Friday, June 15, 2007

JAMAL LEWIS NEEDS TO RUN THE BALL AND NOT HIS MOUTH


No one can deny that Jamal Lewis had a stellar season in 2003. Think about it for a moment. Here’s a guy who threatened the all time single season rushing record leaving Eric Dickerson a bit restless on that December 28, 2003 eve.

Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards in '03 – a team “led” by rookie Kyle Boller and the nomadic Anthony Wright. Throw in the less than imposing stable of receivers (Travis Taylor, Marcus Robinson, Frank Sanders and Ron Johnson) and Lewis’ feat looks even more amazing.

The trouble is his “feet” have hardly been amazing since…

Lewis wants everyone to think that he’s this downhill power runner who wears down opponents late in the game. He needs to stop living in the past.

“There’s a lot of gas left in the tank,” Lewis said this week after a morning practice. “If you look at my history, Baltimore didn’t run me a lot. They called me a power back, but at the same time in Baltimore the last two years I was getting the ball 15 times a game, maybe a little less some games. I’m young. I’m fresh, and I still have a lot left in me.”

Really?

Ok, let’s look at your history there Jamal.

During the three seasons since that 2003 season ended on that balmy January 2004 evening when Arbutus native and defensive coordinator of the Titans Jimmy Schwartz showed the world how to defend a Ravens offense featuring Jamal Lewis, the former Raven had 43 starts. In only 13 of those starts did he have 15 or fewer carries. In those 13 starts with 15 or fewer carries, the Ravens had good reason not to keep going to Lewis – he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry in those games.

Some think that Jamal gets stronger as the game goes on. That wasn’t the case last year, a year during which Lewis said he was healthy only later to say that bone chips prevented him from cutting the way he’s capable. So were you lying then or lying now Jamal?

But back to this misconception of Lewis getting stronger as the game goes on. That may have been true at one time. Today it amounts to no more than wishful thinking.

In ’06 Lewis average 3.7 yards per carry in his first 10 attempts during a game. In his second 10 attempts in any given game, he averaged 3.7 yards. On carries over 20 in a given game, Lewis averaged 2.9 yards per carry.

In the first half of games he averaged 3.7 yards per carry. In the second half, 3.5 yards per carry and in the fourth quarter, 3.1 yards per carry. On third down he averaged 1.9 yards per carry.

In ’04 Lewis blamed his ankle for his performance. In ’05 he blamed his incarceration (which I'm guessing wasn’t his fault). In ’06 after proclaiming himself fit we heard about the ankle chips after the season and those chips were to blame for his 3.6 yards per carry average on 314 carries.

And of course the offensive line was to blame as well, right Jamal?

“Over the last seven years when I was in Baltimore, we never made improvements on the offensive line,” Lewis said. “To have the power running game that we had, I just didn’t see how you didn’t (make changes). When I came here and Phil [Savage] said he was making improvements on the line, it was the actions that spoke louder than words. That’s what made me say this is where I want to be.”

As if you had many choices?

So let’s get this straight, in addition to the ankle being a problem, the line was a problem too? The same line that shattered the single season sack record allowing Ravens QB’s to be sacked only 17 times in ’06? Oh, that’s right, the Ravens pass block better than they run block right Rick Neuheisel?

“The running back’s job then is to pick the available air and hit it with authority.

“We felt like there was more air than our running backs were taking advantage of a year ago.”

Ok then. Last year the running backs ran the ball 401 times. Jamal ran it 314 times. He average 3.6 yards per carry. The other backs averaged 4.4 yards per carry.

Gee, I wonder who Rick is talking about?

What do you think Jamal?

“It’s just a matter of getting into the right situation. I feel like [Cleveland] is the right situation for Jamal Lewis.”

Don’t you just love these guys that refer to themselves by name?

Look, Jamal was terrific for the Ravens prior to 2004 and parts of his body are still scattered down there at The Vault. And I appreciate and admire what he did. But let’s face it, the Ravens reliance on the one dimensional Lewis was the equivalent of a basketball player that can only go to his right. Once you take away the right, you take away the player.

In the case of Lewis, both he and the Ravens needed a change.

"I needed a breath of fresh air, a new look, a fresh start," Lewis said recently.

No arguments here.

And maybe in Cleveland the air won’t be so hot, the excuses will be fewer and Lewis will be running the ball more than his mouth.

But somehow I kind of doubt it.

6 comments :

Purple Haze said...

Jamal v. the Ravens defense will be high drama. I love Jamal for what he did for our team but he does seem to blame everyone but the man in the mirror for his failures.

Keep on truckin' baby said...

Cleveland is for losers! Oh and crybabies too...like Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow and every clueless Browns' fan.

Why should Jamal be any different?

How can you throw a team under the bus that paid you handsomely for 7 years and stood by him during the cocaine conspiracy trial and subsequent incarceration?

He's just trying to hang on for another year. Next year he'll be playing with his trucks and asking the Ravens for forgiveness so he can have a plaque next to the ROH standard...Fumbles Byner

No. 31 said...

The J-Train absolutely has some life left in that locomotive. The first half of the playoff game last year demonstrates that. He's just a brutally honest guy and he doesn't sugarcoat things. Don't be surprised if he outgains McGahee.

Anonymous said...

No. 31 hmmm!

Get serious, facts are what they are. I loved Jamal, but he never really lived up to my expectations after 2003. Rick Neuheisel said it perfectly, too much air, too little negotion of it. ala Jamal running into offensive linemen and going down easily. He was horribe in short yardage, and couldn't make the cuts in the open feild. Go on and put on your dog pound garb and line up with losers.

I like Tony am tired of his excuses. Ozzie made the right decision, and if you want to put your money where your mouth is, I'd take that bet on 2007 yardage versus McGahee.

Anonymous said...

His best years are behind. Unfortunately in the NFL RBs have a very short shelf life because of the pounding they take. The problem with Jamal was that he was a cancer if he was not getting all of the carries. And the way he performed he should have gotten less carries. Thank God that I will now watch him dancing behind the Cleveland line and not ours!!!

Anonymous said...

Jamal injured himself after his stellar '03 performance. His ankle will never be the same, so I agree, he is a one-dimensional downhill runner. He can't hit the open air, unless the openair is directly in front of him.