Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cold Hard Facts - Week 14

I made it to my desk on time this morning, but I'm not sure how productive I am going to be today. Like most of Baltimore I am dragging a bit after another long night filled with cheers and groans, right up to an ending that should not have been nearly as exciting as it was. Sure the Ravens won. But it should not have come down to OT. The Ravens had a 15 point lead in the 4th quarter and let it slip out of their hands. How? After 13 games, I think I finally understand.

The Ravens defensive coaching staff cannot make in game adjustments. They've lost 4 games in which they had a lead in the 4th quarter this year (and if memory serves had 4th quarter leads in 4 other games - including this one - where they lost the lead but won the game). Here is the opponent's scoring by quarters through 13 games:

  1. 37
  2. 63
  3. 21
  4. 105
  5. (OT) 3
The team comes in with a good plan, but when the opponents make adjustments the Ravens falter. They can fix the problems at halftime, but in the 4th quarter they are being out coached. The Texans' final two drives in regulation last night went for 95 and 99 yards. That is inexcusable, and teams that are legitimate Super Bowl contenders cannot let that happen.

On offense, they lack a killer instinct. Cam Cameron over thinks the game plan once he has the lead. He was successful in San Diego, but sometimes it looks like he has to go out of his way to prove that he is not Marty Schottenheimer (his head coach w/the Chargers) and he makes indefensible decisions. Last night has a perfect example. The Ravens were leading by 8 with just under three minutes in the game. They were on the Texans' 44 yard line. It was 3rd and 2 and the Texans were out of timeouts. The conservative play is to run, try to get the first down, and if you fail you run the clock down as far as possible and then punt and pin the Texans back deep in their territory. Instead, Cameron calls a pass that falls incomplete, which stops the clock. The Ravens could have run 40+ seconds off of the clock with a simple dive play. The Texans scored a TD w/about 20 seconds left on the clock. The sack / strip / fumble against Pittsburgh is another prime example. The obvious play is oftentimes the right play. And in football more than in any other sport you can do exactly what the opponent is expecting and still be successful. Vince Lombardi told the world that the Packers were going to run the power sweep, and then they did it. And they won 5 championships in 7 years, including 3 in a row. Football is about imposing your will on your opponent. Cam Cameron has forgotten about that.

There is something to be said for execution (hopefully not John McKay style - see #1 on this list), and the players need to be held accountable. But they can only execute the play that they have been given. And from the looks of things, they are not being given the plays they need to succeed, even in a win.


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