Monday, October 31, 2011

THE GOOD, BAD, UGLY & THE MEGAN FOX: Ravens v. Cardinals

So will the real Baltimore Ravens please stand up? Are they the team that opened the season in dominating fashion against the archrival Steelers or are they more like the team that looked dazed and confused in Jacksonville last Monday night?

Yesterday against the Cardinals in their own crib, they were a little of both while providing little evidence to dispel their burgeoning reputation as a Jekyll & Hyde squad.

THE GOOD: Let’s hope that Joe Flacco provided enough evidence to Cam Cameron to convince him to use the shotgun and no huddle offense more regularly. Looking back on Flacco’s career his best performances seem to take shape when running a no huddle. Unfortunately, the Ravens rarely employee the approach unless they are desperate (see Falcons and Vikings on the road). Flacco is a rhythmic passer and the no huddle obviously helps him to find that rhythm. The up tempo approach also seems to help the offensive front provide adequate time to throw as the no huddle serves up a secondary benefit of wearing down opposing pass rushers. Flacco’s second half QB rating was a solid 94.0…Terrell Suggs was menacing contributing a whopping 13 tackles, 4 of which were for losses, a sack and 2 QB hurries…Paul Kruger chipped in with 2 sacks and 2 QB hurries…Bernard Pollard is a menacing presence when he can play close to the line of scrimmage. He had 5 tackles plus a sack and a QB hurry…Chris Carr’s return provided a boost to the secondary. It was good to see him contributing and getting back in the flow. He’ll be counted on in situational sub packages against the Steelers’ speedy receiving corps…Vonta Leach was a wrecking ball in short yardage and goal line situations.

THE BAD: Joe Flacco’s first half at home against an inferior opponent…Torrey Smith dropping a pass in traffic leading to an easy and potentially devastating interception…The offensive line, particularly the left side. Bryant McKinnie and Andre Gurode looked like they dressed up as zombies for Halloween…Jarret Johnson was unusually weak holding down the edge against the run.

THE UGLY: No matter how you dress it up, losing to a (1-5) team at home by the score of 24-3 U-G-L-Y, for this there is no alibi…Special teams were anything but. The coverage was shoddy, tackling pathetic and the plan of attack suspect. It’s difficult to understand why David Reed insists on coming out of the end zone when he accepts a kick 7+ yards deep particularly when you consider that teams have to run 5 fewer yards to make the tackle. Reed lacked purpose and failed to follow the little blocking provided. Jerry Rosburg’s return teams (both kick and punt) seem to be missing a plan and if there is one it’s either poorly executed or they need a new one. It sort of reminds me of watching 6 year olds playing soccer. Both teams just follow the ball all over the field like honeybees...The penalties (11 for 99 yards) were ridiculous and the Ravens better clean that up before heading into Heinz Field on Sunday night.

THE MEGAN FOX: Sometimes you throw to excellent receivers that aren’t really open because you know that at best they can make a play or at worst they will become an effective defender if the pass is poorly thrown. Anquan Boldin is one of those guys. Boldin was targeted 12 times and hauled in 7 of those Flacco tosses for 145 yards, 80of them coming on one 88 yard drive to close the deficit to four (24-20) in the third quarter.


Scott said...

So I'm curious, Tony, whether the difference in offensive performance between the first and second half indicates to you where the real problem lies?

I saw what Joe Flacco could do when he was forced to play Cam Cameron's vision of the offense. Then I saw what Joe Flacco could do when he played the offense style that he was comfortable with (not to mention USING YOUR TIGHT ENDS!!!).

Flacco isn't Unitas, but Cam Cameron is far more to blame for the Ravens' past, current, and future offensive woes than is our quarterback.

Tony Lombardi said...


I think that one of the things the Ravens defense has almost always done (save the Mattison years) is play to the strengths of the personnel. Chuck Pagano has them doing that again.

Cameron fails in this department. He doesn't utilize his personnel in a way that complements their strengths and Flacco is a perfect example. It's fairly obvious Flacco prefers the fast tempo and I think his mental makeup almost requires it.

When I think of Joe's best performances they've happened almost out of tempo no huddle: Vikings, Falcons, Steelers in Pitt last year.

Jerry B said...

Your are "spot on" for a change, TL! Some other advantages of the "no huddle" and "shotgun" are the opportunity and time to see the defensive alignment, get the ball ready to throw without having to turn his back to the defense and see the pressure and passing lanes! Regardless, it's obvious to everyone except Cameron that Flacco thrives in that offense. So, the best adsvice is to play to Flacco's strengths and stop trying to make him something he is not! In fact, Cameron has it backwards: open the game with a sense of urgency, build a lead and THEN get more conservative and let the "D" protect the lead! Also, as you point out with Boldin, the constant criticism of receivers not getting open can be addressed by putting the ball up and letting receivers make plays. Might even draw an interference penalty or two....or three......