Following the Baltimore Ravens' 13-10 loss to Buffalo, Coach Brian Billick went over his roster player by player. He was checking whether there was anyone he would have to watch now that Baltimore has lost its last three games and fallen to 2-5. He wanted to assure himself there was nobody likely to give up on the remainder of the season.
"I could not find one guy," Billick said. "I don't see anybody on this team that I flat look at, as I went down that roster, and said, 'Boy, I don't know. I don't trust this guy. I don't think this guy's going to jump on board.' . . . There is plenty of fight in this team."
The Ravens may have plenty of fight, but they are lacking on offense. Billick's quarterback switch did not prove as productive as he had hoped. Tony Banks did not lead the team much better than Scott Mitchell or Stoney Case. Banks completed only 13 of 34 passes for 129 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His fourth-quarter fumble led to the Bills' winning touchdown.
Billick said today that while he won't shuttle quarterbacks in and out of games, he plans on using both Banks and Case, with Banks remaining the starter for now.
"I'm not going to stand up here and say this guy is the definitive starter come hell or high water," Billick said. "This is a work in progress. I've got to see how this pans out.
"We've got two guys who have some abilities. I want to see if I can find their strengths, if I can try to build some experience in Stoney Case and see what kind of quarterback he's about. I think we can build some consistency in Tony Banks and see where we can go from there."
Billick acknowledged that the offensive problems do not rest solely on the quarterback's shoulders. Against Buffalo, the wide receivers struggled to get open against the Bills' defensive backs.
Qadry Ismail twice was called for offensive pass interference after trying to put some distance between himself and his defender. Ismail, Baltimore's leading receiver with 27 catches for 339 yards, declined to speak to media members today.
"We've got a cast around [the quarterback] that's responsible for some of the lack of productivity," Billick said. "There's only so many options [at wide receiver]. . . . It's a bit of a juggling match. Clearly no one receiver has proven he is so dominant that he has got to be in on every play."
Justin Armour, the team's second leading receiver with 19 catches for 329 yards and two touchdowns, was open six times when the ball was thrown to him, but he dropped three passes. He caught the others for 35 yards and a touchdown.
"The problem that we're struggling with right now is that on our offense, we're not all firing on the same play," Armour said. "The receivers have got to run every play like the ball is coming to them. They've got to get open every play.
"This line has got to protect every play. A lot of times we're getting good protection, we're getting good routes, but a lot of times we're not getting them on the same plays. That's where the internal struggle comes for us to get to a point where we're consistent enough."
Baltimore must try to solve its offensive woes while playing its next three games on the road. On Sunday, the Ravens make their first trip to Cleveland since the franchise moved from that city to Baltimore four seasons ago.
"I know darn well we are not going to get a call in Cleveland, no way, no shape, no how," Billick said. "The league would really like to see Cleveland beat us."