Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Why are we so hard on the Ravens?

Anyone who has followed this site or my blog for any amount of time knows that I love the Ravens. There are many journalists who wouldn’t admit that out of fear that it might jeopardize their journalistic integrity. I happen to believe you can be objective and a fan at the same time – and admit it.

Closet fandom doesn’t sit well with me.

Recently I took pause to reflect upon the season as both a journalist and a fan. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate the two.

Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta once said to me that I write like a coach might write. He said when “we” do well you find a weakness in the game as part of an effort to get better. A coach might prefer to break you down when things are going well so that no one rests on their laurels. Need a little shower on your parade? I’ve got it!

Conversely if the Ravens performed poorly, I’ll find the silver lining and build on in order to learn from the loss, move on and hopefully get better.

I respect Eric as a family man, friend and an NFL personnel guy so it’s only natural that I’m flattered that he cares enough to read this blog and share those opinions.

That said, I think I have failed as a coach’s writer this season and it took a rant from one of our site visitors today to make me realize that.

The Ravens are 12-4 and the second seed in the postseason dance. For the first time they swept all of their home games; swept the AFC North while winning the division and they are 6-0 against all teams still alive in the NFL. Yet for some reason my intestines are tortured practically every game I watch and expletives will fly from my mouth like saliva from an upset Bill Cowher’s.

And I’m wondering why?

Sure the Ravens could get better. John Harbaugh could help foster a better team killer instinct; Cam Cameron could utilize the skill sets of his offensive squad and work between the hash marks more efficiently; yes Joe Flacco can look clueless and listless at times and he can master the finer nuances of solid quarterback play; Jerry Rosburg’s special teams units leave much to be desired.

The list could go on.

But the bottom line is the “W” and there are 12 of them on the board for the Ravens. It doesn’t matter how they got there – they are there and 20 other teams are not. They are there and they get a week off and they get to play at home. They are there and just 2 wins removed from their second Super Bowl appearance. Only 3 other teams in the NFL can say that.

Think about that and then ask yourself given all of those positives, why is it that the Ravens have been so heavily criticized by their own fans? It’s nuts! And trust me, I’m not blaming anyone. I’ve done it too!

But I’m not doing it any more.

Look back to last season. No one and I mean NO ONE expected the Green Bay Packers to get on a roll and win the Super Bowl as a 10-6 wild card. But they did. This year, look around. Do you see any team without warts?

· Green Bay has the 32nd ranked defense and New England the 31st
· Houston and Pittsburgh are both nicked up and resemble infirmaries
· Denver is 8-8 and riding a 3 game losing streak
· Cincinnati is 0-7 against the playoff teams
· San Francisco has very little playoff experience and a challenged offense
· New Orleans has the 24th ranked defense and they were smoked earlier this season by the 2-14 St. Louis Rams
· The Lions surrendered 45 points to a backup quarterback during Week 17
· The Falcons are like the Wicked Witch to water when they play outdoors
· The New York Giants are ranked 29th against the pass in a conference that features
Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees during the playoffs.

So the next time you think about bitching like I have about a team like the Ravens who millions of NFL fans across the country would love to call theirs, think about where they are and where they could be and then chill and be thankful that they are YOUR BALTIMORE RAVENS.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to give myself an overdue and well-deserved ass beating.


Fast Eddie 21012 said...

I did the same thing to myself today, a good ass beating for picking the Bengals to win and continuing to curse and be miserable during another Ravens game. I wish I could somehow enjoy the games more. However, I do have an idea of why a lot of us Ravens fans behave this way. We lost to 4 teams that are not making the playoffs, yet we are the only team 6-0 against this years playoff teams. How do you lose those 4 games and why were they so ugly? As a fan it is extremely frustrating to know your team is good enough to win all their games and watch them squander opportunities before your eyes. There were also very few occasions where us fans weren't pacing in front of the TV as the game ended. Sure we blew out the Steelers in week 1 and embarrassed the Jets and Rams, but other than that just about every game was close at the end. Most of them didn't have to be, we somehow always let teams back within striking distance and it's extremely frustrating to watch over and over again. It's a love hate thing for all of us clearly and we've bee tortured by our beloved Ravens a bit this year. But now is the time to sit back and celebrate all the good things they actually did, undefeated in the division and at home is simply awesome. What a treat for the loyal season ticket holders to not watch your team lose at home. The way I see it right now we are as dangerous as anyone and we could actually get this thing done. The Ravens are good enough on their best day to beat any team in the NFL including the Packers, Saints and Patriots. So let's sit back and hopefully enjoy the ride!

Steve Hamrick said...

Tony, we're ALL guilty of that. Don't hit yourself too hard - I may have to do the same!

Steve Hamrick

Jerry B said...

Watching this team perform in recent years from a fan's perspective, reporter's or both, it's only natural to question why a team with so much apparent talent on offense has struggled with consistency. I keep going back to Flacco's rookie year when they knew they had to "protect" him and did so with a brutal running game featuring the "three-headed-monster" that saw them go within one game of a Super Bowl with a rookie QB, something no team had ever done before! There was never ant doubt about their identity or consistency! The following year, they completely abandoned that successful formula and have attempted to turn Flacco into a "gunslinger", apparently trying to capitalize on the new rules that restrict pass defense. It may be that Joe, one year removed from Delaware, wasn't ready for that type of offense or that he may never be, but now that they have returned to their identity as a "run to set up the pass" offense, they seem to have rediscovered their "mojo"! What's frustrating now, however, is an apparent unwillingness, as opposed to inability, to put teams away, preferring to rely on an ultra conservative offensive approach combined with defense to protect slim-margin leads as they did with a 17-3 halftime lead against the Bengals. That strategy almost backfired in Cinncinati and, frankly, is not likely to work against teams like the Packers, Patriots and Saints who are so prolific at scoring that they win without.....defense! Hopefully they will go into the playoffs with the type of killer instinct it will take to win the Super Bowl!

Scott said...

I agree that incessant complaining deserves a good beating, but pointing out the obvious flaws with players, coaches, game plans, etc., that those in charge seem to willfully ignore is a different story.

For instance, how many years have you yourself been fuming that Flacco needs to be in the shotgun more? It took until midway through this season for Cam to finally recognize that fact and our offense is better for it. Boldin belongs in the slot, Rice needs as many touches as possible... Ray Lewis should not be on the field for the entire game (ouch, but it's true). These are things that are obvious to anyone watching football, but our coaching staff ignores them. There's nothing wrong with complaining when our team would be so much better for it.

Besides, it's fun being an armchair quarterback :)

richieG said...

Hey TL,
We complain because we root so hard for "our" team; we want, not just a victory, but a win where we can sit back and relax, a la game one. When things go wrong, for whatever reason, it is the fault of poor coaching or an imperfect hero - which reflects on our own foibles: why would we/should we root so hard for these "bums".
And, we have the desire to be smarter than the guys getting paid to coach...why won't they listen to us - we can fix it and then "our" team will steamroll every opponent on the road to hoisting "TheVince".
But, let's be real: the coaches DO know more than us, MUCH more, at every level of the game, and that includes use of talent and talent evaluation and game planning!
We also need to admit that, just as we miss 2 foot putts, "our" guys, though on a different level, miss them too.
Soooo, let the games BEGIN!

Jerry B said...

Memo to my pal, richieG in Dallas: just because coaches know more than we do doesn't necessarily mean that they are good coaches! In fact, the NFL's yearly coaching carousel is proof positive of the league's adherence to the....."Peter Principle"!