Ravens

Bengals survive another sloppy game

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Bengals survive another sloppy game

CINCINNATI (AP) The Bengals stayed on the cusp of the playoffs by surviving their sloppiest game of the season, one that left them with plenty of concern heading into a weekend off.

They did a lot of things wrong during a 34-13 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday night, but the Eagles were far worse, bailing out the Bengals by turning the ball over five times.

The Eagles lost four fumbles and had an interception off a severely underthrown pass, helping Cincinnati overcome a second-half deficit.

The ugly victory gave Cincinnati (8-6) a chance to make the playoffs by winning at Pittsburgh and at home against Baltimore in the next two weeks. The Bengals are 0-6 against those AFC North rivals during the last two seasons.

``After reviewing the tapes, it's evident in a lot of areas we have a lot of coaching to do,'' coach Marvin Lewis said on Friday. ``We have a lot of improvement we can still make.''

Although they're in the postseason chase, the Bengals aren't happy with how they're playing at the most important time of the season. They struggled to win at San Diego, pulling it out with a fourth-quarter rally aided by the Chargers' self-destruction. They then lost at home to Dallas, blowing a fourth-quarter lead.

In Philadelphia, they hit a low point - 11 penalties for 94 yards, a punt fielded at the 1-yard line, two fumbles by quarterback Andy Dalton, six sacks allowed. The Eagles' turnovers made the difference and left the Bengals relieved yet unhappy.

They've talked all season about getting hot as the playoffs approach. Their performances are getting worse, especially on offense. They know that if they want to consider themselves playoff-worthy, they've got to play a lot better in the next two games.

``Anytime you win on the road, I don't care how you do it, it's exciting,'' offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said on Monday, taking a break from watching tape of a Baltimore-Pittsburgh game. ``We are 8-6 right now and we still have everything in reach that we want to reach for. We just have to play better, and we know that.

``We know that the other team is not going to fumble and give us that field position all the time. We are going to have to grind some yards, protect the football. We gave two turnovers in their end of the field and that can't happen against teams with Ben Roethlisberger and (Joe) Flacco and Peyton Manning like that.''

The offense was totally ineffective in the second quarter and the early part of the third, before the Eagles started turning it over. Cincinnati had the ball seven times and lost four yards overall, done in by penalties and Dalton's two fumbles.

In the first half, A.J. Green was the only receiver to catch a pass, getting 41 yards on four receptions. Tight end Jermaine Gresham had three catches for 28 yards, running back Brian Leonard one catch for seven yards.

Dalton was under heavy pressure most of the game. He finished 13 of 27 for 127 yards and a below-average passer rating of 74.2.

``It was very un-Andy-like last night,'' Gruden said. ``He missed some throws that he should make, he didn't throw some throws that he should throw, could have run for yards and tried to throw across his body and was almost intercepted. He made some plays that just weren't up to par.''

The second-year quarterback become frustrated as the offense bogged down, slamming down a binder on the sideline at one point.

``Everything you do, you have to continue to do it with more poise than you did it the last time,'' Lewis said. ``That's all we ask any of our players all of the time: every opportunity, every chance you get, do it better than you did it the last time.''

Notes: FB Chris Pressley had an MRI on his right knee Friday. He got hurt in the first quarter on Thursday night. Gruden said if the injury is significant, the Bengals will see what other fullbacks are available. If there are no such options, they could move TE Orson Charles to a fullback role. ... Gruden said half of the six sacks were the result of Dalton holding the ball too long.

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Breaking down the Jalen Ramsey question and what it could mean for the Ravens secondary

Breaking down the Jalen Ramsey question and what it could mean for the Ravens secondary

If there’s one thing that’s obvious about the Jalen Ramsey situation in Jacksonville, it’s that there are 31 other teams that would like to have him on the team. 

Yes, that includes the Ravens. It’s not breaking news to think every team in the NFL is looking for a former All-Pro cornerback any way they can get him.

Two Ravens players, Matthew Judon and Marquise Brown, already tweeted their desire to bring Ramsey to Baltimore.

The logistics of adding him, however, are a completely separate issue. 

Ramsey, a 2016 first-round pick of the Jaguars, recently requested a trade. He’s reportedly unhappy with his usage in the Jaguars defense and had a spat with his head coach, Doug Marrone, on the sideline last Sunday against the Texans. 

According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, two offers have already been made for Ramsey’s services.

From the Ravens perspective, there’s both pros and cons to what this deal could mean. 

Starting with the positives, it’s clear: Ramsey is one of, if not the game’s best cornerbacks. Adding him to a secondary already with Marlon Humphrey on the opposite side of the field, and Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson at safety, would clearly give the Ravens the best secondary in the NFL — if they didn’t have it already. 

Without slot cornerback Tavon Young for the season and Jimmy Smith for a few weeks, the Ravens have been pressed deeper than they thought they might have to go with those two absent. Ramsey would come in and immediately fill a hole left behind from injuries. 

Ramsey is still under his rookie contract for this and next season, where he’ll carry a cap hit of 7.429 million dollars this season according to Spotrac. Next year, his final year, he’ll have a cap hit of 13.7 million dollars.

The Ravens have 9.625 million dollars in cap space this season, also according to Spotrac. Meaning, they’d be able to fit him in, should they so desire. Next season, they’re projected to have the ninth-most cap space available in the NFL at 68.127 million dollars. 

With 10 projected draft picks next year, including two-third round picks and three-fourth round picks, the Ravens will have the ammunition necessary to acquire a player like Ramsey. And in a conference with the Chiefs, Patriots and Browns, all of whom boast outstanding offensive weapons, building out the defensive side of the ball could push the Ravens over the edge. 

Baltimore has free agents to take care of at season’s end, like Michael Pierce, Willie Snead, Patrick Onwuasor, Matthew Judon, Patrick Ricard and Jimmy Smith. 

None of those names, however, will command top-dollar in the open market. And with Lamar Jackson still on his rookie deal for this season and potentially three more after this, the time to strike for the Ravens could be now. 

But, like all trade scenarios, there’s another side to Ramsey’s potential acquisition. 

Ramsey has stated his desire to be a lockdown, No. 1 cornerback responsible for shutting down opposing team’s top receivers. The Ravens already have a bonafide top corner in Humphrey, and if the team uses its fifth-year option on him, he won’t have to be re-signed until 2021.

Ronnie Stanley is the biggest fish that the Ravens have to sign, and he’s due after the 2020 season — the same season as Ramsey. Locking up Stanley and Ramsey could prove to be tough, especially considering the fact that both would be at or near the top of the pay-grade for their respective position groups. 

And, for better or worse, Ramsey has been known to be vocal about what he sees on the field and in the organization. 

That could mean a proclamation about how well the defense is playing as a way of being a leader, or it could mean lashing out when things go poorly. Like he showed last week against the Texans, he’s not shy about telling the man in charge about how he feels. Could that be pent up frustration boiling over? Absolutely. But the Ravens will have to be careful with what they decide, considering that past.

They’ve had boisterous personalities before in Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, so the franchise isn’t foreign to what those players bring. 

Even if the Ravens view Ramsey as their top option and would like to make a deal, the Jaguars need to be pleased with the compensation they receive. The Ravens might not be willing to go that far. 

Jacksonville has reportedly been asking for a first-round pick, plus more. The Ravens do have a 2020 first-round pick, but might not be willing to sell off what could end up being another second or third-round pick, or even their 2021 first-round pick. 

Even if the Ravens offer their 2020 first-round pick, at 2-0 already, there’s a decent shot the Ravens pick 20th or higher in the first round. The Jaguars could accept a trade from another team, who they view as having a better chance of picking towards the top of the first round in the next few years. 

So what does all that mean? It means to remain level-headed, whether or not the move gets done. 

Should the Ravens pull the trigger on one of the biggest moves of the 2019 season, or should they sit on the sidelines and keep their picks, there are pros and cons to each decision. The trade, or lack thereof, doesn’t mean the Ravens will win the AFC or mean they’re doomed.

It just means they’ll either have Jalen Ramsey, or they won’t.

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Wizards' Go-Go to Hold Local Tryouts on Saturday

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Capital City Go-Go

Wizards' Go-Go to Hold Local Tryouts on Saturday

The Washington Wizards are trying to find their Mark Wahlberg from “Invincible” on the basketball court this weekend.

The Wizards’ G League Affiliate Capital City Go-Go will host its local player tryout at the Entertainment and Sports Arena this Saturday. Both head coach Ryan Richman and general manager Pops Mensah-Bonsu will be in attendance to evaluate the area’s talent.

The District’s under the radar ballers will try to impress the Go-Go’s front office for a chance at an invite to training camp in October. The team can invite four of the players at tryouts back to camp. Three invitees ended up playing in a total of 75 games in the team’s inaugural season in 2018-2019. Among them was power forward Isaiah Armwood, who started in 20 games and averaged 11.4 points. 

Not unfamiliar to the D.C. sports scene, the Go-Go finished right outside of the G League playoff picture last season with a 25-25 record. With the Wizards season on the horizon, some local talent could soon find themselves vying for those coveted two-way contract deals. 

The Wizards currently have 18 players on the roster, with 17 of those to be under contract for the upcoming season. Garrison Matthews, an undrafted shooting guard out of Lipscomb, has one of the two two-way contracts. 

Depending on how the first couple of months go for the Wizards, there’s a chance this season could pave the way for some of the Washington’s untapped talent.

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