Monday, September 24, 2007

Ravens Exposed...Billick's Driving Impaired in Red Zone

There are many who are concerned that the Ravens defense has been exposed. With Trevor Pryce on the shelf for what looks like the next four games, the Ravens are struggling to generate a pass rush from their front four. The primary objectives of a Rex Ryan defense have always been to create pressure on the quarterback and disguise their coverages. Until the Ravens figure out a way to get to the quarterback with their down linemen, it’s possible that you might see a more basic approach from the Ravens.

Two weeks ago the young Kellen Clemens had his way with the Ravens during a stressful fourth quarter. This past Sunday, Kurt Warner the grizzled veteran who many had sent down the dusty trail and towards the sunset, carved up the Ravens defense much like he did during the 1999 season when he led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory.

The Ravens have six sacks on the season, all but one of them credited to a defensive back. Last year as the league’s No. 1 defense the Ravens had 60 sacks. So far in ’07 they are on pace to take down the quarterback just 32 times. The lack of pressure places an added burden on the Ravens secondary and so far, outside of the steady play of Chris McAlister, they haven’t been up to the task.

Making matters worse for the Ravens is the no-huddle offense. The Ravens employ many situational substitution packages and they are hoping to offset at least in part the loss of Pryce by rotating Dwan Edwards and Antwan Barnes depending upon down and distance. Moreover the strength of the Ravens linebacker corps is neutralized in a no-huddle because players like Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Jarret Johnson are forced into playing the pass much more. Clearly all of them are better at or around the line of scrimmage.

The Ravens will need to adjust and thankfully the schedule makers were merciful early in the season. The Browns, 49ers, Rams and Bills are hardly offensive juggernauts and they could be the best medicine the Ravens defense could ask for by the time they reach the very challenging part of their schedule just after their bye on October 28.

Offensively the Ravens continue to struggle in the red zone. Where most teams seem to have success running the ball to the outside in the red zone and throwing to the inside, the Ravens do just the opposite without success. Through three games they are better than only nine other teams in the red zone despite having played defenses that rank 29th (Bengals), 27th (Jets) and 13th (Cardinals).

Last year after six games and the bye, Brian Billick took away the keys to the Ravens offense from Jim Fassel. Perhaps it’s time Billick hands those same keys over to Rick Neuheisel. Considering all of the talent the Ravens have on offense, clearly Billick’s driving is impaired in the red zone.


Anonymous said...

The defense was missing Trevor Pryce and Samari Rolle yesterday. They did not adequately prepare for a 'no-huddle' offense and the quick release of Kurt Warner. Yesterday will serve as a wake-up call to Rex Ryan, and you can bank on the fact that they will be prepared for the "no huddles" they see in future contests.

The Ravens have consistently failed to capitalize on their visits to the red zone so far this year. Many blame the coach.What a crock. No matter how many games the Ravens win, Coach Billick gets criticized. He calls pass plays and fans get pissed. He calls running plays and fans get pissed. The guy just can't win, no matter what plays he calls. Get pissed at the players for not executing in the red zone. You have to block and run effectively and the passes need to be accurate and the receivers need to catch them.

Coach Billick called an excellent game against Arizona.The offense produced 19 points when it should have produced 33. Period, end of story.

Let's see how exposed this team is when November rolls around and the team is 6-1.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous hit it on the head. Our lack of depth on D is showing thru. Thank god Leinart didn't attack Ivy and Prude or they would have hung 40 on us. And the downfall of the Billick offenses here has always been execution/penalties in the redzone not playcalling. We tried running twice from the 5 and got nothing. We throw to no success. What more can he do?? Statue of liberty?? These guys need to execute. Credit to the coaches for at least recognizing on 1 possession that Mason on 1st and goal was open at the 2 on a crossing pattern but Steve was rushed and threw it away. 2 plays later they found Mason at the 5 and he ran it in on the same crossing route. That is usually a legit Billick criticism not having a feel for the game. The other big problem was the right side of the line got killed in the 2nd half hitting Willis numerous times in the backfield causing us to shy away from the run after dominating the 1st half. Willis by the way is on pace for 1,400 yds.

Harryos29 said...

Harryo29 says..Both anonymous writers are RIGHT ON. People tend to criticize the coach when called-plays fail in the RED Zone. (see N.O. Saints tonite on mnf)...but I digress..before our first FG sunday, Mc Nair just missed a TD to Williams in the end Zone. NOT Billicks fault.
I must take up for the Coach this time...not his Fault...when the Millionare players fail to execute designed plays.

p.s. It would be nice one sunday to see a replica of the Donavan McNabb Philly game, 56-21, so we could all stop biting our nails thru the 4th quarter!!!!!

Harry O29
Sykesville, Md

Anonymous said...

Hey...imagine that...I just posted a response to the latest Hensley article in which I suggested that Billick learn a lesson from Marty Schottenheimer and turn the keys of the offense over to the offensive coordinator, as Schottenheimer did last year after his Martyball-induced loss to the Ravens. And what do you know...I pop in here and see you've made the same suggestion. Yep, it's a scary thought...but sometimes great minds do end up thinking alike.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment on the defense.
Since the dawn of this decade, we Ravens fans have been treated to the best defense in the NFL. We've had the joy of watching dynamic defenders like Ray, Ed, and Suggs. We've witnessed the development of unheralded stars Bart, AD, and Gregg. These players, and this unit, have become arguably the most feared unit in the NFL. They make a Sunday at the purple palace an experiance unlike any other. Watching our boys from Baltimore dominate on Sunday is nearly spirtiual for me whenever I am fortunate enough to get a ticket. Oh, and add to that the best home record since 2000. For all of that I am grateful.

Now, it is clear that opposing teams have located a chink in the armour. We will surely see no-huddle offense for the rest of the year. But fear not, because this is an opportunity for we fans to give back to our beloved defense. I consider it a personal affront to the city when teams effectively run no-huddle in our house. We need to make a concerted effort to make no-huddle a non-issue when the Ravens are at home. In short, let's make their ears bleed.

Mike Riskin, Bel Air MD said...

I think it is becoming more and more obvious what A.D. brought to the table
for this team. Since he has been gone the Ravens pass rush is almost
non-existent, and there are holes in the middle of the field big enough to
fit the cast of The Biggest Loser. Why, in a year where we were expected to
have one last shot at a title for a while (with the prospect of losing
Ogden, McNair, and possibly Mason next year, as well as others) would you
let this guy go??? Since A.D. left we’ve seen exactly how effective Bart
Scott has been, and how important A.D. was to Scott’s ability to get free.
All around we were a better team because of him, and I just don’t understand
the decision. Here are a few other decisions I don’t understand:
1.) why, with the lead, and the ball, and a 4.2 ypc average do we insist
on throwing on 1st down?
2.) why, with McGahee’s speed, do we constantly run him up the middle
like Jamal, instead of pitching or stretching him to the outside ESPECIALLY
on the goal line?
3.) Why do we perpetually throw short of the 1st down on 3rd down?!?!
4.) Why don’t we TRY to run fades to the receivers when we are playing
teams (ARI, NYJ, CIN) that have suspect corners?
5.) Why would we draft a FB and throw to him more than we let him run,
especially in # and short situations?
6.) Why would you pass 3 times at the goal line, when you are averaging
4.7 ypc?

I think our secondary has been exposed, and I think ravens fans are in for a
LOOOONG season of [edge of your seat] frustration. If we look mediocre
against the Jets and Cardinals (at home), how will we look against the
Colts, and Pats? Or the Steelers?!? We need a reality check quickly, and
just because we are 2-1, doesn’t mean that we are a championship team!