The Baltimore Ravens had their fair share of ups and downs during the 2016 season, but in the end, most fans and players were left shaking their heads.
Their offense, whether run by Marc Trestman or Marty Mornhinweg, was anything but consistent, the defense struggled to contain leads when given the opportunity, and special teams play – outside of Justin Tucker – was average.
Despite all those inefficiencies, the argument can be made they were within one play of making the postseason, a far cry from their 5-11 2015 campaign.
So how much change is on the horizon?
“That is a good question,” answered Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti when asked how much change to expect during the team’s season-ending press conference. “Last year, we did not know what we were going to get from an injury standpoint with Joe [Flacco] and Steve [Smith Sr.] and [Dennis] Pitta and all of those guys coming back from injuries that had been really good performers in the past.
“Again, Joe … Is the recovery from what everybody else says that they are not back completely, did that mess with his mind?” Did that mess with his timing, his accuracy? I think it did.”
We’ve heard the buzz around what positions this team is truly coveting: secondary help, a stronger offensive line, a complementary receiver, and the latest, a running back. Are these words mere front office-speak, or will they attack positions of need this offseason rather than sticking to their normal best-player-available philosophy?
“At least this year, we are going in with some proven guys that have shown that they are back from injury and that they should be as good or better,” continued the Ravens owner. “I have not given up hope that Steve Smith is going to come walking in here in September. He is probably not coming in in August. We will see about that character. I would not count him out.”
While that’s a nice thought, Smitty certainly isn’t the answer for an offense looking to get faster and more explosive, even if the future Hall of Famer does change his mind about retirement.
Wide receiver is just one glaring area of need that the team will be forced to address.
There are, of course, others, and we’ll spend the next several months discussing them.
Playoffs Mask Deficiencies
When Bisciotti looks around the league, he sees examples of teams that have rebounded quickly following their own disappointing seasons.
“The Giants spent a ton of money and rebuilt a defense and got to 11-5 and then got beat up in the playoffs in the first round. Would I feel better if we were 11-5 and got trounced in the playoffs in the first round? Yes, I actually would. I would not be here today, because I would not do this [press conference] two days after that kind of disappointment.”
Bisciotti is serious – there’s no play in his stern voice. He would rather this team have been one and done in the postseason than to miss the dance all together. But maybe it’s for the best that he doesn’t “feel better” about the season. Perhaps he’ll demand more changes than he would have otherwise.
“I need time to get over it,” finished Bisciotti. “But, I would feel better if we had performed better, done better, even if we were extremely disappointed getting knocked out in the first round, which so far, in his existence here (points at coach Harbaugh), that has not happened.”
While making the postseason would have made our beloved owner happy, it’s fair to question whether or not any changes would have been made if they had qualified for the playoffs, whether eliminated after one game or not.
Winning sometimes makes teams complacent, as they turn a blind eye to glaring needs.
So far, there have been minor changes to the coaching staff.
Now, let’s see just how much gets changed from a player personnel standpoint.
While making the postseason makes every fan – and owner – happy, I am glad the mask is off this offseason. No longer can the Ravens turn a blind eye to their areas of need.
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