Matthew: Willis McGahee had no holes against the Chargers, and Kyle Boller had no time to throw. What are the weak spots along the offensive line? Do you think Jonathan Ogden is ready to hang it up?
Mike Preston: A better question is what are the strengths of the offensive line. Right now there's only one, and that's left guard Jason Brown. Ogden could play a few more years at a high level if he wanted to, but I think the passion is gone, and he is totally disgusted with the play-calling this season as has been the case in the past. The Ravens have some young players on the line that could be good if given time to develop. Players like Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda and Jared Gaither are athletic and young. But it's going to take time.
As for Ogden, unless Billick goes, I think this is his last season.
James: In your opinion, will the Ravens have a new offensive coordinator next year, or will Brian Billick still be calling the plays?
Mike Preston: If owner Steve Bisciotti has any guts, he has to force Billick to make some changes. If he doesn't, he will lose more customers from an already eroding fan base. The Ravens' offense has become such a travesty that it's a comedy. Hopefully, present offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel gets a head coaching job in the college ranks, and the Ravens hire an offensive coordinator with some imagination, but also one who'll stand up to Billick.
And if Billick doesn't like that situation, then the Ravens should get ready, take aim, and fire him.
Tatiana: What should the Ravens' plan be for the quarterback position? Do you think they'll address this in the draft, free agency or neither?
Mike Preston: You can't make any plans now. First of all, they have to see what happens with Neuheisel. After that, they can determine the type of system they will use and which quarterbacks best fit that system. I would love for this franchise to draft a good quarterback and develop him. It's the one area where Ozzie Newsome has failed as a GM.
But I don't want to see some kid come in here and play in the present Billick system. It stinks. They can't bring Steve McNair back, and Boller isn't the quarterback of the future either. The draft is quarterback rich, and hopefully the Ravens can find some coaches who can tutor one of them. If the Ravens continue to fail on the field, they should get a pretty high pick.
J.B.: Have Ravens players tuned out Billick, or do they still support him?
Mike Preston: If you're around Billick for years, and unless you're related to him, you have to tune him out. He likes to talk, and worse yet, likes to hear himself talk. I betcha he answers himself, too.
Billick is good for young teams. They like his bravado. They like his tough talk, and they feel his energy. Veterans see through him. They feel the wind that blows but see little substance behind it, especially with the X's and O's. There are coaches that talk very little, like Jeff Fisher of the Titans, but when he talks, he gets his players' attention.
Veterans tune Billick out easily. Guys like Todd Heap and Matt Stover are going to say the company line. They know the deal about Billick, but they aren't going to rock the boat. Guys like Ray Lewis and Ogden don't care, and they tell the story through their body language, or they say little things publicly (on the radio) to get the attention of the owner. Those guys have the pulse of the team. Vets like Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs don't dislike Billick, but they know he walks loudly, and doesn't carry a big stick.
The locker room is separated again, but not like it was in 2005.
Kenneth: Mike, shouldn't Newsome be under just as much pressure as Billick? He's the one who picks the head coach. Or does Bisciotti make that decision?
Mike Preston: Newsome takes the owner to the water, but he doesn't make him drink.
Michael: Looking ahead to 2008, who are the keepers in the secondary other than Chris McAlister and Ed Reed?
Mike Preston: Before you evaluate players, you have to evaluate the coaches in the secondary. Apparently, the messages aren't getting through. We keep hearing about the miscommunication on the back end. What is this, the United Nations or what?
Something is missing, and apparently the Ravens need to look at the messengers first. I think McAlister, Reed and Dawan Landry are fine, but Ivy seems to be more of a safety than a corner. He deserves another shot. Apparently, the Ravens have no confidence in second-year cornerback David Pittman because he can't beat out Derrick Martin, the worst tackling corner on the team.
Chris: Mike, is Suggs just having a down year or is he more susceptible to double teams with Trevor Pryce out of the lineup? Do you think the Ravens should still make locking up Suggs a major priority?
Mike Preston: The absence of Pryce does hurt Suggs, but Suggs has played hard. The Ravens want to lock him into a six, seven or eight-year deal, but I'd make it three or four. He is still young enough to get another big-time payday if he plays well. But if they give him big money, and he doesn't live up to expectations, the Ravens are stuck.
Eric: Mike, have other teams caught up to defensive coordinator Rex Ryan's exotic blitz schemes? It doesn't seem like opposing offenses have been fooled recently.
Mike Preston: You live by the blitz and you die by the blitz. I suggest Ryan buy compasses, road maps and navigator systems for all his corners and safeties so they know where they are going. They keep miscommunicating.
Chuck: What was the 15-yard personal foul penalty on Ray Lewis? CBS did not show a replay of it.
Mike Preston: According to the official at the game, Lewis stuck his fingers through the opponent's facemask in an attempt to scratch him, apparently in the eyes. We wanted to see the replay too, but they didn't show it. Lewis talked with the official after several plays, and they seemed to work things out.
I know, I bet it was a miscommunication.
Brad: There were some exciting college football overtime games this past weekend. What would you think of the NFL adopting the college format for teams that are tied at the end of regulation?
Mike Preston: It doesn't have to be exactly like the college format, but I would like to see both teams get the ball on offense, even the Ravens.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun