Stillers-Ravens Post Game Analysis & Grades:
Some people are appalled at my behavior while watching this game. Was I being loud and disorderly? No. Quite the opposite. Apparently I resemble the fireman somberly watching from afar the last embers smolder away from a burning building. I don't even get PO'd anymore. There's nothing I saw today that I haven't seen happen repetitively, week in and week out, the past 2 seasons. NOTHING. Foolhardy offside penalties, time and time again?? Yawn, seen that before. Getting scorched repetitively by one WR? Old hat. Tackling that reminds me of watching girls power puff football? Seen it already. Watching half-hearted, no brained play and coaching? Yawn; been there, done that. No pass pressure whatsoever? Old news. A right tackle imitating an upright alligator? Same ol' stuff. This was simply the team stink that I flat-out expected to occur. When you expect to see & smell stench, and then that's what you're forced to observe, it's not quite as nasty as if it caught you off guard.
QB: I promised before the season that I would waste no time analyzing & evaluating Mike Prozac, who has no business even being on an NFL roster. The best pass of the day came from our bruising 280-pound running back.
RB: The Bus garnered for a paltry 39 yards on 13 carries, mostly on little 2 & 3 yards runs. Huntley, meanwhile, gave the offense some nice change of pace pep by bursting for 68 yards only 8 carries. The Bus had 4 catches, mostly on safety valve dumpoffs. Bus' best play was a well-thrown HB option pass to Ward for our 1st TD. B+.
FB: Witman, the all-purpose boy wonder, slogged around in his usual doldrums, making some adequate blocks but mixing in plenty of bumbling blocks as well, which helped clog up the running lane. He was thrown 1 pass -- an up pattern in the EZ from the Baltimore 21, which was in his gut with both hands on the ball, for a sure TD. Only problem, was that a thin DB lazily pawed at the ball, and the stonehanded Witman foolishly allowed the ball to pop out for an inc. pass. C-.
WR: Leading the way today was none other than the man who might well be the best WR on this team, Kordell Stewart. Stewart keyed the 1st drive with a 28 yard reception, and snared an 11-yd TD pass in the 4th qtr. His finished with nearly an 18-yard/catch average. Troy had an ok day, grabbing 6 balls for 64 yards and 1 TD off a very slight & slick Irvin-like pushoff. However, he foolishly outright dropped the ball on 1 play, in which he was juking and dancing, and the ball was darn near recovered by Balt. Clay Shaw had 4 grabs but dropped 2 others. Ward chipped in with 3 grabs for 43 yards. Perhaps the days most stunning development came when rookie Malcolm Johnson was allowed onto the playing field for something other than pre-game warmups. It was only 1 play, but Malcolm ran a crisp square in ("he's still learning how to run patterns," wails the coaching staff) and caught a mediocre pass for an 18-yard gain. B+.
TE: Breuner had 2 grabs for 33 yards. His blocking was ok. I know I mostly write the same thing each week about the multi-millionaire Breuner, but there's only so many ways to describe a vanilla ice cream cone or a quart of milk. B.
OL: This is a steep challenge for me this week. I'm fairly good at grasping for words to describe my observations. The problem is, how do I describe the o-line today?? Merely stating that this group smelled as bad as a coop full of moldy chicken dung would be a disservice, since it wouldn't be nearly accurate or blunt enough. The line play was an utter bag o' barf. Faneca & Duffy each got bullrushed by Siragusa and gave up sacks. Stai committed his usual 2 false starts. The run blocking was often spotty and porous. Gandy was far from superb, but he actually was the best lineman today. Leading the way in gross ineptitude was none other than Chris "The Human Turnstile" Conrad. His play was downright repulsive and sickening. The man imitated an alligator standing on it's hind legs, left trying to block with only it's forelegs. He was continually abused all game long, allowing pressure onto the QB as steady as piss flowing in the 3 River Stadium latrines at halftime. In the 4th quarter he was beaten brutally by Burnett for a sack while using a bizarre, never-seen-in-the-NFL technique where he kept his hands and arms within 2 inches of his own belly button. I'm debating on whether to call Piss Conrad "The Human Turnstile" or "The Upright Alligator". If you have a preference, please send me an email. F.
DL: The line gave another ho-hum effort. Most of their effort today was involved in an epic battle to see who could jump offsides the most. Faat Staat -- he of the faggott-looking blonde & purple hair -- led the way with 2 of 'em, while Hot Tub Harrison, Fat Steed, and Roye each "contributed" one boneheaded offsides apiece. Roye actually had a solid day. He appears to be a player who is fighting for an upcoming payday as a UFA. Oh, yeah, that's right -- he will be a UFA in 2 months. However, he, along with Emmons and Kirk, foolishly jogged after a fumble caused by a Shields sack, and a diving Raven instead recovered a ball while these 3 defenders stood around and watched. Henry made a couple plays but had little pocket push, though he did collect a coverage sack. Steed did very little. In fact, on The Priest's 64-yard TD jaunt, Fat Steed can be seen on videotape being pushed back 9 yards from the line of scrimmage, and Holmes casually breezed by him on his way upfield for the TD. C-.
LB: This was an all-around weak effort by this entire LB crew. Holmes led the team with 5 solos and 2 helpers, and Kirk had 4 solos. Still, neither man stuffed the run as well as he is capable of. The outside linebacking, as usual, was a comedy of errors and softy play. Emmons and Gildon combined to do nothing and hit no one. Neither man applied any more pass pressure than what a wheelchair-ridden, AIDS infected, flu-bug affected paraplegic could have mustered. Emmons had 4 solos, but at least 2 came on unblocked plays on short pass completions. Emmons hurt his hand --- let's keep the "he probably did it while jacking his beanstalk" wisecracks to a minimum here, folks --- early in the game and missed some playing time. Gildon --- who played EVERY down (55 total plays from scrimmage) --- recorded a puny 2 assists and ZERO tackles. ZERO. The collar. And it's not like Gildong didn't have ample opportunities. TWICE, he had The Priest in his grasp for losses, but both times, The Priest shook him off like a WWF wrestler tossing a folding chair. Another time, Gildon got into the backfield but flailed and whiffed badly on a Priest run. And, on The Priest's 64-yard TD run, Gildon was EASILY shoved waaay oiut of the play by the TE, which created a huge alley was wide as the Boulevard of the Allies for Priest to run thru. Yes, Earl Holmes overpursued on this play, but given the massive alleyway created by Gildon'g abysmal play, Holmes had little choice but to favor the outside and hope for backside pursuit, which (the pursuit) failed miserably. Gildon also went offsides. Joey Porter played some in Emmon's absence and did little. ILBs, C+. OLBs, F.
DB: As shameful an effort from a secondary as I've seen in a long, long time. Facing a scattershot QB and an injury riddled WR corps, this crew would have had difficulty covering a wounded striped bass inside a phone booth. Chad's play was spotty all day, committing a foolish PI penalty on a poorly thrown HB option pass and actually getting beat by slowpoke Armour deep (pass just over thrown). DeWayne got used and abused by Ismail, getting whipped on the slant routes like a red-headed stepchild and tripping over a yard-line on Ismail's 3d TD of the day. Shields had 2 hideous boners on Ismail's 1st 2 TDs; on the 1st, he foolishly failed to wrap after delivering the hit, and on the 2d, he took a pitifully poor angle to Ismail (same play as the 1st TD) and was easily juked out by the Scud Missile. Davis was in nowhere-land on The Priest's long TD run; this was HIS play and he was NOWHERE to be found until Priest was dashing by him towards paydirt. Lee delivered a couple good hits, including 1 near the goal-line on a Priest plunge that was stopped cold. Lance Brown enabled this run to occur, when 2 plays earlier, he asininely went offside on an errant 3d down pass, allowing the drive to stay alive. F.
Spec Teams: The special teams were rife with bonehead plays today. Edwards, carrying the ball under his RIGHT arm while running near the LEFT sidelines, fumbled away the ball after getting hit. Simmons senselessly allowed a punt to bounce off him at the 4 and go into the EZ. Witman committed a dumbassed illegal-man-downfield penalty on 1 punt. Kris had a couple shallow KOs and even booted 1 KO outa bounds. He also was short & wide on a crucial 46-yard FG try in the 4th qtr. D.
Off Coord: Gee, it took only 13 games to run a HB Option pass, when every team we've played has stacked the line and chased Bettis as if he were a millionaire walking thru the streets of the Hill District. Malcolm Johnson is finally allowed to play 1 play. Ya gotta at least love Gaypride's preparation. We had 10 days to prepare for this game, yet wasted 3 (three) timeouts on disorganized confusion in the play/formation/time clock/whatever the hell. C.
Def Coord: The sideline shot, shown shortly after the 1st of Ismail's 3 TDs, of Cowhead screaming at the defense, said it all. Jim Asslet was standing off to the side, with that "deer in the headlights" look on his face. Asslet had no clue what was going on, and was, as usual, totally befuddled. It's incredible when you look at the stats -- Ismail 268 yards receiving. That's no mistype -- 2-6-8. The rest of the Raven offense? Armour, a mediocre career journeyman, had 0 grabs. Billy Davis had 1 grab for 7 yards and FB Evans had 1 dumpoff for 3 yards. That's IT. With injuries to Pat Johnson and Jermaine Lewis, the Raven WR corps was decimated, and Asslet's job should have been easier than selling Thunerbird to a wino. Just like last year's debacle versus Carl Dickens, nothing doing. Asslet refused to place extra coverage on Ismail --- the ONLY Raven threat --- and Ismail just torched us by primarily running ONLY one pattern, the deep slant. If this woeful, vomit-inducing job by Asslet doesn't convince other NFL teams what a WORHTLESS head coach this man would be, nothing short of cold-blooded murder will do the trick. F.
Head Coach: Cowher's farcical charade of "ending the season on a winning note" is rapidly becoming a joke. What's more, Cowher himself is becoming a laughingstock around the NFL. It's one thing to lose to the powerful Titans and Jags. It's another thing to lose at home against the Browns, Bungles, and now the Ravens. It's readily apparent that Cowhead has lost control of the players and this team, and that his ranting and raving have zero impact on his players. When a team commits 12 penalties --- about 9 on dumbassed un-forced errors like offside, false start, and illegal-downfield --- there is a terrible lack of discipline and attention to detail. THAT'S COACHING, folks. When a head coach whose specialty is defense cannot conjure a plan to stop the opponent's ONLY passing threat, that's coaching. What makes Cowher look even more the ass is his stubborn, staunch REFUSAL to play rookies and backup. He claims, "We're trying to win football games." We are? Where? When? It was Cowhead's asinine stubbornness --- from refusing to bench Stewart to refusing to grab Gaypride by the throat to refusing to start Troy --- that got him in this mess in the 1st place. Now, he's gonna be stubborn to the bitter end and refuse PT for Amoz, Gonzo, A. Smith, Porter, et al, so that we can "end the season on a winning note". What difference is it if we win our last game and finish 6-10 or lose it and finish 5-11?? Either way, Cowhead will resign and we'll have a host of untested youngsters. F.
If it weren't so sickening it might be laughable. A good bit of the players have quit; the coaching staff has their collective heads up the asses, and the team is staggering to 1 of the most despicable finishes in the history of the NFL. Five consecutive losses with no end in sight. It's enough to make you angry and enraged, but since you may very well see the same load of manure next week, there's no sense getting all worked up. NFL Films might use the following title on their film of the '99 Steelers, "1999, A Season of Stubborn Stupidity".
The Still Mill