Monday, November 14, 2011

THE GOOD, BAD, UGLY & THE MEGAN FOX: Sleepwalking in Seattle

This just in from Forrest Gump: “The Baltimore Ravens are like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re gonna git!”

And that pretty much says all you need to know about this 2011 John Harbaugh squad through Week 10.

They’ve lost to two of the league’s worst teams, the Jaguars and Seahawks who entered each contest with five and three game losing streaks respectively. These are teams that the Ravens are supposed to control. They should be dictating the game but instead these teams despite their inadequacies are able to neutralize Cam Cameron’s primary offensive weapon – Ray Rice and dictate to them. In these two losses combined Rice had 13 rushes for 55 yards. COMBINED!

Now that’s not to point the finger solely on Cam Cameron but clearly the Ravens abandon the run far too early and you have to wonder why. Teams that are successful on the road travel well because they play good defense, protect the football and control the clock with an effective rushing attack – see San Francisco 49ers circa 2011. Yesterday the Ravens did none of that.

Yesterday the Ravens were hardly Sleepless in Seattle. The really never woke up.

Let’s get to it – there’s plenty of blame to go around…

THE GOOD: The many Ravens fans who made the long trip out to the Pacific Northwest for the game. CBS spent a good deal of time focusing on you. The Ravens should consider reimbursing you for that unpleasant exclamation point to end your journey…Ed Dickson (10 catches, 79 yards, 2TD’s) and Dennis Pitta (4 catches, 49 yards) continue to impress in the clutch. Can we now do away with all of the Joe Flacco excuses about not having Todd Heap around?...The O-Line in Pass Pro ~ Joe Flacco threw the ball 52 times and was sacked only once. He was given ample time to set and throw despite the Seahawks knowing that the Ravens would be chucking it to get back in the game. And through it all the pass protection held up well…Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb both answered with a couple of passes successfully defended in key situations, particularly challenging when the opposing QB is not under duress.

THE BAD: Joe Flacco’s inconsistencies continue. He missed open streaking receivers twice in the first quarter (Boldin, Smith) running 9’s down the right side line. He also was high and wide too often while trying to operate the 2 minute offense at the end of the first half. Later he inexplicably misfired to a wide open Dennis Pitta. Too many times he threw that ball when and where he wasn’t supposed to and was very fortunate only to have been picked off once. Flacco’s passer rating continues to tumble and he currently sits at No. 26 in the league…Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith didn’t help matters much. Both dropped key passes to stall drives…The offensive line provided little to no push in the ground game and it could explain why Cam Cameron quickly abandoned it. But as Pete Carroll’s coaching staff proved, sometimes you just keep feeding “The Beast” as they did with Marshawn Lynch. The Ravens ran 66 offensive plays and could only find 5 to hand it to Ray Rice?

Remember the movie “Ghost” where Patrick Swayze could enter and take over the body of the living? I’m thinking that for Greg Mattison and Chuck Pagano. Too often yesterday Pagano unnecessarily gave mad respect to a quarterback (Tavaris Jackson) who has proven nothing in the NFL. The Seahawks offense heading into the game was ranked 29th overall and they had allowed the second most sacks (29) in the league. Despite those telling stats Pagano had no answer and the Ravens put Jackson on the ground only once. Pagano’s unit had a chance to get the ball back for the team’s offense with plenty of time and good field position when Seattle had it first and 20 on their own 10 but they let the great Tavaris Jackson off the ropes…

John Harbaugh needs to be a beacon of objectivity on the sidelines and if he can’t be he needs to entrust someone who can. A head coach has to strip down the emotion and make decisions from a mind set of clarity. Harbaugh’s feeble challenge of a first down at the 2 minute mark cost the team a valuable timeout. How he chose to handle a kickoff from the 50 down by 5 with just under 6 minutes to go (Cundiff registered a touchback) was essentially a gift to the Seahawks. There were other more challenging and creative options available to take advantage of that prime kickoff LOS. Then after the Seahawks took possession they were flagged for a false start to set up a first and 15 at the 15. After an incomplete pass Seattle was flagged for illegal motion. Why take that penalty? Isn’t 2nd and 15 in that spot more desirable?

Chris Carr seemed to be chasing receivers with the ball all day. Isn’t it time for a little more Jimmy Smith?…Jameel McClain couldn’t cover a corpse with a blanket…Ray Lewis was pretty much owned by Marshawn Lynch and yes Jarret Johnson, that is your jock out there on the 42 yard line.

THE UGLY: Many are quick to criticize Cam Cameron but for me the worst coordinator on the team’s coaching staff is Jerry Rosburg. His return teams lack cohesiveness and don’t seem to have a plan, particularly the kick return team that seemingly meanders around aimlessly. David Reed’s decision making has been questionable as a returner as of late and his ball control speaks for itself. Why he was even allowed to go back on the field is a mystery and it’s pretty bad when taking a knee in the end zone is your most productive option. The coverage teams were beaten to the punch by the Seahawks and they simply looked like they wanted it more. From top to bottom Rosburg’s men stunk. From Morgan Cox to Billy Cundiff to even the usually reliable Sam Koch who “booted” a 28 yard punt from his own 14 to set up another Steven Haushka field goal. This was a mess of epic proportion! …”Hello Bryan, Bryan McCann. Hey this is Ozzie Newsome. How are you my friend?”

THE MEGAN FOX AWARD: Subbing for Megan today is Roseanne Barr and the RB goes to, who else, David Reed.


Jerry B said...

Not much to add to another pinpoint assessment, TL, but here's a summary of my "take" on the Ravens under John Harbaugh: they are a good team and, as all good teams do, they occasionally lose to good teams! However, this team has exhibited an uncanny "consistency" to lose to inferior teams by beating themselves as they did yesterday, in Tennessee and, again, in Jacksonville. In my opinion, that is attributable to poor coaching! This team has no identity, erratic special teams, and is consistently....inconsistent! Bum Phillips once observed about Don Shula that, "He can take his and beat yours or take yours and beat his"! That's a tribute to good coaching. Unfortunately, it appears that we have the WRONG....Harbaugh! Are they a good team? Yes! Good enough to make the playoffs? Yes! Win a Super Bowl? Yes! Will they? That's anybody's guess......

Tony Lombardi said...


Before this season the Ravens were 19-1 against teams with sub .500 records during the Harbaugh Era. They are now 20-4.

Might this suggest that the bad teams aren't really that much worse than the good teams this season and parity is stronger than ever?

It might because Harbaugh's record prior to 2011 doesn't suggest that his teams play down to the level of opponents.

Jerry B said...

You have a point, TL. However, records notwithstanding, go back over their history under Harbaugh and you'll find that with the possible exception of Flacco's rookie year when they had a formula for success and STUCK with it, they have beaten themselves repeatedly against teams who are, arguably, inferior. THat may be a relative term in this era of parity, but good, well coached teams don't normally beat themselves! They had a formula in Joe's rookie season that worked so well that they were within one win of a Super Bowl with a rookie QB from....Delaware! Tthe inexplicable FACT is that they completely abandoned it after that season and haven't been as consistent since!

RichieG in Dallas said...

Hey TL,
Thanks for revealing the facts to JerryB re losing to inferior teams!
My thought: IS RayRice truly a #1 back? Yes, he's had some fantastic runs and some elusive 7-8 yarders; HOWEVER, is he the type of back, like FrankGore, who can pound a team's D into submission? I say no, that he is a better DarrenSproles or ReggieBush and the Ravens need to have a "monster" to run they way they profess to want to run. Maybe that's why WillieMac was the starter back when. Your thoughts?

Jerry B said...

To my "Bud" RichieG in Big "D": Rice has demonstrated an ability to "break" big plays when used consistently. Unfortunately, like everything else associated with this offense, there is no consistency to his use either!

Anonymous said...

Say goodbye to the playoffs

Anonymous said...

Bye bye playoffs u ugly jailbirds