Marchibroda seeks an explanation on the 'leverage' calls Director of officiating is contacted by coach in regard to costly flags

Ravens notebook

November 17, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

One of the first things Ted Marchibroda did yesterday was call Jerry Seeman, the NFL's director of officiating.

The Ravens coach wanted an explanation of the two "leverage" calls that wiped out a pair of San Diego field goals Sunday and kept alive their deciding touchdown drive in a 14-13 victory.

"From what the rules book says, I'm not sure they should have been penalties," Marchibroda said.

"Other teams are doing the same thing. If I interpret it correctly, I don't think they were penalties. I've never seen that one called."

Marchibroda said Michael McCrary, who was called for the second one, did the same thing on the Chargers' first extra point and wasn't called for it.

Marchibroda said players aren't allowed to jump up and land on another player and can only jump 1 yard off the line of scrimmage.

But he added, "I haven't seen it called from the outside. They jump in order to hit the gap. That's a gap there where they're in to block the field goal. They try to hit it. The only way to hit it, you've got to leap over the guy's feet to get there. How else can you do it?"

Seeman didn't have an answer for Marchibroda yesterday because he hasn't seen the video yet. The league usually informs teams on Thursday if they were victims of bad calls.

But Seeman said it's not a new rule and it's probably been called five or six times this year.

"It's [the rule] been in the league longer than I have. One of the reasons it was put in was for player safety," Seeman said.

Seeman said the rule forbids "jumping or standing on a teammate or an opponent to block or attempt to block an opponent's kick and placing a hand or hands on a teammate or opponent to gain additional height." It's also illegal to pick up a teammate and lift him on your shoulders.

Now the Ravens have to wait a couple of days to find out if Seeman thinks the officials were right in the two calls.

Offense looks for spark

The Ravens are looking for ways to jump-start their offense this week when they play Cincinnati, a team they shredded for 411 yards of total offense in the first meeting.

Teams have been taking the running game away from the Ravens by jamming the line of scrimmage and their passing game hasn't been good enough to loosen them up.

"We've faced a lot of eight-man fronts. We have a hat on everybody and the safety makes the play. That happened on the first play of the game [against San Diego] and the free safety makes the play for a 2-yard gain. Everybody else was blocked," said Ozzie Newsome, the team's vice president of player personnel.

The Ravens then threw on eight of their next 10 offensive plays, but quarterback Jim Harbaugh didn't have a good day.

"It wasn't one of Jim's better games," Marchibroda said.

Quarterback options

If the slumping Harbaugh doesn't improve in the last six games, the Ravens will have to decide if they want to look at other options at quarterback next year.

"I don't think it's any secret that the teams that are struggling in this league are struggling because the performance of the quarterback is not as good as it should be," Newsome said. "If your quarterback is not effective, then you'll struggle."

With six games left, Newsome said, "There's still some time to evaluate. I will say this, regardless of the position, quarterback being one of them, you're always going to be looking to upgrade, but there's got to be somebody we definitely think can be an upgrade."

The team, which hasn't drafted a quarterback above the seventh round since moving to Baltimore, also may have to start investing some higher picks in the position.

In 1997, they took linebacker Jamie Sharper with the 34th pick and Arizona got Jake Plummer with the 42nd pick in the second round.

It worked in practice

The Ravens may not be eager to throw another halfback option after Priest Holmes' toss was intercepted by San Diego's Greg Jackson.

Holmes said the problem was that the Chargers stayed in double coverage on Jermaine Lewis and he didn't have a run option on the play.

"None of them came up," he said. "They thought that wherever [Lewis] went, they'd better be with him."

He said he didn't see the safety who intercepted it. "In practice, the key was for me to watch the cornerback," he said.

Marchibroda said Holmes, who was pulled in the second half for Errict Rhett, will remain the starter.

What happened?

How does Marchibroda analyze what went wrong this season?

"I think a few problems came up. I think, number one, we had the tough schedule and our No. 1 quarterback [Harbaugh] got hurt very early. I think, number two, we didn't have our best offensive line right from the beginning. We had a good preseason and we brought Wally [Williams] back and we haven't totally jelled since then," he said.

Of the schedule that included two games against Jacksonville and Pittsburgh and one against Green Bay in the first eight games, he said, "If we had been together for a year, that's fine. But when you're still building, you're still getting stronger, that's a tough schedule to confront you, really."

Pub Date: 11/17/98

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