Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox: Ravens @ Texans

The look on John Harbaugh’s face throughout the second half said it all – the Ravens had no answer for the Texans and Baltimore’s skipper knew it. The Texans completely dominated the line of scrimmage after the break and if not for Lady Luck and arguably the franchise’s most important coin toss win in their history, the Ravens would be staring down at an 8-5 record and possibly a downward spiral that could send the season spinning out of control.

That coin toss, the call of “tails” by Houston native Cory Redding, gave a defense running on empty a much needed rest. Had that coin landed with heads up, it may have signaled the beginning of the end of the 2010 campaign.

Time will tell because clearly the Ravens are a flawed team and all of their warts were exposed on the grand stage of Monday Night Football.

THE GOOD: Besides his call on the coin toss Cory Redding clearly played like a man looking to answer the fan fare of his homecoming. He is slowly beginning to shape into the value free agent acquisition the Ravens thought they made this past offseason. He chipped in with 5 tackles, a sack and 3 QB hurries…Lardarius Webb, save for one missed tackle was solid in coverage and he supported the run and the short passing game well with crisp tackling. He dropped the impressive Arian Foster for a 2 yard loss at the Ravens 6 yard line to help thwart a Texans’ drive and force a field goal. Plus he had a couple of key knockdowns on deep passes to Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones.

For a change the Ravens Red Zone efficiency was a perfect 3 for 3. The trouble is it was an area of the field that the offense failed to visit in the second half. The Ravens’ offense could do no better than the Texans’ 38 yard line after intermission…Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs get kudos for effort. Ngata used the short break after regulation to create havoc for two plays and force Matt Schaub to back up in the end zone leading to the walk off INT by Josh Wilson…Special Teams were very solid. Billy Cundiff added 3 to his league leading total of 37 touchbacks while Sam Koch pinned the Texans inside the 10 yard line 5 times. Lardarius Webb is improving as a punt returner while David Reed’s purposeful running as a kick return yielded big dividends – a 103 yard kick return for a score and a 38.8 yard average…The Ravens were disciplined if not effective with only 3 penalties for 15 yards.

Joe Flacco doesn’t do much to reset plays or force opponents to tip their hand pre-snap nor is he what you might describe as a cerebral QB, but in the face of extreme pressure, he deserves credit for completing 67% of his passes and a passer rating of 107.5. You can question many things about Flacco but no one can question his physical toughness. That said he does hold on to the ball far too long.

THE BAD: Jarret Johnson failed to contain on the edges and was overmatched most of the evening…Ed Reed, for a player who is supposed to be an impact player he had little to no positive effect on the game. Reed is too often out of position and was responsible for two of Matt Schaub’s 3 TD passes…Pass protection from Ray Rice and Le’Ron McClain was very shaky…John Harbaugh, why not use one of your timeouts at the end of regulation to give your defense the break they were just screaming for? It was on par with kicking over a soldier’s canteen after hours in the dessert…The Ravens had only 2 sacks despite the fact that Schaub dropped back to throw 64 times...HELP WANTED: Ravens strength and conditioning coach...Greg Mattison for choosing to send only 3 or 4 pass rushers. Wasn't it clear that Schaub was only ineffective when backing up or pressured? "7 Mississippi" seemed to be Mattison's play call of choice last night.

THE UGLY: The offensive line was beaten badly all evening. They couldn’t create space in the running game (2.6 yards per carry) and Joe Flacco was sacked or hurried on 14 of 38 drop backs (37%). Schematics, personnel, coaching – it all needs to be put under the scope because this thing is broken…Cam Cameron had absolutely no answer for the Texans’ blitz in the second half, particularly Bernard Pollard who had 8 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Teams will continue to blitz the Ravens until they answer or until Flacco can’t get off the field without a stretcher. What might have happened last night if Mario Williams was healthy?

More Cameron; the decision to throw the football on third and 2 from the Texans’ 44 yard line with 2:54 left in the game was a case of déjà vu all over again. Didn’t they learn from their egregious mistake the week before against the Steelers? The Texans had no timeouts left and for a team that had stressed running the football throughout the practice week, the Ravens’ play call amounts to a choke and a signal that the Texans were kicking the Ravens’ ass at the line of scrimmage…Derrick Mason’s drop of a potential 75 yard TD was painful to watch as was Jarret Johnson trying to chase down Matt Schaub…During the second half and overtime the Ravens were dominated. The Ravens ran 23 plays v. 53 plays for the Texans; the Texans had 20 first downs compared to 5 for the Ravens; Houston put up 301 yards of offense after intermission compared to 71 for the Ravens…Joe Flacco told ESPN during interviews leading up to the game that he is an elite quarterback. Does Joe know what elite means? You be the judge.

THE MEGAN FOX: That second half following David Reed’s electrifying 103 kick return was so ugly that Megan Fox nearly left Reliant Stadium before the game was over. Fortunately for all of us she (he) didn’t. Josh Wilson supported the run; he broke up a couple of big passes and despite being the beneficiary of Kevin Walter’s knee hitting the sideline on a would be TD pass, he kept battling and made a huge play when it was so desperately needed – a walk off pick 6.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget Michael Oher's mandatory false start

Harryos29 said...

We (the Ravens) may never know if Sergio Kindle is a good pass rusher, but I sure would like to rewind this Ravens season, and keep Kindle here in Baltimore, and away from those stairs that he fell down in HOUSTON!
My GOD our defense is PATHETIC; what did they give up? 99,95 and 80 yard drives to Houston? Wouldn't you think that one of the eleven Ravens defenders could have; would have made a play?
I for one, do not see this years EDITION of the Ravens going very far. Next week could be a blow out, with the way that Drew Brees is passing the football. We can only hope for frigid temps next Sunday at M&T BANK stadium to slow down COLSTON and the Rest of the Saints fast receivers. Our defense will not stand a chance against Drew Brees; Heck we let a Matt Shaub Totally disgrace our defense last nite; I'm not throwing in the towel, but things need to change, especially on offense, where they need to continue to ATTACK in the same mode as NEW ENGLAND does! What are the Ravens trying to prove, by going into a shell? It makes no sense. And the play or non plays at the End of the first half, drove me up a wall. The Ravens had enough time on the clock for 2 deep passes, BUT they just sat on the ball.. COME ON MAN!

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Dec 14th
... I think Cameron needs to have his head examined. MY GOD..we could have had this crap from MATT KAVENAUGH. The 3rd and two late in the 4th qtr was a MORTAL SIN and could come under the category of HIGH CRIMES AND MISDOMEANERS! Run the ball and get out of the game with an 8 point win.

Jerry B said...

Yesterday morning, it occurred to me that the Ravens had to not just win last night, they had to make a...statement! And, they did: they are a disorganized, dysfunctional rabble, all of which is the product of inept coaching from top to bottom! Coach "Horrible" looked like a deer caught in the headlights as he watched his coordinators make fools of temselves and their players. Lest some out there consider this merely "coach bashing", you only had to listen to Jon Gruden, who happens to be one of the BEST commentators in pro football broadcasting, lambasting Mattison's "soft" 3/4 man rush ALL NIGHT! Hell, he may as well have dropped all 11 into coverage, as Matt Schaub had time for dinner and drinks while waiting for a receiver to work open. I even saw our best pass rusher, Terrell Suggs, dropping in pass coverage in a failed attempt to cover a receiver! No one will convince me that this team isn't talented, because it is. It is also "flawed" like every other team in the league this year. But, the main problem ALL YEAR has been and will continue to be coaches who just aren't up to pro football caliber!!!!

Phil From Frostburg said...

You have to wonder now about Harbaugh putting the team in full pads last Wed. The D looked gassed as early as the end of the 1st half and had nothing left in the 4th Qtr. You also have to wonder at just how bad the team depth is on defense when there don't seem to be any credible backups rotating in for the front seven, especially Kruger and Cody who should be playing quality snaps by now.

As for the offense, this shift on the OL to O'Neill Cousins at RT is a recipe for disaster and is textbook case of fixing what isn't broken. They still can't run and now they can't pass protect consistently either. How about instead spreading the field a little more, running the ball from spread formations consistently on 1st down and not just 2nd and long, and allow Flacco to audible when needed on 1st and 2nd down? No, we have to bring in O'Neill Cousins and line up Chester at TE. Ridiculous. But I will cheer up now and thank the heavens for Josh Wilson and for Cory Redding calling "Tails."