Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Is this bad?

Is it bad when one of the worst passing teams in recent history looks to sign you as a backup only to have the local media describe you as a 'step backward'? Well the Ravens are pretty close to signing much-maligned former Steeler Kordell Stewart and Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun doesn't think it's such a great idea. Let's see, where to start? Preston's first paragraph cuts right to the chase:
"The Ravens, who had the league's least-productive passing game and 31st-ranked quarterback a year ago, might sign the worst-rated passer from 2003 as a backup."
Well, it's not the nicest thing to say, but it's certainly true. Maybe he lightens up in the next paragraph:
"Poor Jim Fassel. He came here to rebuild an offense, hoping to get another shot as a head coach in the NFL, and the Ravens are about to dump a puppet on him."
Hmmm. A puppet. Kordell was called a lot of things in Pittsburgh, but I don't think he was ever called a puppet. Preston then proceeds to the heart of the reason the Ravens might sign Stewart: money.
"First of all, he's cheap, worth about the league veteran minimum of slightly more than $700,000. Secondly, the Ravens can jerk him around. He either plays here as a backup and then relinquishes the job to Anthony Wright about Game 4, or he can help Randall Cunningham put together gospel music tapes."
Now that's just mean. I don't even know if Kordell can sing. I do know however that Cunningham has found the Lord -- how else can you explain him taking that Vikings team to the playoffs a few years ago?

OK. So Preston has some good points, but Stewart makes some valid ones as well when describing how he came to the decision to sign (maybe) with the Ravens:
"I have no job, and when you don't have one and someone offers you one, you take it...It's like seeing water in the fountain. If you're thirsty enough, you'll drink it."
Oh. So I guess this isn't a position of leverage that Kordell is working from. He'll just take anything that's out there. Knowing that, the Ravens should ask Kordell if he want's to hold the Dial-A-Down signs at the union minimum.

Now that Preston has belittled Kordell, he seems resigned to his fate and tries to rationalize the inevitable:
"So that leaves Baltimore with old Slash, who might be the best receiver on the team, and that includes recently signed Kevin Johnson."
I'm guessing that Preston was kidding here -- but there's definitely some truth in what he's saying. It probably doesn't matter if you have Johnny Unitas under center, if he's got no one to throw to it doesn't matter. Even though he's been adament in the past about the fact that he's a QB, maybe it is time for him to switch. I mean, Eric Crouch stipulated that he would only play QB in the NFL and he's already retired three times -- without playing in a single game!

Preston goes on to ask the prescient question of who will mentor Boller givent that Stewart would be the biggest head case on the team since T.O. decided not to stay?
"So, the Ravens would have two inaccurate quarterbacks in Boller and Stewart. Stewart had a 56.8 quarterback rating and posted a .502 completion percentage last season, both of which were the lowest among NFL starters.

Who is going to tutor whom?

Neither Boller nor Stewart is a smooth ballhandler. You cringe when Stewart is at the goal line, because he has a habit of leaping over the line of scrimmage at the 1 and leaving the ball behind at the 3."
That last sentence brings back a lot of memories for Steelers fans. Kordell left more balls on the three yard line than I care to remember. You could set your watch by it it was so predictable. But this stroll down memory lane gets better:
He has been known to whiff while throwing, which, of course, makes him a perfect fit in Baltimore, where we've had some of the game's greatest whiffers in Vinny Testaverde, Tony Banks and Jeff Blake, guys who mysteriously tripped over the lines on the field.
Is that bad? Having someone in Baltimore call you a crappy QB. This is the same team whose best offensive weapon wears #52 (especially if the other Lewis is wearing pinstripes in 2004). That said, all that whiffing talk also brings back a flood of memories. And speaking of floods, remember when Cowher benched Kordell and he cried? Good times.

Finally, Preston addresses the primary reason Baltimore fans don't want Stewart (in addition to what was mentioned above):
"Most fans in Baltimore dislike Stewart. It's the Pittsburgh thing, you know."
To which Kordell wisely responded:
"Of course, they shouldn't like me; I spanked them every time...That's to be expected. At first, you're the enemy, but if things work out, I'll now become a friend and family member.
That's one way to get into the good graces of a community that already hates you.

Things really get weird when Preston says that one of his friends so despises Stewart that he'll cancel his season tickets if they sign him:
"One fan said he was starting fan clubs for the return of Stoney Case, Chris Redman and Blake. Another said he would prefer the return of Elvis.

Anybody but Stewart ..."
Kordell conjures up that much animosity? He had a few good years in Pittsburgh, but for the most part he was mediocre -- unless, like he said, he was spanking the Ravens.

I can't really disagree with most of what Preston wrote, but let me say, Kordell-bashing aside, I like Stewart. He seemed like a good enough guy, and he competed. He just made a lot of poor decisions and he wasn't a very accurate passer. I can respect the fact that he considers himself a QB -- and he's lasted almost 10 years in the league doing just that. But part of me wonders how good he could have been if he was more like Antwaan Randle El and less like, well Slash. We might find out in Baltimore.