The changing of the landscape of the Ravens defense if evident with the moves the team has made since the start of the free agency period two weeks ago. While much of the fan base was panicking prior to the signing of Elvis Dumervil, head coach John Harbaugh admitted that much of the turnover is by design.
At his introductory press conference at the Under Armour Performance Center, Dumervil was accompanied on stage by Harbaugh, who answered questions about the state of the Ravens defense prior to the NFL Draft on April 25th.
Pictured: Luckily for Harbs, he didn’t have to address fans in this manner a couple weeks ago
Even though the Ravens reached their ultimate goal last season with a Super Bowl championship, defensively the team struggled at times. Now that so much turnover has occurred on the defense – either voluntarily or involuntarily – Harbaugh was asked if this was the time the team could use to turn the corner.
“To say ‘no’ just wouldn’t be honest,” he said. “We want to be the best in everything. We want to be the best defense in football, and we were the winningest defense in football last year.”
Age, injuries and egos were blamed for defensive struggles during the 2012 season. Harbaugh isn’t one for excuses – he just realized that change was necessary.
“You’re either getting better or your getting worse, and we need to get better in everything we do,” Harbaugh said. “I know our defensive coaches and our defensive players feel the same way. It’s how I feel. Let’s put the best defense together we possibly can, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Even though much turnover has occurred on the defensive side of the ball, Harbaugh is excited, while embracing change.
“Sure, I think we’ve done that every year to some extent,” he said about the turnover. “Obviously, it’s more obvious this year with the big stars like Ray [Lewis] retiring and Ed [Reed] moving on. Cary Williams was a heck of a player for us, but that is the nature of the business in this league.”
“I think everyone is moving on to opportunities that they’re excited about across the board. There’s nothing negative in any of those – Bernard [Pollard] as well. All those guys were just huge parts in what we have accomplished. They are great friends. They will continue to be great friends. We walk together, we walked the championship together, so we have that together and we will bind us together. But, like anything in life, we all go through life, things do change. You evolve and grow and move in another direction.We just have to make sure it’s a successful direction.”
Overall, Harbaugh is pleased with the way his new team is shaping up for a repeat run at the Super Bowl.
“Truthfully, it hasn’t been an ebb and flow for us here. I feel like it’s been very steady,” said Harbaugh. “There are some highs and lows obviously. You hope you can get things accomplished – some things do, some things don’t – but I don’t think you dwell on that too much. We have a vision on where we want to go with our football team and how we want to apply our resources and build the best team we can.”
As a fan, it’s hard to not question some of the moves the team has made. However, coaches and front office members live by the saying, “once you start listening to the fans, you become one.” Given that the Ravens didn’t retain many fan favorites – much to the dismay of the fan base – it looks like Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome are out to prove their detractors wrong once again.