The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2013 campaign championing their newly coined mantra, “Here We Are.” Well that one sort of backfired, didn’t it?
For the first time in six seasons the Ravens are on the outside looking in at the NFL postseason. So “Here We Are” and it’s not such a pretty view and the seats aren’t all that comfortable. Yet that being said it is a vantage point that the Ravens need to experience.
Being knocked out of the playoffs in many ways is a blessing in disguise for the team. It forces the organization to swallow some humble pie and take a harder look at the flaws that tarnish the club and the obstacles that will require some slick maneuvering.
Fortunately the league is flawed by design so getting back in the postseason mix isn’t such a slippery slope for such a well-run organization.
But had the Ravens managed to squeak in to the playoffs yesterday in Cincinnati they may have been lured into denial and opted to pass on the offseason surgery that the roster and coaching staff needs.
Sitting at home for New Year’s and the month of January will force a more introspective look and with so many areas of weakness, it’s unlikely that John Harbaugh can convince his boss to sit on the sidelines this winter.
Owner Steve Bisciotti is a problem solver and a facilitator of debate, the goal of which is to seek innovative solutions. And this offseason, there will be plenty to debate.
You know the team’s weaknesses just as they do. But a win yesterday would have masked some problems and they might not be perceived as severe as they are if they had kept their playoff streak alive.
No team is perfect. The NFL is about exposing opposing imperfections more adeptly than your own are exposed. It’s the survival of the fittest.
But before the team addresses the many problems, they may want to ditch the Here We Are credo and instead ask, “Who Are We?”
The Ravens have no identity. They were once a smash mouth offense and now their running backs and quarterback just get smashed. Defensively they were once organized chaos as they confused opposing QB’s and forced turnovers. Now, they are a bend-but-don’t-break defense that looks confused during crunch time.
So what do the Ravens want to be?
How do they plan to get there?
How can they get their high-priced talent to perform to the level of their contracts and do they have the right coaches in place to help make that happen?
Many will give Dean Pees a hall pass but is he deserving of one or is it that the offense is under such heavy fire that we dismiss the inefficiencies of Pees’ game planning? Is he really the right guy for the job?
Pees will be 65-years old next season. Can he bring the prerequisite energy or will John Harbaugh pass the defensive coordinator torch along to another old friend, Steve Spagnuolo who has quietly camped out on the sidelines this fall as the “Senior Defensive Assistant”?
Jim Caldwell’s offense was a mess during his first full season as an offensive coordinator. The team’s $120M man failed to progress and if anything Joe Flacco regressed. When you pay a man that kind of money he has to play to his pay grade otherwise it will eventually become a stranglehold on the team.
Is Caldwell the guy to facilitate that?
The move to bring on yet another Harbaugh buddy was a mistake from jump street, not because Castillo is a bad football coach – he absolutely is not. He was only doing the job he was asked to do.
The blame lies with the enabler of that debacle, John Harbaugh who now runs a sideline without defacto team leaders, without over-the-top personalities and without the potential of any assistant coach on his staff one day threatening his job.
“Who Are We?” is the question the organization needs to address this offseason.
The answers will influence the necessary changes.
And there should be many otherwise it could be “Here We Are AGAIN!” next January.