2012 Positively Gruden, Week 1: Bengals-Ravens

Welcome to the 2012 regular season kickoff of “Positively Gruden,” where I break down the top praise, plaudits, and pats on the back from America’s favorite fawning former coach.  After several weeks of trolling through 3rd through 6th stringers in the preseason, you could tell that coach Gruden was chomping at the bit to break down some actual, meaningful football.  And the Ravens-Bengals matchup did not disappoint….for about five minutes.  Because from Joe Flacco’s bomb to Torrey Smith on the first play to Ed Reed’s 267th (approximately) pick-six, this game was over before it started.  And there was poor Gruden again, having to pick up the pieces by heaping praise on back-ups, role players, and Gerry Austin (ESPN’s new officiating guru…you’ll be surprised to learn this: he knows a lot of rules).  Just like a preseason.

Oh well, there’s always next week when Peyton Manning comes to town.  But before we get to that, Gruden did give us a few nuggets to round out this week’s top ten list.  As always the best Grudenisms are graded on a sliding scale of (a) hyperbole; (b) vivid imagery; and (c) outright absurdity.

10.  “Watch this blitz pick-up here.  Just listen to this at home. HO! I tell ya what, number 36 the fullback, Chris Pressley just stuck an A-gap blitz on the first play. That’s how it’s done.”

9.  After a routine Ray Lewis tackle, “That’s why Ray Lewis is going to the Hall of Fame. He loves to play in space….If he doesn’t make this tackle, it’s a gain of 12 or 15. Is that good stuff, or what?”

8.  “Armand Binns, he was on the practice squad. He just played Larry Fitzgerald one week, Andre Johnson the next, and Calvin Johnson the next. And he said, hey, I can play this game myself.”

7.  “This fullback, Vontae Leach, he’s the only man in the NFL that started 16 games at fullback. It’s a dying breed, Mike. Not a lot of teams use a fullback.  He’s starting all 16 games, he’s started tonight, played over 650 snaps, he gives the Ravens a physical presence about them….How’d you like to go in there and get off that block all night?”

6.  On the Bengals back-up running back, “I love everything about Zeitler when they handed the ball to him at the University of Wisconsin. Just come off the ball, good pad level and BANG it across that yellow line for the first down.” (Note to viewers: Zeitler can’t see the yellow line)

5.  “There’s no diva in AJ Green.”   

4.  On his insomnia, “I couldn’t go to sleep. I stayed up all night.  I was so EXCITED to see Peyton Manning play again.”

3.  On a slimmed down Ray Lewis, “He’s light, Mike. 235 lbs, said he rode his bike 40 miles a day.  I have never seen Ray Lewis this light….he lost 20 lbs drinking some vegetable drink and riding the bike every day. He loves it, man.”  

2.  Filling time during the 4th quarter blowout, “You know, the Raiders haven’t had a Pro Bowl running back since Bo Jackson. If McFadden stays healthy, he’ll be the next one.” (And if my aunt had testicles…)

1. On the Ravens’ huge loss of Terrell Suggs, “Nobody came inside better than T-Sizzle.” 

Special bonus entry from Mike Tirico on the umpire for the replacement refs, “Matt Nicks.  First name Richard.  Goes by the name Matt.”  (These scab refs can’t even get their names right!)