Fair weather brings…”fair weather fans”

December 15, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Boy, what a difference a week makes.

This time last Monday, the Baltimore football fans were rallying around a 9-4 team that had just punched our neighbors to the south squarely in the mouth on NBC and in front of the entire nation.  We effectively ended the Redskins’ season (so much so, in fact, that Washington lost to Gilman HS the Bengals yesterday) and the fan base was decked out in purple all week.

“Harbaugh should be Coach of the Year!”

“Cam Cameron is our MVP!”

“Rex’s defense is #1!”

That was last week.

Or, as S.E. Hinton wrote, “That was then, this is now.”

Today, a flock of fair weathered fans have been let loose like pigeons at dawn, circling Charm City and spewing reckless theories about Harbaugh, Cameron and Ryan.

Talk show callers, e-mailers, blog commenters, message board authors — they’ve come out of the woodwork today to blame the coach, the offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator.

The narrow-mindedness of sports fans is sometimes laughable.  I don’t think it’s JUST Baltimore sports fans, but then again I don’t do talk radio in Cleveland, Dallas, New York, Pittsburgh or Kansas City, so I have no idea how their faithful would have reacted to yesterday’s loss.

I will say that early on this morning, I was proud and pleased with the way folks were handling the crushing defeat to Pittsburgh on Sunday.  Most everyone “took it like a man” (even the ladies) and realized the truth of the matter – you score 9 points at home…you get in the red zone three times and kick three field goals…you let the other team go 92 yards on your turf in less than three minutes at the end of the game – you’re probaby going to lose 99 of 100 games that those three scenarios play out.  The Ravens were one of those 99 yesterday. 

But as the day wore on and the hangover wore off, I started getting more e-mails, more text messages and a quick scan of blog comments and Ravens-related message boards tonight put the knuckleheads on full display.  

“This game is why Rex has to go!” — You mean Rex Ryan should be FIRED over that loss to Pittsburgh?  Wow, OK… FIRED, huh?  

“Cameron’s teams always do this.  Check his history.” — By “do this”, do you mean go 9-5 and have a chance at the playoffs with 2 weeks to go while employing a rookie quarterback, a fullback posing as a tailback and no real deep threat at wide receiver?  

“Harbaugh has already lost 3 games this year when going into the 4th quarter with a lead.  Billick was 52-2 in his career in Baltimore when leading after three quarters.  Harbaugh can’t coach the game when it’s tight.” — This one made me laugh the most.  So now Harbaugh is directly responsible for his team winning the game or losing the game.  How did Harbaugh lose the game against the Titans?  By not being able to convince the refs that was a bogus call on Terrell Suggs?  When did Harbaugh fail to make a throw last night or drop a pass or slip on the 3rd and 10 throw to Nate Washington in the final two minutes?

Coaches coach.

Players play.

It’s the oldest adage in the book.

Do people realize that the other team tries just as hard?

I’m baffled at this air of divine invincibility some of our fans think the Ravens carry around.  As if we’re supposed to win because, well, just because.  

The other teams need and want to win, too.

Sometimes, 5 times this year, in fact, we don’t win.

But 9 times this year we have won.

And in those games, John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron and Rex Ryan were “good enough” on that occasion to guide the team to a win.

Would I have preferred to see the Ravens throw the ball more on Sunday vs. Pittsburgh?  Absolutely.  I think the team that eventually beats the Steelers this year when it matters most (in the post-season) will do so through the air.  But, and here’s a nod to Cam Cameron who actually does this coordinating stuff for a living, I’ll also acknowledge that turning Flacco loose with a reduced-power running game and no real long-ball threats wasn’t exactly a recipe for “airing it out”, especially when you had to figure that Pittsburgh defense probably wasn’t going to give up more than 14 to 17 points, max.  

But am I ready to FIRE Cam Cameron today?  Holy cow, no.

Did I think the Ravens went soft on the final drive when defending against Pittsburgh’s late heroics?  Yes. But, as I wrote last night after the game, I think Rex was dealing with some personnel issues.  Pryce was banged up, Suggs got dinged and was out for a series and Fabian Washington hurt his hamstring and turned over his role to Frank Walker.  I’m no D-Coordinator but I have to think Rex was squirming at the thought of Santonio Holmes lining up on a “go pattern” and having Walker there trying to hang with him in a dead sprint.  

Is Rex to blame for the loss?  Is it his fault our offense scored 9 points?  (I’ll take a wild guess here) No.

Harbaugh was on the ballot for Governor after beating the Redskins last week.

Cameron and Ryan were the 1-2 combo that had people thinking Super Bowl over the last 8 weeks.

They didn’t suddenly forget how to do their job on a mild December day against the Steelers.

Our best effort wasn’t quite enough yesterday.

It certainly wasn’t the team’s best performance — but it was their best effort.

And it fell a little short.

I can’t wait to see what happens if the Ravens beat the Cowboys on Saturday.

The love affair will blossom once again.