Monday, December 26, 2011

At times the Ravens could be better with Ray Lewis on the sidelines

It is unlikely that Baltimore Ravens fans will ever experience another player like Ray Lewis. For 16 seasons the man has delivered while performing at or near the top of his profession.

Ray Lewis is a man of God with deep spiritual and religious principles. They guide him and influence his massive role in the community. Children aspire to be like him.

He is a leader, a motivator of men. He is a role model for his teammates in that he prepares for and studies his next opponent like no other. He is a rare breed – a talented overachiever. He doesn’t take his bountiful athleticism for granted.

Instead he is dedicated to conditioning in order to stave off Father Time and extend an already highly decorated career.

His work ethic is unparalleled.

Add it all up and you can see why Ray, despite participating in the ultimate team sport, has earned special privileges not available to his teammates.

Ray Lewis is the Ravens’ rock star.

Whether he’s participating in a game or not Ray rallies his mates before each game demanding their focus, championing togetherness and challenging each and every one of them to “Dominate your man!”

And at this time of year, when the bumps and bruises, aches and pains are as common a locker room presence as adhesive tape, the challenge to dominate becomes even more daunting. And with each passing season, the Decembers get a little longer and require each player to dig a little deeper into the well of perseverance.

Sixteen seasons, 221 regular season games, 1,997 tackles and countless practices later Father Time is finally catching up and Ray Lewis’ game seems to have fallen off markedly as this season continues.

Has Ray reached the bottom of his well?

Sure, there will be times when Ray will still make a highlight reel play or two. His instincts are unmatched and that alone can give him an edge when competing. But he just can’t consistently get it done anymore. He can’t dominate his man on every play – probably not even on most plays.

Unfortunately for the Ravens they are in many ways trapped by Ray’s desire to compete. He’s earned a level of respect within the organization that will never be extended again to any player – ever! The team is also a bit hamstrung because they don’t have many if any inside linebackers as good as Ray, even at the ripe age of 36.

But that doesn’t mean the Ravens can’t take Ray off the field in certain sub packages.

Since his return to the lineup in San Diego after recovering from a turf toe injury, Lewis has been exposed as an extreme liability in pass coverage and the truth be told, he should NOT be part of any third down sub packages designed to stop the pass.

He doesn’t get to the quarterback as a blitzer.

And in space he looks every bit of his 36 years.

But who’s going to tell Ray? Who is going to remove him from those sub packages?

Answer: Ray should remove Ray!

The man has always implored his teammates to, “Take care of the man next to you!” He has pleaded with them to be willing to do anything it takes for each other.

It’s now time for Ray to practice what he preaches. It’s time for Ray to help his coaches get beyond the rock star treatment and go to them, tell them that the best thing for the team is to pull him in certain third down packages.

Something has to give. Either the coaches need to man up and make it happen or Ray needs to kick foolish pride to the curb and volunteer.

One way or another on third and long, in order for Chuck Pagano’s defense to, “Get off the field”, Ray Lewis needs to get off the field first.


Jerry B said...

Ray may not be fully healed from his "turf toe", but, be that as it may, he probably should have been sitting out the remainder of the regular season in preparation of the playoffs. He was playing at a very high level before the injury, but is obviously feeling the affects of what has been chatacterized as potentially career ending in severity!