Marchibroda wants leaders to step forward Coach's aim is to keep Ravens on their toes

September 10, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda yesterday questioned his team's work ethic leading up to Sunday's 31-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and then said the team is lacking veteran leadership.

"We have some people who are capable, and some guys who don't want to be leaders," Marchibroda said. "In some cases, it's not in their personalities. You can't make them one."

Veteran offensive tackle Tony Jones said: "It's true. You can't ask one guy to lead the team. Everybody has to step up and do their part. I try to do all I can to lead. The receivers, running backs and other glory boys on the team have to step up also."

Marchibroda first hinted at the leadership problem after Sunday's game when he said some of the "younger players" needed to learn what the NFL was about.

When it was noted that the Ravens returned the nucleus of the Browns' 1994 playoff team (14 starters had played three or more years with the Browns), Marchibroda went on the attack and said he may have overestimated the team's work ethic before taking the job in February.

"You keep saying veteran players, but we're young. This group hasn't won over a period of time," said Marchibroda, who gave his team a similar speech yesterday morning. "We not only have to learn how to win, but how to continue to win."

Marchibroda pointed out that the Browns made the playoffs only once during their last five years in Cleveland. They went 6-10 in 1991, 7-9 in 1992, 7-9 in 1993, 11-5 in 1994 and 5-11 last year.

"Other than Earnest Byner, how many veterans have been in the playoffs?" he asked.

There were also leadership problems a year ago once owner Art Modell announced on Nov. 6 that the team was moving to Baltimore. The Browns lost six of their seven remaining games.

"I can see where he is coming from," center Steve Everitt said of Marchibroda. "Speaking for myself, I have never been a screamer. I lead by example.

"I've been in two playoff games, won one of them," Everitt added. "I'd like to think everyone who was on that team and played in that game remembers that feeling. When we beat New England in the [1994] playoffs, we were feeding off each other and the crowd. Everyone was crazy. It's a feeling we want to get back to. That's the way you have to approach every week. We have to treat this week [vs. Oilers in Houston] like it's a playoff game."

The Ravens (1-1) have leaders among their position groups, but only safety Eric Turner and Jones are vocal about it. Other than those two, there are no dynamic personalities like a Dan Marino or Michael Irvin leading the team.

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde wasn't available to address Marchibroda's comments yesterday. Testaverde talks to the media only twice each week -- after games on Sundays and at practice on Wednesdays.

Marchibroda's lecture yesterday picked up where he left off last Wednesday during practice. He stopped halfway through the session to scold the players for "just going through the motions."

Two days later, the Ravens had to postpone the second half of practice because of thunderstorms.

"At the start of each week, we need leadership," said Marchibroda. "We practice only three days a week, and we have to learn to get everything out of those practices. If we miss one, then that's 33 percent of our practices."

Jones took the blame for last Wednesday's practice. He said his legs were tired and he was drained and beat up from the season opener against the Oakland Raiders.

"On days like that, that's when you have to step up and push others, lead by example," said Jones. "I didn't get the job done and it was my worst practice."

Running back Leroy Hoard said: "Ted wants more guys to make a conscientious effort to make things go right, that every step is a step toward Sunday.

"When we win, we need to continue to do the things we did before until we win five or six games in a row," Hoard added. "Until we do that, we don't know what it takes. It doesn't have to be a rah-rah type guy, but a team effort."

Yesterday, Marchibroda was still angry about the loss to the Steelers. A win would have given the Ravens a two-game lead over the defending conference champions in the AFC Central.

But in the wake of the defeat, the Ravens now have to find out what went wrong with their defense, which allowed 206 yards rushing, including 116 from running back Jerome Bettis.

One thing is for sure: Marchibroda has given up on calling this series with the Steelers a rivalry.

"They beat us eight in a row. That's a rivalry?" said Marchibroda. "It may be in Pittsburgh. We just have to learn how to beat Pittsburgh and forget the rivalry.

"The thing that hurt the most was we had the opportunity to move ahead in the division," he added. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, we knew they were going to run the football. But our defense did not play the way it had in the past."

There was very little defense as the Steelers scored the first three times they had possession, and turned two Testaverde turnovers into touchdowns.

The Ravens' coaching staff spent yesterday reviewing the Pittsburgh film, and will begin implementing a game plan for Houston today.

"I don't question whether we will bounce back," said Marchibroda. "I'm not concerned about that. We have to regroup, and I think we will."

Sunday's game

Ravens (1-1) vs. Oilers (1-1)

Site: Astrodome, Houston

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 11/WLIF (101.9 FM), WJFK (1300 AM)

Line: Oilers by 3 1/2

Pub Date: 9/10/96

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