Is Billick really the problem?

December 02, 2007 | Ed Frankovic

For those of you out there who think the simple answer to all of the Ravens problems is to fire Brian Billick after this season, I ask you to come up with an answer to the following question:

What coach, that is not employed right now, would have the Ravens in position to contend with New England or even Indianapolis for supremacy in the AFC given the following things that have happened to Ravens players this season?

  • Your starting QB, who directed you to a 13-3 season last year, gets hurt on the 2nd play of the regular season and that injury turns out to be one that basically prevents him from playing anywhere near his capability for the rest of the season (and possibly his career).
  • Your starting DE (and best defensive line pass rusher on the team) fractures his wrist in week 2, misses 4 games, and then tears a pectoral muscle 3 games later and is out for the rest of the season.
  • One of your former All-Pro cornerbacks is diagnosed with epilepsy and misses a half dozen or so games while trying to get adjusted to the new medication.
  • Your All-Pro cornerback partially tears the PCL in his knee in the 6th game, misses 4 of 5 games after that and will not be 100% the rest of the season.
  • Your Hall of Fame left tackle, who vows to be ready for the season opener after injuring his foot last season, re-inures the foot in the first game, misses several other games, and looks to be a shadow of his former self when he does play.
  • Your All-Pro TE injures his hamstring in the 4th game of the year, misses a half a dozen games, and still isn’t close to 100%.

Add to that the fact that your outstanding kick returner tears his ACL in the opening game and then the next two most experienced offensive linemen on the team get hurt in the 5th game of the year and have yet to recover fully from those injuries.

So name me a coach who would have the Ravens in position to challenge for the AFC Championship game, given this situation, because I want to know who you think could win 11 games without Steve McNair, Trevor Pryce, Samari Rolle, Chris McAlister, Jonathan Ogden, Todd Heap, BJ Sams, Mike Flynn, and Adam Terry missing so much time? Also factor in that missing from the 13-3 team from last year are LB Adalius Thomas, FB Ovie Mughelli, and RT Tony Pashos (they all left for money that was not matched due to the collective decisions of the Ravens organization to include the owner, team president, GM, coaches, and other football personnel).

Now could Billick have made some offensive play calls that might have gotten the team 2 or 3 more wins? Possibly, but that was back when the team was somewhat healthier. And had they won those games and were sitting at 7-4 or 6-5 right now do you really think with the roster they have playing each week at this point in time they’d still have much of a chance to make the playoffs or contend for the Super Bowl? I really don’t think so given the overall health of the team.

Now is it legitimate to question the state of the offense after nine years? Yes, but there are other factors besides coaching that must be factored in (i.e, personnel). Maybe Billick should bring in someone new to run the offense next year, then again, maybe not? After all, in the second half of last season the team did very well on offense once Billick took over calling plays. I would argue that the offensive success was due to having some of the best QB play this team has ever had along with a healthy offensive line and receiving core. I will guarantee you one thing: the Ravens, to include Brian Billick, will address this offensive coordinator issue and collectively decide what they think is the best scenario from an organizational standpoint in the off-season.

Even if they rotate in a new offensive coordinator next year the Ravens still have to find a QB that can take them to the next level and as I’ve written previously there are at least 20 other NFL teams that are in the same boat with the Ravens as far as finding a quality QB is concerned.

After Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Tony Romo I don’t see too many QB’s who can carry a team to the elite level. In the next tier below them you have Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger but even the two of them can’t carry their respective teams without help. Look at how poorly Palmer has played so far this year with offensive line injuries and Chris Henry’s suspension? If Roethlisberger is so good how come he couldn’t find a way to beat the Jets or Arizona not to mention only scoring 3 points against Miami this past Monday night?

Franchise QB’s are hard to come by and you have to keep trying and trying until you get it right. Look at who the Cowboys have had in recent years before finally finding their guy in Romo: Anthony Wright, Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, Chad Hutchinson, and Drew Henson. My point is it isn’t easy finding a quality QB. The Ravens will be trying again in the off-season to find that right guy. Perhaps they get one in the draft this year or maybe next or possibly via free agency (if a franchise QB exists in free agency) but the bottom line is until they find and develop that guy they aren’t going to challenge the likes of the New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts to get to the Super Bowl because the days of winning a championship primarily on defense, like the Ravens did in 2000 and the Buccaneers did in 2002, are long gone, especially given the huge advantage the offense has nowadays from a rules standpoint.

So after reading all of this information do you still want to put ALL of the problems from this season on Brian Billick and get rid of him?

If you do, in my opinion, you just don’t understand pro football (Note: See Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun, who really needs to find another topic to write about these days).