DO NOT READ THIS.
REPEAT: If you’re in Camp Anti-Billick, you’ll be best served skipping this blog. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
I figure the opening game of the NFL season deserves three blogs. One is the obligatory knee-jerk “what the hell did I just see?” blog that I posted after last night’s fiasco. The second was about two hours ago and documented the epic performance of Ray Lewis on Monday night.
And now, breathing much easier after looking at the standings and seeing that defeat against the Bengals only counted for ONE loss in the standings, I offer my third and final next-day review.
Like I said, if you’re a Billick Basher, you want to move on now.
First – I was VERY puzzled last night by several play calls in the 4th quarter. 3rd and 1 near mid-field somewhere around the 10 minute mark…I’m thinking, “let’s hand the ball to McGahee, get a couple of yards and continue to march down the field for what might have been the game-winning score.” Instead, mysteriously, Billick went to the air and McNair overthrew Derrick Mason to give the ball to the Bengals. In the waning moments of the game – inside the Bengals five yard line – I would much rather have seen the Ravens run the ball there. Kill some time. Bust in from the 1 or 2 yard line with 35 seconds to go — “thank you very much, see you in November in Baltimore, Marvin.” Again, though, the Ravens went to the air, this time with Kyle Boller at the helm. No sense in blaming anyone in particular there – they’re all lined up with their hand in the air — Boller, McClain, Heap…each could have made a play on a pass to win the game. But they didn’t.
Now, am I clear? I would have liked to have seen Billick’s team RUN THE BALL in those instances and I feel like those were game-changing decisions on his part.
But this day-long theater provided by those of you acting out a hate-wish on Billick has to stop. He did NOT cost the Ravens that game on Monday night. Mistakes cost the Ravens that game. Billick didn’t cough up that first fumble. McGahee did. Billick didn’t get the ball stripped from him in the first quarter. McNair did. And Billick most certainly didn’t whiff on that throw that led to a Bengals TD. That was McNair, again. And McNair might be the apparent “king goat” on Monday night, but in all fairness he wasn’t marking Chad Johnson on that TD throw from Carson Palmer.
Enough of what Billick DIDN’T do. Here’s what he DID do. A lot of you won’t admit this because it’s practically against your religion but I will. For the first time in a long, long, long, long time (how’s that for emphasizing — looooonnnnngggg?), something happened to the Ravens offense on Monday night.
They were totally, entirely and almost recklessly UNPREDICTABLE.
For all of you who whined in the pre-season about that same old “vanilla offense”…well, your tail is firmly tucked between your legs today.
There was NOTHING at all vanilla or basic about Monday’s offensive game plan.
First four plays of the game? Passes. 3rd and 1? Pass. Jason Brown a pulling guard with trap blocks that freed McGahee? Yes sir. Justin Green, Musa Smith and even Devard Darling factored into the game plan. Musa even had a TD run. I just hope he didn’t get hurt stuffing that football into his bag when the game was over.
Yes, it was aggravating at times. We had NO idea what to expect. 4th and 1 on the Bengals one with the game on the line. Run? QB sneak? Nope. How about a perfectly thrown alley-oop to Heap for the game-winning score? Yes, that WAS Boller on the throw. And that WASN’T pass interference. But I digress.
Run when the play calls for a pass. Throw it when a run is virtually guaranteed. Hell, I fully expected to see the “Statue of Liberty” at some point in the game last night. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought the Ravens might have attempted a “suicide squeeze”. Speaking of “attempting”, I have it on good authority that Billick wanted to go for the 2-point conversion had the Ravens scored a TD late in the game to close the gap to 27-26. Now, perhaps he would have been talked out of it by Neuheisel or some other coach, but Brian talked about it on the sidelines during the drive.
Wow. Can you imagine the reaction today in Baltimore had the boys in purple scored a TD and failed on the conversion to lose? Holy Brain Fart.
I’m calm now. I still profess they missed their chance to run the ball effectively late in the game, but having re-watched the game on my Comcast DVR today, I am quite pleased at the overall play calling as it related to “predictability” — a major trait of the Ravens offense for the last half dozen years or so.
This time next week, we’ll be talking about a Ravens 28-7 win over the Jets, a 1-1 record and, perhaps, a 3 TD game by Kyle Boller if he starts in place of the injured Steve McNair.
I’ve got so much new-found confidence in Boller, I just added him to two of my fantasy teams. I’m serious. Not about the confidence , per-se, but I DID add him to two of my teams.
In week one of this season, one thing’s for sure. It’s already hard to predict how this whole thing is gonna work out.
Maybe that’s just how Billick wants it.
I’m on board.
At least through 7:45 pm or so next Sunday!