Eisenberg: Evidence Of A Philosophical Adjustment


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They vowed to change, to not let those circumstances develop again. Win or lose, they were going to be aggressive, go all out, play to win instead of not to lose.

They didn't shout it out loud – didn't say a word about it, actually. But they've offered evidence of their philosophical adjustment throughout the first month of the 2011 season.

The way they ran up the score on the Steelers in the opener, calling for a trick play on an extra point and throwing for the end zone in the final minutes – that was a piece of evidence.

The way they played so hard late in St. Louis, leaving their starters in, challenging a fumble call with a big lead, offending Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo – that was a piece of evidence. (For the record, after going home that night and telling his wife he didn't want to be friends with Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh anymore, Spagnuolo calmed down and said he was fine with it all the next day.)

The switch from Greg Mattison's careful defensive calls to Chuck Pagano's aggressive, blitz-from-anywhere scheme – that's a piece of evidence.

The determined, almost stubborn effort to throw more deep balls and make the passing game more explosive – that's a piece of evidence.

For better or worse, no matter who gets in the way, the Ravens are going with a chin-out, take-no-prisoners approach. It's a no-apologies organizational dictum, starting at the top and flowing down. Their mantra for 2011 -- printed right on the cover of their media guide, by the way is - RELENTLESS.

They might ruffle some feathers, might test a few friendships along the way, but that's how they're rolling.

It came into focus Monday when the players resumed practicing after their bye-week vacation. Seeking to frame the rest of the season, Harbaugh spoke to them philosophically.

"Who are the Ravens? What are we going to be about? What do we stand for? How are we going to play? What can the people and the fans in Baltimore and across the country expect from us and be proud of? That's important. It (was) a good time to kind of talk about that," Harbaugh said later Monday.


"We want to attack people in every way we can – offense, defense, special teams, down the field, at the point of attack, in all three phases," Harbaugh said. "That's what we're about. That's the way we're going to try to play every week."

There's friction between coaches and players on any team, and the Ravens are no exception; they had to sacrifice a week of OTA sessions a year ago because someone in the locker room turned them in for exceeding offseason practice limits.

But when a roomful of players hears their coach tell them to go all out all the time, stomp people and maybe bust a few chins, they're going to leave that room smiling and thinking their coach understands them.

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick had his struggles as the offense guru he was purported to be, but he was superb at calibrating the locker room, getting the players in just the right mood to play.

Harbaugh obviously has also done a good job of that, as his 35-17 regular-season record attests, but by turning his players loose and letting them uncork their inner aggressions, he may have found a sweet spot as the leader of this team.

"Oh, yeah, I think they love it," Harbaugh said Monday. "I think that's who they are. That's who they want to be."

John Eisenberg *covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.*

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