Billick says Cavanaugh will keep calling plays


Offensive coordinator gets nod 3rd week in row

November 18, 1999|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht | Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Brian Billick said yesterday he will let offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh call the plays for the third straight week.

There isn't any problem between Billick or Cavanaugh, but Billick discussed the situation publicly for the first time yesterday. When Billick was named coach in January, he said he would call the plays and re-interated that again in training camp.

Billick gave the duties to Cavanaugh against the Cleveland Browns and the Ravens were a 41-9 winner. The Ravens weren't so explosive Sunday losing to Jacksonville, 6-3. The Ravens have the No. 27-ranked offense in the league averaging 270.7 yards a game.

"Matt had to learn the offense," Billick said. "If you remember in preseason, he called two games and I called two games. I eventually wanted to get to this point, but we got here pretty fast. He knows my pace and the balance I want. I have found this useful because it allows me to get a bigger perspective of the offense. Particularly in Cleveland, it let me step back.

"There are certain aspects of the game where it requires you to be more involved as a head coach compared to being an assistant where you basically just have to focus on one area."

Blocked punt revisited

Backup fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo took the blame for the blocked punt that set up Jacksonville's first score in the Jaguars' victory.

Obafemi said he got caught looking at the ball instead of the Jaguars' defensive alignment, as Frank Wainwright snapped to punter Kyle Richardson. And by the time the play began, Ayanbadejo had stepped inside to block, while Jacksonville's Dave Thomas was coming from the outside to block Richardson's attempt.

"We were in a quick snap, it was real loud, I looked down to see when the ball was snapped, and I didn't recognize what kind of front we were looking at," Ayanbadejo said. "My man [Thomas] was actually wide, and I stepped back and took Bennie's [Thompson] man, and my man came through.

"In a world where all is equal, it was pretty much my fault."

Waiting for return to form

Billick said getting Jermaine Lewis untracked in the punt return game is equally as important as getting Lewis going in the offensive game.

Lewis is averaging just 7.2 yards on 33 returns, without a touchdown.

Part of the problem is Lewis, in many cases, has not had a chance to set up blocks, since the blocking on many returns has been virtually non-existent. And part of that problem could be traced to the Ravens' scheme.

Billick acknowledged that the Ravens could be tipping their hand by not putting any pressure on the opposing punter. That is allowing opponents to gain an advantage by leaving the line of scrimmage to get after Lewis.

"That's something we're looking at. That's a fair assessment," Billick said. "If you're asking if there's an inequity in the scheme of what we're trying to do, I don't have an answer for you. We haven't been able to crack Jermaine on a punt return. And that's one of the things we're looking at."

The Ravens might want to look extra hard at that opportunity this week. The Bengals have had two punts blocked and two others partially deflected in 1999.

Different season for Holmes

No one needs to remind running back Priest Holmes of what a difference a year makes. Fourteen months ago, Holmes made the first start of his career against Cincinnati and rushed for 227 yards. Holmes came back to torch the Bengals for 173 yards the second time around.

Holmes went on to finish the 1998 season with 1,008 yards.

A year later, Holmes is watching Errict Rhett roll toward the third 1,000-yard season of his career. Rhett replaced Holmes after the season opener, in which Holmes sustained a sprained knee.

Holmes is healthy again. He carried 10 times for 40 yards against Cleveland on Nov. 7. On the season, Holmes has 94 yards on 23 carries.

"We got [Holmes] into the Cleveland game," Billick said. "Like the Cleveland game, if we get into a mode where we're looking at a 30-35 carry game [as a team], clearly it will behoove us to get Priest in there and give him a chance to progress. There's only one ball.

"Part of the equation is, is Errict playing at a level where we want to take him out of the game? I don't know if that's fair to Errict."

Dog days for Dalton

Defensive tackle Lional Dalton is single and owns a treadmill, but he isn't the only one who uses it. Dalton also allows his pet bulldog to break a sweat.

"I'm tired after practice, and sometimes I don't feel like walking him, so I put him on the treadmill for a couple of hours and he's good to go," said Dalton, who stands 6 feet 1 and weighs a hefty 320 pounds. "He'll walk for a few hours and then pass out."

Thompson, who has been known to ride Dalton about his weight, suggested Dalton spend more time exercising at home.

"You need to get on that treadmill more often," Thompson said to Dalton. "It looks like you've even been eating dog food."

Injury update

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