FRAN THE FAN: New Coach, Same Culture

Street Talk FRAN THE FAN: New Coach, Same Culture

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So far this season, Ravens fans have been treated to the NFL’s version of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. 
 



Baltimore
buried two bad opponents at home.  That’s good.  Against two very good teams, they lost close games that they should have won.  That’s bad.  But stupid penalties and personal fouls played a part and that’s the ugly. 


 

Guess what Ravens fans?  It’s Baaack!!  The same lack of emotional control on the part of the players that we saw in 2005 and 2007 has resurfaced again. 


 

Jarrett Johnson’s personal foul against Hines Ward in

Pittsburgh
was just stupid.  Ward has made a cottage industry out of baiting the Ravens defense into stupid penalties and the Ravens should know that by now.  Then on Sunday there were so many pushing and shoving matches between the Ravens and Titans that I lost count. 


 

Terrell Suggs calls the Ravens the “Bad Boys” of the NFL and suggests that officiating crews are predisposed to call penalties against the Ravens.  Well, based on the Ravens conduct who can blame them?  Refs are only human and they get tired of the strutting and posing, breaking up fights, throwing penalty flags into the stands, and getting yelled at.  Let’s face it – the Ravens have a rep and it ain’t a good one.


 

When handing out penalties to colleges and universities for recruiting and operational infractions, the NCAA uses the term “Lack of Institutional Control” to cite the lack of internal controls and oversight over athletic programs.  John Harbaugh has a similar problem here with players reacting with their emotions instead of their heads.  He didn’t create it but it’s his to fix.


 

Harbaugh’s done well with the team so far and has made progress in starting the Ravens’ long overdue Culture Change.  Training camp was a great first step.  But after two weeks of watching the Ravens either over-react or get baited into costly mistakes and personal fouls, I think he has to do more. 


 

Starting this week.


 

Starting with fines and visits to the bench for players who can’t or won’t control their emotions.  Harbaugh has to do what Brian Billick couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  Nip this thing in the bud, John.


 

Why?  Sitting at 2-2, the Ravens are in far better shape than most of us had thought.  Based on what we’ve seen, the Ravens are definitely in the hunt for the divisional title.  No doubt about it.  Look at the competition.


 

The Bengals are abysmal; Marvin Lewis lost whatever credibility he had in the locker room when his meddling owner brought back All-Pro law breaker Chris Henry. 

Cleveland
, under-coached, over-hyped, and vastly overrated, may very well be 1-9 by Thanksgiving (Don’t believe me?  Check their schedule).  
 
The Steelers are leading the division but have lost several key players to injuries, some for the season.  Their offensive line looks more and more suspect each week.  They can be had.


 

It’s Us and the Steelers, Baby.


 

Things are going to be rough enough with 5 out of the next 6 games on the road; rookies at head coach and quarterback; a banged up secondary and no bye diguised as a resful oasis. 
 
And now no Kelly Gregg this year. 


 

We don’t need the extracurricular stuff.  Play to win and play with your head.


 

Prediction


 

The Ravens go to dreaded Indy this week.  Here’s how they line up statistically (courtesy of CBS Sportsline.com) 


 

The Colts offense is second in the league in passing with 245 YPG but they are dead last in the NFL in rushing with a 67 YPG average.  The Ravens defense is first in all categories.


 

The Colts defense is ranked 4th in the NFL in passing defense and dead last in rushing defense with a 188 YPG average.  The Ravens are ranked 4th in rushing with a 153 YPG average and second to last in passing. 


 

Hmmmm.  What does that tell you?


 

For starters, if, for some obscure reason, you have a Ravens receiver in your fantasy pool I’d be sure to sit him down.


 

The offensive line will step it up and the quartet of McGahee, McClain, Neal, & Rice will pound the Indy defense into submission as the Ravens play ball control.  Look for another 35 minute + time of possession advantage (the Ravens lead the league in TOP, by the way).


 

Ravens fans will get a measure of revenge as the defense will pressure an increasingly immobile Peyton Manning, make a couple sacks, and get a pick or two.


 

Ravens 24, Colts 14.
 
 
Photo by Sabina Moran

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Fran "The Fan" Vojik

About Fran "The Fan" Vojik

Fran Vojik has been a contributor to the Ravens24X7 site since 2005, first as a regular on the “Letters to T.L.” page, then as the author of the Fran the Fan column. A huge Orioles and Ravens fan, he defines the term “homer.” A former season ticket holder of the Baltimore Colts, he now roots on the Ravens from his corner end zone seat in M&T Bank Stadium. His work makes him a regular traveler to various MLB and NFL cities and he’s watched both the Birds and Purple and Black in a variety of away stadiums. He brings a passionate and humorous perspective to the world of professional sports. Born in Highlandtown, and a graduate of Calvert Hall College and the University of Maryland, he lives on Furnace Creek in northern Anne Arundel County. He and his girlfriend, Sandy, have recently renovated his Man Cave, known as the “The Sports Palace,” which contains many mementos from the Colts, Ravens, and Orioles. On days the Ravens play at home, Fran can usually be found tailgating at the Baltimore Fire Fighters Union Hall Local 734 , supporting the organization’s Widow’s and Orphan’s fund.

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