Sizzle and Fizzle: New face of Ravens D

This week featured the vintage Oakland Raiders. We saw the good, the bad and the ugly in Oakland.

Rex Grossman is better than ever?

And what’s really bothering Mike Tomlin?

It’s our weekly “Football Friday” Sizzle and Fizzle on . . .




Rex Grossman

Grossman listens to our radio show. Heck, he did a pretty spot-on impression of how I toss to break. Grossman joked that he thought he wasn’t the starter listening to John Beck on our show this summer. So he knows we give him heat and he’s on the wrong end of our jokes.

Well, Rex’s play showed me in Week 1. I have to table the line, “If Rex Grossman is the answer, I’d love to know the question” for now.

Grossman torched the Giants defense for 305 passing yards. But frankly, it was even more than that. He is very comfortable in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Grossman took us back to the season he spent as Matt Schaub’s back-up in Houston, working for an offensive coordinator named . . . Kyle Shanahan. Grossman said he learned by watching Schaub. He learned how to be more conservative, the total opposite of his at-times reckless gunslinger ways that got him a ticket out of Chicago.

Rex cannot get enough of Shanahan’s offense. Grossman told us, “I’m just blown away with it. This offensive scheme is unmatched. It’s amazing how receivers get open.” And Grossman is very comfortable with Santana Moss, referring to him as his “go-to guy” when the going gets tough.

Grossman knows he will keep the job in Washington as long as the team wins and he continues to make good decisions. With Arizona coming to town, he can put up big numbers again.

I’ve interviewed Grossman several times through the years. I’ve never quite heard him this confident and relaxed. I’ll be rooting for him.

Haloti Ngata

With all due respect to Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Ray Rice and Joe Flacco, it is Ngata who stirs the drink in Baltimore. He is the best and most dominant player the Ravens have.

It was Suggs who told us this Tuesday on the SiriusXM Blitz, "Haloti is a man amongst boys. He’s the best defensive tackle in the NFL. He was a bully out there against Pittsburgh." I couldn’t agree more. You can’t block him.

And it was interesting talking to Ngata on our radio show the day after. Ngata said this past game against Pittsburgh meant something extra with the Ravens still fuming from blowing a 21-7 lead against the Steelers in the playoffs. Ngata said there was a different feel in the locker room.

Ngata has also taken on a greater leadership role, with Lewis letting him truly "handle" the defensive line. And Ngata tells us he is thrilled to be rushing the passer even more.

The cash register is ringing for the free agent-to-be. Ngata says he wants to stay in Baltimore and is confident a deal will get done. The price tag keeps going up for this Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

Bills defense

Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the headlines for his four-touchdown day, and rightly so.

But let’s not overlook the incredible performance of the revamped Buffalo defense in Kansas City. Jamaal Charles was a total non-factor. Matt Cassel looked like he was a back as a second stringer at USC.

Nick Barnett had an impactful Buffalo debut. First-round pick Marcell Dareus made his presence felt. Kansas City had no answer for the monster that is Kyle Williams.

Barnett, who has a good sense of what works and what doesn’t from his years in Green Bay, told us on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Bills defense has "top five potential with its big bodies up front and pass rushers on the outside."

Well, top five is crazy talk, but there is no question that the Buffalo defense is better than it was last year. The Bills shut down the vaunted KC running attack in Week 1. They now have a major challenge with, as Barnett called it, "the power and violent running style of Darren McFadden and one of the best fullbacks in the NFL" and the Raiders coming to lovely Western New York on Sunday. They are more prepared for it than in the past.

Richard Seymour

You can argue the Raiders gave up too much for an aging star when they dealt a first-round pick to the Patriots a few years ago. You can argue they gave Seymour too much money this offseason. What you cannot argue is the professionalism and stellar play Seymour brings to the Raiders. Did you see how physical and dominant Seymour and that Oakland defensive line was on Monday night? It’s all because of Seymour.




Oakland penalties

Three guarantees in life; death, taxes and the Raiders committing just asinine penalties. They jump offsides. They jump onto the pile. It’s way too consistent and totally inexplicable. Penalties nearly cost Oakland a win in Denver, and frankly marred the quality of the game.

Seymour was jazzed up about the win when we talked this week, but he lamented the mistakes. And he was angry and wants to do something about it. Seymour told us, “We had too many penalties. It’s sloppy football. We have a lot to work on.” Let’s be honest. This wouldn’t happen in New England, Seymour’s former home.

On his SiriusXM NFL Radio show, the legendary John Madden added, “It’s coachable. It’s under the category of stupid.”


Yet it doesn’t change.

With Jason Campbell seemingly incapable of grabbing his teammates by the throat and demanding accountability and responsibility, Seymour must do it as the leader of this team. Seymour also mentioned how much it aggravates new head coach Hue Jackson. Well, do something about it. Stop practice. Cut someone. Make the message get through. Chuck Bresnahan must get angry. Rod Woodson must step up and demand it. Denver’s a pretty bad football team. When the Raiders move up in class, this is going to cost them games.

Stupid penalties and Raiders football have been hand in hand for too damn long.

Terrelle Pryor

He’s appealing his suspension? What an absolute joke. Does he remember that he told Roger Goodell that he was OK with it? Does he know that his agent Drew Rosenhaus said on our radio show that he was just happy Pryor was granted eligibility to the supplemental draft after his nonsense at Ohio State? Pryor was truly very close to not being in the NFL this year.

Steelers run defense

When you lose 35-7 on the road to your heated rival, you would think that everything would bother you. But Tomlin just couldn’t get past the fact that his run defense allowed a startling 5 yards per carry. Tomlin said, “That’s our building block, stopping the run. That’s what we do.”


A candid Todd Haley joined us on SiriusXM Radio this week to break down the breakdowns in Kansas City’s humbling 41-7 defeat at Arrowhead to the Bills.

Haley said the "turnovers and missed tackles" bothered him more than anything. That’s a valid point. Dexter McCluster coughing up the opening kickoff took the air out of the balloon. The Eric Berry season ending injury suffocated Kansas City. He’s a young star at safety, who according to Haley, played a team high 1,100 plays last year.

And Haley lamented the fact that Kansas City missed on "potential turn key moments that could’ve changed the outcome." He’s right. The worst sequence was when a touchdown was taken off the board by replay, Cassel took a sack and lost major yards, and the Chiefs missed a field goal.

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for the Chiefs, with Jonathan Baldwin injured after fighting Thomas Jones, with Haley playing his starters deep into the preseason and the ensuing injuries. And now Berry is done for the year. KC better get its act together, and fast, in Detroit this weekend.