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Ravens-3 -- The Keys to Beating the PoeBirds

January 16, 2009 by Still Mill

AFC title game pregame
Ravens-3 -- The Keys to Beating the PoeBirds

The Stillers host the hated PoeBirds in the AFC Title game.The Stillers eked by in both wins over the Peckerheads this season.No one seems to play the Stillers with the kind of stinginess and tenacity that the Ravens seem to come up with every time these 2 foes meet.Please note that I�ll be in da house for the game !! Got my tickets yesterday !


Offensive Keys:


- Keeping Balt off balance.�� As noted last week, if Arians, the supreme dullard that he is, is going to roll out another vanilla, bland as skim milk game plan, it�s gonna be an ugly, tight ballgame.Blandly plunging Parker up the gut and having BenRoth take 5-step drops amidst whale-shit pass patterns, will be a recipe for disaster.�� Unbelievably, Arians, for the first time since the season opener, actually shook things up a bit last week and kept the SD Bolts off balance.Of course, it must happen again this week.This is the playoffs; it�s do or die.Boots, rolls, reverses, slip screens, shovel passes (hasn�t been one all season) -- all must be considered and ready to run.Of course, nothing should be done in a grab-bag fashion.If Balt is overpursuing, then adjust and call a play that exploits the over-pursuit.Tempo should be UP, rather than the glacially slow pace that Arians stupidly loves to promulgate.The no-huddle should be used early and often, if nothing else to keep Balt. guessing and limit their package defenses.Coach Harbaugh is going to go for all the marbles with an aggressive, hell-bent defensive game plan.And perhaps most importantly, Arians and the offense must be fully prepared for overly aggressive RUN-BLITZING on 1st and 2nd downs and some varieties of jailhouse blitzes on obvious passing downs.On a related side note, examine this info related to Arians Nation - the Governor of Stupidity:


������ The Steelers had a remarkable lack of success on fourth down this season; they were 3 of 12 in the regular season, a 25 percent rate of success that ranked last in the league by a wide margin. Next to last was Carolina at 37.8 percent. More than half the teams (17) converted at least half their fourth-down plays. The Steelers added to their woeful rate by going 0 for 2 on fourth downs Sunday vs. SD (one was a fake punt).


We can talk about "execution", but the plain fact of the matter is that NO TEAM has a more bland approach to 4th down plays than Arians and his "handoff left" play that he runs 90% of the time up left guard.  The facts prove it.  Dead last in the league.  No one else even close.


- Benji must be decisive.This cannot be over-stated.Timid, gun-shy pussifism is a co-joining recipe for disaster.On 1st or 2nd down, when in doubt, throw the ball away.1st down sacks that create a 2nd & 19, or a fumble, will give Balt every chance to steal this game.�� Knowing how anemic their offense is, Balt�s defense lives for the big turnover and they approach every game with an expectation -- not merely a hope -- of getting 2-3 big turnovers.�� Ben was decisive last week�.but he cannot rest on his laurels.He must be smart, and decisive, again this week.


- More involvement from Moore.�� No player has been more reliable this season, yet used in such a bizarre, forgetful manner, as has Mewelde Moore.The first 3 weeks of the season, despite being a veteran whom Coach Tomlin had worked with, admired, and �recruited� as a UFA, he was treated like a rookie free agent who made the club on the last cut.Only when Parker and Mendenhall were injured was Moore, out of desperation, given a good opportunity to produce.And produce he did, quite superbly.Then Parker returned to the lineup somewhat late in the season, and Moore was again vanquished to a 2-bit roleplayer.In the critical battle against the Titans a few weeks ago, Moore had all of 3 carries and 2 catches.


����� In the AFC Div playoff last week, Moore again became the estranged leper, touching the ball in the 1st half only once on the ground and once in the air, while seldom-used FB Carey Davis received an exhausting amount of involvement in the offense.Moore was the hero of Ravens-1, then was never allowed to participate in the passing game in Ravens-2, in which he caught zero passes.Not only has Moore rushed the ball with aplomb, but he also has firmly established himself as a trusty safety valve for BenRoth and gives the passing game a tremendous boost with his catching and shifty RAC skills.And forget the bullshit blather about how �Moore caused the lone sack last week�.MaxiPad Starks caused it, not Moore, who has been more than adequate as a blitz blocker.We do not need slow-footed Carey Davis getting lit up by RayRay on dumpoffs, when Moore has the shiftiness and quickness to make Ray and his fellow thugs miss.Overall, Parker should still be used, as should Russell on short-yardage plunges, but quite clearly Moore needs more�not less.��


- Limit the goofy over-fascination with TEs solo blocking DEs and man-eating LBs. We�ve seen Miller and Speath get tossed aside like toddlers all season long on numerous botched blocking assignments.Neither has the brawn to man-up against a DE or an NFL caliber LB.Sure, if the Ravens had a small, flaccid LB of the caliber of say, Larry Foote, this might be do-able�but the Ravens do not.In the last meeting, Trevor Pryce and Terrell Suggs took turns simply abusing and humiliating Matthew Spaeth in such a loud, ridiculous manner that, in all seriousness, Child and Human Welfare should have been called in to put an end to the debasement, sodomy, and inhumanity.This doesn�t mean that the TEs should not be providing double-team help and chip blocks.They should, and they must.But it does mean that Arians had better realize that asking either of these clumsy blockers to man-up on the likes of any of the Raven LBs, or a DE, is a recipe for disaster.And I don�t care if Suggs has a bad shoulder.Even if Suggs has a bad shoulder, along with pneumonia and a broken fibula, he cannot be solo blocked by rumpgrinders like Miller and Spaeth.


- Get Miller out in the pattern.A good portion of the last meeting saw Heath Miller marooned in the backfield as a valve blocker.What bullshit !!�� You�ve just given the Ratbirds what they want�.taking the 3rd best receiver on the team out of the pass pattern, thereby allowing the Rats to lock extra horns on Ward and Holmes.Yes, Miller is a mediocre run blocker, but he�s a terrific route-runner and has the best pair of hands on the team besides Hinesy.As note above, Moore is who you want as a sidecar blocker.Let Moore do his forte and let Miller do his forte.Don�t let the opposing defense force you out of what your players do best.


Defensive Keys:


- Pressure Joe Jacco.�� The ex-Pitt rookie is more than capable of shredding this defense the way Ferry Collins did a few weeks ago down in DollyLand.�� If, of course, he�s given ample time to peruse downfield, nibble on a crumpet, and then step unfettered into his throws.Further, Flacco has shown that he can quite capably complete passes or throw passes away, given time.  With pressure in his face, Jacco easily becomes flustered.WE NEED TO FORCE him to force balls while under pressure and heat.....balls that will either be clean-picked, or tipped and then picked.  Ravens-1 was turned around when Woodley/Harrison stripped the ball from Jacco and Woodley scored that big TD.Moving the ball versus Balt. will be arduous, especially with Arians running the offense.  Getting freebie points off 2-3 turnovers will be huge.  More importantly, Dick LeBeau needs to keep Jacco jittery and bruised throughout the day.None of this pansy-assed 3-man rush bullshit.


- Take advantage of the �over-help� on James Harrison.In the 1st tilt, Jamie Harrison simply ravaged LT Jared Gaither while Adam Terry started at RT.Last tilt, Willie Anderson started at RT and backup OT Adam Terry was used as an "extra TE", if you will, to give the LT, Gaither, a hand with James Harrison.    This effectively neutralized Harrison.   RT Willie Anderson had a stinger in the 1H last week, but returned.   At any rate, if Balt is going to overload with Terry helping Gaither, then Woodley -- who appeared fresh as a daisy versus SD -- MUST create havoc and beat up on Willie Anderson.  And none of this faggott LeBeau horseshit of dropping Woodley into constant coverage.    If only 4 men are rushing, Woodley MUST be 1 of them.  Neither Aaron Smith nor Keisel can generate anything close to continual pressure, nor obviously can Fat Casey.  With his size and brawn, Woodley is the best pass-rushing talent on the team, and needs to spend most of the game doing just that.Make Balt. tie up 2 blockers, then PUNISH them by exploiting Woodley on Anderson.   


- Stop The Human Bowling Ball.McClain rumbled and plowed with ease in the last tilt, gaining 87 yards on 23 carries.The Stiller defense had problems stopping big LenDale White and also McClain, who didn�t do anything fancy but rather put his head down and plowed hell-bent into the line.There was too much shoulder-pawing at McClain, as well as the 230-lb. McGahee.And Taunto Farrior, for no apparent reason, was having considerable problems that game finding the huge bowling ball, continually jumping into an area that was a good 10-12 feet from where McClain actually was.


- Limiting the Mason Killer.The Stillers always seem to bring out the best in WR Derrick Mason.This guy has played us, what, like 18 times in his career (dating back to the Oilers) and has eaten us alive each time.  He is the NFL version of Jack Clark of MLB fame, who simply tore apart Pirate pitching at an astronomical pace.  People fawn all over Hines Ward as a supposed �sure Hall of Famer�.Check out Mason�s stats�..if Ward is bound for Canton, then so is Mason, who has more 1,000 yard seasons (7) than Ward (5) and a slightly higher YPC than Ward.We can hopefully minimize the impact of his inevitable 8 catches, at least 4 of which will be on critical 3rd downs.Note that, despite being a possession receiver, the Ratbirds have started using him downfield, capitalizing on opposing defenses being lulled into complacency and then Mase simply stopping and going. 


- Heap on Heap.Despite the presence of The Winged God of LB Coverage (Taunto Farrior), TEs have enjoyed pillaging this Stiller defense on numerous occasions the past couple of years.Gates enjoyed wide open frolicking most of last Sunday.Ike and Company can handle the Balt WR corps, but Heap presents a mismatch that must be minimized.Slowfooted Ryan Clark must actually get involved, and Troy Pola needs to get over his achy calf, and fast.


- Limit the exploitation of Farrior in the passing game.Farrior now has given up a long, big TD pass play in each of the past 2 playoff games, a dubious distinction that is probably overlooked by all of the local media.Due to the stubborn stupidity of LeBeau and Tomlin, the Steelers start the very slowest pair of ILBs in all of pro football.This is just ripe for bare-assed exposure on so-called running downs.We all can remember Mo Jones-Drew�s long catch-and-run in last year�s playoff loss, in which he easily beat the clod-hopped coverage of Farrior, then eluded (while being 3 inches from the sideline chalk) The Great Tauntoand raced down the sidelines for a long TD.Luckily, the Ravens don�t have a Jones-Drew or a Sproles, but McGahee can and will be used out of the backfield, and Todd Heap, as noted above, is liable to have a big game prancing past a gasping Potsie.




Tomlin was much less conservative last week than his initial playoff foray, and he must not back down from that.To be sure, there is a difference between taking a risk and outright gambling.�� Most everything in life is risky, to include driving a car, riding an airplane, and downhill skiing.Risks must be taken, however, in order to secure victory.Tomlin must go for the gusto.


The biggest hurdle, by far, remains Bruce Arians, who is more than capable of allowing Balt to dictate this game and keeping it a 13-10 game deep into the 4Q, the kind of affair that Balt loves with fervent zeal.Remember this -- nothing can be taken for granted when Bruce Arians is running an offense in the playoffs.Nothing.


It all adds up to another dogfight.I�ll be there at Heinz and will give it my all to help pump up the Stillers and make Flacco feel like the greenhorn that he is.The post-game report will be a day late, so bear with me�.



(Still Mill and -- when it comes to the analysis of the Pittsburgh Stillers, no one else comes close�.)


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