Indeed, if Banks continues to develop, the Ravens should climb into the league's upper echelon. They already have one of the NFL's best defenses, and they have the ultraconfident Billick, who won over his players when he didn't deviate from his approach following a 2-5 start last year. Billick's self-assurance is reflected in his Internet screen name, THEMAN.
That brashness has rubbed off on the Ravens. "You can see how he expects to be successful at everything he does," says linebacker Peter Boulware. "It's not an arrogance, but it's a level of pride that when you walk on the field, you know you're going to win."
After the game-winning pass, Billick found Banks on the sideline, and the two embraced. Billick told Banks, "You still piss me off sometimes." It wasn't the first time the quarterback had heard such a comment from the coach. But Banks understands where Billick is coming from. Billick is going to ride Banks until he is efficient week in and week out, and Banks knows what that entails.
"I feel good about where I'm at. I'm happy at home," says Banks, who married longtime girlfriend Yolanda Porter in April, "and I love coming to work. It got to a point in St. Louis where I hated coming to work and practice. But now I know how much practice has helped me grow."