Q&A with Mike Preston



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

Sid, Mahwah, N.J.: Mike, Is the season over for us? Or is Kyle Boller gonna come back and do some miracles?

Mike Preston: Sid, God bless you. You are a diehard fan. To ask a question like that, you must wear the purple-colored sunglasses, bleed purple and drink the grape Kool Aid. But if you can't see the writing on the wall, I suggest you call your eye doctor immediately. In theory, the Ravens have to win eight straight just to be in contention. Let's repeat that. They have to win eight straight with an unproven quarterback, bad offensive line, an unhappy running back, middle linebacker and safety and a locker room that is in disarray again. If Boller can pull this off, he's completed a miracle of biblical proportions. And if that happens, then there is an Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy.

Jay, Owings Mills: Why did Billick put Anthony Wright back in this Sunday's game? The only spark you saw on the side of the Ravens was during Slash's brief stint in the game. When is Billick going to get the message that his plan for this season is NOT working? I guess when he loses his job he'll get the message loud and clear.

Mike Preston: I'll agree that Billick's plan for the season isn't working, but I would have pulled Kordell, too. He can't throw anymore. He can't hit the ground if he dropped the ball. That was clear during his tryout when he overthrew receivers on short routes. The Ravens signed Stewart for absolute emergencies and one presented itself Sunday. You knew the guy couldn't throw when receiver Randy Hymes threw a pass before Stewart. You can applaud Stewart's effort. He gave the fans some excitement, but Anthony Wright was the Ravens best chance of winning. He took most of the repetitions during the week. He has worked with Derrick Mason and Todd Heap much more than Stewart. It really wouldn't have made a difference. The offense is terrible, and the Ravens two-minute offense is a joke. The Ravens are a team with four backup quarterbacks. Any of them could have played in that situation, and it wasn't going to work out.

Mike, Madrid, Spain: Now that the Ravens are eliminated from Super Bowl contention both logically and now mathematically, can we expect to see anything new? I mean most teams would use this opportunity to give some rookie prospects a look. For example Derrick Anderson - the Ravens QB with the best preseason - but oh that's right, he was let go to make room for "proven" veterans like Kordell Stewart and the essential Patrick Johnson for our Super Bowl push. This isn't the first time this has happened, of course. Last year the Ravens released Josh Harris basically for Stewart yet again and Gerome Sapp for Corey Fuller (so Deion wouldn't get upset). Will this be the year that the Ravens finally stop mortgaging the future?

Mike Preston: The Ravens aren't at that point yet. It's an uphill battle to get to the playoffs, but you've still got to work for it. You plan the entire offseason, and these players spend a lot of time in the weight room preparing to make a run at the playoffs. If there is a glimmer of hope, you go for it. If the Ravens had won Sunday, Wright would still be the quarterback. But since the Ravens are desperate and looking for a spark, they'll start Boller instead. At least with Boller, they still have a shot at the postseason regardless of how unrealistic, and then should also be able to determine whether he is their quarterback of the future. If they lose one, maybe two more games soon, it will be time to take a look at some of the younger guys.

Has Billick been loyal to veterans? Without question, but they were always in contention in the past down to the last month. With the team out of the playoff picture, even he has to look toward the future.

Matthew, Baltimore: I'll be terse. In your estimation what are Brian Billick's most glaring shortcomings as an NFL head coach?

Mike Preston: I'll be just as terse. After his first season here, I wrote after the last game that Billick wasn't as strong in the X's and O's as some believed. He doesn't have a feel for games. He doesn't know how to take a game over, or how to seize that four- to five-minute window of a game that usually determines the outcome. He relies too much on stats and being balanced instead of gut instincts. He also doesn't adapt well. It's good to have confidence in what you believe, but you can't be blind to other suggestions or approaches. For example, the light training camp, no curfews, etc., were good for the team in 2000 because there were so many veterans, but it hasn't been good for this team the past two years. But Billick is unwilling to change.

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