After a few days away from the Steelers game, Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees admitted he probably should have had rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey cover receiver Antonio Brown as Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took control of the game in a 39-38 Pittsburgh win.
I understand Pees’ logic in his decision making, but I appreciate his honesty even more. In modern-day athletics, few coaches ever admit they make a mistake. They can find numerous other reasons for failure from pointing fingers at others to the weather to analytics, but it is refreshing to hear a coach say he should have done it differently.
Pees has been criticized a lot this week, and it is justified. The Ravens, who were missing an injured Jimmy Smith, allowed Roethlisberger to throw for more than 500 yards, and Brown had 11 catches for 213 yards, including one of 57 yards. After the game, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh came up with some silly excuse as to why Humphrey wasn’t on Brown (probably in defense of Pees) and so did some of the others in the organization.
But on Thursday, Pees said he made a mistake.
“That is probably what we … in hindsight, maybe what we should have done is try to do that,” Pees said of playing Humphrey on Brown. “Yes, that is true. We probably should have done that. We talked about it, actually, on the sideline, and what happened is in that game, I played less man coverage than I have played the entire year. After the first couple of passes that were thrown, we were in man, and we just kind of went away from it, and we went to a lot of zone. I pressured 40 percent of the time, and out of those 40 percent, only one of them was a man [coverage] pressure. Everything else was a zone pressure, just trying to keep the ball inside and in front of us.”
“In retrospect, maybe that is probably what we should have done, try to match that up a little better,” he said. “I’ll be honest, we probably should have.”
Agreed. Nothing else was working so the Ravens should have tried Humphrey, but I understand Pees’ logic. No one thought that Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr was going to struggle so much against Brown. After all, Carr had been playing well.
The Ravens had not practiced having Humphrey shadow Brown so they stayed within their game plan. Plus, a rookie like Humphrey against Brown is not the ideal matchup. But sometimes you have to adjust and improvise on the fly. The Ravens learned a valuable lesson Sunday night and at least they now won’t hesitate going to Humphrey as opposed to a year ago when they had no capable replacement for Smith.
Around town there are a lot of fans who keep saying that the media is too easy on Pees. I actually think we have been fair, but we do appreciate honesty. Pees can get a little salty at times in defense of his players but most of the time if you ask him a question, he gives you a straightforward, truthful answer.
That’s a lost art in pro sports.