Ravens Central

RAVENS CENTRAL

The Kickoff

February 01, 2007|By MIKE PRESTON

Only Tuesday afternoon, everything seemed so chummy with the Ravens. They swore the window of opportunity wasn't about to close and they had pretty much solved any salary cap problems that might arise. Break out the champagne and roll out the red carpet.

But it was strange yesterday when news leaked out that coach Brian Billick's contract extension was only for one year, which takes him through to the end of 2008. If you read between the lines, you have to believe owner Steve Bisciotti doesn't have as much faith in Billick as he tried to display Tuesday. Billick got a pay raise, but all the contract extension did was not make him a lame duck next season.

If Bisciotti had so much faith in Billick, why didn't he add more years to the extension?

I like the idea of giving him only one year. It puts pressure on Billick and keeps him focused, which he wasn't in 2005. Basically, Billick is on the hot seat again. One thing we have learned through the years is that general manager Ozzie Newsome and his scouting department will provide the Ravens with good players. A good coach should be able to get them to the playoffs. Scratch that. In this era of parity, an average coach should be able to get them to the playoffs.

There is no way Bisciotti could have been happy with the team's loss to Indianapolis in the playoffs. Clearly, the Ravens had the better team. Again, it came down to the offense and poor play calling. I suspect Bisciotti will keep an eye on his head coach. You can't give Billick too much rope, or he'll hang himself as well as the team. As long as he is kept in check, he's a good coach. The Ravens aren't giving him much room to go astray.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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