Friday Evening Quarterback

October 23, 2009 | Keith Melchior

It was rather interesting listening to some of the talk shows this week. People called for Mattison to be fired. People called for Matt Stover. People called for Chris McAlister to return. People called out Ozzie Newsome for putting together a weak secondary. People were offering different ways the defense needed to be fixed, including more complex blitz packages, more pressure from front 7, different techniques, and benching certain players who were struggling through the first 6 games.  Funny how the Ravens win their first 3 games and they are the greatest team ever, now with 3 straight losses everyone is ready to jump off the Key Bridge. Ahhfans, gotta love ’em even though sometimes it’s hard to understand where their logic comes from.

Break it down.  Game 1 versus Kansas City…..The defense gives up 10 of the 24 total points, a long FG at the end of the 1st half and the long 50 yard completion to set up another score in the 2nd half.  Game 2 in San Diego… Philip Rivers throws and Darren Sproles runs to almost 500 total yards, but the defense holds the Chargers to 2 TDs and 4 FGs and the late Hauschka Fg forces San Diego to go for the TD on the last drive, which ends with Ray Lewis stopping Sproles on 4thdown.  Game 3 versus Cleveland…. Defense was stellar andallowed 3 points.   Game 4 in New England….. Questionable roughing the passer and illegal contact penalties keep drives alive , Joe Flacco throws an interception late in the 1st half to kill a drive, and Mark Clayton drops a 4th down pass on the 9 yard line to end a furious Ravens comeback drive.   Game 5 versus Cincinnati….. The offense gets conservative and only accounts for 3 points, Joe Flacco throws a red zone interception to kill a drive, Derrick Mason doesn’t catch a pass, Ed Reed intercepts a Carson Palmer pass and scores, but the defense allows Cedric Benson over 100 yards rushing and Carson Palmer drives the Bengals 80 yards to the winning TD in less than 2 minutes aided by 2 pass interference penalties and a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty against Ray Lewis.. The defense gives up 10 points in 58 minutes and the offense sleepwalks to a 2nd consecutive loss.  Game 6 at Minnesota…… Brett Favre engineers 2 quick scoring drives in the 1st quarter, the offense musters 3 points at half time, Adrian Peterson runs for over 100 yards, Dawan Landry watches a TD pass to a wide open Shiancoe, and a furious rally saw the Ravens go ahead 31-30 but Steve Hauschka misses a 44 yard game winning FG and the Ravens are in a 3 game losing streak.

This season andthe 3-3 record have been a total team effort. They find themselves only 1 game out off the division lead and will definitely be interested in the outcomes of Vikings/Steelers and Bears/Bengals on Sunday.  The Ravens 3 game losing streak is defined by Coach John Harbaugh as, “it came down to 3 or 4 plays.”   I’m ok with that explanation, as long as it doesn’t fester into 5 plays, 6 plays, 7 plays over the coming weeks.

The Ravens’ streak of not allowing a 100 yard rusher ended against the Bengals two weeks ago. Now, a new streak has started. The Ravens have allowed a 100 yard rusher in 2 straight games for the first time since before the Super Bowl victory.  That streak may well come to an end. I don’t see either Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter or Lamont Jordan busting out for over 100 yards when the Broncos come to town on November 1st.

How would you like to be a Jets fan right about now?  They are also in the midst of a 3 game losing streak. You think people in the big apple are calling for Eric Mangini again? Is Rex Ryan on the hot seat? Was the “Dirty” Sanchez selection the right one for them?  He is suffering from sophomore jinx already and he’s only played 6 games. The way they lost to Buffalo in overtime Sunday shows me they aren’t as good as they think they are. Jay Feely missed a “makeable” FG that would have put them ahead by 10 at halftime. The Jets are 1-2 in the division and could be looking up at Miami andNew England for the rest of the season unless they can get untracked. Edwards was supposed to help the passing game, but nothing helps when your QB throws to the guys wearing the wrong colored jerseys. Where’s Jim Leonard been all season?  What’s Bart Scott got to say now?

The Saints beat-down of the Giants was rather impressive. Drew Brees has really silenced his critics with his performance the last 2 seasons. Goes to show the number 1 defense in the NFC has it’s flaws too.

Rags to riches story – Denver Broncos 6-0 after that defensive collapse last season. Hope they paid Mike Nolan a lot of money to stay there as defensive coordinator because he will definitely get some looks by other teams with that turnaround.

Riches to rags story – Tennessee Titans now 0-6 after the 59-0 Foxboro Fiasco. Was losing Albert Haynesworth that devastating?  Was last year a fluke?  They have talent but can’t seem to get untracked. With the Colts at 5-0 and Houston on the rise, the Titans find themselves looking at a #1 overall draft pick. Vince Young has turned out to be a bust at QB and his days in Tennessee are probably numbered. An aging Kerry Collins isn’t the answer either. If he bounces back from injury, could the Titans be looking at Tim Tebow come April?

I thought for certain Brett Favre was going to get Brad Childress fired in Minnesota.  Turns out, if the Vikings are for real, andwe’ll find out Sunday when they travel to Pittsburgh, Childress could be coach of the year for making the move to get Favre.  Love him or hate him, Favre seems to be getting the job done. Is it luck? I don’t know, but whatever it is, has them at 6-0 and one of 4 unbeaten teams right now.

Other unbeatens…..Colts 5-0 They are taking advantage of the Titans flop and the Jaguars inconsistency and will easily win the division.  Saints 6-0  They will go as far as Drew Brees takes them. The week he couldn’t get the passing game going they won with the run. They play pretty good defense too. Sunday Brees threw the ball well against the Giants. They keep that pass/run mix going, they are going to be hard to beat this season.  Denver 6-0  There is no competition in the AFC west now that they dispatched the Chargers for a 3 game lead.

With the Ravens bye week upon us, here are my choices for coaches on the hot seat;

Norv Turner – San Diego… The cast of LT, Sproles, Merriman, Rivers, Gates, Jammer should equal wins. The Chargers have looked good in spurts at times but they are just flat out  a bad football team. Maybe it WASN’T  Marty Schottenheimer’s fault after all.

Andy Reid – Philadelphia ..Coming off a bye week andscoring only 9 points against Oakland? (oh, David Akers missed 2 “makeable” FGs too) They are lucky for 2 things.. A) the Giants lost too andB) they get the Redskins this weekend

Jim Zorn – Washington.. Take away the first game of the season and the Redskins played 5 straight winless teams and barely beat two of them. They are 2-4 and pretty much finished in the NFC East. The only thing that kept them from sinking any further into the cellar was the Dallas bye and the Giants and Eagles both losing on the road. Now, Zorn is letting Sherm Lewis call the offensive plays WITHOUT Jason Campbell at QB.  If Jeff Fisher resigns at Tennessee, look for Danny Snyder to get him into DC. THAT would be a smart move.

Jack Del Rio – Jacksonville…. I’d have fired him Monday after seeing the 27-3 egg Seattle laid at home against Arizona on Sunday, a week after the Jags get lit up by the Seahawks 41-0.  They were lucky to beat St Louis after choking up the lead on Sunday. At this point in time, n0thing is working for the Jaguars.  They can’t even give tickets away to sell out home games anymore (sound like a local franchise we all know and love?) For those fans calling for Greg Mattison’s head around Ravenstown, maybe Del Rio would come in as the new defensive coordinator in 2010..Well, then again, the Jags can’t seem to play any defense, so maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea.

Lovie Smith……Chicago….. He has a good running back in Matt Forte but somehow Forte can’t get it going like he did last season. They cannot afford to sink any deeper in the NFC North and may not even come close to a playoff run, especially with the Vikes unbeaten and the Packers on the rise. The Bears have to start finding ways to win football games and in a hurry. Looking at how Kyle Orton is performing in Denver, you think the Bears  front office could be  thinking that maybe Jay Cutler isn’t an upgrade at QB?

Speaking of Jeff Fisher, I don’t think he is on the hot seat, but he is the longest tenured coach in the NFL at this point. He just suffered the worst beating in Titan franchise history 59-0 to the Patriots. Brady tossed 5 TD passes in the 2nd quarter. Belichek ran up the score for sure and was rather obvious doing it. The Titans looked like they quit just before halftime and Billyboyfurther justified the reason other teams in the NFL hate him by bringing Brady back on the field in the second half and letting him throw the ball again.  That display won’t get Fisher fired because they love him in Nashville, but maybe it’s time for him to move on.

The Ravens/Minnesota game was not originally billed as the marquee matchup in the NFL last week. That honor went to the battle of the undefeated Saints and Giants. Things changed quickly after New Orleans got up on the G-men early and didn’t let up. The marquee matchup this weekend pits the Vikings taking on the Steelers at Heinz Field. I am curious to see how that will turn out and I would sure like to see a team that wears purple go in there and knock the Steelers around a little bit and come away with a win.  Will AP run for over 100 yards or will Dick LeBeau game plan to stop Peterson and force Favre to throw the ball, knowing he has a healthy Troy Polomalu back out on the field?