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Cohen’s Corner: A letter to the coaches

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Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Dear John Harbaugh, Marty Mornhinweg and Dean Pees,

The situation for the Ravens in simple: win out and the playoffs are a lock. With the 3-11 Colts on Saturday, and the 5-9 Bengals coming in Week 17, it seems the Ravens are in prime position to make the playoffs. Add in that both games are in Baltimore, and the situation appears even better.

All the while, the Titans still must play the Rams and Jaguars, and the Bills have two straight road trips, including to face the Patriots. It certainly is a good looking situation.

However, this is not reason for you all to take your feet off the gas pedal. It is not time for the Ravens to overlook its competition. The Ravens must control their destiny.

From the outside, this resembles situations that the Ravens have faced before in 2017. No example is clearer than the loss in Pittsburgh. The Ravens held a comfortable 11 point lead, and suddenly went conservative, allowing the Steelers to come back and eventually win. That type of collapse, the step away from aggressive play, cannot be a microcosm for the final two games of the season for the Ravens.

Calls like the decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal against the Browns are ones that can’t be made either. Yes, it’s the Browns, I get it, but the decision to go for it was not the move a team hoping to make the playoffs should make. A team looking to make the playoffs needs to take the points whenever it can get them. You seemed to think you had nothing to lose, as the anemic Browns offense would start inside the five. Then Isaiah Crowell broke off a 59 yard run and the Browns had the momentum for a stretch.

The Ravens won the game, but just because it was the Browns, doesn’t mean that overly aggressive decisions should be made either.

Frankly, these next two games are about staying aggressive, but not too aggressive.

This especially falls on you, Marty. What is it going to take for you and the Ravens to realize that tight end screens have not and will not work?

What does work? Giving Alex Collins the football and throwing the ball beyond the sticks on third down. The play calling on offense must stay aggressive, and must stick with what works.

We all know this Ravens defense is good, but that doesn’t mean the Colts and Bengals will walk in and quit right from the start. Yes, the Ravens shut out the Bengals this year, but that game doesn’t mean you should blow off the Bengals, Dean. The Colts have struggled all year, but that doesn’t mean the defense should play conservatively.

John, you know very well what the goals of this team are, and what the fans hope for. You are well experienced in the playoffs. Your looked ready to collapse upon losing three straight games after a very strong start in the 2012 season. However, you were able to turn it around, and win the Super Bowl. I’m not saying it’s Super Bowl or bust, far from it. What I am saying, it now is not the time to take their playoff scenario and opponents lightly.

The Ravens are in a great position to make the playoffs. The Ravens have a relatively easy schedule coming up. It’s not time to let up yet.

Sincerely,

Matt Cohen