The State of The Ravens presser was on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 1:30 in Owings Mills. We were there for a sneak peak at the dress rehearsal on January 29 and we thought we’d share it with you as it happened, uncensored and without any prior rehearsal. The participants in the dress rehearsal were Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and Brian Billick.
Without further ado, the dress rehearsal.
Steve Bisciotti: First I would like to thank all members of the distinguished press, both local and national, for being here today. We have appreciated your coverage and support of our efforts during the 2006 season and we look forward to more of the same in the future.
Just about one year ago, we all convened to discuss the 2005 season, a season that fell far short of any of our expectations. That press conference got away from me a bit. Many of you have described my public criticism of Brian Billick as a flogging of sorts. Some even said that it was the equivalent of me taking Brian out to the proverbial woodshed.
I must admit, that wasn’t my intent — at least it wasn’t my intent to beat up on Brian in front of all of you. But it happened and if the truth be told, it was the best thing for Brian. The results speak for themselves.
Brian was able to reclaim the locker room, he was a bit less full of himself and he was more businesslike in his approach with all of you.
Brian changed in 2006 just as I asked him to. And for that he has been rewarded with a contract extension. But that extension is predicated upon certain expectations that I have and expectations that Ozzie has loosely supported. Right Ozzie?
Ozzie Newsome: ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.
Steve Bisciotti: Ozzie, right?
Ozzie: Yes Steve, absolutely! We will stick to our philosophy of right player, right price.
Steve: Ozzie, I was referring to Brian and his need to continue to evolve as a coach.
Ozzie: No doubt Steve. Brian needs to continue the course. Right coach, right price.
Steve: You see ladies and gentlemen, Brian made great strides but his new contract extension is contingent upon him continuing to improve. We challenged him last year and this year we’ll challenge him even more. He responded to it positively last year. So why not challenge him even more?
Ozzie: I couldn’t agree more Steve. When Jim Fassel failed to get it done on offense, Brian chased him around Owings Mills with a taser gun. And when that failed to produce positive results, Brian made him pick up the donuts for the Monday morning meetings. When the Bavarian creams stopped showing up, so did the red zone results and Brian knew Fassel wouldn’t cut it. He was producing donuts on the scoreboard and not in the meetings.
Clearly that’s not the way we do things around here.
Steve: Ok, back to Brian for a second, he made strides but in the end, I’m not sure what happened. I don’t know what he was doing or thinking during the two weeks after the Bills game leading up to the game with the Colts. That game plan against Indianapolis was about as exciting as Bill Belichick on Prozac.
We want Brian to be more daring. We want our offense to strike fear and to attack, much like we did against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. And we’ve taken measures to assure that that will happen. Brian must continue to change and if he fails, he will be changed.
Ozzie: And change is something that is part of every NFL offseason. On that last day when we lost to the Colts when we should have won but didn’t call the right plays in the right situation or exert our physical dominance upon the Colts, we knew then that we were all about to experience change. Our roster will never be exactly the same again. And neither will Brian’s phone number after both Steve and I called him repeatedly the next day to ask, “What the hell was that?”
But time has a way of healing all wounds and some day soon I’ll no longer have this irresistible urge to choke the $&%@ out of Brian. But all in all we had a terrific season and there’s no reason to believe that we can’t be better in 2007.
Brian Billick: (raising his hand)
Steve: Yes Brian.
Brian: I understand the frustrations of our players and our fans who were obviously baffled by the play calling in that Colts game. But neither can begin to understand the complexities, the dynamics, parameters, lack of explosiveness or attempts to vertically stretch a rather horizontally inclined defense. I was on that sideline. I saw how perplexed Steve McNair was with the intricately designed implementation of our methodical approach to exploiting the apparent weaknesses of a rather diligently prepared opponent.
It was glaringly obvious that Tony Dungy was waiting for me to outsmart him and when I didn’t he failed to respond. Our game plan expected a response and when Tony did exactly what we expected them to do, we were caught off guard.
Steve: Thanks Brian. Does anyone have any questions for Ozzie, Brian or myself?
Stan The Fan: Ozzie, you don’t have many unrestricted free agents on your roster but a couple of them could prove to be difficult signings and your All World left tackle could be retiring. What’s your gut feel about re-signing Adalius Thomas and Tony Pashos and are you prepared to move forward without Jonathan Ogden?
Ozzie: We will do our very best to keep Adalius Thomas here. We recognize his importance to the defense, the team as a whole, the fans and to the community. We will do our best to keep AD here. If CBS Radio could quadruple his pay for the Adalius Thomas Show, if Jack Antwerpen could give AD 10% off all gross sales and if all Ravens fans could buy or sell their homes through AD’s wife, it could help keep him here. Perhaps even the Maryland State Lottery Commission could consider a scratch off to keep AD.
As for Pashos, we’re hoping that Greekt Town can improve upon their baklava and that the rest of the league realizes that he’s our Big Fat Greek Tackle, not theirs.
J.O. I’m sure will return. We’ve threatened to bring Zeus out of retirement and give him J.O.’s number if he doesn’t .
Damon Yaffe: Brian, Jamal seemed to be getting it going in that second quarter against the Colts. While the A-Hole wasn’t there nor was the B-Hole, the C-Hole was open all day because J-Hole, I mean J.O. was destroying Dwight Freeney. What do you think about that?
Brian: You’re right, the A-Hole wasn’t there but he could be here in this room.
Steve: Brian, remember 2005.
Brian: Oh yeah, sorry there Bullfrog.
Jamison Hensley: Ozzie with the salary cap being a bit tight particularly after Terrell Suggs’ $5M escalator kicked in, could we see some veterans be restructured and/or cut loose to free up some cap space?
Ozzie: We will consider alternative ways of structuring or re-structuring every single player’s contract. We’d love to keep everyone and add a few players to help. But at the end of the day, it all comes back to the right player, right price. So to answer your question, I can’t really say right now.
Nestor Aparicio: Brian, before I met my wife when I was a little kid in Dundalk wearing a Brooks Robinson jersey while waiting for the No. 22 bus to go to one of my 55 Oriole games per year with my Pop, including a few double header games that I watched from Birdland in right field, that to me personified growing up as a young sports fan in Baltimore.
I was also a big Colts fan and I wore my Bert Jones jersey to bed every Saturday night and then all through the Colts game on Sunday, which by the way started at 2PM when we played at home due to the very obsolete blue laws. Could you imagine starting a game at 2PM today? I mean I couldn’t but you might have some thoughts on that although I go to every Ravens game home and away and if you think about it, when I’m in San Diego visiting my cousin to watch a Padres game in that really cool new stadium of theirs after having dinner with my wife in the Gas Lamp District the night before, I often marvel at watching games at 10 in the morning, 1 PM Eastern time.
With that in mind, do you think my buddy Mike Flynn (who by the way my wife thinks very highly of) will be back next year considering that he struggled mightily in 2005 but responded positively to adversity in 2006, much the same way that you have and you of course received a contract extension the terms of which have yet to be released but we of course will have it first on WNST where we have all the breaking stories that we get right the first time every time and the best news of all is it’s all free.
Mike Preston: Steve, obviously you screwed up when you couldn’t convince Kirk Ferentz to leave Iowa last year. Ozzie, you signed two running backs in the ‘06 offseason. With Jamal it was the same old same old. With Mike Anderson, no one allowed him to earn a pay check. Brian, you still run Camp Creampuff and while many would say Bill Belichick’s you know whats are made of brass, yours were a bit like cotton candy against the Colts.
Can any of you explain yourselves?
Brian: Guys let me handle this one. How would you like me to answer that exactly Mike?
Mike Preston: I just want the truth Coach.
Brian: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
Mike Preston: I think we’re entitled to the truth.
Brian: Son, we play in a league that has clearly defined parameters, and those parameters have to be guarded by men with knowledge of the game. Who’s gonna do it? You with your Kenwood High and your Towson University mop up experience? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the fans, and you curse our offensive schemes and training camp regimens. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know – that our offense’s death against the Colts, while tragic, probably saved careers; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saved fans from having to spend more of their hard earned dollars on an AFC Championship Game.
You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that sideline — you need me on that sideline. We use words like “tempo,” “balance,” “parameters.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent creating a profile. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very comfort zone that I provide for your column and Sun Paper blog and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you do something different than you did at Towson — strap on a helmet and take a position. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!”
Steve: Brian, woodshed, now!
Ozzie: Any other questions?
Originally posted on January 29, 2007 just prior to the Ravens’ annual season ending press conference.