Without Playoffs, Ravens Still Motivated

The Ravens laid a whipping down on Green Bay Monday night, and, despite not having a shot at the playoffs, Baltimore still has something to play for – their coach's future. See what Brian Billick and the players say about that motivating factor.

With two games remaining, the job status of Ravens coach Brian Billick is uncertain.

Team owner Steve Bisciotti has not guaranteed publicly or within the organization that Billick will be coming back, which has caused an uneasy feeling in the locker room.

"We're stuck in limbo as a team," linebacker Adalius Thomas said. "You don't know if he is going to get fired or he's not. You can't sit here and say you don't think about it because you do. You hear the rumors and what the sources say in the paper (about Billick getting fired). And when you don't call them out, then the source must be true."

Those who favor bringing back Billick point to his entire track record with the Ravens. Compiling a 60-49 record and three playoff seasons, Billick has long changed the image of the Ravens as a perennial loser and has only drastically underachieved once — this season — in seven years.

Those who want Billick out as coach focus on his long-time struggles on offense and his recent losing ways. With the Ravens dropping 13 of their past 19 games, Billick only has a 30-31 record since 2002.

Judging by his demeanor, Billick believes he is staying. He has looked confident and loose, joking with players during practice and the media before news conferences.

"The comfort zone that I have is in the quality of the people and the ability to communicate with one another," Billick said. "It makes a very difficult situation much more easy to deal with."

Billick's job status likely won't come known until after the Jan. 1 season finale at Cleveland, when Bisciotti is expected to speak the media for the first time since the end of last season.

It has been Bisciotti's policy not to talk to reporters during the season.

"There's no adequate way to answer those questions during the season that don't bring into question the legitimacy of the observation or the intent," Billick said. "So we're just not going to do it."

Billick said he doesn't believe he has lost his team based on its hard play in recent weeks.

Asked if the players still respond to Billick, Thomas said, "Look at our record, that kind of says it all. I don't know if that is a bonding thing. We have the talent. It's so frustrating. You can't say it's all Brian's fault by any stretch of the imagination. That's where everybody points the blame when a team does bad."

Others have said they have not given up on Billick.

"I know what kind of speaker he is and what kind of motivator he is," tight end Todd Heap said. "He's great with words. He knows how to get a team ready to play. I don't have any question about that."

Defensive end Tony Weaver said he appreciates that Billick's messages are usually thought out because he has been with coaches whose remarks have been off the cuff.

"The approach (by Billick) might come off a little too much and it's not for everybody," Weaver said. "But I still respond to it."

If given the chance to return from a season that has damaged his reputation and threatened his job security — one that he calls "a humbling experience" — Billick said he believes he could repeat the 2003 season, when the Ravens rebounded from 7-9 the previous year to win the division.

"Right now, as tired as you are in this late stage of the season, to think about the amount of work that's in front of us this offseason sounds a bit daunting," Billick said. "I will take a couple of days when the season is over and take a couple of long naps and be ready to go with it. But I'm excited about it because we've been down this road before."


  • CB Deion Sanders is expected to retire after the season, although he has refused to make his decision official. He has played for the Ravens for the past two seasons after sitting out from 2001 to 2003.

  • G Keydrick Vincent became the fifth Ravens starter to be placed on injured reserve. He had missed the past four weeks with a thigh injury.

  • DE Tony Weaver is expected to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings after missing the past two games with a back injury.

  • FB Justin Green should be able to start Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings after being sidelined the past two games with a wrist injury.

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