Q&A with The Sun's Mike Preston

Columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens

October 25, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff | Baltimoresun.com Staff,SPECIAL TO BALTIMORESUN.COM

Mike Preston has been with The Sun since 1983. Prior to becoming a columnist, he covered the Baltimore Ravens for four years. Preston is a native of Essex and a graduate of Towson State University, where he played football.

Fred, Rockville: Will Brian Billick lose this team for standing by Kyle Boller? Are there any rumblings whatsoever from some of the defensive players?

Mike Preston: There will never be any rumblings. The defensive players are used to having no offense and having to win games. It has become a challenge. That's why on occasions the defense gives up big plays because they gamble hoping to make a play because they know the offense can't. It's a shame the Ravens failed to upgrade their passing game during the off-season.

Richard, Baltimore: Despite the lack of offense the Ravens continue to win. Do you think the lack of offense in 2004 reflects the same formula that was displayed in 2000? Remember, we didn't score an offensive touchdown in 4 games. Now the linebackers and DBs are more mature. I feel this is the blueprint that wins games ... What do you think?

Mike Preston: It could win games but the Ravens need to develop some balance and get a passing game. Right now, they're ranked last in the league. Last year, the Ravens thought they had the same formula too, but were eliminated from the playoffs after one game. If they get the right matchups, they could go far in the playoffs. But a team that is balanced in all three areas - offense, defense and special teams - will give the Ravens problems.

Jeff, Arlington, Va.: Is this defensive ploy the new Ravens attack? It seems as if Boller is role playing what Trent Dilfer did in 2000, as he plays key in not turning over the ball. Also, notice that he played good enough for a win in a loss (Chiefs) and, he played crummy in a victory (Redskins). So play it light on him.

Mike Preston: Trent Dilfer was conservative most of the time, but he made plays in big games. Boller doesn't make big plays. There will come a time in the postseason when a quarterback has to step up, like a Peyton Manning or a Tom Brady, and that might prove to be the difference between the Ravens going far in the playoffs or being one and done like last season. If Boller makes significant progress, then the Ravens become serious contenders. That's reality.

Michael, New Orleans: The Ravens offense continues to struggle mightily despite the personel on the field. This has a lot to do with Matt Cavanaugh's poor play-calling and scheming. Why don't the Ravens finally make a change?

Mike Preston: Pending on what happens at the end of the season, I don't see the Ravens bringing Cavanaugh back for another season. They moved him from the field to upstairs to call plays this season, and they're still not successful. The next move might be the unemployment line. With that said, I can't put all the blame on Cavanaugh. There is enough blame to go around with this ugly offense, and it starts with the head coach.

Jose, Cheverly: If Kyle Boller continues to be unsuccessful, do you see the Ravens making a trade for a vetern QB in the offseason?

Mike Preston: Actually, the Ravens should have made a trade for a veteran quarterback (not Kordell Stewart) in the off-season who could have stepped in if Boller failed, or tutored him as the season went on. The only way Boller gets pulled is by injury or if the Ravens start to lose. He'll be around for another year or two. It's still early to make a call on Boller, but he seems destined to be average at best, not worth the first round pick the Ravens gave up for him. The Ravens defense is too good to lose a lot of games, so Boller appears to be here for a while.

Joshua, Baltimore: Why don't the Ravens go to an offense using more play action? Use Jamal to bring eight to the line and then move the ball deeper down field. Alternatively, why not go to a dink and dunk using two-back, two-tight end sets?

Mike Preston: There is no reason for the Ravens not to use more playaction because they have one of the best running games in the league. Creativity, though, has not been one of their strong points on offense. Right now, they're playing dink and dunk, and it's worked well with Boller. But once you start playing quality teams like New England, the Patriots will take the short stuff away. Fortunately, there is still more time for the Ravens to diversify their offense heading into the post season. Unfortunately, they won't.

Louis, Philadelphia: Why do you continue to call Brian Billick an offensive genius? Why was he rewarded with a contract extension?

Mike Preston: I haven't called Billick an offensive genius since the end of the 1999 season. He is far from one. He is a good coach Monday through Saturday, but average at best on gameday. He was awarded a contract extension because he deserved one. He has a Super Bowl ring and his team is usually in contention for the title.

Bryan, Newark, Del.: Since you are so anti-Brian Billick, who do you want the head coach to be?

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