Reporting Rob Long
One of the questions that’s constantly asked by fans and even media members is, “What is the Ravens’ identity?” You know what that means. Are they a smash mouth defense team? Are they a running team? Are they a passing team? The list of options go on and on.
I have to ask the question that really makes me think. Does identity matter? Does it matter that you identify your offense with throwing the football 40 times a game? How can you be a smash mouth defensive team when your opponents are attacking your perimeter, making you play with finesse?
In today’s NFL, you have to have diversity. For example, it looked as if the Ravens went into the game against the New York Jets determined to throw the ball. Once that game plan is exhausted, you have to make adjustments and do something else. Even if you don’t stop throwing the ball, you have to be able to attack another area of the defense through the air.
I think the whole identity thing in Baltimore started with the 2000 team. That team had a definitive identity because they had to. I heard Michael McCrary on the Norris and Davis Show Tuesday compare the 2011 defense with the 2000 defense through the first four games. One thing he mentioned was the 2000 defense played on a team where the offense could not score. Yeah, your identity is forced on you when you can only do one thing.
This year’s team is not one dimensional. They can score on offense. They actually have players who can be considered weapons. That team had Shannon Sharpe and Qadry Ismail. There were no other big threats for an aerial assault. That includes the guy under center.
This year’s team doesn’t need to establish an identity. All they need from game to game is a plan and the ability to adjust that plan based on what the opposing defense does. Identity is a word that’s used to much. It almost dismisses the fact that the other team has professional players as well. Identity suggests that you can impose your will and do “what you do” whenever you want.
I’d rather look at a game and say, “they had a great plan,” or, “they made great adjustments.” If Ray Rice needs to run the ball 25 times to win, get it done. If Joe Flacco needs to throw 40 times to win, get it done. I really don’t care, just get it done. I guess the defense needed to score three times last Sunday against the Jets to win. They got it done.