Tuesday, August 29, 2006

So tell me, why does Chris Foerster get a hall pass?

I bought into the reasoning behind the woes of the Ravens 2005 offensive line…this theory that they were hurt last year, out of shape and in need of another year under the tutelage of Chris Foerster. What they didn’t tell me is that on the road in a dome, with lots of noise against speed rushers the O-Line’s theory of relatively speaking goes out the dome window.

If the Ravens fail to run the football on the road given their line’s athleticism while continually placing themselves in third and long situations, they may as well add the quick kick to the play book. They are toast – crispy critters! I’m surprised that Pashos isn’t on IR with whiplash.

All kidding aside, I do think that there’s a clear connection between the Ravens pathetic road record and the road struggles of the offensive line. Look at the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger won his first 11 or so road games. Why is that? Ok since you're asking I'm answering. The Steelers' offensive line was able to run the ball on the road and take out the crowd and gradually rip at the root of the defensive line’s mojo. Take out the crowd, avoid third and long situations and it’s amazing how the tempo of an offense can pick up and how quickly momentum can shift.

And could someone please tell me how Chris Foerster gets a hall pass? Here’s a coach who left Miami in 2004 after his O-Line was tied for second worst in the league in sacks allowed (52). They also were tied for dead last in average yards per rush (3.5 yards).

In 2005 with virtually the same offensive line personnel and without Foerster the Dolphins were fourth best in the league at protecting the quarterback (26 sacks) and tied for seventh best in average per carry (4.3 yards).

And Foerster became the Ravens offensive line coach and assistant head coach why?


brian said...

Tony - I agree with your comments about Foerster not getting a free pass, but I do recall a lot of complaining about him last year. If the OL continues to look as bad as they did in Minny, then it won't take long to hear his name.

BTW, to be fair, Foerster was not the OL coach in Miami in 2004 - he was the OC. He was hired to be the OL coach, but the OC became ill and Foerster was elevated to the OC position.

shaslers said...

If Foerster fails to get this offensive line to communicate their line calls on the road, and execute the new zone scheme effectively, the blame ultimately falls on Brian Billick and Ozzie Newsome.

If the line falls apart and they Ravens season goes down the tubes, I don't see Steve Biscotti allowing Foerster to take the fall, while Brian and Ozzie live to soldier on. Nor should he.

First of all, Brian assembles his own staff, and he brought in Foerster at a high level, knowing full well it meant a change in schemes. Brian endorsed this attempt to "change the profile."

That's a risk that Brian is taking as much as Foerster. Brian's future is riding on Chris's ability to get the job done.

Second, all this is being done knowing that Ozzie, for years, had the philosophy of taking the cheap route when it comes to acquiring offensive linemen.

Their old offensive scheme -- their "profile" -- when Colletto was here merely required un-athletic, oversized roadgraders. It meshed with Ozzie's go-cheap style. They got by with undrafted free agents like Flynn, Anderson, Zeus and Brooks. Or second-day draft picks like Mulitalo, Jeff Mitchel, Tony Pashos, and Brian Rimpf. They figured they could take their time developing these guy...plus, they only needed them to contribute to a one-dimensional running style of play.

So when they changed line-play to the scheme employed in Denver, Atlanta and Houston, it required teaching these old, fat dogs new tricks. Because Ozzie didn't/couldn't step-up with an all new line. That's a tall order and a big gamble for Billick & Co. You can see it's been a rocky go of it, with performances like the one we got in Minnesota.

Ozzie has responded by changing his approach to acquiring linemen. Brown, Chester, Terry and Vincent are larger investments and more athletic players who better suited for the new scheme. But Vincent isn't exactly Steve Hutchinson. And the rest are far from ready to step in and get the job done.

The question is whether the current line will play well enough this year to build a bridge to the future for Billick, Foester and even Ozzie -- will they be around next year to see this next generation of linemen adapt to their new offensive profile?

Anonymous said...

Do you have any more comments to make about Chris Foerster and the offensive line? Hmm I hope not, he has played a major role in turning around the Ravens offense this season as well as in Miami as the offensive coordinator towards the end of the last season he coached there. Hopefully this season has changed your ignorant views of Chris!

Tony Lombardi said...

It's easy to call those views ignortant now isn't it...5 months later? You are the epitome of bandwagon!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I am the farthest from bandwagon! I have followed Foerster's career since he was a coach at Stanford. He is a hard working guy that always seems to be with the wrong team at the wrong time. I guess you could tell me that he could partially be the reason for a teams failure, but you have to stop and think about other members of the coaching staff who are more problematic than helpful. Examples: Jim Fassel or Mark Tressman. These are people who dont do their jobs and screw things up for the rest of the coaching staff. Theres alot more to it than just Foerster's statistics I think.

Tony Lombardi said...

To Forester's credit, he stuck with what he thought might work and eventually it did mesh. The line, the repetitions, the familiarity and the presence and poise of McNair helped the Ravens to a record setting season in sacks allowed (17).

I would even say that the run blocking is better than advertised. Put a runner behind that line that gets to the hole quicker and can navigate small openings better than Jamal, and one might say they were efficient on the ground as well.

Foerster's troops improved and Billick should be commended for keeping the faith in his position coach. Things can get better with hard work.

My initial question was relevant. All should be accountable and back in August, no one seemed to be holding him accountable. To his credit, Forester turned his unit around and you are right, the results are not just about the performance of just the line.

I'm happy to give credit where credit is due. But be prepared to accept the criticism as well and back in August, such criticisms were valid and hardly ignorant.