Monday, October 01, 2007

Ravens Problems Mount...Billick Needs to Ditch the Pizza Box




Last week Brian Billick was all too quick to whip out his impressive 50-1 record when leading by 14 points or more in a game. We all know why that is. It’s no secret that Billick rides his defense the way the Lone Ranger used to ride Silver. No one could blame him for that.

But now the Ravens Lone Ranger is putting on too much weight and the burden is weakening Silver’s giddy-up. It’s time for him to drop some of the baggage. It’s time for Billick to manage the game in its totality and not bury his face in a play chart that he totes around like it’s a pizza box.

And in the case of a coordinated offense with cheese, Billick doesn’t deliver.

The Ravens ran 12 plays in the red zone against the Browns. Those plays totaled 38 yards, an average of 3.17 yards. Six of those yards came on a pass play to Derrick Mason on a third and eight. Once again, short of the sticks – short of expectations.

Willis McGahee, a player that has a nose for the goal line and is clearly one of the most productive players on the field sits for the most part in favor of Musa Smith when in the red zone.

Most teams, particularly those teams that feature backs with cut back abilities like McGahee, run outside the hash marks with pitches and stretch runs much more regularly than the Ravens. The truth be told, the Ravens rarely run it outside the hash marks in the red zone. Yesterday they ran it three times inside the 20, all three runs behind Jason Brown producing a whopping 8 yards.

The Ravens say they’ll look at the problems, see what needs to be corrected and then move on to the next game.

Gee, if it was only that easy.

The Ravens are the league’s 27th best (or 6th worst depending on your perspective) red zone offense in terms of producing touchdowns. And these disturbing numbers were produced against the league’s 25th ranked defense on average, three of which rank in the league’s bottom seven (Jets 26th, Bengals 30th and Browns 31st.)

We were told repeatedly that the Ravens would be more explosive offensively. That they would feature multiple sets and varied looks and some even said Mark Clayton could approach 100 catches this year. Does that include the balls he catches in practice?

Even more disturbing is the carefree approach to the losses.

"I just didn't play my man. He made the better play." Chris McAlister on being torched by Braylon Edwards

"The officiating matched our play." ~ Brian Billick on his failure to toss the challenge flag in time

"Our main focus going into next week and the rest of the season is the red zone. We just have to concentrate more and ... we have to put [more] into the game plan." ~ Steve McNair on the obvious

"What happens when you get your butt whupped like that, you try to correct it and move on to the next game. There's no magical answers than that." ~ Brian Billick on mending the problems

I want it to hurt a little more. I want them to feel backed into a corner. I want them to come out fighting for every yard. I want them to want to beat their man on every single play.

I’m not feeling that. Instead I see finger pointing from Billick at the officials and from Ray at coaches and teammates. How about a look in the mirror guys? All we really want is accountability.

Look, many of these same issues were apparent last year when the Ravens struggled in a couple of games following their 4-0 start. This season they don’t have the luxury of such a start and therefore the sense of urgency needs to be greater and that has to come from Billick.

Firing the play caller last year worked. Maybe it could work again but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

You have heard of that snowball in hell right?

That snowball could be the Ravens’ season if they don’t turn it around in San Francisco. And that one won’t be a walk in old Candlestick Park.

13 comments :

ravcol said...

After a performance like the one witnessed in Cleveland, what would the next week's practice be like under Shula, Lombardi or Landry? Not pretty. What will Billick's response be for this week's practice? I don't mind CMAC getting faked out of his jock as it happens to the best (or worst) of 'em, but how can you line up offside on a field goal, esp when you are not even rushing, and blame the officals? Why was CMAC allowed back in the game after that? If CMAC doesn't care enough to be held accountable why should he play? At some point the head coach has to act like one. But this is nothing new. We've seen it for over 8 years now..

G said...

->I want it to hurt a little more. I want them to feel backed into a corner. I’m not feeling that. How about a look in the mirror guys?

Bingo! The more I see the Ravens this year, the more I see a football version of the Detroit Pistons.

Anonymous said...

"Firing the play caller last year worked. Maybe it could work again but I’m not holding my breath on that one."

Then you better be prepared to be breathing in an awful lot of putrid air. Because THAT is the white elephant in the room that everyone, including you, keeps dancing around. BILLICK is the problem. Period. Down by 21 points and and they get the ball back with 4:12 left in the 3rd quarter, and they're running the offense like they've got a 21 point lead? FUGEDDDABOUDIT man! And this isn't the first time; it's not the exception -- it's the RULE with the idiotic coach.

And you can flip and flop all you want -- there's simply no getting around it. Unless or until the Ravens sever their ties with Brian Billick, this nonsense is, unfortunately, going to continue. At some point, Bisciotti and Newsome better figure out where their loyalties lie -- with the team, or with Billick. Because those two can no longer co-exist; like cancer and a healty body cannot co-exist.

Tony Lombardi said...

It's interesting how some say I'm beating Billick up and others say I'm a Billick apologist while still others say I flip flop. I guess it comes with the territory.

Anonymous said...

"It's interesting how some say I'm beating Billick up and others say I'm a Billick apologist while still others say I flip flop. I guess it comes with the territory."


Actually...it comes with your freedom of choice, and the choices you make. There's actually no inconsistency in the three positions you stated.

1. You do go after Billick (appropriately, I might add.)

2. You do then reel it back in, after you've gone through your "f-bomb" stage, and in essence deny what you've clearly outlined in the first stage. For example, you pinpoint in the first stage that major problems of the Ravens lie with Brian Billick, and that his stubbornness and arrogance is like a stone wall preventing him from seeing the problems that he himself generates. And furthermore, that as long as that pattern persists, nothing will change for the Ravens. Then, you turn around and say that he's not really arrogant -- he's just a really misunderstood guy, and there's hope for the Ravens yet; it's not time to press the panic button; he can change.

3. And when you look at #'s 1 & 2, you've got the perfect recipe for flip-flopping.

Maybe you can see that in your own writing; maybe you can't. If you honestly can't, maybe you could ask a trusted friend to look at what you write and tell you if s/he sees the three elements or not. It might be something that is honestly being blocked by you unintentionally. Maybe you have a notion that you have to present both sides in order to be more fair and objective; I don't know. But it's definitely obvious to someone looking at it from the outside -- that the flip-flopping does occur.

Maybe some readers are so caught up in just seeing the part that they want to see in your writing that it's never been challenged before. But both sides are definitely there, as I've pointed out in at least two blog entries this year so far. And it was very evident back in the spring of 2007. It was like you were RIGHT THERE, and then POOF...you were on the other side of the raging river -- with not much of a warning in between. At least...that's how it strikes me.

Mike Riskin, Bel Air MD said...

(What happened to Letters to TL?)

Steve, Steve, Steve.... I respect you, I think you are a great leader, and I am sorry that you are playing for one of the main teams that kept you from winning a superbowl (well, not THAT sorry), but man, your time has come... it is over buddy. Kaput! The Statue of Liberty dance you do each week reminds me of how much less mobile you are, how weak your arm has become, and how badly your decision making skills are when you can no longer rely on instinct, and ability. There are a LOT of people to blame for the loss in cleveland on Sunday... Playcalling.. the playcaller, and the plays called... but you are also the main reason we got beat with our own RB (and TE, and QB, and Corner, and FB, and Punter, and all the other 12 "Ravens Leftovers" on their roster) I never in my wildest dreams imagined myself BEGGING for Kyle Boller to enter a game. But i am, and unfortunately the same arrogant, stubborn head coach that refused to pull Kyle, is now gonna refuse to put him in permanetly... funny how it all works out. Don't be sad though, Steve, you've had a great career, and are one of the greatest and toughest to ever play QB. But winds of change are blowing, and it is time to admit you don't have it anymore, and step down... Kyle gives us the best chance to win, and we need that right now. We also need,on D, to stop playing chess at the line of scrimmage and start playing traditional positions. (as the loss of A.D. has exposed ALL of our weaknesses), and we need a coach who knows what a stretch play is, or how to run on 1st down, with the lead and the ball. But mostly , Steve, we need a QB that get get the ball to the receiver... and none of our receivers are 8 ft tall... or have 5 ft reaches. thank you for last year, it was a great time to be a Ravens fan.. you took us far, and Our D kept Peyton scoreless, but alas.. playcalling got the best of us.. so here we sit, brokenhearted, and without a coach who can score, and without a QB that can make throws... so i am begging you, Steve, please take a seat.

Mike Riskin, Bel Air MD said...

to "anonymous" :Dude, leave TL Alone! Are you that bored that you have to pick apart his posts?!? It is hard to be a Ravens fan already. the ups and downs are hard for any real fan to take. Spend your time thinking about football, and stop picking apart a guy who is riding the same rollercoaster we all ride being a Ravens Fan. Go edit the SUN or something, THEY can use it...

Anonymous said...

"Mike Riskin, Bel Air MD said...
to "anonymous" :Dude, leave TL Alone! Are you that bored that you have to pick apart his posts?!? It is hard to be a Ravens fan already. the ups and downs are hard for any real fan to take. Spend your time thinking about football, and stop picking apart a guy who is riding the same rollercoaster we all ride being a Ravens Fan. Go edit the SUN or something, THEY can use it..."

That's touching. Really, it is.

Anonymous said...

I guess we're not allowed to criticize Billick unless we want him fired...

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
I guess we're not allowed to criticize Billick unless we want him fired...

11:05 PM"

I'm not sure what that means, exactly. However, if you acknowledge that Billick is at the core of the Ravens problems -- which is more than reasonable, given the fact that he's been the head coach overseeing the same problems for the past 7+ years, without being able to work those problems out -- and that part of the problem itself is Billick's inability to learn from his mistakes and solve long-standing problems -- it becomes an effort in futility -- IMO -- to simply voice criticisms without simultaneously seeking to have him replaced. Otherwise, you're merely dooming the team to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. The two processes are too inter-connected to just talk about one without the other. At least to my way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

Last year wasn't good enough for you? I don't expect us to win the Super Bowl every year. And if you fire Billick, who do you want to replace him? The only person I can think of is Rex Ryan. Billick is a good coach, but he is stubborn at times. I don't see why every time we aren't doing well everyone's asking for his head.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Last year wasn't good enough for you?"

No, it wasn't. And apparently, it wasn't good enough for Bart Scott, or the Ravens FO, for that matter. An over-inflated 13-3 regular season record, built primarily upon defense and a weak schedule and an even weaker offense and head coach leading the weak offense that collapsed under pressure the first time we played a top tier team is clearly not good enough. If it's good enough for you -- enjoy.

"The only person I can think of is Rex Ryan."

Mike Singletary
Kirk Ferentz
Bill Cowher
Russ Grimm
Mike Martz
Steve Sarkisian

"Billick is a good coach,"

Any coach who has shown himself to be incapable of improving upon an anemic offense for over 7 years; who has shown himself incapable of managing a clock; who has shown himself incapable of knowing which players to play under given situations, and who has consistently sought scapegoats for his own deficiencies is NOT a good coach by any stretch of the imagination. But again...if he's good enough for you -- enjoy.

Owings Mills Alex said...

I am a Billick fan but even I'm coming to the realization that there is a problem with this team and he is the top of the pile.

Why is it in the seven seasons he's been here do we always have to burn a timeout on poor clock management? Why is it that we always call a short play on 3rd and whatever and never get past the 3rd down marker? Why do we always go for a Matt Stover field goal and never the Touchdown? Why do we all of a sudden get very conservative when we have a lead and now focus on ball control and running the clock? Why can't we keep running up the score and make sure we don't lose the lead when we have one? Why can't we get the plays called into the QB fast enough so we don't have to burn that timeout? Why can't we get multiple plays called in so we can do a no huddle/hurry up offense?

These burning questions need to be answered.