Q&A with The Sun's Mike Preston

Q and A with The Sun's Mike Preston

Columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens

December 21, 2004|By Baltimoresun.com Staff | Baltimoresun.com Staff,SPECIAL TO BALTIMORESUN.COM

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

Greg, Jacksonville, Fla.: Clarence Moore is a sissy. Once again he cost us by not completing a route. Is this guy tough enough to be a go-to guy in this league? Is it true that Matt Cavanaugh might leave to coach at Pitt? Hallelujah!

Mike Preston: Greg, calling a man a sissy is fighting words. Moore would like to spar with you, but his T-Rex arms are too short. He's a rookie, and the Ravens have gotten much more than expected out of the sixth-round pick from Northern Arizona. Moore could be a great one someday. He needs to be coached and have a strong off-season in the weight room. A trip to Oz might help, too. It worked for that lion fella.

Dave, Baltimore: I believe this offense needs to change somehow or they aren't winning any playoff games. What do you think?

Mike Preston: This offense has enough talent to win now. They just have to stick with running the ball and stay with the game plan. Never have I seen a team that calls itself a running team get away from its strength so quickly. On several of those short-yardage situations against the Colts, you just have to let Lewis bang it out instead of relying on "My Man" Kyle. At this point, you would have to say the Ravens have underachieved.

Zac, Baltimore: How can the Ravens be so stupid to not kick a FG when they are clearly in range and down by 10 points inside the two-minute warning? Also, there were numerous times on second and third-and-short that clearly we should should have run the ball right at them. Finally, there were numerous lacks in concentration when the game was on the line (see Casey Rabach illegaly downfield and three consecutive illegal contact penalties). There is not another team in football that has as much talent as the Ravens do when they are healthy and there should be no reason for these miscues. Who gets blamed for the lapses and what are the consequences? Someone needs to call Billick out on his poor management of a game.

Mike Preston: Calm down, big guy. I suggest you take a sedative that the FDA hasn't taken off the shelf recently and repeat to yourself: "It's only a game. It's only a game. It's only a game." You're right about the coaching staff not being able to manage a game. They just don't have a feel. They're concerned more about statistics and tendencies instead of relying on their gut and what is working. They want to be cute instead of physical. Jamal Lewis could have run for more than 200 yards against the Colts, but the Ravens panic as soon as they get behind by 10 points. Over the years, I've called offensive assistants out more than Bob Barker has called guests to 'Come on Down' on the Price is Right. If the Ravens don't get to the playoffs, I suspect this team might have a new offensive coordinator. But for more information, read on. P.S. Zac, this is not a tease. Take a leap of faith with me.

Bill, Perry Hall: With Ray Lewis, Jon Ogden and Chris McAlister showing signs of aging, how do we build for the future under the duress of thier big-time, long-term contracts?

Mike Preston: Let's not put these guys in the nursing homes yet. There are circumstances where two of the three might get better. In Ogden's case, he needed a challenge. He has been so good for so long. He got married during the off-season. He has admitted he didn't come to training camp in his usual great shape. He missed time with an ankle injury and then a hamstring pull. It's obvious that his hamstring hasn't fully healed. Ogden has great pride. The beating he took Sunday night will disturb him for quite a while. I suspect that might be the fire he needs to get into great shape next year. He now has a challenge. He has several good years left, but has to become more of a workaholic in the off-season, much like Ray Lewis and former Raven Shannon Sharpe.

As for McAlister, the Ravens might need to rehire former Ravens secondary coach Donnie Henderson. They need a master of head games, because no one over at the Ravens can reach McAlister. He's the tenth planet in the solar system. But if the Ravens find the right guy, coach or player, McAlister has the talent to re-establish himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

In Lewis's case, the ability is fading, but he has two, possibly three good years remaining. He won't play to the level of 2000, but he still will be one of the best in the game.

The Ravens need "My Man" Kyle to develop quickly and improve their offense before it's too late. The window for success hasn't closed yet, but there is a lot less light shining in the room these days.

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