Ravens to Fire Brian Billick?

At least, if they have any sense they will, which appears highly unlikely, all things considered this year. Coaching makes all the difference in football, more so than any other sport. This week, in Baltimore, the call should be very loud for a new head coach for the Ravens. You don’t often see teams lose games by such obvious bad coaching decisions as those made by Brian Billick and his staff that caused the Ravens to lose to the Browns on Sunday.

The Ravens went ahead with :26 seconds left. They should have gone ahead with :02 seconds left, but Billick called for a passing play on 3rd-down – this from a supposed offensive genius. The pass fell incomplete and the field goal unit had to come on and do their job with the clock stopped. If he had ran the ball, the Ravens could have used up the time on the clock, leaving nothing for the Browns to work with. That was clear to everyone watching the game except the Ravens’ coaching staff. The Browns were standing around pretending not to be paying attention.

That was his first mistake that cost them the game. He followed that up with another, which helped to seal the deal, at least with the football gods, who saw his play-calling and realized they could not let Billick win if he doesn’t at least act like he knows something about the game.

The next mistake he made was to kick the ball to Josh Cribbs on the ensuing kickoff. All the Browns kick returner had done up until that point was to run back five kicks for 165 yards. It wasn’t like everyone would be amazed if he ran this kick back for a touchdown to win the game. Well, that did not happen, as the gods wanted to take their time with this. Cribbs ran the ball back 39 yards to the Cleveland 43. Two quick passes and the Browns were set to kick the tying field goal.

That field goal itself became a story and Brian Billick must have been suffering as it took five minutes for the officials to decide whether or not the kick was good. It was, and Cleveland got the ball first in OT. Never before, in any level of football, had anyone ever seen a football go through the uprights and come back out, thus the ensuing confusion. Credit the officials for making the right call. And credit the football gods for flexing their might when, in the Sunday Night game, it happened again on Buffalo’s field goal against New England. Never before – twice in one day. Wow.

So, the Browns elect to receive the ball first in OT. It was here that the insanity of Billick became most obvious. Even Cribbs himself, after the game, had this to say,“Coach was like, ‘They’re not gonna kick it to you … they’d have to be stupid to kick it to you this time,’ ” Cribbs said. “I was preparin’ for ‘em to kick it to (Darnell) Dinkins. Lo and behold, they kicked it deep (to me), and I’m like … what’s goin’ on?

“I started shiftin’ back to catch the ball. The whole time the ball’s comin’ back, I’m like … what are you doin?’ ”

Cribbs worked over the Ravens for a franchise-record 306 kickoff and punt return yards today. That last one, in OT, he ran back 41 yards. The Browns kicked the winning field goal shortly thereafter, and Billick’s fate should be sealed in Baltimore. I have never coached a football game in my life, and I could see the man clearly has no interest anymore in preparing for the game or understanding what is happening on the field. Good-bye Billick. Thanks for the good memories and an excellent football book (which you apparently have not read for a while).


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