Show that passion, but stay grounded in your thoughts.

October 14, 2009 | Keith Melchior

It’s been going on since 1996 when the Ravens played their first ever game in Baltimore. Many folks didn’t take to the new NFL team because they used to be the Cleveland Browns and were moved to Baltimore almost under the same circumstances the Colts relocated to Indianapolis. A good majority of fans still hate the fact the Colts moved to Indianapolis and there are many references of Peyton Manning breaking franchise passing records of one John Unitas.

People show their passion for teams in different ways. Wearing a team jersey or sporting the team colors on game day is probably the most popular way. Touting the flags, cammies, hats, and memorabilia are others. We all want our team to win so we can brag to fans of other teams that we do not like (see Steelers, Colts, and Redskins) Some share their passion by calling sports talk shows and writing blogs about the team. Monday mornings have come alive again around the water cooler and Purple Friday is almost like a holiday.

Before the season began, the major worries were focused on the wide receiving corps and the kicking battle between Gano and Hauschka. The cries, “we need Brandon Marshall, Marvin Harrison, or Anquan Boldin” could be heard on numerous radio stations. After Hauschka missed 2 preseason Fg attempts, people were screaming for Matt Stover to be re-signed because the Ravens really need a kicker who will win games with that high pressure FG, like Stover did many times during his 13 years here in Baltimore.

The Ravens started the season 3-0 and the passion was flowing like the Mississippi River as people were predicting Super Bowl and MVP for Flacco, McGahee, Rice and Mason. No talk about kickers or receivers was heard. Instead there were shots at the once heralded defense and what was wrong for them to give up 24 points against lowly Kansas City and get torched by Phillip Rivers in San Diego for almost 500 total yards. The offense was performing at a high level, averaging about 34 points per gameand  the Ravens were 2 games ahead of the 1-2 Steelers and found themselves at #1 in the “fantasy”  NFL power rankings.

Now that they have lost their last two games that passion is still flowing, but in the opposite direction. People expressed their feelings about the team by writing blogs and calling sports talk shows for the last two weeks. After the New England loss, people were calling for Mark Clayton’s head on a platter for dropping that 4th down pass at the 9 yard line. People were also quick to blame the referees for that loss.

Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals brought out more of that passion. This week, not one, but both coordinators, Cam Cameron and Greg Mattison have come under fire. Cameron’s “questionable” game plan featured Todd Heap, Ray Rice and LeRon McClain, but not Willis McGahee or Derrick Mason. Mattison’s game plan didn’t seem to work either, as witnessed by Carson Palmer driving the Bengals 80 yards for the winning score in less than 2 minutes.

When things aren’t going right in the fan’s eyes, the first thing they want to do is point the fingers at who is to blame for a loss. Last week at New England, those fingers were pointed at Domonique Foxworth for botching the Randy Moss TD catch. Those fingers, and we know which one, were also pointed at the officials for some highly questionable roughing calls on Tom Brady. Bottom line was, the Ravens had opportunities. No one is pointing at the defense for missing tackles and at Joe Flacco for throwing an interception in the red zone near the end of the first half.  Sunday, the fingers were out in full force after that Cincinnati scoring drive. The referees did it again, Mattison’s defensive schemes aren’t working, Cam’s offense sputtered and was too conservative.   

Show your passion but don’t go overboard. The referees or the NFL is not against Baltimore. Cam Cameron and Greg Mattison aren’t getting fired.  They put their sides of the ball in position to execute plays and the players failed them. Before making such ridiculous accusations and statements, look at the big picture and think about it for a minute.

Offensively, the Ravens have missed their last 3 opportunities in the red zone. Two red zone opportunities were botched in new England. Flacco’s intercepted pass late in the first half was caused by a mix up in the pass route and Clayton’s drop hurt what could have been a possible game winning TD drive. On Sunday, Flacco threw a pass toward a double teamed Todd Heap that turned into an interception and killed a long drive. A score there may would have put the Ravens up by 7 points after the missed Shayne Graham FG. With the course of events that followed, the Ed Reed pick-6 would have made the score 14-0 and the Ravens wouldn’t have even been on their heels in the remaining 2 minutes with the game on the line. Defensively, against New England, the Ravens held the Patriots to 2 field goals when they were backed up against the end zone. They were dominated by the Bengal offense, but had only surrendered 10 points in 58 minutes. Missed tackles and costly penalties loomed large in both losses.

The last 2 losses were a total team effort. Both sides of the ball made costly mistakes with their execution or failure to make plays that were necessary to cement victories in both games. Like John Harbaugh said in his press conference, the Ravens were maybe 2 or 3 plays away from being a 5-0 team and maybe 2 or 3 plays away from being 1-4 and tied with the Browns for last place.

Don’t jump off the bandwagon and or sell your purple gear yet, but continue to show your passion and stay focused on what is really happening out there on the field.