Gung-ho for Joe

The Baltimore Sun

Yes, I'm still whacko about Joe Flacco after his lackluster performance in the Ravens' 16-15 victory over the New England Patriots on Thursday night. I can't deny that he looked slow and indecisive in his preseason debut, but there were times he got no separation from the third-string offensive line when he dropped back to pass.

He'll play better next time, I'm sure, though it's obviously going to take some time for him to adjust to the difference in game speed between second-tier college football and the NFL - enough time that it could be quite awhile before he catches up enough to warrant any serious discussion about taking over as the starter.

The quarterback controversy will thicken in the second preseason game. Troy Smith is expected to start against the Minnesota Vikings at M&T; Bank Stadium next Saturday night in a game that could go a long way toward determining whether he wins the right to start the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Smith was not particularly impressive after replacing Kyle Boller late in the first half, but it wasn't exactly a showcase for any of the three QBs.

Which brings us to a question that Steve Davis, Michael McCrary and I discussed Thursday night on the WBAL post-game show:

Six teams are reportedly interested in veteran QB Chad Pennington, who was released by the New York Jets on Thursday to clear cap room for the acquisition of Brett Favre. Do you think the Ravens are - or should be - one of those teams?

Can No. 35 at 39 equal 20 victories?

Mike Mussina dazzled the Texas Rangers on Thursday to record his 15th victory of the year and put himself in great position to win 20 games for the first time in his career. He should have 10 more starts.

Obviously, reaching 20 wins would put him very much in the running for the American League Cy Young Award, but he would be a much stronger candidate if he didn't have to face his old teammates this year.

"Moose" is 15-7 with a 3.27 ERA. Pretty impressive. If you take away his two losses to the Orioles in which he lasted a total of 5 2/3 innings and gave up seven earned runs, he would be 15-5 with a 2.94 ERA. The award would still go to the Cleveland Indians' Cliff Lee (15-2, 2.58) if they gave it out today, but there's a long way to go.

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