Are Billy Cundiff's days wearing the purple and black numbered? It seems that Raven Nation has already decided his fate. Hearing most fans talk he could make every field goal he tries in 2012 and they would still not forgive him.
If you were at the Ravens first publicly open practice this Saturday you probably wouldn't have had to search long to garner the opinion of the gathering masses. It seems that just about all Ravens fans could agree on one thing. They want Billy Cundiff out of Baltimore. I don't think they really care who replaces him either. It certainly helps that there is a young stud kicker in camp knocking down 63 yarders in front of 20 thousand plus. Seriously though, would it matter if he wasn't?
Even if Justin Tucker wasn't in Ravens camp I think the majority of the fans would calling for Billy's head all the same. The Ravens as an organization however have shown a surprising resilience of faith in Cundiff. They didn't go straight out into free agency and blow what little money they do have on the best kicker available. They didn't even bother looking in the 2012 NFL Draft to find a replacement for their fallen star. The team found someone undrafted to come in to camp and compete with Billy, which I think they probably would have done any way considering the season he had in 2011.
So where does that leave the fans and their ever so important opinions? Well, I think if Ozzie Newsome and company were to be candid with you behind closed doors they'd say that you have to look at the big picture. The team just made a sizable investment in Cundiff a year ago, after a Pro Bowl season. They would say that a good kicker is hard to find and that anyone can have a bad season. That being said, they have to let things play out. They can't just get all mad at Billy for one bad performance. No matter how big that bad performance may loom in the teams history books. If they were to just fire him it would look like they were shaking off the blame on to one guy instead of the team as a whole. That would conflict with John Harbaugh's team first mantra.
The Ravens organization has always lead by example and they can't just cut the guy because they are mad at him or don't like him anymore. Baltimore has to maintain composure and follow a strict plan. Bring in the best young kicker they can find (within their budget) and hope that he either comes in and beats Cundiff outright or that the competition brings out the best in Billy and he is revitalized.
You have to think that secretly they would much rather have Tucker win the battle out right. Not because they have anything against Cundiff but because they don't want to deal with the headache that comes along with trotting him out on to the field every home game. The fans need to be cheering on their team not booing their kicker to start the season. Why cause a scene when you can simply move on right? I guess, in the NFL, where every move is analyzed and scrutinized no move is simple. If they just cut him immediately they could look desperate and that is not the Raven way. That is not how they do business. Instead they will go on without ever revealing their plan until it's over and we the pawns... I mean fans will only notice the outcome.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Billy Cundiff will stay a Raven regardless of how the battle with Tucker goes because you never know how a kicker will do until you see him in a game and Billy is NFL proven. He has had success in the league. That's the great thing about this team. They could go either way and no one could ever tell why unless they told you. Being an enigma can be a valuable commodity in the NFL.