Cool, calm and collected – words that perfectly describe Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, and attributes that have served him well in his wildly successful business career.
Those qualities were on full display Tuesday as the organization held their annual “State of the Ravens” press conference. Following a lackluster season that saw his team missing the postseason for the third time in four years, Bisciotti showed that he understands the need for improvement but also emphasized that the road to success isn’t cleaning house – despite fans with “pitchforks” calling for the removal of the coaching staff.
“The pitchforks are out,” Bisciotti said early in the presser. Later, he clarified that the statement “is a reference to the people that want to solve my problems, and the problems are always … solving the problems are always the exact same. I asked [executive assistant to the owner] Pam [Lund] yesterday morning to give me the transcripts of every press conference – this press conference – that I have had since [John Harbaugh’s] first year at the end of 2008 – 61 pages worth.
“The solution to every single problem is, ‘Fire my coach. Fire my GM. Fire my offensive coordinator. Fire my defensive coordinator, and fire Joe [Flacco].’ Over and over and over again. It did not matter whether we got to the Divisional Round or the AFC Championship game. They were calling for Dean Pees’ head in the middle of our Super Bowl year. [They said], ‘He is terrible.’ I put up with that, and it is easier to put up with that when you are winning. It is harder to look them in the eyes and read this and say, ‘It is not the solution.’
“I did not get to where I was by just firing people. I think it is a bad model, especially in this business. But I do not have as much to fall back on, except then saying, ‘Trust me, this is the right way to run a business.’
“That is not good enough for probably a quarter of our fans. They are like, ‘Then, you are over the hill, and you are an idiot!’ That is fine with me. I would be more than happy to take some blame for that if that is what they consider to be my weakness.”
It’s true – Bisciotti really doesn’t have a leg to stand on, other than to say “trust me,” particularly when the same staff will return for another season. Instead, it appears Steve and the rest of the Ravens brass feel strongly that their shortcomings are more of a personnel issue than a coaching issue.
“I think John [Harbaugh] touched on it at his final press conference,” said general manager Ozzie Newsome. “We need to add some depth in the secondary. We need to improve in the offensive line. We need to find a complementary receiver.
“I think those are the areas that we feel like we should attack this offseason – whether it’s through free agency, the drafts, trades – whatever way we have to do it, but to get better in the secondary, find a complementary receiver and get bigger and stronger in the offensive line.”
It’s clear that there are no free passes for players this offseason – particularly those in areas of concern. That includes franchise quarterback Joe Flacco, whom Bisciotti said he expects to play better next season.
The owner also singled out cornerback Shareece Wright.
“We had some guys that were coming into their second and third year that we thought would take a bigger step than they did,” said Bisciotti. “We had Shareece Wright, who actually graded out better than Jimmy [Smith] in the last six weeks of the  season. We made that one of our priorities that we thought we could lock that down, and Shareece gets away from the fundamentals and loses technique and starts playing poorly.
“That really set us back, to be honest with you. There are a lot of people that played well [in 2015] that we thought would play better, and they played no better or worse than they did [last] year.”
Patience is a virtue – but only for so long. The vocal minority of fans with pitchforks will only increase in proportion if this year’s issues aren’t addressed moving forward. While Bisciotti’s cool, non-reactionary demeanor won out this time, we’ve seen him fire a head coach in the past. If those under him don’t take his words to heart – and if they don’t improve in the way that he expects – they could find themselves looking for new jobs in a year’s time (or less).
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