Davis: The credit can certainly be shared by a multitude of sources. On the field, the number one difference has been McNair. To me, it’s that simple. He has changed this team more than any one player. We see now what good QB play can do. That said, virtually all the off-season additions have been significant, and for that you have to give Ozzie credit. Free agency: McNair, Pryce, Ivy, Stills, Bannan have played important roles. Only Mike Anderson hasn’t done much, and that’s because he hasn’t been asked. The rookies have been huge. Ngata has played well, Landry was a tremendous find, and how about what Prude and Williams have done. And Billick deserves a ton of credit for getting more involved with the players, having the guts to fire Fassel, and then stepping in and doing a better job than Fassel.
1. Turnover ratio of all the stats in the computer age its the most important and the Ravens have taken good care of the ball; Jamal has reduced fumbles; McNair went 6 of 7 games without a pick that combo spells W-I-N-S.
2. Health, the defense the best in the NFL has been nearly injury free. Like 2000 if you have the best talent and they stay standing you win.
3. Improved QB play: Steve McNair makes enough plays and limits turnovers plus his leadership and calm demeanor are nice additions. There are better quarterbacks in the NFL but he was the right guy at the right time for this team.
TL: Brian Billick in so many words was told to change or be changed. Rate his performance in ’06.
Davis: Billick has done a great job. He took what Bisciotti asked to heart and became a better coach. He gets an ‘A’.
TL: What in your opinion whether it’s on or off the field is the biggest threat to the Ravens advancing in the playoffs?
Davis: Scott just hit on itâ€¦Injuries. This team is great on defense and balanced on offense. The Ravens can play with anyone, but injuries will derail any team.
TL: Each year the NFL head coaching carousel begins in late December. What coaches in your opinion are in danger and will Rex Ryan assume one of those vacated positions in ’07? If he goes is someone currently on the defensive staff ready to step up as a coordinator?
Davis: I’m not really worried about losing Rex Ryan. There was a lot of turnover last year and won’t be this year. I think Rex is another year away from being a hot candidate.
TL: Compare Ravens fans to those in other NFL cities…
Davis: I think Ravens fans are great fans. But it’s hard to measure them against cities that have had the NFL uninterrupted for decades. TV ratings tell a lot, and in places like Green Bay, KC and Denver, for instance, the ratings are unbelievable. Half the population is glued to the TV. I’m not sure we’re there yet. Fans in Baltimore got used to Sundays without football and it takes a while to get it back like it was with the Colts.
Davis: He certainly performed pretty well vs. Cleveland. He’s got another year on his contract, so he’ll be here next year. After that, I’m not so certain. It might be hard to start here, because fans won’t give him a fair shake. They’ll always be waiting for him to trip or fumble. He might need a fresh start.
A Raven that has already cashed in is Ray Lewis. In your opinion will Ray be a Raven in ’07 considering his $9.3+ million cap figure?
Davis: This team has shown it should be kept together next year. He’ll be here. He continues to play at a high level, and is the leader of this team.
Davis: AD is a dicey situation. The Ravens historically have signed their great players at least a year before they get to free agency. That didn’t happen here. I’m certain they want to keep him, but if there’s a team that blows the bank to get him, I don’t think the Ravens will do that. They’re cap situation as you indicated is getting tenuous. They’ll have to make some cap casualty decisions soon. I’m not certain they’re willing to give a crazy bonus to another player entering his 30’s. They did it with McNair and Pryce already.
Davis: I’m not certain you can predict that. I think they have as good a chance as anyone. They’re one of the 2 best teams in the AFC. You can make a case that San Diego is better, but the Ravens did beat them, and match up well. Whoever comes out of the AFC is much better than whoever goes from the NFC, so the AFC team, quite possibly the Ravens, will be Super Bowl champ.