Week 6: Ravens Q&A with Mike Preston

Ravens questions for Sun columnist Mike Preston can be submitted on game days from halftime until three hours after the game.
Eric: Which is the right train of thought for Ravens fans at this point in the season?

1. They're not going anywhere given how they're playing right now.

2. They're 4-2, and things will get better after the bye week when they're healthy.

Mike Preston: Here's the right train of thought. The AFC has three tiers. In the top tier are New England and Indianapolis. In the second are teams like the Ravens, Chargers, Steelers, Jacksonville, Denver and possibly Kansas City. And then the rest are bottom feeders.

At this point, the Ravens have played a lot of cellar dwellers, and I don't think they are much better than a year ago. Right now, the Colts and Patriots are at the top because they have elite players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady at the quarterback position.

Until those players drop off or other teams upgrade at the quarterback position, then it's basically a two-team race.

Ben: With Samari Rolle back in the lineup, did you see an improvement in the secondary?

Mike Preston: I couldn't tell. You could have put Larry, Moe and Curley back there in the secondary, and the Ravens still would have won. The Rams were missing six starters on offense, and St. Louis quarterback Gus Frerotte was horrible, and that's being nice.

One thing is for sure, or "certainly" as Curley would say -- Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister needs to wake up. Those double moves are killing him. By the way Chris, he went that-a-way.

David: Mike, there's no doubt Kyle Boller's one of the better backups in the league, but he just doesn't seem to have the confidence or the head to lead the team as a starter. With Steve McNair showing his age, do you think the Ravens will pursue another quarterback in the offseason?

Mike Preston: They better, because all the other teams in the AFC North have proven quarterbacks, or quarterbacks of the future on their rosters. In Baltimore, the Ravens have one quarterback who is physically challenged and one that is mentally challenged. Together, McBoller is a fairly decent quarterback.

Ade: Mike, it's the same question every week. What gives with the offensive problems in the red zone, and do you see the Ravens improving in that area at any point this season?

Mike Preston: I have answered that question almost every week for nine years, so you know it's not going to change. I say once the Ravens get inside the other team's 30, they should just trot out kicker Matt Stover and get 'er done. If Ozzie Newsome wasn't here drafting great players and Stover wasn't here converting field goals, head coach Brian Billick's behind would have been spiraling out of town like one of Stover's many field goals. I think we all know that ownership would have booted him by now.

Matthew: How do you think the rookies played along the offensive line?

Mike Preston: I tried to ask Boller and running back Willis McGahee that same question, but they couldn't have visitors in intensive care.

Barry: Where's Terrell Suggs been all season? You'd think someone in his contract year would be a bit more visible.

Mike Preston: I agree. I thought T-Sizzle would have a monster year, but the sizzle has fizzled. (My idol, Jesse Jackson, is going to love me for that rhyme.)

John: This may sound like a joke, but do you think Billick might be holding back on offense so as not to show his hand to New England, Indianapolis and San Diego?

Mike Preston: John, you are brilliant. Why didn't I ever think of that? Not only has Billick been holding back this year, but apparently for the last nine because the offense has always looked the same. Wow. I don't know who is smarter -- Billick, for coming up with this plan, or you John, for figuring it out. I bet you it goes even deeper. I think Billick has been trotting Stover out for all of those field goals because Stover needs the exercise. He has been around the league for so long that Billick feels sorry for him and wants to help him out.

John, you are the man, the dude. You are going to be the next Bill Belichick, I can feel it. And now, Billick will have to open up his offense because you've let his secret out of the bag. Hey Tony Dungy and Bill Belichick, watch out, because Billick is waiting to ambush your team when you come to Baltimore. And John, we owe it all to you. Way to go big guy.

Jacob: At this point in their careers, who's a better quarterback -- Boller or McNair?

Mike Preston: Sorry, I can't answer your question. I'm still mesmerized by John's theory. He is a football guru and will be replacing Ron Jaworski on ESPN soon.

Anyway, Jacob, here's your answer. At this point, Boller has a stronger arm, but McNair has better pocket awareness and can call a better game. In a big game, I'll take McNair. In a big game against Brady or Manning, I'll wave a white flag and go peacefully. Editor's note: Sun reporter Jamison Hensley compares Boller and McNair in this article.

Andrew: What is the reason for Mark Clayton's struggles this season? Is he still injured?

Mike Preston: Mark is still bothered by injuries, and that's one reason. I also suspect veteran receiver Derrick Mason complained enough last year about not getting enough balls that McNair is sending more his way.

Brad: Was Willis McGahee's 2.4 yards per carry a direct result of the inexperienced offensive line?

Mike Preston: Nope. His hospitalization was the direct result of the inexperienced offensive line.

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