After years of holding off Father Time, Lewis needs help fighting

January 04, 2012 | Luke Jones

After years of holding off Father Time, Lewis needs help fighting

When broached the question about coaches potentially talking to him about coming off the field in certain spots — such as third-down passing situations — Lewis was politely hearing none of it, citing only times when he had been injured.

“They try to tell you the smart thing to do, and you kind of do the opposite,” Lewis said. “Like when I separated my shoulder, I knew I had done something bad to it, but the game was more important at that time. I jumped down onto the field in Cleveland and starting doing pushups. I said I felt good enough to go back in, until I got that hit again, and I was like, ‘OK, I think I need to come sit down.’ Those are the conversations you have.”

It’s not an easy proposition for coach John Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano to handle. If Lewis isn’t going to come off the field, then it’s up to the defensive coach to put the linebacker in the optimum position to help the team — or at least not harm it — in passing situations. Perhaps it’s as simple as allowing linebacker Jameel McClain to line up against running backs lined up in the slot or as a wide receiver while Lewis chases after the quarterback as he’s done on different occasions over the years.

A factor many have failed to consider has been the declining play of the defensive line due to injuries. Increased pressure up front would go a long way in masking Lewis’ deficiencies in coverage by preventing the quarterback from going through his progressions and finding check-downs.

Or, maybe it is as simple as an extra week off for Lewis to rest his ailing toe and return to a more acceptable level of pass coverage the Ravens can live with.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Lewis needs an assist in his losing battle against time after years of defying his age. His competitive nature burns as strongly as it ever has, but he would benefit from a crafty cornerman to aid in the final rounds against an unbeatable opponent.

Make no mistake, it’s clear Lewis isn’t ready to throw in the towel. At least, not yet.

“That’s why you come back every week, week-in and week-out, and say, ‘You know what? [This] week, I will be better than I was last week,’” Lewis said. “That’s all you can do. That’s what keeps your longevity going the way it goes.”

Remember, we’re talking about a man who was told he was too small to play middle linebacker coming out of college, a warrior whose bum shoulders were supposedly going to shorten his career 10 years ago, and a legend who supposedly couldn’t get off blocks five or six seasons ago. Whenever the odds have been against him, he finds a way to surprise you.

Even at age 36, would it surprise you if he does it again?

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. unitastoberry Says:

    I watched Unitas his last 2 years here and with the Chargers it was painful. He even said years later he only went to San Diego for the money.
    As it worked out he tutored Dan Fouts and well you know what happened there. Dan even thanked John when they gave him his due at Canton. To me after this season this is Rays role here as a player coach. Ozzie and Steve need to deal with this during the offseason as to not hurt Rays ego and see him retire here in Purple. We need to draft a round one MLB and go from there. Go Ravens.

  2. Franchise Says:

    Luke,

    The increased role of the pass catching TE has exploited Rays declining pass coverage skills….Not an every down MLB anymore….On 3rd down when a stop is needed to get the defense off the field, offensive coordinators are attacking the miidle of the field with intermediate routes by both TE and RB….I just hope it doesn’t cost us….On the otherhand, don’t count Ray-Ray out just yet….He may just be playing possum and lurking for the right time to make a huge pick6.

    With regard to run stopping/filling holes and defensive play calling leadership on the field….I’ll stil take Ray as a coach on the field.

    Regards,

    Mike Curtis #32 BALTIMORE Colts

  3. PghSteve Says:

    All [good} teams deal with this issue. I remember when Joe Greene was on the decline in Pittsburgh, many fans were in denial about what was obvious. Teams were no longer double teaming Mean Joe, teams were running at him instead of away, etc. Mean Joe is credited (among others) with turning the Steelers into perrenial contenders and it was hard to admit he was nearing the end. But the Steelers did not stop being the Steelers when Mean Joe retired.

    Ravens fans should remember that, at the end of the day, they are RAVENS fans, not Ray Lewis fans. Ray Lewis is the deserved and revered figurehead of the Ravens, but his eventual retirement will not mean the end of the Ravens’ winning ways.

  4. unitastoberry Says:

    Franchise you crack me up. When will they put Mike Curtis in the HOF???

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