Saturday, July 11, 2009

McNair's legacy tainted by kicker...might the Ravens '09 season experience the same?

Steve McNair’s death has forced many of us to consider his body of work and ponder how he will be remembered. Many have varying opinions today, some of which will change as the tragedy soaks in. Time also has a way of softening our views. This is after all a forgiving society.

While reminiscing I thought of McNair’s career as a Titan. He was always a formidable foe whose style I would describe as relentless. Just when you thought he was wrapped up, he’d escape and make a play downfield with a throw on the run or he might sustain drives with his feet. You could never count out a Steve McNair led team until the clock read 0:00.

Ravens fans won’t want to hear this but the 2000 Titans were a better team than the 2000 Ravens. Statistically their defense was ranked No. 1 and clearly their offense was more potent than the Ravens. Let’s not forget that the Billick/Cavanaugh offense went 21 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown.

Had it not been for the inadequacies of Al Del Greco the Titans, not the Ravens would have the Super Bowl XXXV Trophy on their mantel.

How might that have altered McNair’s legacy?

Could Del Greco’s failures keep McNair out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

They might.

Clearly this all presents some interesting topics for friendly pub debates.
While re-living those moments from the 2000 season in my mind, thinking of Al Del Greco and the Ravens touchdown drought, I couldn’t help but think of Matt Stover. How would that championship season have played out without the dependability of No. 3?

Apparently the Ravens are ready and willing to usher in the post-Stover era.

But are they able?

What if the Joe Flacco improves, the offensive line solidifies, the receiving corps proves to be above average and the defense holds serve? Might that be the difference between an AFC Championship Game appearance and a Super Bowl appearance?

It could be.

But what if neither of the Stover replacement candidates, Steve Hauschka or Graham Gano connects consistently under pressure? Is that kickoff/long kicker specialist roster spot really that critical?

The Ravens personnel department has done a fine job of finding players with multiple talents who can contribute in more ways than one. Gone are the players like Clarence Moore and B.J. Sams. Soon Yamon Figurs will be gone for the same reason.

Can’t the Ravens justify Hauschka or Gano AND Stover?

If there is 0:03 left in a playoff game and the Ravens are down by 2 with the ball on the opponent’s 22 yard line, who would you prefer to make that 39 yard field goal attempt, new guy or Stover?

Let’s just hope that if the Ravens prove to be the AFC’s best team in 2009, that a kicker’s failures don’t keep them out of the Super Bowl.

Just ask the fans in Tennessee how they feel.

Just ask the Hall of Fame voters who will one day determine Steve McNair’s place in NFL history.


Ben said...

I don't remember if it was the kicker or their all pro running back fumbling the ball that allowed Ray Lewis to streak into the end zone that game?

I understand your point in the article Tony but it was not as if Stover was still considered money in the bank last season. I know he struggled early because of a new approach and coordinator or what have you but ultimately he was not as effective. That being said was he truly worth the roster spot when his accuracy was between 20-35 yards out? Can't someone else who's accurate from 50 yards do the same duty full time?

The other thing is that Stover was once an unproven kicker too. So who's to say Gano or another young kicker can't become the next clutch kicker in the NFL? Eventually we'll have to find out as father time takes another Raven great. Remember Gaither wouldn't have seen the field if Ogden was still healthy enough to play.

Brian Green said...

McNair's legacy isn't gonna be tainted by the kicker in my opinion. Because of how McNair went out he will always be remembered for what he truly was, a team player, a great QB and a gentleman. He always had a reputation for being a nice guy off the field. He was very charitable, personable and most of all a team leader the Ravens could count on! Hopefully Big Joe Flacco will offer the same to the Ravens for seasons to come! Not to be cheeky but I just hope Flacco doesn't end up doing stupid insurance commercials like Ogden..........RIP Steve McNair.

Scott said...

Stover > any new guy.

With the team in "win now" mode, I'd much prefer to have Stover kicking and let one of the other two develop behind him.

I don't see how this is even debatable.

John Schultheis said...

Tony,Tony,Tony.............your latest aricle that sugggests any kicker is the reason any team loses a game or a chance at a SUPER BOWL,let alone a Qb may not make the "Hall" because they missed a kick is well.............something for the average fan to consider but far from the truth of reality. But for us folks that really know the game, we all know that one play never decides a game whether it's a kick, a fumble, an interception or a refs call don't we? A play any play, last play or anywhere in a game, especially late but could be early don't decide a game. It'a ateam game and to win you must score more than the other team and if you don't and the game is close at the end there are many plays that could have be executed to secure victory.
And stop wondering about us missing Stover. It's time to move on. Did you or other fans wonder when we had to punt or try to make 3rd and 10 at the other teams 38-40 yard line because Stover couldn't kick that far ever wonder why we never won all those games? Did any of those losses ever enter your mind. How many games in the last 3 years did that costs us? Did it help get Billick fired?
McNair most likely does not have Hall of Fame numbers. Tough ? YES he was, good QB ? yes he was.... But only his murder and voters feeling sorry for him will ever get him in the Hall.There are many good QBs that won't make it and should not. The "HALL" is and should be special and only a few deserve to be there,let's not starting letting in everyone that is a quality NFL player,please! But this article will make fans when the new kid kickers miss boo and say bring back Stover which is a sad situation for the kid kicker. Let's move on.............

brunotilhe said...

hi everybody,
i'm from rio de janeiro,Brazil,
love NFL,i'm a ravens' fan,every game,I see,and I was so sad because Steve McNair's die.R.I.P Steve!!
God Bless You....