How to Lose to a Mediocre Quarterback
Stillers-Ravens Post-Game by PalmerSucks
November 9, 2011
Let the hype begin! Joe Flacco, Average Joe, the guy who couldn�t beat out Tyler Palko, the guy who looked like garbage against Jacksonville and Tennessee, is now an elite QB, thanks to his �miracle� comeback drive Sunday Night. Yes, the guy they booed off the field just a couple weeks ago in Baltimore is now the toast of Crabtown. We were with you all the way, Joe, we knew you could do it!
Of course, Flacco�s success is more the product of Stillers stupidity than his own talent. And thanks to this stupidity, some sportswriter in Baltimore can get away with this piece of brain-deadness in the local paper: �The difference between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ravens is no longer in the quarterback.�
Last I looked, the Pittsburgh QB had two rings, and the Baltimore guy is still a playoff fizzler, but why use common sense at a time like this? The �difference� in REALITY is that the team around Flacco is now a bit better than the team around Roethlisberger. And that team has been carrying Flacco all year. Sunday Night was no exception.
Look � going on a long TD drive to score on the Stillers late is hardly a Hall of Fame achievement. It�s been done for years now, by such all-time legends as Bruce Gradkowski. You don�t have to be a great QB to lead a game-winning drive against the Stillers D � you just have to be good at accepting gifts.
We�ll get back to Average Joe and why he REALLY won the game (or more like was ALLOWED to win it), but first to the Black and Gold. The Stillers suffer from two basic problems right now, both of which played a big part in losing this game. (These two issues MUST improve if the Stillers are to have any chance at post-season success.)
1. A lack of takeaways from the defense.
2. Continuing struggles by the offense in the red-zone scoring area.
The Stillers did get a huge turnover late in the game, but this has to change going forward to make up for sometimes horrible third-down defense. Likewise, the Stillers blew at least two chances to score TDs rather than FGs, which would�ve put the game away before the great Flacco ever had a chance for his epic comeback.
Flacco, of course, made his usual late-game choke contribution, co-operating by coughing up the ball after being hit by Harrison. But once again the Stillers D came through, bailing him out like Lindsay Lohan�s lawyer.
Let me set the scene for you: the final Ravens play, the game-winning pass.
There are 16 seconds left with the ball at the Stillers 26-yard line. This is basically a HAIL MARY situation -- 16 seconds means that at least one of the next two throws will have to go into the end zone � there is NO TIME for anything else -- there is NO NEED to cover anything short. And yet the Stillers do exactly that.
Eight Stiller defenders line up at the scrimmage line � that�s eight defenders who are about to become useless in pass coverage � eight Stillers who are about to have no shot to stop the winning TD. Worse, the one Stiller who WILL have the chance will be the LAST Stiller you�d want to be in that position.
Eight defenders up � WHY? This from the defense FAMOUS for yielding ten-yard cushions to receivers. The one time they SHOULD be laying back, they aren�t. It boggles the mind.
The Ravens need a touchdown, not a field goal. In this situation the advantage should be all Stillers. But as you�ll see, the Stillers gave the advantage away � and even gave the advantage to the other team.
You�re Joe Flacco � you take the snap, you look right, and your eyes light up: you�ve got the whole right side of the field clean, and Willie Gay, the DB you�ve picked on all game, is one-on-one with your fastest wide receiver. Even better, the only other Stiller in the neighborhood is Ryan Clark, the oldest, slowest DB on the team. You are about to receive the football equivalent of free government cheese.
Instead of running eight guys up at the line, the right call was to drop back the house. Hell, I�d have dropped TEN guys back. The rush was never going to get to Flacco anyway. Worse, James Harrison, the one guy who might�ve gotten there � who�d harassed Flacco all day � is assigned to cover Rice out of the backfield, as if the Ravens are going to DUMP OFF THE BALL with 16 seconds left!
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Even worse when you consider that Smith had ALREADY gotten behind the defense a couple plays earlier � but, like the drunk driver who ignores the tree he�s about to smack into, the Stillers press on blindly with their ASSAHOLIC scheme.
Clark, meanwhile, and for some bizarre reason, is given the responsibility to look at both Boldin and Smith � rather than help out Gay straight up. The look at Boldin freezes him, long enough for Smith to run safely by. Clark now has no chance to defend the pass.
The Stillers show Flacco a Cover 2 look, and stay with it, when they easily could�ve shifted at the snap to a 3-deep zone and SURPRISED him. But no, we don�t just want to change Joey�s diaper, we want to powder his ass, too! You park a bunch of DBs inside the 5-yard line, and wait for the ball � or move forward to make the tackle in case Flacco is dumb enough to hit a receiver short. Instead they man up, making it an easy read and throw.
Against all sanity, Gay is singled up against Smith. It�s as if Dick said, hey that scheme we ran against Brady worked so well, we�ll do it again! Note to Dick: you don�t play MAN with 16 seconds left, and the other team needing a TD to win.
I�ve watched Flacco for years � he�s in his comfort zone out of the shotgun, facing man coverage � a drop-zone or even a man-zone combo would take him out of his safe place. If they�d just address this issue, they�d have as much success against him as every other team in the NFL does.
Instead of giving Flacco the choice between throwing short and burning clock, or throwing into the end zone and getting picked -- you give him man coverage with the worst cover guy the Stillers have. You turn an almost impossible situation into a cushy, easy one. You set him up for a throw any third-string junior-high QB could�ve made.
Clark seals the deal by taking the worst possible angle, though with his speed he�d probably have come late anyway. The gift TD is now wrapped, and ready to be handed to Flacco.
So despite what you hear on TV, this �legendary� TD drive isn�t about the greatness of Joe Flacco -- it�s simply about stupidity and charity. It�s about handing out points to Average Joe, Joe Flak Jacket, the guy who couldn�t beat out Tyler Palko. So pardon me if I�m not impressed.
Bitter? That�s another story. I haven�t felt this nauseous since the prime hype days of Carson Palmer, the Southern Cal Choker. With So Cal gone, enter Flacco, the new king of undeserved praise in the AFC North.
Thanks Stiller D for that.
And you know what�s worst of all? This is the SAME thing that happened last year in the loss to Baltimore � single coverage on a receiver who�s allowed to get behind the whole defense in the last few seconds of the game. You�d think the Stillers would�ve learned from this disaster, but no! Same dumb scheme, same unnecessary result. Even a dog learns not to piss on the rug when he gets smacked on the nose enough times. But here are your Pittsburgh Stillers, the dog that keeps on pissing on the rug. Bravo!
No other team in football would be foolish enough to play things this way, which is why Joe Flacco looks like Joe Flacco against Jacksonville, and Joe Montana against the Stillers. THERE lies the true �greatness� of Joe Flak Jacket.
If the Ravens fail to score, as they SHOULD have, the sportswriters are back to ripping on Average Joe, the guy who just can�t get it done when it counts. Instead, the hype morons get to come out and compare him, once again, to Roethlisberger. It�s enough to make you sick.
Long rant over � time to move forward.
So no way around it, your Pittsburgh Stillers simply choked away a win Sunday Night, and with that, the season changes completely. Barring a complete Baltimore collapse, any thoughts of a division title or home-field advantage are done.
But the news isn�t all bad � as I�ve been saying before the season, �10 wins and you�re in.� The schedule isn�t horribly tough, and with so many teams in the conference with .500 or worse records, the Wild Card game is well within reach. That, my friends, leads to a VERY interesting possibility.
The Dream Scenario: Crushing Baltimore for Good
If the Stillers can make the Wild Card game, there�s a good chance they�ll win � and attain what I would most like to see: a rematch with the Ravens, on their field, in the divisional round. Do I guarantee a win here? No, but I DO promise you, deep down it�s not something the Ravens fan would want to see. Why? It�s simple � even the possibility of being knocked out of the playoffs by the Stillers is enough to give them cold, cold nightmares.
Now that the Ravens believe they�ve conquered the Stillers, the cruelty quotient of a future Stillers win would be off the charts. A playoff win over the Ravens would wipe out the regular-season losses, and send the town into a tailspin they might never recover from. It couldn�t happen to a nicer bunch of people.
Should the rematch happen, though, let�s just hope LeBeau learns his lesson from this whole debacle.
UPDATE: Harbaugh whined publicly today about � get this � the Stillers playing a song on the PA system matched up with Flacco�s picture on the Jumbotron (reportedly it was Lynrd Skynrd�s �What�s Your Name?� featuring the lyric �what�s your name, little girl?� � if this was intentional, awesome job!). No, Coach doesn�t have enough to worry about with his own team, he now cares about what music the other guys choose to play in their OWN stadium. Can you say �total douche�? The Stillers must go on a MISSION to make the playoffs, knock these clowns out and break their hearts forever.
God may own Terrell Suggs�s Soul, But Max Starks Owns His Ass
One reason I wouldn�t mind a rematch: the superb job Starks did on Suggs (and any other Ravens defender that came his way). Suggs of course normally terrorizes the Stillers, which made the sight of him eating the turf all the more beautiful a sight. The Stiller line (different as it is from Week 1) did a nice job of giving Roethlisberger time � a very encouraging sign. Starks OWNING Suggs is good news for any future rematch.
Sadly, though, Stiller stupidity led to outrage #2: rather than hiding in shame, Flacco�s gift TD allows Suggs to go on ESPN and run his mouth. He even gets to brag up Average Joe, the guy who stunk against Jacksonville, the guy who couldn�t beat out Tyler Palko at Pitt. (Note to Skip Bayless: next time you have Suggs on your show, how about asking him how it feels to be Starks�s biatch?)
That�s what makes the Suggs pick so ridiculous, by the way � Stiller receivers had no problem getting open downfield Sunday night. The short-dink stuff simply wasn�t necessary � especially the puff pass that Suggs caught. It was an unnecessary call, and an even less necessary throw.
Yes, through the miracle of Stillers stupidity, Suggs�s one contribution, a government-cheese interception, gets to overshadow the job Starks did on him. The guy who spent half the game eating turf now gets to act all big and bad afterwards. Today there is no justice in the world.
What Can Brown Do for You?
I can�t close without pointing out the superb play of Antonio Brown, who�s quickly becoming the best all-around receiver on the team. I�m still not down with the post-catch celebrations, but that�s a small price to pay for such a high level of performance. Thanks to Brown, the Ravens dropped their safeties back (instead of where they usually are, up in the box) most of the game � THAT�S what you call �run support.�
Up Next, the Bengals
And notice I didn�t say �Bungals.� As I said before the season, not only would Cincy NOT implode without the Southern Cal Choker, they�d actually IMPROVE. So while Palmer is busy gagging it up in Oakland, rookie Andy Dalton is quietly restoring the roar in Cincy. The Bengals look to prove their 6-2 record is no fluke, and what better way to do that than with a win over the Stillers.
The game sets up to be tricky: the Bengals, for whatever reason, appear to have lost the clown-thug quotient that made them such a joke. Dalton is raw, but not immature: his recognition skills are advanced, and he understands the checkdown concept better than most first-year guys. The �Red Rifle� has the arm strength to jam the ball into small windows; he�s a better pure passer than Cam Newton. The Stillers cannot afford to sleep on him.
This is a must-win for the Stillers, as a loss would jeopardize the Wild Card hopes. It�s a game the Stillers SHOULD win � the Wild Card march begins this Sunday.