ASK BRIAN: Coach defends decisions and team

Street Talk ASK BRIAN: Coach defends decisions and team

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Everyone needs a little levity now and then right? So keep that in mind as we present another fictional  edition of "Ask Brian".

Tony Lombardi: Brian the team continues to struggle in the red zone.  This year you are ranked 23rd in the league in red zone efficiency and that comes against three defenses that you’ve faced that on average rank 20th in the league.  Are you concerned and what are your plans to improve your ranking?
Brian Billick: The only ranking I’m concerned about is where we stand in the league with W’s. If I’m at or near the top in that ranking, then I’m happy.  Only five teams are ahead of us in wins and if not for a horrible pass interference call against Todd Heap we might be right there with them at 3-0.  Slice and dice it any way you’d like but at the end of the day, wins are all that matters to me.  Wins put food on my table.  Wins put my kids through school.  And wins keep Steve out of my office.
TL: But aren’t you concerned about the way that you’ve won?  You nearly lost two consecutive games against inferior teams despite holding a commanding 17 point lead at home in both games.
BB: When we left the stadium, we had another W.  When we entered the stadium, that was the goal.  Mission accomplished. Each game has its own set of parameters.  The metrics of the game change because the dynamics of two opposing forces generate their own unique set of actions and reactions that are very hard to predict, hence the cliché “on any given Sunday.” We may have played the exact same way using the exact same game plan and if our opponent was some team other than say the Arizona Cardinals, then we might be sitting here discussing a blow out victory.
TL: Well if you believe that Brian, then it’s also possible that the result could also have been a blow out loss.
BB: Son, do you know what my record is when we play at home when leading by 17 points at any point during a game?  Read my lips….50-1.  50-1!  It’s hard to fall out of a boat and hit water fifty out of fifty-one times.  I think I have a pretty solid understanding of what it takes to win.
TL: Brian, you call the plays for the Ravens and your tendency is to go against tendencies.  In other words if you think that the opponent is thinking run, you pass.  If you think they are thinking pass you run.  Of course there are exceptions.  But don’t you think that the Ravens would be better served simply by repeatedly attacking a team’s weak link and forcing them into adjustments?
BB: As a matter of fact I don’t think that way at all.  You see THAT is exactly what they think that I’m thinking and when they roll help over towards that weak link, it opens up things elsewhere. Clearly you don’t play chess.
TL: You are seen throughout the game carrying your play chart. Do you script plays?
BB: At times we do but you have to keep in mind that the NFL is a game of adjustments.  Therefore the script has to have mechanisms built into it that allows us to see, adjust and reset if the pacing of the game changes.
TL: You mentioned adjustments.  During the past two games, it appears as though your opponent has adjusted to you during the break but it doesn’t appear as though you make noticeable adjustments at halftime.
BB: We hear that a lot and that really is nothing more than drivel from seriously deficient football observers who really don’t have a grasp of this game at this level.  Of course we make adjustments.  Perhaps they are subtle to you or to others that have never walked a sideline but we do refine our game direction based upon the things we discussed for hours upon hours during the week.
Look while you are all nestled in your bed and spooning some maternity pillow, I along with my coaching team burn the midnight oil while crafting our weekly game plan.  Why should we materially reset it during a 10 minute break at half and kick to the curb all that we did for 80 hours during the week.  Does that make sense to you?
TL: Coach, I’m not suggesting you unwind 80 hours of work.  I’m just suggesting that you tweak the plan based upon more information available to you and that information is what your opponent exposed to you during the first half.
BB: I understand, but what if they adjust.  Their adjustment will offset our adjustment and we’re back to square one.  Therefore, why waste the 10 minutes adjusting when I can wash up, comb my hair, make sure my red challenge flag is exactly where I want it and then get back out there on the field.
TL: Last week you pulled Steve McNair in the fourth quarter and allowed Kyle Boller to take control despite the fact that the game was clearly not decided.  Steve McNair said the right things publicly, yet his body language suggested that he didn’t agree with the move.  Looking back, would you have handled this any differently?
BB: Clearly I would not.  We won the game and Kyle played superbly.  We couldn’t ask any more of that young man and I was as proud as a father watching that performance.  Steve is a professional.  He understands and he knows that I know that he knows that his groin was tweaked a bit.
TL: My guess is that he tweaked it during his 13 yard run which coincidentally ended on the sidelines right next to you.  If his groin is still very iffy, why not just rest him for a few games during this, the soft part of your schedule?
BB: You know I looked back on that game film.  I studied it thoroughly.  I watched it after the game, in bed that night and then first thing the very next morning.  There’s nothing I would do differently.  In fact, I kind of like the idea of a platooning quarterback.  McNair can be our Eric Bedard and Kyle can be our Danny Baez.
TL: Danny Baez?
BB: Our closer, c’mon! You know what I’m getting at.  Look, it worked for Florida last year when they flip-flopped on Leak and Tebow and they won the national title.  This could really work for us and you all criticize me for not thinking outside of the box but clearly this is the byproduct of an innovative mind.
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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