Last Wednesday’s State of the Ravens press conference revealed little about the team’s intentions for the 2014 season.
Yes we did receive the news that Juan Castillo would stay on as the offensive line coach, a revelation that was as welcomed as a Hines Ward comeback in a Ravens uniform. Even Steve Bisciotti seemed less than impressed when the presser ended with the team owner exclaiming, “Where’s Mike Preston…no questions from Mike Preston?”
Those questions from Preston would come in a private conversation with Bisciotti who seemed hell-bent on delivering this message which will hover over Ravens headquarters for the foreseeable future:
“I have to be patient to let people fail, but I don’t have to be patient enough to let people repeat failure,” Bisciotti said. “I’ll be more apt to get my way next year if their solutions don’t change the problems. That’s fair, that’s where I am as owner.
The message was Jack-Nicholson-in-A Few Good Men-clear and it sets up a very interesting 2014 for the Baltimore Ravens.
As for the messages actually delivered during the presser, here are a few of the better ones presented in a “What He Said” and “What (I think) He Meant” way:
WHAT HE SAID (Ozzie): “We’ve got to get bigger in the interior of our offensive line. That’s one of the areas that I think we need to improve on. I think we need to have a more athletic safety in the defense. We need to be able to get a receiver – whether it’s a tight end or a wide receiver – that can make a third-and-7, third-and-8 catch and run after the catch.”
WHAT HE MEANT: Gino Gradkowski isn’t the answer at center, at least not yet and the Ravens need a solid veteran there until the team can develop Gino or Ryan Jensen or some as-of-yet undrafted player. The athletic safety is code for, “we need more turnovers” and maybe that’s a message to Dean Pees (why is Steve Spagnuolo here again?) to amp up his unit’s aggressiveness.
As for the TE/WR, many interpreted Ozzie’s words to mean that the Ravens want a Wes Welker, Tavon Austin type of receiver. I’m not sure a player with a small pass catching radius is a good fit for Joe Flacco who isn’t the most accurate thrower to receivers on the run. Look for a big target who can break tackles.
WHAT HE SAID: (Ozzie): “No. 1, not having the ability to get off the field cost us maybe three or four ball games this year. I think we recognized that. To improve on that, I think, No. 1, you have to start with the guys you’ve got. We’ve got to get those guys better and put those guys in better position to make plays. On the other side of that, I talked about a free safety [and] maybe getting a free safety that can be a playmaker – when tipped balls are in the air, guys that can come away with that. I think all of those things. And, I think the other thing that we talked about doing this season [is] in order to be successful, you have to have confidence. I think we’ve got to build a confidence amongst our defensive players that, in those situations, they can make a play and win the game.
WHAT HE MEANT: It’s pretty clear that Ozzie wants the Ravens to get back to being an attacking defense. The inability to get off the field in key situations and the bend-but-don’t-break mentality is the same one that got Dean Pees a pink slip in New England. Bring back organized chaos and do it with better coaching. And then there’s that guy named Spagnuolo who’s been hanging around…
WHAT HE SAID (Ozzie): “I’ve had the opportunity to talk to [Terrell] Suggs every day. He kind of makes sure of that. That’s a decision that we’ll talk about when we get down to Jupiter. Terrell is a really good football player. He not only shows up in the pass game, but he shows up in the run game. That being said, we let a good football player go last year, so we’re not afraid. I’m not a virgin when it comes to letting guys walk out the door. What we’ll do is we’ll look at every aspect of it and see what’s best for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Ravens and then make that decision once we get to it.”
WHAT HE MEANT: Right player, right price and at the current cap number of $12.4 million, Terrell Suggs you are not that guy. Fit the formula or thanks for the memories, virginity be damned!
WHAT HE SAID (Steve Bisciotti): “My role really doesn’t change. It’s to support my coach and my GM and get this thing moving in the right direction. We had a lot of failures on the football field – offense and defense – and so I know they’ve got their work cut out for them. So, it’s to be a sounding board to them and encourage them to make the kind of decisions that they believe are the right ones for us. And I love that part of the job.”
WHAT HE MEANT: The coaching staff needs to amp up their game and they’ve got the 2014 season to get it done. Bisciotti will do what he does best and that is to get his people outside of their comfort zone to see things from a different perspective with the hope that it will open their minds and provide new ideas on how to best utilize the available resources/talent.
WHAT HE SAID (John Harbaugh): “Juan will be the offensive line coach next year. The rest of it is a little bit in flux right now. We’re two weeks earlier to this probably – two, three, four weeks even – than we have been in the past. We’ve been coaching football games at this point in time. So, as all this NFL coaching drama goes on, some of our guys are involved in that, and we’ll just have to see how it shakes out. But, we’re going to build a great coaching staff again this year.”
WHAT HE MEANT: I hope that Jim Caldwell is hired as a head coach somewhere so I don’t have to fire him and so that we can clean up this mess that is the Baltimore Ravens offense.
A look in the mirror might be a good place to start…
Photo courtesy of Associated Press/Gail Burton