Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ravens defense of verge of being exposed?


This past Saturday on our radio program The X Factor heard on Fox 1370 Sports Radio, I suggested that the Ravens sit Ed Reed. The rationale was pretty simple – Reed is playing hurt and is a non-factor inside the box as a result. The Titans have no real vertical game and consequently I rationalized, they will lean on the run to beat the Ravens. Therefore, why not play someone more interested in making tackles than Reed.

As it turned out, the Ravens were able to stop the Titans’ running game despite Reed lining up 30 yards from the line of scrimmage for most of the contest.

While watching the game, it suddenly dawned on me that Kerry Collins exposed the Ravens. No he didn’t come in to M&T Bank Stadium and light up the Ravens’ secondary but something happened during the game that was pretty clear to me and if it was clear to these untrained eyes, it has to be clear to opposing offensive coordinators studying game film.

When Fabian Washington left the game, suddenly the Titans passing game went into attack mode. Most offenses will attack the weakest link and not surprisingly, the Titans targeted Frank Walker. Fortunately for the Ravens, the Titans’ receivers remind no one of Reggie Wayne or even Reggie’s sister for that matter.

In Walker’s defense he played well and the Titans’ receivers didn’t inflict the damage. That pain arrived courtesy of the Titans’ tight ends – players that Ed Reed wants no part of given his physical shortcomings.

Look I don’t profess to know what neck and shoulder nerve impingement feels like. I don’t know how sharp and pronounced the pain becomes when Reed thrusts his shoulder into a 260 pound tight end with a full head of steam. What I do know is that if he can’t make those plays Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore will see it and he and Peyton Manning will beat the Ravens secondary like a drum with Dallas Clark unless Rex Ryan adjusts.

But will Rex have the horses to beat the Colts?

If Fabian Washington sits this one out in Indy, it could be a long day for the good guys. Their only saving grace might come in the form of a Colts’ run defense that is the league’s worst and the Ravens successfully keep Manning on the sidelines by pounding the light Colts’ D with a heavy dose of a freight train named McClain.

Then Reed might create some problems out there on the centerfield warning track should the Ravens grab the lead.

This past week, I begged for the Ravens to take a shot down the field. This week, I’ll beg just as adamantly for them not to. Take the crowd out of the game and beat the Colts’ will to compete into submission by keeping it on the ground.

And all that just might be possible if Washington is on the field.

He’s the wild card. With him, the Ravens have a chance.

Without him, well let’s just say if you have Peyton Manning on your fantasy football roster his success might help ease your pain – you know, assuming that’s your sort of thing…



The X Factor can be heard on Saturdays from 10am to Noon on Fox 1370 Sports Radio in Baltimore and also on the web at www.fox1370.com

7 comments :

Ralph Staten said...

Tony---
What do you expect? We're down Rolle, Landry, Washington and Reed has a serious injury....of course we're limited on the backend....it doesn't take a degree in boolean geometry to figure out that we're vulnerable. We're 2-2...six points from being 4-0. let's focus on the positives....as far as #20 goes, stop harping on his inadequacies...ask the brownies if they think he's hurt. every team we play is forced to focus on his position on the field. he doesn't tackle very well right now....what else can we do? rod woodson and eric turner aren't available.....it's either haruki or zibokowski to fill the void if ed sits....i'll take my chances with ed. in the end, it wasn't the lack of coverage....it was the lack of pressure. the titans o-line did a great job of limiting leakage.....the package got conservative. the one constant over the past two years (pats, browns last year, steelers, and titans) is our vaunted defense can't get off the field when things get tight....i'm starting to think the fault lies with Rex....how else can you explain the fourth quarter breakdowns? it doesn't make sense that the defense can dominate/play well for three quarters and break down late in the fourth...the players are the same...the only variable is the possibility that the calls are different.....unless all these other teams are better at making adustments or are better conditioned.....

Jeremiah said...

Exposed as the best defense in the NFL in yards, points, rushing and passing?
They allowed 2 TDs in 4 games. Oh nooo.

How about getting them some points from the offense?

Reed has not been the hitter he usually is, but he has been there in coverage in a way no rookie could be and teams are not exactly tearing up his zone with thte TE. It is more attacting the OLB coverage in the flats or the MB with a bad angle on a quick out type pattern for a RB or TE.

Until the defense allows 21 points in a game, I am not going to question Rex, and I do not think Peyton is going to like what he sees this week.

The Colts O line is no where near as good as the Titans. They have much better skill guys, but will not have nearly as much time to find them. They also do not have the running game to get Reed out of deep coverage or keep double teams off the top WRs. If they go 3 wide, we will still stuff them with a 6 man box and bump and brackett while getting pressure from a 4 man rush.

The defense in this game that has problems they will not be able to solve is the Colts. They are not going to be able to confuse a Qb if he does not even have to throw the ball to beat you. I expect the Ravens to run wild in this game. 250 yards on the ground and a couple of long TDs over 1 on 1 coverage slowed by the constant grind of the ground game.

Defense is all about the the number of guys you need to stop the run. If you need the 8th man up, it does not matter if it is Peyton Manning or Joe Flacco, there are big plays open in the pass game.
If you can beat the blocking with your front 4 and stop the run without any saftey help, you can confuse even the best Qbs in the game with coverage schemes and bumping Wrs off hot routes.

Jeremy said...

Ralph may have said it best- the 4the quarter breakdowns kill me.

And Jeremiah- for you to want to see 21 points scored on the defense before you blame them- I just think that's cliche now for anyone to say that about Baltimore. It's lame and old- hey Steve Young.

The past two games Baltimore's defense has had a lead late in the game- and not been able to hold it. The vast majority of the payroll on this team is stacked into the defense- so they BETTER OUTPERFORM the offense.

We are built around our defense- EVEN STILL- and we have a rookie quarterback- so when THAT "VAUNTED" DEFENSE get a lead- they need to learn from their mistakes (lack of composure after tough penalties)- and live up to the hype- otherwise this season is going to be deja vu all over again!

Anonymous said...

Tony,
It wasn't Kerry Collins who exposed us so much as Jeff Fisher. He practically spelled it out in his post-game comments. Paraphrasing, "Ed Reed is back there, and I'm not sure how healthy he is. A healthy Ed Reed, well, he might make those plays". Translation -- "We saw enough to know that Ed won't hit, so we went right at him. As long as he doesn't touch the pass, we'll win on the play every time."

@ Ralph Staten ---
In your analysis of the 4th Qt. defensive breakdowns, you left out 1 variable. The other team.

When it gets late in games, and the opponents need points, they are taking more chances. They stop playing so "close to the vest" with us. And in taking those chances, they have been rewarded because of our banged-up secondary.

Add to that the fact that Rex stopped pressuring. He had to protect Frank Walker, protect Ed Reed, protect Ivy and on a few plays, Oglesby.

Put it all together, its another loss in a winnable game. But think about this - Does the Defense have to be perfect for us to win?

Anonymous said...

Rough game, but let's face it.

Haruki Nakamura and Tom Zbikowski could not cover TEs much better than Ed Reed can. It sucks that Reed is hurt, but a hurt Ed Reed is still better than putting in a rookie at that position.

We've had some real bad luck with injuries in the secondary. Rolle we could have expected, but Landry and Washington and Reed all banged up is just a lot of heat. We had no reason to believe it was going to be this bad.

That being said, we cannot give up on the pass rush. Let them try to make plays, but don't give veteran QBs all day to throw.

Anonymous said...

The writer makes a valid point regarding Ed Reed playing hurt. However, I thought that Frank Walker held his own under the circumstances and he can not be held accountable for all of the balls caught by the Titans TEs. Jeff Fisher and Kerry Collins deserve a lot of credit for taking advantage of the Ravens main weakness on defense, i.e. the linebackers are average at best in pass protection and when they blitz, Ed Reed in his current physical condition is unable to help cover up this weakness.

Regardless of the injury situation, it's unrealistic for fans to expect the defense to perform at the level they have in the first 4 games. Allowing only 2 touchdowns in a quarter of a season will not continue. As Jeremiah points out, the offense is going to have to begin putting points on the board on a much more regular basis in order for this team to remain competitive.

As a fan, my objective for this season was established in training camp. I want to enjoy watching this team grow with a new coach and a new quarterback. So far, so good!

Anonymous said...

Can somebody please explain why Antwan Barnes got no snaps on defense against the Titans. The defense was sucking wind in that last drive by the Titans and a fresh pass rusher might have helped.

Can someone please ask Rex why Barnes didn't play?