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Friday, October 26, 2012

Where can the Ravens improve?

The offensive linemen and defensive linemen are critical. “You really need the horses upfront.”

The last couple of weeks the Ravens offensive and defensive lines have been shaky. It’s important that the offensive line give Flacco the time he needs. Just as important, the Ravens Defense needs to step up their defense against an offensive running game.

Losing Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb this late in the season has put a damper on defense and it is hard to consider replacing them in the middle of the season. So, it is up to the coaches to adjust and make some tough decisions on how to rectify what’s going on. The bye-week right now will give the players some much needed rest. I think there needs to be a gut-check of the coaches because they need to get these guys refocused otherwise we’re in deep trouble.

The fans are going to be asking whether the problem lies with the players or with the coaches. They might even start wondering if we need a new defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator.

In my time, we had a few incidences where we lost key players mid-season. In 1965, we lost Gary Cuozzo and Johnny Unitas. That left us with no standing quarterback. Back then, we only had 40 active players, unlike today where they have 53. The only way to bounce back from losing key team members is for the rest of the team to step up. It’s important that players be able to play multiple positions. I, myself, was listed in the top ten most versatile players because I could play all the positions.

When Cuozzo and Unitas were both hurt, it was up to me to stand up to the challenge and step in as the quarterback. It would never have worked if the team had not adapted. The coaches and the quarterbacks helped coach me through it. It was how they found they could capitalize on me rolling out. I was basically a running-back turned quarterback.

In time of adversity, other players need to step up. When I was acting as quarterback, I was never touched. Everyone else increased their efforts to protect me. Even in this time of adversity, we made the 1965 play offs.

I played 3 games as quarterback. We were up against the fearsome foursome. During the 1960s and 1970s, the Los Angeles Rams defensive line had been referred to as the fearsome foursome which included Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen, and Deacon Jones. We flew to LA and played out there. Of course, the Rams were favored. Yet, my offensive line stepped line and defensive line stepped up to the challenge. The defense was able to hold the Rams from scoring too much and the end score was 20 Colts -- 17 Rams. After our victory against the Rams, we were 10-3-1—tied with the Green Bay Packers. Back then, ties existed. On Christmas Day, we had to play in Green Bay. The game went into overtime with a score of 10-10. The Green Bay Packers won it with a controversial field goal that appeared to be wide. (Following this incident, the uprights were extended and officials were placed directly beneath the uprights to avoid future bad field goal calls)

When adversity is at hand, it’s time for everyone to do their part and step up. You win football games in the trenches.

With this Bye week, the Ravens have time to think about their strategy and in doing so they have the potential to do great things this season.