Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Clayton's star begins to shine outside the bars of Billick's prison

Mark Clayton’s star is suddenly shining (18 for 384, 1 TD over the last 5 games). Not too long ago a source close to the Ravens described how happy he was to see both Clayton and Mason emerge in the passing game for the Ravens and be given opportunities to go vertical. He likened their play in the Cam Cameron offense to being out on parole after being incarcerated by the offense of Brian Billick.

As time goes by and as the Ravens continue to play well as a team, it’s difficult not to compare John Harbaugh to Billick. Billick was a task master with high end organizational skills. But given some of the recent comments made by current Ravens who played for Billick, the level of respect for the former skipper certainly looks shaky.

The Ravens success might also cast a shadow upon Billick’s ability to coach again in the NFL. There will probably be another team at some point willing to give Billick a shot somewhere down the road but a lingering question that Billick will have to answer is, “Why has the same team without the likes of Steve McNair, Boller, Ogden and to a large extent Willis McGahee improved by 6 games without you?”

Some will point to Billick’s Super Bowl ring and say that therein lies the answer for those who question Billick’s coaching acumen. I suppose such an argument is relevant to those who believe that Trent Dilfer was a good quarterback. The truth is both rode the coattails of an amazing 2000 Ravens defense and neither Billick nor Dilfer were all that good.

That was certainly an interesting play call from Cam Cameron at the 0:47 mark of the fourth quarter while leading the Jaguars 27-7. Troy Smith hit TE Edgar Jones on a 25 yard strike to the Jacksonville 11 yard line. On the surface it looked like a bit of piling on by the Ravens but clearly the call was a slight retaliation for Jack Del Rio calling a timeout just 48 seconds earlier while the Ravens were trying to run out the clock with recently acquired RB Jalen Parmele. Hey Cam (and/or John), if you really want to rub it in, try the fake kneel down/pass that Dan Marino perfected all those years ago.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of defections, M Smith on ESPN says there is a strong possibility of Martyball as GM in KC with Cam as his head coach,Rex going to Stl and Hue Jackson being a top candidate in Det. Wonder if John will do what Billick did and say not all my guys can leave and deny the chance to interview.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 DEC 30 2008
Tony, Nice touch adding the date to the top of the BLOGS.
I cannot believe that Willis was vein enough, to make a stupid statement, on the eve of his first NFL play off game ever? Some people just do not have a clue. #23 obviously doesn't!
.. I'm interested in the coaching moves, but not concerned with that stuff now; My focus is on beating the Miami Dolphins and having the Ravens Advance in the Playoffs.
.. Happy New year to all Ravens fans: its been a year to remember

Pat from Baldwin said...

Next time you slam the old coach remember this: In 2001 he took OUR team to the playoffs with a no heart QB and Jason Brookens & Terry Allen and even WON a playoff game. In 2002, his best coaching job ever, the team was a few bad officiating calls away from making the playoffs with JEFF BLAKE and NO RAY LEWIS FOR THE LAST FEW GAMES. Remember how we got here....
Why don't you ever write about Teddy Ball or that football guru David Modell???

Tony Lombardi said...

At least Teddy Ball could score points... ;-)

And that no heart QB was BILLICK'S choice while Randall Cunningham, a CLEARLY more productive player in that offense rotted on the bench...

As for 2002, you can thank a weak schedule, some blossoming younger talent and Billick playing with a nothing to lose mentality given the low expectations for the team(we all know his hind parts pucker up tighter than a Ringo Starr snare drum when the pressure is on...as evidenced by his play calling in 1999 NFC Championship) he actually took some shots down field with Blake to loosen things up.

David Modell? Let's just say he too was among those who reaped rewards from arguably the best defense of all time. I will say he did a nice job with the U2 IMAX video.

Jerry B said...

This season has been a painful reminder to me of all the time and talent that was wasted under Brian Billick. And, while he gets and deserves kudos for winning a Super Bowl, let's not forget that even in that magical year, the offense went 5 games without scoring a TD under his "system"!

Jeremiah W said...

I think Billick is a great coach, just not a very good OC. I think he could have got this team back to the playoffs, but the changes made under Harbaugh are making Brian look bad right now. The 1999-2006 Billick was a great HC, motivstor and leader. The loss at hime vs the hated Indy team, when the D allowed no TDs, Jamal averaged 5 yards per carry, and we lost without giving him the ball in the second half, dispelled forever the notion that he was some sort of offenisive genius/ guru. Then his ego may have got in the way of getting a real OC and letting them build a real pro level attack, with audibles, motion, presnap gamesmanship, a tempo, a plan.
I do not think Harbaugh is actually the one who did that for the Ravens, but he was willing to let the best guy for that job do it, and in doing so made both the HC and OC posiitons much better at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Pat from Baldwin...notice how the names Bill Cowher & Marty Schottenheimer surface continually, along with the belief that Shanahan will not miss the 2009 season because someone will be sure to scoop him up a.s.a.p...while Billick continues to proliferate in...beer commercials?

There's a reason for that.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Dec 31st 2009
Happy New Year to all Ravens Fans
Billick is gone...lets let go of that.
Enjoy this Season as much as you can: Listening to Talk Radio all day long.. one story out there: If Marty Schottenheimer is made GM at Kansas city..he will go-hard for Cam Cameron as his new Head coach for the Kansas-Ccity Chiefs. Also, Rex could get a HC job too! That is why I say.. "ENJOY THE MOMENT"
Lets just Beat MIAMI for now.. One game at a time.

Joe said...

You just can't resist piling on Billick, can you, Tony? Say what you want about his final season, but let's not diminish what he did for this organization and this city in the Super Bowl season and beyond. He completely, virtually single-handedly, changed the mindset and culture of a team and organization that previously looked for reasons to lose into one that stormed into opposing cities and kicked a** while "screaming like a banshee." It was Brian who got the defense to play like a team instead of as individuals (cited by Michael McCrary). It takes a lot to change a culture, and we always need to be grateful to Billick for that.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Dec 31st
... I cannot disagree with JOE on the things that Billick did to change the Culture of the RAVENS: However. Like Mike Shanahan in Denver..it was time for a change!
Happy New Year

ravcolt said...

If only Billick did not get burned out and continued to coach as he did in 2000-2002. He will probably never coach again. If you listen to him he offers nothing, less than nothing, on his Fox and local radio diatribes. He is a perfect example of how one can be financially succussful while essentially a fraud.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Tony has always acknowledged Billick's contributions to the team in the past -- a fact that I felt sometimes clouded his ability to rightfully criticize Billick's shortcomings ever since that disgrace in Detroit in 2005. (Specifically, Tony's belief that Brian Billick wasn't an egomaniac, just a "benign elitist" who was seriously misunderstood.)

Second of all, while Billick might deserve credit for changing the culture, he also implemented a culture that itself needed to be changed, which is exactly what John Harbaugh has done. (Specifically, creating "two locker rooms" -- one for the special players, and one for everybody else.)

Finally, my major beef with Billick was and is that while, on the one hand, he seemed to acknowledge that he was not an x's and o'x kind of coach, his ego prevented him from bringing in a real O.C. with full authority, and ANYONE following the team for the past 9 years saw the on-field offensive performance suffer as a result. That is simply unacceptable as far as I'm concerned. And this year's upgrade -- with just as many injuries this year as last year -- is all the proof anyone needs to see how Billick held the team back as much as he helped advance the Ravens ever since he coached the 2000 team to a Super Bowl victory. There's only so much credit he can get for that, and he'd clearly reached the point of diminishing returns. Just look at the presser from Shanahan yesterday, and Billick -- where he still claimed he didn't know why Bisciotti fired him -- to see the difference between a true quality coach, and an ego maniac. Billick is his own worst enemy, and history will bear that out.

Joe said...

Tony does not acknowledge Billick's contributions. He says he was "not all that good" during the Super Bowl year. My, how soon we forget. My point is you can't let Billick's horrible last season diminish his overall contributions to the organization and its history. Maybe it was time for him to go, but a nine year quality run is better than most coaches, and he gave the organization the identity it has today. One good year from the new coach doesn't supercede that by a long shot.

Anonymous said...

1. I've been reading Tony's blog for almost two years, and he has clearly acknowledged Brian Billick's contributions to the Ravens team.

2. I don't know what team you've been watching for the past nine years, but until this year, with the possible exception of the year Jamal Lewis ran for over 2,000 yards, the Ravens offense has ranked either in the middle of the pack, or in the bottom third of the NFL every single year.

The team typically racked up victories over sub-.500 teams using defense, special teams, and weak schedules year in and year out. Billick's overall W/L record was around .525. Compare that to Mike Shanahan's record while he was at Denver, or Tony Dungy's record with the Colts. It pales by comparison.

During Billick's tenure, the team was known nationally as a strong defense/weak offense team, despite the fact that Billick came here based on his strong reputation in Minnesota as an offensive "genius". He failed miserably after nine years to establish even a middle of the road offense, and that's why he was fired.

Billick's primary offensive philosophy was ball management/don't make mistakes. And while there's some inherent wisdom to that, it simply does not provide enough dynamic elements to compete in today's NFL game. Billick played not to lose more than he played to win, and he clearly communicated to his players that if they made mistakes they'd be riding the pine, rather than let things flow more naturally. He failed to develop any quarterback, he kept coaches, like Foerster, who were simply incompetent, he lost control of the team due to lax discipline, and the team suffered as a result. Any other take on Brian Billick is simply revisionist history as far as I'm concerned.