Mike Preston: Ah, Nick, Nick, stop your whining. I know how you feel. Now imagine how Brian Billick has felt the last three seasons. You got your pom poms out after the last two games, and started telling everybody that "I told you, I told you, Kyle was the real deal. He just needed some time." And now, you're all depressed because it blew up in your face again and again and again. To be a Boller fan, you have to be a masochist. You like to be tormented and teased because he takes you to the edge, and then BOOM, pulls you back. Ain't that right, Nick? I bet your sitting on the couch with him right now.
I know Nick, keep waiting, right? Guess what, again? I'll wait for an inheritance, I'll wait for the right woman, I'll wait for the right car but I'm not going to wait for Boller any longer. Get a clue Nick. Billick doesn't want to wait any longer either, which is why he hasn't endorsed Boller as the starter next season. While we have been waiting for Boller, Ray Lewis has gone into isolation, Peter Boulware and Jonathan Ogden have declined, Jamal Lewis doesn't want to play in Baltimore and Chris McAlister has moved from outer space into the next galaxy. The window of opportunity for winning a Super Bowl has closed while we waited for Boller to develop.
And then you have the audacity to suggest I have not written a game column in the past two weeks because Boller has played well. Ah, humbug. The two previous games were on deadline, night games. I had to do the report card Nick (notice Boller got an A+ and B+). There wasn't time to write a column and a report card. So next time, before you challenge my integrity, get the facts right.
One more thing Nick: Have a healthy and happy new year.
Chris, Glen Burnie: I knew it was too good to be true. There was no chance that Kyle Boller could have three good games in a row and the Ravens win three in a row. Does Kyle's performance against the Browns hurt his future more than the past two games helped it?
Mike Preston: If he had played three good games in a row, there would have been a parade downtown. There would have been Boller sightings all over Maryland. His psychologists would be opening more offices in Baltimore because he would be hotter than Dr. Phil. If he had played well against the Browns, more people like Nick would have been coming out of the closet holding rallies in other AFC North cities.
The Ravens know they can't win consistently with Boller against good teams. They know they have to find a starting quarterback somewhere. Boller has yet to prove he can play well over an extended period of time. It's like being a shooter in basketball. If you shoot 30 times a game, sooner or later you're going to hit a couple, or go on a hot streak. But that doesn't mean you're ready for the NBA. The Ravens will try to find a legitimate starting quarterback during the offseason. If the Ravens had a good starting quarterback this season, they would have won nine games instead of six. Boller is just Boller, nothing more, nothing less.
Steve, Greensboro, N.C.: Presto, now that we know 'Compu Coach' is coming back, can you give us your opinion of the peripherals (assistants) and who should stay or go?
Mike Preston: I think running backs coach Matt Simon, who is excellent, will leave because the Ravens have not given him a shot at being the offensive coordinator even though it is deserved. The Ravens will take a hard look a receivers coach David Shaw because he has failed to develop any young receivers except Clayton, who was the team's No. 1 draft pick last April. Secondary coach Johnnie Lynn and special teams' coach Gary Zauner might get fired while offensive coordinator Jim Fassel has a shot at the head coaching job in Minnesota.
Do they all deserve to be fired? No. Shaw and Lynn haven't shown much. There doesn't seem to be a lot of respect from the players for quarterback coach Rick Neuheisel who would become of the offensive coordinator if Fassel leaves. But if you don't fire the head coach, somebody has to be the scapegoat. This will be two years in a row where assistants have become the fall guys.
Fred G., Rockville: Does Billick have brainlock when it comes to motivating this team to play on the road? Once again, penalties, interceptions, poor play calling! Maybe Billick needs a sports psychologist?
Mike Preston: That's funny. Billick and Boller on the same couch. Actually, Sunday's performance just isn't for the road. The Ravens have brought the traveling act home a couple of times this season. Billick and Boller have replaced Barnum and Bailey.
Brian, Herndon, Va.: Nice columns throughout the year. Not what the Kool-Aid drinkers and 'real fans' want to read, but generally on target. After 7 dismal seasons of offensive futility, two straight seasons of underachieving with significantly more talent than most NFL teams, becoming the laughing stock of the league with a complete discipline meltdown in Detroit, 11 straight losses on the road, and a proven inability to match up consistently with the NFL's quality teams over the prior two seasons, what, in your opinion, was owner Steve B. thinking with his retention of Billick? What silver linings can Ravens fans, both 'real' and skeptical, take into next season? I've had season tickets for all 10 years, but can't see reupping after the last two seasons. Give me some hope. Thanks.
Mike Preston: Actually, Brian, there is hope. A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Billick should be fired based on numerous things. Yet no one in the front office ever publicly acknowledged any problems. Over the last year and a half, I have written about the chemistry and locker room problems, and how Billick had lost control of the team. There have been numerous suggestions about doing away with this offensive system, finding another quarterback other than Boller and making training camp tougher. Most of the time, there were denials from Billick and the Ravens public relations staff department about any problems. There was always "you have an agenda" against Billick. But now, Billick has admitted that he lost control of this team. Owner Steve Bisciotti and the front office staff have interviewed players and are aware of the problems in the locker room. They held an evaluation of Billick, which means those problems are no longer obscured by newspaper "sources," but are on the table. They are now public records.
Imagine that. Jamal Lewis actually did admit to withholding services.
With all of that said, all of these problems have to be addressed or the Ravens will continue to lose. I still don't know if Billick is the right coach for the job here in Baltimore anymore, but I think he and the Ravens will make a sincere effort to make things better. They're at least thinking ahead, instead of trying to hide the truth through denial. Over the past decade, this has been one of the best franchises in the NFL. They've made mistakes, but their successes far outweigh their failures. That's what I'm counting on during the off season. That's the hope, and it should be yours, too.
LT Carl Johnson, USN, Fort Bragg, N.C.: Mike I love reading your articles. No matter where I am, I try to get to read it. Who do you hear are options for the Ravens to bring in as far as quarterbacks go?