Billick won't be sorry to see this season end

OWINGS MILLS -- The strain of an underachieving season is manifesting itself in more ways than the last-place Baltimore Ravens' poor record and paltry statistics. Ravens coach Brian Billick was practically shouting during a brief press conference following a 42-29 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Billick was emphatic in stating that his pride in his 3-8 team stemmed from fighting back from a 34-0 deficit and wasn't a case of a coach making excuses.

"I would love to meet the guy who came up with the concept of having to stand up in front of [reporters] after a game, I guarantee a coach didn't invent that thing," Billick said. "I know what we are going to have to do going forward to make this thing happen. That's a lot to carry around.

"I hope this isn't coming across as critical or pedantic, but I don't expect you to understand what that team went through, how they can feel good about themselves and what they are going to have to do the next five weeks."

With his team out of playoff contention and unable to achieve a winning season, the season has morphed into an evaluation period. It's all about pride and job security at this point.

"Will I be sorry when this season is over? No," Billick said. "But I don't want to fast-forward through these next five games."

The fact that his team didn't quit and scored four second-half touchdowns is encouraging to Billick.

"No one would have begrudged you just hanging it up," Billick said "Why would you go out and put yourself at risk, why would you put any energy into wanting to fight back from that?

"That's not what this game is about. God love these guys, they've bought into it. That was a classic situation where this team could have folded up emotionally and didn't."

Overall, though, there has been little to salvage in a season that began with heightened expectations due to the presence of 15 former Pro Bowl selections.

After a season-high for points and touchdowns, though, the Ravens are no longer the lowest-scoring team in the NFL. They moved up to 31st with an average of 13.2 points per contest.

"I won't be disappointed when it's over," Billick said. "It's not been easy. It's not been easy on a lot of people. It's not been easy on my family.

"But I wouldn't miss these next five weeks to find out about myself, about these guys, about this organization. I'm energized by that. They have been too, so far."

Speculation has been rampant nationally and locally about Billick's job security. He's under contract through 2007 with a reported annual salary of $4.5 million.

What keeps him motivated in a season gone awry?

"I am a teacher," Billick said. "To go in and work with a group of young people under tough circumstances, I'm learning a lot about myself and a lot about these guys.

"You have to use that as a challenge. Believe me, when I get bored with the teaching part of it, that's when I am out of here."

NOTES: The defensive backs' tackling was highly suspect due to players like safety Chad Williams and cornerback Chris McAlister hitting too high and not wrapping up. Cornerback Samari Rolle was a non-factor in run support. "We were looking for too many knock-out punches," Billick said. "We need to wrap up more, which is hard to focus on this time of year because you can't throw them into pads and practice tackling. We have got to do a little more wrapping up and a little less prime-time, knock-out shots." … Billick expressed regret at the Detroit Lions firing head coach Steve Mariucci on Monday. "Steve is a good friend, it is regrettable and it is unfortunate," Billick said. "We are coming up on that time of year, and that's unavoidable. We are grown men and we understand what this business is about. That doesn't justify it."

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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