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Stick an official, gold-plated fork in it. Itâ€™s over. The Ravens scant chances of making the playoffs evaporated in the Santa Ana winds of Southern California as the Chargers rolled, 32-14. Iâ€™m not going to write about the game; Iâ€™m damned tired of writing the same stuff every week. As fans, itâ€™s time we start thinking about 2008 and how the Ravens can begin to resurrect this 07 train wreck. Letâ€™s leave the draft and roster movement alone for now, along with the fairy tale that Brian Billick will turn over play calling to Rick Neuheisel for the rest of the season. While we wait to see where the final betting line will rest for the December 3rd game against the Patriots (Iâ€™m â€œbettingâ€ its 20+), here are a couple of thoughts for the rest of 07.
Rest the Vets
Any first string vets whoâ€™ve not played due to nagging injuries should be completed rested until healthy. Thereâ€™s no need, at this point, to rush back into the lineup the likes of Todd Heap, Daniel Wilcox, Steve McNair, and Chris McAlister. If Jon Ogdenâ€™s toe is still hurting, Iâ€™d sit him, too. Weâ€™ve all seen the value of Todd and C-Mac when they donâ€™t play. Quinn Sypniewski is a fine blocker and roll player, but he canâ€™t stretch the field and out-muscle defenses like Heap can when heâ€™s healthy. Corey Ivy tries hard, but heâ€™s overmatched at corner in most games. This season has proved that the Ravens need Heap and C-Mac completely healthy.
Play the Second Stringers Even More
Play David Pittman and/or Derrick Martin at CB and letâ€™s see what the youngsters can do. Yamon Figurs was a wide-out at K-State. We already know about his legs; letâ€™s put him in the slot and see what kind of hands he has. Put Jared Gaither and Marshall Yanda back into the starting lineup. Give Chris Chester some solid play time at center. They, along with Ben Grubbs and Jason Brown, are the future offensive line. Letâ€™s play them up.
â€œTâ€ It Up
The local sports radio talk has already shifted to the Ravens chances of drafting a QB from what looks to be the best college quarterback draft in recent years. Iâ€™m hearing the names of Matt Ryan of BC, Brian Brohm of Louisville, and Andreâ€™ Woodson of Kentucky, all seasoned, 4 year players. Terrific. But the Ravens have a Heisman Trophy winner manning a clip board when heâ€™s not running the scout team in practice.
Early in the season, a caller to Jon Ogdenâ€™s radio show asked the Big Guy about the chances of seeing Troy on the field this year. No way, J.O. replied. If we see Smith taking live snaps, Ogden continued, it means the team and the season is in deep trouble.
Well, weâ€™re there!
The Ravens invested a 5th round pick and a guaranteed contract on this kid. So what if heâ€™s only 6 foot and 185 lbs dripping wet? Before the Ravens invest considerable time and money in a 1st round quarterback from college that may or may not pan out (see Boller & David Carr), letâ€™s see what they have on the bench. Itâ€™s the only way weâ€™ll learn if Smith is a NFL-caliber quarterback or scout team fodder.
Will this happen right away? No. And it may never happen. With New England and Indianapolis on the horizon, I doubt the Ravens will risk further national embarrassment against the two best teams in the NFL. Besides, Bill Belicheat is busy trying to teach the league a lesson for Spy Gate and the Colts need to get some separation from the Jaguars. It will be bad enough as it is.
But the Ravens 2007 season is lost and they have too many questions on the roster.