What happened yesterday? How did a Cleveland Browns team that the majority of football fans expected to lose, pull of an upset win in overtime over the Baltimore Ravens? How did a 36-year old journeyman quarterback dismantle the Ravens defense for a career-high 457 yards? And even more upsetting, how did that old man (football terms obviously) outrun a young Ravens defense for a touchdown?
Because Dean Pees defensive play-calling is down right awful, that’s how.
For Ravens fans, it was much of the same as we have seen in just about every game this season. You could sense that the letdown was coming, and it did quickly.
The Ravens had the Browns on the ropes with a 21-9 lead late in the third quarter. McCown moved the Browns within field goal range, but the Ravens defense made a stop on third down. However, a penalty on Jason Babin – another guy who needs a one-way ticket out of Baltimore – kept the Browns’ drive alive. Two plays later, McCown scrambled 10 yards for a touchdown.
The Ravens went three-and-out following the McCown touchdown run, and the Browns were able to strike quickly on one of the most bizarre plays you will ever see in football. Pees brought some pressure on McCown and he lofted the ball in the air to tight end Gary Barnidge who was in single coverage against Ravens safety Will Hill. Somehow the ball hit Hill’s hands, landed in Barnidge’s legs and butt area and somehow he pulled the football in before it hit the turf. It’s going to be tough to top that play as the play of the year in the NFL.
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The Ravens offense did its part to get back on top, but once again, Pees’ defense was carved up and the Browns were back in front until Justin Tucker‘s field goal put the game in over time.
Sure, the Ravens were hit with a lot of injuries on Sunday. But this is the Cleveland Browns we are talking about here. The Ravens are still a more talented team.
What makes this loss even more depressing is that the Ravens had extra time to prepare for the Browns. Barnidge was the Browns X-factor in the game and the Ravens had no answer for him. He dominated whoever was lined up across from him and Pees never made the necessary adjustments.
Make it four games the Ravens lost in the fourth quarter. Opposing teams are making the adjustments in the second half to beat the Ravens, while Pees has done nothing to slow offenses down after halftime. That’s why something has to give.
Pees did his part with the Ravens. As pitiful as the defense has been, he was the defensive coordinator the Ravens most recent Super Bowl. In 2007, he was the coordinator for the New England Patriots team that lost Super Bowl XLII because of David Tyree‘s amazing grab.
But this defense does have some talented players also. Brandon Williams is always a force on the line. C.J. Mosley has a bright future. Jimmy Smith has shown that he can be an effective corner when put in proper situations. Pees isn’t dialing up the right scheme to fit the talent he does have on his roster.
Some of the play calls are just hard to understand. Players are lining up 10 yards off receivers on a third-and-3. The safeties are all over the place. There is no pass rush. Barnidge made play after play. Mosley was constantly burned by Duke Johnson in the passing game, and no adjustment was made. That’s all on the defensive coordinator.
John Harbaugh is loyal to his guys, but this franchise is at a point where someone needs to be held accountable for this horrible start. You cannot lose your first two home games. You cannot blow so many games late in games. You can’t lose to the Browns and Raiders, two teams who have been in the bottom-half of the league in most offensive categories for the past decade.
The Ravens used to be a team that if they scored 27 or more points, it was basically a guaranteed win because the defense would never allow opposing teams to score so many points. Now, you never know what to expect from the defense.
What you can do is get rid of the source of the problem.
It is time for another coach in the area to be fired. The Maryland Terrapins fired Randy Edsall over the weekend, and the Ravens need to follow suit. Dean Pees has to be let go and the Ravens need to start over on defense.
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