You would have never known the Ravens were on the losing side Monday night in Cincinnati if you would have spent 10 minutes with me today at their facility in Owings Mills.
And that was good to see.
Chris McAlister took all of the padding out of Derrick Mason’s helmet while #85 was talking to the media. C-Mac thought it was funny and he snickered throughout his 4-minutes with the media. I’m sure Mason didn’t think it was too funny. But it was a quick glimpse into mid-week at Owings Mills. The loss? Forgotten about. Time for a practical joke from a veteran – and it looked, smelled and sounded like “business as usual” today.
Jay-Z’s “Show Me What Ya Got” blared out of the stereo in Dan Wilcox’s locker. A larger-than-usual throng of media gathered at 1 Winning Drive, forcing Ray Lewis to say, “Boy, what are you all doing out here?” when he turned around to see 20 or so of us standing 10 feet behind him. Bart Scott jokingly said, “Don’t any of you ask me any tough questions or I’m gonna choke you.” Everyone was at ease.
I had to ask myself, “Did the Ravens WIN or LOSE on Monday night?”
You couldn’t tell the difference today.
And that’s a good thing.
While the fan base panics over everything that’s “panic-able”, the Ravens carry on, knowing the test of time that is a 16-week season will prove to be their friend or foe by the end of December.
Callers on my show and the others on WNST this week are toying with the idea of sitting McNair and giving Boller a chance to start and take over the offense. Some are citing McNair’s last two regular season games in ’06 and his debut effort in ’07 as proof enough that he might have “lost it.” I’d call that panicking. Fortunately, the Ravens aren’t going to let three games spread out over 9 months or so change their offensive philosophy. If McNair is healthy this Sunday, he’ll start against the Jets.
For the last however-many years, card-carrying members of the Billick-Has-To-Go FanClub have cited his “vanilla” offensive schemes as a reason he should be shooed out of town. It’s fair to say that Baltimore’s offense has been fairly predictable over Billick’s tenure, partially because the club had a smash-mouth, Pro Bowl-type running back who required and demanded 25-30 carries a game in order for his role to be effective over the course of 60 minutes. If last year and two years ago were “vanilla”, Monday Night in Cincinnati was “neopolitan”…more swirls and surprises than vanilla, chocolate and strawberry mixed together. Yet, those same armchair QB’s who cited Billick for being “too plain” were the first ones to bark at him for “getting too cute” on Monday Night. I’ve got some breaking news for some of you: You’re going to see a lot more “neopolitan” again this Sunday. They’re going to continue to be a mystery – running when it looks like a pass is in order and throwing in obvious run situations. Billick & Co. aren’t letting one loss change their season plan. They’re going to stay the course.
Players were loose, music was roaring and everyone, to a man, talked about fixing the mistakes from Monday night and pushing ahead towards the ultimate goal of reaching the playoffs and playing in Arizona next February. There was no finger pointing, no referee bashing, no “shoulda, coulda, woulda”. Cincy is over. New York is next. No one seemed that fazed about what happened on Monday.
Panic – one week in – just isn’t an ingredient you put into a winning recipe.
Literally every chef I saw or heard in that locker room in Owings Mills today had their own spice to add – and it would have been a gourmet meal if you all could have had a taste.