You can’t sit everyone against the Steelers

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Sure, the game is meaningless to the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson isn’t playing – but someone has to play in the awful weather on Saturday as a “tune up” for the only game that really matters in two weeks. Luke Jones and Nestor debate who sits against Pittsburgh and the Ravens’ grand plan for a successful January run at the Super Bowl with lofty expectations.


lamar, year, ravens, team, play, baltimore, mvp, game, week, john harbaugh, talking, win, point, flacco, quarterback, sunday, steelers, buffalo, injuries, run


Nestor J. Aparicio, Luke Jones

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

Welcome home we are wn S T am 5070, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive we’re taking a little hiatus on the Maryland crabcake tour for a couple of weeks I’ve put together the biggest, coolest most awesomest promotion we’ve ever done for radio row. week it will begin on February the fifth in the meantime, we are channeling our incredible 25 year history year of serving Baltimore sports fans, truth gospel, fun, memories, all sorts of things, our 25 stories glory, all presented by our friends at curio wellness and Farr and daughter and I will be getting out my I’m a blunt person shirk shortly as well as getting at these Oh snaps and peppermint payouts and unwrapped the cash tickets that week of February the fifth so circle that week, and just know you will be involved in doing a good turn. And this guy may be involved as well. We’ve been thrown out of radio row in Las Vegas, we’re trying to figure out what the Luke’s gonna be there. Who’s going to be there. You’re going to be there. How many people are going to be there Dennis as a flight raskins Everybody’s got flights now people are calling me can you get me tickets? The whole deal? And I’m like, Well, you use a loop Jones term here. Pump the brakes, pump the brakes. You know, we got to play Pittsburgh, trying to figure all that out. Luke Jones joins us now if you’re on our WNS D tech service brought to you by Coons, Baltimore Ford, you will be getting injury reports and the important things that lead up I would say the injuries are the lead story right and like getting everybody healthy and who the opponent will be. But in the meantime, they do have to go play football game this week, Luke and John Harbaugh was you know, rightfully a bullying and confident and having been down this mountain many times before has says Mike Tomlin by the way another winning season for him. It’s uncanny. It’s it’s an uncanny, it’s just it’s it’s a testament to how great a coach Mike Tomlin is. But here comes my Tom Wood, everything on the line, the Hatfields and McCoys first game of the weekend. What what is the lead story this week? Is it getting through Pittsburgh? Or is it getting ready for Team X mystery Team X three weeks from now? Because first things first. I mean, they do have to go play this weekend? Well, you

Luke Jones  02:23

just said it. And the answer is yes. And that either or such scenario you just presented because they’re related. I mean, and when we say get through Pittsburgh, it has nothing to do with winning. I mean, it’s just look, the guys that are out there plan are gonna play hard. I mean, it’s tough to, I think where you have to be concerned. And this is why I’m not a big proponent of the idea of having Lamar play to series or anything like that, you know, the different options that you hear fans and pundits and even looking at how coaches have planned. Because I think when you do that, there’s a these guys are such creatures of habit, right? I mean, their competitive juices are unlike anyone in the world. I mean, that’s why they got to where they are right now. But the idea of of downshifting, right, you know, the idea that you’re out there, but you’re not really playing in the same way that you normally do, I think that’s where you want, you really have to worry about injuries. And that’s where it’s concerning. And that’s where, for the guys that you really want to hold out, hold them out, like, don’t even mess around, right, just keep them out of the game entirely. You understand that? There’s only so many you can do that with But as John Harbaugh noted on Monday, and I think he was being truthful and saying this, there are some decisions that they have to figure out in terms of guys that are banged up right now. I mean, you look at Kyle Hamilton was inactive. We’re not going to see him till the divisional round, but would he have been a guy that you automatically deactivated or that than a guy that maybe would have played a little bit, you know, could because he’s on the younger side. So but that’s gonna be an inactive spot, presumably, Kevin Zeitler, who, you know, went through a very lengthy pregame workout on Sunday, that knee and quad you know that that’s you could tell he’s not moving well, and he wanted to give it a go. And you could even see by just looking through some binoculars from the press box that he was disappointed that he couldn’t go on Sunday. So you want to get him right. Oh, well, we Brandon Stevens was inactive and you know, that’s that’s before you even get into Marlon Humphrey hurting his calf and being missing the rest of the game on Sunday. And you know, some other guys who got banged up, although Michael Pearce came back, Darrell Warli cleared concussion protocol and would have been gone back in if they needed them to. So you know, they’ve got some guys banged up. So that does complicate some of your decisions here. In terms of you still have to feel the team right I mean, you still have to play the game. You don’t have a 90 man roster so it does complicate things a little bit. But at the end of the day, these are good problems to have, you know, these are problems that Kansas City and Buffalo and Miami and the Bengals who aren’t even going into the playoffs? I mean, they’re all saying, Yeah, well, we’ll take those problems, you know what we’ll weigh those decisions. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some challenging decisions that need to be made here. And if you’re John Harbaugh, and you’re Eric Decosta, and Steve, Ashanti and the entire brass, the entire coaching staff, I mean, you’re holding your breath for three hours on Saturday, there’s no question about it, because you’re not going to hold out everyone in terms of guys that will be of value to you and trying to make a Super Bowl run here over the next month. So again, these are problems that other teams would gladly have, but you do have some decisions that you have to figure out. But it is a little bit complicated. Because even though I don’t really anticipate any of these injuries, other than talking about Mark Andrews, and you know, wherever he’ll be, and we’ll see, if there’ll be, if he’s got a chance to play, he’s going to be activated to the point where he’ll go back to practice, and who have to ramp up because he hasn’t played, you know, at this point, what, six weeks, seven weeks, whatever it is. So, you know, but for the most part, I think most of these injuries should be guys that are good to go, you know, by divisional round weekend. But in the meantime, how do you manage that? How do you navigate this game, you do want to put your best foot forward with the guys that are actually out there? Because like I said, I think you can’t go through the motions in that competitive environment, because tall guys get hurt. You know, I think that’s why preseason football is, you know, we’ve talked about it a lot. And we’ve seen how teams like the ravens, for example, have changed so drastically in how they approach it. So, you know, I think it’s interesting in that way, you know, the whole rest of us wrestling gonna be talking about that for the better part of three weeks, and then it’s all going to be called are going to come down to the results. And then people are going to decide, whatever they thought, you know, they’ll try to fit it into, you know, a certain agenda that says, Hey, I was right, or, Hey, they were wrong or whatever. But yeah, there’s a lot riding on these, you know, this week in terms of just navigating the game doesn’t matter about winning and losing. I mean, it just doesn’t, they’ll say they’ll say otherwise. And yeah, would they would part of them enjoy knocking the Steelers out of playoff contention. Sure. But is that at all a priority? No, of

Nestor J. Aparicio  07:19

course not. So remember Ryan Mallette. That’s all you know. Yeah. Ryan

Luke Jones  07:23

mallet? Yeah. The late Ryan Mallett, by the way, be remiss not to mention that. But Charlie batch coming into Baltimore years ago, I mean,

Nestor J. Aparicio  07:31

he reminds me that every time I see him, this is why However,

Luke Jones  07:35

and this is why we talked about this last week going into this game. And obviously the Ravens took care of business in very emphatic fashion. But this is why you did not want to mess around and be going into this game needing to win it because it’s ravens Steelers. It’s weird. And that’s why I want to keep Lamar Jackson and my most important players away from that weirdness on Saturday evening. So, so no, it’s not something that, you know, we’re not going to spend a lot of time talking about Mason Rudolph and TJ watt and the Steelers other than the fact that, yeah, they still have something to play for. And they want to win and hope to get some help the rest of the weekend to try to get into the playoffs. But it is interesting to kind of see the juxtaposition here where the Steelers, now this game means a lot to them, regardless of whether they deep down think that they have any shot at making a run, which I don’t I don’t think they’re good enough. But it’s still rather get in the knot. And they’re going to be trying to do that. And the ravens, the guys that are out there playing Yeah, they want to stop them. But it’s the question of Who exactly is going to be out there. And as I said, I’d be shocked if we’re not seeing the best, most significant seven to 10 guys on the roster, seeing either no action or very little action or they might be active and standing on the sideline, which I think the Ravens what four years ago, they deactivated seven guys and Jimmy Smith was active, but he didn’t play a snap. So it kind of he was inactive, basically. So, you know, it’s, but we’ll see how it plays out. You know, I don’t think it’s so compelling to you know that you’re going to talk for hours about it, but it will be interesting to see how they approach that and how they’ll respond. You know, four years ago, guys sat there best player sat out and they still beat the Steelers pretty handily that year. So, you know, we’ll certainly see how that how it plays out. And we’ll try to get a little bit of entertainment out of it for three hours before we forget about it immediately. Yeah.

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:37

Interesting weekend, Saturday night. There’s a meaningful game Sunday during the day there are meaningful games at one and four East Coast west coast. And then there’s the big game on Sunday night. And how our fan base the percent I mean, obviously Cleveland doesn’t have to play now and they’re gonna draw the patsies they’re gonna draw Jacksonville, Houston, Indianapolis, somebody from that family of the south and and have a real chance to go on the road and win. Right? So it may be even in good weather conditions. If it’s in Houston or Indianapolis you you, you get a dome choke and flip it. You know, I mean, play some defense, who knows, we wonder the rest of this path. And listen, I don’t want to get into the talking points that everybody else is talking about. But all anybody’s talking about outside of Baltimore, not just can the Ravens or their Super Bowl favor, you know, can they win and all that, but it’s Lamar for MVP, Lamar for MVP, Lamar from MVP. I want to say we’ve been hard on Lamar in this space. I think I’ve been fair with Lamar, I don’t think I’ve ever been, like, unfair to what his accomplishments have been, versus what the goal is. And that still would be the case of, he’s won one playoff game. We’re already given them the Super Bowl. Dude, everybody’s calling me they got the tickets here. They’re just gonna win these three games, right? I hope they do. And I hope they the kids vindicated, right and for all of them. But all that being said, the MVP thing. He feels pretty nonplussed by it, even though it’s all around him, right? People yelling it in him. Every television station I put on on New Year’s Day was Lamar, MVP, MVP. I told you so running back quarterbacking, you know, all of that, that went into it. And the fact that 31 teams have passed on him and picked up, you know, guys like Deshaun Watson and stad. And, and how, um, I would say underrated, you know, probably over critiqued, and under understood, misunderstood, but under understood, not misunderstood. Just nobody really understood what the Ravens were doing with the revolution a few years ago, and still a whole bunch of owners, some who threw drinks on fans, this weekend, passed on having Lamar at any cost at any contract in any way. And really didn’t think he could stand in the pocket and do this. And I would submit to you that I’ve only seen him do it like this, the last eight weeks. I mean, like this is this, the way it looks, has blossomed into something that it didn’t look like in week one or two or three. And I think he’s become more comfortable with it. And being coached to do it this way. And Lord knows that the benefits and having wide receivers and having protection and he can still run or he can fake like he’s gonna run and get rid of it, which Flacco did the other day crazily enough. Flacco has been watching some mahomes and some Lamar as well. He’s one of one and he’s healthy, and they’re hella dangerous here three weeks from now and and there’s no argument for anybody else for MVP. There’s a McCaffrey argument I guess right, but forget that that that’s not gonna that’s not gonna carry water. He’s not the signal caller.

Luke Jones  13:07

Yeah, I mean, as much as I am, I load this week to week referendum that we’ve got the MVP. MVP race has been for five or six weeks now. Right? Right. Think back to like three weeks ago. Dak Prescott was the favorite. And then while he had a lousy game, so he’s out. And then Brock Bertie was the favorite when when the ravens are going to Santa Clara to take on the 40 Niners. And, well, the ravens, we saw what the Ravens made him look like so he’s out. So then it was Lamar. Lamar is MVP case. And, you know, this has been talked about a lot. So I don’t think we need to belabor it too much. But it’s been such a fascinating look at how that’s so much for Lamar, but just how we evaluate MVPs quarterbacks in this league understanding positional value. What it’s why we don’t see running backs win MVP anymore, right? I mean, the game has changed and now sit in

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:59

the breakfast burger where it was, how many yards? Yeah, and how many touchdowns versus interception. And interception didn’t get held against you so much. They put you a Joe named within a Hall of Fame, right? So but but it was really that dude, it’s the MVP race in baseball, you and I’ve argued baseball for 15 years. You better than I mean better than you when you were a baby. But I would say it was always homeruns RBIs where you want a winning team to team win the division. You know, it was yeah, he’s a pitcher give them a sigh young you can’t make the pitcher the MVP. He doesn’t pitch everyday unless he’s accurately unless he’s vocally let you know let it’s somebody that’s taking the ball suitor taking the ball 60 7080 times when position players Cal Ripken suit number 162. Right catches are catching a buck 30 Buck 40. If Yogi Berra is winning or Johnny Bench are those kinds of you look at it that way. And you’d say well, he’s just the second baseman Joe Morgan or whatever Ryan, Sam. or you would say that about those players in the NFL man like I you could talk about pass rushers or wide receivers or running backs or anything else. The quarterbacks the guy, right. That’s that I mean, I, in the same way that pitchers not the guy in baseball because he doesn’t play every day. I don’t. I’d have a hard time getting it’s the toughest position in the sport in any sport. The MVP in football is a quarterback and asked him Yeah,

Luke Jones  15:28

it is. But what has made this year so unique is you didn’t have that quarterback having this unbelievable statistical season like, like what mahomes has done, like what Lamar did in 2019. I mean, we this isn’t Lamar was a better player in 2019. But his statistical profile his resume, way more impressive than what the stats look like for him this year. And he led the league with 36 touchdown passes, he was six overall in rushing, talking with running backs. He was six they had 1200 Russia and I

Nestor J. Aparicio  16:03

bet the numbers they have on the contact he took that year versus the contact he’s taken this year, just in general, I bet it would look different.

Luke Jones  16:12

It looks different, although I will continue to say you absolutely overrate that part of the equation, but I don’t want to get into that. But what we’re seeing right now with Lamar, what we see with him is you have a quarterback who is not running as frequently, especially when it comes to the designed run game, which Greg Roman would have Lamar by design run a lot. Now, Lamar still runs a lot. Let’s be clear, you know that the numbers, you know, I mean, he he’s leading the team in rushing still. It’s not as though that he’s still with what he did on Sunday. He’s leading the league among qualified rushers in yards per attempt. So that hasn’t gone away. It’s just makes him an MVP, right? It’s no doubt. Well, and that’s part of it, right? I mean, you can say,

Nestor J. Aparicio  16:59

against Michael Vick, and you know, Steve Young,

Luke Jones  17:02

right. But But that, you know, going back to what I said in 2019, it’s it slapped you in the face. I mean, he was it was unanimous. There was no discussion he was the MVP. Is it quite it wasn’t quite as dramatic going into Sunday’s game of him being unanimous. Probably not. But he had the monster statistical game. five touchdowns. Perfect passer rating puts an exclamation point on it now. 24 touchdown passes, assuming we don’t see Lamar against Pittsburgh on Saturday, which I’m not expecting to 24 touchdowns seven interceptions, that alone, does that sound like an MVP? No. But then you throw into the fact that he’s leading the team in rushing and Okay, he’s not gonna have 1000 yards, but he’s up, you know, over 800. And, you know, we’re talking about that. I mean, that’s still I mean, that’s, that’s still silly when you take a step back, and you just think, and we were used to it in Baltimore, right. We’ve watched it for five years now. But when you still think about what he does, that’s why I’ve said, and I’m not I’m not saying this for you, I’m saying for Well, I

Nestor J. Aparicio  18:03

will keep flipping with you and say took some getting used to.

Luke Jones  18:07

But at the same time, you’re saying that is

Nestor J. Aparicio  18:09

proving the point to survive to he hadn’t been standing up the last few years? Sure. Right about

Luke Jones  18:15

that. I mean, well, so we’re the Joe burrow gets hurt all the time, too. So what are we getting off? Guys get hurt? I think it’s way more than its football guys get hurt. And look. I said this five years ago, as Lamar got older, his game was always going to need to evolve for the Ravens sake, for his sake. You know, I said at the time, and I think the comparison I use then was Russell Wilson. Russell Wilson, you know, not even getting into all that. But the point is, you thought of Lamar as run first at the beginning of his career. As times moving on, he’s still running a lot. He’s still scrambling a lot. But you know, he’s thrown for a career high in passing yards this year. He has a career high in yards per pass attempt. So he’s become more efficient. They’re, they’re pushing the ball down the field. I mean, take a look at and this is this is an MVP, highlight reel play that I’m mentioning here, but his touchdown to ze flowers. On Sunday. Lester, go back and look at the play fake he gives there. He actually drops back initially looking like he’s going to throw the ball left handed, and then flips his hips. And ze flowers is wide open. And look. I mean, I wouldn’t say I could have completed that pass. But I can throw football that far, even if no one’s standing there. But just the things he does are so incredible and so rare. And you said it he’s one of one and he’s healthy. The Ravens always have a chance when those two conditions are you know that Lamar is upright and on the field, you have a chance always. But he just does so many things on a football field that are so unique that through all of the discourse, and even the good discourse, even good, nuanced debate as far as Lamar is a player, where he is where he was where he is now, where he’s going over the next five years. I always remind people just enjoy this because he is so unique, you know, in the way that, you know, I think a great comparison here is the most tired debate in all of professional sports at this point, which is LeBron James versus Michael Jordan as the greatest of all time, and it’s you know, but regardless of how you feel about that, enjoy what LeBron James is doing and has done for so many years. And I mean, this guy’s almost 40. And he’s still doing what he does so. But my point with Lamar is, through all of that, I mean, he’s just such a special player. But to bring it back to the MVP, he didn’t have the overwhelming statistical profile prior to Sunday’s five, touchdown, perfect passer rating game. But, boy, what a statistical exclamation point he put on his season. And that’s where we have to, you have to find that where the light where the intersection is between, yes, stats, stats, or they have to matter, you can’t just go off the eyeball test. That said, stats aren’t the only thing that matter. And I think when you look at his body of work, and more specifically, this football team, and its body of work, let’s be clear, the defense is a massive, massive reason why this team is 13 and three, a much bigger reason why this team is 13 and three, then the 2019 ravens were 14 and two, it’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:26

week 10 Lamar wasn’t the MVP, and

Luke Jones  21:29

that’s fine. And that’s fine. Like, look, I’m not saying I would have voted Lamar as MVP in week 10. I think he was having a better season than the statistics indicated.

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:39

But what was he his quarterback then right, that’s how times change right? And

Luke Jones  21:43

again, that’s that’s where like I said, the MVP conversation just wears me out because we’re, we’re all on this guy. And then he has one and

Nestor J. Aparicio  21:49

to be honest, you’re 32 years on the radio and you know this about me, I like arguing Hall of Fame’s now and arguing who’s on an all star team, and are like, I just love it’s like when I was a kid, it’s not a relevant enough, who’s the Coach of the Year who’s they’ve all pro, you know, it’s either good or not, there’s a measurement at the end called the Super Bowl. They measure them by giving them Pro Bowls and doing all this. And it’s and all of its political and all of its weird and all the all the fame’s are. And I think sometimes the MVP thing can be that he’s the best player in the league. Now, let’s move on that, can you can you go win a playoff game or two

Luke Jones  22:28

or three? And, and let’s be clear, Lamar would be the first to tell you that. He wants to win a Super Bowl. Look. And let’s be clear. Everyone wants to win a Super Bowl. So it’s not like that this makes Lamar unique

Nestor J. Aparicio  22:41

in that way, but they don’t rates for MVP trophies. Right? Correct. And

Luke Jones  22:46

Lamar would. I mean, he would tell you as great as it was for him to win the unanimous MVP four years ago. And my goodness, that was a great story. I mean, he was 22. You know, that was his age 22 season in the NFL that he did that. I mean, that’s incredible. But at the same time, he’d be the first to tell you we didn’t finish his job that year. I wasn’t good enough against the Titans. I mean, no one was in that game. But now you look at where he is. He’s a more seasoned Lamar Jackson, you know, he’s got all this experience. Think about what he’s been through in terms of the health challenges. Think about what where he and the organization had been in terms of the contract and how that played out and how easily that could have fractured the relationship. beyond repair. You know, it appeared certainly was fractured when he’s requesting for a trade but

Nestor J. Aparicio  23:35

why the UFC in Hollywood, brown and light are short,

Luke Jones  23:39

short. I mean, so there’s been so much of that. I mean, the injuries COVID Like, and just how that, I mean, that wreaks havoc on every team. But you know, for a team that was super bowl ready, like they were coming out of 19, even with a disappointment, I mean, that that was a complication. So through all that for them there now be back at this stage. I mean, you have a more experienced Lamar Jackson, who is more refined, and I would not even so much the the refined part, but for me, how calm he is in the pocket, even when the pocket is breaking down. And you know, he’s keeping his eyes downfield, he takes off when he needs to. And that still works really, really well when that happens. But

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:18

it doesn’t do it nearly as quickly as he used to. Sure sure, because that’s how he’s making plays. He’s making plays. Yeah, because he’s not just taking off.

Luke Jones  24:27

But I will say this Nestor, I agree with you. However, there were also times where and the numbers would bear this out. I mean, next gen stats, keeps track of this. There are also times in the past where he would hold on to the ball way too long, and create a sack, whatever there are, he seems he’s developing a better feel. And I I always think he had a better feel for this than a lot of people gave him credit for but he’s gotten better. There’s no doubt guys get better as they get older, right? Until they get to a certain point and then they’re too old and then they regress I mean, that’s where

Nestor J. Aparicio  24:57

they’re feeling heat in the pocket and there’s The ability to get away from it, which he has that most other guys don’t ever have, and can’t even think about it, you know it during the course of their career, you know, all they can do is duck and move down. But I watched Browning run around the other night, and they had a chance to win that game, right? Like they really had a chance. He did not feel the pocket at all, in a way backup quarterback, when you watch these other quarterbacks, they three to pocket goes gone out of the pocket, then you make the play, sit in the pocket and nanosecond too long. And you get buried and you get well. And he had to feel that too, because he was getting buried at various points last year especially well,

Luke Jones  25:40

and I liked that you brought that up, because it’s another talking point that that helps his MVP. Not that he needs his case to be helped at this point. I mean, he’s going to be the MVP. I know it’s a slam dunk at this point. But look at how the early in the year. You know, he had there was some strip sacks right there were times the ball got knocked out. And look, that’s a two part. That’s a two part problem. Typically, yes, the O line needs a hold up and protection. But there are also times to your point, if you hold the ball a little bit too long. You can’t expect the O line to hold up. And that’s where Lamar at times in the past. And you know, it still happens on occasion, where if he holds on the ball too long. Yeah, your protection is not going to hold up for seven seconds. No, Jonathan Ogden can’t hold a guy off, you know, if you’re standing back there eight or nine seconds, but he’s just he’s developed. And so much of this just comes with experience. I think T Martin as the as the quarterbacks coach this year has done a great job with him, Todd Monken, we’ve talked about at length, Lamar has done a better job. And I think those around him and he himself would even say can still get better in this way of taking the layup sometimes. And that means dumping the ball off to Gus Edwards or Justice Hill or Keaton Mitchell when he was healthy, and getting rid of the ball, sometimes he’s time to throw gone, but I said next gen stats, and then I went off in a little bit of a not a tangent, but was talking about this, you know, his average time to throw has been better this year, meaning quicker. So you could talk about better receivers. Certainly, that’s part of it. I think Todd Monken, having a more refined passing game than Greg Roman had, which Greg Roman we know was, is an all time run game kind of coordinator. I mean, the numbers bear that out. But if there’s a weakness to what he did, there was a passing attack, obviously. So yeah, there’s lots of different variables that work here. But the point is, it has been a much cleaner, better operation than it had been the last few years. And there are lots of people that deserve credit for that. But at the end of the day, number eight is the one that’s in charge of all that, because he’s the one on the field doing it, you know, Todd Monken can draw up all these plays and radio them in but then ultimately, his headset goes off and the bars call on the play and and as to operate. And he’s done a phenomenal job of that. So, you know, it’s the entire operation has just gotten cleaner and better. And I think what’s so encouraging for me, not not just with Lamar, but just this offense in general is they really saved their best for last year, that Miami defense we talked about it before the game, I mean, that defense was playing at a high level over the last seven or eight weeks really since Jalen Ramsay had come back, and they just absolutely shredded them, I mean, shredded them. So you love the fact that you, you have this defense that he has given up a few more yards the last couple of weeks than we had grown accustomed to, but they’re still making spat splash plays, and they played extremely well, considering the injuries they had in the secondary. But you have this defense, that’s been great all year. And now you have this offense that had been good to really good all year. But it’s been great. It’s been great to finish the regular season. So look, you gotta go out and do it. We’ve talked about it and whoever they’re playing the third weekend of January, we’ll talk about that team. And whether it’s the browns or the bills, or the Chiefs or whoever it is, the Ravens gonna have to go out there and play well, and they have the 2019 hard truth, as I wrote about it, Baltimore That was Marlon Humphrey gave that quote, after that loss. They’ve been living with that hard truth for four years. And they’re finally back at that point number one seed, home field advantage. best team in the NFL, go finish the job. So you know, they have to do it. But boy, they’re, there’s no team right now that has a better situation in the Ravens right now. I mean, it’s cut, cut and dried. I mean, there’s no arguing it that they’re mostly healthy. They should be mostly healthy by divisional round weekend and to your point. Now we can talk about Patrick mahomes in a big picture sense. But as it pertains to 2023 Mark Jackson is the best player in the NFL. I mean, it’s he’s been that dynamic. And again, if there was any lingering doubt, he eliminated that on Sunday with I mean, just an absolutely brilliant performance on the field. Luke

Nestor J. Aparicio  30:01

is here he’ll be in Owings Mills whenever they allow a quick game this week on a Saturday ravens kind of taken aback by having to do that but it’ll be longer rest for getting the guys that are really important healthy will have injury reports all that stuff might be some baseball conversation here you’ll be hearing some of our Maryland crabcake tour stuff presented by our friends at the Maryland lottery conjunction with when donation 866 90 nation as well as our friends at Jiffy Lube multi care, we’re taking the radio row week to a new concept this year. It’s going to involve you it’s gonna involve everyone that listens, everyone who reads everyone who subscribes. We have such a thing. We have no paywall. I have to come up with some funny to say about that, but but we have no paywall here at all. I am 1570 Just go to Baltimore. Make sure you’re following along. Look, last thing just before we roll here because it’s New Years and do you have any thoughts on who you’d like to have them see and what would be a good fight for them? Or is it I mean to me you don’t want to see buffalo in Kansas City. I don’t know you really want to see Flacco I you know, I’m rooting for the Houston’s in the Jacksonville’s and sort of the lesser lights Miami at this point, especially without chub if they sort of made it through in some way. I would see them as being like, especially after you beat him by 40 points. I don’t know that there’s any easy outs here. But they’re all sort of intriguing in their own way. Yeah, yeah.

Luke Jones  31:25

I mean, look, I mean, you just said it. I mean, it’s still Patrick mahomes. And Andy Reid, no matter how bad that offense is locked now for most of the season, but but especially here of late, I mean, even even beaten Cincinnati, I mean, the field goals, you know, rather than than having those red zone trips turned into points or touchdowns. Cleveland’s been talked about at length, I mean, my goodness from from a media narrative standpoint, I mean, Joe Flacco coming into Baltimore, but don’t don’t sleep on the browns in general. I mean, the defense playing really well, you know, so you have them. I’ve said, you’ve heard me say it since the middle of the season, even when buffalo looked like they were circling the drain. I said all along from a true talent level standpoint. If they get in and look, they still have to handle their business to get in. But I still think they might be the biggest threat of these teams to the Ravens. But Jacksonville? No. I mean, I like Trevor Lawrence, when he’s right. I don’t know if he’s gonna be healthy in that team. I know they won this week. But they’ve been very unimpressive at the time of the year when you need to be impressive, right? They were the team. We’re talking about them being the number one seed a month ago. You know, they were in that discussion. And, you know, now they’re in a dogfight with Indianapolis and Houston, of those lesser teams, you know, because you mentioned Indian, Houston, Pittsburgh, not not at all concerned about other than just ravens Steelers weirdness, which I don’t know what else to say about it. I mean, I don’t think Pittsburgh is very good, but they’re still in it. And they could get in Houston to me as a team that’s still interesting as an underdog because of CJ Stroud. He’s back now. You know, they, that Houston team at times this year has looked really good. And I can still think back to John Harbaugh talking about this after week one when the Ravens won that game, but didn’t blow them out in the way that I think a lot of people expected them to win. And he said, keep an eye on them. They’re gonna be they’re gonna be pretty good as the year goes on, and nine and seven, even with Stroud having missed a couple games late in the season. So do I think there are made

Nestor J. Aparicio  33:33

for under four or five on wins and the I agree with you, and I would have thought doing it really good. I mean, they’re upside down organization, poor ownership, just all you know, all the above. They have all that going against them. They do

Luke Jones  33:46

and they also had quite a few injuries this year, you know, so But that said, you know, the shortlist, Buffalo in terms of just whole package, I guess, Kansas City’s got the pedigree, right. I mean, they’ve got the big, they got more of a pedigree than the ravens, you know, that. That’s just that’s fact right now. I mean, until the Ravens do it, Lamar, and all the other quarterbacks are chasing mahomes. I mean, I mean, it’s that simple mahomes as to even Flacco and Matthew Stafford are chasing the homes, because he has to and they have won. So you know, those two teams and, and Cleveland just because it’s, you know, it’s a division rival and they played well, and I’m not saying that I have fears of Joe Flacco threading or, you know, completely decimating the secondary or anything like that. Because the secondaries really, really good, assuming they’re healthy by the time divisional round weekend comes around. But yeah, those are kind of the three teams I’m looking at. I already said and I think Miami has the components of eventually being a really dangerous team, but they they just, they’ve had they beaten one team with a winning record

Nestor J. Aparicio  34:56

all year, almost salvages just about everything here right other than Coming here, if they win this week, so I mean, it is fascinating that they’re there. They’re the one with the bullet. They’re the one rising in all of this. And they have a chance now against a really depleted Miami team to, you know, put an end to them their prosperity. And then, you know, Miami probably to go back and play them right? Or it’d be like that was six or seven, whatever would be would go back to two. And you would think buffalo is going to survive that that would mean the two couldn’t come to Baltimore week one. That would mean you know, Kansas City, Cleveland, you know, I mean, yeah. And you start to look at the possibilities of Kansas City or Cleveland being the first team and then buffalo waiting over the hill, allegedly, and they might be taken on Kansas City. You’re lucky if you get one or the other. If you get Flacco Hey, it means you you don’t get Kansas City and buffalo you get one or the other. And that I’m trying to space this out in my mind and saying, what’s a good fight here? I don’t know. I think buffalo or Kansas City or Cleveland, any of them? They’ve asked to Cleveland already. All very formidable. And it’s not going to be 56 to 19. And if it is, we’re the greatest team ever. And they’re gonna write books about it. And God bless. And they might be they might be they might. But

Luke Jones  36:14

this is where it’s very simple. The Ravens at their best going up against any other team at their best, taking the Ravens every time at this point where they are right now. Hi against them, get five in the tape. That said, I would have said the same exact thing four years ago. So you have to go out and do it. And that’s why I said this in in our initial postgame reaction. It’s really impressed. John Harbaugh was asked about 2019 Patrick Ricard was asked about 2019, Ronnie Stanley, Lamar Jackson, there are, there’s I looked at it, there are 11 guys on the current currently in the organization, and that’s counting Tyus Bowser who hasn’t played all year. And Mark Andrews is on IR right now. 11 guys from that 2019 team are still here. And that includes Michael Pierce, who left in a sense returned, you know, the become a rave and again, so it would have been really easy for them to be flipping especially with the euphoria, the postgame locker room to be flipped and be like, Oh, we’re not talking about 2019. That’s ancient history, which four years in the NFL is a really long time, mind you, but every single one of them said, hey, you know, we have lessons to take from that, you know, we and Patrick Ricard said it. Look, we’re having a nice season, we’re having a really good season. Don’t get me wrong. But he flat out said it doesn’t mean anything until we get to the postseason. And, you know, that’s, that’s where I think there’s an impressive maturity to this team that I wouldn’t say they were immature in 2019. But, you know, they just they hadn’t been there yet. I mean, they I get that they had the year before and the Chargers came in. But, you know, that was just such a weird, you know, that was the end of the Flacco beginning of the Lamar era year. You know, there was a lot of transition. You know, that that year after following that season, guys, like wedo, and Suggs were gone. But, you know, that team was still so young that they weren’t seasoned it. They hadn’t experienced any real disappointment, real adversity in the way that now you look at this team. You know, we we talked about this with the Ravens in 2012. Does 2012 happen if they didn’t have Billy Kahn differently? Evans in 2011? I don’t know. Probably not, I would say so. You know, it’s taken this team longer to get back to this point now where they’re the number one seed again, and you know, I get it, they’ve been in the playoffs a couple other times, I’m not saying that. It’s been four years of misery. But they’ve gone through a lot to get back to the stage. And I think the maturity with which some of those individuals spoke after the game when they could have easily been like, Oh, we’re not worried about 2019. They all said, hey, it’s part of our journey. It’s part of our identity as a team now, and that impressed me there are too many things said after a game that I make too much of at this point, because, you know, a lot of it’s just, I watched for lack

Nestor J. Aparicio  39:02

of a better ground. Wow. Yeah,

Luke Jones  39:05

white noise, you know, and I understand and that’s not a knock on anyone that you have. These guys are 10 minutes removed for playing a football game.

Nestor J. Aparicio  39:11

They say meaningful things. That’s the locker the podium moments never feel that way. I just I liked the fact that, that they acknowledged that that’s part of that’s part of the story. It’s part of their story. And, you know, I

Luke Jones  39:24

I’m gonna use a wrestling slide here real quick. Cody Rhodes, the son of the great, you know, the late great Dusty Rhodes, he’s become a main event or in WWE. And over the last year, he’s been on a quest to win the WWE title. And his line that he’s used is I have to finish the story. And, you know, we’ll see if he does that in Philly and WrestleMania 40 In April, but, boy, the Ravens have a chance to finish the story this, this era of the Ravens Lamar, the Lamar Jackson era, they have a chance to finish the story that they did not that story that was failure four years ago. are in such disappointment so we got three weeks three weeks to kind of ramp up before it begins and exciting times here in Baltimore there’s no doubt about it because I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Happy New

Nestor J. Aparicio  40:12

Year to everybody out there celebrating Festivus for the rest of us and all the Ravens flock getting ready to flock to back downtown you know there’s a flocking away just Vegas or busts Super Bowl or bust I wrote about that in column this this week as well. Look, I’ll be around I’m around the bear lottery our friends winter nation as well as Jiffy Lube. MultiCare put us out on the road for the Maryland crabcake tour. We’re gonna be doing a very, very, very special thing. The week of radio row I can’t wait to tell you about it. So a couple of our sponsors don’t know about it yet but when they know about it, you’ll know about it. So like next week, I’ll probably be rolling out those some of the early details as we have nothing but time between now and January 20 or 21st and tick tock tick tock and we’re gonna watch a lot of football. We’re probably gonna eat a lot of pizza drink some beer here it’s January around here Happy New Year to everybody following your best weight plan with our friends at Planet Fitness. I’ve got Q coming on talking about get me in shape I gotta get on some weights this year. I need to write a little bit more this year. Trying to think of what else any I had some resolutions but yeah, maybe I’ve prayed and Baltimore I’d be good New Year’s resolution. I’m Nestor he’s Luke. We are wn St. am 1570, Towson Baltimore. And we never stop talking Baltimore positive

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