THE GRAPEVINE: Ray is ducking while Billick is clucking

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Ray is ducking while Billick is clucking

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Fans and many media members have complained about Ray Lewis ducking the press after a loss yet he makes himself very available after a win. They will often wonder aloud, “What kind of leader is that?”


Count me among those who would like to hear Ray’s thoughts after a loss but if he ducks out, really what’s the big deal? Do you really think for a minute that Ray not addressing reporters after a tough loss affects his ability to lead? That assumes that the players actually care if Ray talks to the media after the Ravens take one on the chin.

They don’t!

What would he say anyway?

I think Ray talking after a loss could go one of two ways…

First he could adopt John Harbaugh’s coach speak and use a lot of words that amount to absolutely nothing meaningful.

Or, he could spout off, throw teammates under the bus and really stir up the locker room. And what might that accomplish? Fox Sports 1370’s rumor monger Jerry Coleman might like it but wouldn’t lashing out be counterproductive? Wouldn’t Ray’s leadership then be questioned?

Coleman will tell you that Ray owes it to the fans and to the season ticket holders to speak after a loss. No he doesn’t.

Ray owes the fans and more importantly his teammates 100% effort on Sunday when he’s between the lines and during the week while he’s in the classroom and on the practice field.

You’ve probably been offered these words of wisdom before: “If you have nothing good to say, you should say nothing at all.”

Most would agree that these are noble words to live by.

Yet when Ray Lewis practices it, he is criticized.

Anyone ever think that by saying nothing after a loss Ray is leading?

No one would argue with the notion that the Ravens must seriously upgrade their passing game. To do that it will require better personnel at wide receiver. But for those clamoring for Anquan Boldin, you better think again.

During the course of his 7 year career, Boldin has played in all 16 games of the regular season just twice and hasn’t punched the clock every game since 2006. He will turn 30 on October3, 2010.

I think it’s safe to say that Boldin benefits from a more prolific passing game in Arizona spearheaded by Kurt Warner. I think he benefits from playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald and I think Steve Breaston helps take away coverage that might otherwise be allocated to Fitzgerald and/or Boldin.

If he comes to Baltimore in a trade he would be looked upon to be the No. 1 receiver. Can he handle drawing an opponent’s top cover corner? Would he be worth the investment of a draft pick or two in a trade and the money he would take to make Boldin happy while wearing purple?

Consider his stats compared against those of Derrick Mason over the course of the past 2 seasons:

Receptions          Yards     Avg.       TD’s

Bolden                  173                         2,062     11.9        15

Mason                   153                         2,065     13.5        12

Bolden is not known as a speed guy so he is not a deep threat and not a player that commands regular double coverage. Following his career at Florida State, the Ravens scouting department liked him but they weren’t exactly enthralled by his 4.7 time in the 40.

Yes the Ravens need more talent at wide receiver.

But Anquan Boldin isn’t the guy to provide it.

Brian Billick isn’t very happy these days according to WGRZ in Buffalo. WGRZ’s Aaron Saykin spoke with the former Ravens Head Coach who initially took the high road without showing any detectable bitterness over the Bills decision to not seriously consider Billick for their coaching vacancy.

When asked if Bills GM Buddy Nix had spoken to him about the job, Billick initially was a bit restrained.

"They’ve made a good choice in Chan Gailey," Billick said. "I really don’t want to comment on what was, or what was not discussed, or who I talked to, or if I talked to it. They went about their process. They came up with Chan Gailey. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes."

Billick went on to say: "Chan Gailey is a good coach. I think he’s done a nice job. I don’t think I need to get drawn into that."

After stewing on the conversation with Saykin for a bit, Billick called back about 15 minutes later to clarify a few points.

"I just wanted to make sure I was clear that [Nix] had not called," Billick said. "Why he had not called a coach with a Super Bowl ring, 10 wins a year for nine years, having orchestrated the highest-scoring offense and defense in the history of the league, is a question worth asking. But I never spoke with Mr. Nix."

Obviously Billick, a man who normally chooses his words very carefully, was just busting at the seams and couldn’t help but jump up on the desk and pound his chest like an 800 pound gorilla – you know, in the proverbial sense.

Billick certainly brings credibility and a pretty decent resume to the table. But his ego, clearly on display here, could keep him off the radar screen for clubs seeking coaches in the future.

Oh and just to clarify, Billick’s math is conveniently skewed. He averaged 9.4 wins per season including playoff victories and during four of his nine seasons his teams were at or below .500.

And if you are going to take credit for the highest scoring offense as a coordinator Brian, you have to give it up for the best scoring defense to Marvin Lewis.

It’s interesting to hear just how many folks feel the Ravens need to beef up their secondary. Don’t count me among them.

While I would admit that the team should bolster the corner position, they don’t need to spend a high end draft pick on one nor do they have to spend unnecessarily in free agency, assuming they can properly navigate The Final 8 rules.

Chris Carr, Frank Walker and Tom Zbikowski all stepped up when called upon and their experiences in meaningful game situations will bode well for the team and provide quality depth, particularly if Haruki Nakamura and Lardarius Webb return to form and the Ravens bring back Fabian Washington.

Despite the lack of a consistent pass rush, the team finished third overall in defense, fifth against the run and eighth against the pass. From Week 8 forward (the week following the Ravens’ bye), Baltimore was the second best team in the league defending the pass. What might they do if Ozzie Newsome adds another speed rusher?

The fact is, this team has reached as far into the playoffs over the past two seasons as they can. They don’t have the weapons in the passing game to go any farther and until they find them, one, possibly two playoff wins in a given season is about the best we can expect from the Ravens.

The secondary should be at best a secondary concern of the Ravens.

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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