Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Heap not elite...Cameron needs to do better v. Titans

Todd Heap looks dazed and confused at times and I have to wonder just how tough he really is, relatively speaking of course. Recently I’ve noticed opponents talking trash to Heap on the field as they make their way back to their respective huddles. If faces indicate anything Heap’s face screams sheepish and mild mannered behavior. In the NFL there’s hardly room for that. Some players are unbelievably congenial and approachable off the field yet put them on the field and the proverbial Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Haloti Ngata comes to mind.

After his 31 yard catch yesterday I couldn’t help but be critical of how Heap failed to finish that play. DB’s regularly cut Heap at the ankles and his body lean while carrying the football is that of a tall oak tree ready to fall with just one more chop of the ax. Replays showed that Heap had one man to beat for that score. The elite tight ends in the league complete the play and score. Gates would have scored; Gonzales would have scored; Witten, Clark, Cooley and Crumpler all would have scored. And even if you think that Dolphins’ LB Akin Ayodele interfered with Heap at the goal line on Sunday, an elite TE makes that catch anyway. Let’s face it, Heap can no longer be considered elite.

Now shifting my attention to Cam Cameron, I thought he had an excellent game plan out of the gate and the Ravens moved the football seemingly at will early on. Cameron effectively mixed in runs and passes and the plan seemed to spark the confidence of Joe Flacco.

On the road and in the playoffs, first down is critical. After halftime when it became increasingly apparent that the Ravens would win I wondered if someone had replaced Cameron’s play chart with the pizza box menu that Brian Billick used as a play chart in Miami last year. He ran repeatedly on first down while the Dolphins completely sold out to stop the run.

In the first half the Ravens had 14 first down plays totaling 136 yards. The 8 first half first down runs produced 36 yards (4.5 yd avg) while the 6 first down passes produced 100 yards (16.7 yd avg). After the break, the Ravens had 8 first down plays producing a TOTAL of 15 yards. Seven of the plays were runs to go with one incompletion.

I get all of the talk about managing the game. Well to me Cameron was mismanaging the game after the break. In the playoffs you must play to win. I’ve yet to see a team effectively defend the 7-10 yard outs, curls or comebacks to Derrick Mason or Mark Clayton particularly on first down. If the Ravens want to advance, they’ll have to do better here. Cameron and the offense left the Ravens defense on the field far too long in that second half and they were spent. Why else do you think Edgar Jones was on the field at defensive end?

Over the course of the game’s final 37 minutes the Ravens had possession for 14:57 and 2:34 of that the Ravens and Flacco were in kneel down mode. A better team than the Dolphins could have challenged a tired Ravens’ defense. Cam will have to do better against the Titans if the team hopes to advance.

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Jerry B said...

Heap appears to have worn down this year, possibly because he's been asked to block so often coupled with the fact that we don't have another healthy tight end. I'm not ready to write him off yet........

Well, the Ravens made it look harder on Sunday than it had to be because, a.) Ryan insists on playing "soft" with what he perceives as a comfortable lead (NOT!), and, b.) Cam Cameron, for all the imagination he has brought to this offense, failed to call one of his better games. Do the Ravens have a "screen pass" in their playbook? Or, are they afraid Flacco might screw it up? It certainly has a way of neutralizing an all out pass rush, which Flacco is sure to see more of as they go deeper into the playoffs.

We should have beaten the Titans, who we match up well with, earlier this year, but for a bad "call" on Suggs and Ryan's decision to protect a lead by letting Collins "dink" and "dunk" them down the field, so I'm looking for us to beat them this time around.

I also look for the Chargers to beat the Steelers just as they beat Indianapolis and for similar reasons: Steelers lack of a running game and poor offensive line play!

Finally, the Ravens seem to thrive on anonymity just as they did in 2000. How ironic would it be for them to meet the Giants again in Tampa following the 50th Anniversary of "The Greatest Game Ever Played"?! Could be "deja vu" all over again!

Anyway, what an extraordinary season! Hopefully, it will have an extraordinarily favorable ending for all us who "bleed" purple!

Anonymous said...

I just went back and watched the play with Heap and I honestly dont know what more you could have asked him to do,the defender was in great position and held his ground even when Heap tried to use his right arm to throw him to the defender to the sideline and go around him.

Heap catches the ball,and usually he does the lean forward lower the shoulder move you are talking about to try to run over the guy but this time it looked like he tried to shake the guy and throw him to the left with his right hand,but the guy just made a good form tackle and wrapped him up.

What would you want him to do?? Jump over the guy?? Run him over from the 5 yd line??Its not like he was at the goalline,and to say that "other TE's" would have finished the play is a bit disingenuous if you ask me.Even if he would have tried to hurdle the guy he wasnt getting past him,the DB was set up perfectly to take him out high or low.

I just watched it like 5 times in slow mo on the DVR again and Heap played it about as well as he could,really dont know where you are coming from on this one Tony.

Anonymous said...

One more thing I forgot to add,I do agree that Cam goes too conservative at times,but again he is just playing to the defense and the score at the time.If the game was tied up I think that we would see different playcalling,but when we are up by 10 or more thats what your gonna get.

If it was me Joe would be throwing those patterns you talked about,because DB's just cant cover Mason and it is pretty much money in the bank every time.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with the Heap analysis and with the Cameron analysis. And we're going to need both of them to step it up if we seriously hope to advance in the playoffs.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Jan 8th
...I don't think that Tony is coming down too hard on HEAP. He was great in 2006...but has continually slowed down IMHO. That is a demanding postion and they are requiring Todd to block more than ever before.
...But the 31 yard pass reception, vs the Dolphins had TD written all over it. Tony Gonzolez would have leaped over that defender and done what was necessary to score. Todd plays too tentantive. And the DROPPED TD a the goal line. As Mike Singletary said "Can't have it, can't play with players like that".... As for Cam getting conservative late in the game. He did call two bombs to Clayton which did not connect. Get a completion on either one of them and its GAME OVER!
BEST to Ravens vs the TITANS

Ryan said...

I think its time for the Ravens to get a tight end in the draft because heap isnt same tight end he used to be.

Harryos29 said...

Harry o 29 Jan 9th
Tony, first today would have been my MOMS 86th Birthday (1923) God Bless her.. she is in a better place than we are...
I liked the TE from OKLAHOMA.. we need to Draft one.. I'm sure OZZIE has one in his sightes... Lets herar it for KOKINIS avoiding the MESS over in Cleveland and staying at the CASTLE....
Go Ravens.. I feel Good obout the Game saturday..

Anonymous said...

Speaking of tight ends...did Wilcox piss in some coach's cereal or something? After his one handed TD grab, I don't think he's sniffed a pass thrown his way. What's up with that?

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Jan 10th
YES, my friends and I are wondering where WILCOX has gone.? ... He made that one Great catch then POOF.. I see him running down on Special teams. Dan has better than average hands.. and can line up at Wide Receiver?
whats going on here? Obviously we need more production from the TE Position
Rave on BEAT the TITANS

Anonymous said...

Well, it took til the 4th quarter, but Heap's catch in the final drive got us into Stover's range, and that helped win the game for us tonight.

It's amazing to witness history. Joe Flacco is the ONLY rookie QB in NFL history to win 2 post season games. What a win! (even if it was as much a matter of the Titans losing the game as it was a matter of the Ravens winning the game. But a W's a W, and I'll take it. The Steelers won several games this year that were as much a matter of their opponent losing as them winning.)

Ralph & Alyssa said...

Tight ends need to and must be willing to block; Todd Heap, does and is. I think the fact that he caught that and a couple other balls that were clutch speaks to his importance.
Is he the same guy he was three or four years ago? Surely the answer is no; but I will keep him.

Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 Jan 11th
.. Well Folks I'm normally an OPTIMIST..but after Watching the Steelers destroy the chargers..and the fact that the Ravens have so many Hurt players.. I don't know?
..Cam Cameron will need to really OPEN up the PLAY BOOK next week.. we need to OUT SCORE the Steelers.. IMHO. I'm very concerned about the injuries to JIM LEONARD and SAMARI ROLLE!