Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What a difference a year makes...

Life is hardly static – it’s anything but, even more so if you are part of the NFL. I was thinking this morning what a difference a year can make…

At this time last year, I’m sure there are probably many of you who never even heard of Joe Flacco. On Sunday night you may be wearing his jersey to the game and if not chances are you believe with strong conviction that in Flacco the Ravens have finally found their franchise quarterback.

And in the grand scheme of things, the changes can happen so quickly and a year can seem so long. Off the top of my head, consider all that has happened to the Ravens over the last 365 days:

· Brian Billick received a vote of confidence from Steve Bisciotti but was ultimately fired
· A relative unknown was hired to replace him
· Rex Ryan, thought to be long gone two years ago stays on as defensive coordinator
· Cam Cameron ushers in a new offensive philosophy
· Steve McNair retires surprisingly
· Jonathan Ogden retires as expected
· Jared Gaither steps up to soften the blow of no J.O.
· The injury bug continues to bite with 16 players on injured reserve
· Willis McGahee runs like a beast in ’07 and like a beauty queen in ‘08
· Le’Ron McClain leads the team in rushing in ‘08
· Father Time finally catches up to Matt Stover
· Chris McAlister seemingly on his way out the door at 1 Winning Drive
· Ernest Byner’s name removed from Ravens’ Ring of Honor (ok wishful thinking on my part)
· Kyle Boller sails off quietly into the sunset, hardly seen and never heard from again

I’m sure that there are several that I’ve forgotten but the one that resonates with me the most, the one difference about this ’08 edition of the Baltimore Ravens that is most bittersweet is the absence of Kyle Boller.

Boller is all you want in a player. Well let me rephrase that – he is all you want in a teammate.

He brings a great work ethic, dedication, humility, class, toughness, a team-first approach and outstanding athleticism. What he doesn’t offer is a processor designed for the quarterback position and the processor he did bring was damaged from user error. And that user was Brian Billick.

Billick’s offense was like a jail sentence for skill position players. That’s not to say that Boller would have ever fulfilled the promise of a first round pick but we’ll never know how he may have performed under the tutelage of a more competent quarterbacks coach like Cam Cameron. Nor will we ever know how Boller may have performed had he been selected in the third or fourth round, where he was initially projected to go before he got on his knees and lofted a pass through the uprights from midfield.

Part of me hopes that Boller and his agent will realize that he could have a long career in the NFL as a backup quarterback. And part of me hopes that such a position would be available for him here in Baltimore. But in the end, that might never be the fairest thing for him. After all, this is the city that cheered his injury on opening night of the 2005 season.

Let me be the first to say goodbye and thank you Kyle. You will be remembered by all here in B’more, unfortunately not in the way you hoped. But I will remember your efforts and willingness to take bullet after bullet for a team and a coach that placed you in a situation doomed for failure. Yes a lot of it was your fault and you willingly accepted the blame but things could have been different. Here’s to your future success in the NFL.

May you find happiness in another uniform and do yourself a favor – avoid the team that hires Brian Billick.


T. F. said...

I agree. Kyle had class and character--something pretty much like a rare earth element in the NFL

That kid took a beating from opponents' Defenses and hometown fans and came back for more.

A good guy and I wish him the best

The Hugger said...

If only they had given him ritalin...

Jergs said...

Kyle was always a stand up guy, never complained publicly and always gave his best.

He never should have been a first rounder and he didn't have the ability to be a starting quarterback in his first season.

I wish him luck now that the Ravens finally have the franchise quarterback they have been searching for.