Wright following conservative approach

OWINGS MILLS -- Anthony Wright knows how to follow orders, especially the strict mandate he's been handed down from the coaching staff. The Baltimore Ravens' quarterback is being asked to eliminate mistakes, hand off the majority of the time and play it extremely safe when he throws the football.

It's far from a cutting-edge approach. It's definitely not yielding many points as Baltimore (1-2) ranks 31st in scoring with 10 points per contest.

However, the Ravens' ultra-conservative strategy -- a game plan punctuated by 45 runs and only 21 passes last Sunday -- did help assure a 13-3 victory over the New York Jets.

Wright was the man at the controls looking eerily similar to Trent Dilfer five years ago in Baltimore. He operated much like Dilfer used to, acting as a complementary cog to a bruising running game and an aggressive defense.

"He did well," receiver Derrick Mason said of Wright, who completed 15 of 21 passes for 144 yards, no touchdowns and an interception on an ill-advised flea-flicker pass. "He managed the game, and he did what the coaches asked him to do.

"He drove us down the field. You can't ask your quarterback to do any more than what he did."
Actually, the coaches can. They just chose not to against a depleted Jets team that was down to former third-string quarterback Brooks Bollinger.

"We won, and that's the only thing I'm concerned about," Wright said. "The coaches asked me to do certain things and my job is to carry that out.

"That doesn't mean that we'll play the same way every week, or run the same game plan. This was the way we wanted to go about our business this week."

Wright completed 71 percent of his passes despite having two batted down and another two dropped. He wasn't sacked after being sacked eight times in the previous two games.

Wright averaged 6.9 yards per passing attempt with a long completion of 32 yards to Mason. He also had a 24-yard completion to tight end Todd Heap and a 20-yarder to running back Chester Taylor.

However, the Ravens ran several patterns short of the first-down marker and rarely attempted anything intermediate or long-range. Wright completed only six of his passes to his receivers, dumping the ball off to his backs and tight ends most of the time.

The Ravens have the 17th-ranked passing game, averaging 212 yards, but have only two touchdown passes from Wright with four interceptions.

With a 70.5 passer rating, Wright ranks 26th in the NFL. Wright does rank fourth in the AFC with a 67.7 percentage on third downs, including both of his touchdowns.

"Anthony Wright had an excellent completion percentage," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We talked about the need for that and how it will impact the game. We are getting what we want -- at least for one game -- in terms of making big plays, completion percentage and third-down conversion rate.

"We want to score more points, but if the profile of the game dictates that we play good defense and special teams, run the ball and throw the ball effectively enough to keep the game under control, that's exactly what we'll do."

The Ravens got little production from secondary targets like rookie wideout Mark Clayton, who caught one pass for 4 yards in his first NFL start. Randy Hymes and Moore registered no catches.

"We need a consistency there," Billick said. "Mark can impact a game. We've got to continue to find ways to get the ball in Mark's hands. Clarence had a chance and we weren't able to get the ball to him on a couple of plays. Randy Hymes, all he does is catch balls.

"We've got a number of different packages to try to keep them all involved. To have another presence that people have to account for on the backside with some consistency that the quarterbacks can rely on, that's the next step for us."

Meanwhile, Wright keeps following the play-it-safe script.

The fans booed at the end of the first half against the Jets when Billick elected to run the clock out while leading 6-0.

"Sometimes, the fans don't understand what we're trying to do," Wright said. "We're going to do whatever it takes to make sure we won the game, and it worked."

NOTE: The Ravens signed rookie defensive end Bernard Thomas to the practice squad and released wide receiver Fred Stamps. Thomas (Nebraska) was formerly with the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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