Billick’s fate is in Boller’s hands — starting Sunday

November 12, 2007 | Drew Forrester

At some point today, I am fairly certain that Brian Billick is going to announce that Kyle Boller will be the starting quarterback on Sunday when the Ravens host Cleveland.

For starters, and this isn’t even a discussion about the performance of Steve McNair and whether or not his play merits a “benching”, Billick HAS to tab Boller as the starter after McNair tapped out following yesterday’s 21-7 loss to Shayne Graham.

McNair essentially gave the Ravens permission to make the change in the locker room afterwards, saying, “I’d probably make the change if I were them.”

Well, that’s quite a distinct change of opinion from McNair, who last Wednesday defiantly told the gathered media that he “has played well before and will play well again” and chastised those who questioned his possibly eroding skills by reminding everyone who doubted him that they “haven’t ever played quarterback in the NFL.” That was last Wednesday. Four days later, McNair threw in the white towel and admitted he’d be fine with serving as Boller’s backup.

Fair enough, Steve. Grab the clipboard.

I know we’ve seen a lot of head-scratching decisions play out over the years during the Brian Billick era, but this quarterback change is such a no-brainer even Brian can’t — and won’t — screw this one up. Boller hasn’t been anything other than average this season when he has played, but at least he WANTS to play. McNair’s post-game words and actions are indicative of someone who doesn’t WANT to play. And, of course, he shouldn’t.

The ironic part of all of this is Billick’s tenure in Baltimore might be coming to a close. With 7 weeks left in the regular season, many in town think the team should make a coaching change NOW. While that probably won’t happen, there’s no doubt that a complete collapse over the next 7 weeks could very well lead to a new coach in Baltimore for the ’08 campaign.

And now, with perhaps his final Ravens lifeline, Billick must call on Kyle Boller to save his job. How odd is that? Billick threw Boller into the league back in ’03 and a great deal of this anti-Billick surge by the Baltimore football faithful goes all the way back to that day in Pittsburgh when Boller stumbled around in his NFL debut, clearly not ready for life at the professional level.

So Boller will start Sunday vs. Cleveland, and the Browns will come to town with a hammer in their hand, ready to start driving another nail in the proverbial coaching coffin of Brian Billick.

Will Kyle Boller fulfill the promise Billick publicly held onto for so long throughout ’03, ’04 and ’05? Or will Boller simply do what he usually does? That is, make some good throws, make some bad throws, and, generally, play to the level that suggests he might someday be good.

For Billick, that “someday” starts this Sunday. It’s quite a tough spot, for both Billick and Boller. The team is 4-5, the fans have given up, and it’s no secret that the Ravens — as a team — have never been very good at losing. Fingers will be pointed, “injuries” will crop up, statements will be made to the media and the whole thing could turn into a real circus between now and Dec. 30.

Most fans believe Brian Billick and Kyle Boller have been “joined at the hip” since 2003. Starting Sunday, let’s see if they’re going to win together or lose together.

One thing for sure, if the Ravens keep losing — even under Boller — the two of them might not be joined at the hip much longer.