Since the beginning of my tenure here at NST, I’ve been a supporter of Ravens’ Head Coach Brian Billick. The first hour I spent on these airwaves (almost one year ago, as part of Nestor’s contest) was dedicated to extolling the virtues of Billick as a coach. I’ve long believed that he has the respect of his players due to his treatment of them as mature, dedicated professionals.
But these past two months have made me re-analyze my position and left me wondering whether he really is the right man to lead this organization out of the current woes it is suffering. I fully realize and understand that Billick doesn’t fumble the ball, jump offsides, facemask opponents or throw flags into the stands. However, it is incumbent upon him as the head coach to prepare his team for each game and the unique challenges it presents. And based upon recent results, it appears to me that Billick’s message to his players is "lost in translation" and the Ravens are wholly unprepared and undisciplined.
I was so thoroughly disgusted by Sunday night’s debacle that I blogged then that "Enough was enough". Two days later, I’m standing by that. If anything, I believe even more strongly today that changes must be made. There is no sense in continuing to spend more good money chasing bad ideas. There is no compelling reason for any coach outside of the Ravens organization to come to Baltimore and "fix" an offense that really requires a major overhaul. What’s the sense in trying to change a system and use the same players who failed in the previous one? Are Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton suddenly going to become vertical deep threats because the team brings in a new offensive coordinator? Will Kyle Boller morph into a competent NFL QB because he has ANOTHER coach and system in his head? (Seriously, as badly as this franchise tried to "develop" KB, how messed up would that make his head? It would mark about the 5th coach trying to make him something he isn’t – a starting NFL QB). The idea of changing the system without changing the Head Coach is ridiculous.
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m trying to present a rational argument to a topic that’s very heated. I’ve always liked Billick, always tried to defend his decisions (and understand them myself sometimes) and I believe he has represented this city and organization with style and his own personal flair. He’s always defended his players, his coaches and his ways with honor. He can be a bit too verbose, obviously, but I’ve always gravitated towards that. It tells me he’s not some slobber-knocker ex-jock who was afraid to learn something while he was in school. There aren’t enough men like that.
But I’m guessing, because I honestly don’t know him and have never met him, that even Billick would agree that the message has grown stale. His team CLEARLY hasn’t responded to the adversity they’ve endured this season. Whether he has the right players in place on the offense to succeed in his "system" is open to question. And whether there’s any passion left in that locker room is certainly fair to ask, given the lackluster asskickings they’ve endured (on national TV twice in six weeks, to boot!).
I will always believe a few things about Brian Billick’s tenure as Head Coach here in Baltimore: He was undoubtedly the best possible hire for this franchise in 1999, he was unequivicolly the right person to guide this team during their Super Bowl run, he is respected by his players because of his treatment of them, and he’s been a great ambassador and citizen of Baltimore and the state of Maryland. I’ve never given any weight to the argument that "Marvin Lewis won us the Super Bowl". That’s shallow and ridiculous. I’ve always pointed out the fact that Brian Billick is the WINNINGEST PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL COACH IN BALTIMORE HISTORY. I’ve defended my position against callers and emailers who are vehement in their opposite stance. But reality bites. And reality is that it’s time for change.
They say you can’t fire 25 players in baseball. I know the Ravens aren’t about to fire 53 players this offseason (although they should take a hard look at the entire roster). Again, Brian Billick doesn’t run, block, tackle, etc. I get it. Here’s what I don’t get: Why the organization would return for next season with the same quarterbacks, a "new" offense and coordinator, and the same head coach?
If the seat is this hot now, imagine how bad it could be if they stumble to a 2-5 start next year? If Billick is retained for ’08 and that occurs, what good is an interim head coach? That would be the organizational equivalent of one of those 3rd and 2 pass plays we’ve seen so much of these past few years: a lateral move with no net gain.