He's an Arrogant Jerk...

Before this season, you would have to go back to the magical run to end the 2000 season to find the Ravens' last four game winning streak. With a victory over the Falcons on Sunday the Ravens will have recorded 2 four game winning streaks in the first 10 games of the season; an astounding accomplishment for a team with just 6 victories the previous season.

Who would have thought it? Coming into the season most prognosticators predicted a third place finish for the Ravens while the Steelers and Bengals battled for AFC supremacy.
Currently the Ravens comfortably sit in the AFC North driver's seat winning as many games as the Bengals and Steeler's combined. Even more amazing is that a team riddled with focus issues over the last two years continues to remain focused in the midst of owning the second biggest division lead in the AFC. In many of the "Power Ranking" the Ravens find themselves ranked below the San Diego Charges, who own the same record as the Ravens but lost a head to head match up in Week 4. Even more disrespectful is NBC ranking the Ravens behind a 6-3 Giants Team that seems to lose a defensive player every time they shoot a mock jumpshot. While fans clamor and debate over these subjective rankings the Ravens players focus is not on earning respect, but simply getting better.

When doling out credit for the season's success, it's easy to give accolades to Ozzie Newsome and his team when everyone from first round picks like Haloti Ngata and Mark Clayton to late round gems like Dwan Landry and Adalius Thomas continue to have huge impacts. That's not even mentioning undrafted Bart Scott who is having a ProBowl year. It's also easy to give McNair his due as his poise and steady hand have contributed to three 4th quarter comebacks; including the largest in Ravens history. The D deserves mention as it leads the league in turnovers forced while the offense is making headlines by finally starting to pull it's own wait. But as we hand out pats on the back, we would be remised not to give one to Head Coach Brian Billick.

In some ways a victim of his early success, and in some ways a victim of his own (un)pleasant disposition, Brian Billick is having perhaps his best year as a coach. Unlike his previous three playoff runs, fueled heavily by a top ranking defense of all time (2000 and 2001), and one of the top rushing performances of all time (2003), Billick has the Ravens making a playoff run with a gelling offense and a defense that while still top tier, has shown more weaknesses than what Baltimore fans are accustomed to. It is an incredulous feat for a coach labeled as a lame duck going into the season.

After losing 14 of his last 22 games to end the 2005-2006 season, Brian Billick was able to do something that very few coaches can. Billick reinvented himself with the same team. Even coach/deity Bill Bellichek needed a change of scenery to correct his mistakes. No one action showed his reinvention more than firing offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during the bye week with the team at 4-2; a decision no doubt made more difficult by his close friendship with the deposed coordinator. It was an especially surprising move from a man who was loyal to former coordinator Matt Cavenaugh to a fault.

When chewing the fat about the season current season, we can mention the reduction in Ravens penalties from almost 16 a game to 11 a game, or we could discuss the 4-1 road record after 11 straight road losses. No matter how we discuss it, we can't deny that Brian Billick has had the Baltimore Ravens prepared for all 9 games thus far. Even in the two losses, the Ravens were in it until the end. We can't deny that this team has continued to play hard for him. Even Jamal Lewis, one of the biggest sulkers on the team, admitted that it was Billick who got the offense fired up leading into the road game with the Saints. Billick is smart enough to know that coach of the year accolades are not in his future because he isn't liked by the national media, his star players aren't liked by the national media, and he coaches in a city constantly overlooked in NFL circles. While that's true, it's time for this city and this fanbase to give Billick a little love.

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