CAMP CREAMPUFF HAS TO GO!

Lombardi's Way CAMP CREAMPUFF HAS TO GO!

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MORE CHICKEN?

TL,

Like everyone else, I have been scouring the internet for as much information as I can get on this McNair situation.  But now that the arbitrator has ruled in favor of McNair, I am of the thought that it is no longer the same game of chicken it once was.

The second Steve McNair sits down to do flat benches, the Titans future is at risk.  One tear, one slip, a fluke trip, and the Titans are on the hook for $23 million against the cap.  Some have spoken about the draft picks not getting signed, which only takes $5 million in cap space.  So, what about the other $18 million in cuts they will need to make?  Obviously the Titans would be in no position to persuade any player to restructure their contract after this.

Floyd Reese may be a good poker player, but you only get one chance to fold, and if you fail, sometimes you have to match the pot.  Which basically means the risk, or the gamble is not worth the possible outcome.  Not to mention, the Titans really need to do a better PR job, and releasing him immediately would save a little face. 

So, I see the Titans make one last attempt to get a draft pick, but come Monday, when Steve shows up to lift, he will be shown the door once again, and on his way to Baltimore.  The big question is which is a bigger risk to his health, lifting in the Titans complex or lining up behind Mike Flynn?

Mark Considine

Mark,

Ozzie has been criticized by many for being asleep at the switch but with McNair, he could turn out to look like a masterful chess champion, anticipating moves well ahead of the guy opposite him.  Ever think that the trade was simply a smoke screen to enable the Ravens to negotiate a deal with McNair?

Monday should be a very interesting day at Baptist Sports Park in Nashville when McNair shows up to work out.  How ridiculous would the Titans look if McNair actually did get hurt? 

I did want to clarify one thing for you.  If McNair is traded or released, his cap hit is still $14 + million on the Titans’ books.  They save his $9 million salary by moving him and that takes care of the rookies and gives them a little room to add depth in the secondary.

As to the dangers of lining up behind Mike Flynn, I have a gut feeling that the player McNair lines up behind is Jason Brown if in fact he wears a purple jersey in B’more.

Break a leg,

TL

MR. MOJO FALLIN’

TL,

There seems to be a lot of enthusiasm over the impending deal to be made with Steve McNair.   Maybe it was just me, and maybe I’m way in the minority here but I have never been impressed with McNair.  The year he won the CO-MVP he had an outstanding team around him, with good blocking, great defense and he was mobile.  Frankly, I think his arm motion for throwing is slightly unusual, I believe he has always had a weak throwing arm and I believe with him behind our current offensive line spells disaster.

Oh, and did you hear the reporter from the Nashville paper?   He said it is not a big secret that McNair has a reputation for not preparing well for games, he doesn’t like to do film work, he relied mostly on his athletic ability in his younger years and caused a lot of team turmoil by refusing to practice during the week last year and showing up on Sunday’s to play.

I don’t see that playing well here in Baltimore.   With McNair or without McNair, this team is heading for a huge cap purge in 2007 any way you slice it. In 2007, we say goodbye to a lot of all time Raven favorites including R. Lewis, J Lewis, Mulitalo, Flynn, McAlister, Rolle, Ricard, Vincent and very possibly T Pryce, K Gregg and any number of other fill ins including M. Anderson, D Edwards, Aubrayo Franklin, Musa Smith and Clarence Moore who may not make this year’s team or Darling either. 

I hope Im wrong.   I hope McNair has two good seasons left and the OL clicks with the continuity but I have to say, IM VERY PESSIMISTIC. 

If I had to put one reason on my pessimism, it would be that our teams primary players are past their peak or way past their peak.  We just don’t have the young upcoming stars on the horizon and the NFL is a young mans game.   Cincy and Pittsburgh, even Cleveland all have young, in their peak superstars.  We have Ed Reed and Todd Heap that are in their prime, and I can’t name anyone else to add to that list. Again being pretty pessimistic here but TE’s and Free Safety’s are probably the two easiest positions to fill on a team.

Anyways, sorry for the downer email I’m having a hard day!

Mark Cole, HUNT VALLEY MD

Mark,

The salary cap purge that you describe should take place in 2008 and not 2007.  The Ravens according to Dick Cass are just fine given the present landscape through next season.

But that doesn’t mean that some of the players you mentioned will be around in 2007 or even here in 2006.  Unless Ray Lewis has a big change of heart and attitude, I see 2006 being his last year as a Raven.  If he isn’t very productive, his tenure as a Raven could end when the Ravens ask him to take a pay cut. 

Of the others you mentioned, I think that McAlister is the least likely to go, particularly if the rumors are true that he restructured his deal to give the Ravens some cap space.  CMac has been spending a lot of time in Owings Mills and has been very upbeat and vocally supportive of his teammates in practice.  Whatever has brought on the new attitude, let’s hope it keeps coming and that it projects well to the field.

If you are as pessimistic as you sound, I think the Ravens 2006 season will be pleasantly surprising to you if Ozzie wins that chicken fight.

B-caaaaaaaaah,

TL

STEELERS ARE CREAM OF THE AFC NORTH CROP

Mr. Lombardi,

I am originally from Ohio and was and still am a big OSU Buckeye football fan.  Santonio Holmes is an excellent receiver and I am happy that The Steelers had the chance to draft him. I can now get to see him play occasionally. He can only make an already good Steeler team even better.

Regarding the Bengals, I am a nurse and used to work in Orthopedic surgery (for the Cleveland Browns team doctor at that point) and we used to do major knee surgery on athletes so I know what is involved and also how extensive the rehab is. No matter what Carson Palmer says or believes about starting the season,it AIN’T gonna happen.  The Normal rehab time for the type of injury he sustained is 1 year and that is with NO complications of any kind.  He will be lucky to be back half way through the season.  So, with the other dismal prospects at QB they have, don’t count on them to be in the hunt this year. 

The Browns are rebuilding and on the right track but still a ways away from their goal.  The Ravens have a shot but ONLY if they get McNair and everyone stays healthy.

My money is still on the Steelers, they have the players, definitely the best QB and most definitely the best coaches and organization that knows how to win and gut it out when they have to. As long as Brian Billick is here, the Ravens are going no where. He doesn’t have clue what’s going on and no doubt this will be his last year unless with some type of smoke and mirrors he can get into the playoffs. Mr. Steve will not put up with any more of his management double-speak and lackadaisical attitude with the players. No control, no discipline, no wins.   8 and 8 would be a stretch for them this year. And that won’t get it.

The only reason WNST and also your website is so PRO Billick and PRO Ravens is ya’ll are just "homers" and suck up to the team every chance you get. Look at the Real picture for a change and you’ll see man for man, they just aren’t that good. It’s a one team race in our division this year, and it runs out of Pittsburgh, like it or not.

Wayne, Halethorpe 

Wayne,

I appreciate your perspective and opinions and we’ll clip and save your predictions.  It’s always fun to circle around and see how these things actually pan out.

I do think your comment about us being pro-Billick is unfair.  I can’t and won’t speak for the staff at WNST but I will say that we at 24×7 try to deal with Billick fairly.   My article Keeping It New, states in so many words that if Billick doesn’t change he will be changed. 

Perhaps you remember my tongue in cheek Billick Interview from back in November.  We try to keep it balanced and fair.  Perhaps sometimes the fan in all of us comes through and I for one would like to see Billick turn it around and weather the ton of adversity that has been thrown his way.

You may recall that not too long ago, fans in Pittsburgh wanted Cowher’s head.  Now what are they saying?  Truth is anyone can reinvent themselves if determined to do so and motivated properly.  We’ll see how Billick steps up and more importantly how his players respond to and step up for him.

"Homers" eh?  You sound a bit like a Steelers’ homer to me and you are from Ohio?  Does that make you a frontrunner?

I don’t think your Steelers are as secure as you think.  Roethlisberger’s success is due in large part to a stout clock controlling rushing attack.  Without Bettis, will they be able to do the same in 2006?  Without Randle El, will the Steelers keep defenses off balance like they have in the past with gadget plays?  Without both will Roethlisberger be as effective?  Without von Oelhoffen, will the defensive line be as productive?  How about without Chris Hope and the possible cap casualty of Mike Logan?  Can Polamalu stay healthy and perform as he did in 2005?  What about Joey Porter and his ailing needs and hurt feelings?

Seems to me the Steelers have a few question marks of their own and if memory serves me correctly, the Ravens with Anthony Wright at QB on Monday night football matched up pretty well with those Super Bowl Champs.

If Carson Palmer’s injury is as severe as you suggest (and I’ve heard others say the same) this division is up for grabs in my opinion. 

Here’s to the home team,

TL

MORE CROP…

TL,

[You] can’t say that I am a frontrunner because being from Ohio and having been a miserable Browns fan over the years,(they haven’t won anything notable since 64 ) I can truthfully say that I know a quality organization when I see one. Look at your records over the years and tell me how many times that the Steelers organization has either won it all or been in the playoffs and lost?  But, yet the Ravens (who are still the OLD Browns if you dare to forget) got lucky and won it one year and the people here were ready to anoint Billick as the second coming!! You or I could have coached that team to the Super Bowl.

You cannot win consistently in the NFL with ONLY a defense and too long they have been just that, one dimensional.  If their defense didn’t win the game for them, they just didn’t win.  In ten years they have had all mediocre quaterbacks (Dilfer took them to the Bowl and then they trashed him like yesterday’s news).  [The Ravens] play calling shows NO imagination, and whose fault is that?  Somebody has to be responsible for all this Ho Hum offense, very boring at best.

Do you think Belichick or Parcells would put up with half the "stiffs" the Ravens try to pass off as players, I hardly doubt it.  Ogden’s better days are over, and most of the O line could not start for any other team. They cannot rush the quarterback at all, no pressure.  But, you hear Billick giving all of them a resounding "atta boy" and aren’t we all a little tired of seeing some of them strutting and beating on their chest……for what, they haven’t done anything at all to warrant being cocky.  (a 6 and 10 record is nothing to be shooting off your mouth about).

ALL I can say, to all of them, is shut your mouth, stop the showboating and put your efforts on the field, show me what you got and if you don’t have it, then enjoy staying home in October and November and watching the other teams play REAL playoff caliber football.

Wayne, Halethorpe 

Wayne,

You have a lot of passion there for the Ravens.  Seems to me you are toeing the line and you could come over to the dark side with one more winning season.  Come and cheer on the old Browns.

Meanwhile, let me address a few of your comments:

(You or I could have coached that team to the Super Bowl)

I think Billick’s guidance in 2000 was his crowning achievement in his coaching career to date.  He kept the team from imploding after 21 consecutive quarters without a touchdown and he was masterful in his handling of the media who wanted to swarm in on Ray Lewis just months removed from a double murder trial.  While Billick has made many mistakes since then, to diminish what he accomplished in 2000 isn’t being very objective in my opinion.

(Dilfer took them to the Bowl and then they trashed him like yesterday’s news) 

Make no mistake about it….Dilfer did not take them to the Super Bowl.  The defense did and Dilfer went along for the ride.  Dilfer would not accept a back up role in Baltimore after the Super Bowl win.

(Ogden’s better days are over)

While that may be true, you could say the same for several Steelers and Browns. J.O. has some good football left in him and I will bet he’ll be back in the Pro Bowl in Feb, 2007 not on reputation but on merit.

(They cannot rush the quarterback at all, no pressure.)

In 2005 the Ravens had 41 sacks compared to 47 for the Steelers and teams threw on the Steelers 23 more times than the Ravens because they were in catch up mode.  Knowing that an opponent has to throw makes it easier to produce sacks yet despite that knowledge and the greater number of attempts, the Super Bowl Champs had just 6 more sacks.  Comparatively speaking, Cincinnati had 28 and Cleveland 23.

(ALL I can say, to all of them, is shut your mouth, stop the showboating and put your efforts on the field, show me what you got and if you don’t have it, then enjoy staying home in October and November and watching the other teams play REAL playoff caliber football.)

Wayne, I do agree that it’s time for the Ravens to produce on the field rather than create a production after every play that they are suppose to make.  It’s time to take an offensive lineman’s workmanlike mentality into each game.  Wouldn’t it be strange to see J.O. do his Gebco dance after a pancake block?

Thanks for the banter…I’ve enjoyed it!

TL

ON THIN ICE

Tony,

I think Billick does face a big challenge in 06.  He’s never been a strong disciplinary figure, like a Cowher or Parcells.  However, he has been an extraordinary cheerleader type.  That flanged up best with the hungry veteran team of 2000, and has apparently had some resonance with the young players.  Unfortunately, it’s proven pretty inadequate in dealing with the factions that developed in the locker room and the cancer that Ray Lewis has become.

I completely agree that McNair coming would help immeasurably, because he is by all accounts a strong leader; and this team dearly needs one.  But Billick needs to do more.  He has to tear out the cancer, tear down the conceits of the prima donnas and build up whoever is left as a TEAM.  That means subordinating the individual to the team.

Camp creampuff has to go.  Teams mesh in the face of common hardship, and this starts in training camp.  Camp should be tough and hard, a complete change.

Further, he needs to treat Ray Lewis like any other player on this team.  You can’t make him love anybody, but you can show everybody else on the team that there are no special categories of player.  In this regard, you have to make sure that you don’t depose one emperor (Lewis) and replace him with another (McNair or Reed).  With Reed in particular, if he ever turns away from a coach again and requires an intermediary, he should be benched a game and fined if possible.  That kind of behavior wouldn’t be acceptable with a rookie, and that is precisely why it should not be accepted from a veteran.  I don’t care how good he is.

In the same vein, the next thing Billick should do is effectively require players to be present for the “non-required” practice sessions.  I know that because of union rules you cannot officially discipline players for not attending, but there are always ways of bringing pressure, and this certainly should be done.  So, for the Lewis and Reeds that don’t feel the need to attend, (even if admittedly just for the team), they should have to pay a price.

I wish BB could do all these things, but he won’t.  And that’s one of the reasons he’ll be gone next year.

Bill, Northeast

Bill,

I wouldn’t underestimate Billick’s ability to change.  I think your point about teams meshing when they take on adversity and hardships together is balls on!  To put this into a real world scenario, let’s assume you and I work for the same company and we are challenged with developing a marketing plan for our organization and we have the month of August to get it done.  We have to do whatever it takes to deliver on deadline and deliver something that really works.

But you are new to the company and you come from another city.  You are forced to stay in a hotel room in a strange town. 

On the other hand, I live and work at headquarters and when the bell rings five o’clock, I get to leave you out of towners behind.  Now maybe you don’t do much work after hours with the others that are stuck in the same hotel with you, but you do forge a stronger relationship.  You get to know these co-workers as people and not just collaborators.  The relationships grow and they help to foster an atmosphere steeped in teamwork – at least for those that hang at the hotel.

For those that don’t, they are viewed as “one of them.”  The bond isn’t as strong and when the team’s efforts aren’t the best, they are less likely to weather the storm of adversity with you.  The differences that separate you grow wider while the out of towners cling to their relationships and battling through the obstacles as one makes them stronger.

Why is it any different if Billick allows the vets to go home after practice during camp?  Wouldn’t it be better for the first year players and the rookies if everyone stuck together?

I don’t know that you will ever see Billick manage camp like Tom Coughlin does in New York and previously in Jacksonville.  But I expect him to make some changes that benefit the team and not the individual.  As for those individuals that object – those that don’t subordinate their own needs to those of the team, well it’s time for them to get in with the new program or get out with no exceptions.  If that doesn’t happen and the Ravens are 1-3 after 4 games, the screams of mutiny will reach decibels of jet airliner proportions and another jet could be carrying our head coach out of town.

Don’t carry me too far away,

TL

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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