Mike Preston: Bill, I'm sure the Ravens will win a game, maybe two, maybe more. You sound so pessimistic, so jaded, so cynical. You ought to write a football column for The Sun. Actually, I confess, Bill is my double. Love him to death. But don't be unfaithful. According to head coach Brian Billick, there is "sheer love" working out of an 0-2 hole, so I say hallelujah, raise the roof and pass the plate. 1-15 will bring ecstasy. 0-16 will put you in heaven.
Can I get an Amen?
Jim, Towson: OK Mike, when will Brian Billick start admitting that we have serious problems? Of course he isn't going to come out and say it, but there are some big concerns with this team. At this point the play on the field is disturbing and the denial from the coaching staff is even more disturbing.
Mike Preston: The coaching staff isn't in denial, they're in mourning. The only thing Billick can do now is not panic which would indicate desperation. He needs to start working some of those young linemen like OT Adam Terry and C/G Jason Brown into the lineup if the line continues to struggle, and buy receiver Clarence Moore a one way ticket to the bench. He'll have to modify his offense with more sprint and roll outs so his quarterback doesn't get killed, and come up with some trick plays because this team can't sustain drives. The Ravens will eventually need to rebuild their offensive line, and still need to find a quarterback and nickel back of the future.
Other than that Jim, and running back Jamal Lewis and safety Ed Reed sulking because they haven't received contract extensions, there aren't many problems.
Problems? What problems?
Joe, Annapolis: How can so many "experts" pick the Ravens to be good this year and yet they still stink? Easy, because Brian Billick can't prepare a team loaded with talent, and can't prepare a sound game plan to save his life. I hate to say it, but the Ravens' Super Bowl win was a fluke. The planets were aligned just right and a defense like that won't come around too often. How long until Steve Bisciotti gives this guy the boot? Talent is there. Preparation and game plan are not. That is coaching, or lack of it in this case. Time to bring some respect back to Baltimore football. and Camp Cream Puff isn't gonna get us there.
Mike Preston: Now Joe, is that any way to treat the head coach?
Seriously, regardless of his style or demeanor, you've got to give Billick ample time, and the benefit of the doubt. He has won a lot of games here in Baltimore, including a Super Bowl, and he deserves time to fix any current problems. If this team continues to play like this at the end of the season, it's time to make changes.
David, Franklin, Pa.: I've just about seen enough. What gives with this offense? How can it possibly be this bad with the players they have? Is it time to try other guys on the line? It seems to me that they just aren't opening holes for the running game at all, and their pass-blocking defeciencies are well known. This looks like it could be a long season already.
Mike Preston: No argument here. A day after training camp opened, I wrote that offensive and defensive line play would be the key to the season. During the draft in April, I suggested the Ravens take an offensive tackle in the first round. This unit never could pass block, but now they can't run block either. They've gotten old at once. People believe that you win Super Bowls with flashy quarterbacks, receivers, linebackers and cornerbacks, but you win games by dominating line play. There is nothing more demoralizing in sports than to have a team conduct a 14-play, smash-mouth drive, and you can't do anything about it. The Ravens went out this season and got flash - Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton - but they didn't get substance. The big guys win the games, not the pretty boys.
Eric, Harrisburg, Pa.: The Ravens offense is obviously in disarray. What changes can they make to the offensive line so they can salavage this season before it is a complete waste? Also, I never thought I would say this, but I can't wait for Kyle Boller to come back. This pathetic showing by the offense has made me realize it is not Boller's fault for the poor play recently, but the entire offense is to blame.
Mike Preston: I think you have been playing quarterback for the Ravens lately, and suffered a concussion. The whole offense isn't to blame. The Ravens have solid receivers, a Pro Bowl tight end and two good running backs, but they don't have an offensive line or a quarterback. Monday afternoon, I was listening to talk radio and heard this guy mentioning my name. He took pieces from a recent column and basically said I endorsed Anthony Wright. Wrong. He didn't mention the rest of the column where I wrote that neither one was substantially better than the other, and neither was the long term answer at quarterback.
Clearly Wright outplayed Boller in training camp, and more than just a few players wanted Wright in the lineup. Several defensive coordinators around the league preferred playing against Boller than Wright because he is more consistent and has a better arm. But both aren't very good. It's like the worse of two evils. To even compare Boller with Wright is an indictment of Boller because Wright came into the league as a free agent and Boller was a first round draft pick.
Wright just makes the offense better. But whether it's Boller, Wright, Marino, Elway, Brady or Manning, they all are going to look bad with this offensive line. But I will leave you with this quote from former Raven Shannon Sharpe, the top free agent acquisition in Ravens history: "I've got a better chance of winning the Kentucky Derby on the back of a donkey than [the Ravens] have of winning the Super Bowl with Kyle Boller."
Now playing quarterback for the Ravens, Eric, of Harrisburg...
Bacon, Baltimore: It looks like Camp Cream Puff is rearing it's ugly head, especially on the offensive line. I have never seen a group more putrid. What is the remedy? Do I actually need to start watching cooking shows on Sunday afternoons?