"We're not a good football team right now"

OWINGS MILLS -- In dire need of a crisis hotline or a major overhaul, the last-place Baltimore Ravens are careening toward rock bottom. Following a 30-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars that tied the worst margin of defeat in Brian Billick's seven-year tenure, the Ravens (2-7) are off to the worst start in franchise history.

A downcast Billick agreed with defensive end Anthony Weaver's candid assessment that this isn't a very good football team.

"You can't look at 2-7 and say, ‘No, we're a good football team,'" Billick said Monday. "I agree with Anthony in that sense. We're not a good football team right now, but we have seven opportunities beginning this week to change that."

The Ravens have regressed under new offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, ranking last in scoring with 11.1 points per game. With quarterback Kyle Boller returning from a toe injury incurred in the season opener, the offense registered season-lows for points, total offense (163 yards), first downs (eight) and net passing yards (110).

Boller was part of the problem, not the solution. Boller was thrashed for four sacks and stared down reads for three interceptions. He had a paltry 30.1 passer rating.
"Kyle did not play particularly well, he played like a guy that has been on the bench for seven weeks," Billick said. "He took a heck of a beating and forced the ball trying to change the dynamic of the game.

"One good thing about Kyle is that when he makes mistakes, he tends not to come back and make the same mistakes. He has got to slow down. The game was very fast. He made it very fast. We need a better outing."

Jaguars cornerback Terry Cousin, who picked Boller off twice, said he doesn't disguise his intentions.

"We watched it on film and everyone was saying it's the Todd Heap and Derrick Mason show," Cousin said. "All I had to do was read the quarterbacks' eyes and jump the route."

The Ravens have scored seven touchdowns, fewest in the NFL. They're the only team in the league not to score 20 points and are on pace for just 178 points.

In another sign of futility, the Ravens haven't scored a touchdown in 11 quarters and 30 possessions. For those keeping track, running back Chester Taylor's scoring catch in the first quarter of an Oct. 31 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers marks the last touchdown.

"It's more and more difficult to stand up here and tell you the same things over and over," Billick said.

Baltimore's only two wins are against teams (Cleveland Browns and New York Jets) with a combined mark of 5-13.

"We're finding out how we match up against playoff-caliber teams, and, right now, it's not real well," Billick said.

The situation is so depressing that wide receiver Derrick Mason sarcastically mentioned soliciting suggestions from the public.

"If ya'll got the answers, e-mail them, call us, be a coach for a day, be a player for a day and see if your ideas work," Mason said. "Come on over and help us out. We have ideas here, but things aren't working out the way we thought they should. I'm open to suggestions."

The Ravens have lost their past four games in a row and their last eight road contests.

There's virtually no hope for the playoffs and they've stopped clinging to that hope.

"Evaluate yourself individually and ask yourself, ‘Are you doing whatever it takes to help this team win?'" nickel back Deion Sanders said.

Although several players raised questions about teammates' effort without naming names, Billick doesn't seem concerned about dissension.

"They will doubt themselves to a certain degree," he said. "They will doubt each other, and they will doubt their coaches. There's a huge amount of frustration, but I would be very surprised to hear someone specifically say, ‘I don't think that this guy is doing such and such.' I don't think that's what this team is about."

The inevitable question alluding to Billick's job security came up again, referring to the feedback he receives from owner Steve Bisciotti. Bisciotti's policy is not to comment on the team during the season, and Billick has already stated that he expects to be retained.

"I've talked a great deal with Steve on a regular basis, I'm fortunate to have that line of communication," said Billick, under contract through 2007 with a reported annual salary of $4.5 million. "I'm fortunate enough to have the people around me that I do."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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