Tuesday, October 03, 2006

TIME TO TAKE THE BALL FROM JAMAL

When Jamal Lewis was pitter-pattering back in 2003 no one seemed to mind. Two thousand sixty-six yards has a way of making folks overlook the backfield shuffle when the productivity is there. Since that season, Lewis has a total of 2,180 yards in 31 starts. Suddenly the pitter-pattering is a problem.

The truth be told, the pitter-pattering is Lewis way of keeping his legs churning while he reads the blocks in front of him in order to determine where he can maximize the results of the play. Some backs wait or slide – Jamal does the Curly shuffle.

That is not the problem!

The problem is the burst that follows his read – a burst that just doesn’t seem to be what it once was.

It isn’t uncommon for backs to suddenly hit the wall. And yes Lewis has had his fair share of injuries and off the field issues. But maybe that’s part of the wall. He’s a one dimensional back with a ton of wear and tear who now lacks confidence in the passing game and the team is extremely hesitant to throw the rock to him. And maybe that affects his mojo during the game.

That and the 8 and 9 in the box that the Ravens offensive masterminds still can’t seem to loosen. You’d think they were trying to split an atom!

This is nothing new. Defensive coordinators may as well take the week off when they play the Ravens. Jamal is in the game, run. Snap count is on one. Now it’s second and nine. Kill McNair.

Isn’t it time to give other teams more to think about? Isn’t it time to give Musa Smith and Mike Anderson more snaps? All of this spin doctoring from Brian Billick about the number of snaps available for Smith and Anderson are limited is just that – spin! The reason there aren’t more running plays is due to the Ravens’ inability to get it done on first down. They leave themselves with second and long far too often.

This past Sunday, they managed 25 total yards on their first 16 first down plays. You don’t need a calculator to figure out that that stinks!

Give Smith and/or Anderson the ball. Let’s see what they’ve got.

Can the running game be much worse?

2 comments :

ExiledRaven said...

Tony, very insightful article, I think most fans of the team have felt frustration with the running game in particular the confused lack of performance from Jamal after what seemed a solid preseason and even some nice runs in game 1.

Why we aren't going to Musa Smith as the primary back with Anderson to spell him is starting to confuse me. Smith is the dangerous player who can do everyone, catch out of the backfield, in the flat and made some great plays in preseason. Jamal in the game means a run. Smith could mean anything, plus he seems more of a Fassel-type back. Anderson has more power and would be a great change of pace and is also capable of pass protection. Will it take a loss to create change?

shaslers said...

Tony, I agree with your comments about Jamal's diminished burst, and add to that a question about his ability to stiff-arm and run-over defenders.

Thank you, if nothing else, for dispelling the stutter-step nonsense. First of all, Jamal has always had that stutter step and there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, the zone blocking technique the Ravens offensive line has employed for the last two seasons demands a patient back who waits for the seam to cut into.

The real question is what gear that back is in when he does the cutting? And, of course, what is the quality of the seam he is cutting into.

Which is a whole other blog regarding this "Old School" line's ability to employ Chris Foerster's "New School" scheme.

So as you are asking when is it Musa-Time, there is the related question of when is it time for the more athletic lineman, now waiting in the wings?