Baltimore Ravens

Mike Preston's observations on NFL replay review, Todd Gurley's disappearing act and more

Because of the fallout from the non-calls Sunday that virtually knocked the New Orleans Saints out of the playoffs, the NFL's competition committee is expected to give consideration during the offseason to making pass interference calls subject to replay review.

At the same time, the league will probably also consider if all penalties should be open to review. Before they OK that decision, though, the NFL might want to consider what will happen in the future.


Right now, coaches are allowed two challenges per game, and if they get both right, they are granted a third.

But if all calls are subject to review, coaches will eventually ask for three challenges and possibly more down the road. And NFL games, which last anywhere from three to nearly four hours, will last longer.


“It’s a fine line there,” one AFC defensive coordinator said. “After the fiasco over the weekend, something has to be done. They have to improve the process and the decision making. Yet at the same time, scoring was up this season and so was attendance. Ultimately, the goal is to keep the game fan-friendly.”

The NFL has to do something with pass interference calls because they are often open to personal interpretation from week to week by different officiating crews. Those calls also seem to have the biggest impact on the outcomes of games.

In both games Sunday, the officiating was poor, and those were the league’s top crews.

Maybe now the league will scrutinize potential officials even harder. Maybe team owners need to take a look at league leadership, because over the past decade, the top officials — such as Mike Pereira and Gene Steratore — have left to join national television stations in the broadcast booths.

Owners might want to ask commissioner Roger Goodell to pull back on his authority and let his top people in his office govern without him micromanaging.

Del Rio joining Bengals?

It appears that former Ravens linebackers coach Jack Del Rio is likely to become the new defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Del Rio is one of the front runners for the job, along with former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, currently a linebackers coach with the Saints.

If the Bengals wanted Nolan, they could have hired him right after New Orleans’ loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.


Both Del Rio and Nolan would provide plenty of experience for new Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor, 35, who will be a first-year head coach. Del Rio has been a head coach twice, first for nine years in Jacksonville and then for three seasons in Oakland.

Del Rio, a former Dallas Cowboys linebacker, has the reputation of being a players’ coach, and he developed good relationships with young Ravens such as Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper when he was with the team from 1999 to 2001.

Del Rio, though, coached like he played, and his defenses in Cincinnati will be aggressive and have an edge.

A little too much love

Former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has done well on TV as an analyst and commentator. He can break down plays and go behind the scenes like few others in the business, with the exception of John Madden.

But Romo’s downside is that he becomes a cheerleader and gushes over certain players, none more than New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. In Sunday’s game against Kansas City, Romo talked about Brady as if he is the smartest quarterback ever.

He kept referring to how Brady changed plays at the line of scrimmage and was a step ahead of the Chiefs for the entire game. I enjoy watching Brady play, and he might be the best to ever play that game. But I certainly don’t need to hear that from Romo every time Brady calls an audible. His analysis is great, but the cheerleading and pom-pom stuff need to go.


Where’s Gurley?

It’s hard to understand how Rams running back Todd Gurley disappeared out of the team’s playbook versus New Orleans.

He had only five carries and spent more time on the sideline stretching and riding a stationary bike than participating in the game.

Almost everyone who watched the game had to think Gurley was injured, which is why backup C.J. Anderson got more playing time, but Gurley said after the game he didn’t play much because he was “sorry as hell.”

He was correct.

He also said there was no injury and was just glad he might be able to redeem himself in the Super Bowl.

Every player, regardless of how talented they are, plays a bad game, but Gurley seemed disinterested, especially after he dropped two passes early in the game.


I just didn’t see the energy from him, which is strange because he is easily one of the best running backs in the NFL.

When he came to Baltimore with the Rams during training camp scrimmages, I was impressed with how hard he worked and how he interacted with his teammates. But after Sunday’s performance, I was disappointed, especially with so much at stake.

Great players earn their reputations by making big plays in big games and Gurley simply whiffed, like his body was in one place and his mind was somewhere else.

Baltimore Ravens Insider


Want the inside scoop on the Ravens? Become a Ravens Insider and you'll have access to news, notes and analysis from The Sun.

Let’s attribute that effort to his youth and see how he plays in two weeks.

Wild-card worries

I read and heard a lot of those stories about the Los Angeles Chargers knowing 60 to 70 percent of the Ravens’ offensive plays before they happened in the wild-card game.

Some of the Chargers said the Ravens were tipping their plays by the stance of left offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and where the tight ends lined up.


Well, it’s easy to read left tackles. When it’s a pass, sometimes they don’t even get in a three-point stance. Because they are often left one-on-one, they sometimes cock their outside leg back on passing situations and close the gap between the front foot and back foot when it’s a run.

That’s no big deal.

But I also heard from someone on the sideline that the Chargers were laughing in the third quarter because the Ravens didn’t make any offensive adjustments, even though the Chargers were yelling out the formations and certain players’ numbers from the sideline in the first half.

That scares me.