Off game complicates Ravens' QB evaluation

<p>Sifting through the fog to analyze another audition in the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback competition was complicated by a horrid overall team performance. Ravens coach Brian Billick apologized for being unable to describe the reasons behind a stumbling 24-3 loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday night at FedEx Field. Billick shed little light on what he thought about rookie quarterback Kyle Boller's first start, or incumbent Chris Redman's game.&nbsp;</p>

Billick also said the Ravens may have to alter their plan for the preseason finale Thursday against the New York Giants. "We had nothing, no passion, no focus, no intensity, no physicality, no response to adversity, Billick said. "I don't know quite how to explain it. We needed some evaluation things done and we wasted our time coming down here, and it's really unfortunate because you don't get this back. "No one on that football field that had a white uniform on distinguished themselves in any way, shape of form. I saw absolutely nothing good out of anybody." 

Boller, a first-round draft pick, demonstrated signs of nervousness throughout the first half. He threw a few swing passes into the dirt in completing 14-of-20 passes for 101 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions for an 81.5 quarterback rating. Boller often stared down his primary read and gave away his intentions to the Redskins' defense. "I would be lying if I said I weren't a little bit nervous, but those are routine throws that I've got to be able to make," Boller said. "I can make those throws with my eyes closed, little checks, swing routes and fly routes that I've got to be able to complete to be successful in this league." 

Boller's best moments came at the end of the first half when he led an 11-play, 61-yard drive that culminated with a 24-yard Matt Stover field goal. The rookie completed all seven of his passes on that drive as the Redskins allowed him to throw underneath their zone. 

A heavy dose of penalties, special-teams struggles and a lack of a running game hurt Boller's cause, too. Running backs Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor combined for seven yards on six carries in the first half, outdone by receiver Travis Taylor's five-yard end around. Boller said he doesn't allow himself to be preoccupied with the competition. He was simply focused on attempting to improve. "You can't simulate game speed, so all the experience I'm getting out there is irreplaceable," Boller said. "I've got to be able to throw a five-yard out. It's very frustrating. I've been doing that since the ninth grade. Those are really easy routes. "Sometimes, I get caught up in trying to be too perfect instead of just going out there and letting it rip, throwing the ball around like you're in your backyard." 

Redman replaced Boller after halftime and didn't appear to do anything to strengthen or relinquish his grip on the starting position. Billick has said he may not declare a starter until hours before a Sept. 7 season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As for what this game meant to the competition, Redman said: "That's not really my job to judge. I'm just going to sit back and evaluate myself." 

Redman was stymied by a lack of pass protection and committed few poor decisions. He completed 17-of-28 passes for 163 yards, no touchdowns, an interception to third-string linebacker Clifton Smith and a quarterback rating of 62.1. Redman was sacked twice and was sporting a cut on his chin afterward, but did complete a 36-yard pass to Marc Lester and distributed the ball to several receivers. "I always try to find some positives, but there weren't many positive things out there," Redman said. "I felt real comfortable out there, but I made a few bad decisions obviously with that interception. There's no excuse. We just have to get better." 

And the Ravens have a decision to announce at some undetermined point regarding who will be their starting quarterback between Redman and Boller. "Kyle is just young right now," running back Jamal Lewis said. "What more can you really expect? I think he did a pretty good job and so did Chris. "I think the decision will really come down the wire for whatever reason, but I can't really speak on it."

Aaron Wilson writes for The Carroll County Times


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