Dead Horse: A Ravens-Seahawks review + It’s Family Truckster time!
I really wasn’t going to write about the Baltimore Ravens latest loss to a sub-.500 team.
After all, why should I take the time to write about a game the Ravens barely bothered to play?
But then again, I need some catharsis from this game so here’s my brief review, followed by some happier times during me and the fam’s weekend getaway to Nags Head in the Outer Banks.
---Yes, the offensive game plan was ridiculous and yes, David Reed was so bad he probably fumbled his plane ticket on the way back home (tip of the hat to Goob for that one). But I lay this loss at the feet of the defense. You have six minutes, all three timeouts and need a stop against a 2-6 team, you’re the No.1 defense in the league, you get a stop and get off the field. You say you’re the best defense? You get a three-and-out and give the ball back to your offense.
Sure, the offense and special teams put them in some bad positions with turnovers, and the D managed to hold Seattle to field goals. But this defense failed to create pressure, failed to get turnovers and failed to get off the field when they needed to. That this team lost to Tarvaris Jackson is embarrassing. You almost have to try to do that.
The dirty little secret about this game is that the defensive line got pushed around. Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Brandon McKinney were getting driven backwards four or five yards every time the Seahawks ran the ball. Ball So Hard University must have been on holiday because Terrell Suggs was AWOL. Jackson had plenty of time to dink and dunk the Ravens to death. The Ravens best linemen were situational rushers Pernell McPhee and Paul Kruger.
The linebackers also struggled, although part of that is due to the line getting pushed backwards. By the end of the game, Jameel McClain wanted no part of Seattle’s hard-running Marshawn Lynch. Lynch dragged McClain eight yards down the field on one play during the Seahawks game-clinching drive.
I know I’m about to risk getting hit by a thunderbolt, but this was also not the finest hour for God’s Linebacker. I’ve been watching Ray Lewis play for 16 years and I’ve never seen him look as bad as he did against the Seahawks. He got pancaked by fullbacks, he couldn’t get off blocks and Lynch made him and Jarret Johnson lose their jocks with a juke on Seattle’s last drive. Safe to say, this game isn’t going on Ray Lew’s Hall-of-Fame montage.
As for the secondary, even in the best of times this group is only as good as the pass rush, and since the pass rush wasn’t good…
My only question is, has anybody thought of finding Jimmy Smith a role? The team only did invest a first-round pick in the guy.
It’s frustrating because the Seahawks didn’t really test the Ravens down the field. Seattle’s game plan was pretty basic, pretty vanilla. But the Seattle offensive line simply imposed its will on the Ravens who wilted at the end.
---What else can be said about David Reed’s day from hell? Two fumbled kickoffs and a 15-yard personal foul penalty before being benched. I won’t pile on the guy further. I’m sure he feels like crawling into a hole in the ground. The bad news for the team is, it’s Week 10 and the Ravens still don’t have a reliable kick returner. Can we put in a call to B.J. Sams or Jermaine Lewis?
---The best word I can use to describe Cam Cameron’s offensive game plan in this game is: curious.
With his frightening new beard, Cameron channeled the spirit of Portland St. coaching legend Mouse Davis and called for throwing the ball like it was going out of style. Joe Flacco threw 52 passes in this game.
The downside of course is that Cameron completely ignored Ray Rice and the running game. Rice only carried the ball eight times. By the 3rd quarter you started wondering if Rice had even made the trip. Like the rest of this game, the only word you can use to sum that up is: unacceptable.
So far this year, the Ravens have shown three offensive identities: power running, West Coast short passing and the spread. Cameron has to pick something and go with it. At Week 10, it’s a little late to figure out an identity. Cameron’s game plan was more like a West Coast offense with lots of short passes. The Ravens need to scrap that stuff. The team is at its best using a hybrid of the spread and power running.
While Cameron once again takes the heat from the media and the blogosphere, I agree with the Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg on one point: John Harbaugh needs to take ownership of this offense. After all, as Van Valkenberg pointed out, Cameron wouldn’t have come out with that game plan in Seattle without Harbaugh’s approval. Harbaugh was the guy who not only didn’t fire Cameron after the playoff debacle in Pittsburgh last January, but fired Jim Zorn and promoted Cameron to quarterbacks coach, in addition to being the offensive coordinator.
You also wonder about Harbaugh’s ability to have this team ready to play. Sure, the Ravens can get up to play the Steelers, or play Rex Ryan’s Jets. But where was the same urgency against Seattle? Against Jacksonville?
Harbs got a lot of attention for his Teddy Roosevelt-quoting press conference after the win in Pittsburgh. But I guarantee you, Teddy and the Rough Riders wouldn’t have lost to a team as sorry as the Seahawks.
---After the game, a few players took to Twitter for damage control, led foremost by Ed Reed and then followed by Torrey Smith, Bryant McKinnie and Art Jones. Reed, not a very frequent Tweeter, urged the fans to take it easy; nobody felt as bad about this loss as the players.
From his perspective, he’s right. As players, these guys knew they lost a game to a team they should have beat.
But as a fan, it almost makes you mad to hear that perspective because we, meaning the fans, could see the potential pitfalls in this game: West Coast trip after a big win over the Steelers against a 2-win team. The Ravens had already twice fallen into the trap this season: against Tennessee and Jacksonville. They used their mulligan for the year against the Titans. The Jacksonville loss, while bad, could at least be excused by the fact that the Jags had a good defense.
After those two experiences, you’d think this team, a group talented enough to win the Super Bowl, would have their act together and bring the same effort against Seattle that they bring against Pittsburgh.
But these guys lack focus and seem to read their own press clippings after big wins. How else to explain losing to bad teams consistently like this? Once is an accident, twice is luck and three times is a trend. This Ravens team should be 8-1, but they lack a certain instinct for beating bad teams badly and it’s cost them. The only good news is if they manage to make the playoffs, there won’t be any sub-.500 teams for the Ravens to lose to.
Load up the Family Truckster
So I decided to take myself, the wife and the baby on a little mini-vacation this weekend to the Outer Banks.
It was a nice trip, great weather and we got to see some interesting things, specifically the Wright Brothers memorial site and Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island, site of the fabled “Lost Colony.” I’ve attached some pictures in case you didn’t feel like reading my rant on the Ravens. The Wright Brothers stuff was particularly interesting. It's really an amazing story.
The only real blemish on the trip was watching the game at a place called Lucky 12. The place itself was fine, and their pulled pork pizza was slamming, but unfortunately, there was a Bears fan there who literally screeched her lungs out every time the Bears did something good, which was often. Needless to say, it freaked out my four-month old and Rachel had to take him back to the hotel. It was sensory overload. The only upside is because of that lady, maybe he will dislike the Bears as much as I do.
Other than that though, it was a fun trip that we hope to do again sometime.