Q&A with The Sun's Mike Preston

Q and A with ...

Columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens

February 08, 2005|By Mike Preston: | Mike Preston:,Baltimoresun.com Staff

John, Allentown, Pa.: Hey Mr. Critical...uh um...I mean Mr. Preston. I'd like to ask you what your thoughts are on what we will get out of free agency? Do you think we'll come out with at least a big defensive tackle, a wide receiver, and a solid offensive lineman (guard or tackle)? Thanks.

Mike Preston: First of all, John-John, I work alone. This is my forum, and there is room for only one cynical, sarcastic person. That's me. Here I was sitting around, hibernating until the next football season. I was content watching Court TV starring Corey Fuller and Law and Order with Jamal Lewis, but out of the goodness of my heart I volunteered to take questions. And how do you pay me back, John-John? You try to diss me on the first question (note: get a joke book). But that's OK. We're still cool. Love ya, pal.

As for free agency, the Ravens' front office has been given the green light by new owner Steve "I really can't stay in the background" Bisciotti to do whatever is necessary to make this a playoff team. Translation: He's going to give them mo' money, mo' money and mo' money. The Ravens will go hard after Randy Moss, and that has trouble written all over it. But with this crew, he'll fit right in. Privately, inside linebacker Ray Lewis wasn't too happy with the play of his defensive linemen last season, especially in protecting him, but there isn't much of an opportunity to upgrade that position via free agency. The Ravens need to improve significantly on the right side of the offensive line, but cutting [Orlando] Brown would be a mistake. The knee has limited his playing time, but he would do well as a backup. Brown is a great locker room guy, and he loves teaching the younger offensive linemen. Part of the team's smash-mouth mentality was developed by Brown.

So John-John, I hope I answered your question. I hope I wasn't too critical. Actually, I might adopt that nickname, Mr. Critical. That puts me in pretty good company with the Compu Coach and "My Man" Kyle. Just call me Mr. C.

Mike, Annandale, Va.: What should we do to upgrade the right side of our offensive line? Bennie Anderson and Orlando Brown are big, strong, and slow, and Ethan Brooks continually gets beat by speed rushers. Will we re-sign Casey Rabach and maybe move Mike Flynn to right guard? Will we look to draft a right tackle in the first three rounds, or look to free agency? Is Tony Pashos still a project, or is he another big, strong, slow tackle who lacks athleticism?

Mike Preston: The right side needs to be overhauled. I wouldn't call Anderson and Brown slow, just guys who are much better at run blocking then pass blocking. They weren't versatile.

I would bring back Brown in some capacity, even allow him to challenge for the starting position, but make him earn the right to start. Anderson couldn't work into the second level to make blocks, and neither could left tackle Edwin Mulitalo. The Ravens couldn't run traps, sweeps or screens because this wasn't an agile offensive line. The Ravens have already put Bennie on a jet (pun intended). Brooks should be playing in the Arena League. Pashos is more than a project. They built Rome in less time.

The Ravens made a mistake last off-season when they re-signed center Mike Flynn, because Rabach is better, but the team has to stay with Flynn because of the money invested. This group is basically starting from scratch with a new offensive line coach. Building this offensive line should be the top priority during the off-season.

Question of the day is this: If you have a game-breaking receiver but an erratic quarterback and a line that can't pass protect, do you really have a game-breaking receiver?

Mike, Elkton: Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress or Joey Porter? Who is the best fit for the Ravens?

Mike Preston: Moss would be the best fit if he would shut up and play, and the Ravens don't have to give up much to get him. But he has character issues, and the Ravens had a chemistry problem last season. Sure, Moss can light up the scoreboard, but he can light up your team with dissension. He basically got Dennis Green fired as head coach in Minnesota because Green couldn't control him.

Burress would be OK and wouldn't cost nearly as much. He's goofy, too, but nowhere near as off-center as Moss. Burress worked well and played within himself during his last two seasons in Pittsburgh. He's not in Moss' class, but he'll draw double teams and take the safety out of the box on occasions, especially when he is hot.

Forget Porter. The Ravens have enough seats already filled on ConAir Airlines. What fans tend to forget is that this team was built through the draft. Instead of trying to take a quick-fix approach like the team down the beltway (see Washington Redskins), the Ravens should stay with the formula that has made them successful. The Patriots haven't deviated from their philosophy, but the Ravens, with the addition of Deion Sanders and possibly Moss, seem to be going astray.

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