Offensive Defense

October 31, 2009 |

The Ravens have lost 3 straight games while providing a demonstration to the rest of the league of how NOT to play defense.  The secondary has been porous and the same front 7 that was once considered an immoveable object has been gashed twice in the past 3 games with 100+ yard performances by Cedric Benson and Adrian Peterson. 


Defense has been the staple of Baltimore’s franchise for the past decade, where has it gone?


You could easily make the argument that if the defense was even respectable over the span of the past 3 games the Ravens would be 6-0 entering a heavyweight week 7 matchup with the the 6-0 Broncos.  If only we could play defense. . .


Teams have been taking turns moving up and down the field and abusing the Ravens in a fashion similar to the treatment Jasmine St. Claire received when she broke the world gang bang record in 1996 (oddly the same year that the Baltimore franchise was born).  There were balls flying everywhere.  Jasmine had to be iced down following that performance, so does Kelly Gregg each week after the game. 


The personnel is the same as last year when the Ravens had a defense that unleashed hell on opposing offenses weekly.  I won’t be convinced that Bart Scott and Jim Leonard are the difference.  Bart Scott is a player that was undrafted out of Southern Illinois that learned to play fast and ferocious with an attitude next to Ray Lewis.  Bart is a good player, but his subtraction doesn’t justify the drop from excellence to mediocrity.  Leonard looks like a guy that drives a milk truck, not like a professional football player.  He has one interception so far this year for the Jets.  I doubt that one pick would add much to this gaping mess called the 2009 Raven defense.


Did the defense age 5 years over the past 9 months?  They look slow and the aggressive attitude is gone.  Is it a coincidence that the defensive play now mirrors the attitude and appearance of the new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison?  Mattison has 37 years of coaching experience, but NO experience coaching in the NFL until last season. 


Plain and simple. . . I’m not sure the man is qualified. 


His schemes and philosophies are boring and predictable.  Mattison was a great college coordinator at Notre Dame and Florida, but any gym teacher could line the athletes up that play for Notre Dame and Florida and watch them destroy opposing offenses.  No trickery required, the athletes the play for those schools are the best of the best.  In the NFL, no coordinator is afforded the luxury of super athletes against glorified high school athletes.


Rex Ryan is a defensive genius.  He has the pedigree and years of training at the NFL level, nobody knows the Baltimore defensive players better than Rex.  His schemes utilized the abilities of each player to the maximum.  His creative and brash style of defense confused and abused offenses.  His defenses controlled the game and made game changing plays when challenged.


Rex moved to New York, and so did his defense.  The New York defense this is now a familiar scene – organized chaos.


Mattison’s defenses lack flavor.  The swagger of the once proud Baltimore defense has disappeared; hopefully its disappearance is only temporary. 


The top defenses in the NFL are developed and operated by great coaches.  Dick LeBeau, the Pittsburgh defensive coordinator is a legend.  Jim Johnson, also a legend in the NFL ranks coached the Philly defense until he recently passed away.  Leslie Frazier runs the dominant Minnesota defense.  Mike Nolan is now the signal caller of the league’s top defense in Denver.


Each of these coaches has NFL pedigree and years of experience coaching and learning their craft at the top level.  Isn’t the pattern here evident?  Greg Mattison – one year of NFL experience.  Greg Mattison is not qualified to be a coordinator in the NFL.  The college game is a completely different animal that allowed him to rely on the lopsided physical abilities of his big school recruits.


Baltimore’s defensive players have plenty of athletic ability.  The front 7 is made up of pro bowlers and hall of famers.  The defensive backs are beating themselves with horrible technique and missed / poorly developed assignments.  If our corners were flat out getting beat every play, they wouldn’t be right there at the end to make contact and draw the penalties that have consistently extended drives over the past few games.  They are using poor ball technique – mental errors – possibly caused by poor coaching?


Pressure on opposing quarterbacks has been non-existent to this point.  The blitzing schemes are too plain.  Terrell Suggs has 2 ½ sacks.  Quarterbacks are being given too much time to survey the field and find receivers.  The pre-snap movement that was so characteristic of a Rex Ryan defense is no longer there.  Defenders are not getting running starts at the quarterback, and offensive linemen are not getting confused.  More sacks occur in the NFL as a result of stunts and trickery than 1 on 1 abuse of a 300+ pound super athletic offensive linemen.  Maybe Rex could provide some consulting on the side? 


Mattison desperately needs help.


It’s time for Harbaugh to step in and correct the situation that never should have been.  Greg Mattison is in over his head and the defense is drowning.


The Ravens are 3-3 and probably have to win 7 out of their last 10 games to make the playoffs.  The remaining schedule includes difficult match-ups against the potent offenses of Indianapolis, Green Bay, Cincinatti and Pittsburgh – TWICE.


As a fan I think we still have a good chance, but a glance after removal of the “fan hat” reveals a grim situation.  Cam Cameron’s offense can put up 30 points a week, but if Mattison’s defense surrenders 40, the Ravens will be watching the playoffs at home this year. 


It’s plain and simple. . . Greg Mattison is not qualified.