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Harbaugh Addresses Play-Calling; Felt “Good”About Third-Down Calls

There’s Ray Rice. I knew he played yesterday.

After getting twenty four hours to digest just how the Baltimore Ravens squandered a 10-point Halftime lead to lose their first game of the season 24-23 to the Philadelphia Eagles, most media and fans put the blame on Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron.

The Ravens had six third- and fourth-down opportunities with less than two yards to go Sunday.

They threw every time and didn’t get a single first down.

On the day overall, the Ravens were just 4-for-14 (29 percent) on third down.

But after watching the film, Head Coach John Harbaugh didn’t fault the play calling in those situations. In fact, he liked that the Ravens kept taking shots.

“It’s not a league of perfection; it’s a fight,” Harbaugh said.

“We expect to be really good on third down; we’ve got the players to do it, coaches to do it, and I’m confident we’re going to be really good at it this year.”

Harbaugh said the combination of Eagles defensive pressure up front and Ravens receivers’ lack of separation – which was impacted by the amount of unflagged contact– mainly led to the Ravens not converting more on third down.

“We had some options in there to throw or run, a lot of it was called passes, all things we have a lot of confidence in,” Harbaugh said. “I feel good about that, and I think we’re going to make [the] most of those, but we didn’t. I’m disappointed by the fact that we didn’t convert those.”

Harbaugh doesn’t want to back off the Ravens’ aggressive offensive approach, however. He indicated that in order for the offense to keep growing, the team must have confidence to let them take shots.

Personally I still don’t totally buy it. I do understand what Harbaugh is saying to a degree and that is if you want Joe Flacco to start winning games you have to stick with him and let him take his shots. In the meantime you may lose a few along the way by being more aggressive.

Still after having some time to cool off today about yesterday’s loss I’m even more convinced that Cam Cameron had a lot to do with why Flacco was not as successful yesterday.

The No-Huddle worked fairly well early in the game and the Ravens established a 17-7 lead at Halftime. However, I did not recognize a single series in the second half where the Ravens ran No-Huddle. Why? I have no idea. In fact it seemed as if Cam caused at least two Delay of Game penalties by my count for getting the play in late. That was a frequent problem in past seasons.

It was obvious after several Three and Outs that Flacco was off. Blame the Philly pass rush, poor mechanics or decision making by Flacco or the officials lax attitude towards clutching and grabbing as a defensive tactic, but any way you explain it you needed to do something to relieve the pressure and that solution is #27. Rice was paid millions this off-season and against a defense that is as fast and slight as Philadelphia pounding the football for a period of time would not have been a bad idea. He gashed them early and often and almost broke touchdowns on two long runs.

But isn’t Joe Flacco allowed to change the play? At least that’s what we hear from coaches and we definitely saw him do it several times against the Bengals. What happened? I’m not the only one that noticed. Current NFL analyst Rich Gannon had these comments about the Ravens offense. Gannon suggested that Flacco needs to have “more control” at the line of scrimmage and be able to adjust the play-calling and in his opinion the Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans disrupted the Ravens almost single-handedly.

“It’s not a big check or audible team. That’s not really who they are. They call it. They run it,” Gannon said of the Ravens. “A lot of (the calls) are built in as opposed to a ‘check with me’ or a ‘kill’ package at the line of scrimmage. I think it’s hard to operate and function in this day and age with all the different things defenses are doing if you don’t have that flexibility at the line of scrimmage. That’s something they have to look at.” Hmm, interesting.

Of course I understand that this has a measure of hindsight to it – all Monday morning quarterbacking does. I mean this whole thing becomes a non-issue if a Offensive pass interference isn’t called on Jacoby Jones, right.

At any rate, the popular scapegoat of Cameron has risen yet again and it will be interesting as the season develops just how far the offense will truly go and if Cam will be it’s biggest obstacle to achieving greater success or not.

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One Response to “Harbaugh Addresses Play-Calling; Felt “Good”About Third-Down Calls”

  1. Gene w says:

    Excellent points Matt. And I’m not buying it either. Rice has 26 attempts in two games and Flacco has 71 attempts. That’s not balance. That’s stats from a team that is behind in games and has to pass or a team that doesn’t have a running game. We look back to a few games last year when Rice wasn’t the game plan and the results are losses. There’s no question Cam Cameron is the biggest obstacle.

    3rd and 2… You have one of the bestsrunning back in all of the NFL and a monster fullback. Come on, give me a break! It wasn’t like they wern’t running well. If you don’t try to get two yards with those weapons on the ground, then you shouldn’t be coaching football.

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