Julie, Baltimore: OK, Mike, it's the beginning of the second half, and through one half, Boller looks pretty good. No turnovers, no stumbles, few incompletions, and 2 TDs. Green Bay's defense is supposed to be pretty good against the pass. Can you give Boller credit for playing well, or will you stoop to attributing it to Green Bay being a bad team? Come on, Mike, credit where credit is due.
Mike Preston: It's Christmas Julie, and I'm in the spirit of giving. A lot of people want fancy and expensive gifts, and all you want is praise for Kyle Boller. Oh, if I only had relatives like you. ... Boller was incredible. He was on fire. He performed like a combination of Joe Namath and John Unitas. He had the quick release and the rifle arm. It was his best game as a pro, and in the true spirit of Christmas, I'm willing to forgive all the mistakes he has made in the past three years. I'll take it even further. He showed great "character and toughness" rebounding from the Denver fiasco a week ago.
How's that Julie? You got your present early. And when you're under the mistletoe with Kyle and a cup of egg nog, give him my regards. One other thing, Merry Christmas.
Daniel, Baltimore: This game almost makes me angrier than seeing the Ravens lose. I know that this is not the Ravens that I know, or the ones that I have seen all year. My question is, do we have reason to believe that the Ravens are really this good? Maybe you were wrong about Kyle and Billick? Frustrating.
Mike Preston: Daniel, maybe I am wrong. That's always a possibility. I'm a sportswriter, not God. I'm basing my opinion and observations on what I have seen over the years.
But I do have a suggestion for you. I think you ought to go to the mirror, pour some cold water on your face and then slap yourself three times. Get a grip man. The Ravens have beaten Green Bay, New York Jets, Houston, Cleveland and rival Pittsburgh. This isn't murder's row. Green Bay players had no interest in playing this game, especially Brett Favre, who was a physical and mental a no-show. To answer your question, no the Ravens aren't that good. This was predictable. The Ravens win some games at the end of the season creating false hope, but inside The Castle they know they have a lot of work to do.
Matthew, Baltimore: Do you think this game will assure that Billick gets another shot next year? Merry (Oops) Happy Holidays.
Mike Preston: I have no idea. There have been rumors coming out of the training complex that he will be fired. There is speculation that he will return. There are rumors he will return but might have to fire some coaches. Maybe the Ravens bring him back because he has two years left on his contract worth about $4 million a season.
During the course of the year, I'm sure general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti have discussed Billick's future several times. We all knew that if the Ravens made it to this point in the season they would win the final two or three games. Hopefully the Green Bay game, and the two to come, will not play a major factor in the decision because Minnesota and Cleveland aren't good teams. If you want to look at two games to judge this season and what happened, look at Detroit and Tennessee. Those games were played when the season was still meaningful, and should serve as the truer barometer. These games are meaningless.
Andrew, Westminster: Kyle Boller's visit to the mountaintop tonight against the Packers is the best thing that could have happened. Billick will be able to say "I told you so!" and "Kyle's sports psychologist did a great job!" and ride off into the sunset with a simle on his face. Everyone else who has an objective view of the sitiuation will see the Packers are really bad on defense, and the Ravens still need to be totally rebuilt.
Kyle Boller is a world-beater! Wherever BIllick goes, he can make a great sales pitch to bring Boller along. It's a wonderful day! How many core players do you see put into the lifeboat as Ozzie and Co. scuttle the ship?
Mike Preston: Excuse me, Andrew. Julie wants a "Kyle Day" so I'm giving her one. I've got your back Julie.
Now, the Ravens have already started the rebuilding process, even though it's a little late. They've already gotten rid of the right offensive tackle, and they need a right guard and center. They'll bring in a new quarterback (sorry Julie, but we're keeping it real) and possibly a new starting running back.
On the defensive side, they need a stud defensive tackle, an inside linebacker, a safety and some young defensive backs. You might see as many as eight new starters next season.
The real problem will come on offense again. It's easier to build on defense than on offense. With so many possible new faces, there is going to be a longer transition period.
Bill, Stevensville: Yeah, the players have really quit on Billick, haven't they?
Mike Preston: It's not about quitting. It's about Billick regaining control of his locker room, and not having star or prominent players undermining him. A lot of the problems are centered on money issues. The Ravens are aware of the problems, and it has to be resolved one way or another, with Billick or without Billick. A win over Green Bay, at home, doesn't mask the larger problem, except for some fans.
If Billick stays next year, overcomes the problem, then great. If he doesn't, and they bring in someone else, then he has a similar challenge. But one game doesn't push it under the rug, Bill. Houston hasn't quit. San Francisco hasn't quit. The Titans haven't quit. The question that needs to be asked is what happened to this team early in the season? Was the poor start from the light training camp? Were the penalties against Detroit and for most of the season a lack of discipline? Again, it's not about quitting. It's a control issue.
John, Garland, Texas: If Brian Billick does stay on as head coach next year, then what are the chances of him bringing in Daunte Culpepper to QB? It seems that he's about to wear out his welcome at Minnesota anyway. And if so, and depending on if he can come back from his injury, would this be a good move?
Mike Preston: Regardless of which new quarterback the Ravens bring in, there has to be a change. There is the old saying of "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." The Ravens can't go into next season with all of their hopes pinned on Boller. Been there, done that. It didn't work. If Culpepper is available, then explore the opportunity. There are other veterans out there who might work as well.
Ray, Glen Allen, Va.: Mike, it looks as though Baltimore's offensive line is playing much better than earlier in the season.
Mike Preston: I thought these guys should have played earlier in the season. They're not great, but they are getting better. They're hungry. They work until the whistle sounds and the play is over. The only problem is that it's still not an athletic group. I would like to see more versatility, guys who can pull, trap and get outside. But so far, it's encouraging.
Robert, Owings Mills: Why have we not seen Jason Brown at center yet? What is there to lose at this point? Put Edwin at LG and Rimpf at RG. Flynn gets beat off the snap on run and pass plays. I've never seen anything like it.
Mike Preston: From what I hear, Jason Brown has problems grasping this offense, and if that's the case, you don't want him at center where he has to call out the blocking assignments. The Ravens also think Brown needs to lose some weight, and rookie tackle Adam Terry need to become tougher. They're both rookies. A year in the weight room will be good for both players.
Bart, Baltimore: Mike, if 'Prime Time' is indeed interested in coaching, should the Ravens pursue him as an assistant head coach, or simply let him go? Thanks for your time. Keep up the good work.
Mike Preston: From what I hear, he has a great relationship with his fellow players, and worked hard to maintain that relationship as opposed to a year ago. I can't say one way or another if Sanders would make a good assistant coach. I can say that beyond all the smoke and mirror shows that he puts on, and all the crowing when the camera lights are on, Sanders is a nice guy. It's all an act, but he's cool.
Dave, Parkville: Considering the Monday night rout of the Packers, how will this affect next year's draft?
Mike Preston: Not much at all. The way this season was going, the Ravens were going to draft in between the 10 to 15 range. They're still there.