BOLDIN AND SMITH
I watched those two run routes in the 3rd and 4th quarter and it was mostly a jog for both. I’ve been a huge Anquan Boldin fan in his time here, but Sunday was a shocking display of lack of effort from him when the game was out-of-hand. He did try really hard on that silly personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter, where he finally sprinted about ten yards to shove a Denver player from behind for no reason at all. That he wasn’t immediately benched after that penalty shows, again, a lack of thinking from John Harbaugh. He should remember that a stupid penalty like that cost him a chance to go to the Super Bowl back in 2009 when one of his players showed an alarming lack of discipline by hitting a player out of bounds in the final minutes of the AFC title game. Boldin’s been very good for this club, but he’s not above being disciplined when the need calls for it and yesterday would have sent a message that EVERYONE on the club has to think and play smart – no matter what the score – or they can sit and watch.
Smith, who clearly has been struggling over the last six weeks, meandered around in the second and third quarters like the student-manager would if the college coach asked him to run a few patterns while the #1 receiver went to take a leak during practice. When Tandon Doss is the wide receiver putting forth the most effort and running the crisp routes, you’re in trouble. And that’s with no disrespect intended to Doss, who stepped up yesterday and looked useful as a slot receiver. I don’t know what’s been going on with Torrey Smith, but on Sunday vs. Denver, he rarely ran a route to its completion and on most occasions he jogged through it until the play around him was finished.
His effort on the last two plays of the game was indicative of give-up, plain and simple. Maybe he was shocked that Jim Caldwell sent in two passing plays with the game over. Perhaps he was fatigued – insert your Bryant McKinnie comment here – and just didn’t have any gas left in the tank. Some would say that Oher’s just not that good and he’s a liability on every play that calls for pass protection. Whatever it was, he offered no resistance against his opponent on those last two throws and Flacco could have paid for it dearly.
Dodging the media after a loss is never cool. I don’t care who it is. I never have. On occasions back in the mid 2000′s when Ray Lewis had a propensity for ducking out after home losses, I called him out. To Ray’s credit, he’s been MUCH better with that kind of stuff in the Harbaugh era. But Terrell Suggs waving the media off yesterday was bush-league. Period. You’re the guy making the most money on the team and you played in the game. Not speaking to the press afterwards is unacceptable. As the teacher said to Emilio Estevez in The Breakfast Club, “I expected more from a varsity letterman”.
The throw at the end of the first half was terrible. That Joe, five years in, didn’t call a time-out there and “run his own show” might tell you something about him in the same way it tells you something about the head coach. To Flacco’s credit, he faced the media after the game and answered every question thrown at him, unlike others in the locker room. But on the field, he’s costing himself money with every loss, every overthrow and every turnover. My take on Flacco is simple: He’s pressing. Big time. He hasn’t suddenly lost his ability to quarterback in the NFL. But – as the saying goes in golf – it’s “paralysis by analysis” with athletes. The more you think about it, the more you get in your own way. Flacco, right now, can’t get out of his own way. Is it his contract situation? Sure, I’d assume that has something to do with it. I wrote that last week when I gave Ozzie a few slaps for letting him play the season as a “lame duck”. He’s pressing for a bunch of reasons, but there’s no doubt that his inconsistent play has really staggered the Ravens over the last three weeks.
In summary, losing 34-17 to a really good Broncos team isn’t “unacceptable”.
Not thinking, not trying, not playing with discipline, however, simply can’t be accepted, no matter if you’re 9-5, clinched a playoff spot, etc.
Sunday was a rarity in Baltimore, but if I didn’t point out those mistakes, I wouldn’t be doing my job.
Unlike some of the Ravens, I’m still trying despite the outcome.