Monday, December 20, 2010

The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox: Ravens v. Saints

On the heels of a very unsettling win in Houston, the Ravens entered yesterday’s game against the Saints with something to prove. Could Drew Brees pick up where Matt Schaub left off (save the walk off Pick 6) and dissect the Ravens soft defense? Would the Ravens offensive line recover from a disastrous performance at Reliant Stadium? How would coordinators Cam Cameron and Greg Mattison respond to their growing mass of critics? The pressure on the team mounted throughout the week despite their 9-4 record and a solid hold on a wild card berth.

John Harbaugh has felt the pressure too. He’s been chippy with the media both locally and nationally and recently took a swipe at critical fans. Word is that after the post game press conference yesterday he went into the team’s shower and exclaimed, “How about them Ravens?”

The team responded enthusiastically with an unintelligible burst of sound.

Perhaps more than the shower heads were letting off some steam…

THE GOOD: Joe Flacco delivered perhaps the finest pass of his career when he connected with Ray Rice in the right corner of the end zone on a 17 yard wheel route. He dropped another pass in the bucket down the right sideline to Derrick Mason for 42 yards. You have to like Flacco’s feistiness too after a late hit wasn’t called on the Saints’ Will Smith following a third quarter sack. Let’s just say Joe accused ref Walt Anderson of maternal fornicating…The offensive line answered their critics and created space for Ray Rice despite the fact that the Saints were selling out to stop the run. The coaching staff was smart to drop the Oniel Cousins Experiment and return Marshal Yanda to the right tackle position. The unit also did a nice job of coordinating their effort in space on screen passes. On the 34 yard Flacco to Ed Dickson scoring connection the offensive front held up well against the blitzing Saints enabling Flacco to deliver a nice ball to his tight end…Cam Cameron called a nice game and if a couple other plays connect, the two red zone failures in the second half may have ended positively and everyone would be exulting Cameron’s praises. Le’Ron McClain’s drop of a would be touchdown and Flacco delivering to TJ Houshmandzadeh a tad late at the 10:14 mark of the fourth quarter could have led to a convincing win. Also Cameron got the mismatch he wanted with Ray Rice and Jonathan Vilma at the 3:04 mark in the fourth but Flacco’s toss was off the mark deep down the middle.

Jarret Johnson chipped in with perhaps his best overall effort of the season. He led the team with 6 solo tackles (7 overall), two for losses. He also had a sack and a forced fumble…Ed Reed has been largely absent in far too many games for a player of his pedigree but he did make a big breakup of a Drew Brees pass intended for Marques Colston for 20 yards at the 2:06 mark of the fourth quarter…The corners (Webb, Wilson and Carr) all played well, particularly Webb…Sam Koch is arguably the game’s best punter and he dropped another pair of wedge shots inside the 10 running his seasonal total to 20. That number is better than the number of punts inside the 20 for half of the league’s punters…Who let the dog out? Dannell Ellerbe made an immediate impact after receiving his parole card from John Harbaugh. The estranged linebacker dialed up 5 solo tackles (6 overall) to go with a sack and a QB hurry…Greg Mattison dialed up the heat with a few new looks in his blitz packages and the team responded well to the assertive play calling against the always tough Drew Brees. If he had more support from his backers and safeties in their pass coverage Mattison could have some game ball consideration.

THE BAD: Dawan Landry has been consistently weak in pass coverage. Look for opposing coordinators to exploit that in the playoffs. His blown coverage of tight end Jimmy Graham for the game’s opening score is a case in point…The Ravens defense also blew a coverage assignment on Graham’s second score (a 1 yard catch) with 25 seconds left in the first half…Cary Williams has potential and could eventually develop into a productive nickel – unless of course he falls out of favor with the coaching staff for boneheaded extracurricular activities such as his jawing and slap fest with Saints’ DB Pierson Priloeau…The blown fourth quarter lead was the Ravens ninth of the season…The team has not scored an offensive touchdown in the second half since Todd Heap caught a Flacco toss in the fourth quarter in Atlanta against the Falcons…The Ravens need to change the way they challenge calls on the field. So far this season they are 1 of 8 and that lost timeout could have been costly…Unfortunately Kelly Gregg’s career is about to touch down like a Fager’s Island sunset.

THE UGLY: The first offensive possession – 3 plays, minus 12 yards…After Michael Oher’s league leading 8th false start a fan shouted, “And that’s why you were adopted!”

THE MEGAN FOX: Success in the post season is often predicated upon a team’s ability to control the football and keep it away from dangerous Super Bowl caliber quarterbacks. The Ravens have struggled nearly all season rushing the football – until yesterday. Ray Rice delivered clutch running plays when needed churning out 153 yards on the ground. He was patient, allowing his blocking to develop and he broke through many suspect tackling efforts from the Saints. Rice also had 80 receiving yards, navigating his way through traffic on screens to go with that picturesque scoring wheel route in the second quarter. Rice also had a 10 yard scamper for a score running off the back side of some great zone blocking from his offensive line.


Jerry B said...

Good assessment, TL. Coach "Horrible" has to find a way to discipline players that doesn't hurt the team. Suppossedly, Ellerbee doesn't know/remember plays or assignments, which can obviously be problematical. But, he sure brings some talent to the field whenever he plays! Kudos to the coordinators who obviously know what it takes to win in the NFL, but just don't use it often enough. The Ravens still look like one of the more talented teams in the league and are at their best when aggressive on both sides of the ball. Hopefully, they will not be hamstrung down the stretch by coaches who are so affraid of losing that they often play not to lose, often with predictable results against the better teams! Agree that the "O" line played one of their better games - this unit was just beginning to jell when Chester went down with his skin malady. If they can stay healthy, they'll be more than adequate in the postseason. And, finally, I really wish cameron would turn Flacco loose - the guy has an incredible arm, great accuracy and seems to get better as the game progresses. But, Cameron......put him in the shotgun more often which is where he is really proficient and less vulnerable to the pass rush......PLEASE!!!!

Anonymous said...

I concur with your assessment re Koch. I was critical when the Ravens drafted him in the sixth round several years ago. That pick now looks absolutely brilliant. Hopefully we can keep both Koch and Cundiff. Both guys have really proven to be great finds.

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Dec 20th
...Well, I'm late again;Jerry B must never sleep."LOL"
I do not know what "ANY" coach in the NFL can do to discipline these players? Both for committing bonehead plays and then the likes of DE SEAN JACKSON last week doing a Back Dive into the Endzone for a TD
.. I have faith in MICHAEL OHER; He is just in his second year; Be patient my friends, he will turn out to be one of the really good ones! Also, maybe the Ravens best sixth round pick ever; Sam Koch. And he is complimented by Billy "THE KID" CUNDIFF. Where was billy, while the Ravens were messing with Steve Hauska last year.
Well better late than never. THESE two should help the team win a lot of games in the future. ps. I love the way you include the VIDEOS in the post game comments. I need to get a DVR!
...again..congratulations to little Ray Rice, who in reality is the Ravens biggest player!

Scipio Africanus said...

Calling Harbaugh "Horrible" is ridiculous. According to the Ravens website, Harbaugh is one of only four coaches in the history of the game to make the playoffs in his first three years. Granted we have not made it yet, but we are close for sure. How many coaches would you take over Harbaugh? Belichick? Tomlin? Maybe Reid? Maybe Payton? Seriously.....Who else?

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29
..In Response to Scipio's rant about Harbaugh and the word "HORRIBLE"! Does the name COWHER or PARCELLS ring a bell?
...I think its always ironic that a coach builds a reputation, deserved or not, as having skills in a particular area: Harbaugh had one year coaching the DB"s in PHILLY, but worked for 9 years as a Special teams wizard. I could not close without mentioning the greatest offensive genius of all times...BILLICK!
... How difficult could it have been, to have put up huge numbers for the VIKINGS offense(556 pts), with the likes of slingin Randall Cunningham throwing to the likes of Cris Carter, Randy Moss and TE Jake Reed? The Vikings record in 1998 was 15-1, and oddly enough they lost the NFC championship game to the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 14-2.
... The BOTTOM LINE to borrow a phrase from #52, is talk to me after the coach is hoisting the LOMBARDI Trophy in February. I'm not saying he is a bad coach, just that IMHO, he delegates a lot to the assistant Defensive coaches and Offensive coaches, and is SLOW to make ..IN GAME ADJUSTMENTS. That is my main problem with the BALL coach up to this point.
...Nobody can take away from his record in Baltimore over the past 3 years 2 playoff appearances and another one coming up in 2010. Being a DIE HARD Ravens fan, I wish the man all the success in the world and hope that he does get to Hold that Lombardi trophy some day, soon!!! I wish that for # 52, #85 and yes the young QB # 5.
Lets hope it happens before # 52 retires.

Jerry B said...

Coach "Horrible" has amassed an admirable won-loss record by virtue of inheriting a very talented team. Some of his personnel decisions, clock management decisions and decisions relative to all three of his coordinators call into question his ability as head coach. Last week, when his defense was clearly exhausted from chasing receivers all over the field for nearly the entire second half, he had two timeouts to "burn" that would have given his beleagured defense a much needed rest, but he chose not to use them! There's only one word to describe such decisions....."HORRIBLE"!!! To his credit, he admitted as much in his press conference yesterday. He has also been critical of some fans who have the unmitigated gall to criticize his coaches on his talk radio show, while his own players have been equally critical of the coaching! This is as talented a team as any in the NFL that has suffered this season, in my opinion, from the misuse, abuse and failure to use the talent at their disposal efficiently. Their 10-4 record is more a tribute to their talent that has often won in spite of, not because of........"coaching"! In fact, they coulda/shoulda beaten Atlanta, New England and Pittsburgh, but for coaching lapses and would be 13-1 instead of 10-4! So, records notwithstanding, he has a long way to go to qualify as a good head coach, let alone a great won. In fairness, he may reach that lofty pinnacle one day, but in his third year as a head coach, he continues to display signs of not having a "feel" for the game at times......

Phil from Frostburg said...

The best strategic move of the game is that they ditched the O'Neill Cousins experiment. The one problem with the "all Ray, all the time" game plan is that the two teams it's proven not to work against are the Colts and the Steelers, two likely opponents if there is to be a march onto Dallas. It might continue to work against the likes of the Browns and Bengals, but it will be a different story when quality defenses are game-planning for it. If Cameron can't figure out how to pass protect well enough to get the WRs more than a handful of catches total a game, we're not going far in the playoffs.