Steve, Havre de Grace: Say the Vikings want Moss out and the Ravens bite. The Vikings are asking for a defensive starter and isn't Ed Hartwell's contract up? I say deal him out. Defense wins championships, yes, but you gotta have an offense to back it up somewhat. Moss brings fans in the stands, points on the board and hopefully some confidence in this young offense. But my question to you is, who would you give up to Minnesota and do you think it's a better idea to go for Plaxico if he is definitely not returning to Steel City?
Mike Preston: I have friends who live in Havre de Grace, and they're always slow getting the news. I hear the Pony Express still delivers the mail there. I'll let you in on a secret. Ed Hartwell will become a free agent at the end of this month, so the Ravens probably won't have any rights to trade.
I agree, defense wins championships, and Moss can pack fans in the stands and put points on the board. But he can also bring major embarrassment to your franchise, cause dissension in the locker room, and cause a young quarterback like "My Man" Kyle to lose confidence. We keep hearing that Moss can do for the Ravens what Terrell Owens did for the Eagles this past season.
Let's get serious, or let me become Mr. C. for a second. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb ran that team, and easily tuned out Owens. The Eagles were a veteran team that already had played in three straight NFC championships. That team could absorb Owens' personality. The Ravens can't. There is no one on this offense that could control Moss like Vikings receiver Cris Carter did in Minnesota. Ravens head coach Brian Billick worked with Moss when they were together in Minnesota, but that's when Moss was young and had something to prove because he was skipped over in the draft. It's hard to tell where Moss' head is these days -- somewhere between here and Pluto. Yet, somehow, I just get this feeling Moss is going to end up in Baltimore.
That concerns me.
Nick, Baltimore: Would it be a bad idea for the Ravens to consider signing Jerry Rice to act as a model for this young receiving corps?
Mike Preston: Oh please, no more player coaches. We went through that last year with "Prime Time," who was Part Time. The Ravens and Redskins were the butts of jokes around the league because they had the two largest coaching staffs. "My Man" Kyle had four coaches. Even the assistant coaches had assistants. Here's an idea whose time has come: Why don't the Ravens hire a coach to teach the players, or is that too much of a stretch?
Tim, Hagerstown: Where do you see the Ravens leaning with their first round pick, selecting a lineman or wide receiver? One mock draft I looked at suggested that the Ravens may trade down into the second round, in order to stockpile their picks...do you see the Ravens trading down, if the right player is not available?
Mike Preston: I think mock drafts this time of year are a joke, just these publications trying to rake in money. We should at least go two weeks into the free agency period before we start sizing up the draft. You can say right now the Ravens' most pressing needs are at wide receiver and offensive line. They'd also like to get a big defensive tackle and possibly a corner or safety. By the time the draft rolls around in April, some of these needs could have been filled.
Brad, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.: Wassup Mike? With the departure of Mike Nolan and the promotion of Rex Ryan to defensive coordinator, how do you think the defense will do next year? I for one think it was a step forward and was glad to see Nolan go.
Mike Preston: Hey John-John, from Allentown, check out Brad's intro to his question. He's en vogue man, cool. Now, we got that mind link-up thing going. First of all, I think Nolan did an admirable job here. His defenses played well enough to win. His defenses weren't as good as Marvin Lewis' squads, but he didn't have the same personnel either. The same thing might happen to Rex Ryan. Starting defensive tackle Marques Douglas, Hartwell, and safety/corner Gary Baxter could go elsewhere as free agents and Ray Lewis is on the downside of his career. Ryan has always been a players' coach, much like his dad, Buddy, and I believe he'll get the Ravens to play as hard as ever. If the Ravens can retain some of their free agents, they'll be effective and the defense should again play well enough to win most games.
Henry, Annapolis: If Gary Baxter is such a physical corner, why did he play off his man so much this year?