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Q: If Fassel wasn’t putting in the hours, as some would suggest, would that be a reason it seemed like we didn’t really gameplan to attack the opposition’s weakness’? It seemed against the Broncos, it would have been smarter to attack up the middle with our running game. I’m no expert at all, but it was the first game we started to call running plays to the outside and it was probably the only game so far we should have concentrated on attacking their smaller defensive line. Everyone knew how fast their linebackers were before the game but it seems like that is where we attacked. I only watched the game live so i could be wrong but do you think the change will result in Brian Billick really focusing on attacking the other teams weakness?
AARON WILSON: I have heard already from players that Brian Billick takes much longer to go over every single play. He seems much more actively involved and hands-on than Jim Fassel, who didn’t put in the time and was removed and distant from the players. Billick is much more inclined toward taking suggestions. I do agree that they played right to the Broncos’ chief strength instead of attacking them with physical runs. It was a crucial mistake.
Q: I have read on profootalltalk.com that the Ravens hoped Fassel would get a head cosching job this past offseason because they weren’t happy with the results from last season. If that is the case, & they didn’t want him back, why didn’t they do this prior to the season starting? Wouldn’t that have been easier than going thru all this drama?
AARON WILSON: They were hoping he would get a head-coaching position. Remember, how much the Ravens wanted Matt Cavanaugh to become Pitt’s head coach when he interviewed. It’s because they would always rather someone get a job than have to fire them. Remember, it reflects on the Ravens when they make a mistake as much as it does on the person who failed. I think Brian Billick thought with Steve McNair under center that it might bring out some passion in Jim Fassel. Obviously, it didn’t, but it’s incorrect to blame him for everything. Brian Billick’s offensive system is obviously flawed in some way, either execution or design.
Q: What is the latest status on Cory Ivey? I haven’t read anything about how he is doing.
AARON WILSON: He’s still not medically cleared to practice. He’s doing better, but he’s not ready to get out there and play football. Remember, it’s a torn kidney. Pretty serious deal all-around.
Q1. Will Rick Neuheisel get a stepped up role in the offense with Fassel gone?

Q2. Why is Dan Cody riding the inactive list? Is it really a numbers game, or is he just not progessing?

Q3. With BB calling the plays, what kind of changes do you think we’ll see?

AARON WILSON: Rick Neuheisel won’t have Jim Fassel deriding his ideas anymore, so that will help. Dan Cody doesn’t play special-teams and he’s pretty much not as good a pass rusher right now as Gary Stills. I think Brian Billick will be more inclined to throw it deep and also be more stubborn with sticking with the run. Look for the end-around to make a return appearance, too.
Q: Why, oh why did the Ravens re-sign Clarence Moore? Is it really worth tying up a roster spot for a player who is only used for 1 play every few games? He was drafted as a project & has not developed in 3 years.
AARON WILSON: They re-signed him because they still see some worth in him, I guess. I think he’s a pretty bad prospect, but he is 6-foot-6. It’s not like he was a high draft pick. They can give up on him at some point. Who knows when that will be? I don’t see a bright future for him in Baltimore. At some point, they’ll dump him permanently.
Q: Do you realistically think there will be any difference in Jamal’s performance now that Billick is calling the plays?

If he is tap dancing in the backfield as per usual will Billick be as quick to pull him as Fassel was?

AARON WILSON: Jamal Lewis is a dancer because he’s looking for a hole. He thinks he can run the counter the way he used to, and he can’t. Seriously, I think they will play a little bit differently, but not a lot. Brian Billick is loyal to a fault, but he’s not going to tolerate a lack of productivity from Jamal Lewis forever. If he screws up or isn’t gaining yards, he’ll bench him eventually.
Q: Do you think the offense can improve given the fact the problem with the offense is the playbook itself? When are we going to start to run interesting plays like the Colts? We are the most boring team offensively in the entire NFL! Your comments, please.
AARON WILSON: I doubt the offense will improve dramatically in all honesty. Keep in mind the Colts have an innovative system run by Tom Moore and Peyton Manning. Brian Billick and Steve McNair aren’t their innovative equals in my humble opinion. It’s like apples and oranges. No comparison.
Q: If Billick survives & is able to right the ship & lead the team into the playoffs, which should then make his return possible, will Neuheisel return, or will he leave because he didn’t get the job he wanted when Fassel left? If he does return as a member of Billick’s staff, provided Billick survives, will he get the OC position?
AARON WILSON: I think Rick Neuheisel would be promoted to offensive coordinator if the offense improves markedly and he has a central role in that improvement. If he’s just along for the ride, then no, he shouldn’t be promoted. If they’re fired, well, you know what will happen to the entire staff in all likelihood, although I could see Rex Ryan surviving if they hire an offensive-minded head coach.
Q: How much of Fassel being gone has to do with the owner? After seeing the fiasco last year at the end of the year press conference, I just find it hard to believe that he is not a hands on owner and didn’t put some kind of pressure on Billick to get rid of Fassel.

I’m also curious as to the relationship between Billick and Ozzie. In Feinstein’s book, I thought it was made perfectly clear that Ozzie has Biscotti’s ear and I am wondering if the relationship between the two of them has something to do with the fact that Ozzie is never called to the carpet regarding personnel moves.

Also curious as to exactly how much influence the players had in this whole mess. Too much influence makes me wonder just who is running the show.

AARON WILSON: It was actually Brian Billick’s call alone. Believe it or not, that’s what happened. I don’t think Brian Billick and Ozzie Newsome are particularly close, but they get along. Ozzie Newsome is technically Brian Billick’s boss, but it’s a friendly enough relationship for them to work together. I’ve always thought the personnel department felt it won in spite of the coaching staff, at least the offensive side. The players’ complaints were a strong factor, not the deciding one.
Q: Obviously Billick is desperate. Are we going to see a wide open offense, or the same vanilla stuff we’re used to?
AARON WILSON: Do you like vanilla ice cream? Expect more of the same. I wonder if they’ll add a few sprinkles for good measure. Brian will obviously throw it deep more often if he gets desperate enough.
Q: Is the reported complaining from players somewhat legitimate, or is this just the same complaints from players that take place elsewhere? I’m referring to offensive linemen and running backs whining that we don’t run enough, and WRs complaining we don’t pass enough. This happens with a lot of teams. Right now, Vick is complaining in Atlanta that they don’t pass enough. So is there really anything unique about the player gripes here?
AARON WILSON: The players had a legitimate beef about Jim Fassel. He wasn’t listening to their input at all and these guys had good ideas to offer. The unique aspect of the gripes here was a concerted effort throughout the locker room prodding team leaders to go to management to complain.
Obviously, it had an effect.
Q: Aaron, my question is regarding the second round picks of recent drafts (Edwards, Cody, Terry & Chester). It’s not unrealistic to expect a contribution from your second rounders from day one, yet Edwards is the only one of these four who is even playing and he’s barely playing at that. So why aren’t we seeing more of them? Just not very good? Is Billick reluctant to play younger players, especially offensive lineman? Something else?
AARON WILSON: No, it’s not unrealistic. It should be commonplace. These guys could have been drafted later on in my opinion, particularly Chester and Edwards. They have potential, especially Cody and Chester. I’m not sold on Terry and Edwards at all. I think a lack of coaching development has hurt these players’ causes on all accounts.
Thanks for all your questions.

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Aaron Wilson

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and Ravens24x7.com. He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best Sports News Story for the state of Maryland in voting conducted by the Associated Press managing editors.  More from Aaron Wilson


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