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Can Play-Calling Adapt To the Game?

Can the Baltimore Ravens adjust from their continuing "Tale of Two Halves" personalities?

David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

The Baltimore Ravens offense at times seem to have a personality that rivals Sybil, the woman from the 1976 movie with multiple personalities. On one hand, you have the one face of the offense that seems to move the ball at will, through the air as well as over the ground, clicking on all cylinders and running like a well-oiled machine. It puts points on the board in bunches and then wears down defenses with a ball-control, time-consuming brutality until victory is well in hand.

Then,...there's the befuddling cocoon that it seems to go into and cannot seem to emerge either until the game is lost in a frustrating manner or in some rare cases, such as yesterday's late fourth quarter of the 25-15 win, comes out at the very last moment to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The Ravens scored on their opening drive for the first time this season and looked every bit as impressive as they have all season. They then scored a second time and it appeared they were finally on their way to a blow-out win on the road for the first time is what appears to be a very long time.

However, for whatever reason, the team seems to think that when they get a decent lead, the time has come to go into "protect mode" and try to change what was successful into an offense meant to protect the lead rather than extend it. When most teams see an opponent on the ropes, they put their collective feet on the throat of the opponent and press down hard, choking the life out of their will to compete and win.

Meanwhile, these Ravens seem to give the opponent and just as importantly, their fans, enough glimmer of hope to turn the game around and believe they can stick in it and creep up for an upset when all hope appeared lost. The Ravens change their game-plan and the play-calling seems to go to another chapter, best described as "How Not To Lose the Game."

In the past, this Ravens team could do that and still win and even blow-out their opponents, both at home or on the road. I recall the Super Bowl 35 win over the New York Giants, when the Ravens took a 10-0 lead, I turn to my friend and said, "This game is over," because there was no way the defense would allow the Giants to outscore them by ten points the rest of the game.

The 2012 version of the Ravens defense is not even a mere shadow of their former selves but for some reason the offense still thinks the defense can rescue them when the chips are down. We've all seen what happens with this philosophy so far this season and know the offense is going to carry this team like the defense used to if the Ravens want to reach the Promised Land.

The play-calling needs to keep what is working for the first 15 minutes of the game for the final 45 minutes and not go into that protective shell. At times, it seems like the game-plan is scripted and there is no thought to adjusting or adapting to the current situations.

When Baltimore was moving the ball in the game's first 20 minutes yesterday, they were running wide and throwing the ball down the middle of the field. Inexplicably, they changed to running it up the middle for no gains and throwing into the flat along the sideline for limited success.

The stats bear out this truth and while they appear obvious to us common fans, they seem to go right over the heads of the coordinators and coaching staff. This needs to change as the Ravens enter the second half of their schedule and shortly the toughest three-game stretch of the season when they play the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers on the road and then the Steelers again at M&T Bank Stadium.

If the Ravens play to their potential, they can win all three of these games. If they play like this, they can also lose all three of these games. Which will it be, John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron? Can you make the adjustments during the game, much less during the week of practice? It didn't seem so with a two-week break during their bye week.

However, the Ravens won again and stand 6-2, the second best record in the AFC and a one-game lead over those same upcoming Steelers in the AFC North.

The true test is two weeks away. We shall see...