Let’s look at 2008. Why? Well, why not. I mean, is this season over? No. Can the Ravens still make the playoffs? I guess. Do I see it happening? Not at all. And even if they do, does anyone think that they can go to Indy or New England and win? So let’s look at what they have and don’t have, and how to fix it all for next year.
Defensively, the front seven are real good. Through all of the ‘pathetic’-ness of Monday night, the Steelers didn’t run the ball worth a darn. Shutting down the opponents run game might be the number one key to winning football at any level. The secondary, when healthy, is certainly good enough. Defensively, while they could always improve, this team is fine.
Offensively, they look bad. But all of the parts aren’t bad. McGahee is solid and I think the receiving corps of Mason, Clayton, Williams and Heap are more than adequate. (Actually, I’d be very interested to see how they would do in a different attack) The offensive line needs a substantial upgrade, and the quarterback … well, I’ll get to that in a minute.
I’m not going to pretend that I know all of the offensive lineman in this league, let alone their contract status. John Clayton will list them all for us shortly after the season. I am a believer that you can improve your line greatly in one offseason through the draft and free agency. That’s where I think the Ravens should focus, and if done well, I think it can be a strong unit in ’08.
Quarterback is a little different. I’m of the belief that McNair cannot win anymore. He was never a great passer. He was a quarterback who could do enough with his arm and enough with his legs to make him difficult to defend. Right now, he can’t do either. Is the life in his body ever going to come back? I wouldn’t hold out hope if I were the Ravens. So that leaves Boller. Can he win in the NFL? They should give his eight more weeks to find out. Then, if he succeeds, great. If not, where do they go for next year?
You could draft a quarterback, but rookies rarely win. Although maybe that’s because rookies are rarely given the assignment of leading a team that actually has players. Ben Roethlisberger did very well with the Steelers his rookie year because he was surrounded by talent. Maybe the right rookie could take this team somewhere next year, but it’s still not the way I would go.
So then we are left to look at the available retreads: Leftwich, Carr, Culpepper, Harrington, Losman, maybe even Chad Pennington or Chris Simms. These seem to be the quarterbacks who will be looking for work next year. Do any of these guys tickle your fancy? Me neither. But I’ve got a name for you. How about Jake Plummer?
I have no idea what his contract restrictions are and what, if anything, you would have to give to get him. But doesn’t he seem like a reasonable option at this point? As recently as last year he led a team to a winning record before getting benched. And before you start talking about him being too old, understand that he will turn 33 this December while McNair will turn 35 in February. After seeing how immobile McNair has become, I think Plummer could roll off of the couch that he has laid on for the last nine months, throw on a pair of flip-flops, and outrun McNair. I know that Plummer has often been mistake-prone, but he has also had some solid years as well. Just two years ago he completed 60% of his passes and had a TD to INT ratio of 18 to 7. I don’t think he will ever be what Tony Romo has been to the Cowboys, but if he was what Jeff Garcia was to the Eagles, wouldn’t that be enough for the Ravens? I think he’s worth looking into. At least make a phone call.
After the game last Monday, what do they have to lose?