Do the Ravens have a coaching problem?
I apologize for the long post, but I want to be thorough: I love John Harbaugh. He seems like a great guy and a coach I'd want to play for. He stands up for his players and doesn't get down when the going gets tough. He won a Super Bowl. But I'm starting to wonder if the Ravens as an organization have a coaching problem. It seems like week in and week out, the coaches don't make adjustments to put the specific players they have on the field in the best positions to be successful. Whether that's strategic in-game decisions or game plan adjustments, it seems like the coaches coach as if everyone on the field is an A-level starter that should be able to win one on one at all times. And the result is that guys on the field are being left out to dry. The team can't be missing 3 starting O-linemen and have the same game plan as if everyone was healthy. The team can't be down to their last 3 corners and be expected to play press man with a single high safety against OBJ and company with the game on the line (granted, my interpretation of the coverage just from the game broadcast, not the all-22 or anything). That's just setting the team up to fail. And that's not fair to the players. I think Tavon Young is going to be a fine player. But he's a 4th round rookie playing press man against one of the best receivers in the game with the game on the line and no help overtop, other than a single-high, very slow, safety (Webb).
There are so many little things the coaches could do to put their players in position to be more successful. And they just don't. Perfect example: after the arguably egregious PI call benefitting the Ravens in the 4th quarter, Baltimore got the ball 1st and goal with a little over 2 min left. After spotting the ball, the officials wound the clock. Rather than let the clock run down to the two minute warning before running a play (which I was thinking they should do at the time because they had enough time on the play clock to take them to the 2-min warning), the Ravens snapped it and threw a quick pass to Wallace where he was knocked out of bounds. That stopped the clock before the 2 min warning. Then they ran another incomplete pass. After a 3rd down run, we finally got to the two minute warning. (I'm just going from memory so maybe the two minute warning was after the second down play, but I don't think so.) The Ravens end up scoring with just under two minutes left, giving the Giants plenty of time to run their full offense on the ensuing possession.
Now if Baltimore would have let the clock run down to the two-minute warning before running the 1st and goal play, they could conceivably have run a lot of time off the clock in that goal line sequence. Of course, they would have had to run the ball on first and second down to do so, rather than throw a pass complete out of bounds on first down, and throw incomplete on second down, but IMO, that's what the coaches should be looking to do there: run the clock out so the Giants don't get the ball back. The Giants had all their timeouts, so they could have used them to stop the clock, but in that situation, most teams that are leading won't call timeouts to preserve time for their offense in the event their defense gives up the TD. And even if they do, then they don't have the time outs on their ensuing possession, which stacks the circumstances more favorably for an undermanned Ravens D, should the offense score and give the team the lead.
To be fair, even if the Ravens do run off much more of the clock, they still have to make a play on defense to win the game. But simple coaching in that situation puts the players in a better position to be successful. And it wasn't that complicated. Who knows, maybe the Ravens are even able to run out most of the clock before scoring? As it was, they mismanaged the clock and put their players in bad position, requiring them to execute perfectly in order to win the game. That's on the coaching staff...
And by my count, that's 3 losses in a row where the coaching staff didn't put an undermanned team in obvious positions to be successful. I love Harbs, and I love the way he goes to bat for his players, but at some point, these issues have to get fixed. And they aren't. They seem to be getting worse.