Three reasons

November 13, 2007|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Why the change needs to be made

Boller can provide big plays: It doesn't take an expert to see the difference when Kyle Boller enters the game. He not only looks downfield, but he also throws it deep with some zip, something Steve McNair hasn't shown all season.

Boller is less of a turnover risk: With the way their defense can hold teams, the Ravens need a quarterback who doesn't lose games. At this point in their careers, Boller is the better caretaker, which is surprising considering his past fumble troubles.

The Ravens need to look to the future: McNair is 34 and seems to be at the end of his career. Boller is 26 and still has potential to improve. With the playoff picture growing dimmer, the Ravens need to know now whether Boller could develop into a starting quarterback.

Why the change might not help

Quarterback changes haven't helped in the past: The list starts with Scott Mitchell and goes to McNair. The Ravens tried Pro Bowl quarterbacks, veteran quarterbacks and young quarterbacks, but the offensive productivity has remained the same under coach Brian Billick.

Players continue to back McNair publicly: No one ever expects the players to turn on their quarterback, no matter how much he struggles. But the Ravens have gone out of their way to voice their support for McNair, who has gained respect from his teammates for his toughness and past clutch play.

This puts the Ravens in a corner: If Boller struggles, what can the Ravens do next? It would be hard to go back to McNair after taking away his job. And the Ravens can't turn to Troy Smith, because the Heisman Trophy winner is clearly not ready.

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