Billick: Ravens were ready

Idea that Bears caught team off guard is rejected by coach

September 12, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Brian Billick found Chicago Bears running back James Allen's comments after Sunday's game almost laughable.

To suggest, as Allen did, that the Ravens were caught off guard by the Bears' five-receiver, hurry-up offense was simply untrue, according to Billick. After struggling early to gain yards, the Ravens beat Chicago, 17-6, to open the season at PSINet Stadium, allowing 36 yards in the second half.

"We practice against that all the time," Billick said. "I got a kick out of Allen, who I was very impressed with, making the comment, `I don't think they were ready for me to be shifted out of the backfield that much.' With all due respect, I run the offensive prep squad. We must have practiced him outside the formation 20 times.

"It's not like we're, `Oh my God, they're spreading it out on us!' It's less strategical than it was fundamentally [that] things we normally do well, we didn't do well in the first half, and in the second half, we did well."

Bears quarterback Shane Matthews had success moving the ball in the first half, completing 16 of 23 passes for 110 yards. But all that produced just three points.

As for formations, the five-wide set was a copy of what the New York Jets did in the preseason finale last year, though the Bears used more short passes and wide receiver screens.

There is a good chance that the Minnesota Vikings, whom the Ravens are scheduled to play Monday night, will try the same thing. They have a rookie running back in Michael Bennett, but their strength lies in three Pro Bowl players - quarterback Daunte Culpepper and receivers Randy Moss and Cris Carter.

"We expect to see more of it," Billick said. "Every team at some point is going to come in here and try and move the ball on our defense. Chicago, like other teams who have done that, found a certain level of success. But like other teams found, it really is not adequate to get in the end zone.

"If you think back to the other teams that try and stretch us like that - the turnovers that are created by that, the inability to get into the end zone - it's a give-and-take situation, but we're very comfortable with the fact that people are still going to do that.

"It's not like we did a lot of adjusting in the second half, particularly defensively. We played better. The defensive line played with their pads much lower. We closed to the ball and open-field tackled better, which we are very good at and didn't do very well in the first half. We saw things more quickly."

And the Ravens were able to run the ball better behind Terry Allen in the second half, allowing the Bears' offense less time on the field. Terry Allen endured a great deal of frustration for much of the game before capping off a 37-yard day with a 1-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

"Before you all get all nervous about what our running game is going to be like, we have a great deal of faith in Terry," Billick said. "You'll continue to see Jason Brookins and more of Moe Williams when we move along."

NOTES: Safety Carnell Lake took a flight to Baltimore on Monday night and passed his physical yesterday. He is expected to sign a one-year contract worth the veteran minimum. ... Billick awarded a game ball to guard Bennie Anderson, whose wife is pregnant and was expected to give birth Sunday. Anderson left immediately after the game to be with his wife in St. Louis. ... The players were off yesterday.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

Site: PSINet Stadium

When: Monday, 9 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 2/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 6 1/2

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