Woof. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around all that went down in Baltimore for Monday Night Football. We’ll give it a shot anyway.
OFFENSIVE AGGRESSIVNESS: ZIG OR ZAG?
Many years ago, Frank Reich led the Buffalo Bills to the greatest comeback in NFL history. It comes as no surprise then that Reich would become known as an aggressive head coach, particularly on fourth downs.
Of course, his decisions have also led to the Colts with empty Red Zone trips, which have had an impact on game outcomes — this season and in previous seasons. The analytics have always been on his side though — and so Reich has proclaimed that this aggressive nature will not change no matter the impact on game outcomes.
What’s odd about Reich is that at times he becomes incredibly conservative. Clock management and maneuvering become the driver of his offensive playcalling and decision-making. He removes his foot from the gas when the offense has been dominant to “squeeze” the opponent without little time on the clock. After all, the odds say that hitting a field goal to create a two-scoring drive differential all but guarantees victory.
Here’s the issue — and it’s one that creates an ever-ending argument between those who rely on numbers to make decisions and those who rely on experience and common football sense — sometimes you have to know that your kicker is injured, that your defense is decimated by injury, and that your secondary is down to guys off of the street. You need to know that your offense has been dominating throughout the entire game. You need to know that your quarterback has been putting together his best performance of the season and that every running back has been producing, at least while you’ve been running an offensive game plan that includes “score touchdowns” in the agenda.
Moving to the Reich conservative offensive is akin to the “prevent” defense. “Prevent” defenses often prevent you from winning football games. Stop over-thinking it. Do what’s working.
Or suffer the consequences.
INJURIES ARE OUT OF CONTROL
Things have gone completely off of the rails. This team is being held together by Ace Bandages and medical tape.
At the end of the game, the starting cornerbacks were Anthony Chesley and BoPete Keyes. Ahead of them on the depth chart is Xavier Rhodes, Rock Ya-Sin, Isaiah Rodgers, and T.J. Carrie who is on injured reserve. Once Xavier Rhodes went down and Isaiah Rodgers was hobbled, there was no stopping the Ravens offense.
Special teams specialist George Odum took over for Andrew Sendejo as safety. Sendejo wasn’t even on the roster until after Week 1.
Darius Leonard is clearly playing hurt. He looks good early but the injury starts taking a toll later in the game.
First-round defensive end Kwity Paye has not yet returned from a hamstring injury, leaving the line gassed at the end of the game.
The Colts' offense generated 513 total yards and got production from pretty much everyone without Quenton Nelson or Braden Smith on the offensive line and with TY Hilton at receiver. This is the same offense that was handcuffed near the end of regulation playing a “control the clock” game.
Even kicker Rodrigo Blankenship was clearly injured and his missed extra point and field goal to end regulation would have won the game.
ESPN MNF BROADCAST CREW IS PUTRID
Lamar Jackson is superman. Never mind the Colts and their injuries in the secondary or the fact he had all day long to throw without a pass rush to challenge him. No, he has a better winning percentage than Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady! WOAH! GOAT territory. Ravens fans were even chanting MVP!
Project Pat is the most unique player in the NFL. Golly, just look at the guy. He is so big. He is a failed/converted defensive lineman playing a position that pretty much doesn’t exist in the modern game — fullback — and you’d think he was Mike Alstott.
The Ravens receiving corps is the fastest in the NFL and every game it’s a track meet. Wrong again, the Baltimore receiving room is rather lackluster. Sammy Watkins is a castoff from multiple teams. James Proche may well be the second-best receiver on the team and few people are talking about him yet. Devin Duvernay is a return specialist playing receiver.
Sure, Hollywood Brown has game-breaking speed and can score from anywhere but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Colts led the entire game until overtime and at no point was the attitude in the booth anything other than — “no one could see this coming.” At best there was sarcasm from time to time, that the game script had gone exactly as they all had thought it would go.
I’m not sure I’ve listened to a more lopsided broadcast crew since listening to Chris Collingsworth call any game that includes Tom Brady. To make matters worse, they knew less about the Colts than any game broadcast crew I can recall hearing.
ONE MORE FOR THE GIPPER
It’s simple. Leading by 16 in the fourth quarter has been a Colts win every time since 1984. No matter the circumstances. When you have a 16 point lead in the fourth, you have to win. If you don’t, the coach has some ‘splaining to do. Top echelon coaches don’t give games like this away. Reich has some proving to do before he finds himself in that group.