Never in doubt; in the bag; move along, nothing to see here (cue Chief Wiggums)… yeah, whatever. What a stinking pile of donkey doughnuts.
Even I was starting to buy into all the pregame hype. Heck I was starting to drink the Vegas kool-aid of being 14 and hook favorites -thought that was a gimme as we would win easily in laugher going away a la Navy (BTW, not to get off subject but props to the Middies for basically stealing the Irish’s lunch money on Saturday-! Great job!) Do not get me wrong, a win is a win is a win, and come February nobody is going to remember or care that we barely beat Buffalo, in OT.
Reed. Wow. Just add water and instant success-! Microwaves don’t even work this well… Cundiff. Nailed a bunch of long FG’s and was burying them in the endzone. Koch also with his punts. Heck, I will give all around props to the kick coverage teams. Penalties –very few and none that really hurt us. We had plenty of opportunities to become frustrated and loose our cool but we didn’t. Loved the flea-flicker call and most importantly the execution thereof. Wow, when we are on, we can play absolutely perfect football. More on Cam in a bit, but pretty ballsy to call a pass on fourth and one. With the added pressure if it is dropped or otherwise incomplete, people would have been screaming to RUN THE DAMN BALL-! So give credit where credit is due.
Ball security. After I thought we had solved that riddle we regress. And if the replay booth hadn’t bailed us out on numerous occasions, I shudder to think…
The offense. As tempting as it is to throw Cam under the bus, I do not believe it was completely his fault. It was as if the combination of Cam’s gameplan/playcalling with the execution by the offense created a very disjointed performance. If only one or the other had been better, I think it would have compensated for the other and we would have been fine. As it were, we could barely overcome the combined deficiencies of both. At this point I believe the issues with the offense run deeper than a simple “It's Cam’s Fault-!” or “Flacco has hit a wall-!”; I believe it is a nuanced combination of personnel starting with our formerly re-vamped and now permanent (Gaither IR’d) offensive line which is having a difficult time with the protection schemes. I have said it before: protection schemes and route running go hand-and-hand –it’s almost as if these two entities are not on the same page. Maybe that really is Cam’s fault; maybe it is the offense not executing like it should; maybe it is a combination of both. Whatever it is, they got two weeks to figure it out and fix it. 5 – 2 is nice, but we need to elevate our play if we are going to go anywhere this year.
Kick Returns. Face it, our return game has to be a priority in the offseason as it is basically doing a Claude Rains imitation this year.
As much love as I am showing Ed, the rest of the defense was Special Ed yesterday. Lee Evans, yeah, he will get his chances but there is no excuse for Fitzpatrick –Fitzpatrick-!- to look like Marino. Where was the pass rush? If we are not rushing and dropping six or seven in coverage, why did it look like a seven on seven scrimmage?!?!? That Ravens defense was El Stinko. Overall focus.
The problem now is, going forward, teams do not fear our pass defense after what NE and Buffalo just pulled. So expect an air show until we prove we can stop it. Tackling. Too much going for the “kill shot” and arm tackling vice squaring up, or taking the proper angle, wrapping up and driving.
Conventional wisdom says the Ravens should have been ticked off after the Patsies loss. They should have taken out their frustrations on a Bills team that just needed an excuse to roll over and say, “Scratch my belly…” But the Ravens never made it out of the locker room and that I kind of have to lay that at the feet of Harbs. Yes, it was a “trap” game in a sense but Harbs should have been aware of that and should have better mitigated that. The Ravens came out flat and it got Ugly.