With Mason rallying Ravens, maybe now coaches will open up offense

December 06, 2010|Mike Preston

There are times when Ravens receiver Derrick Mason can become a disruptive force, but hopefully he has brought this team and offense together after his postgame talk Sunday night.

Mason can irritate team officials and teammates with his desire to have more passes thrown his way, but there isn't a Raven who can put a win or loss in better perspective than Mason. After the Ravens' disappointing 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Mason was critical of the offense, which had only 269 yards of total offense, and only three points in the second half.

The Ravens defense was spectacular, but the output of the Ravens offense looked like the old Ravens, and it brought back memories of the Brian Billick years and the revolving door at quarterback. Mason just repeated what the offensive players have been saying privately for weeks.

"All these people we've got on offense. I might get crucified for this one, but all these people we've got on offense, and we're not a good offense at times," Mason said. "Just call it how you see it. Call a spade a spade. If we were a good offense, we'd move the ball up and down the field. Especially with the people we have and the quarterback and the personnel we have. But we're just not a good offense at times."

It's disappointing, downright embarrassing at times. There are times when the Ravens look like a legitimate, high-powered offense, and other times when they are nomads who lose their nerve, and are in search of an identity.

Maybe now the Ravens open this offense up, and become bold and daring. Isn't that why they signed receivers Anquan Boldin and Donte' Stallworth during the off season? Isn't that why they drafted offensive linemen Ben Grubbs and Michael Oher in the first round? Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has to develop a better feel for the game at times, and retain the killer instinct throughout, especially in crunch time against good teams.

Head coach John Harbaugh has to become more involved. He has the football pedigree and a strong feel for the game. There are times when he needs to intervene, and just take charge of telling Cameron what is needed.

"I think we just didn't move the ball," said Ravens receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh of the Ravens lack of offense in the second half. "If you want to call that conservative, you can. Whatever it was, it didn't work."

Curtsy to the queen

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a major drama queen especially when it comes to the injuries, but the play he made late in the game where he didn't go down with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs all over him was exceptional.

Despite the alleged broken bone in his foot and a broken nose, Roethlisberger still completed 22 of 38 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown.

"I was," said Suggs, when asked if he was trying to strip Roethlisberger of the ball. "I didn't even know he was outside the tackle box. Once I did strip the ball, I was just going to bring him down. Me and him, I think we weigh the same. He threw the ball out of bounds, and they score in the next two plays."

Road ahead

The Ravens could have made it a lot easier on themselves with a win against Pittsburgh. But now, they have to play Houston on the road. The Texans will be ready because they are still in playoff contention, and the game is on "Monday Night Football."

The Ravens also have to face New Orleans and quarterback Drew Brees here, which will be trouble because Brees is one of the league's top passes. The Ravens then have Cleveland, which is playing as hard as any team in the league, and then they close out with lowly Cincinnati here.

Ready to rebound

Mentally, the Ravens won't have trouble rebounding from the Steelers loss.

They have enough veterans like Mason, Boldin, Ray Lewis, Suggs and Matt Birk to get them through hard times. Most of this group is also searching for a first Super Bowl ring.

"We've got to get ready to play another game," said Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. "It happens all the time in the NFL. You lose football games. We've got to get ready for Houston and get ready for another big game. We'll be ready to go. We're a good enough team that we can handle this the way it's supposed to be handled. "

Right call, bad coverage

A lot of fans were unhappy with the Ravens decision to pass the ball on a second-and-5 at the Ravens' 43 with 3:22 left. Flacco was hit by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and the Steelers recovered, which set up the game winning touchdown.

Some thought the Ravens should have run the ball. But, the Ravens had no running game against the Steelers and under no circumstances do I want the Ravens killer, Roethlisberger, with the ball in his hands with time on the clock.

The Steelers thought the Ravens were going to run the ball. The Ravens had the right call, they just didn't block one of the best players in the NFL.

Now, that's what is unacceptable.

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Here are a few suggestions for Cam Cameron and the Ravens offense:

Run the ball out of three- and four-receiver sets.

Get Stallworth the ball in space more.

Free up Flacco to call his own plays more and choose his primary targets.

Give assistant offensive coaches more input in the game plan.

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