Q&A with The Sun's Mike Preston

Columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens

December 13, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff

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

Jay, Hunt Valley: Why such a lack of confidence in Kyle Boller? Isn't the lack of quality recievers and poor offensive line play the real reason for the Ravens offensive troubles?

Mike Preston: Okay Jay, you and the others have worn me down. I was wrong. After watching Patrick Ramsey and then Kyle rip apart that great Giants defense Sunday, I sent an e-mail to my good friend Joe Horrigan, vice president of communications at the Hall of Fame. I wrote, "Joe, get the bust ready. He's headed to Canton, and he'll someday be lodged right between [John] Elway and [Dan] Marino." As a matter of fact, I was so overwhelmed by the "new" Ravens offense I made reservations for the Super Bowl in Jacksonville in February. Those six-play, 27-yard and four-play, zero-yard and four-play, 14-yard scoring drives were impressive. They're letting Kyle throw the ball downfield more now. The chuck-it-up play is back in the Ravens' offense. It's well designed. The Ravens didn't think Kyle (notice we're now on first name basis) could do it earlier in the season, but they have faith in him now. So with an offensive linemen or two, and a go-to receiver, there is no limit to what Kyle can do in the future. I've promoted him. He's no longer Boy Quarterback. He'll be My Man Kyle.

How's that Jay? Keep the faith. See ya on the Ravens' train to Jacksonville. Choo-choo.

Andew, Tampa: Though I wouldn't call it a mutiny, it seems like the Ravens have stocked our opponents with coaches and front office personnel (Bengals, Jacksonville, Jets, etc.)? Which coaches do you think will jump ship this year and do you think Coach Billick would be up for bringing in another fired coach to help run the offense like with Jim Fassel this year? Maybe this is the year he won't apologize for Matt Cavanaugh?

Mike Preston: The hot coach will be defensive line coach Rex Ryan. He should get a shot at being a defensive coordinator unless Mike Nolan leaves to become a head coach first, and then the Ravens promote Ryan. I think Ryan will be a pretty good head coach someday because he teaches well and builds great relationships with his players. Former Ravens like Tony Siragusa, Rob Burnett and Michael McCrary adore Ryan. As for the Ravens internally, I wouldn't be surprised if they hired another offensive coordinator. They've spent a great deal of money on the defensive side of the ball since they came to Baltimore in 1996, so it would make sense to bring in a coordinator who is more creative and can get more production out of an offense then what we've seen in the past. The Ravens definitely need more balance between the offense and defense.

Jim, Manassas, Va.: Kyle Boller leads leads the league in fumbles resulting in a turnover. Why has Jim Fassel not been able to teach Kyle better techniques to hold on to the ball? This is going to hurt badly somewhere down the road.

Mike Preston: Why such a lack of confidence in My Man Kyle? Can't you see that he is the answer, the truth? Some guys are just fumblers and don't have enough pocket awareness to feel the pressure and tuck it away. The Ravens have worked extensively with My Man Kyle on the situation, so it isn't a coaching issue. He just doesn't get it yet. A lot of quarterbacks in Baltimore have had that fumbling problem, Tony Banks, Jeff Blake, Vinny Testaverde. It must be something in the water. If My Man Kyle hasn't gotten it yet, he probably won't. But it's a small problem. You're right, it's probably going to hurt down the road in a critical situation, but we can overlook it because he's going to take us to the promised land.

Come on Jim, jump on board. Me, Jay and Don Cornelius are driving this train to Jacksonville.

Ben, Towson: Mike, with Ed Hartwell facing free agency in the coming off-season, is the any chance the Ravens decide just to stay with the plethora of quality linebackers that they already have and switch to a 4-3 base defense, with Dwan Edwards playing tackle along side Kelly Gregg while Boulware, Lewis, and Suggs make up our starting three linebackers?

Mike Preston: Actually Ben, I threw that question at Ozzie Newsome last week because the rumor was the Ravens were going to find a stud defensive linemen in the offseason and convert back to a 4-3. Newsome's reply: "I wouldn't print that if I [were] you." Right now, it appears the Ravens will sign Ray Lewis to a contract extension, but won't be able to pay out big bucks to fellow inside linebacker Ed Hartwell. The Ravens think highly of backup T.J. Slaughter and feel he can be just as effective in the middle as Hartwell.

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