I heard many callers the last two weeks debate, philosophize and even argue about the Ravens offense. It’s not a hot topic; it’s a Nuclear Topic. Some want a return to smash mouth football of 2003. Some want the offense to come out in three and four wides, go no- huddle and fling it 50 times a game. The majority of the fans are just plain frustrated, as am I, with the lack of points and touchdowns that this unit has produced this year.
Head Coach Brian Billick and quarterbacks Steve McNair and Kyle Boller seem to have the most venom hurdled their way. But what is really wrong and how do they fix it?
Start with the true identity of the offense. All you have to do is listen to Coach Billick and you get this answered. The Ravens are not "Air Coryell" of the late 70s and 80s or the St. Louis Rams "Greatest Show on Turf" .
The Ravens are a ball control possession team. Time of possession, taking care of the ball, and keeping the defense in a good position are the gospel of Ravens’ football. Gunslingers like Tony Romo and Brett Favre would need not apply with this philosophy. Unlike the 2003 smash mouth team, the 2007 Ravens are much more of a true West Coast offensive, using a short passing game mixed with the run to control large chunks of time. Those five and seven yard passes are basically running plays. Substitute McNair for Trent Dilfer, Todd Heap for Shannon Sharpe and you got it.
That is the philosophy. As Drew Forrester would say, period, end of sentence, stop! So, is there any hope for Ravens Nation? How does the gang in purple get better and, more importantly, in the end zone with a greater frequency? Here are my suggestions.
Get Healthy: Some say that injuries are an excuse. Let’s face facts. The Ravens have lost players at the two most important positions on offense: Quarterback and left tackle (check the salary charts for these positions around the league). Plus add your starting center, two tight ends (very important in the West Coast scheme), and two of your top three wide receivers who have been banged up all year. I didn’t even mention B.J. Sams, your best best kick returner, who gets you vital field position. Do I need to go on? Not convinced? They used an offensive lineman off the practice squad at tight end.
Offensive Line Change: Factor this in as well, the Ravens have had four new starters on the offensive line from the start of the 2006 season. Only Mike Flynn is where he was last year. In a year or two these young lineman are going to be special. But right now they are establishing themselves, and they need to mesh with the returning players quickly.
Quarterback Play Must Get Better:. A mix of injury, inconsistent play and age have given the Ravens spotty play at quarterback. I wrote this in my first blog–for the Ravens to reach the promised land Steve McNair must be healthy and playing as well as he did in the second half last year. I am not moving off this stand. Boller is a good backup who is a tough kid; that’s it. Here’s hoping that father time hasn’t caught up with McNair and that he has something left in that right arm.
Stop Killing Yourselves: It’s hard enough to win in the NFL without helping the other team. The Ravens have to stop the penalties and fundamental mistakes that thwart drives inside the opponents half of the field.
Clayton & Williams Need To Become Legitimate Home Run Threats: Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams need to step up. Hopefully, the nagging injuries that bothered these two early in the season are gone. I know the other teams are playing cover two and not giving us the long ball. Once or twice a half, the Ravens need to throw caution to the wind and challenge the defense. I know it might put our defense at risk, but we can’t win with one touchdown and two field goals against the type of Super Bowl caliber teams we will face the second half. You can’t expect to consistently go on 14 or 15 play drives and expect to win. Big plays need to become a factor.
Touchdown Mentality: When this team crosses midfield they have to think seven and not three. We have a great defense but not an all-time defense like 2000. You can’t expect Matt Stover to kick five field goals each week. Especially this week with your two starting corners in street clothes.