Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ravens turn back the clocks on NFL Network: Jaguars @ Ravens

Don’t know about you but I DVR’d the 2000 classic, Jaguars @ Ravens played on September 10 of that year and won in nail biting fashion by the Ravens, 39-36. I watched the game last night instead of the NBA Finals (for me it’s NBA Finally Over).

Anyway, fully knowing the outcome of the game, it was great to revisit some of the more subtle nuances of that game that time has had a way of erasing. In no particular order they are:

1. Brian Billick ~ I will miss Brian because of his tremendous effort in lifting the status of the Baltimore Ravens franchise. I will not miss his in-game coaching. In all of those years manning the Ravens’ sideline, not only did he never master his management of the game clock, he never showed improvement. None! Nada! This game serves as proof. Arguably his clock management worsened over time.

2. The Assistant Coaches ~ It was nice to see Marvin Lewis and Jack Del Rio on the Ravens sideline. Little did Del Rio know that he would be the Jags head coach and then have a relatively volatile relationship with the quarterback that was helping to carve up his defense on this hot September day – Mark Brunell.

3. Tom Coughlin ~ There has never been a call made against his team that Coughlin even remotely agreed with. Not then, not now, probably not ever.

4. Starks Wears Bullseye ~ If I was Coughlin or Brunell, I would have chosen to go after Duane Starks on every single play. Brunell was on fire with laser precision and Smith owned Starks.

5. Pretty Ball ~ Tony Banks really threw a nice ball. Too bad that too often the defenders thought the same.

6. Double 3 ~ Priest Holmes’ versatility reminded me of why I like the McGahee acquisition so much…as well as the recent draft pick of Ray Rice.

7. Full Throttle Matt ~ Matt Stover could really lay into a kickoff when he was amped up. He could also drive it like Mark Belanger used to…uh that is he couldn’t. The wind had to have been blowing west to east that day don’t you think?

8. Tell Me Something Good ~ Why didn’t Billick challenge that near interception of Starks? To the naked eye it was certainly worthy of a review.

9. Get it Right Dan ~ Hey Dan Dierdorf, Duane Starks wore No. 22 not Chris McAlister.

10. Taking The Bait ~ By the way, McAlister bit on double moves back then and 8 years later, he’s still biting. Just ask Braylon Edwards or Plaxico Burress.

11. Two Tons of Fun ~ Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa really did eat up blockers. Ray Lewis had clear lanes into the backfield often.

12. Sharp as a Tack ~ I wish Jamie Sharper could have played in Baltimore longer.

13. Make History J-Lew ~ Ditto for Jermaine Lewis.

14. Dancing with the Stars ~ Jamal Lewis danced behind the line of scrimmage as a rookie too.

15. Cover Me ~ Kim Herring was a pretty decent cover safety.

16. Sung-a-Song ~ Corey Harris was an unsung hero during the 2000 season.

17. The Real Travis ~ Travis Taylor’s career got off to a pretty good start and then he dropped a pass over the middle that caromed into an interception. How many of you said while looking back, “Now there’s the Travis Taylor I know!”

18. Stay off the Grass ~ I wish the Ravens could have kept the grass field but being below sea level and hoping to draw other events to the stadium, I understand…

19. Heavyweight Bout ~ The Tony Boselli v. Mike McCrary battles were classic.

20. Godspeed ~ I feel for O.J. Brigance. He was such an active member of the Ravens’ special teams during this game, just 7 seasons ago. Today he is fighting a terrible demon known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and struggling with things we all take for granted. Keep believing and inspiring O.J.

21. In The Hood ~ I miss the old AFC Central...


Anonymous said...

A couple of other items worth noting from that game:

1. The Ravens offense included a lot of pass plays to Obafemi Ayanbadejo. While not a great player, Tony Banks used him effectively and Femi had a knack for moving the chains. That part of the playbook disappeared from the offense after 2000.

2. The last drive will be most remembered by the TD pass to Shannon Sharpe, but the best throw made in that drive was the clutch pass to Billy Davis early in that drive.

3. That team had so many high quality character veterans, i.e Woodson, Gash, Coates, Sharpe. Great memories!

4. In case readers are interested, CBS Sportsline shop has a DVD set featuring the actual game broadcasts of the playoff run, i.e. Broncos, Titans, Raiders, and Giants for $39.99.

Anonymous said...

To each his own, Tony. I'm really not quite sure what your fascination was/is with Brian Billick. But personally, I resent what he robbed from the team more than I appreciate what he gave to the team. As far as I'm concerned, his so-called accomplishments were more a matter of him being at the right place at the right time, while his flaws caused one of the best defensive teams in the history of the NFL to be milked dry by his incompetence and his arrogance. So I won't miss him one bit. In fact, I'm enjoying the first summer in over a decade where there will actually be some real competition -- and competence -- in training camp. Regardless of the W/L outcome in 2008, the Ravens are already ahead of the game IMO. But, like I said -- to each his own.

Tony Lombardi said...

Anon 2,

Your comment forced me to take pause and re-read what I wrote. My objective was to be fair and if your apparent disdain for Billick creates blinders for you and you can't see the good he did for the organization, then I could see why you might think any accolade extended to him would be one accolade too many.

I was a Brian Billick fan, emphasis on the was. But towards the end, I thought that it was time for him to go as evidenced by this letter to the team's owner: DEAR STEVE:

Anyway, I want to be fair and praise Billick for the good and criticize the obvious weaknesses.

And I agree, this season will be a fun one to watch. Not sure what the record will be in '08 but I'm very optimistic about '09.

I can't help but think back to another rookie coach who came here his first season, turned things around and during his second season a city's dream was realized.

I suppose THAT is my "fascination."

And I can live with that...

Anonymous said...

Tony --

I've been reading your blog for over a year now, and I think I understand your desire to be fair and balanced. I don't fundamentally disagree with that approach. But by the same token, the notion that Billick will be missed does not sit right with me.

He had countless opportunities to transcend his arrogance, and he failed miserably. For someone who admitted he was a poor X's & O's guy, it was inexcusable to then assume he knew better than every OC he ever hired. THAT is what I find so totally objectionable about Brian Billick. It simply compounds his basic incompetence at offensive design to the point of absurdity.

And how any Ravens fan can miss him -- given the torture he put us through during his tenure -- is simply beyond me. There's just no way his loyalty to his vets (another double edged sword) and his plethora of "Billickisms" could ever compensate for what he took from the team. Rather than owing him fairness, I feel Billick owes his former players -- and all Ravens fans -- a major heart-felt apology. But that's never going to happen. He still maintains he doesn't even know why he was fired.

So when it comes to my take on Billick and his time here and the fact that he's gone, I think it was long over due. He should have been gone after the 2005 game against the Lions. So no -- for me, there's no tears being shed. Rather than missing Billick, I'm looking forward to actually seeing a team with a defense AND an offense. Something that Ravens fans have never actually seen.

Tony Lombardi said...

That's fair and very eloquent I might add. Billick's demise was a self fulfilling prophecy really. He said that the message from a coach is lost when the team fields several veteran leaders who have been listening to the same message over and over for years.

Billick didn't seem to embrace change...and to your point, his arrogance, confidence, stubborness or combination thereof prevented it. He preached accountability but towards the end he never practiced it. It was merely lip service.

Saying he didn't know why he was fired is just more evidence that he stuck his head in the sand far too often. I am glad that he's gone. His time had come. But I'll still miss the good times. You know, sort of like you might miss your ex-Mother-in-law's cooking.

Thanks for tuning in.

Anonymous said...

It's all good, Tony. Keep up the good work. Your passion for the team is noteworthy and admirable. So if you find good Brian Billick memories, who am I to say "it ain't so"? LOL. Here's to a new and improved 2008 Ravens season. Cheers.