Monday, October 22, 2007

Adversity Will Reveal True Character of The Baltimore Ravens

If Steve Bisciotti was king and Ravens fans were collectively the queen, the queen would be demanding Brian Billick’s head on a silver platter today.

But that won’t happen nor should it.

What should happen is some real soul searching within the organization from Bisciotti right on down to the intern who cleans adhesive tape and empty containers of deodorant from the sweat soaked locker room floor.

What is going on with this team? Where is the balance that was promised? Where are the explosive plays? Why is it that so much effort is exerted by Kyle Boller to complete a pass to Mark Clayton for a 2 yard loss? Why does this team continue to kill itself with juvenile penalties – the same penalties that were so easily and summarily dismissed during the preseason as timing issues and correctible mistakes?

Why haven’t they been corrected?

Why are we still asking the same questions over and over?

The Ravens just look flat out unprepared. They look poorly coached. They lack focus and they seem almost elementary and basic. Their play is child-like. And when children get out of line or misbehave or don’t do their homework there are repercussions. There’s a price to pay – punishments to be served.

But not with the Ravens…

No, instead the Ravens will pack their suitcases and head for the Caribbean, South Beach, California, back pack through Europe or some other exotic destination so that they can chill – so that they can relax a bit and take their minds off football.

It looks to me that their minds haven’t been on football for quite some time. It’s not time to chill – it’s time to turn up the heat!

But Billick doesn’t bring the heat. What I consistently hear from players about Brian Billick is that he treats them like professionals and that in turn inspires them to support Billick even more and to stick their necks out for him.

Maybe it’s me but I’m not feeling it. I’m not seeing it. The Ravens don’t look hungry. I don’t see a team that plays like professionals. True professional teams don’t average 7.4 penalties per game. True professionals aren’t underachievers.

Obviously the Ravens are a very flawed team. But instead of sticking around and fixing the problems in practice, they are going on vacation. They are hoping that when they get healthy and Coach Billick wipes the crust out of their eyes and gives them all a Tootsie Roll Pop that all the problems will miraculously go away.

Good luck with that…

But Brian Billick can’t suddenly sing a different tune. He can’t crack the whip and make his players practice during the bye like Mike Tomlin did in Pittsburgh. You see this “professional” approach is embraced by the teams’ veterans and if Billick cancels the vacation plans for his players, he risks losing the veterans and if that happens, you know what will hit the fan.

Suddenly the magical hold that Billick has on his team that prevents a civil war between the offense and defense will slip through his fingers like a kickoff to Yamon Figurs. And that’s the last thing Billick needs now.

What he needs is balance and balance is the key to consistently competent play in the NFL. The best teams have balance. The Ravens don’t. They’ve beaten the same old formula for success to death: Great defense, manage field position, limit turnovers and Matt Stover.

But the defense isn’t as dominating as it once was. Sure some will point out that they are No. 2 overall in the NFL. The players will be quick to point that out as well and then add that when they get healthy, they should be No. 1 again.

Don’t believe the hype!

Let’s see what they do against the likes of high scoring offenses like New England, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and yes the Cleveland Browns. Those teams collectively average 30.2 points per game. The Ravens highest point production in their last 9 games is 26. They are averaging 17.7 points this year. They’ve only managed to score 30 points or more 4 times over the last 2 ½ seasons.

How will they compete?

Is it as simple as flipping a bye week switch?

Brian Billick better hope so because if the Ravens don’t answer against the Steelers on November 5 it could get real ugly real fast.

I’m tired of the excuses. I’m tired of seeing opposing teams with rookie quarterbacks running a no huddle offense yet the Ravens can’t with all of their veterans. I’m tired of seeing a rookie quarterback use an altered cadence to get the Ravens to jump offsides. I’m tired of seeing Billick clutching that pizza box play chart like a security blanket while bitching and moaning and whining and begging on the sidelines for something positive on the field.

Yet all that aside, Brian Billick’s head on that platter is not the answer – not yet any way. Billick is a very good head coach. He’s just a bad play caller managing a horrific offense despite an abundance of talent in an offensive system that needs to be target practice for weapons of mass destruction.

The Ravens players and coaches need to get up off the ground, dust off, look each other in the eye and be willing to go to war for each other. They need to check their egos at the door and do whatever it takes to fix the problems. They did it last year and they can do it again.

They can, but will they?

They can put those vacation plans during the break aside, but will they?

The players will have to do it on their own. Billick can’t make them do it. It’s the only thing he’s holding on to and if he loses that, he loses the team.

It’s been said often that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. The character of the Ravens’ leaders is now on alert. We’ll see if they step up in two weeks.

Otherwise, the queen might get her wish and that something that the coddled veterans might live to regret in 2008.


Anonymous said...

Abundance of talent???? LOL. What team are you watching???? Kyle Boller, rookie OL and no quality backup RB with 2 turnstile CB's??? That's abundance???? You can rant and cry all you want. The teams that stay healthy win. The teams that don't end up 8-8 or 9-7. That's the way this league works. All your crying and moaning and blame tossing won't change that. We benefited from Pit and Cin having injury problems last year while we stayed healthy. As for Tomlin how did that bye week work out for him last night????? The Steelers are still a mediocre team that's benefitting from a 3rd place schedule. Just like we did last year.


Anonymous said...

"If Steve Bisciotti was king and Ravens fans were collectively the queen, the queen would be demanding Brian Billick’s head on a silver platter today.

But that won’t happen nor should it."

LOL. The classic Lombardi "bait and switch"/move the carrot a little further away routine. Do you simply feign ignorance, or are you really that ignorant? Or do you just think your readers (all 25 of them) are that ignorant? You seemingly ask questions, yet they're the same questions that have been asked for nine years now. That's a thinly veil attempt at deception, but those of us who have woken up aren't buying it. All roads lead to only ONE PLACE -- Brian Billick. And that's why his head SHOULD be on the platter, fool. Anything less is like that old expression: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." And are definitely part of the problem with this Grade A tripe.

Write whatever you want, shill -- over 1,500 Ravens fans have already voted Billick a grade of D or F for Sunday's debacle in Buffalo.,0,5177619.poll

He's done. He should be run out of town on a rail after NINE YEARS of this NONSENSE, whether you've got the kahunas to acknowledge and admit it, or not. The real irony about you is that the more you write about Billick, the more you sound just like him.

Side note: I was wondering what sort of article you'd write today. One always needs to be careful what one hopes for.

Tony Lombardi said...

"whether you've got the kahunas to acknowledge and admit it, or not."

Interesting comment coming from someone who regularly signs on as Anonymous.

That said we certainly appreciate your support of the site.

Anonymous said...

Tony I believe in what you're saying here which is in order to save the season we need to keep Billick. My feeling is save him for what? By your own admission we are heading for a rebuiliding period and do we really need to spend another five years hearing about how next year with this new guy we will finnaly have an offense. The fact is the message has grown stale. When Billick first came in he gave the team confidence which was exactly what they needed. Now it has just become arrogence.

Anonymous said...

"whether you've got the kahunas to acknowledge and admit it, or not."

Interesting comment coming from someone who regularly signs on as Anonymous.

That said we certainly appreciate your support of the site.

Maybe you didn't get the message Tony. Or maybe your Cap'n Crunch secret decoder ring is busted. So here -- let me spell it out for you:

THE RAVENS SEASON OFFICIALLY ENDED ON SUNDAY. Got it? Now, obviously, there will still be GAMES PLAYED after Sunday. But the Season, for all practical intents and purposes, officially ended on Sunday. Most folks know it and -- reluctantly -- accept it. The sky DID officially fall on Sunday, and THAT'S why it really makes more sense to talk about fixing the REAL problem -- Brian Billick -- NOW. So let's dispense with the nonsensical Ravens "politics as usual crap", OK? It's OVER, Tony. DONE. Finito.

And the sooner the real work gets started (i.e. totally revamping the Ravens coaching staff), the sooner we can get our team back on track. It's like that old car repair commercial used to say: "You can pay us now, or you can pay us later". Bisciotti needs to eat Billick's contract NOW, or he's going to paying a LOT MORE later on down the road. Not necessarily in money -- but in heartache. Bank it.