Let's take a chance to look back at Boller's tenure with the Ravens and what could have been.
In 2003, the Ravens had the 10th pick in the NFL Draft, which they used to draft Terrell Suggs (a great selection), but they panicked due to their lack of quarterback and traded their second round pick and a first rounder in 2004 (which was more stacked in the first round than 2003 by the way) to the Patriots for the 19th pick which they used to select the California signal-caller.
In his years with the Ravens, Boller's time has been plagued by injury and inconsistency. In his rookie year, he went 5-3 before going down with an injury.
His best year was in 2004, when he started every game, threw for 2,559 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Ravens' fans rejoiced as the team had finally found a franchise quarterback for the first time since 1996. Or so it seemed.
He struggled mightily in 2005, prompting the Ravens to trade for proven veteran Steve McNair, and the team shuffled between the two quarterbacks through injuries and various other reasons for the next three seasons.
Boller's shining moment came in a Monday Night loss to the then-undefeated Patriots in 2007. He almost led the Ravens past the Patriots and that game was the closest that the Patriots came to losing until Super Bowl XLII.
Still, the pinnacle of Boller's Ravens career was too little too late.
The Ravens drafted Joe Flacco out of Delaware in the 2008 NFL Draft and new coach John Harbaugh declared a three-way competition between Flacco, Boller, and Troy Smith.
However, in the preseason, Boller suffered a shoulder injury, which put him out for the season. Flacco became the starter by default after an illness to Smith, and his play in 2008 solidified his spot as the Ravens starter for the future, thus rendering Boller useless except in a veteran backup role (which is already occupied by Todd Bouman).
Boller has undeniable talent, so it's just strange that he wasn't able to succeed in the NFL. He had a cannon for an arm and could scramble pretty well.
Some say it was the lack of a good offensive line, but it was the same offensive that helped Jamal Lewis rush for over 2,000 yards in a season, anchored by one of the best tackles in NFL history in Jonathan Ogden.
Others say it was the lack of good talent around him, but sometimes that really wasn't the case.
McNair led the team to a 13-3 record with essentially the same receivers and backs that Boller had during that era. Lewis was one of the best backs in the league during this time, Todd Heap was a premier tight end, Derrick Mason was still very good (and still is), and Mark Clayton was an up-and-coming effective receiver.
The one reason that really makes sense for Boller's lack of success in Baltimore were the intangibles.
Boller had a gunslinger mentality where he would throw it deep whether it was prudent or not (more frequently, the latter). Other times, instead of just throwing the ball away, he would hold on the ball too long which would usually end badly for him.
This is what sets him apart from Flacco, who realizes that punts aren't necessarily a bad thing, so is willing to throw the ball away if he sees nothing.
So, now it's just a question as to what Boller's Raven legacy will be. No doubt, he will be considered the first and biggest draft bust in Ravens history (for that matter, the only real Ravens draft bust).
There were some extenuating circumstances, but the fact of the matter is that the Ravens reached on him and that he wasn't ready to be a starting NFL quarterback.
His legacy will also be the most frustrating Raven for the fans. He would have flashes of brilliance that would get fans hopes up, only to have his incompetence take over the following week leading Raven fans to curse and cry for hours upon days upon weeks.
Repeat for seven years.
Those who see the glass as half-full also see the Ravens career leader in games started, passing yards, and completions. But just watching him play, he just left you wishing for more.
Maybe he would have succeeded in a better offense. Cam Cameron is more offensive and his schemes were a big reason why Flacco's rookie season was so successful.
Maybe Boller would have been just as effective, if not more had he stayed healthy and been the starter this season.
Or maybe he would have held on the ball until he gets sacked or thrown it 75 yards downfield for an interception every play. Who really knows.
What we do know is that while Boller lacked the leadership to be an effective quarterback in Baltimore, he was a classy player through and through.
Despite being ripped by fans and the media throughout his tenure, you would never see him complain, pass the blame, or say anything negative about the fans or the city of Baltimore.
Even this season, when he was on IR from the preseason, he was still at every single game cheering on his teammates and helping the young Flacco as if he was a healthy back-up.
As a Ravens fan, I appreciate Boller's years of service in Baltimore. At many times (almost all the time to be honest), Boller frustrated me and I just wanted a new quarterback, but he gave it his all every game and stayed classy throughout some rocky times.
I wish him the best of luck in St. Louis and hopefully, he can finally mold that potential and upside into consistent, solid play.
Here's to you, Boller. I sincerely thank you and wish you luck with the Rams. Goodbye.
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