Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Kyle Boller, meet Raymond Felton

Kyle Boller had the best game of his professional career Sunday when the Ravens beat the Jets 20-17 in New York. Boller was 19/33 for 213 yards and 2 TDS and for the first time all season Brian Billick didn't have to answer questions about why his young quarterback was so underwhelming. But he still used his press conference as an opportunity to call out the media for their harsh treatment of Boller:
On comparing him to other young QBs, like Ben Roethlisberger or Byron Leftwich:

“They are going to be put together, [Carson] Palmer, all those guys. They will throw them together to a certain degree. I don’t know how you can compare one to the other, because of what their teams are asking them to do. I will be interested to pick up a Pittsburgh paper and see Roethlisberger, who threw for 10 of 16 – great game against Cleveland, and ran well and threw 16, 17 times – I don’t think the Pittsburgh papers will be ripping into him the way [the Baltimore media corps] rip into Kyle. I don’t think so. You do what you have to do to win. They are doing that now...”
A couple of things. First, I agree that you can't compare Boller to Palmer and Roethlisberger because Boller is still a mess (despite his one game performance against the Jets). Second, Billick can't be serious when he compares the media coverage of Roethlisberger and Boller. Granted, Roethlisberger has thrown fewer passes than most other QBs, but the difference is that he's completing 68.4% of them while Boller is at 57.6%. Roethlisberger has a QB rating of 101.3 (which is 6th in the league) while Boller is sporting a 70.4 rating (which is 26th in the NFL -- 0.1 better than Drew Bledsoe).

What's even more mind-boggling is that after watching a few of Billick's press conferences you'd be convinced he's coaching in New York or New England with all the time he spends admonishing the media because of their critical take on Boller's progress. Baltimore is a lot like Pittsburgh in that it's small market and there are a lot fewer reporters covering the team than say the Jets or Giants might see at a typical press conference.

Either way, however Billick feels about the media and whatever they write about Boller doesn't change the fact that the Ravens find a way to win almost every week -- and it's primarily because of their defense. If you're game-planning against this team, the number one priority should be to score first, and the second priority should be to run the ball every play thereafter. Of course that means you make Kyle Boller beat you. But that's certainly more attractive than watching Ed Reed return another interception for a TD, especially when you consider that Ed Reed has a few more INTs returned for TDs than Boller has game-winning drives.

Raymond Felton was suspended for the first game of UNC's season, which means he won't be on the floor this Friday when the Tarheels play Santa Clara. After Rashad McCants making his "UNC is like jail" comments, I could only shake my head after reading the headline (and before reading the story), "Felton Suspended for Santa Clara Game." Thoughts of DUI's, arrests, and other unsavory stuff crossed my mind, but it was almost refreshing to read that Felton was being suspended because he participated in a "non-certified summer league basketball game" in Raleigh.

Is that it? He was just "illegally" playing basketball? If it's some kind of rules violations, I'm fine with the suspension, but it's almost encouraging to hear that guys like Felton got in trouble for playing, um, basketball. On the grand list of "things you shouldn't do", I think playing in an unsanctioned basketball league comes right before wearing white after Labor Day.
"Coach (Roy) Williams and Coach (Joe) Holladay told us before we left for summer break that we needed to let them know if we wanted to play in any leagues, but I just thought everything was okay with the Chavis League because it had been around for years," says Felton. "I knew other college players had played and the people who ran the league told one of my teammates the league had been certified. I¹m sorry I didn¹t check it out with our coaches or the UNC compliance people, because now I have to miss a game and not be able to help my teammates. I¹ll be a great fan for the Santa Clara game, and look forward to starting my season in Hawaii."
Fine by me. Plus, unless Steve Nash is still playing for Santa Clara, this might be the game for Felton to sit out. Either way, UNC's season starts Friday which means my "other" favorite Martian (McCants, not Manny) will be in the spotlight.