Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Can Ravens' Offense Grow if Billick Stays?

We’re all tired of it. Week in and week out for longer than we all care to remember, the Ravens defense is left to pick up the broken pieces left behind by a completely dysfunctional offense.

Over and over we write and discuss the same things.

When will it end?

We all fret the results of this season, particularly on the heels of a 13-3 year in ’06. With Steve McNair having one full campaign under his belt in the Ravens’ system, we were promised a more productive offense – one that would be more dynamic and vertical with varied sets particularly with the addition of the versatile Willis McGahee.

Today such thoughts are no more than empty promises as Brian Billick and the Ravens cling hopelessly to a season that someday in retrospect will look worse than the 2005 season – one that ended with the infamous woodshed beating of Billick by Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti.

How long before the collective patience of the Ravens defense breaks and they start to dress down the offense publicly? How long before the coaching staff realizes their jobs are at stake; that their families are at risk? Might they leave for more job security elsewhere?

You have to wonder if the defensive coaching staff has had it with their offensive counterparts. Could there be resentment? Might Rex Ryan be simmering privately over the bumbling idiocy of the Ravens’ offense? Might it cost him head coaching considerations during the upcoming offseason?

Clearly the Ravens offensive system is flawed. And the flaws are not unique to 2007. It’s been flawed for years. How many teams have to exert so much effort to complete a pass for a gain of one and almost have it intercepted? How many other teams never spring their receivers completely open?

I can’t think of any, can you?

What is going on?

"I really don't have an answer for you right now," Brian Billick said after the embarrassing loss to the Bengals. "We have to go back and analyze it and see if we can come up with a better answer than what we've come up with previously."

Do you feel like you are in a time warp after reading that?

Haven’t we been hearing Billick regurgitate these same words since the second game of the preseason?

Look this is no newsflash – we all know that the common denominator through years of offensive futility is Brian Billick. One of the reasons that Billick took over the play calling last year was to clearly point the finger of praise or blame in the proper place as it relates to play calling. There’s no longer any question over whether it is Billick, Cavanaugh, Fassel or Neuheisel using the Magic 8 ball to come up with the next play. Billick wants us to know it’s him making the calls.

If you are in the line that believes the play calling is inadequate (and you thought airport security lines were long) then you want change. But can there be change there without a change at head coach? If the results remain the same should Billick relinquish play calling duties, won’t the finger of blame still point back to Billick?

There needs to be a clear detonation of this offensive system. It needs to be nuked.

Can Billick do that? Can he step aside and allow a fresh offensive mind to come in and completely take over the offense? And if he does, is Billick then even more vulnerable? What if the new offensive guru actually lives up to the billing and gets the offense going? What can Billick hang his hat on then, organizational skills for $4.5 million per?

We all want the offense to change but before it does given the dynamics of the Ravens coaching staff, a change at the top almost seems inevitable if in fact Steve Bisciotti actually wants his team to score more than 7 points against the league’s 31st ranked defense.

If not, maybe Billick stays.

The next seven weeks might not be enjoyable for Ravens’ fans but they should be interesting. In 2005 Billick had to choose between fielding the best team to win despite the absence of playoff hopes, or allowing his younger players to gain valuable experience. For the most part he stuck with the vets.

But Jonathan Ogden will almost certainly retire. Mike Flynn might follow suit. Is it not time for Jared Gaither and Chris Chester to take over? What if such moves trigger more losses? Will a weaker record weaken Billick’s chances to survive? And if he does survive, what happens then?

It’s a vicious circle and it keeps the Ravens unbalanced. One year they are good and riding high on the hog. The next they are underachieving. It’s as though Billick manages better when expectations are low and worse when they are high. Has he created a fat cat environment in which some veterans only perform to their skill level when they are beaten down and their backs are to the wall?

The bottom line is that the Ravens have far too much talent to be such an inconsistent participant in the post season. And since you can’t change all the ingredients (aka players), you may want to change the straw that mixes those ingredients.

"The only way you can [maintain confidence] is to work through it," Billick said recently. "There's no other formula for it. You go about your work and see if you can find some kind of combination, isolate what it is that's going on, and work forward, individually and collectively."

Perhaps this is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy for Billick.

Perhaps he’s no longer part of the “combination.”

Perhaps a mutually amicable split is in order.

After all does anyone doubt that irreconcilable differences abound?


Anonymous said...

Not including the title, you ask 26 questions. (I counted) Let me make it easy for you, Tony...

"Can Ravens' Offense Grow if Billick Stays"?


The insulting aspect of this blog entry is that you already KNOW the answer -- so just SAY IT, instead of beating around the bush like some Billick clone, okay?

Anonymous said...

The first anonymous comment is rather tersely written. He obviously doesn't like you very much.

I guess every Ravens fan has an opinion about Coach Billick and most of what I have read is very negative and misplaced. In my view, Steve McNair's productivity and the injuries to Jonathon Ogden and Todd Heap, along with the departures of Ovie Mughelli, Jamal Lewis and Tony Pashos have been the largest problems with the offense in 2007.

It's hard to get Willis McGahee a lot of carries when he can't stay on the field for more than 2 plays in a row.

I can't say that the offense can't or won't grow with Billick still around. I do believe that Ray Lewis's shadow looms larger than anything else on this club. The comments that he makes regarding his unit, the defense are seemingly more important than what the overall team accomplishes. I further believe that the offense won't get appreciably better until Ray Lewis retires or moves on.

Barny Fife said...

Well said, but sadly it has been said many times in the last eight years. I am tired of this Ground Hog Day re-run.

Anonymous said...

LOL. That's priceless. Ray Lewis is the one holding back the offense. I've got to add that one to my growing list of apologist excuses -- right in between "It was the ref's fault", and "It was raining".

(BTW -- "tersely"...Is that anyting like "snooty"?


Anonymous said...

I think there is more to this than meets the eye. The Head Coach is responsible for teaching the players how to have fewer penalties, how to hold onto the ball, implement a game plan. This year everything has gone south. Injuries, like it or not have played a huge part in our demise.

However, the selection of the team members also plays a part and that is the responsibility of the front office, namely Ozzie and Company. Why are they left out of the blame game and why does Ozzie always get a free pass? I really want to know who made the ultimate decision to cut Derek Anderson from the team, only to be snatched up by our arch rival, the Cleveland Browns. How dumb was that? The man only won us a pre-season game against the Washington Redskins (3rd team and all)and we let him go? Now, Cleveland could possibly have two first string QB's. What a nice predictament that is?

Why did it take years, rebuilding the offensive line? Now our entire team is old in some very key positions. That is why you have so many injuries. Players over 30 have a tendency to get hurt more frequently.

Yes, it's the playcalling and Billick is not a great coach. But there are other problems starting with the front office. It's time that they pay the price, too.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 November 17th
I like that, 26 questions. I think there are 226 questions to be asked???
First, Mr Biscotti did not become successful and wealthy by being a dummy. However, he made a huge mistake when he had "Billick" over a Barrell at the end of the 2005 Season. He should have cut ties then! As with any organization you are going to have "MEMBERs" who can influence decsions by managemnt? I managed 17 people before I retired. I know the pitfalls of becoming "CHUMMY" with them. It can only lead to disaster: I.E. the 2007 season. You cannot blame everything on injuries. You put together a 53 man squad that are all NFL caliber Players. Sure, players are second string for a reason and the level of play may drop off when starters go down.
I am of the school that you will not change anything in an organization unless you make changes at the TOP. Why does Ozzie always get a free pass? Didn't he draft Devard Darling; Dwan Edwards and some other Obvious BUSTS? Who is accountable in this organizaton anyway?
I'm not going to do a GROUND HOG DAY ...its all been said and written many times before. The last time that we actually had a vertical offense was with GRBAC. I can see Qadry Ismal scoring 3 TD's in one game. That was enjoyable to sit and watch. I am not a current PSL holder, but many of my friends are. I hear callers call in and say...I bleed purple and we should not boo and all of that other stuff. But for the money people pay to get into the VAULT, they should be entertained. I have never been very excited watching Matt Stover kick Field goals. People want to see Touch downs. We will not see them as long as Billick is at the helm. MAKE the CHANGE AT THE END OF THE SEASON. THE BALTIMORE FANS DESERVE BETTER MR BISCOTTI. PULL THE PLUG ON BILLICK WHEN THE SEASON IS OVER..AND BRING IN A YOUNG OFFENSIVE MIND TO GUIDE THIS OFFENSE. There must be 1,000 college coaches out there with many bright new ideas. Lets bring one to Baltimore!