Monday, January 03, 2011

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

The Ravens finished the regular season yesterday with a record of 12-4, one that even many of the more optimistic prognosticators would have been pleased with. It’s how they got there that has most Ravens fans brimming with concern.

Team insiders will tell you that this was a tough game for the Ravens. They faced a divisional rival that has enjoyed much success against the Ravens while playing with nothing to lose and for a coach hanging by a thread; the Ravens had little to gain with a win seeing that the Steelers were thumping the Browns thus securing the Ravens’ fifth seed in the playoffs; and they’ll point to other teams in similar situations such as the Saints and the Chiefs (both losers) who faced divisional foes in games that had little bearing on their seedings.

But the cold hard fact of the matter is that the Ravens still lack an identity. They are far too passive on defense and their blitzing schemes are hardly inventive and too often they rush only three. Let’s call that “Matty’s Mississippi 7 Defense!”

Offensively they are simply offensive. Despite all of the draft picks spent to improve the offense, coaches and consultants brought in to serve as an offensive think tank and the roster augmentation with capable veteran receivers, the Ravens still aren’t much different than they were during the Billick years. Let’s call this offense Cameron’s Stink Tank.

Other teams with little to gain from a win certainly showed their mettle yesterday while thrashing divisional opponents. The Patriots waxed the Dolphins (38-7) and the Jets pasted the Bills (38-7) then rubbed their feet. The Steelers certainly had something to play for against a weak Browns team and they left little doubt about their superiority, crushing (5-11) Cleveland 41-9.

Meanwhile the Ravens needed an overthrown pass from Carson Palmer in the waning seconds yesterday to post a 13-7 win against the (4-12) Bengals.

Let’s hope that this was just that flat, blaissez-faire football and they wake up from this long winter’s nap.

But who among you doesn’t have doubts – really?

THE GOOD: Jarret Johnson has strung together several solid performances as of late and yesterday was no different. His run support off the edge coupled with that of Terrell Suggs and the plus contributions from Jameel McClain represents positive mojo heading into the postseason. They’ll need a big game from the front 7 in Kansas City. Speaking of the front 7, Terrence Cody, Kelly Gregg and Brandon McKinney helped stonewall the Bengals running game between the tackles…Chris Carr was a step slow in coverage but he did show gamesmanship twice while stripping the ball from Bengals’ yappy WR Jerome Simpson…Dawan Landry was very solid in run support.

THE BAD: Joe Flacco just doesn’t get it when it comes to the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s indecisive and holds on to the ball far too long. A perfect example of both took place on an intercepted pass intended for a wide open Todd Heap. A completion would have been negated by a holding call against Marshal Yanda anyway but the point here is that playoff winning quarterbacks make those kinds of throws. Flacco is not a playoff winning QB yet and if anyone thinks that he can carry a team in the postseason, you are in for a big letdown…Lardarius Webb shows great instincts supporting the run but in pass coverage yesterday, he was nothing more than an inviting target for Carson Palmer and none of his targets are as threatening as KC’s Dwayne Bowe…Ravens pass rush: Carson Palmer dropped back 43 times to throw. Carson Palmer got off 43 throws. Zero sacks for the Ravens for two consecutive weeks...The Ravens offensive line struggled to protect Joe Flacco even when the Bengals rushed only four and this contributed heavily to the team’s putrid 199 net yards of offense and 2 of 11 third down conversions against a defense entering yesterday’s game ranked 19th overall and 21st in third down defense…The Ravens coaches have preached about establishing an identity – one that fits the profile of the players. If yesterday’s game is any indication they are failing miserably. All three phases of the game were out of synch and they lacked discipline. Simply put the offense and the entire coaching staff simply showed up, punched the clock and then punched out. If that was the approach, they should have played their second string players when it became clear the Browns had no chance of beating the Steelers. Instead they put their players unnecessarily in harm’s way. By the way John Harbaugh, what happened to all the talk about getting Bulger some snaps?

THE UGLY: The Ravens offense finished the season 16th overall in points (10th among playoff participants); 16th in third down percentage (9th among playoff participants); and 22nd in total yards (10th among playoff participants). They are predictable (save for a nicely designed flea flicker TE screen) and nothing has really changed all that much. In fact, the offense is worse now than it was in 2008 and 2009 without Messrs. Boldin, Houshmandzadeh and Stallworth. Frighteningly, the offense is 22nd in the league to finish the season – the same spot they were in back in 2007 when they finished 5-11.

THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: This one is shared by the Ravens answer to Batman & Robin – Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Lewis hustled throughout the day, leading the charge with 11 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries while Reed simply enhanced his reputation as the game’s finest ball hawk. With no disrespect to either of these Hall of Famers, Megan Fox really left the building at halftime. This game was about as attractive as a Rosie O’Donnell enema.


Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 January 3rd 2010
...Tony are we coming close to establishing a new award? JENN STERGER? I've seen her frequently out here, although she is 1,000 miles behind Megan Fox, she is easy on the eyes, as apparently Brett Farve thought when he played for the JETS!
.. I think you covered the 13-7 game as well as or better than all of the Baltimore writers combined, with all due Respects to Aaron Wilson, Mike Preston, Jamison Hensley and Kevin Cowherd who said it best in the SUNPAPER with his headline, MORE POINTS NEEDED.
...Lets examine that right here. The team spent $some$ money to bring in first Boldin and then TJ Houshmandzadeh, and the Ravens P/R department kept blowing their horn about the Ravens dynamic offense during the pre-season. When interviewed after the game here is what Anquan Boldin had to say; "I don't know---I don't have much to say"! This is from the guy the Ravens paid $28 million to come in and ignite the sagging offense. Well it says here, you cannot expect much out of a player who was only thrown to twice for 9 yards. This is my favorite wide receiver on the team who has a reputation of GOING UP and FIGHTING for the ball and 9 times out of 10, he comes down with the Ball. But what is missing here is Cam not getting Boldin more involved inthe game. Week after week I see the Steelers Ben Rothlisberger just heave the ball high down the field, and WATCH the likes of WALLACE and WARD always comING down with the ball. With the lax rules in place in the NFL today, a team has a better chance to do exactly that: Heave the ball up there and let your man fight for the reception. Like Boldin; "I don't know", but I DO have a lot to say.
...Something is drastically wrong with the offense and I think its it's WITH the coaching. I think we have too many coaches in Flacco's ear! Let the man play the game. Flacco has all of the physical talent need to play, successfully in this league. Why hold him back. He will never be the deep passer that we think he should/can be, unless we call the plays, during the game that will get him that game experience.
...Lastly, there is a quote in the Carroll County times, attributed to Derrick Mason, "We've got to make some things work regardlss of what's called, we can no longer point the finger" Maybe I'm reading too much into that statement, but I think he may be talking about the Quarterback? Surely, every one can see..that JOE has been in-decicive lately. There is no crispness to his delivery. I think they should run the No-Huddle A LOT MORE DURING THE game and run it out of the shot gun.
...I really care a lot about our team and am one of the many fans who expects more from this team based on the offensive talent that has been accumulated here.

Anonymous said...

The team is 12-4. Third best record in league. Three of our four losses come against teams with a combined 35-9 record......We've made the playoffs three consecutive years and won three road games over that period with a possible or likely fourth win coming this week against Kansas City....

We've got to be the most fickle fans in the league.

This is a 12-4 team and all we do is complain.....

Everyone around the country admires our team and wishes they could have our franchise.

And all we do is complain...

People need to get a life...

The team is 12-4 and has made the playoffs SEVEN times in TEN years....

And all we do is complain...

I'm right there with you....

But then I remembered a Parcellsism....YOU ARE WHAT YOUR RECORD IS....

But we still complain...

jeff the gator said...

how true ,from harryos29,its time we get rid of cam because he could and didnt get it done in san diego nor in miami,we got the best group of rcvrs yet not being used properly,we should b putting up 30 to 40 pts per game=so tored of harbaughs excuses after excuses,if he dont have the balls to yell at the old man get someone that will not tolerate this bull-wake up coaches before its to late

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS29

I cannot disagree with Anonymous. 12-4 is still 12-4.
..However, as I sit in my clubroom tuned into ESPN high lights from Sunday; ESPN opened the show with the ,Pittsburgh Steelers, who won by a score vs the Browns of 41-9 !
That translated into plain terms in the Kings English is
The first play shown was Wallace speeding behind the Browns secondary for a long TD bomb. The next highlite was from the red-zone where the Steelers ran a fake end around with a pitch to # 82 Randle-el, who promptly found the un-covered receiver (Hines Ward) in the endzone for another touchdown.
...Are you starting to understand my point? The Ravens are 12-4 yes: but they could be a lot better with a little imagination. You cannot blame it on a beat up offensive line...heck..the Steelers lost both offensive tackles earlier in the year.
... I know I'm beating a dead-horse but as a former Computer systems programmer, my task every day was to analyze problems, and develop solutions, and then implement those solutions. This team has been together since late July of 2010; All we hear from the head coach every monday is "these problems are correctable"!! WHAT???
I do not want to hear the excuse that we do not have the same quality players that the Steelers and other top notch team have; The Ravens have a trio of three of the, potentially, best receivers in the NFL. The fact that they have been under utilized, to me is a SIN! I keep going back to the owner on this: He has a reputation for being a man who will treat employees well, but he expects the best from them, or they are gone! SEE Brian Billick.
.. I have watched football for a long long time and even tho I am not an X and O's guy; I know good from bad; and this offense is bad..but the sad thing should be a lot better!

Harryos29 said...

Yes sports fans..I am retired and have a lot of time on my hands.
jeff the gator said...the same thing I keep repeating over and over again. So I know what I'm seeing is the same thing that lots of other people are seeing too! Lets fix the problem after the season is over!

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29
Regarding a TWEET by Jason Lacanfore...who commented on Joe Flacco during sundays game. Go check out Le'Ron Mc Clains Tweets about the Ravens Offense!

Matt said...


The Steelers had the equivalent of a bye week to prepare for the Browns, not that they needed it. Something to be considered.

I have to agree with anon. The only reason people are upset with the Ravens play this season is because their expectations were to high to begin with. Ravens fans flat out bought into the hype and expected this team to dominate and win every game 100-0. Its just unrealistic. Especially considering all of the turnover on the offense. The Pats core group of players on offense have played togethere extensively in the past, its the same with the Colts, Steelers, and every other high flying offense that we want the Ravens to mimic. Do an almost complete overhaul like the Ravens did this offseason and the results are not pretty. Just look at the Colts brief stretch of offensive ineptness.

We've essentially got 3 new offensive lineman and all 3 are clear downgrades from their predecessor. Oher cant hold Gaither's jock strap at LT. Yanda is not as good as Oher at RT and lets not even attempt to compare Chester to Yanda at RG, its disrespectful to Yanda.

The only wr that caught a pass from Flacco last season that is on the team this year is Mason. TJ, Boldin, Stallworth, D. Reed, and even Smith because he missed all of last season are essentially "new". Heap has been more productive but his missing 3 games kinda derailed the offense a little a bit because both of his backups are new to the team also. The only real consistency we have kept on our offense in terms of personal is at QB and RB. WR, TE, and OL, have all seen massive changes and its thrown off the entire offense. Sure we've upgraded the talent in some areas but not only have we downgraded in others, the chemistry is simply not there for them to be what Ravens fans want. Its just not.

Anonymous said...

Le'Ron should look in the mirror....he missed the critical block on the 3rd and 1 play at the end of the game that resulted in no gain for Rice and a subsequent Ravens punt....

He should be worrying less about getting the ball and more about doing his job.

That has nothing to do with Cameron.

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Jan 4th Anonymous...geez..I do not have a DVR...that was on my Christmas list..but I guess Santa forgot about it...YOU are right..Le'Ron...need to be BLOCKIN...and NOT be TWEETN...

Jerry B said...

Outstanding perspective as usual, TL! Rather than any lengthy dissertation, I'll point to Joe Flacco's response to Jamison Henley's question, paraphrasing, "Do you think you can turn on a switch in the playoffs?! Flacco's answer, "Absolutely, and I hope I can be a part of it"! That's all you need to know about our starting QB who was "allowed" to throw only 20 passes in each of the last three games in what has become a "pass happy" league! Add to that the fact that he's much more comfortable and efective in te shotgun, but rarely is "allowed" that formation! Cameron's 1-15 head coaching record in Miami was no accident; the guy simply!!!

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Jan 5th
..Jerry B where have you been?
You were gone for a while and then you came back with a great Blog.
I will buy you a beer someplace some day!
...Additionally, MATT is 100% correct, the three top adversaries for the Ravens have solid lines that have been together for some time; Nuff Said.
.. I heard that snow is forecast for KC on Sunday..all I can say is, that the COACHES NEED TO unleash our 3 headed monster of RICE, McGahee and McClain, and Make McClain leave his black berry home!!!

Jerry B said...

Harryos29: The problem with the "three headed monster" is that without a blocking back (remember Lorenzo Neal?), it's a two headed monster and not nearly as effective. That being said, agree that both McClain and McGahee need more carries and Flacco needs to be in the shotgun! A little "no huddle" would help, too, but it's more difficult on the road. Hopefully, this team is angry enough and hungry enough to beat the Chiefs notwithstanding Cameron's and Mattison's timidity........