Thursday, January 20, 2011

Matsko fingered as the Ravens' scapegoat

John Matsko was fired today by the Ravens and then replaced him with assistant Andy Moeller. This after John Harbaugh stood in front of all the media, all the cameras, all the microphones and despite a meltdown loss against a bitter archrival to end the team’s playoff hopes and dash any dreams of hosting an AFC Championship Game, he smiled like he just hit the lottery.

Maybe he did with his yet to be announced new contract.

And then he told us all how much he liked his coaching staff and expected all of them to return.

Anyone smell a rat?

Let's face it, the firing of Matsko amounts to nothing more than picking a fall guy, a scapegoat for the inadequacies of Cam Cameron who we’ll probably be stuck with in 2011 given the dearth of choices in the marketplace to replace him.

But back to Matsko…

In 2008 Matsko shaped an offensive line out of second year players Marshall Yanda, Ben Grubbs and Jared Gaither; previously retired RT Willie Anderson and first year center Jason Brown to protect a rookie quarterback – Joe Flacco.

The unit overachieved and helped propel the club into the AFC Championship.

In 2009 the Ravens again made the playoffs and it appeared that they were building one of the best young offensive lines in the NFL. The Ravens ranked fourth in yards per carry and fifth overall in their rushing attack. Despite limited weapons on the outside in the passing game the team finished the season ranked 13th in total offense and 9th in scoring offense.

Fast forward to the 2010 season where we learned that the Ravens would be without the services of Jared Gaither. The team had no choice but to move Michael Oher to left tackle, Marshal Yanda from right guard to right tackle and backup Chris Chester into the starting right guard position. Center Matt Birk struggled with chronic knee pain throughout the campaign.

The team did add some offensive weaponry in the forms of Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Donte Stallworth and a couple of promising rookie tight ends in Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

Blend it all together with a healthy Todd Heap and a quarterback on the rise and in his third year in the Cam Cameron system and expectations soared.

And then they dropped like a Led Zeppelin.

The Ravens finished a disappointing 22nd overall in offense, 16th in scoring offense and their yards per carry fell from 4.7 yards in ’09 to 3.8 yards in ’10 for 25th “best” in the NFL.

So what does John Harbaugh do?

He fires the offensive line coach!

Talk about a fall guy!

Talk about B.S.!

Your offensive coordinator tips his play calling with his personnel sub packages; tips plays with the offense’s pre snap movements; rarely alters the cadence; doesn’t allow the quarterback to audible; rarely throws in a wrinkle or really opens up the playbook!

So that’s all on John Matsko?

Give me a freakin’ break!

Wouldn’t it be easier to block if the Ravens offense did even some of the things that dynamic offenses do?

But how could I forget that Matsko was the one who:

* Made Boldin drop a touchdown
* Houshmandzadeh drop a first down
* Ray Rice start the turnover deluge with his fumble
* Flacco fumble a snap and throw a critical interception
* Lardarius Webb blow a coverage assignment leading to the game winning touchdown.

How the hell did I not see that?


Jerry B said...

Agree! Masochist that I am, I re-watched the Steeler debacle on the NFL channel last night, but with the clarity that hindsight allows. Here's my "take: it wasn't lack of talent that was the issue; rather, it was lack of talent to perform up to their capabilities! Nine times out of ten - Boldin makes the TD catch in the end zone; Rice doesn't fumble (1st in over 400 carries!); the snap isn't fumbled; and Houshmanzadeh makes the catch to extend the game! They literally beat themselves with uncommon errors! And, for what it's worth, the "holding" call on Smith that nullified Webb's TD punt return was clearly a bogus call - Smith was facing the defender and pushed him down, which is perfectly legal! There was NO HOLDING! But, rather than blame the refs, the blame is squarely on a team that failed to perform up to their capability!

Jerry B said...

P.S. Forget Webb's blown coverage assignment. We had Roethlisburger bottled up for most of the game with 4 and 5 man rushes and occasional blitzes. With 3rd and long (19 yds!) from their 38 and just over 2 minutes to play, at a minimum, you must pressure the QB, get in his face and block his view of passing lanes! Failure to do that in that situation was equally to blame in my judgment. But, that was a Mattison trademark the past two years!