Upbeat Modell warns Ravens Owner sees playoffs if all pull their weight

November 05, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell is still optimistic about his Baltimore franchise's making a playoff appearance and warned some of his players that they had better play for more than pride in the seven remaining games.

Modell said he was disappointed by the team's 24-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, when his team blew a 21-3 halftime lead.

"We're all hurting," said Modell. "I feel for the coaches and the players who put forth the effort, but I don't feel for the players who didn't pull their weight. They won't be here next year.

"I'm very optimistic about the future of this franchise, and we can make a run with five division games left," he said. "We have a solid base and core of players on which to build, and I plan on going into Camden Yards with an elite team."

Modell said he was disappointed with the team's 3-6 record but said injuries had devastated the defense during the season.

Modell said his confidence had not waned in his coaching or front office staff, which he expected to be together for a while.

"It has been a very frustrating season," said Modell. "I'm not using the injuries as an excuse, but they have been a factor. We've had injuries to defensive starters like Dan Footman [tackle], Rob Burnett [end] and Eric Turner [safety]. Anthony Pleasant [end] is out there playing on one leg.

"We were so decimated by injuries that we have linemen playing out of position and were forced from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 a couple of weeks ago, a scheme that usually is implemented in April," he said. "I'm all set with my coaching staff, and I think the world of Ozzie Newsome [vice president of football personnel]. Ted Marchibroda is a gentleman, an honest and intelligent man who is going to invest a lot of time into this football team. I don't dictate to my coaches, never have and never will. I just give them support."

Modell has a suggestion, though. Like the crowd of about 60,000 that chanted Bam Morris' name Sunday, Modell would like to see the 245-pound back carry the ball more often than he has during his first five weeks in a Ravens uniform.

Marchibroda has been criticized for using Morris sparingly in the past two weeks, especially Sunday, when the Ravens' no-huddle attack was ineffective in the second half and Morris had run well in the first.

"When you lead 21-3 at the half and you give up 21 unanswered points, that doesn't sit well," said Modell. "I think Bam is going to play a lot more this week.

"I thought he was going to play more yesterday [Sunday], but I accept the coach's decision," said Modell. "He has shown too much on the football field to stand on the sideline. This guy is a powerhouse."

Marchibroda said he expects to use Morris, who had 11 rushes for 48 yards Sunday, more this week. Marchibroda also defended his decision to stay with the no-huddle and passing offense in the second half despite controlling the ball for about eight minutes.

"There is a period of time in the game when you pull back on the no-huddle, and that's when you have the game in hand," said Marchibroda. "We never reached that point."

As for the lack of quality defensive players, Marchibroda dismissed it as just another day at the office.

"We've got to learn to play for 60 minutes, and that's the only way you can win in the NFL," said Marchibroda. "Our biggest problem on defense has been our pass rush, but there aren't any quality players out there available. We've had injuries, but we've also had people in position to make plays and they haven't come through.

"We've got weaknesses, but that doesn't mean you can't win. It just means we have to play hard all the time," he said. "In the NFL, you have to win in November. If we win three games in November, then we'll be all right."

But some of the players shouldn't be worried about the end of November, not with the warning Modell put out yesterday.

"I don't look at this week with an 'if we lose' attitude," said reserve safety Bennie Thompson. "Win or lose, you just have to play your butt off. Guys on this team have to play for jobs next year."

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Site: Jacksonville (Fla.) Municipal Stadium

When: Sunday, 4 p.m.

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

Record: 3-6

Sunday: Jaguars had a bye

Pub Date: 11/05/96

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