Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ravens in Review


Emotion played a big role in the game particularly with Yamon Figurs. Some after the slugfest have wondered if Figurs was even ready for the game given his hamstring issues and apparent lack of burst against the Steelers. Figurs’ excitability seemed to get in the way of his sensibility when running out of the end zone on two separate occasions leaving his rookie quarterback with starting points of the 17 yard line and the 12 yard line respectively, on the Ravens’ first two possessions...The Ravens need someone to stretch the field and that player could be Figurs. But to be effective, he’ll need to make some underneath catches in order to get opponents to respect something more than his speed. During training camp, Figurs showed improved hands and toughness in traffic.

Mark Clayton is really struggling and it is apparent in his body language. It might be time to drop him on the depth chart and see what Demetrius Williams can do as a starter. The opportunity costs aren’t great. Clayton has only 5 catches for 35 yards through three games and hasn’t caught a touchdown pass in 21 months…Also slumping is Todd Heap. Clearly his chances were limited in Pittsburgh because he was asked to help out in pass protection on the Steelers’ quick OLB James Harrison. Last year the AirTran spokesperson in Baltimore was Steve McNair. This year it is Todd Heap. Is there a Madden cover-like jinx going on here with AirTran? Hey Joe Flacco, just say no to AirTran when they come calling in 2009…

The clock management at the end of regulation was in this writer’s opinion very Billick-esque and very unacceptable. With the ball on their own 17 yard line and 1:40 to go in regulation, the Ravens had 1 timeout to move the ball into position to set up Matt Stover for a game winning field goal. Up to this point, Joe Flacco had answered with flying colors questions about whether he could hold up under the extreme pressures of the Monday night spotlight. He did and the coaches erred by not letting him go the distance. On the road you play to win not for the tie. Why risk losing the coin toss and allowing Pittsburgh a chance to win it in OT without ever touching the football? The Ravens eventually had to burn their timeout because Le’Ron McClain went down with an injury after a short run but if Cam Cameron had attacked, that injury doesn’t even happen. They should have taken a few safe shots down the field with max protection. Derrick Mason was finding space in the Steelers’ secondary at will and wasn’t it then about time to see if Todd Heap could get a favorable match up outside the numbers? Big time props to Mason by the way.

Ed Reed is obviously far from 100%. Playing centerfield is one thing to keep him out of harms way and limit his on field collisions. Playing on the warning track is another. He has whiffed on two open field tackles this season that have resulted in easy scores by the opponent. The Ravens defense has given up 2 touchdowns so far during the ’08 campaign, both on passing plays when Reed had a chance to make a tackle and failed. One Ravens’ insider has compared Reed’s willingness to play hurt to that of Peter Boulware’s. You may recall the retired Raven playing effectively with his arm in a sling. But Boulware didn’t avoid collisions and let’s keep in mind, Reed’s position is called “safety” for a reason.

In the past it has been a fairly safe bet that the Ravens would put a 3 spot on the scoreboard whenever Matt Stover lined up from 40 yards in. I don’t know about you but lately, I’m not exactly brimming with confidence when Stover takes the field. His timing seems to be a bit off, much like that of a golfer that just can’t get his hands right either snapping the wrist too soon or leaving them open and blocking through impact. Stover’s relatively easy kicks on Monday were overly adventurous for my liking.

Has Tony Kornheiser become the modern day Howard Cosell? While I enjoy Kornheiser’s writing and ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, his commentary on MNF is the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Just prior to Jeff Reed’s walk off field goal in overtime, the Ravens, like other teams in similar situations, called for a timeout before Reed’s initial attempt to try and disrupt his timing. Kornheiser called the move “cheesy.” Hey Tony, you want cheesy? Try looking in the mirror at that nasty comb over dude!...Props to ESPN for a solid telecast and very good statistical graphics.

GAME BALLS: Joe Flacco, Le’Ron McClain, Derek Mason, Haloti Ngata and the entire corps of linebackers.

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR: Kelly Gregg...don't be surprised if he makes his 2008 debut as early as this week.

Hey, anyone seen Kyle Boller lately?


Photo by Sabina Moran

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

It's all perspective...Billick would have thrown the football three times with 1:40 left, stopped the clock, used a timeout and given the Steelers the football with 1:01 to play in regulation with the football at midfield....at least Harbaugh played to his strength, supposedly the defense. Had the holding penalty not occured on the ko return, i'd have to believe the strategy would have been different. once the ball got spotted on the 17, it became a fait accompli. and, while we're talking about the end of the game, take a look at how slow and stiff 52 looks trying to tackle mewelde moore and then chase him down in space....all you 52 lovers beware.....the skills aren't what they were....watch that one play (the 24-yd scamper) and you'll see....in the box, yes....in space, nada (not Ngata). let's not go crazy when it's time to re-sign. it's easy to get emotonal.

Harryos29 said...

Oct 1, 2008
... For once .. I agree with Mr. Anonymous.
Matt Stover is in the Twilite of his CAREER! It happens to all of them. I would Make our Back up kicker Active on Game day vs the Titans. Points will be scarce with,again..two Heavyweights slugging it out. The Titan, Steelers and Ravens are very similar on Defense; The two other teams have very Experienced QB's! This was not the CHOICE of the Ravens Management in Trg Camp.
... In the Long run, this will be good for JOE FLACCO and the Team.
..As far as Tonys comments about being like Billick.. he made a good point.
..I'm willing to give Coach Harbaugh a pass on the RED FLAG issue. Lets just hope he learns from that Experience.
.. It would not surprise me to see the Ravens wind up 2-2 by next Monday.

Anonymous said...

You can count on the Ravens being 2-2 after Sunday. The offense will struggle against a Titans defense that will dominate the line of scrimmage. Vanden Bosch versus Gaither is a mis-match of major proportion, so look for Heap to be chipping on that side of the line. Schwartz will figure out a way to neutralize Mason, so I see the Ravens scoring 10 points max this game. Unless they can get some points from the defense, I see the stadium emptying by 3:00 or so.

As far as the last drive in regulation versus the Steelers, I think Harbaugh made the right call by playing for overtime. The poor field position, the lack of timeouts, and the potential for a game-ending turnover weighed in that decision, I'm sure. The ballsy call would have been to kick-off in OT.