lost one game since the Orioles eliminated from the postseason. I mean, think back to how long ago that feels. Right. I mean, when the Orioles were eliminated in Arlington and swept away in the Division Series. That was a long time ago, the Ravens have lost once since then. And I get it it’s a week you know, it’s a once per week prep, you know proposition but they played at a really high level and are the best team in the NFL in late December. Now that doesn’t guarantee anything as it pertains to January, but they’re very confident team. But you do get the sense that there’s not this satisfaction to them. Did they have that in 2019? I think a lot of those types of feelings, at least as its expressed to media or anything fans are gonna see on ravens wired or anything like that. I don’t know if it’s any different than it was four years ago. They were very competent four years ago. But you know, I think Do you take the lessons of four years ago, you take the lessons of these other playoff losses. And you hope that’s, you know that you hope that’s, you know, that’s toughened you up a little bit in terms of going through that adversity in terms of going through that disappointment. So I think from that standpoint, they’re in a better position. But yeah, I don’t get the sense that Lamar, I actually believe him that he doesn’t care all that much about the MVP. I don’t, I wouldn’t go as far to say he doesn’t care about it at all, because I think anyone would care about you know, as such such honors, but at the same time, I think he does care a heck of a lot more about playing deep into January and having a chance to win a Super Bowl MVP. So and that’s where all this team is, as I’ve said to you it. The focus has been on Lamar Jackson, but even John Harbaugh one playoff wins since 2014. As much as John Harbaugh has been here for so long and has all these accolades and probably is not probably is already building a Hall of Fame case for himself as a head coach. Now, he’s hoping in the same way, there was a second act going from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson in terms of just his franchise quarterback, he wants to second act in terms of accomplishing some things in January and start with getting to an AFC Championship game for the first time since 2012. And then see if you can take it a step further get to the Super Bowl and, and all that. So, you know, there, there’s definitely a lot of excitement. There’s definitely a lot of confidence as there should be. This is a heck of a football team. But I think there is, you know, there are lessons that have been picked up that are different from 2019. When at that point in time, it was a younger team. They lost that chargers game. Remember that 2018 season was just so strange, because they pivoted halfway through the season. From longtime franchise quarterback to rookie first round pick played in a completely different style of offense. It was this weird Marty morning with Greg Roman dynamic. No one really thought they were going to go deep into January that year, you know, when they lost to the Chargers even being a home game, but in 19 it was so fresh. They hadn’t lost since what the end of September. You know, remember they started to add to that year and then play

Nestor J. Aparicio  12:21

and watch them just steam. You know, like it is unbelievable. I pulled up the box score from that game because I you know, the blubbering I did after the Peyton Manning thing back in 2006. And losing to the Colts at that point was just dude, I watch Ray Lewis sit and sob that night. Like so when you talk about as a reporter things taken away and how the sausage is made and what they’ll show on what’s the name of the show. I want to make sure we’re promoting what the Ravens wired ravens why right. That is a made for television production. From what I’ve seen in locker rooms with Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans and Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, after and Tony Siragusa after elimination. Good. I remember that ish. They’ve been really like the most important things of moments of my life. When Ray Lewis said, go out and do something good for somebody. When Ed reads in his locker in Indianapolis. So despondent that he’s discussing retirement, you know, watching Ray Lewis sob I’ve seen the end of all of this. They’ve all felt it. Now. They’ve all they’ve all had a little piece of it. Lamar has had three pieces of it. He wasn’t even with a team in Cincinnati last year, which I still will never, in all of the stories of all of this, I’ll never find any of none of this is conventional. Nor was it with Flacco when he you know, told the owner now just gonna win the Superbowl and you have to pay me more. You know what I mean? So I don’t all of these folks are artists, if you think about all of them, like their prints, or like their Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen, you’ll, you’ll come to terms with it a little bit better, at least I have as a 55 year old, but I also understand that they need to believe they can win, they need to believe they’re the best. Flacco sitting with us up on Bel Air rode on this air wave and saying, I don’t think I’m one of the best, I think I’m the best. And then going and winning a Super Bowl a year later. So I and everybody’s still Pooh poohing that and oh, by the way, he’s playing them into the playoffs at 38 that nobody said it could be done. And he’s penning this crazy Kurt Warner thing right now that we’re all but SOS Lamar, right? And Mike McDaniels comments about Lamar this week in preparation and saying like, he’s been told what he is and what he isn’t. And I have a personal appreciation for this and saying, Now, you know, I’m gonna define who I am and we’re gonna do it. We’re gonna do it this way, and you’re not always going to agree with it. And here we are, again on the cusp of a second MVP, but the psychology of all of This to your point is really how you get through it because they’re physically good enough, strategically, schematically, they have all the talent, they have the score, they have the wind at their back, right? At this point, and if they can get through this Miami game, and I guess that’s where we get X’s and O’s with the Miami game, but, you know, yeah, Christmas night was big, big game. They’re all big games, right? Like you got to win, especially when teams are chasing you. And when you start to feel like Patrick mahomes is no good. And Josh Allen might not even get there. And Joe Flacco bring him and he’s 100 years old will break him into, you know, like, all of that, however, they feel about those games on the 21st 28th of the month, and I’ve got it all boxed out. So I can watch it on television, and have to send you down. And I look at it and say, having the month off. They haven’t handled it well when they’ve had it. And it’s been a problem you’re in. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it. And that doesn’t mean they won’t handle it better. And that doesn’t mean they don’t have better leadership all the way around. And that when the bell rings on that Saturday, or Sunday, three weeks from now, but first things first Miami, and the second best team again, right. And if they’re the second best team in the AFC and they’re the best team now and you’re the best offense now. Depleted perhaps with their with their wide receivers. But this would be the ultimate sort of exclamation point. But lose by decimal points at 415 on Sunday, and we go into a whole different conversation about kaki can’t win the big game, piston away like all the things are Peyton Manning had to deal with only one once. Right, and then he wants twice as an old guy. And all the things that Flacco dealt with like a one once they were good enough to win six times, six times in a row, they were good enough to maybe win, maybe not the year he was hurt the head read Indianapolis year, I’ll give you that they weren’t good enough in January to win. But they were good enough to win, he only won once. That’s how hard it is to do. The Ravens have been good enough to win maybe twice, three, you know, out of these all these years with Lamar to really beat Patrick mahomes Like really for real. And when those games they couldn’t even win the ones that were in front of them. So it’s obvious they weren’t good enough. But in 19, they were this feels and I’ll keep going back to this the theme of this one. Is this different? And how is it different? Why will it Why will I be encouraged to write Purple Rain three on February the 13th when the parade is going through town here before Valentine’s Day, which Hey, man, if you go up to Hollywood casino, and you want to bet on it right now, the money’s on the Ravens right now, I I’m trying to navigate this, but I do feel like they have from the outside if I’m putting here, and God forbid I’d pick against them and be their local Mike Florio. But I have a sneaking suspicion based on what I’ve seen that I think they’ll hold their water against the dolphins this week. And I think part of it’s that the pleated nature of the dolphins, you know, if you take the wings away from the dolphins, it’s harder for them to fly. I think the weather is going to be decent enough to play good football, which, you know, I like to see a good football game. But sloppy games are inevitable this time of the year, that sort of mess with the game. But it doesn’t feel like it’s going to be that game that kind of game chili fine, but that they can go out and operate and run an offense run a defense. It’s a fascinating football game with all the pieces. And the biggest story going into all of this short week for us regular week for them. But you know, they they have some real injury problems that quite frankly, are still temporary. There’s feel like they’re gonna have to go play a game two weeks from now we don’t if we can win this game.

Luke Jones  18:57

Yeah, I mean, it’s the time of year everyone’s banged up. I mean, going back to what you were talking about in terms of just where this team is the thing, the idea that kept popping in my head in the aftermath of the 40 Niners game is you don’t want the Wynn in San Francisco on Christmas night. To be that the high watermark of the season, you don’t want that to be the pinnacle of the season because that means that January probably didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Same thing applies for this game against Miami which as I said, Forget about style points. This is a this game can be as ugly as can be. And if you if the scoreboard shows you having one more point than the dolphins, then it’s fine. It’s beautiful then because you’re the number one seed and you can rest up and you can watch everyone else duke it out and week 18 wildcards and all all that stuff, and then the wildcard round itself. Watch that so you know as it pertains to the game, I mean, this is a dolphin swim and I said this in some of our previous conversations, I have not minced any words about it. I am still not conveying against the dolphins are an elite team. They’re a good team. Let’s be very clear about that. I’m not saying that they’re fraudulent in that sense, but it is a team that you kind of look at where they were early in the season, putting up insane point totals. Everyone remembers what they did against the Denver Broncos who, wow, they’re kind of a mess, just as an aside. Yeah. But, you know, it’s a dolphins team that they’re dealing with some injuries on the offensive side of the ball. I think the players that were missing from practice early in the week, Jaylen wattles the big one right now with the ankle, you know, Hill’s gonna play. I would assume we’re gonna see most certain a chain. The dolphins are interesting in the sense that they have this label of being cute, right being a finesse team. And when you look at how their passing game operates, oh, hear that, right. I mean, the speed they have is absurd. I mean, Tyree kill. Even the Ravens defense right now. Mike McDonald is having some restless nights in terms of how do you cover Tyreke hill because he’s that unbelievable at the wide receiver to

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:01

frustrate you more than beat you up. Yeah. But I think what’s

Luke Jones  21:05

also interesting is as much as that’s the dolphins calling card, that’s their identity, so to speak. Go look at the Iraqi most hurts had running the football, go look at what Divani chain has been able to do when he’s been healthy. I mean, this is a team that has some understated physicality to it that, you know, there’s similarities to this offense of course, Mike McDaniel coming from that same you know that Shanahan 40 Niners tree. It’s not the same exact kind of offense, but it has similar you know, some parallels to it. So I think what’s going to be interesting about this game is with to a tongue of Iowa, it’s a case of the ball comes out so quick. He’s another anticipation thrower in the way that Brock Purdy is, but in into his case, because of the speed because of hill because of water when he’s healthy. The ball comes out so fast. So where the Ravens really blitzed in and tried to get after Brock party the way they did on Monday night. I don’t know if that’s going to be the same thing they’re going to try to do on Sunday afternoon. So so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. But everyone focuses on the dolphins offense and rightfully so. Take a look at what their defense has done. Since Jalen Ramsey returned from injury. Remember, he hurt his knee back in training camp, a meniscus issue, so many questions about whether he was even going to be able to play this year, go look at their metrics and what their defense has done since he’s been back at defenses, low key playing at a high level now. It’s not the browns or the Ravens defense, but they played good, good football. So you know, as I’m talking here, and look, I just said three minutes ago that I’m not sure that they’re an elite team. They certainly are a talented team. They’re certainly capable. So this is a case of for the Ravens. It is a short week, they do have some guys banged up, you know, we’re talking about Kyle Hamilton and Kevin Zeitler. And even ze flowers now dealing with a little bit of a calf issue. You know, I’m not not saying it’s serious, but it’s something in the same way he was dealing with the foot last week. And they’ve got some other guys banged up. But you’ve got to John Harbaugh has to strike that balance that fine line between making sure you’re ready to play Sunday, and putting in the work that you need to to be at your best, but also the physical side to that. And that’s why Wednesday, they started late later than they normally do on a Wednesday. And they had a walkthrough. So, you know, the practices Thursday and Friday are a little more regular. But that is a tough recovery. And we’ve talked about this for years. I haven’t seen what the numbers are recently. But it for a long time, Monday night road games where you have some some significant travel. You have a quick turnaround plan at one o’clock on Sunday afternoon. You know, that’s, that can be a challenge. So I think it’s gonna be interesting to see how the Ravens start this football game. I think as as the game goes on, I think that fatigue factor probably is a little more neutralized, because both teams are at it. And again, it’s week 17 Everyone’s tired. But how the Ravens start this football game knowing they have this quick turnaround. I am interested, interested to see how that works out. But all of that being said, I still look at these two football teams and on paper, you gotta go out and do it. The ravens are the better football team and even if the dolphins find a way and the Ravens stubbed their toe and we’re having a really different week a team conversation in terms of you better win and then you’re hoping that buffalo beats Miami and and you’re back to scoreboard watching. I still think overall this is a better football team than the Miami Dolphins but gotta go out and do it. You know, the ravens are better than the Browns back in November but the Browns beat them. Ravens are a heck of a lot better than Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and we saw what happened earlier in the season. So you’ve got to go out execute. So I think that’s where going back to what you had started with, before you throw it to me where you are mentally, where you are emotionally. I mean, this, this football team knows, they’re really, really good. They’re a great football team. Let’s just say they’re a great football team as it pertains to regular season. But they also have the experience of knowing what failure looks like, when you get to the next season, you know, in January, so I think that’s where you’re hoping that Hey, happy about beating the 40 Niners Yeah, happy about Christmas night happy about shutting up Mike Florio and all the all the pundants evict against you all. That’s fine. That’s fine. I mean, teams have been teams and players and coaches have been finding any reason they can for motivation for decades now. It’s just social media. It’s more in your face, right. But but that’s existed for a long time. It was it was called bulletin board material, except there’s no real bulletin board anymore, right? I mean, it’s all on your phone. It’s all on the glass as you’re holding your phone. So. But beyond that, they know that the task at hand, not easy, but it’s very simple. You win. And you’re the top seed and you’re right back where you were four years ago, in terms of everything comes through Baltimore than to get to the Superbowl. And you can’t ask for any more than that. But you got to take care of business in order for that to become reality.

Nestor J. Aparicio  26:23

Luke Jones is here. He has been there during the short week at Baltimore, Luke, it has been a fascinating week on social media and a lot of ways with Christmas and holidays and people down and we’re putting together the biggest promotion in the history of anything we’ve done for charities for radio row week begins on February the fifth, I hope the ravens are in the Superbowl, it would enhance the promotion, quite frankly, for charity. So we would appreciate that. So I’ll go ravens, as we get through this and obviously people buying tickets. You are out there for sort of the walkthrough day and Lamar doing sort of a lengthier nine minutes sort of getting questions about MVP and like all of this stuff. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco is get slimed during a short week out in Cleveland, so on they’re writing songs about him out there, and they have brought out wacko for flight. I mean, everybody’s handling this different. There’s a lot of pressure on Josh Allen right. There’s a whole lot of pressure on Patrick mahomes right now and Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift that she could write a song for them or something. I don’t know. You know, and the Dolphins are kind of skating along like if they lose this week. Okay. Well, we went up to Baltimore, and it was a preview. We’ll we’ll knock them in the in, but they last year. I mean, you know, there’s a little track record with all of these teams that Lamar has not fared well against the hometown team. You know, and Lamar likes to show against the dolphins and the Dolphins are exhibit a for not wanting him right, like he would. It is perfect Brooks Robinson world he would have been a dolphin, right and is perfect. In his mind, I think. So there’s a little bit of that I, I just I see so much pissed off for greatness about him right now. And so much, you bet against me, you bet against me the same things that Mike McDaniel talked about this week from the podium in talking about him. And I still see that image of him slouched over in the green tuxedo with his mother on draft night and believe that and and all of this. And and I don’t know if he cried after the Chargers loss or the Titans lost. But I mean, he certainly has this passion that is very reminiscent of Ray Lewis in a row, Quan Smith kind of way where there’s no point in this where I’m not going to believe there’s a Purple Reign three until there’s not because they proven to be prepared to play each and every week. But I’ve also seen these things get away and part of it is handling the media and all that Chad Steele does and John wants them to believe and whatever the Florida thing, I just found the Florida thing to be weird. And then three days later, like I’m not hearing the MVP thing. Dude, you heard some guy on TV saying you were gonna lose, right? You heard that loud. You’re not hearing the MVP thing. The MVP thing? He’s done that and he’s giving all the right answers. And I think the brightest part of all of this is the way he’s playing the game. The style he’s played it in. Yeah, some passes will be long or short. Yeah, he may give the game away and have three picks and the ball might go up in the air and you know, this thing where he’s getting tackled and trying to get rid of the ball is probably not the smartest thing from a fumbling standpoint and whatnot. When you get into sloppy weather and whatever is gonna happen in Baltimore, rain or shine because we we believe the games are going to be here. We can’t blame it on buffalo if the weather is bad here right or New England are still remember the old videos of John Madden uh, you know, the ice down Three Rivers Stadium for Franco Harris. You know, when the Oilers would come to town, they would squirt water out there and I sit down on the so none of that’s going on. I mean, they gotta went to football games here January they get through this week. And this the lead story, let’s not forget not just MVP and all that. He’s the MVP because he’s been healthy. And he’s the MVP because he’s playing the game a different way in some ways to matriculate the ball down the field. They have receivers that can do that, say flowers being healthy and Mark Andrews in two running backs now not being there to help them be a part of this, but and Ronnie Stanley, and whatever’s gonna happen on the offensive line to protect him, but he’s healthy. If he’s healthy. I mean, the lead every week with us if he’s healthy, they can win the football game. And that’s the best news we have about all of this is that if he’s standing up right at 100%, on a glorious 52 degree, three o’clock kickoff, you know, against the bills or whoever it’s going to be that you would feel like they have a chance of winning that game. And that’s the game that matters. Yeah,

Luke Jones  30:58

I mean, it’s funny, you just spent so much time talking about Lamar on the offense. Let’s talk about the defense for a second. And let’s do that, because I really don’t disagree with anything you just said. I mean, so So what am I gonna say? I’m gonna let you

Nestor J. Aparicio  31:10

while I have some real farms coffee in my coal roofing mug, it is the holidays around here, I’m going to do a little plughole and not just for the Marilyn Lauder window nation. Our friends and wise markets last week had a great, but I have leftover cookies here. So I’m going to have cookies. And Luke is going to talk defense and all of its brought to you by our friends at Royal farms. Go ahead defense with Luke, go ahead. Well, I have cool you

Luke Jones  31:31

made mention of Lamar against the dolphins and look, Lamar was brilliant against the dolphins last year and week two, that was a 42 to 38 football game. I mean, I mean he long touchdown. What a long touchdown run long touchdown pass. I mean, he put up great numbers in that game. It was Mike McDonald’s defense that, that as we’ve come to know what a mike McDonald defense looks like, was very and McDonald like, right. I mean, they they completely collapsed in the fourth quarter. Not that I’m expecting anything like that, from from this version of a Ravens defense said, I’ve said in fact, I got together with one of my closest friends earlier this week, who’s a longtime Ravens fan since the beginning and, you know, adores the old ravens of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and all of that. And and I said to him, and he agreed, I mean, this is the best defense they’ve had since ran ad read were in their prime, you know, I’d say it’s at least the best defense they’ve had since that Oh, six defense. That was unbelievable. And what sent six guys to the Pro Bowl, but I think for the Ravens on Sunday, and this defense on Sunday, you think back to what Miami did against them in week two last year. And let’s be clear, this is a much different team personnel wise. I mean, there was no row row, Quan Smith, at that point in time, you had a Marcus Peters playing corner who was just coming back from the ACL injury the previous year. I mean, you had other guys that were banged up in the secondary. So there are a lot of factors that were at work, but it doesn’t change the reality of how tough that game was for Mike McDonald. I mean, John Harbaugh even talked about it. And he was asked about it on Wednesday talked about that was such a learning experience for McDonald for this defense, understanding what coverages to play in certain situations, understanding what pressures to bring in certain situations, and probably more so what not to do in certain situations, when you’re talking about the fact that you squander a 20 plus point lead the way they did so. I mean, it’s yeah, that that was a painful experience for them. And keep in mind, that happened them a couple more times as the year went on, you know, we saw that happen against the bills, not in quite the same fashion. But they squandered a big lead in that game. They squandered a fourth quarter point or fourth quarter lead against the Giants and happened to them against the Jaguars. So I think, not that I think that this defense is lacking for any confidence, nor should they be for how incredibly well they played against the 40, Niners and how well they played all year. You know, as much as we’ve talked about Lamar being the MVP and talked about the offense. The offense has had its games where it hasn’t been very good, or certainly has had halves of football, where it wasn’t very good. And even Lamar, you could throw into that conversation to some degree. But this defense other than second half of the loss to the browns, and other than most of the Rams game yeah. Which to me was easily the worst performance of the year. Steve Francis played at a championship level other than that game and a half that I mentioned, you know, over the course of the season, I mean, Colts game, okay, gave up a little bit of yardage on the ground more than you’d like. Steelers game Marlin Huff is one play Marlin Humphrey beaten by Pickens and they lost as a result because their offense couldn’t get out of its own way. So that’s what we’re talking about when you can name on one hand and have fingers leftover of the times this defense let down all season long, you’re doing something right. But this team saw. And this is where this defense should have plenty of motivation this week and shouldn’t be overconfident. This team saw what the dolphins are capable of doing to them in their own building, because it happened in week two last year. So, from that standpoint, I’m fascinated to see what they’re going to try to do to slow down this running game. And what they’re going to try to do to frustrate to a, in the same way, you know, trying to do things that they were able to do against Brock party which was make him look like a seventh round pick. And to his case, he’s a first round pick. So look different on that in that regard. But I think the big key for to uh, to get him out of sorts is forced him to hold the ball as I mentioned, his time to throw from snap to release is the quickest in the NFL, you know, according to next gen stats so he loves taking the snap boom balls out. And when you have Tyree kill and Jalen Waldo it’s very much easier to do that. But that’s that, to me is where it’s going to be key. This feels like a big Justin Matta BK Michael Pierce, Travis Jones kind of gaming, talking about those interior pass rushers for them. You know, if you can cover downfield, just a split second longer to force him to hold the ball. That’s when Mata BK can get there and either hit him, sack him bad or pass away whatever it is disrupt him in the pocket because again, like Brock Purdy not exactly the same, but like pretty, I think he’s a guy that anticipates where the ball is going. And you kind of have to be if you’re gonna get the ball out that quick, right? You’re not sitting back there and watching your receiver break it break open you’re throwing before that even happens. So that’s where you want to try to confuse, as is always the case with this ravens defense, lots of pre snap disguise, and even post snap disguised. I mean, that’s something they did against party where he snaps the ball and the look that they gave him pre snap, suddenly, they’re doing something different after the snap in terms of coverage, and it completely confused him. So I think you’re going to try to do it’s the same principles, even if it’s schematically a little a little bit different. But that’s gonna be the challenge for them. And it is a challenge. This is a heck of an offense. There’s no doubt about it. But at the same time, this they haven’t played a defense like this, you know, Ray Lewis and and every back in the day always talked about a they don’t know how fast we are. They don’t know how good we are. They don’t know how physical we are. I mean, Steve fence has the same swagger at this point in time as they should because they played at that high of a level all year long.

Nestor J. Aparicio  37:35

Crazy that you know, they they played them let and Ro Quan Smith wasn’t even like a thought right? wasn’t even a notion in that game. Kyle

Luke Jones  37:43

Hamilton in that game played but boy he struggled. I mean, they had some I’m trying to what he was doing and and that’s what’s wild. I mean, I did I did a radio hidden in Cleveland earlier this week and they kind of just mainly to talk about Joe Flacco which was fun, you know, I’m not gonna lie, but they you know, by

Nestor J. Aparicio  38:04

the way, I want to put that on the air here. Where is that? I need to find those

Luke Jones  38:07

with money our old friend Munch Bishop. But I mean, it was you know, it was just talking about Flacco but

Nestor J. Aparicio  38:13

wait, hold on munching and legitimizing you and D legitimizing me and Cleveland

Luke Jones  38:18

been asked about you. He asked about you, he asked how you were doing, I’m gonna,

Nestor J. Aparicio  38:23

I’m gonna give him hell right now. That’s what I’m gonna do. But

Luke Jones  38:27

what he asked me about the defense and he brought up ro Quan Smith, and I said, Look, Ro Quan is Ray Lewis light. And I say that as a total compliment to row Quan without disrespecting one of the Hall of Famer, you know, the Hall of Fame Hall of Fame type guys and Ray Lewis. But I said to him, as much as real quants, kind of that heart and soul kind of guy that that has changed things for this team since since arriving. I said to him, not sure if it’s the case yet, but it feels like it’s moving in that direction that Kyle Hamilton is going to be the best player on this defense overall. And, you know, you look at how far they

Nestor J. Aparicio  39:04

need to be paid, like, unlike every not paid like a safety

Luke Jones  39:09

net. Oh, that’s what’s why that’s what’s wild. And I said to him, you know, I kind of chuckle every time he’s, he’s referred to as a safety but one because he plays. If there’s one primary position for him, it’s actually nickel. I mean, that’s what he plays the most. But he plays nickel. He plays linebacker he lines up as an edge guy. He does move back at safety. Yes. I mean, he just, he is the ultimate swiss army knife. That is just so dynamic. But yeah, you look at where this team was two September’s ago now, you know that week to the 2022 season when the dolphins came in here and scored 42 points on the Ravens. I mean, look, I’m not saying the ravens are going to shut him out. I think that would be that you need to acknowledge a proper amount of respect, but I’d be shocked knocked up. The dolphins are scoring anything close to 42. Let’s put it that way, unless something has gone very wrong with this defense and like I said, rams game aside. I mean, it’s this has just been a defense that has answered the challenge week after week after week and typically sent the opposing offense home with their tail between their legs and not feeling very good about themselves. You know, if I

Nestor J. Aparicio  40:22

were writing Purple Reign three with Eric, the cost of the way I wrote referring to with Eric Acosta, I, you know, I would say about that dolphins loss. Maybe it’s a piece of that that led to ro Quan Smith could have, yeah, you know what I mean? Like, we need to be better, we need to be better as he would say, and we need to, we need to call Hamilton to get better. We needed our coaches to get better. But we needed to put better players on the field, we need to put better players around Lamar, we need to put a different system around Lamar, we needed to have Lamar do it our way, not his way and find a way that’s our way. And he thinks is his way, you know. So all of this is about building a better roster. And if the customers still sitting on planes and sharing cabs with me and sharing stories, as he did for the first 28 years of our relationship. I bet he would talk about that game was a little bit of a wake up call, you know, like that we needed to be better that we needed to get better if we’re going to get after Tonga, hello, Patrick mahomes, who they always had struggles. We mean, they’ve always struggled against good teams, that’s good teams struggle against good teams. At the end of January, I mean, because you talk about all these accolades, and this and that. And number one, they played a lot of crappy offense is the first half of the season. And they played the first quarter without a lot of their best players. So there’s a little bit of all of that. I don’t care about any of that. I care about where they are right now. Where they are right now is mostly healthy, obviously well, school, right, like they’re all buying into the system. They have taskmasters whether it’s van Noy clowny. Leaders, they they they have, they have all the boxes checked, you know, in a lot of ways now the offensive line and health there and and just winning a big game they have those uncheck that, and even hardball at this point, like Hey, dude, you’re gonna win or not? Or we’re just gonna play nice and win big games in December. I mean, to me, it’s as good as it gets. How about that for a Jack Nicholson reference? It’s as good as it gets. Yeah.

Luke Jones  42:27

I mean, look, there isn’t a perfect team out there. I mean, so many people thought the 40 Niners might be that perfect team and we saw how that turned out on Christmas night. So yeah, I mean, they there’s questions about the offensive line. I have some questions about the running game as it pertains to everyone. Other than Lamar running the ball at this point, I’m not even applied against the 40 Niners it’s not like Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Were that great running the football so but every team in the league, every contender in the league has a position group here or there a phase of the game, here are their that got some questions about I mean, that’s to your point, you get to this point in the season, when we’re talking about January, everyone’s good other than I’ll say this much, whoever the seven seat ends up being and as it pertains now, whether it’s Indy whether it’s, you know, Houston could be different if CJ Stroud comes back and his right, you know, concussions, you know, issues are done and all that. But, you know, beyond that, you know, when you look at Miami, Kansas City, Cleveland buffalo at this point, you know, Buffalo for me is the big one, as far as teams coming in here and posing the biggest threat to the ravens and what and what they want to accomplish, but it’s the playoffs. Everyone’s good, right? I mean, that’s why what the Ravens did Monday night against the 40, Niners because you’re talking about best verse best, your top team in each conference, and the Ravens took it to them the way they did in the third quarter. It’s why it was so surprising, because you’re both really good. So yeah, you get to this point in the season, and everyone’s got some injury stuff here and there, you hope not too much, but you have a little bit of it. It’s inevitable. And, you know, you’ve got a question mark here or there, you know, I mentioned or you mentioned the offensive line. I mean, what team in the league doesn’t have some offensive line issues. I mean, that’s, that’s the NFL in 2023. You know, we’ve talked about line play, even going back two years, where you and I were sitting with people at the combine, and how much the college game has changed and how that’s impacted offensive line play when these guys get to the next level. So yeah, they’ve got they’ve got some question mark, but to your point, I think it really truly is as good as it gets in terms of where you stand right now. Where are you where you are from a pallet standpoint, where you are in terms of mix of veterans and rookies, where you are in terms of Pro Bowl talent. I mean, you know, I was talking about the defense they’ve got Pro Bowl talent at every level the defense I mean, just just a matter BK ro Quan Smith, Kyle Hamilton, boom done, right. I mean, those those three guys, if they’re not in the Pro Bowl, something’s really wrong. I mean, that’s how great each of those individuals have been offensively got Lamar Jackson, I mean, the guy who entering week 17 Is the MVP of the league. So you feel pretty good about your chances against anyone going up in that scenario, but nothing’s handed to you got to go out and earn it. And that starts with Sunday, beating the dolphins and making sure you’re that number one seed, making sure

Nestor J. Aparicio  45:25

they’re the number one seed looks covering all these things as we turn 2023 and the 24. I’m starting to get old. I mean, it will be 40 years in the business for me in a couple of weeks. And now 33 On the elk starting to add up here, but we were monitoring all things around here. And our tech service is still alive and well brought to you by Coons, Baltimore for Happy New Year to you, Luke and all of the flyers and Phillies fans. By the way. As an aside, you and I don’t get too personal around here, but it’s Christmas week. My my kid and his wife came over the other night. And I’ve had a few TED talks here the last couple of weeks about the capitals and my experience with monumental sports folks and billionaires in general, being goons. City Washington’s finding that out. So my kid and his wife because of the trots thing and just in a general sense, aren’t the capitals fans that you may once remember, in throwback Ovechkin jerseys at winter classics and whatnot. And my daughter in law has taken a fun this too gritty. The flyers mascot and there’s a wayward point of me moving from downtown Baltimore into Baltimore County and being on the beltway and the Washington hockey team. Not only winning a Stanley Cup and pissing in the eye on my lifelong friend, who also was named after my son, or my son was named after him, but not really but they had the same name and they always found that fascinating. And by the way, shout out to Barry Melrose now that I’m talking some hockey, I want to get one of those Bucha grass shirts because Melrose and I had a special thing back in the 80s as well. I told you my Barry Melrose story, right yeah, that he said Dougie Maclean was trying to hit him with his purse. It was one of the all time great quotes at the locker Adirondack Red Wings in the Baltimore Skipjacks 1988 playoffs you can look it up Robin bawa was involved in that. So, um, you know, with this whole thing, there’s a chance that my kid’s going to adopt the flyers I mean, I don’t know how to say this. But like you marry your sister marries into this and you’re already bragging about your Pennsylvania TV privileges last weekend watching Joe Flacco we didn’t get down here in Maryland. Ah you know anything you want to say about this? I mean, because you really I’ve seen you were 76 or stuff and it’s not Dr. J which I would find acceptable even chocolate thunder

Luke Jones  48:01

I mean that’s going from caps to flyers that’s pretty dramatic pretty striking. Right? I mean, it really is so but yeah gritty I’m sure as my niece gets older and my brother in law’s not of the Philly teams, the flyers I mean he’s not a big hockey guy. He’s kind of like me you know? I mean, I’m not I’ve always said I’m not a hockey guy but what is your niece right now he’s two and a half so yeah, pretty scary right now to us but

Nestor J. Aparicio  48:31

I’m gonna try to she’s like seven or eight so we’re gonna hang out figure this out in a couple years. We’re gonna put together a December Saturday night on candy lane by the way it they get to pay to get into park now what’s going on up there her she gets together holidays bringing families in there. But I’ve always loved that experience get a milkshake but go see a hockey game Christmas time you can take your you know you’re halfway to Hershey where you live. You’re already you know, in state discount or whatever they do up there for people that Pennsyltucky ends up there. But you know her she’s available. That’s a good starter training wheels. I got tomcats kid in Hershey game and he wanted to play ice hockey the rest of his life. So hockey is a beautiful thing. You should enjoy this with your knees. It can be your thing with her. I’m selling you on Oh,

Luke Jones  49:15

I I’ve always said I enjoy it in person. Like it’s the best game to watch in person. If you assuming you have at least semi decent seats, right? I mean, I mean so. But funny. You mentioned Oh, hockey game.

Nestor J. Aparicio  49:28

It’s the best thing you can name. You can name is a good old hockey game. How about that? Yeah,

Luke Jones  49:35

that’s pretty good. That’s pretty good. But it’s funny. You mentioned that my sister and my brother in law were at the Hershey Bears game on Wednesday night, so and my sister had a great time. So there you go. I think they were I think they were seven seven rows from the glass. So that helped. Yeah, that’s cool. Family Entertainment there with Coco.

Nestor J. Aparicio  49:52

There you go. Yeah. All right. See, I’m gonna make I’m gonna make a hockey fan out of your family before it’s all over. Now that I’ve kissed it off. Hey man, maybe one day trots around the fliers I don’t know I don’t want to wish that I mean dude I was so close you know I had the purge around here a couple years ago I got rid of a bunch of stuff just trying to get rid of stuff because I’m getting old and didn’t need it anymore. While I picked up Pacific belt buckles by the way trade one stupid hobby for another one, but but I have all my Predator stuff from the first 18 years or whatever trots ran the team right when I was a long long time, but I have gold jerseys white jerseys blue you know this, I have the all jerseys I have crested jersey with my name on the back, like I have all of that. And I can wear it again now and you Fang fingers again and all that. And I haven’t gotten on because I don’t know if you heard or not, but like we have an MVP candidate here. We’re playing big football games around here. We got baseball offseason and lease agreements and we they’re building a perimeter with colder beer and more extravagant hotdogs that we’re gonna, I’m never gonna let that go to. I mean, I’m just never gonna let the massengill part of that go, you know, so. All right. Look, Joe is here. Happy New Year. I’m going to end the year on that. This is the last thing I’m going to do this year is unlike Mike Florio, I’m gonna predict the Ravens victory on Sunday so that Lamar is not yelling my name against Chad Steele’s wishes, okay. Well, you

Luke Jones  51:20

got to, it’s not just picking a win, you got to say, hey, they’re gonna kick the bleep out of them. I mean, that’s what you have to say that that was the line that made everyone mad, wasn’t that he picked the 40 Niners I’ll

Nestor J. Aparicio  51:30

save all my heel heat and pick against them Super Bowl week when they’re in Vegas. And we’re doing the biggest charity thing we’ve ever done here while I’m boxed out. I’ll pick against them losing by a point just to piss them all off and they can yell my name when they run through the streets on Tuesday. There you go. All right, is that good? Yeah. I mean a chance deals looking for he’ll why not me? You know, he could just point over Lamar shoulder every week when I watch him on TV be in the shot. So I’m looking for some heel heat. I mean, why Florio? He’s a Steelers guy from West Virginia. Why making a heel out of him? You know, come Come get it. All right. That’s my 2024 pronouncement there. That’s I’m going in who all right is that? Is that good.

Luke Jones  52:13

That your life?

Nestor J. Aparicio  52:16

You gotta go here. That piece I did with Derek Fraser from wise markets and his time in the local ring and his heel heat on the road and his baby face it like great stuff. Dude, as we were doing the show in wise markets. I’m not BS in you at all. And I got to tell Jamie and the folks up in Sunbury because we love wise markets. And they just been awesome to us with our wise conversations, obviously. But as we’re they’re doing the show potted up, I got him and his his managers bringing me out crab cakes and all this. And he’s got people yelling at him in the store wrestling style, because they know he was a wrestler. Because he wrestles job, right? So they’re like, What do you get back in the ring? Because they see him with a headset on the wise market. Like, you’re getting back and he’s like, Nah, man, I’m done. I’m done. I’m done. I’m managing certain markets. Now. I don’t need to manage wrestlers. So. But are you going to WrestleMania in 2024? Can we make a New Year’s resolution to get you to WrestleMania 2024.

Luke Jones  53:18

Possibly possible? It’s because I’ve been talking to my brother and one of our other friends about it. We’ll see. i It is definitely something that is gonna

Nestor J. Aparicio  53:28

go I want you to go. I didn’t want to go to Paris. I wanted my sister in law to go you know what I mean? I want you to go. Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, I hope you get there. All right. So wrestling conversations, amongst other things. If you’re listening in Tom Kelso joined us in wise markets. We had unbelievable conversation with Michael Brown fine at curio and we’re doing like some sort of greatest hits here through the holidays and through the first of the year. So if you’re not hearing Luke and I and you hear something, it’s not great to set it’s more like crabcake towards stuff of recent weeks and months if you missed anything. You got the neighbors in town and friends in town and holidays and all this stuff and wall to wall football and wacko for Flacco. We’re the best team now they gotta go prove it. 2024 Happy New Year to everybody out there. We’ll get to Marilyn crabcakes we’re back out on the road doing the biggest charity thing we’ve ever done. We’re doing a radio row week. So hold on to your your reservations to Vegas by the way I took my first phone call somebody say can you get me Super Bowl tickets and I’m like, All right. Thanks for getting heady around. Here we are wn SDA and 1570 Towson Baltimore having a fish fry. It’s Baltimore positive stay with us.

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