Sifting through the QB mess…

December 17, 2007 | Drew Forrester

Has any team with three quarterbacks ever had this much of a mess on its hands?

I wonder.

And, to think, it could get even more messy next spring if the Ravens decide to draft a QB with their first round pick.  If you’ve listened to the Comcast Morning Show recently, you know what I’ve been hearing…that the Ravens REALLY like one of the "can’t miss" QB’s coming out of college and would very much like to draft him if he’s still available when they pick.  I don’t know who it is — don’t even have a clue or a hint to give you.  That’s as much info as I was given and I was thankful to get that.

But, can you imagine the scene in Westminster next August with FOUR QB’s hanging around…all of whom want to play?

Well, safe to say if they DO draft a QB that Steve McNair won’t return.  Then again, if McNair buys into the Ravens off-season conditioning, fitness and nutrition program, he might very well be back for year #3 in Baltimore.  I think it’s also safe to say if McNair in any way balks at the Ravens request to spend more off-season time at Owings Mills – working with a trainer and improving his diet and overall fitness – that he won’t be back next season.  A salary cap hit will be involved, but it would be hard to bring a player back who doesn’t want to report to camp in premium physical condition.

The Boller experiment is just about winding to a close, you’d think.  Sure, they can have him sport the backwards ball cap next year and serve as the #2 guy.  In all honesty, he’s played that role better than any other role since 2003.  He’s a serviceable back-up, but not a guy you want starting for your team.  The Ravens found that out again this season, although the team’s poor play under Boller isn’t all his fault, for sure.

Then, there’s Troy Smith.  I will be STUNNED beyond belief if Brian Billick doesn’t start him on Sunday in Seattle.  First, the "we expect to win" game in Miami has come and gone and now the coaching staff is faced with the stark reality that unless something very, very, very odd happens, the Ravens are going to lose their final two games and finish out the year 4-12.  Billick has the convenient concussion excuse to lean on today if he doesn’t want to damage Kyle’s ego, although Boller is a tough kid.  He’s been benched before.  He knows the drill. 

Like Rob Long wrote in his blog, I, too, don’t know if Troy Smith is the answer at QB.  There’s a big difference between scurrying around in the final minutes of a game or two in December and "making things happen" and actually being the guy the other team game plans for week in and week out.  Look at how Vince Young’s fortunes have changed this year in Tennessee.  It didn’t take people in the league a long time to slow down Vince Young.  The same with Philip Rivers in San Diego.  Defensive coordinators get paid big bucks because they figure out ways to stop – or limit – hot-shot QB’s like Vince Young and, maybe, Troy Smith. 

Smith’s pedigree is heavy on heart and leadership.  They said Tim Couch had similar qualities when he entered the NFL and look what that got him.  In the NFL, you have to be able to make the plays.  But, Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy in college and last time I checked, you can’t be a stiff, non-play-making-QB and win college football’s top honor.  Smith does have skills…but does he have ENOUGH skills to compete and lead a team on a weekly basis in the NFL?  Only time will tell.

No matter what happens in Seattle and against Pittsburgh, don’t expect the Ravens to make a full, OFFICIAL assessment on Troy Smith for ’08 and beyond.  Regardless of whether he plays good – or bad – I’m quite certain he’ll get a fair shot in training camp next season.  If he plays good, they’re not going to hand him the starting job without a "competition" next summer – and if he plays bad, he’ll have every opportunity to prove that those games in December were nothing more than ice-breakers.

Now, if the team drafts a #1 QB in April, all bets are off.  I wouldn’t know what to expect then. 

It will be fun to watch Troy Smith in Seattle.  It will mark the first time in a long while that any of us are actually EXCITED to watch someone play in a Ravens uniform.  We KNEW what we were getting with McNair.  We KNOW what we’re getting with Boller.  Smith is the unknown.  He might be good, he might be bad, but he’ll be worth watching.

The Ravens are in desperate need of a quarterback.  And not just a quarterback, but a guy that can be counted on, week in and week out.  Not just in December when you’re playing for sh**s and giggles, but in week #16 next season when the Ravens need a win to make the playoffs and they’re down 21-17 at Pittsburgh with 1:50 to go in the game and they have the ball on their own 32 yard line. 

I sure hope SOMEONE steps up and fills that role.

And I don’t really care WHO fills the role, honestly.  If it’s one of the guys we currently have, that’s fine and if we have to pick one in the first round of the draft and he becomes our QB stud, I’m fine with that too. 

The quarterback mess needs to be cleaned up.