In 2010, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost a total of five games. Four of those losses came with Ben Roethlisberger behind center. The fifth was, of course, in Week 4 when the Ravens won in Pittsburgh against backup quarterback Charlie Batch.
In three of those other four losses – again all with Ben as the starter, an obstacle that has proven to be a mountain the likes of which the Ravens have been unable to scale since 2006 – the offensive game plan of Pittsburgh’s opponent was strikingly similar: spread them out and throw the ball.
Thank you very much Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers for providing the formula, the blue print if you will on how to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s as plain as the play chart covering Cam Cameron’s face.
Spread out those commissioner hating, blitzing linebackers and push their safeties away from the line of scrimmage. Effectively that severely hampers defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau’s ability to disguise his intentions.
As great a playmaker as Troy Polamalu is and as good as he is around the line of scrimmage, he is a severe liability in coverage if he’s given a responsibility other than roaming. Clearly other teams have taken full advantage of this Achilles Heel of Polamalu while the Ravens simply let him blitz off the edge and blow up their plays again and again and again.
Now, some will obviously point out that a detail I am glossing over is that the three aforementioned quarterbacks in the example are among the top five signal callers in the NFL today.
Flacco, while good, is not on the level of those guys at this point in his career. However, you have to give the guy a chance – send him out there with a strong game plan and let him sink or swim. Doing things the same way over and over expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Cameron needs a new blueprint against Pittsburgh – period, end of story.
And here it is courtesy of the Saints, Patriots and Packers…
Week 8 – New Orleans Saints 20, Squealers 10
Week 10 – New England Patriots 39, Pittsburgh 26
Tom Brady: 30/43 350 yards 3 TD, 0 INT
The Steelers’ final regular season loss came to the New York Jets, who scored only one offensive touchdown in the game, to go along with a kick return touchdown and a safety. Their game plan didn’t fit this mold, so I’m not including any screencaps from that contest. If it weren’t for the special teams touchdown – hardly something you want to count on – they would have likely lost the game.
Please also take note that, in addition to having three, four, or five wide receivers, in each of the above plays the quarterback is in the shotgun formation.
Ravens fans have been begging Cam Cameron to use the shotgun more often for two full seasons now, to no avail.
Joe Flacco shows, time and again, that he is most effective from the shotgun, yet for some unknown top secret reason, Cam keeps putting Joe under center – where valuable seconds are wasted dropping back and setting up, seconds Flacco often doesn’t have, with his offensive line’s shaky play and his (still, ugh) relatively long delivery.
But do the Ravens have the personnel to execute the plan?
To that question, I answer, “YES!”
Cam, just pick any combination (at least 4) of the following: Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans, Ed Dickson, Tandon Doss, Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith (hell, just send the guy deep and they have to at least pay attention to him), and even Ray Rice (remember his huge 4th-down catch against the Steelers in Baltimore in 2009, when he split out to Joe’s right).
Line those guys up on the outside, put Joe back in the shotgun, and let’s see what happens.
I’m begging you. This is like painting by numbers!
Game after game, the Ravens continue to play right into the Steelers’ hands, trying to run the ball against their immovable front seven (eight, if you count the troll wearing No. 43), and passing from under-center with five and seven-step drop designs.
But who am I kidding?
They’ll likely come out on September 11 and do the same thing and I’ll be in a bar in Beaufort, North Carolina banging my head against the wall.