Q&A with Mike Preston

Q AND A WITH...MIKE PRESTON

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

ravens/football

November 03, 2005|By BALTIMORESUN.COM STAFF

Shawn, Owings Mills: OK, so all of a sudden, our line can pass-block, and not just pick up blitzes (even Chester Taylor was making his blocks for a change). Anthony Wright isn't staring down his receivers, but scanning the field. Jamal Lewis is running with a purpose and hitting the hole and punishing DBs. Our passing game consists of more than 3-7 yard comeback patterns (I think I even saw crossing patterns!). Not to mention the third down conversions being made and not left a yard short. Oh, and the defense is actually getting pressure on the QB and not leaving the secondary hung out to defend a 7-second pass play.

This game plan would have beaten the Lions and Bears and battered the Browns and Jets. What gives? Did they just eat their Wheaties this week, or did they make significant changes to the playbook?

Mike Preston: Hey, no sarcasm here. Not yet anyway. It was a combination of things. The Ravens were well prepared. Offensively, they took advantage of the Steelers one on one coverage underneath, and they challenged Pittsburgh's secondary. Brian Billick went into the game knowing he had to take some chances offensively to win, and he did that. He always spices up the game plan for national TV games. It's showtime at the Apollo. The Ravens had something to prove. They were without two big stars, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, and I believe they wanted to show they can play without those two guys and still be effective. It was refreshing to watch this game. There wasn't a lot of theatrics. They weren't penalized 21 times (sarcasm is like cream, it always rises to the top) and they brought their A-game against a good NFL team. Baltimore fans don't ask for a lot, they just want to watch competitive, somewhat entertaining football.

But the concern is can they do it again? The Ravens may have played their Super Bowl Monday night against Pittsburgh. They weren't going to be embarrassed in front of their peers on national TV. Overall, it was a fun game to watch. If it was the result of eating Wheaties, then bring in some more. I bet you, Billick and Ozzie Newsome are willing to pay.

Chris, Baltimore: Not saying that Wright is the greatest QB ever, but he hung in there and made some throws that Boller couldn't have made. Will the brass put Boller back in when he's ready, or will this be 2003 again, when he didn't play another snap that season after injury?

Mike Preston: Wright made some glaring mistakes, ones that he will continue to make throughout his career in the NFL. He's just Anthony Wright, not Johnny U. But his play has improved. As long as the team progresses, the Ravens are hoping they can get on a roll and still make a late season push for a wild card spot. That's unlikely to happen, but as coaches and players, that's what you aim for anyway. What else can you do, cry?

If the Ravens lose two or three more games soon, then they'll write the season off, and they'll take a look at Boller again. If they bring Boller back now, it will take him at least one game, maybe two, to shake off the rust. After Monday night, the Ravens have at least some hope they can play at a high level with Wright. Pittsburgh didn't play well offensively, and for some reason the Steelers got away from their forte of running the ball. The Ravens played their best game and still came away with a loss. I'd stay with Wright for now just to see if the Ravens can get something going.

Anthony, Towson: Thanks for fielding questions, Mike. That must have been one of the worst two-minute drills I could ask for by a QB. You've mentioned that neither Boller nor Wright is the QB of the future. Do you see the Ravens making a play for Philip Rivers in the off-season? Could they do it for a high second-round pick?

Mike Preston: The Ravens have had the worst two-minute offense in the league during the last seven years. They can't get in and out of the huddle. They can't manage the clock. They can't work the sidelines. They can't find the seams when teams take away the sidelines. It's a zoo. It's bizarre to think a team can't run this type of offense because the talent in the league is so close, and games are often decided in the final two minutes. Once Pittsburgh kicked the field goal with 1:36 left in the game to take the lead and the Ravens had no timeouts, you knew they were going to lose barring some miracle catch from Derrick Mason or Todd Heap.

It doesn't matter if the quarterback is Wright, Boller or Chris from Baltimore, it's just like seeing the rerun of a bad movie. Been there. Done that. We know the outcome. It's too early to predict what's going to happen in San Diego with Philip Rivers, but the hot name out there is Atlanta backup Matt Schaub. He isn't going to see much time as long as Michael Vick is the starter and franchise player.

Now, if the Ravens make a trade or whatever for Schaub, can he be successful here? Just remember these names: Scott, Stoney, Tony, Elvis, Randall, Trent, Kyle, Anthony.

Did we forget anyone?

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