Dear fellow Ravens fans…..it’s time! It’s time that Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti steps in once again, and saves coach John Harbaugh from himself. Harbaugh is a better man than he is coach – and he is a good coach – but his blind loyalty to his former assistants can once again potentially cost the organization plenty.
Clearly Marty Morhinweg is not the answer. He and Juan Castillo – who by the way really wants to be the offensive coordinator – have turned bazooka arm Joe Flacco into Dink and Dunk Joe Flacco, with the later version nowhere near effective as the one that thrived under a real system like the one that Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison brought to Charm City a couple of years ago.
And before we start blaming Smoking Joe Flacco – I will later in this column – you can bet that after yesterday’s Broncos’ home loss to the Patriots, Kubiak would give up his eye teeth to have Joe Flacco under center in Denver.
Make no mistake about it that this Ravens team can beat Pittsburgh this Sunday as well as the Bengals the week after. It’s not probable but it can happen. Pittsburgh’s defense is hot garbage and they didn’t score a touchdown until late in the game against the Bengals, while getting 6 field goals from their kicker. The Ravens match up well with them so they do have a chance. Remember this is the same Steelers team that lost to the Eagles by 4 touchdowns several weeks ago.
If they do beat the Steelers hopefully they can catch a down and out Bengals team the following week. Don’t know if they’ll show up with an appetite to play the spoiler role in the Ravens’ playoff plans, or if they’ll have their bags packed by halftime and looking forward to some exotic destinations to play golf in.
We can all universally agree what a bonehead call it was to throw the ball with 6 minutes left in the game, with a first down in the red zone, while holding a 10 point lead. Every Madden playing teenager in America would have ran the ball in that situation. You run it 3 times, take some time off of the clock, have Mr. Automatic Rock Star Opera Singer Justin Tucker knock it through the uprights, and take a 13 point lead with 4 minutes or so left in the game.
But nooooooo!!! Broadway Joe Flacco was elated when the pass play came in. Thought it would be great to get a shot at throwing a third touchdown pass. It never crossed his mind that he should have called an audible, and handed the ball off. I believe that if it was a Tom Brady or an Aaron Rodgers, they would have stared at their sideline in disbelief. I am sure that their dominant thought would have been “Hey coach, did you bump your head?”
For his part John Harbaugh took the heat for not overruling the call. At some point he needs to stop being a spectator and perhaps more engaged in the calls that his coordinators are making. He also needs to once and for all understand that his quarterback does his best work off of play action, where he can set his feet and launch the ball downfield with that big arm of his.
He is not a dink and dunk QB, he is not a West Coast offense QB. He is not a fantasy football QB. He gets his yards in chunks, and does best in a chunk offense that is built around the running game. Run the ball effectively, the safeties and corners come up close to the line of scrimmage, and that’s what makes the play action effective. It was the formula that Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison used here a couple of years ago.
I don’t think the current coordinators on the Ravens (Mornhinweg and Castillo) can install such an offense. I think it will take someone of Norv Turner’s ilk to turn this thing around, and it’s not turning around until that happens in the off-season. Yes the Ravens can make it to the playoffs, but their limitations – particularly on the offensive side of the ball – are way too numerous for them to advance deep in to the playoffs and make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.
I wrote before the Eagles game started that the Ravens needed to run the ball 30+ times in order to give themselves a chance to win. They ran the ball 23 times for 151 yards. They were well on their way despite the defense taking the day off, while being a mere speed bump for the Eagles’ run offense. It was amazing to see the Eagles’ offensive line – with two back up guards – absolutely dominate the Ravens’ front seven.
All the Ravens had to do was run the ball 3 more times, and they would have essentially iced the game. Who knows? Perhaps they would have even scored since they were averaging better than 7 yards a pop on the ground.
Lets fast forward to the NFL draft, which will be held this April (27-29) in the city of Brotherly Love. Unless they are able to land a top notch offensive coordinator (like Turner) in the off-season, we are going to continue to see more of the same lame offensive performances that we’ve seen from Joe Flacco and company the last two seasons.
The only hope this team has at winning the division and a run at the Lombardi Trophy would be to continue to stack the defense. With their first three picks they should take a free safety, a shut-down corner, and a rush end. Take the best player available at these 3 positions in no particular order when it’s their turn to pick.
They are going to need a defense that mirrored last year’s Broncos in talent, and hope that the offense does enough here and there to get them to the playoffs. Once they get in, with a shut down defense anything can happen.
The salary cap grows next year and they may be able to retain the services of Brandon Williams, although rookie phenom Michael Pierce can probably fill the void quite well. They could also save some money by cutting Elvis Dumervil and Lardarius Webb. With CJ Mosley, Tim Jernigan, Zach Orr, Eric Weddle, Tavon Young, Jimmy Smith (when he’s healthy) they have enough of a solid nucleus that if they can add 3 – 4 playmakers they can really make some noise, and play like the #1 defense in the NFL week in and week out.