LOMBARDI’S WAY: THE AGONY OF DEFEAT

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: THE AGONY OF DEFEAT

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It’s the morning after the night before. And like we all do when we awake, we gather our faculties and cut through the morning fog that cloaks our heads. Once you do, you start to think about the day ahead, the tasks that await you and the potential opportunities.
 
Today wasn’t supposed to be this way. How many of us hoped after awakening that what we experienced last night was nothing more than a bad dream? No one expected the Ravens to lose.
 
I was supposed to be a Patriots fan today. Now I hope they lose so that I won’t have to wonder about what should have been — I won’t have to wonder how exciting next Sunday could have been here in Baltimore hosting the AFC Championship Game.
 
The dream is over.
 
Reality sucks today!
 
As a fan of the game, I watched and enjoyed the Eagles @ Saints. Now that I thought, was the way offense should be played. And every now and then while watching the game, just when I was able to momentarily set aside the pain of yesterday’s loss, it reared its ugly head. Or worse, Moose Johnson would make a sly, derogatory comment about the lack of offense in the Ravens’ game.
 
Sometimes the truth hurts.
 
I wondered if Motrin might make it feel better.
 
So this town is now in tatters. Its postseason aspirations shattered. A town drenched in purple will recede into normalcy soon. And then we’ll start to look ahead to next year and the promise of a new season.
 
“Nobody in this locker room is thinking about next year,” cornerback Samari Rolle said. “Everybody’s just hurt about the way it turned out and will probably be more hurt tomorrow. Hopefully, we can get our act together next year.”
 
I’m feeling you Samari!
 
One thing we’ve all learned about the NFL, things change and sometimes they change in a hurry. Next year’s version of the Ravens could look a lot different. Clearly there needs to be changes made in the running game and that could signal the departures of Jamal Lewis and a couple of the offensive linemen who couldn’t get things going against consecutive opponents (Colts and Bills) that on average ranked 30th in the league. That has to change.
 
Derrick Mason, an emotional player no doubt, lost his mind temporarily yesterday after the game with comments about being unappreciated. He’s open to a change. Ray Lewis has a huge cap number next season ($9.4 million) that could handcuff the front office if left undone. Jonathan Ogden has hinted at retirement. Will this loss stoke his competitive fire or will it dampen his spirit to compete?
 
And then there’s AD.
 
Chris McAlister embraced AD after the game and one has to wonder if the two have played their last game together. AD will be 30 when he suits up again in the 2007 regular season. Will he be Ozzie’s right player, right price? Time will tell.
 
There could be changes on the coaching staff. Is the lack of a running game more than just a personnel issue or is it schematic too and if so does the current staff have what it takes to make the proper adjustments? Will Rex Ryan be lured elsewhere? Will Brian Billick retain offensive coordinator duties and if he does, will he be more daring and creative in the red zone?
 
There’s plenty of time to address these and other questions.
 
For now, I guess I’ll just cry in my beer and eventually dust myself off. And once I do, I’m sure I’ll look back upon the 2006 season as being an enjoyable and successful one. A team that had little to no chance of reaching the postseason early in the 2005 campaign morphed into a team that we genuinely believed could win Super Bowl XLI.
 
“It hurts bad, but only one team can win the championship this year and we’re not defined on championships,” Ed Reed said. “We had a great year. We bounced back after a 6-10 season. It wasn’t our time.”
 
Many thought otherwise. I was one of them.
 
“This is a bitter taste,” Steve McNair said. “You don’t want this taste. You have to deal with this the whole offseason.”
 
And a long one it will be.
 
192 day until Training Camp 2007.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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