Ravens need to address downfield difficulties

O, BY THE WAY

The Kickoff

November 07, 2007|By BILL ORDINE

There is simply no way to overemphasize the problems the Ravens have to deal with. I'm not going to get into blaming and finger-pointing. Just try to look at some realities.

Steve McNair was a good deal for this team last season. He took them to 13-3 and instilled a confident calmness in the huddle. But it is apparently over unless there is an injury problem that the Ravens are keeping under wraps. The ESPN folks showed a graphic Monday night that quantified what anyone who watches this team has suspected since the Indianapolis Colts postseason game - the Ravens go downfield less frequently than any other team in the NFL. This year, they try less than half as often as the league average.

Brian Billick will reasonably contend that play-calling decisions are predicated on opposing defenses and so on. Plus, you have to consider whether there is enough confidence in the offensive line to call plays that are going to require the quarterback to hold the ball longer. Regardless, the Ravens, with McNair, aren't getting the ball downfield.

Does McNair have the arm for it? Billick would probably say that he does. But no one sees it enough to really know. Can Kyle Boller get the ball deep? Well, at least we see him make the throw - whether he connects or the receiver makes the play is another story. But he can get the ball deep.

Giving up on a great quarterback such as McNair is never easy. And I have no idea how it will play in the locker room. But, as they say, desperate times ...

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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