Failing Grades at 1 Winning Drive

December 24, 2007 | Ed Frankovic

I was going to write a blog tonight about the problems many teams in the league have at QB but that blog will have to wait another day because I just watched the Washington Redskins pound the Minnesota Vikings on NBC tonight and put themselves within one win of making the playoffs.

This 2007 Washington Redskins team is the same one that saw their former All-Pro starting right tackle, Jon Jansen, go out for the season in the very first game and their former All-Pro starting right guard, Randy Thomas, go down for the season after three games. The Skins have also had to deal with a serious knee injury and then an untimely death to All-Pro safety Sean Taylor not to mention a season ending injury to CB Carlos Rogers after seven games. They’ve also sustained injuries to CB’s Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot. The Redskins are also probably going to make the playoffs playing most of the season with a young QB in only his second year (Jason Campbell), who when I’ve watched him play, doesn’t appear to be much better than Kyle Boller as far as decision making is concerned. (Note: Had Todd Collins QB’d the Skins all year they likely would have won at least 2 more games).

Where am I going with all of this? Well, how come the Redskins organization was able to overcome these devastating injuries, and I’m mostly talking about the offensive side of the ball, and the Ravens organization was unable to do so? Granted the Skins play in the much weaker NFC but given their offensive line injury situation it amazed me that their coaching staff and organization (signing G Pete Kendall was a great move for Washington) adjusted to keep the team afloat while the Ravens organization did not.

Back in September I wrote that the most important job on the coaching staff likely belonged to Ravens offensive line coach Chris Foerster given that the Ravens had an injured Jonathan Ogden, Mike Flynn, and six other offensive lineman with two or less years of experience. So here we are after week 16 and the offensive line, outside of three good quarters against the Patriots, has been HORRIBLE. I mean, how can we even evaluate the QB play when on many of the snaps it seems the QB is running for his life whether it has been Steve McNair, Kyle Boller, or Troy Smith?

If you go down the Redskins and Ravens offensive rosters and even factor in the injury situations (the Ravens lost Todd Heap but the Skins had injuries to their receivers to go with the o-line problems) you cannot tell me that the Skins had better personnel than the Ravens this year. However, the Redskins offense continues to improve and is finding ways to score points and win games while the Ravens offense doesn’t even look like it belongs in the NFL. How can this be?

I watch several NFL games a week and the Ravens offensive line continually is the worst one I see (outside of the game back in September where the Giants put up 12 sacks against the Eagles). Foerster, Wade Harman, Greg Roman, Brian Billick, Rick Neuheisel, and any other coach involved with the Ravens offensive line this year should get an F for their work. Chris Chester and Adam Terry have regressed (granted Terry got hurt in SF) and Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs, who showed early promise, have really struggled the last several games. Why is that? Ozzie Newsome needs to seriously examine this situation and see if Brian Billick has the right guys grooming these young offensive lineman for the future because if the coaches don’t get that part of this team right then we will have MANY 4-12 seasons going forward and the Ravens likely will never properly develop any QB they put on the field.

As for the defensive side of the ball, Rex Ryan gets a pass because the team has been pretty much devastated with injuries in key positions, especially at CB. However, Ozzie Newsome and anyone else involved in the personnel decisions on the defensive side of the ball deserve some heat because after McAlister and Rolle went down this team did not have another NFL corner and that alone single handily put this team way behind the eight ball each week. How come Ronnie Prude and David Pittman have not developed properly? Prude showed promise last year but this year he has been non-existent. Pittman was an absolute disaster against Indy. Newsome, Billick, Ryan, Dennis Thurman, and Mark Carrier need to figure the secondary out quickly because teams have picked the Ravens apart all year throwing the ball.

We all know Brian Billick will likely keep his job because of his past track record, the injury situation, and his big contract, however, Brian needs to seriously open his mind and find the right staff to get this thing turned around for next year because if he doesn’t than Steve Bisciotti will likely have no problem moving on at that point. To be candid, Brian needs to find coaches with a new philosophy on offense and let them call the shots. He cannot surround himself with “Yes” men on the offensive coaching staff who fear going against Brian’s past offensive philosophies. I like Brian Billick, he is a winner, a good head coach, a good front man for the organization, and a great motivator. He needs to get back to focusing on that aspect of the job and bring in some fresh faces to handle the offensive side of the ball and let them do their job. Clearly handling both roles has hurt the team this year so things must began to change starting the minute the season ends next Sunday. His job and the Ravens future depend on it.