Ravens finish with a sack

January 03, 2008

For sports fans, welcome to a winter of discontent. Even the most hardened Brian Billick detractors will admit his firing is no cause for celebration. Nine seasons as a head coach may be an eternity in the National Football League, but his abrupt departure won't suddenly turn things around. Worst of all, his ouster just adds to the general gloom for Baltimore sports.

Remember the summer of 1999, when billboards shouted a single word, "Billick," to announce his arrival? Not long after that, the Ravens were Super Bowl winners. Under Coach Billick, the Ravens were the counterpoint to the Orioles, for whom losing has been so ... so ... unremitting. The Ravens may have been also-rans at times, but they were never also-rans by midseason.

Perhaps a fresh start is needed. A 5-11 season is pretty woeful, and injuries can't account for all of it. Indeed, the Ravens may have suffered from the various problems local fans have been grumbling about for years - a lack of discipline and focus, a series of bad choices at quarterback and a truly pitiful attack.

But whomever owner Steve Bisciotti hires for the job, expect a rough transition. Just take a look at the bottom of the NFL standings. The worst teams tend to have first- and second-year coaches. Even those who go on to become successful don't tend to win at first - unless, of course, they inherit a truly dominant team.

So what's a local fan to do? The Orioles aren't just rebuilding for the spring (even using the term is a disservice to the legitimate construction trades), they're tearing down. Aside from the nationally ranked Lady Terps, the local college basketball outlook is so-so. Even the Baltimore Blast are having trouble winning.

Alas, that leaves the Ravens. The hiring of a new coach may be the only game worth watching for a while, at least until April's NFL draft. With that in mind, we'd offer the following to help get the ball rolling:

ISO: Proven leader needed to inspire 53 men with a penchant for violence, a team of well-paid subordinates and one still-fledgling owner to greatness. Must be able to withstand intense criticism in a highly competitive industry. No applicants from rival cities of Cleveland, Cincinnati or Pittsburgh (unless your last name rhymes with "tower" and you have won 161 games). Genius title a must. Winners only, please. Ask for Steve.

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