Bad timing but not bad news…

April 17, 2008 | Drew Forrester

I wasn’t shocked to hear Steve McNair pull a Roberto Duran and utter “no mas” earlier today. 

Actually, at first blush, I’m not really sure McNair’s departure is bad news.  In all honesty, 2008 would have been McNair’s final season, anyway.  And, let’s continue with the truth serum here — we’re all fairly sure he wouldn’t have played all 16 games in ’08 anyway, right?  At some point, he was pulling a hamstring, hurting his back or tweaking a knee. 

Bad news?  Only kinda-sorta.

Bad timing?  Definitely.

The list of rag-a-muffin veteran QB’s who are currently available isn’t anything to get excited about and it’s almost a certainty that none of them will lead the Ravens – if signed – past the Steelers, Browns or Bengals in ’08.

Byron Leftwich?  No thanks. 

Daunte Culpeper?  Uh, didn’t we just part ways with a battered, aging, brittle QB today?  I thought so.  Why bring in his clone?

Trent Dilfer? I’d trust him before Leftwich or Culpeper, but only because he has heart.  Handing the starting reins over to Dilfer at this point?  Not quite the option I was anticipating.

Kelly Holcomb?  Sure, I’d sign him.  That is, if there was a 3-game contract he could ink.  That’s about how long he’d stay healthy before he’d be out with a shoulder injury.

There’s nothing to do, really, except plod along, draft a QB next weekend and let Kyle Boller and Troy Smith battle it out in training camp.

Here’s my take on those two and it’s really quite simple.  Neither of them are the answer.  In fact, I’d almost be willing to bet right now that if Boller wins the starting QB in training camp that he won’t finish the season as the starter, either through injury or lack of effectiveness and Smith will play at some point in ’08.  Likewise, I’d also bet that Smith would face the same set of circumstances if he somehow wrests the job from Boller in August.  He won’t play all 16 games as the ’08 starter either, so you’ll get to see Kyle this season one way or the other.  Maybe they’d become a Baltimore football version of Roenicke and Lowenstein and Boller-Smith could platoon the club to an 8-8 record in ’08.

I hate to sound (or appear) so “ho-hum” about it all, but, to borrow that famous phrase from the erstwhile Head Coach — “it is, what it is.”

What “it is”, is this:  The Ravens are a team in transition, with a new Head Coach, a new staff and a new plan of attack.  They are also a team without a legitimate bonafide starting QB, although Boller at least has enough career starts (50-plus) to provide some small degree of comfort if, in fact, he’s the man behind center on opening day against the Bengals. 

In the end, though, the Ravens are not going to rise as a power in the AFC with either Kyle Boller or Troy Smith at the helm.  Can either of those guys win games in the league?  Sure.  Hell, Cleo Lemon won ONE last year…if he can win a game, anyone can.  But, in the long run, Smith and Boller, Boller and Smith — whichever way you slice it up, it’s still a very mediocre sandwich.

Draft a QB, hand him a baseball cap, let him learn the ropes, and, by this time next year, perhaps our QB picture will be more clear, more promising and, mainly, more productive than it has been over the last eight seasons.