Monday, September 19, 2011

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

Dear John, there are letdowns in the National Football League!

The Ravens ventured into LP Field on Sunday riding a wave of confidence thanks to a dominating performance against the Steelers on Opening Day. All week long the team talked about putting the big win behind them and focusing on the Tennessee Titans. They vowed not to overlook Mike Munchak’s squad in a stadium where the Ravens have historically enjoyed a great deal of success. Earlier in the week John Harbaugh chastised a member of the media for inquiring about the possibility of a letdown.

"I’m embarrassed for you when you even say that. There’s no such thing as that in the National Football League."

Maybe he should be embarrassed by that letdown instead.

Like the Steelers the week before, the Ravens seemingly bought into their own hype and as they learned on Sunday, showing up isn’t good enough no matter who your opponent is. The Ravens looked very robotic and the robot was short-circuiting. The Ravens arrived with a poorly concocted plan on both sides of the ball and they never adjusted. I couldn’t help but think of this Planet Fitness commercial after reading some of the post game quotes from Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh.

The Good: Most will single out the collective play of the secondary and label it an F and it would be hard to disagree. But I liked the way Lardarius Webb continued to compete and in the second half he made some very good plays defending the pass and supporting the run defense. He’s a very sure tackler…The defensive front was stout while containing the explosive Chris Johnson limiting him to 52 yards on 24carries…Billy Cundiff was money, nailing both FGA’s and on kickoffs he was 3 for 3 on touchbacks…The punt coverage teams were also a bright spot…Ray Rice’s effort on the screen pass for a score along with the lead blocking combined to produce Cam Cameron’s most efficiently executed play of the day. Memo to Cam: Ever hear the expression, “Keep doing it until they stop it?”...David Reed's 77 yard kickoff return to set up the tying field goal before halftime.

The Bad: Bryant McKinnie looked like he aged 5 years in one week…Hey Michael Oher, it goes something like this: “On your mark, get set, go.” …When Cameron had Willis McGahee it seemed that whenever Willis entered the game he carried the ball on the very first play after the substitution. Now he’s doing the same with Ricky Williams who responded with a fumble…Cary Williams’ Nashville homecoming was a flop. He needs to be headier, study film a little more and not let emotion dictate his play…Jameel McClain trying to tackle yesterday looked like a pitcher trying to hit. It’s time for Dannell Ellerbe to get the start…Speaking of line-up changes, here’s a vote for Haruki Nakamura to play over Tom Zbikowski who makes about as many impactful plays as Jameel McClain which is another way of saying none…Did Ray Lewis look slow out there or what? He is for the most part an ineffective blitzer and lately he couldn’t cover a corpse with a blanket. They won’t do it because it’s Ray Lewis but he really needs to come off the field in dime packages.

The Ugly: You’ve all heard of the Bermuda Triangle. The Ravens passing game may soon be referred to as the Baltimore Triangle. That’s where receivers go, never to be found again. Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco go into vapor lock mode against teams that can pressure the quarterback with four and play efficient zone on the back end. This game was very similar to the offensive meltdowns we’ve witnessed against less the than stellar defenses that employ such schemes. The Colts and the Bengals come to mind and almost always Cameron abandons the run to soon. His game plan was ill conceived. Too bad he doesn’t have months to prepare for each opponent like he did for the Steelers…Chuck Pagano never adjusted and his unit failed to disrupt the timing of Matt Hasselbeck. He focused on taking Chris Johnson out of the game. Mission accomplished! The Titans adjusted – Pagano did not…Every time I see Domonique Foxworth on the field, he’s chasing a receiver, a few steps behind. Chris Carr and Jimmy Smith, boy do we miss you…And last be certainly not least, what was John Harbaugh thinking sending Billy Cundiff on to the field for a 29 yard field goal trailing 23-10 with 7:02 left in the game. Granted the way the Ravens were executing converting a fourth and goal from the 11 would not be an easy task BUT, asking a defense for two stops and the offense for 10 more points in under 7 minutes was CLEARLY a far more daunting task, particularly the way both had played for the game’s first 53 minutes. One big play could have turned the tide. I’m sure Harbaugh will get some flowers and candy from Mike Munchak later today.

The Megan Fox: Megan obviously had a bye week or she’s wanted in Nashville for some criminal offense. Speaking of crimes, what a shame for the Ravens to lay such a big fat egg after taking the AFCN driver’s seat in convincing fashion in week 1. This week is going to be a lot longer than last…


Jerry B said...

Okay, TL, here's my opinion for what it's worth. Flacco continues to struggle with consistence because he's in a "system" that struggles with consistence. No matter who they plug in at receiver, they always seem to have trouble getting open! The game planning, play calling, tempo, etc. are all inconsistent. That's the reason for so many "false starts" and the inevitable "delay of game" penalties, but having the latter on the opponent's 6 yard line needing two scores in under 7 minutes is not just unconscionable, it's...indefensible! So is the decision to settle for 3 pts there! As in recent years past, this is a team with enough talent to beat anybody including themselves and a coaching staff that enables.....both! So, continue to expect more of the same. Torrey Smith, by the way, is this year's version of....Donte' Stallworth - so fast' he's....invisible!!!

Ecruzin1 said...

Very well stated. I had all the same thoughts. Could not have said it any better. Shame they don't read this, and maybe use it as a wake up call. Now we know they CAN do it , it is a matter as to if they really want to.

richieG in Dallas said...

Hey TL,
When RayR was almost caught inside the 5 yd line because he slowed down to prance, I knew the watchword of the day was: ennui! What does it say when they don't try Garode at LG once or twice; did PernellMc get on the field (I may have seen his # once or twice); sorry - I agree w/you 100+% re RayLew...AND RickyWill is in the same boat!!! Tell the truth - CAN Joey read defences??? I know Brady&Manning&Rivers make it look easy, but it's not Greek! On the other hand, it's hard to read w/people in one's face every play (I've seen Brady et al harrassed into frustration & inaccuracy. Sooooo, shall we start on camTHEman again!?!

Jerry B said...

Memo to may buddy, richieG in Big "D": Neither Rivers nor Brees flourished until they were out of Cameron's "system" So, draw your own conclusions...I already have mine! Ray was sensational last week against Pittsburgh, but most of the "D" was ineffective yesterday as Pagano preferred chasing receivers rather than the QB!

richieG said...

Memo to my OLD friend JerryB: The development of Brady, Rogers, & Manning has not been "held back" by camTHEman!
And, for yet another year, the WR corps is inferior to those of ie: GB, NE, Indy, Pitt - the Ravens group has potential but cannot be favorably compared to the WR/TE units of the aforementioned teams.

Phil from Frostburg said...

I thought the effort was there from the players (e.g., the defense delivered some big hits), but they were just outplayed and outcoached. In fact, I can't think of a more poorly coached game in the Harbaugh era. The gameplans on both sides of the ball were completely ineffective, and the in-game tactical moves (and lack thereof) were horrendous.
Why is it that the Titans can figure out how to match up their one good receiver 1 on 1 with our corners throughout the game, yet the Ravens can't match up their best receiver 1 on 1 even once?
Why can't we get Torrey Smith the ball at all on a bubble screen, hitch pass, anything, to try to utilize his speed?
Why was the offensive tempo so slow, with the ball being snapped with under 5 sec on the play clock almost every play?
No shotgun until the 4th qtr? Why not try "no huddle" to hurry the tempo or running from 3-wide formations to create some space? adjustments at all.

One of these first two games is an aberration because those were not the same teams out there. I guess we'll find out which one was real in the next few weeks.

Jerry B said...

Memo to the "aging" richieG in Big "D" and Phil from Frostberg: difficult to assess receivers in this offense because they are either misused or not used at all! How is it that Mark Clayton could go to St. Louis last year and immediately establish himself as one of their more productive receivers (prior to injury, of course), but disappeared in our offense? In fact, alot of receivers disappear in our offense! As for the "D", I thought Pagano had figured out the need to pressure QBs until last week. With so much emphasis on passing and so many restrictions on pass defenders, it's imperative to pressure QBs, even those with "quick releases", where pressure can at least impede vision. Inability to pressure the passer only increases the pressure on the secondary........