Saturday, November 13, 2010

Team interests > Friendship in the biz of the Ravens, NFL

I wonder if Roddy White had dropped that last pass on Thursday night and the Falcons go on to miss the field goal what the mood would be like now for Ravens fans. One play, not really forced by the defense, and the tenor is completely different and perhaps the angst directed towards defensive coordinator Greg Mattison more tempered.

Mattison is a good guy but I believe John Harbaugh's personal feelings for a man who was on his Dad's staff at Western Michigan University have blurred his view and clouded his objectivity.

Mattison was a successful college coordinator for some very good, even dominant teams but in no way does that prepare him to tackle the talent and parity of the NFL. He will be 61 on Monday.

I've heard the Ravens' DC say that he has no ambition to be a head coach. On one side of the equation, that's a good thing because it suggests he'll be a good soldier and place the team needs above his own.

On the other side, his drive and determination to be great could be questioned. I think some coordinators recognize that they may never be anything more than a coordinator but they also seek to establish a legacy, to be memorable.

Dick LeBeau comes to mind.

There are those who think John Harbaugh will never let go of Mattison. But he should be secure enough in his job to not worry about having a great coordinator. Will Mattison ever be thought of that way?

When the season is over and how the Ravens finish will determine what happens with Greg Mattison. But Harbaugh's commitment to the team needs to outweigh his sense of responsibility to an old family friend when it comes to business. He needs to nurture an environment based upon competition. To do anything less undermines the best interests of the club and the positional coaches who do possess a drive to excel and advance in the coaching ranks.

Sooner or later, they'll exit to a team that rewards results.

This quasi-nepotism can threaten organizational stability.

And that is something I don't see Steve Bisciotti standing for.

He and his "company" aren't built that way.


Ben said...

Tony I understand the frustration with the Ravens performance on Thursday. Being a Georgia resident myself I wanted nothing more than to see the Ravens expose this team for the lucky bastards they are.

That didn't happen and the backlash is amazing to me. You'd think the Ravens lost the game and Reed, Boldin, Lewis, Ngata and Rice in the process. They lost a game on a ridiculously short week of practice (if they even put pads on at all). Remember the Giants didn't even report to practice till Wendesday, the day the Ravens had left and were in Atlanta.

With that they still had a shot at winning the game in the end, that is until Winter's interfered. As you pointed out it's hard to win when it's 12 on 11 especially when the 12th man is the official.

So looking at Mattison's calls on that final drive I don't find as much fault.

The third down completion to Jenkins for 24 yards was in a tight window that forced Ryan to make a spectacular throw and Jenkins a spectacular catch. A catch he didn't make. So that makes it fourth and long on the 20 as opposed to first down on the 44.

The third down P.I. on Gooden for 8 yards was great defense and forced a bad throw by Ryan. Again it would have brought up a fourth down and long at midfield as opposed to a first down in Ravens' territory.

The final play in which White pushed off was for 33 yards was a good design in defending the Ravens blitz by the Falcons. Still it forced Ryan to throw the pass under duress and had the Ravens got the blitz, the play would have made a then 43 yard field goal, 50 or more, forcing the falcons to make a difficult field goal, or heave the ball up in desperation. Not only that but had the penalty been called correctly the falcons would have to make up an additional 15 yards.

All this of course is hypothetical and who knows maybe Ryan and the Falcons would have made some of those fourth down conversions to win the game afterall. And yes the fact that no one told Harbaugh that they play a full sixty minutes, even on Thursday, but this team in a hole to begin with. But two years ago we wouldn't even be talking about a possibility of coming back after starting out so poorly. Mattison's designs weren't wonderful but they weren't the reason the Ravens lost two nights ago. Not when 65 out of 80 yards are debatable on blown, or non calls.

The good news in all of this is that the Ravens will play on Sunday, and still control the AFC north so long as they can win out.

So lets put the torches away for now and see what happens when they are tested again (which should happen on the 5th against Pittsburgh). Remember the Cardinals and Colts D looked like Swiss cheese throughout their Superbowl runs, that is until the playoffs.

So let Espn talk about the Falcons and Steelers and Pats being the best teams in the NFL right now, I'm only concerned with being the best team in the second week of February. And for us to get there it will take Mattison.

Tony Lombardi said...


Very nicely done but I would debate some of your findings, particularly the Jenkins catch. He was WIDE open.

I don't think that I said that Mattison should be fired, no torches yet from me. I think that would be counterproductive at this point in the season.

Personally I'd love to see Mike Nolan back at DC but until the end of the season, Mattison gets my support but that likely won't come without criticisms.

I hope I'm proven wrong.

Jerry B said...

Great Blog, TL and right on the money! Without reiterating much of what I've already said so many times about Mattison, it's axiomatic in football that the best pass defense is a pass rush. Now that the NFL has become decidedly pass oriented, it's even more important than ever! The three man rush or what used to be referred to as the "prevent defense" is as recipe for failure in a league where the QB's are so accurate that given time they will find and hit an open receiver. My issues with Mattison go back to last year. I remember all too clearly playing in Pittsburgh last year with a third and long for Pittsburgh inside their own 5 yard line when a three man rush failed to pressure Roethlisburger and he completed a long pass for a first down and ultimately beat us. And, that "scene" has been repeated ad nauseum under Mattison. With the NFL's "parity", the Ravens personnel are as good as any other team, but unfortunately, the coaching is not! Let's see more "man coverage" with all out assaults on QB's particularly on third and long and, if they continue to get beat, then I'll concede it's the personnel. Until then, I'm convinced it's the....coaching!

Anonymous said...

I've been on the Mattison needs to go bandwagon since the poor start last season. I just dont think he got the job on merit. I think there were much more accomplished coaches on our coaching staff that deserved a crack at DC.

I also just dont think his personality fits the job. The best coordinators in the league have a mean streak in them. Mattison doesnt have that. He's not going to pull a Harbaugh and jump in Ellerbe's face and tell him to stop being a butt munch. Players, for whatever reason, respond to that. Mattison is timid and just lack "swagger".

The other problem for Mattison is he doesnt have the imagination to cover up some of this defenses flaws. Lets be honest here, this defense has loads of talent but its no where near as talented as past Ravens defense. In past years half the Ravens defense would be made up of players drafted in the 1st round by the Ravens and the other half would be 2nd or 3rd rounders with an undrafted free agent or late round steal thrown in. With so much focus on the offense lately, the defensive talent isnt there to cover up poor coaching anymore.

Anonymous said...

I think Dick LeBeau needs to be fired.

Steelers Fan

everyone needs to get a grip.......

Phil from Frostburg said...

Well, Mattison should be fired if he had anything to do with getting rid of Antwan Barnes and Trevor Pryce, but as far as his schemes, I don't see huge problems. There was the bad game against Buffalo and the bad first half at Atlanta, but other than that, pretty solid. People are complaining about lack of blitzing, but that's when we've been getting killed. The three and four man pressure packages have been generally effective. I can't blame Mattison for the ineffectiveness of the blitzes because there's only one decent pass rusher left on the team. I do blame him for not rolling coverage more toward Roddy White after the first few series, but generally the 2nd half adjustments by the team have been solid - only 6 pts allowed in the 3rd quarter all year long.