Do the Numbers
Regression Analysis is a statistical technique used to evaluate the relationship between a dependent variable and one or more independent variables. This column will speak to numbers, not statistics, except to point out that the Ravens defensive performance has been regressing, and the correlation is not positive.
Here are the numbers to prove it.
Three weeks ago we were crowing about the Ravens pass defense being ranked # 1 in the league. After successive weeks of being shredded by Kyle Orton, Tom Brady, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the passing defense has regressed to 8th, the rushing defense to 18th (!), and total defense is now 9th. So much for defensive dominance. I wonder what the dozens of former Super Bowl Champion Ravens were thinking on Sunday, watching their organizational heirs get trucked by a career back-up, Harvard-educated quarterback.
Now hold on, I’m not disparaging Ryan Fitzpatrick or his alma mater, especially since we have fellow Crimson alum Matt Birk. In fact, I think the Bills may have found their man. The dude did his film study last week and nearly did us in. Let’s go to Studs and Duds.
Welcome Back, Kotter: It was great to see Ed Reed patrolling the secondary again – and none too soon. I’m glad I was wrong; I wanted Ed to sit another week or two. But, without his presence, the Ravens would probably have lost the game and we would now be screaming for defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s scalp. His first pick of the game early in the 3rd quarter led, 7 seconds later, to the flea-flicker touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin.
More Reed: Prior to the Buffalo game, the Ravens had five takeaways and the worst give away/take away ratio in the league through the six games. Then Reed returns to action, and we get four takeaways versus Buffalo including two interceptions by # 20. A coincidence? I don’t think so.
Ray Lewis: Ray had an outstanding day with 15 tackles, a sack, a pass deflection that tipped into an Ed Reed pick, and a fumble that led to Billy Cundiff’s winning field goal. Just as in the Jets and Steelers game, he made the play to seal the win.
Todd Heap: 3 catches for 59 yards and 2 TDs. Are we seeing the reincarnation of the Pro Bowl Heap from 2002-2003? Sure hope so. Sure hope he stays healthy.
Where’s the Beef? 3 weeks ago against Denver, CB Fabian Washington was justly lauded as having his best day as Raven. Sunday against the Bills he played his worst. He couldn’t cover, he couldn’t tackle, and he couldn’t pursue when he didn’t do the first two. He looked like he was working the drive-through window at McDonalds and Bills WR Lee Evans was a returning customer. Talk about regression. Harbaugh mercifully benched him late in the 4th quarter.
Poor Tackling: What tackling?
Return Game: I can’t say that the return game has regressed, because it hasn’t been very good in the first place. Nobody, it seems, can do anything. Where’s Prince Miller? Oh yeah, on the practice squad. Cut Ken Hamlin (who’s not doing the defense a damned bit of good) and get Miller’s ass on the return team.
And no experimenting with Lardarius Webb!
Broken Record: The Sun reports that John Harbaugh was “pleased” with the pass rush. Did Harbs watch the same game we did? John, I can understand publically defending your team, but please stop treating us like idiots. If the Ravens had any kind of sustained pass rush, the defensive backfield would not look so inept. I cannot see the Ravens going deep into the playoffs if we give top quarterbacks precious seconds to spread it around. Sorry, Greg Mattison, rushing 3 players against the Brady’s of the league will not cut it.
Around the Ravens and Around the League – a Fan’s Football Tweets
Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome made Sports Illustrated’s list of the 40 most influential people in the NFL. Nice remarks about both individuals; Bisciotti is described as being one of the two most respected young owners, and Ozzie, second to Bill Polian, as a GM for his consistent front office work.
Fastest 17 Points: The Ravens scored 17 points in 72 seconds of the game clock (spanning halftime, which makes it hard to remember) that turned a 24-10 Bills lead into a 27-24 Ravens advantage. Two Bills turnovers were huge in putting the Ravens back in the lead.
Weird Numbers of the Week (and maybe be for the year): The San Diego Chargers lead the league in total offensive yards, total yards passing, total defensive yards, and passing defensive yards. Got all that? But the Chargers are 2-5 and tied for dead last in the AFC West. See? A Norv Turner-coached team will always defy statistics.
Diplomatic Incident: This weekend, 2-5 Denver and 1-6 San Francisco play in Wembley Stadium, London. What a match up. This could set Anglo-American relations back oh, about 200 years.
From Pro Football Talk.com: Bears QB Jay Cutler on getting fleeced by Redskins DB DeAngelo Hall: “I’ve played against [Hall] before. There’s no reason to shy away from him. That’s hard for me to say throwing 4 picks to the guy, but I still think if we had to play them tomorrow, I’d go after him every time.” My Redskins fans at work howled at this one. There’s a reason Cutler is no longer playing in Denver (see below) and may not be long for Chicago.
After a 59-14 Massacre by the Oakland Raiders at home, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels performed verbal Hari-Kari by publically apologizing to the owner, the fan base, the ski resorts, and the entire Rocky Mountain region for the Broncos abysmal play. Next Man Up: Tim Tebow at quarterback. Next Man Down: McDaniels as head coach.
There will be a World Championship played on Randol Mill Road in Arlington, Texas this year. Unfortunately for DFW football fans, the Texas Rangers will be participating, not the Dallas Cowboys. Wade Phillips? See above.
Never has a team looked like it needed a couple of weeks off more than the Ravens did on Sunday. I hope that its two weeks of healing, reflection, and game planning because they sure need it. In fact, all of us fans need the break. I was emotionally worn out after overtime.
Here are more numbers for your consideration: 10-9 win, 15-10 loss, 24-17 win, 17-14 win, 31-17, 23-20 loss, 37-34 win. The Ravens have won by an average of 5 ½ points and lost by an average of 4 points. We’re keeping it close when we lose which I guess is OK (all it means is that we’re not getting blown out), but we’re also keeping it too close when we win, which is definitely scary. If I’m looking for Thrillers, I’ll check MTV this weekend for some old Michael Jackson videos. Seriously, I hope someone at the Castle is looking at these numbers.
This week will not be scary for me. While I’m handing out Halloween candy on Sunday, I’ll be watching the NFL Red Zone and rooting for New Orleans to rebound at home against the Steelers, and the Packers defense to beat the snot out Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Look for the Chargers to cool off the Titans, and I’d like to take the Vikings and Randy Moss over the Patriots, but Minnesota, all of sudden, does not have a quarterback. Finally, the Colts will get revenge against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Field. The AFC will be as muddled as ever.
Happy Halloween, Everyone!