Brian Billick says the Ravens were in love with JaMarcus Russell, too

For the past four years or so, the Oakland Raiders have been bombarded with criticism for drafting one of the biggest NFL flops of all time in JaMarcus Russell. Much of the criticism has been thrown at JaMarcus himself — and rightfully so — but the Raiders have faced their fair share of ridicule for the pick. What we tend to forget, however, is that there are a number of other teams who would have made the exact same move. As former Ravens coach Brian Billick reminded us this week, Russell was seen by many teams as a sure thing.

“We did a pretty decent job (of drafting), and obviously they continue to do a phenomenal job in Baltimore, with Ozzie Newsome and his group,” Billick said on ESPN Radio according to Pro Football Talk. “JaMarcus Russell was the highest-rated player I’ve ever seen on any of our boards. So we all missed on JaMarcus Russell. Make no mistake.”

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft was Calvin Johnson and the No. 7 pick was Adrian Peterson, so in hindsight they clearly should have been the highest-rated players. Patrick Willis was taken 11th and Darrelle Revis 14th. As we all know, that is the nature of drafting in the NFL.

The Ravens had the 29th pick in 2007 and knew they were in no position to draft Russell, but Billick’s assertion is a reminder that Oakland was not the only team who was high on the former LSU star. If he was the highest-rated player Billick ever saw during his time in Baltimore, that means he was seen as more of a sure thing than guys like Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning. In retrospect, the Raiders made the obvious choice and probably wish they would have had a lower pick.

Photo credit: Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Brian Billick Criticizes John Elway for Endorsing Tim Tebow, Says Tebow Should Cut Back on Lifting Weights

As many of you know, John Elway recently gave Tim Tebow his official stamp of approval.  Although the season ended with an embarrassing 45-10 loss in Foxboro, Tebow went 7-4 during the regular season as a starter this year and led the Broncos to a playoff win over Pittsburgh.  Did Elway really have a choice?  Current analyst and former NFL head coach Brian Billick believes he did.

“To me, that was a little weak to say, ‘He is going to be the starter when we go to training camp,’. I think we’re gonna have a whole bunch of liar’s poker between now and the draft and free agency and beyond,” Billick said Monday night on NFL Total Access, noting that he believes the Broncos will acquire a quarterback who could challenge Tebow for the starting role.

The problem with Billick’s theory is that the fans would go completely berserk.  Tebowmania has captured the hearts of fans in Denver and everyone else across America.  The Broncos’ players want Tebow under center.  Not only did he do a tremendous job of winning games for the Broncos this season, but he is a marketing machine. Elway needs Tebow to start for the Broncos as much for business as he does team confidence.

Billick wasn’t done there.  Like everyone else, he also criticized Tebow’s mechanics and physical makeup, saying a lot of changes need to be made over the offseason.

“I think the No. 1 thing Tim Tebow has to do, I don’t think he can lift the way he’s lifted before,” Billick explained. “There’s three people that can’t lift the way Tim Tebow does: pro quarterbacks, pro tennis players and golfers. He has got to cut back on that rigid, thick (frame). I know it keeps him alive as a running quarterback, but it does not bode well for his passing, the fluidity that he has to have. So that’s, to me, job one in the offseason, he’s got to change his (conditioning) mindset.”

I think it’s safe to add Billick to the list of those who believe that Tebow’s accomplishments this season were a complete fluke.

Brian Billick Cites Professionalism in Conflict of Interest Scenarios

Last week, Mike Florio raised an interesting point at Pro Football Talk saying that there was a conflict of interest with Brian Billick providing commentary on the Saints/Falcons game. The conflict of interest is that Billick’s brother-in-law is Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Billick could plausibly share information he gains through his broadcasting access with Smith.

It’s a fair point, and one that we raised here when Jeff Van Gundy was broadcasting his brother’s Orlando Magic games. However, the point we raised was that Van Gundy would be biased towards Orlando on-air. Florio’s concern was the sharing of information.

Brian Billick was a guest of Dan Patrick and was asked about this issue. Billick stepped in before Patrick could finish asking the question and you could tell he was upset someone had even raised the point. Billick brought up that he has friends and former colleagues all across the league and wondered where the line is drawn. His two main points to combat the conflict of interest points were striking.

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Brian Billick: Jerry Jones Should Coach Dallas Cowboys

Former Ravens head coach and current NFL analyst Brian Billick had an interesting idea for Dallas Cowboys owner and GM, Jerry Jones. Serving as a guest on FOX Sports Radio, Billick was asked which NFL head coaching job is the best. Billick responded by saying it depends on the ownership, stressing that the owner has to be good. At that point Billick started talking about different owners and mentioned that Jerry Jones was an “outstanding” owner, but that seemed like the buttering up part before he truly ripped in. What initially seemed to be an item of praise for Jerry started to sound more like a challenge:

“My one complaint or observation for Jerry is at some point that authority that the head coach represents has to manifest itself for the players. Just go down to the sidelines Jerry, be a head coach. Slot ‘HC’ on one of these slash titles you have.

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Brian Billick Takes Subtle Shot at Kyle Boller When Discussing Tebow in the NFL

Count me as someone highly surprised to see Brian Billick as the color commentator for the Sugar Bowl on FOX alongside Thom Brennaman. I was equally surprised to hear Jon Gruden serving as the radio analyst alongside Mike Tirico for the Rose Bowl on ESPN Radio probably because we frequently separate college football from pro football. One of the positive aspects to having an NFL guy like Billick doing the commentary was we got to hear his opinion of how Tim Tebow would do as a pro. While Billick praised Tebow and his abilities, he cautioned against fans getting too carried away with Tim’s success at college.

I don’t have the exact quote so I’m paraphrasing, but Billick reminded fans that there’s a difference between thinking a guy’s a great player who’s a winner that everyone wants on his team, and having enough confidence in the player to draft him in the first round and build around him. Billick reminded fans that if you want Tebow, you’ll have to draft him in the first round, and if he doesn’t work out, then you wind up calling bowl games on TV the next year. Billick was clearly speaking about his experience with the Ravens, implying that he got fired because Kyle Boller was a bust with the Ravens.

The Ravens took Boller in the first round, gave him the starting job, and he proceeded to play four mediocre seasons for Baltimore under Billick, throwing 36 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, never averaging more than 200 yards passing a game in a season. The Ravens were 30-34 under Billick with Boller as the team’s leading passer and 13-3 in their one season with McNair as the starter. The point? Bad quarterbacks get you fired in the NFL. Like Billick cautioned, you better understand that if you draft Tim Tebow to play quarterback and he doesn’t work out, you’ll likely end up fired. All those fans who wanted you to draft Tebow will forget what they said once Tebow starts playing poorly — that’s how it always works. I’m not condemning Tebow at the next level, just passing on some interesting commentary from the Sugar Bowl.

Brian Billick Has a Potty Mouth

Here’s the thing: when you work in sports talk radio, you get used to watching out for cuss words on the air. Wouldn’t want to have a complaint go to the FCC, cost your station its broadcasting license, and get fired in the process. Therefore, you’re always looking out for s-bombs, f-bombs, and anything else that could get you in some serious crap with the U.S. gov. Anyways, what amazes me most about instances when people cuss on air, is the amazing naturalness with which they freely cuss. It’s almost as if the caller or interviewee feels they are in their living room having a conversation with some buddies while watching the game — which is almost how it should be.

Well, Awful Announcing — as if a blog by any other name would have come across the audio — has some sound of Ravens coach Brian Billick dropping an S-bomb on a Baltimore radio station. What’s so great about it, is the way he’s so unfazed about the cuss word. He just continues right along, as if nothings happened, finishing his point. It’s great. Skip ahead to around the 5-minute mark for the fun.

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