Q&A with Mike Preston

Q AND A WITH...Mike Preston

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

November 30, 2005|By BALTIMORESUN.COM STAFF

Craig, New Haven, Conn.: For anyone who still holds any hope for Boller, this game was a perfect example of why he is not a legit NFL quarterback, and is the MAIN reason these Ravens have degenerated into one of the worst teams in the NFL. Billick is to blame, no one else, and must be fired. My question is, is there any hope, or does this mark the beginning of a 20-year funk with lame coaches and selfish players? Are we the new Bengals?

Mike Preston: From what I hear, owner Steve Bisciotti is aware of the problems and ready to correct them as soon as the season ends. Does this mean Billick will be fired? I don't know, but I think he is in trouble. This team stumbled down the stretch in 2004, and then bombed this season after Billick was given almost everything he demanded. There has to be some house cleaning and it might start with the coach.

I think Bisciotti is competitive and is passionate about being the owner. He'll run the organization like he runs his business. If you can't get it done, I don't think he'll keep you around long. He watched some things unfold that he didn't like when he was the minority owner, and he won't tolerate them any longer as the majority owner.

Chris, Annapolis: Does this game finally seal Kyle Boller's fate? Or do you think Billick will be able to drag the team down with Boller again next year? Who is our best choice/chance for a new quarterback in the offseason?

Mike Preston: I think Kyle Boller's fate was sealed when he fumbled that ball on the one-yard line against the Steelers. There is no way a quarterback attempts to pitch on he knees. It's unforgivable. Shannon Sharpe was right. The coaches know that Boller is a bust, but Billick will keep pumping Boller up for the rest of the season. He has to because the fans and media are down on Boller. As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, their futures in Baltimore are virtually tied together. If one exits, the other may not be far behind.

Before the Ravens can start talking about picking up another quarterback, they need to determine Billick's fate and the kind of scheme they will use in the future. There are several quarterbacks available through a trade, and maybe one or two in the draft. But with the present system in place, I'm not sure any quarterbacks will succeed in Baltimore. So far, none have in the Billick era.

Brian, Arbutus: Why must they tease us so? Boller looks like a semi-competent QB in the second half, after stumbling, bumbling and throwing to the wrong side for much of the game. That surge WAS facilitated by a disinterested Cincy defense, right?

Mike Preston: Of course, it was. The Ravens scored two touchdowns off Bengals turnovers, and Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis went light on old friend Billick after the big lead in the third quarter. Lewis rotated his starting linebackers to rest them, and pulled out starting running back Rudi Johnson. The Bengals have the big game against the Steelers this week. When the game got close midway in the fourth, Lewis re-inserted the starters and took the game away from the Ravens. The Bengals went to a prevent defense and allowed Boller to complete short passes.

By the end of the third, they were only rushing three and four players. When the game was on the line, Boller was terrible. Also, he didn't make any great throws. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was outstanding, hitting seams, and getting the ball to his receivers before they came out of the break. Boller threw some decent passes, but nothing that makes you believe in him. It's time to move in another direction, and get a real quarterback in here with a real offense.

Paul, Bethesda: Is Chris McAlister way overrated? We are giving up a lot of big pass plays. I think we could trade him a get another DB or weapon on defense. What do you think?

Mike Preston: I thought with the new contract behind him, McAlister would play well this season. He started off strong, but has faded, maybe because the Ravens have no chance of going to the playoffs, and because Ed Reed and Ray Lewis aren't in the lineup. I'm with you Paul. Enough is enough. Trade him and try to get a second or third round pick. As far as the coverages in the secondary, there have been a lot of busted ones this season. From what I understand, the players just haven't picked it up. One thing for certain, the Ravens still miss former secondary coach Donnie Henderson, now the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets. He'd put some fear into some of those guys. The expletives would be flying, but the results would be better.

Ken, Rockville: Two questions: Since Smith and Taylor were out, Jamal Lewis seemed to get quite a few carries--what excuse will he use now for his tenative performance? Second, do you think the Ravens' staff watches the Weather Channel? They are playing as if they have never played in rain before.

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