There is simply no way to overemphasize the problems the Ravens have to deal with. I'm not going to get into blaming and finger-pointing. Just try to look at some realities.
Steve McNair was a good deal for this team last season. He took them to 13-3 and instilled a confident calm in the huddle. But it is apparently over unless there is an injury problem that the Ravens are keeping under wraps. The ESPN folks showed a graphic last night that quantified what anyone who watches this team has suspected since the Colts game -- the Ravens go downfield less frequently than any team in the league. This year, they try less than half as much as the league average.
Brian Billick will reasonably contend that play-calling decisions are predicated on opposing defenses and so on. Plus, you have to consider whether there is enough confidence in the offensive line to call plays that are going to require the QB to hold the ball longer. Regardless, the Ravens, with McNair, are not getting the ball downfield at all. Does McNair have the arm for it? Billick would probably say that he does. But no one sees it enough to really know. Can Kyle Boller get the ball deep? Well, at least we see him make the throw -- whether he connects or the receiver makes the play is another story. But he can get the ball deep.
The stats from last night were incredible and the conclusion inescapable. McNair had 13 completions for 63 yards. That's less than five yards a completion. That's a sign of probably two things. A quarterback who can't get the ball downfield and a defense that realizes it and is tightening the coverage on the underneath throws. Think about it, why should an NFL cornerback worry about a Ravens wide receiver running past him at this point?
Pulling the plug on a great quarterback like Steve McNair is never easy. And I have no idea how it will play in the locker room. But as they say, desperate times ...