Monday, October 10, 2005
Game Notes - vs Ravens: Appearances can be Deceiving
After watching the Lions game yesterday, and seeing the comments being written about the game, I'm a bit confused if people really watched the same game that I did. It's always amazing that I see some of the write-ups that focus on the absolutely wrong items and neglect items that were crucial. This game is no exception. Here goes my take on what I saw - and then verified by re-watching the game thanks to TiVo.
This is starting to almost become a weekly item - my having to defend Joey from the haters. Again, I'm not sold on the guy by any stretch, but the arguments I keep seeing written by others seem more based on his stat line than by analytically watching the game. His stats were hardly impressive - 10 of 23 for 97 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. Watching the game, I was suprised that those were his final stats as I thought he played much better than those stats showed. I was even more suprised when I started reading the boards and saw people bashing him for 'inaccurate throws'. So I went back to the tape to see if maybe I had missed something and re-watched every passing play. My opinion didn't change - it anything it was reinforced.
By my count, I saw only 4 inaccurate passes thrown all day. They were two interceptions, a ball that sailed over Pollard (not the gator arm pass), and a high throw toward KJ2 on a 10 yard out to the sideline. Re-watching the throws to Roy and BMW on the deep passes based on the routes being run, outside of the interception, Joey threw the balls where only Roy or BMW could get it. Hate to tell the haters, but that's the best any QB can do on a bomb - put it where only your guy can get it. The first one to Roy was a good defensive play by Rolle as he kept Roy from drifting toward the sideline to make the catch. BMW's one-handed stab where he ran out of bounds was thrown to the only place it could be thrown and have a chance of completing it - and BMW could have stayed in bounds had he not turned the wrong way looking for the ball. BTW, anyone else think that Joey, Mooch and Tollner heard our bitching about not throwing enough deep balls? As far as that BMW pass across the middle - the tape is pretty clear - BMW was late in looking back for the ball, and had he looked back sooner, he would have had an easy grab.
Joey also threw the ball away 5 times (7 if you include two that came back on penalties) contributing to his low completion percentage. Now I know people complain about him throwing it away instead of continuing to look for receivers, but consider that he was getting HAMMERED all day by the Ravens D. I re-checked the video, and not one of his throw-aways happened when he had time to look for another receiver - he either got drilled immediately after throwing it, or was running out-of-bounds. He may not have gotten sacked, but he sure did get hit and chased around by the Ravens D a ton. Once again, would you rather he throw it away and save the sack yardage, or just take the sack? To me this is a no-brainer - throw it away and save the yardage. In fact Killer actually pointed something out, which I must give him credit for, that Joey displayed some of the best toughness you could ever hope to get from a QB in this game. It may not have been pretty, but it was a gutsy performance, and Joey played much better than his stats indicate.
I won't go too much into the 'fumble'. In my book, it was an incomplete pass, and we got a gift. As far as the outcome goes we probably still would have scored, but it's hard to say if it would have been a TD or a FG. The play was on a 1st & 10 from the Ravens 25, so there was easily more time and downs to move and score, and we had scored the previous possession. I'll just chalk this one up as the make-up call for the Tampa game and move on...
Another play that everyone seems to be talking about is the Pollard 'gator arm' pass. People are either ripping Joey or Pollard, saying that pass was inexcusable. Again, I have a different view of this. Based on what I saw in the replay, Ray Lewis was sitting back in coverage, and was blocked from Joey's sightline by the blocking - which led Joey to think it was a safe pass. As much as I want to rip Pollard for not catching it, that WAS Ray Lewis lining him up for the kill shot. In my book, the pass was accurate, Joey didn't see Ray, but Pollard did, and I can live with the outcome.
As far as the O-Line goes, they did a better job than they have, but it still is sub-par. Joey may have had time to throw, but most of it was due to him moving around in the pocket. He took a lot of hits - more than a QB should take. Further evidence is how pathetic the running game looked. KJ finally broke two 10+ yard plays, and there was the Bryson 77 yarder, but the remainder of the time our RB's were having to fight for 1-2 yards. Those 5 runs to gain a 1 yard TD should have told everyone what they needed to know about the O-line's run blocking. But then again, everything is relative - that was the vaunted Ravens D they were facing.
On the other side of the ball, I was once again concerned about our play on the edges. Our LB's and DE's are fast, but they sure do miss a lot of tackles. The Ravens ran 30 times for 159 yards (5.3 per carry), with no plays longer than 14 yards. That was dang solid running against us. That should definitely be a concern going into next week with Stephen Davis and DeShawn Foster coming to town. The problems still seem to be overrunning plays - particularily Boss and Teddy. Simple cutbacks seem to cause them to go flying by as they are aggressively pursuing the runner. It's not as bad as it has been in recent weeks, but it's not good either.
As far as the pass D, I guess that Dre is back, eh? He was everywhere, making plays all over the field. IMHO, he was the best player on the field. The rest of the pass D did a decent job, as the Ravens really didn't move the ball through the air until we were firmly in the lead and back in prevent.
I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the penalties. That was a meltdown like none that I've ever seen. After the first penalties started piling up, I took a much greater interest in checking out each penalty. What shocked me is how blatant some of them were, and how the Ravens completely melted down and committed several frustration penalties. There is no excuse for bumping the ref. No excuse for throwing the ball at another player. No excuse for heaving the ball into the stands. That's usually what we see from the Lions, not from another team. But as I started paying attention to them, I honestly couldn't see any phantom calls. Maybe in my next viewing through TiVo I'll check out the early ones closer - especially all those defensive holding calls.
All in all, the most important stat is that the Lions won. There are still some problems, but at least we don't have to hear all the same doom-n-gloom all week long that we have heard in the past.