Marco, Owings Mills: Stover looked much better today. Has he corrected his mechanics problems and were the last weeks just a fluke?
Mike Preston: Stover is a perfectionist and he might be able to kick for another two or three years. Stover said he hurried too much when he missed three field goals in the opener. Knowing him, he probably went back over old film and timed his approach to the ball. The ball wasn't rocketing off his foot in preseason either, but he seems to have made the necessary adjustments.
Ed Reed? Should I start worrying about him? The only time he showed up was on a punt or on a couple of long pass plays.
Mike Preston: Well, we know he is no longer located next to Ray Lewis in the locker room, or close to him on team flights. When you aren't hearing about cornerbacks and safeties, that's a good thing. Actually, Reed has played well. He comes up in run support, and he had 4 tackles against the Jets. There aren't a lot of teams challenging him in the middle of the field, that's for sure.
A year ago, Reed wasn't a pleasure to be around. His teammates disliked him because of his arrogance, and he rubbed a lot of the media the wrong way as well. But this season he has become "one of the guys" again, and a media favorite. Reed has kind of found his niche on the team as a player and person. He may not be making as many big plays this season because more teams have respect for him. You don't challenge playmakers unless you have to.
Shane, Overlea: How do you feel about DB Samari Rolle's play as a Raven and has he lived up to the big contract so far?
Mike Preston: It's the same with Rolle as it is with Reed. You don't hear a lot from him because teams would rather challenge McAlister than Rolle. Rolle used to be a decent hitter and came up on run support, be he's older and much more fragile now. He's basically a pure cover corner. If you think he's going to stick a running back in run support, think again, that's no longer his style. Like Reed, he commands a lot of respect.
JLS, York, Pa.: Does this mess belong to Brian Billick or to Ozzie Newsome? It seems like the poor offensive scheme is Billick's but the aging personnel is Ozzie's. Other than a more athletic O-line, what else is needed to turn this around?
Mike Preston: There's enough of this mess to spread around. Billick wanted Boller as his quarterback even as a rookie, and the Ravens basically wasted the final peak years of players like Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware and maybe even Jamal Lewis. All of these guys have slipped as far as ability. Newsome should have upgraded the offensive line heading into the season, but apparently felt they had enough juice left to help carry this offense. After all of these years, it's safe to assume there is something wrong with this scheme, as far as the passing game. It's too vanilla. We all thought that would change with Fassel as the new offensive coordinator, but it's apparent that he only tweaked this offense. It's still Billick's system. It's still a mess.
To turn it around, the Ravens need some defensive line help, especially someone who can collapse the pocket in the middle. They also need a nickel back, and a presence at weakside linebacker.
Joey, College Park: It looked like the Ravens started to work Tony Pashos in at right tackle. Is Orlando Brown losing his job? He's 34 now and clearly past his prime.
Mike Preston: The Ravens would like for Pashos to take over, but he's not ready for prime time either. He's way too slow. Yes, Brown is past his prime, about two years past it, but I don't fault him. Newsome gave him the opportunity and the contract to play, and he took it. Brown probably won't be back next season.
Cedric, Nevada: With the slow start of the Ravens and the fast start of the Bengals and with both teams being close talent-wise, Who is the better head coach - Brian Billick or Marvin Lewis?
Mike Preston: Based on what has happened so far in their careers, this is no contest in Billick's favor.
People quickly forget that Billick won a Super Bowl in his second season. Regardless of the poor offensive performances, the Ravens have played meaningful games late in the season during Billick's tenure as head coach.
Lewis has the Bengals in first place, but in two previous seasons he was no better than .500. Lewis will do well, and I believe he'll eventually become a better coach than Billick because he has a better knowledge of the X&Os. But I also think Lewis owes a lot to Billick who helped him improve his media as well as organizational skills.
Q&A with Mike Preston
Sun columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens
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