Monday, October 03, 2011

Week 4 Postmortem: Ravens 34 - Jets 17

I would never claim to be at the level of Keith Van Valkenberg, but I have no problem stealing his idea and running with it (and unlike Jamison Hensley, I won't take a post concept, change the name, and then not acknowledge what I am doing *cough* *cough* Wake Up Call is just Matt Vensel's Coffee Companion *cough*).  And so, without further ado...

  • Sometimes bad offense is a result of good defense
Neither offense looked like they could play their way out of a paper bag with a map and a sherpa for most of the game. 51 points were scored, and there was only one TD scored by both offenses.  Combined.  Everything I was seeing both during and after the game was attacking the offenses, especially the quarterbacks, for inept play.  But sometimes you have to tip your hat to the defenses.  Both teams came in with something to prove both professionally and personally.  The Ravens wanted to prove that they could play well after a big win after the stinkbomb they set off in Tennessee two weeks ago.  The players wanted to prove that they were more than Rex Ryan and his mad schemes.  Last year under Chuck Pagano the defense was embarrassed by their performance.  And don't think that Ray Lewis didn't have extra motivation, even if the two teams did play each other last year.  Lewis said all of the right things when he was asked about Ryan deciding to go hard after Bart Scott and not at all after him when both players became free agents the same year that Ryan left Baltimore to coach the Jets, but it hurt him that Ryan didn't want him to build around and teach.  Lewis looks at the defense over the last 12 years of dominance and he is the one constant.  Other players have come through, they have learned from him, and they have used the success he has made happen and they have been signed to big contracts and been the big splash.  And to a man they have all failed when they left (how'd that Ed Hartwell deal work out for you guys, Atlanta?).  This was Ray's chance to show that it HAD been all about him, through all the coaches, through all the turnover, through everything Ray Lewis was the reason.  But to do that he would have had to go somewhere else and then this defense would have had to fail.  It didn't happen, but he has never forgotten the snub.  The Jets had the opposite issue.  There are quite a few players on that team that have been either lost to free agency (Scott and Jim Leonhard from Baltimore) or have been discarded (Aaron Maybin and Antonio Cromartie to name a few) and picked up off of the scrap heap.  The Jets are dangerously close to being the Oakland Raiders of the new millennium, with Ryan playing the Al Davis role of the outspoken "Bring it!" mouthpiece grabbing the players nobody else wants and telling them "we're your last chance to show the league that they're wrong about you".  And Ryan wants to show Steve Bisciotti that he picked the wrong guy in 2008.  Don't think that year that he didn't get the Baltimore OR the Atlanta job aren't still stuck in his mind as revenge opportunities.  It is an angry motivation that can burn you if you let it get out of control.  I wonder if we saw a little bit of that last night.
  • That said, what the hell was Cam Cameron thinking?
Yes, we all saw the passing game look like The Greatest Show On Turf last week against the Rams.  But a smart coach knows to look at what his team is going up against, and while it was fun to watch, that St. Louis game could have easily cost the Ravens a "W" last night.

The Rams went into that game w/the worst run defense in the NFL and everyone and their Aunt Petunia expected a heavy dose of Ray Rice and Ricky Williams, so Cameron mixed it up and opened the floodgates against a banged up secondary.  The Jets gave up 200+ yards to the Raiders the week before, but unlike the Rams the Jets have an excellent secondary.  So while you have to pass the ball to keep the defense honest, if you have the best blocking fullback in the league and a running back that creates mismatches every time he touches the ball you don't need to get cute.  It didn't help that Joe Flacco also had stars in his eyes and decided that throwing to his checkdowns was an admission that he cried while watching Barbara Streisand movies and just went deep, but the fault has to rest on Cameron's shoulders for calling all of those passing plays.  When the team finally went run heavy in the 2nd half they started moving the ball, ending drives w/two lost fumbles (one by Flacco and one by Ricky Williams) and one incomplete pass.  So it looks like Cameron finally got the message during halftime (although I have to wonder if John Harbaugh didn't have a say in the matter after his well covered statement that he was going to be more involved with the offense this year) the question remains: "What took you so long, man?"
  • Paul Kruger is a glory hound
I have seen Kruger active in two nationally televised games.  In one he had an interception in overtime that led to the winning score, and in the other he recovers a fumbled snap that leads to a field goal.  The lesson is obvious, if it is a nationally televised game, play him and good things will happen.  Any other game, any production from him is an added bonus.
  • Don't look now, but there was a Sergio Kindle sighting
He didn't do much, but he got on the field and he played in the game.  Little steps, man.  Keep on grinding and hopefully it will come.
  • I wasn't a big fan of the early bye week, but upon further review
The Ravens are a team that could use some time to lick their wounds and get their heads clear.  They go into the bye on a high note, in sole possession of first place in their division, and with any luck they will come back with Ben Grubbs (possibly the most underrated offensive lineman in a league that gives anyone who isn't a left tackle almost no recognition at all), Lee Evans (as much as I like Torrey Smith's potential, he needs to let the game slow down and come to him more than he is doing now.  Smith is a little too Tasmanian Devil for my tastes right now), and Jimmy Smith (it is amazing how quickly cornerback has gone from a problem of too many players to not enough warm bodies).  The last time the Ravens had a bye this early was in 2008, when weather conspired to make them have Week 2 off followed by 15 straight games.  They made it to the AFC Championship Game that year (and they played the AFC South that year too if you are the kind that looks for omens).  Add in the Thanksgiving night game against the 49'ers (at home, thank you very much) and it is like they have 2 byes this year.  It really couldn't have lined up much better for them, at least as far as it looks from here.
  • Ray Rice is a Bill O'Reilly meme

Let's hope Cameron realizes this while he has the next week "off".

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