Thursday, April 16, 2009

Boller stands to gain if he stands on the sidelines

It’s been said time and again that Kyle Boller was very much a lightning rod here in the local sports scene. Mention his name in a crowded sports pub and you might trigger an earthquake-like crack in the foundation – one side consisting of the Boller bashers and the other the Boller huggers.

For what it’s worth I don’t think Kyle Boller will ever be anything more than a decent back-up quarterback. That’s my head talking.

The heart hopes that Boller finds his way to those lofty projections established by his long-time coach Brian Billick.

But I’m not holding my breath…

If nothing else, Boller was a class act. He willingly accepted blame even in the somewhat rare instances when he was not at fault and he spread the praise in those even rarer instances when he was responsible for a Ravens’ win.

As he departed Baltimore, he remained consistently classy.

"I had a great time there. I still think it's a great city," Boller told The Sun in his first comments to the Baltimore media this offseason. "I'm going to miss [owner] Steve Bisciotti a lot, and I'm going to miss my teammates. It's definitely different to be gone. But at the same time, it's very exciting for me to have a fresh start. I think it's going to be a great opportunity for me here."

Some might say that Kyle Boller never got a chance to be Baltimore’s franchise quarterback. They would be wrong. Forty-two NFL starts while supported by the league’s best defense during his term as a Raven suggests that Boller had more than ample time to develop and prove himself.

He never markedly improved. I would challenge anyone to watch tape of Boller and point to the noticeable differences between his rookie season and any season since. He’s made the same mistakes over and over and over.

The huggers will say that Boller had a poor offensive line. Why then was Jamal Lewis able to gain over 2,000 yards during Boller’s rookie season in a very one-dimensional offense?

Why is it that in 2006 Steve McNair behind the same offensive line that protected Boller in 2005 was sacked just 14 times during 468 pass attempts in 2006 (once every 33.4 attempts) while Boller went down 42 times in 2005? Subbing for McNair in ’06 Boller went down 3 times in 55 pass attempts (once every 18.3 attempts).

The answer of course is fairly obvious – he lacks pocket presence and his hyperkinetic personality isn’t a natural fit for the position quarterback in the NFL.

Recently departed Jason Brown, prior to Boller becoming his teammate again in St. Louis and during his introductory press conference with the Rams had this to say about the beleaguered signal caller.

"Kyle Boller with the Ravens, I love him to death. But you see what getting hit one too many times early in your career can do to you. He became gun shy.“Instead of getting the ball and standing back there with poise and then being able to step up, if there was a flash of anything, something, it might have been far on the edge, he was like ... and he started to scramble."

Of course Brown did some back peddling when he learned that Boller was about to meet him in St. Louie.

Good luck in the “Show Me” State Kyle. If you are smart, you’ll happily carry the clipboard and remain the outstanding teammate that you are. If so, you stand to make a lot of money and have a long career hovering beneath the radar screen as a back-up.