Monday, November 03, 2008

Upon further review...Ravens @ Browns

Steve Hasler per usual does a great job today in breaking down and grading the Ravens’ performance. And while it was an exciting game and a very impressive coming of age performance by Joe Flacco, there are a few observations I’d like to share and I invite you to do the same.

In no particular order, here goes…

I like the gadgetry because it forces opponents to spend preparation time defending it and it makes defenses play a bit slower because they have to think more. But yesterday, the Ravens were a little too cute at times for my tastes. On third and 1 at their own 32 with the score tied at 27, the Ravens ran Ray Rice and failed. They then tried to draw the Browns offsides with a hard count. It failed and it cost the Ravens 5 yards and while that might not seem like much, Joshua Cribbs was killing the Ravens yesterday and at the time, I thought the 5 yards seemed big in a tie football game with 11:08 to play. Where was Le’Ron McClain on that third and 1 attempt?

When Ray Rice broke off that 60 yard run down to the Cleveland 3 yard line, I’m sorry but that situation called for smash mouth football. I almost hoped that it would take the Ravens three McClain rushing attempts before they got in the end zone just to take time off the clock. If you want to throw it there, try the fullback or Todd Heap, assuming of course Heap could remember the snap count.

My colleague Steve Hasler was very kind with his special teams grade in my opinion. Let’s face it, they stink-stank-stunk! The tackling was pathetic and they too got a little too cute against a beast of a returner. If you are going to elevate a kick off specialist to the active roster as the Ravens did this week with Steve Hauschka, why not use him against arguably the conference’s best special teams player in a stadium that is traditionally difficult to kick in?

Did John Harbaugh lose his red flag? With the way this team wastes time outs, you have to wonder if that red flag is lost or simply stuck to Harbaugh’s pocket. On three different plays the Ravens could have challenged calls. If you have Tivo or DVR, watch the alleged Edwards TD catch. The ball is clearly not in either player’s possession but if anything, of the two Frank Walker has more control than Edwards. And note the look of surprise in Edwards’ face when the official signals touchdown…With 6:17 left in the third quarter officials ruled that Jason Wright had scored when replays showed that he had not. CBS was awful in replaying the short catch and run and that might have something to do with the Ravens’ hesitancy to throw the flag…A challenge was arguably warranted on the Ray Rice 18 yard scamper to the Browns’ 2 which was ruled out of bounds. The single replay we observed was clearly inconclusive. Again CBS dropped the ball.

Romeo Crennel should get a game ball from the Ravens. What game was he watching? Why allow his offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to waste snaps and series sending Jamal Lewis into a wall of Ravens’ defenders while Derek Anderson was carving up the Ravens linebackers and while Fabian Washington was giving Braylon Edwards no less than 10 yards of cushion. If I’m an opposing offensive coordinator looking at Rex Ryan’s crew, forget offensive balance – throw the ball!

Crennel and Chudzinski must have forgotten that it was daylight savings time. Their clock management was abysmal and why Crennel opted to decline a Ravens holding penalty in the first quarter paving the way to Matt Stover’s 41 yard field goal is a mystery. Some coaches should remain coordinators and Crennel is one of them.

Open it up! Last week we witnessed the unveiling of the gadgets. This week we witnessed the unveiling of the Ravens vertical attack – yet another seed to plant in the mind of opposing defensive coordinators. Flacco connected with Mark Clayton once but the two times the deep pass failed, both could have been and should have been scores. If Clayton goes up with both hands on the first of three end zone throws directed his way, it’s six. If Flacco puts some air under the third scoring shot, it’s six. Message to the rest of the NFL – you better loosen up on the coverage.

Clearly Derek Anderson is a lightning rod for Browns’ fans particularly with the most popular Brown in town waiting in the wings. With the game well within reach, Browns fans turned on the play calling and on the performances of Anderson and Edwards in a big way, cascading the stadium in a chorus of boos and chants for Brady Quinn. When the teams returned for the second half the seats more than half empty and when the Browns were down by 10 the hometown crowd turned their backs on the team and walked out.

Derek Anderson will go down as the goat but Braylon Edwards was every bit as big of a goat.

It’s nice to be playing meaningful football at the halfway mark and tonight if it means a Washington win, I will happily sing the Redskins fight song and then take a long shower to cleanse myself.

Let’s call that taking one for the team.


Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Nov 3rd
Go Ravens.. they have Exceeded my Expecations so far. Remember, a "W" is all that counts.

.. I forgot about Conjugating VERBs til I just saw steve say "Stink, stank stunk" and he is Correct.
On the area of Special Teams; this gives me GREAT Disappointment. Jerry Rosberg is supposed to be a GURU on Special Teams and Head Coach Harbaugh is reputed to be an ACE also. Maybe the Cap limits the number of KEY players you can put on Special Teams. I don't know.. I'm not that smart. I think JOSHUA CRIBBs is a STUD and I admire him greatly. But, like Ayandbedjio said when he tackled him on the 16 yard line.. you need to grab his legs and he will go down like the rest of the returners..
Bring on HOUSTON.

-Pete said...

Tony, you're right on with your comments on Crennel. Poor decision after poor decision has shown he has no business being a head coach.

Derek Anderson wasn't totally to blame for the loss, but he's been too inconsistent all season NOT to place much of the blame on him.

Thanks for trading questions with me this season ... Boo, Steelers! Ha!