Q&A with The Sun's Mike Preston

Columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens

December 06, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

Sun columnist Mike Preston answers selected questions every Tuesday during the NFL season.

Karl, Highland Village, Texas: Somebody should be fired! Has anybody ever heard of clock management? And why were we throwing on third down inside the 30 during the last two minutes when we were down by 2? I am outraged by that performance. This team has lost more than its character. The fourth quarter was ridiculous!

Mike Preston: Wow, Karl, I feel your pain. I feel your suffering. After reading your question, I just kicked the cat and threw the damn dog across the room. I just got off the phone with Dr. Phil.

The fourth quarter was ridiculous. No one would expect the Ravens to blow a 17-point lead and give up four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. But I can't fault the coaches for this one. This one has to be put on the players, especially in the secondary. The Ravens have invested a lot of money in defensive players. They were in the perfect position - big lead, at home, best players on the field - but some of the money guys on defense didn't deliver.

As for clock management issues, the Ravens have been poor and will continue to be poor. I've become immune to the stench.

By the way, you can't fire players until after the season. This isn't Major League Baseball where you can bring guys up from the farm. It was a disappointing loss, though. Disgraceful. Anyway, I've got to go. Got some animal rights guys knocking at the door.

Noel, Columbia: After giving up almost 400 passing yards to the Bengals, I believe the Ravens can no longer rely on their defense to bail them out and must open up their offense with more mid-range to long passes. What do you think?

Mike Preston: I understand your point, but I can't question the conservative play calling by Billick and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. The Ravens have won many games in the past the same way they tried to win Sunday. They play for field goals, and let their defense control the game. They just didn't close the door. The conservative play calling shows that the coaching staff lacks confidence in quarterback Kyle Boller and his receivers. Boller is inconsistent in throwing the ball with mid to long range passes and the Ravens believe they have a higher percentage winning with their defense instead of Boller. They're right.

Dennis, Rehoboth Beach, Del.: Two questions for you. If Carson Palmer can pick our secondary apart for almost 400 yards, what is Peyton Manning going to do in 2 weeks? What can the Ravens do on punt returns, because B.J. Sams' fumbling routinely doesn't cut it.

Mike Preston: I suspect Peyton Manning might break the NFL record for TD receptions in a season against the Ravens. Palmer was hot, and just about every pass play the Bengals called in the fourth quarter was open. The only hope for the Ravens is to control the clock by running the ball and winning the time of possession. If not, as Mr. T used to say, "I pity the fools."

As for B.J. Sams, I think he and receiver Clarence Moore have hit the proverbial rookie wall. It's a long season for rookies, who because of combines and other workouts, haven't rested their bodies in more than a year (actually two football seasons). The Ravens could use Deion Sanders, Chris McAlister or Ed Reed to return punts, but that's putting a starter at risk. Maybe Sams gets a second wind, but that's highly unlikely.

Frank, Pasadena: OK, the Ravens defense could not rise up and stop the Bengals offense. But instead of blaming our defense, let's commend the Bengels offense. Carson Palmer and his offense were in the zone, no NFL team could have stopped them. For once the Ravens defense needed the offense to win the game. How many times has the defense bailed out the offense? So, after the Bengals score 2 quick touchdowns to make it 20-17, Billick runs the ball. Kyle Bowler has worked a year and a half, and has finally progressed to the point of passing his team to victory. Billick shows his confidence in him late in the fourth quarter by allowing him to run the ball on 2 crucial 3rd down plays... so they can kick a field goal? Didn't Billick/Cavanaugh see what the rest of the fans saw? That the Cincinnati offense would not be stopped? Way to build your quarterback's confidence Billick, by not allowing him to win you the game!

Mike Preston: Gee Frank, this is supposed to be question and answers, not a saga. Not only did you ask questions, but you answered them too. I betcha New England would have found a way to stop the Bengals, maybe the Steelers too. Palmer was hot, but Chris McAlister and Ed Reed were also in their own zones, the Twilight Zone. They did not play team defense and got caught gambling. It's just pure selfishness. The Ravens have talked all year about being the league's best defense, better than 2000, well, they didn't back it up. They didn't come close.

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