With offense struggling, Wright takes no chances

Sticking to basics, Ravens QB `did what the coaches asked him to do'

Week Four

Ravens 13, Jets 3

October 03, 2005|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

The only time Ravens quarterback Anthony Wright yielded to temptation, the risk failed to produce a reward.

No matter. Wright's only deep ball off a flea flicker in yesterday's 13-3 win over the New York Jets may have been intercepted in the end zone by Erik Coleman, but that was as good as a punt anyway.

It was the only real chance in a conservative game plan, one meant to emphasize smart decisions and alleviate mistakes. Looking more like a caretaker than a gunslinger, Wright completed 71 percent of his passes for 144 yards and was not sacked.

Many of those completions, though, were of the dink-and-dunk variety. If Wright wanted to do more downfield throwing, he suppressed the itch.

"He did well," receiver Derrick Mason said. "He managed the game, and he did what the coaches asked him to do. He drove us down the field. ... You can't ask your quarterback to do any more than what he did."

Actually, most NFL coaches generally do, but that was not something the Ravens wanted to risk against a Jets team down to its third-string quarterback. The Ravens figured the best way to get back in the division race was to play it safe.

Less than a third of the plays called were passes. Wright connected with receivers on just six of his 15 completions. And outside of a 24-yard hookup with tight end Todd Heap, the Ravens generally stayed away from throwing down the middle of the field.

"We understood the situation their offense was in, so we just wanted to come out and play within ourselves and not do anything that we didn't need to do," Wright said.

Teammates consider Wright the perfect player to implement such a strategy. Wright, whose even-keel demeanor rarely changes if the team scores a touchdown or if he is getting knocked around like a tackling dummy, shrugged off all the talk of an inept offense surrounding the team the last two weeks.

Wright was sacked six times and attempted 40 passes in an ugly loss to the Tennessee Titans, one in which he tripped over his feet twice. He looked much more comfortable behind his line playing with a lead and with what the team asked him to do against the Jets.

"I had an interview the other day, and we talked about his leadership, and how he was stepping it up in the week we had off," receiver Mark Clayton said. "He was just taking the leadership role, and he came out here and showed up."

Wright's play was bolstered by an offensive line that showed more cohesion than it had the first two games, but was far from dominant on the ground.

None of the backs averaged 3 yards a carry. The longest run was for 9 yards by both Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor. That did not, however, deter the Ravens, who rushed for 115 yards as a team.

"They've been reading tough clippings about them all the last two weeks, and they really wanted to come out and prove a point," Wright said. "This is the same offensive line that got Jamal 2,000 yards."

All the running made the Ravens think the Jets were primed to be fooled. Five minutes into the fourth quarter, Wright took a pitch back from Chester Taylor before throwing an interception in the end zone.

"I'm not going to say anything is perfect," Wright said. "But I tried to do what was asked of me by the coaches. And we won the game, so that's all that matters."

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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