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Play Calling & Clock Management

Both the calling of the plays during the game and the management of the timeclock have been issues under Ravens Coach Brian Billick during his tenure in Baltimore. I am so tired of the constant reference to Billick being an "offensive guru" from his time in Minnesota. If I had a young, healthy Daunte Culpepper and Randall Cunningham throwing the ball all over the field to Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Jake Reed, I'd be called an offensive guru as well. Since Billick's been in Baltimore, there has never been that type of firepower, either at the throwing or receiving end of that equation. In Baltimore's history, the closest thing to an offensive powerhouse was perhaps the original Ravens, which consisted of Vinny Testeverde throwing to wideouts Michael Jackson (pre-nose jobs)and Derrick Alexander. Of course that doesn't include the Colts' portion of Baltimore history, because then we would also not only add the Johnny Unitas-to-Raymond Berry and Lenny Moore and John Mackey, but also the Bert (the Ruxton Rifle) to Roger Carr entry as well. Getting back to the topic...

...Billick seems to be caught up in his own undeserved reputation and constantly attempts to cross up the opposing defenses, as well as Ravens fans, by calling the obvious wrong/poor choice of a play in critical times during the games. Take game one this year against the Bengals. Third and one, around nine minutes left in the game, Ravens up 20-19. Cincinnati hadn't stopped the run all night but Billick tries to cross them up by calling for a pass instead. Cincy intercepts, goes on to score and take a 27-20. Fast forward to the end of the game. Ravens pounding on the door at the one yard line. Forget about the horrible offensive interference call on Todd Heap, the worst call was the pass(es) in the Red Zone, where McGahee certainly would have scored given at least two cracks at the goaline. Same goes for the recent cleveland debacle. Sure, most play calling wouldn't have resulted in a Ravens victory given the play of the defense that day. However, the Ravens ineffectiveness in the Red Zone could have made it a lot closer. Turning field goals into TD's might have made a huge difference and if the game was closer late fourth quarter, who knows what the game plan would have been.

Overall, the play calling and time management must improve in order for the Ravens to be better prepared come late season, as well as post season. The tougher part of the schedule comes up in December and they are sure to find themselves in critical situations against the three game stretch of New England, Indy and San Diego. Billick's decision-making then might determine his fate for the future.