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The view from the Cleveland media


The view from the Cleveland media

The tenor comingout of Cleveland in the wake of the Ravens' 23-16 win over the Browns onThursday night is largely positive. After all, despite a slow start offensively, the Brownshad the ball in their hands with a chance to tie on the game's final play in avenue where the Ravens hardly ever lose.It was a gameeffort from a young team with some potential, but in the end, it was the sameresult for the Browns, who fall to 0-4 and remain the AFC's only winless team.Here is how someof the Cleveland media saw the game:Mary Kay Cabot,Cleveland Plain Dealer"Brownsquarterback Brandon Weeden and his young, inexperienced receivers grew up a lotin Baltimore Thursday night, making the Ravens sweat it out until the last playof the game when they had a chance to tie it. But in the end, Weeden couldn'tkeep pace with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and his veteran crew."Craig Lyndall,Waitingfornextyear.com "The ClevelandBrowns certainly didnt embarrass themselves (just like Josh Cribbs said) inlosing 23-16 to the Ravens, but this team seems to be the absolute opposite ofopportunistic. You have to give the Browns credit for having a plan on defense.They got gashed at times, but they kept Ray Rice under control and got somepressure on Joe Flacco. Offensively, youhave to give them credit for running plays that gave them chances to stay closewith one of the best teams in the league, but you have to win at some point.Too many field goals (three) and not enough touchdowns (one.) Staying closefeels like something worth building on for a while. But just being close couldvery well start to weigh heavier and heavier on this team until (or if) theyfinally make two or three more of those big plays and win a game."

Terry Pluto,Cleveland Plain Dealer"The Browns wereplaying a legitimate Super Bowl contender on a field where Baltimore had won 20of its last 21 before Thursday night. Joe Flacco has matured from a goodquarterback to one of the best in the NFL, and he threw for 356 yards. The Ravensentered the night averaging 33 points -- against New England, Cincinnati andPhiladelphia. While Baltimore's defense has not been as dominating as in thepast, these guys still hit you hard enough to make you grab for the aspirin, ifonly you can remember where you put it.
That's why Ifeared the Browns would be embarrassed on national television. Instead, theyplayed with a lot of heart, keeping the game reasonably close and showing thecountry that Trent Richardson has a chance to be an impact running back."Marla Ridenour,Akron Beacon-Journal "Yes, theBrowns are still wildly inconsistent. They couldnt come up with a big play ondefense when within striking distance. Injuries and cornerback Joe Hadenssuspension continue to leave them lacking in depth and talent, especially asthey attempted to cover Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught nine passesfor 131 yards. There seems no urgency in play-calling when they fall behind inthe first three quarters, the no-huddle apparently lost on page 999 of an imaginary1,000-page playbook. The Browns bench drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penaltywith 5:27 to go, which doesnt reflect well on Shurmur. ... But the Ravensare expected to be Super Bowl contenders. The Browns didnt roll over as theyhad four days before. They rediscovered their pride, which seemed lacking inthe second half against the Bills."
Nate Ulrich,Akron Beacon-Journal "With thelights shining bright on a national stage, the Browns fired their slingshot andjust missed Goliath by a hair. The Browns started their final drive with 1:05left in the fourth quarter and scratched and clawed enough to put themselves instriking distance at the end of the game, but the Baltimore Ravens escaped apotential upset."

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The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Ravens' future isn't Joe Flacco - but they don't want to face him in the AFC

The Baltimore Ravens made it clear after their Wild Card loss that Lamar Jackson would be their quarterback going forward, bringing the somewhat official end to Joe Flacco's 11-year career with the team.

So what's next for the Super Bowl MVP?

Retirement after a fruitful NFL career is an option, but in a league where teams are desperate for a seasoned veteran, Flacco could find himself with another affluent contract. The Ravens, too, could get something nice in return.

"Let's start with a second-round pick," former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said. "It's negotiable, we're going to keep him in pencil. Who am I not going to trade him to? Well, I may not have a choice. I may only have one trade pick. I don't want him in the AFC. I don't want this guy costing me a playoff position next year."

There are several AFC teams in need of a QB, too. The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars would jump at the chance to get Flacco under center.

But it may not be that easy for the Ravens.

"If the team wants to renegotiate his contract, Flacco controls the trade," Casserly adds. "He can simply say, 'no' [and the] Ravens may have to just release him and let Joe go his own way." 

The former GM adds that he expects something to be settled come March. Why? Casserly places Teddy Bridgewater and Nick Foles as hotter free agency pickups for QB needy teams, and with the 2019 NFL Draft not offering a ton in terms of first-round quarterbacks, the Ravens may have to act fast in order to get a return on their investment. 

One team that is definitely in need of a QB1 is the Washington Redskins. The idea could interest Flacco as his family of seven could stay put in the DMV area. But can the Redskins afford Flacco? 

The team is facing a huge cap charge with Alex Smith, whose career is in question after suffering a catastrophic leg injury, and a rookie they can mold could make more sense than a 34-year-old Flacco.


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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

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Ravens reportedly agree to a deal keeping John Harbaugh in Baltimore long term

The Ravens have reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract extension with head coach John Harbaugh, a move already being praised by national pundits everywhere. 

It was nearly a month ago that the Ravens announced Harbaugh would be returning as the team’s head coach in 2019, which was noteworthy considering his status as a potential lame duck head coach.

In the same release, the team announced they were working towards a contract extension with Harbaugh, whose current deal was set to expire next year.

Despite reports from national NFL insiders, including Jason La Canfora and Peter King, that Harbaugh might prefer to hit free agency as a highly sought-after head coach after the 2019 season, it appears the Ravens will keep him in Baltimore for the foreseeable future. 

This news comes on the heels of a busier-than-usual coaching carousel, with a quarter of the 32 NFL teams changing head coaches in the last month, including two AFC North rivals. Harbaugh almost certainly would have been the cream of the crop among coaching free agents no matter when he became available, so the Ravens were looking to lock him up long term.

After a tough November home loss to the Steelers that put the team at 4-5, Harbaugh was asked about his job security, and he remained steadfast and confident.

"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."

After that game, the Ravens rattled off six wins in seven games to make the playoffs, and many players credited Harbaugh with keeping the team together. It was prior to Week 16 when the front office announced Harbaugh would be returning no matter how the season ended, but the strong finish and AFC North title certainly made the decision easier.

A coach with a special teams background, Harbaugh is an anomaly in the current era of young, offensive-minded head coaches. He won Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and holds a 104-72 career record in Baltimore.

The terms of the new deal have not yet been released, but it will be interesting how many years the team is committing to Harbaugh.