Q&A with Mike Preston

Q and A with ...Mike Preston

Sun columnist answers questions about the Ravens' loss to the Lions



Nikki, Perry Hall: Should we just write this season off and hope that we can start anew next year, hopefully with a new coach? My feeling is that no matter whose is at fault for our offensive troubles, we'll continue to be a graveyard for QBs and WRs until we have a change in leadership. It's time for a new mindset from the top down, and someone needs to step up and tell him that whatever he's doing just isn't satisfactory.

Mike Preston: Right now, everyone is disgusted with the season. It wasn't that the Ravens lost to Detroit, but how they lost. But you never, ever write off a season after four games. You keep playing, trying your best and you work hard because that's all you can do. Of course, this will sound strange coming from me, but there is no other coach I would rather have under these circumstances than Brian Billick. He's a fighter, a scrapper, and if there is a way to get out of this mess, he'll find it. With that said, it appears to be his offensive system that has a lot of problems. You keep going through quarterbacks, receivers, etc., and it just doesn't work. It's a cliche, but it's still a long season. I suspect if the Ravens keep playing like they're playing, Billick won't be around long. But if he revives this team, it will be the greatest comeback since Lazarus.

Shawn, Owings Mills: Four Unsportsmanlike conduct penalities, all on the defense. Of the 100-plus yards of penalties, almost all of them against the defense. Was this the breaking point for the Ravens' D? Was this uncharacteristic lack of discipline the final explosion of frustration at the total lack of ability the offense has displayed? Are they finally tired of defending a 30-yard field, spending 40 minutes a game on the field, getting turnovers only to see the offense squander the opportunity? Has the defense finally had enough?

Mike Preston: Hey Shawn, rewind the game tape. The offense was solid in the game, and the Ravens were running the ball effectively. The defense put themselves in that situation Sunday with their own dumb penalties, one unsportsmanlike on Terrell Suggs, and the other on Maake Kemoeatu. If those two knuckleheads don't get those penalties and the Ravens hold Detroit to a field goal in the third quarter, then I believe the Ravens win the game. If the Ravens weren't out of control, if they had some discipline, they win that game because the Lions are terrible. This isn't about offense versus defense, it's about a listless team that doesn't appear to have leadership or focus. There is no fear of discipline. The good news coming out of the Detroit game is that the Ravens have hit a low point. They aren't at the bottom of the barrel, but underneath it. There's no place to go but up. Right?

Martin, Wiesbaden, Germany: After the debacle against Detroit this Sunday, do you think Brian Billick can regain control of this team?

Mike Preston: My head says no, but my heart says yes. Throughout his career in Baltimore, Billick has always been at his best when his butt or the season is on the line. The Ravens are at that point now. In a way, you feel bad for Billick. I've never agreed with his soft approach and soft training camps, but he did allow these guys freedoms that most players don't get around the NFL. Certain teams have a certain chemistry and maturity. The 2000 group had a lot of veterans who weren't in it just for the money, but they wanted a Super Bowl ring.

A lot of the present-day Ravens are I-guys, they just want to get paid regardless of what happens. For most coaches, their act gets stale within that seven- to 10-year range. Bill Cowher and Jeff Fisher have survived because they're low-key. They talk very little, but when they do, it has a significant impact. Billick is more show. He likes to be in the limelight. He likes to play a lot of head games with both the media and the players. That gets old, and it might have worn on the players.

David, Manchester: Would you fire Brian Billick now or wait until his team really embarrasses Baltimore?

Mike Preston: Really embarrasses Baltimore? Did you see Sunday's game? Never have I seen so much childish - excuse me, let's not insult the kids. Never have I seen so much brat-like behavior in one game. I've seen some pretty ugly recreation contests where parents and players have gotten out of control, but you don't expect to see that in an NFL game. If the Ravens continue to play like this, or like they did against Tennessee, they shouldn't keep Billick around for the rest of the season. But if he can get them to be competitive again, it will be interesting to see what happens at the end of the regular season. The Ravens owe Billick the opportunity to regain control of this team as long as they're competitive. We would ask owner Steve Bisciotti to give Billick a vote of confidence, but he isn't talking to the media. After the Detroit game, he might be too embarrassed to answer the phone.

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