Late For Work 9/18: Gannon Criticizes Ravens Post-Game Comments

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Gannon Criticizes Ravens Post-Game Comments

Another week, another Raven gets criticized for his post-game comments.

Last week, it was quarterback . This week, it is Head Coach John Harbaugh.

But both men's quotes appear to have been twisted.

Retired quarterback and respected NFL analyst Rich Gannon didn't like that Harbaugh said after the game that it was "fair" to ask questions about the Ravens' play calling.

"That to me is not a good thing. I just think he could've done a better job choosing his words. You gotta stick together. When things are going well you stick together. When things are not going well and you lose a tough game like that, it's the head coach's job to stand up there, protect the players, protect his coaching staff," said Gannon on the Sirius XM show, per CSNBaltimore.com. "I thought those choice of words were unusual for John Harbaugh."

A couple points to make about this one.

First, Harbaugh didn't say it was fair to question all play calling. He was responding to a specific question about the final two Ravens offensive plays of the game, where the Ravens decided to throw on third-and-2, and again on fourth-and-2.  He was asked if the Ravens could have run the ball.

"We thought about running the ball, but we thought we had some good calls," was Harbaugh's first response. "That's fair. I think that's fair." He then went on to say why they called a pass instead of a run, but did say he liked the call. He reiterated that point in his press conference a day later.

To say those comments somehow mean the head coach wasn't "sticking together" with his play callers is a leap.

Second, the two plays didn't work. So what else is a head coach supposed to say? That the team absolutely made the right call? Of course it's fair to ask whether the Ravens should have run ball* *when the passes didn't work.

Ravens former Head Coach Brian Billick discussed the predicament coaches find themselves in when a certain play call isn't successful.

"I always love those questions when something doesn't work," Billick said in the NFL Network video below. "They say, 'Coach, would you do that again?'

"'Well, no, not if it didn't work. If I had the opportunity, I'd do something else.' I thought John Harbaugh was very upfront about saying, 'Well, yeah, that's a fair criticism. That's a fair question because you're right, it didn't work.' But play calling is always going to be questioned. I always loved it when people used to criticize and used to say, 'Well coach, you're too conservative. I know what you're going to do.'

"Look, you can throw it or you can run it. You've got a 50-50 chance."

Billick and Dennis Green, another former NFL head coach, said that in the specific instances of those two final plays, Baltimore could allow some latitude with a check at the line in case you don't get the look that you want.

"But the tight end [Dennis Pitta] was open was open for a 2-yard gain, which was one more than they needed," Green said. "Joe [Flacco] overthrew it."

It happens. Let's not make this into an issue of not sticking together.

Patriots Mum on Hernandez, But Report Says He's Out

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick wasn't about to give any information on the injury status of one of his top offensive threats heading into his much-anticipated matchup against the Ravens.

"No," was all he said when asked if he had any idea of how long Hernandez would be out with his reported high ankle sprain.

Pressing for more information, reporters asked if Hernandez had any broken bones. "I don't really have any update on his status," Belichick said. "I think they're still looking at him."

While Belichick was mum, an ESPN source was not.

According to the website, Hernandez will not play in Sunday night's prime-time matchup, and will likely not return until October at the earliest. He was seen walking with crutches and in a boot.

How will the tight end's apparent absence affect the Patriots prolific offense?

"The offense looks ordinary without their vaunted two-tight end combination of Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski," wrote ESPN blogger James Walker.

"One thing is certain: losing the lesser heralded part of the Patriots' outstanding tight-end tandem with Rob Gronkowski allows defenses to devote more attention to other players," added Howard Ulman of the Associated Press. "Hernandez is more versatile. At 6-1 and 245 pounds, he can line up at tight end, in the slot, at wide receiver and in the backfield. He's very quick with good moves after making catches. So, defenses have a lot more to think about when he's on the field, which is on nearly every play."

And Ravens Mum on Pollard

Well two can play that game.

While the Patriots are staying tight-lipped about Hernandez, the Ravens are doing the same with starting safety Bernard Pollard, who has earned the nickname "Patriot Killer" for his role in injuries to quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker and Gronkowski in the past.

Harbaugh declined to speculate on Pollard's status after suffering a rib contusion in the loss in Philly.

"Well, we will see about Bernard," Harbaugh said in his Monday press conference. "He's got a little rib deal in there. It's just going to come down to him and how he can deal with that pain. He is a pretty tough guy."

Hopefully he can deal with the pain, as Pollard makes a strong case as the best Ravens defender so far this season.

"With all due respect to Haloti Ngata and Lardarius Webb, you could make a pretty strong argument that strong safety Bernard Pollard was Baltimore's best defender for the first five quarters of the season," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel.

Asked at his locker whether he could play against the Patriots, Pollard sounded optimistic.

"Oh, c'mon now," Pollard said, per The Sun. "I'm never going to leave my dogs hanging."

Don't Push Panic Button On Defense

The Ravens defense has given up 808 total yards in just two weeks of play and ranked the 27th defense in the entire NFL.

Known for defensive dominance in Baltimore, it's an unusual sight for fans.

But there's no need to freak out just yet, says Brad Jackson, a former linebacker for the Ravens Super Bowl team.

"No not at all," Jackson said when asked if it's time to be concerned about the defense. "There's no reason to press the panic button."

Jackson said the unit played well enough to beat the Bengals in Week 1 and played well enough to win in Week 2 against the Eagles by creating four turnovers.

If there is a concern to be had, Jackson said it would be that the linebackers need to get more depth in their drops in coverage because they are giving up a lot of intermediate passes, like they did to Eagles tight end Brent Celek, who burned the Ravens for 157 receiving yards Sunday.

"They've got to be very disciplined, the Baltimore Ravens linebackers that is, in being able to read their keys, read run and pass," Jackson said. "And when it is pass, open up those hips and drive out of there." 

Quick Hits

  • "Remember when Tom Brady used to effortlessly connect on bombs to Randy Moss in 2007 and 2009?" asked James Walker. "Well, those days are in the past for the New England Patriots." [ESPN]
  • @Cnewt64 [CJ Newton, former Raven]: I just saw 3 of the replacement refs playing " paper,scissors,rock"  for who calls the next penalty. [Twitter]
  • Even though the wide consensus is that the replacement referees are not performing up to par, analyst Steve Young says the NFL doesn't care because the fans will still watch. "[E]verything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand," he said. "There's nothing [the league] can do to hurt the demand for the game. So, the bottom line is they don't care." [USA Today]
  • There has been no face-to-face talk between the league and the NFL Referees Association since the first day of September. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • "I think we're seeing an early emphasis on offensive tight ends, and how to cover them, in the season's first two weeks. Dennis Pitta of the Ravens could be the latest tight end to emerge as a star," Peter King wrote. [SI.com]
  • "The 'Joe Flacco's elite' talk seemed premature after one game and dismissing it after one game is probably premature, too," wrote Vensel. "So how about we let this one breathe a little bitand check back in February?" [The Baltimore Sun]
  • @mzenitz [Matt Zenitz of Carroll County Times]: Pitta: "Last week everyone had us winning the Super Bowl. Now they're all going to be criticizing our offense. We don't pay attention to it" [Twitter]
  • @PMGleason [Ravens PR]: #Ravens have won 13-straight games in weeks immediately following a loss. #BaltimoreBouncesBack [Twitter]
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