Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'm pissed at the Ravens, how about you?

Most members of the local sports media will tell you that they aren’t fans of the Baltimore Ravens. They detach themselves emotionally in order to remain objective.

I suppose in a way that is somewhat similar to a surgeon who can’t get too close to terminally ill patients for the benefit of other patients who depend on said surgeon’s cerebral clarity.

Unfortunately I’m not one of those locals covering the Ravens who have that ability.

I tried decompressing over the past 15 plus hours to calm down and attain that clarity so that I might deliver lucid thoughts. You can evaluate my lucidity for yourself but I’m here to tell you that I have not calmed down.

I am pissed off!

The question I have is, “Why isn’t anyone over at One Winning Drive pissed off?”

The Ravens have struggled mightily to get off to a fast start over the course of the last 7 games. So, on their first offensive drive last night they are in the red zone with a first and 10 from the Green Bay 17. On the very next play, Ray Rice coughs it up. Green Bay takes over.

“It’s my fault,” Rice said. “I’m not known as a fumbler. I protect the ball well. It’s something I’ll get corrected.”

No worries. Back to the drawing board and do better next time, right?

Willis McGahee gets tripped up rather easily on a first and goal at the one with the Ravens trailing 24-14 and 9:46 left on the game clock. This is the guy who is supposed to have a nose for the goal line yet he bounces his run outside and is upended after a toe tap from Charles Woodson.

“He came through and tripped me up,” McGahee said. “It was a great play. He’s a Pro Bowler.”

Next play, Joe Flacco flushes out of the pocket, rolls right, sets and lobs a pass across his body and towards the middle of the field in the end zone to Demetrius Williams. Put a little mustard on it and Williams just might have a touchdown. Instead the result is an inexcusable red zone interception.

“It was a stupid decision and a worse throw,” Flacco said. “It was second down so you don’t really need to make a play there.

“You can give yourself another shot on third down and still kick a field goal. I didn’t set my feet, I didn’t get enough on the ball and I underthrew him.”

Why are these guys not more emotionally committed?

How can they so cavalierly discard these major blunders?

“We are fighting for our lives right now, but we are still breathing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We are still alive. I think our character and heart will show through as we finish up the season.”

You mean like that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that Derrick Mason chipped in with while your team trailed 17-14 at the start of the fourth quarter? You remember, the foul that forced Sam Koch to punt from his own end zone don’t you coach? Didn’t Aaron Rodgers & Co. start that drive from YOUR 49?

Oh and four plays later it was Packers 24-14, ring a bell?

Is that the character and heart you are talking about?

“That shouldn’t happen,” Harbaugh said. “You keep your poise, you come off the field. You’re upset about it. Derrick has to keep his poise, come off the field and not compound the problem. We tell our guys, ‘Something happens, don’t compound the problem.’”

Well based on that level of passion and emotional involvement from the ball coach I bet Derrick Mason didn’t get his chocolate pudding on the plane ride back to Baltimore.

Where is the sense of urgency?

How about some accountability?

“The penalties have to improve,” Harbaugh said. “There were too many penalties. Obviously it was a two-way deal. The game was called a certain way."

Coach this has been going on the entire season. Your team is next to the bottom of the league in number of penalties and penalty yards. With 12 games in the bag, do you have any idea when exactly we can expect the improvement?

Where is the discipline?

Penalties and regular bone-headed mistakes from players like Mason, Flacco, Haloti Ngata even Ray Lewis.

These aren’t Mighty Men coach, this is a mighty mess!

You know as a fan of this team and with the access to information that I’ve been granted and certainly appreciate, I will often refrain from second guessing some questionable organizational moves. My rationalization is simple – these guys know more about football and certainly more about what is best for the Baltimore Ravens than I do.

I hear the front office folks talk about their players and coaches like proud parents.

I’ve heard the coaches heap praise upon Ozzie Newsome and his staff and proclaim them the best in the business.

How then do you explain a 3-6 record over the past nine games?

Even lowly teams like the Chiefs, Bears and Seahawks have better records during that stretch. In fact, the team many once considered the worst in the league (Oakland Raiders) has the same record over the last nine games as the Ravens!

Why has this team slipped drastically to the 15th ranked offense in the league?

Where is the ball distribution?

How can the coaches justify not getting the ball into the hands of Kelley Washington more frequently?

Where is the pass rush?

If the Ravens have talented players and coaches why don’t they have the results to match?

Clearly the front office has some explaining to do.

They brought in a nickel back and return guy in Chris Carr and gave him money that could have been Jim Leonhard’s. Didn’t secondary coach Chuck Pagano see enough of Carr in Oakland to realize he doesn’t have the prerequisite speed for those duties?

The Ravens re-signed Samari Rolle who hasn’t sniffed the field since the Divisional Playoff Game against the Titans last season. Why? Was this some sort of payback to Rolle for some behind the scenes favor?

Domonique Foxworth has hardly given the team their money’s worth and is at best a No. 2 corner but more realistically a nickel. We heard about what a great job he did against Larry Fitzgerald in the playoffs last year but if he was really that good, wouldn’t a post season participant like the Falcons fight a bit harder to keep him?

LJ Smith, an All Pro on the NFL’s All China Doll team is brought in to be a backup to Todd Heap, a player who isn’t exactly a model of health. Didn’t John Harbaugh see enough of Smith’s act in Philadelphia to know that the oft-broken winged Eagle would hardly fly as a Raven?

And what do you think about the team gifting Terrell Suggs with the most lucrative linebacker contract ever? Oh sure, we get that Suggs is a multi-talented linebacker who can support the run and MAYBE give you 8-10 sacks per year but was the Brink’s Truck really necessary? Is he THAT much of a difference maker?

“We’ve done this to ourselves”, said Jarret Johnson.

“Across the board, we didn’t play well enough to win. We need to win four games.”

Maybe Double J should have just stopped at, “We’ve done this to ourselves across the board.”

And maybe that’s why no one is really all that pissed off.

They have ALL wet the bed over at One Winning Drive.

The players, the coaches, the scouts, the front office – everyone needs a Huggie.

And since they are collectively to blame, why point fingers? Just keep it on the down low, say we’ll get ‘em next time and everyone goes home unscathed – for now anyway.

Many give props to owner Steve Bisciotti for not meddling and I must admit I’m one of them. But maybe it’s time that Bisciotti blows a gasket. Maybe he needs to collect his coaches, front office and team captains and have a come to Jesus meeting about what the flip is going on and why this alleged collection of talent is so mediocre.

That shower scene with baseball bats from Bull Durham comes to mind.

This ‘09 season is officially on life support and the pulling of the plug isn’t far off.

Unlike that surgeon, it’s time for Bisciotti to get emotionally involved.

He doesn’t have to meddle, but he should be pissed off just like me and you.

And just like me and you, he should want some answers.

Not tomorrow, not after this week’s game against the Lions – RIGHT NOW!

Unlike that horrific two minute offense at the end of last night’s debacle, there needs to be a sense of urgency. Because that sense of urgency just might be all that a mediocre team like the Ravens needs to actually get a post season dance card in this very mediocre NFL.


Richard in Dallas said...


Great rant - it's about time someone spoke out/up!!!

It starts w/the front office: Whoever thought this team was 1 player away from the SB was off...by 10-11+; the retained talent has been vastly OVERrated, as has the acquired FAs - letting LJL (& perhaps JBrown) go was H U G E; promoting Matti (1 year of pro experience?) appears to be quite the blunder - the D has no fire/cannot exert any physical superiority; the O-line, touted as such a strength, is being out-muscled, & Flacco is bearing the brunt of it's ineptitude and, again, a seeming lack of fire; Clayton is UNreliable/Williams is in the doghouse/Mason is probably retiring (next year starting w/3 new guys?) and Washington, for some strange reason, seems to be an afterthought; Ray is a shadow of his former self & this should have been foreseen (see BillB in NE) - Bart should have been signed instead (I said this at the start of free agency - maybe I should be GM); I don't think it matters what plays CamC calls - nothing will work when the O-line can't get get a surge OR keep Flacco from getting pummeled - hope he is not in danger of becoming DavidCarr!!!
I give Flacco credit for trying to make a play - 1 foot more air and he's a hero!

I also think the Raves are snakebit this year v last year - the breaks are mostly going the wrong way & the missed FG in MN had to damage their colective psyche! But that's another issue.
This team needs a dramatic overhaul & I for one do not have anywhere near the confidence in Ozzie as everyone else does...we shall see.

As to being alive in the playoffs - mathmatically yes; in real life; NO! In fact, finishing w/4 losses and winding up at 6-10 would not surprise me at all!

I join you in being PO'd and, like you, wish the right people were also. Actually, I am sure they are but are too PC to say so - where is Vince Lombardi when you need him?!?

Keep ranting: maybe someone will wake up.

Darien said...

I've already accepted that this team isn't going to the playoffs... they simply don't deserve it. Screw getting in cause so and so lost and so and so won and because of the tiebreaker crap. This team is garbage right now. So many problems on article can't even begin to list them all. What a let down from the promise of last year....

James said...

Excellent blog Tony,

You hit it on the head, if I’m Steve Bisciotti I’m blowing more than a gasket, I’m calling Ozzie, Eric and the coaches into my office after wins and ask them one question, Why can’t we build on what we did last year? What is this bill of goods you guys sold me about talent? There is no talent on this team, they are at least two years from being competitive in the AFC at least. I’m looking at Cincy, a healthy San Diego, an improve Jacksonville and wondering at this rate can the ravens compete with those teams.


Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 dec 8th
I think that JAMES summed up the Ravens, in the right way...
theny stink...

Jerry B said...

A wise man once said, "It is better to be pissed off, than pissed....on"! So, I, too, am really pissed off! And, while there is much blame to go around, most of it has to be directed at a coaching staff that appears to be amateurish at best. Examples would be the promoting of Harbaugh's Dad's friend, Greg Mattison, to Defensive Coordinator after one year of NFL experience - the man is clearly in over his head; it's painfully obvious that Harbaugh benefitted from Rex Ryan's presence last year and that Ryan was the "de facto" head coach responsible for the team's success last year; the decision to jettison Lorenzo Neal, who was responsible for a running game that was the envy of the league last year and return Le'Ron McClain to fullback after a monster year at tailback; if this was purely a "cap" decision then Ozzie is to blame because the money spent on Foxworth, L.J. Smith and Chris Carr would have been better spent on retaining Neal; on-the-field personnel decisions to play Clayton ahead of Washington and D. Williams, both of whom seem to get "separation" where Clayton doesn't and are more reliable pass catchers; the offensive play calling that started the season with imaginative, energetic, prolific "attacking" of defenses and has given way to the trite ultra conservative, "let's not lose this game" philosophy with the usual results; the failure to work Troy Smith into the offense after it was relatively successful last year to take advantage of his athleticism; the incessant, inane penalties week after week, game after game; and, the inability of this head coach to grasp the nuances of clock management and decision making during games! As for the criticisms of Ozzie, who always seems to draw them whenever the team loses, the man's record speaks for itself. However, like all human beings, he's not infallible and, while he is deserving of some of the blame, he's probably least responsible of all. It is imperative, though, that he turn his attention to the one glaring Achille's Heel" of this team - receivers! Flacco has the potential for greatness, but he desperately needs......weapons! In summary, this appears to be a talented team that has underperfomed this year, which, in the final analysis, is probably more attributable to poor coaching than anything else! As Richard in Dallas states, "Keep ranting", TL! This organization needs a "wake up call"!

Joe B, Timonium said...

Great article--I hope Bisciotti reads it.

Additionally, Harbaugh made another timeout blunder of the week--not calling a timeout before the 2-min warning. Maybe the refs reset the clock, but he still could have called a timeout while he was bitching to the refs.

You were gentle about the end-of-the-game play calling. Horrific was too nice. The entire Mon-night crew was yelling for the Ravens to snap out of it.

I'm starting to wonder about Harbaugh's lack of team discipline--and the proof is in the constant penalties. Actually, I'm beginning to wonder about Harbaugh. His "doghouse" antics are getting old. If he's pissed off at a player--sit him down for a week and that's it. Then motivate that player to work harder and play for the team. Instead he doesn't play Barnes for weeks for missing a tackle. Incidentally, Barnes was putting the most pressure on the QB on Monday, and might have had two sacks, but was held.

You are right--each player justifies crap plays with "I need to do better."

I think the team needs to cut its losses (Mcgahee, Heap, Foxworth, F. Washington, Gregg, Pryce, Carr, Clayton, Landry) and rebuild next year--or two (Flacco needs more grooming too). And I'd ask Suggs to take a pay cut or threaten to pour bleach on him.

WarYou said...

hi tony, excellent article, couldn't have said it better myself. you gave voice to the things that were swirling in my head all season long.

i live in hungary (yeah yeah i know, i know), and my only sources for info on the nfl and on the teams are the occasional games on tv (not too many of those around here, as you can imagine) and the interwebs. i read as much stuff as i can, and your blog just makes it so much easier. ok, i'll stop now, please keep up the good work, and go ravens!

John from Hungary

Brian Holman, Asst Lacrosse Coach, UNC Chapel Hill said...

Tony, As a devout fan from the get go, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you!! You hit the nail on the head. We are going in reverse and fast, O line, D line, special teams, thats what very good teams are made of and we have been in reverse all season long.

Ozzie has been given a free pass from day one. Being a coach i am very leery about blaming coaches, players make plays. Ray lewis great but OLD, Suggs above avg at best, Leron Mcclain rushes for 1k last year and does not sniff the ball, what is happening over there. Football is young mans game and we look old and tired!! So what is the young o lines excuse!! Sorry to ramble, and thanks for the honesty!!

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Dec 11th
Good to hear a coaches perspective from Coach Brian HOLMAN at UNC. I agree with Brian %100. I've watched Baltimore football since 1956, when I first became aware of the NFL. Todays players make too much money and I think this factor clouds their desire and dedication to TEAM GOALS.

Steve M said...

Thank you for this blog. It is right on, and it’s about time someone wrote what all Ravens fans are thinking. Yes, I am pissed off and would like to see something done about it, both on the field and in the front office.

Very refreshing and insightful. Keep up the great work!