I know, you're going to rip me apart for this headline and following opinions. You're going to say he's a rookie head coach and these are just part of the growing pains. You'll say he's going to learn from his mistakes and get better. Well, I say hogwash, because I don't want to curse and say the other words as I always have the hope that main stream media will be reading this and want to whisk me away to write for the newspaper, TV, or ESPN's Sportscenter! Yes, perhaps I am delusional (I am a Ravens fan, so of course I am)!
The Ravens have played four games. Two were relatively easy wins, as much because of our solid play as our opponents ineffectiveness. The last two have been close losses and while I'm not about to blame the losses on the coach, like I did last year, I am very clear in my observations that he is hurting this team right now.
Last year I thought that Brian Billick actually cost us I believe four games just by his own coaching decisions. The first MNF game in Cincinnati when he decided to throw so many times when runs would have given us first downs and the game winning score. The Buffalo game when he chose to pass on third and fourth down with one yard needed for the first down and the game on the line. Of course there was also the Miami embarassment when he didn't have the balls to go for the win at the end of regulation and instead chose to kick the game tying FG with the ball on the Dolphins six inch line. I know there was another game at least, but I sort of have amnesia, just like the person who survived a horrible accident and can't remember anything.
But let's get back to the present. I've discussed this issue with my friends and they don't totally agree with me, although they acknowledge their concern. The decision not to throw the Red Challenge flag on Derrick Mason's TD catch early in the Steelers game was a big issue with me. Regardless of the lack of replay, Mason's indifference to the call and the coaches upstairs, he should ALWAYS throw the flag on a close play in the end zone. If it was at midfield, I'd understand it not being worth the risk of the loss of a timeout. But we're talking a touchdown here, and you ALWAYS throw the flag. There's a key reason why he didn't see the catch replayed on the video screens at Heinz Field, guys! They saw it was a catch, so why let the Ravens see it as well? Once you realize that, it's a no brainer. Is that a rookie mistake? If I'm not the coach but I know that, then it's not a rookie thing, it's a thinking thing. He needs to be able to make decisions at times without always relying on others to make them for him.
This past week in the once again disappointing loss to the Titans he froze and then make multiple horrible decsions at the end of the first half. When you have one timeout left, are about to get into field goal range and just rip off a long gain with half your team over 15 yards away and only 40 seconds on the clock, you ALWAYS call timeout. Once you regroup, you can always call two plays in the huddle or stop the clock with a quick snap and down the ball. However, if you try to save the TO and get to the line of scrimmage you waste at least 15-20 seconds to get set which usually results in a false start and of course, that dreaded ten second runoff. Ah yes, that ten second runoff, let's talk about that idiotic decision with 14 seconds on the clock. Due to the Ravens unwillingness to use that timeout and inability to get to the line of scrimmage and get a play off, they false started and were left with the decision to lose five yards and be left with four seconds, or use their final TO and still have 14 seconds, perhaps enough to get a few more yards to improve their FG position. If you're just going to kick the FG, why leave any time on the clock for Tennessee to have in the event of a botched play? In that case, just kick the damn FG and end the half. If you want to put the additional ten seconds back on the clock, then try a sideline play or throw it out of bounds if no one's open. Both choices would have been unnecessary if we had just utilized the timeout with 40 seconds on the clock. Next we could have ran the ball to get a few more yards and then spiked it to stop the clock. We could have had the FG team ready to rush onto the field and kick a much shorter FG, perhaps from the 40 yard line or less, rather than the 46 after the five yard penalty. Stover has been erratic this season, but you have to think he would have made it from 40 yards or less. That miss was a critical loss of points that could have been a huge difference in the outcome of the game. In addition, with the score 10-3, we had the ball just outside of field goal range and couldn't come up with a play to get a crucial first down to prolong the drive and perhaps put us in range for another FG atttempt that might have put the game out of reach, or at least forced overtime after Tennessee's game tying drive. It certainly would have wound down the clock a few more minutes at the very least.
While I've focused on the poor decision making of head coach John Harbaugh, I've also been sorely disppointed with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's playbook the last two games. The first two had a bunch of plays we'd never seen before from the Ravens, including a couple of trick plays, such as reverses. The past two, when a trick play could make (yes, or break) the game, they were non-existent. The playcalling was so vanilla in both losses, that I mentioned in yesterday's posting that I thought former o-coordinator Matt Cavanugh had taken over the playcalling duties once again. Why is it that every other team throws to their wide receivers on the run, while all we do is throw to them when their backs are to the end zone? There was one pass to D. Williams and everyhting else was pretty much to Flacco's only look (Mason) or to the Titans. Flacco is NOT a roll out QB. DO NOT design plays that have him roll out. Furthermore, TELL HIM that when he does scramble to his right, either RUN the ball or THROW it out of bounds! We DO NOT need his attempt to sneak in a short throw on the sideline because EVERY team knows it's coming and is READY!!! Do I seem to be making myself CLEAR? Get it? GOOD!
Now I'm going to go take my medicine as my heart is racing and my pressure is skyrocketing again, as it took all last week for it to go down and then here we go again yesterday. This trend of imploding both on the field and the sideline is beginning to get to me and the scary thing is that the season is only one quarter over. I know I can't take much more of this and with five of our next six on the road, it could get worse before it gets better. At least when I'm at the game I can't throw a lamp or break a window. Now what am I going to do when I see this type of managment!? Luckily, I am taking my very first career Ravens road trip out of state(other than DC years ago), to see them play in Miami in two weeks. Hopefully, they'll have bigger cojones than they did last season when they were there. Unfortunately, it looks like the Dolphins are nowhere near the patsies they were then, and we still lost.
Deep breaths, Rexx, in your nose and out your mouth. Slowly now, there, that's better. Ahhh...