|Coach Killers is your weekly look around the league at those performances, decisions and "Wait, what did he just do?!" moments that put the guy in charge squarely on the ol' hot seat. (US Presswire)|
The Ravens' D is long overdue for a name-check here and now that they've lost -- and in convincing fashion -- we can officially point out what everyone has known for some time: this unit has gone from great to really good to laughingstock in the span of a few years. Losing cornerback Lardarius Webb for the season is huge (losing middle linebacker Ray Lewis is less so, at least from a playmaking perspective, although he remains the team's emotional leader), but he had virtually nothing to do with the state of the run defense.
That's on the front seven, which in the last three games have allowed 622 yards to the Chiefs (214), Cowboys (227) and Texans (181). Even before last Sunday's Houston game, defensive coordinator Dean Pees was already sickened by how his guys were performing.
"Let's be honest: We're not playing well enough," Pees said last week. "To say it any other way would sound like a political debate. There's an answer or there's no answer. We've got to have an answer. We've got to do it. Cut the crap and let's get this thing done."
The Ravens were manhandled by the Texans and no play better exemplifies that than the one below. Facing a 2nd and 1 from the Baltimore 15-yard line, Houston gives the ball to running back Arian Foster who moseys through a gaping hole for 14 yards. Pay particular attention to what center Chris Myers, all 290 pounds of him, does to defensive tackle Terrence Cody (340 pounds).
|Cody lines up over Myers' left shoulder (1). Myers is able to drive Cody off the line some three yards (2-5) and by the time Cody disengages from the block Foster is gone (6). (CBS)|
The Texans scored a play later and went on to score 20 more points before the drubbing was complete.
Good news: Baltimore is 5-2 and leads Pittsburgh by 1.5 games in the AFC North.
Bad news: This defense is going to be the death of the 2012 team. (Well, that, or offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's insistence on not using Ray Rice.)
"Hell, yeah, it's embarrassing," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said after the game via the Baltimore Sun. "We got to see what we did wrong. We got to dissect it and use it to get better."
It's not just the run defense, though. The secondary is a mess and losing Webb, one of the league's best young corners, only exacerbates matters. ProFootballFocus.com, which breaks down every play from every game, had this to say about second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith, who replaced Webb in the lineup: "He already has three games with lower grades than his lowest from all of last year and is currently our 96th-ranked corner overall for the season."
The Ravens' other corner, Cary Williams, admitted that the Texans' wideouts "double-moved me quite a few times," adding: "Anytime they got separation, it was a double-move."
And like Ellerbe, Williams was less than pleased with his effort.
"It's beyond embarrassing," he said via the Sun. "I'm embarrassed of course. Our team is embarrassed. We got to chalk it up and go back to the drawing board. I 100 percent believe in our team. Just because we laid an egg doesn't mean we're going to lose the next time. We're still the Baltimore Ravens."
In name, anyway.
One final thought, again via PFF: "The new starting duo at corner for the Ravens, Williams and Smith, allowed a combined 11 of 13 for 142 yards and a touchdown. You'll be missed Lardarius."
Pat Shurmur, coach - Browns
We're pretty sure this is the first time a head coach has been featured on Coach Killers. But this is Cleveland, where up is down, black is white, and losing is winning.
After originally seeing the highlights and scrolling through the play-by-play from the Colts game, we were ready to give rookie wide receiver Josh Gordon his due here. But after watching every snap, the loss, while marginally Gordon's responsibility because of the fourth-quarter dropped pass in the end zone, is on coach Pat Shurmur.
We'll get to that, but first a recap of Gordon's afternoon: he was targeted 10 times, caught two passes (including a touchdown) and dropped two others. The six other plays were a mix of overthrows, short-hops or tipped passes. Basically, Gordon played like a rookie -- glimpses of potential with plenty to learn. It happens.
|One explanation for Gordon's dropped pass in the end zone? The sun. The other explanation: these are the Browns. (CBS)|
Shurmur, meanwhile, seems ambivalent about keeping his job. After Gordon's end-zone drop, which would've given the Browns a 20-17 lead with 6:45 remaining, Shurmur called a timeout. Apparently, he needed to consider whether going for it on 4th and 1 from the Colts' 41 was a worthwhile endeavor. Naturally, Shurmur punted.
And that decision led to this inevitability:
|Poor fellow. He never stood a chance. (CBS)|
That's new owner Jimmy Haslam apoplectic at a) Gordon's drop and b) punter Reggie Hodges taking the field and actually kicking the ball on 4th and 1. And in true Browns fashion, Hodges hit a 21-yard punt, giving the Colts the ball at their own 20-yard line.
A day later, Shurmur stood by the decision.
"I'd do that again. I think it worked out."
(Wait, what worked out? Losing? In which case, slow clap for you, sir. Otherwise, Pat, you might want to ask Mike Holmgren for any extra cardboard boxes and packing tape. We sense you're going to need them.)
Shurmur was alluding to the Colts' subsequent three-and-out which gave Cleveland the ball back on their own 31 with 4:08 remaining. But here's the thing: according to Brian Burke of AdvancedNFLStats.com and his handy fourth-down calculator, the Browns had a 74 percent chance of converting that 4th and 1. And their win probability should they get that one yard? Forty-five percent.
So, naturally, the Browns punted and Shurmur's okay with that. Welcome to Cleveland, Mr. Haslam!
Cam Newton, QB - Panthers
|'This taste, this vibe, I'm not buying it, man and I don't know what it is. But something's gonna have to change. Something's gonna have to change real fast. … I'm a leave this room and I'm gonna bring in a suggestion box. And I want your suggestion to be in that suggestion box because I sure don't know. I really don't. I wish I could tell you but the only thing I control sweetheart, is myself.' - Cam Newton following the Panthers' loss to the Cowboys (Panthers.com)|
This is about more than Cam Newton's sudden struggles on the field. In fact, most of the second-year backlash stems from how he handles those on-field struggles when he meets with the media. Newton's post-game press conferences have become something of a public therapy session full of awkward moments that would better serve everyone if they remained private.
So what's going on? (We talked about it on the most recent Pick-6 Podcast -- embedded below for your convenience) Well, this isn't about race. Poutin' Jay Cutler is a regular target of fans and media when the Bears are losing.
Funny thing: when Chicago wins, people have a tendency to overlook Cutler's behavior. The Panthers are 1-5, look very much like a one-win outfit and after every loss, and Newton somehow seems more exasperated by it all.
Of course, if the Panthers had anything resembling a cogent offensive philosophy we wouldn't be talking about Newton's morose disposition. Along with everyone else, former NFL quarterback Warren Moon is confused by offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's play-calling.
“I don't know why they got away from what they were doing last year,” Moon told Yahoo.com. “They were running more of a pro-style offense, and now they're going more to the read-option, the stuff he did in college. I think some of it is coaching. I think some of it is they don't have enough good players yet. And there's no question he's not playing as well as last year.
“That offense doesn't allow you to be an NFL-type quarterback. It's a lot of tricks, sticking the ball into a running back's stomach, trying to freeze the defense. Even though he can do that and had success with it in college, I don't think it serves him well in the long run. You can't keep going back and forth. I think he's a little bit confused with the footwork, and I think that's one of the problems with his accuracy – his feet are crossed up. Why this change? I think it's backfiring. I think they're out-thinking themselves.”
This doesn't look to serve Newton in the short run, either. During Monday's NFL Primetime, Merril Hoge tried to keep things in perspective.
"[Newton] is in his second year. One of the biggest problems I see with the Carolina Panthers … most every offense in the National Football League -- and I'll just (mention) the Washington Redskins -- they have a staple," Hoge said. "They have something they can build their offense from. The Carolina Panthers? They have no staple. Now, they have a stable of running backs that may be the best group in the National Football League and they never touch the football. If they, like the Washington Redskins, established a power presence from the ground up, the anticipation (Hasselbeck was talking about) would (improve). …
"I'm watching this game and it's fourth-and-1, and what do they do? They go in a spread look. If you go to a spread look, you're usually going there because you have a good passing attack. The Carolina Panthers do not have a strong passing attack."
No. No, they do not. Which brings us back to Chud, considered a young coordinator on the rise as recently as six weeks ago.
I don't think we need to mention Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski for potential head-coaching openings next year. Offense is very flawed.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) October 22, 2012
|They get their own sign! (EoF Illustration)|
Buffalo lost an eminently winnable home game against Tennessee. And this time the postgame player commentary went beyond the usual "we're close to putting it all together -- a play here, a play there" talking points.
“Some way, somehow, we've got to understand what accountability means across the board, playing hard every play,” said defensive end Chris Kelsay. “You watch the film and not everybody was playing hard every snap, and that's unacceptable. ...
“If you aren't going to give us everything you've got, you shouldn't be on the field,” Kelsay continued. “I don't care who you are. Obviously, I'm not the one to make those decisions because I'm in that mix. I'm not pointing the finger. I'm looking in the mirror myself first and foremost. If you're not going to, you shouldn't play.”
Kelsey's linemate Kyle Williams also had some things to get off his chest.
“Well, I've got to look at it and say the talent is, uh, you know, I mean … You're not very talented if you're doing what we've been doing, OK? I've said it from the very beginning when we were at training camp. Talent doesn't matter," Williams said via the Buffalo News. "It doesn't matter what things look like on paper, what you say. ‘We're going to be good because look at this sheet of paper.' That doesn't matter. It matters if you're playing fast, you play physical, you play together. It's everybody on defense. It starts up front, it works its way around.”
We don't have much to add (we're all talked out on the defense's ineptitude). Yes, the Bills arrive to games in a clown car and no, we don't see it changing anytime soon. It's too bad they don't play the Panthers.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.