Hard to teach an old dog new tricks

Lombardi's Way Hard to teach an old dog new tricks

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Today the Ravens placed offensive tackle Jared Gaither on injured reserve to make room on the roster for safety Ed Reed. The team also cut LB Edgar Jones to free up a roster spot for three-time Pro Bowler, special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo.

The Gaither designation is a disappointing one for the Ravens who held out hope that the enigmatic player could somehow work his way back into the starting lineup so that they could re-insert Marshal Yanda to his more natural guard position. The move makes Gaither unavailable to the team for the balance of the 2010 season. It is also quite possible that Gaither has played his last down as a member of the Ravens.

Throughout the season the team has relied upon the right side combination of Yanda (T) and Chris Chester (G) despite the presence of Oniel Cousins. Cousins has been lauded by the coaching staff as a developing player yet they remain steadfast in their commitment to the Chester-Yanda combo. Cousins has seen a limited amount of time as an extra lineman in short yardage situations.

The release of Jones is an indication that the Ravens believe that Ayanbadejo is ready to contribute fairly soon. Like him or not, Jones was on most of the team’s coverage and return units.

With the 0-5 Buffalo Bills coming into town this week, the team might feel that they have the luxury of taking it easy with Ed Reed even with Tom Zbikowski down. Some have suggested that the Ravens simply rest Reed another two weeks however, count me among those who think he should play against the Bills. The Ravens and Reed should approach tomorrow’s game in a manner similar to how they handle veterans/starters in the first preseason game. Let him feel some contact and then use the bye week to reset so that he’s ready for a bigger workload against the more dangerous Miami Dolphins.

The say that numbers don’t lie but sometimes they do deceive. It’s hard to fathom a statistically solid performance that like of Joe Flacco’s v. New England (QB rating of 119.3) and still lose but that’s exactly what happened in Foxborough. What isn’t measured by that formula is Flacco’s effectiveness in clutch situations – in other words the 4th quarter. His rating from Q4 through overtime was 71.2 as opposed to the 144.5 rating he carried into the final frame. I think that’s called tightening up.

During the pivotal quarter, the Patriots rushed only 3 players most of the time, dropping 8 into coverage. The middle linebacker took a deep drop while another backer spied Ray Rice. Heap was hit repeatedly at the line of scrimmage while trying to release. Team insiders believe that Flacco needed to hold on to the ball longer before dumping off to Rice and allow the receivers to create separation. The trouble with that on Sunday is the offensive line did a pretty shoddy job of protecting Flacco despite the Patriots only bringing three.

Cam Cameron has been the focal point of fan disdain this week because of his play calling and the perception that he lacks a killer instinct. John Harbaugh publicly supported Cameron and the offensive coordinator also took time out to defend his play calling.

Cameron’s history does suggest a tendency towards conservatism when holding the lead. Ravens fans might recall how the San Diego Chargers did exactly that back in 2006 when they faced the Ravens here at M&T Bank Stadium, a game the Ravens would eventually win 16-13. Cameron was the offensive coordinator at the time in San Diego and despite Phillip Rivers having ample time to throw that day. Cameron opted instead to run at the Ravens with Ladainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner, throwing it just 22 times.

You know what they say about old dogs, right?

 

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 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 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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