Part II: An evening with Steve Bisciotti

Street Talk Part II: An evening with Steve Bisciotti

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Around the time you took over as full time owner, the Ravens organization was proud of their communication within the building and boasted that they had one of the best communication systems in the NFL. You are on record saying that if true, then the NFL has a real problem.

How has the communication improved? Is it where you want it to be and if improved how has it benefitted the club on the field?

Steve Bisciotti: The communication in my businesses has been better. Everybody talks about how a new owner wants to put his stamp on an organization. It really isn’t that. When I walk in to that company, I might own it but I’m not the boss. I didn’t earn my way up. I didn’t learn from those guys.

When I made the decision to replace Brian [Billick] and I got John [Harbaugh], John was a first time head coach. Brian was coming from the position of being a Super Bowl coach while John was coming from being a special teams coordinator and a one year DB coach. So it takes a little guts to take a guy with very little experience. But, what you get out of that is that he has to integrate himself in to our organization.

What I found out that I didn’t know before I replaced my coach was when we were in the middle of deciding coaches, one of our fall back positions if we didn’t love one of the coaches that we [interviewed] was Marty Schottenheimer because Marty had taken three different teams to the playoffs. One of the things I was determined not to do, and not because of Marty, was not to have a new guy coming in and telling me old ways.

I wanted a new guy coming in learning our ways. John came in and wanted to learn about Dick Cass who runs the company, Ozzie Newsome who runs personnel and Steve Bisciotti who owns the team. He needed to learn, in order to be successful and it forced him to be open to me and Ozzie in order to develop a relationship of trust.

So I got that out of a new coach and I really didn’t know how important that was until I made the move.
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The communication seems to have boosted your football IQ because it has noticeably spiked since our last sit down with you in the Fall of ’09.

SB: You think? Listen, Flacco comes off the game against Cincinnati that nobody wants to have but everybody does, and I’m sitting on the field with Harbaugh before the game [v. Browns] and he said Joe is going to play great. So I said on the first play of the game, do a double move and throw that sucker up. I don’t care if it’s incomplete but it will show everybody else that we haven’t lost faith in Joe.

And he says, “I love it. I love it. I’m going to tell Cam.”

And I said seriously. We don’t care. If we have to punt we have to punt. They’re not that good of a team. We’re going to get it down. Seriously, double move go to the top.

The only person that I told [about this conversation] was my Mother. I walked into the suite and I said to my Mom, “Don’t say a word to anybody but the first play we’re going deep.” And she says, “Oh God Steven I love it!”

So we came out and ran off tackle and I realized like Steve Pappas (owner of The Greene Turtle, host location of this interview), you might own the company but you don’t manage it. That’s why I’m here at the Turtle while Cam is sitting in the film room right about now.

In running the team, how much goes to plan and how much is reactionary to things that develop?

SB: Our deviation is ten percent. In the media 50%; with fans 80%. There’s no way that three years in, that Joe [Flacco] can be a candidate to be replaced – benched and then the press saying two weeks later that he’s an elite quarterback. He shouldn’t be benched and he shouldn’t be considered an elite quarterback. We know what an elite quarterback is and Joe is not there. He’s not trying to be there. He’s not calling himself an elite quarterback. We’re not calling him an elite quarterback. It’s all kind of ridiculous.

I see the power rankings of ESPN and all of those guys. We can be as low as the 17th best to the best on the high side. It doesn’t matter to us internally. It is our job to let Joe grow and let our team grow. We’re going to have some bad games, we’re going to have some good games and you guys have to fill the airwaves. I totally appreciate it and I don’t take offense with anything that anybody says. But we’re not there. In our building we’re not there. We go up and down.

When Joe lost the Cincinnati game I thought he needed a kick in the ass. How’s that? That’s what I thought. I don’t even know what “kick in the ass” means, I just thought he needed it. We then started breaking down and looking at: does he play better under 2 minutes; does he play better in hurry up; does he play better in no huddle; does he play better with a full count. And let’s start breaking this down by segments and figure out when he’s at his best.

We only change this much (signaling small with hands). The world changes that much (arms wide open) and I can’t do anything about it. But we’re not dumping Joe and we’re not anointing him a savior. We’re just growing. And for him to be subjected to that is very hard for him and his parents and his sisters and brothers. It’s very hard.

We all want an answer right away. When your daughter gets married you’re going to hate the guy until he’s proven to you that he’s a great guy. My mother-in-law told me that I was the greatest thing that ever happened to my wife and I said, “Where were you when I told you I was marrying her?”

Along the lines of the media, the immediacy of information with technology and tools like Twitter. What in your opinion can the media do better when representing and covering the product of the NFL?

Nothing! Nothing! Honestly…I think that if my job was to analyze [the teams] I would pick them up and down. I have no problem with what the media is doing. I’m kind of responding to both questions. What’s it like in the building? What’s it like in the world?

If I came to work for you I would go high and low. You would hope that you cover a team that doesn’t swing as wildly as you in the media. If we lose the next two weeks, there’s not a pundit in the country that’s not going to say we were overrated. And if we win the next two games there is not a pundit in the country that isn’t going to call us the best team in the league. And really weeks 4 and 5 have nothing to do with who wins the Super Bowl.

So those media swings affect the fans much more than the people in the building?

It doesn’t affect us at all. Anything that you guys think, like we’re not running enough or passing enough or not doing this or that, we kind of get. But we kind of get it in one second. You guys are taking 24 hour cycles trying to figure out what we’re going to do.

You’re not wrong. You know what I mean? You’re actually accurate but it isn’t telling us anything that we don’t already know. And so our job is to make sure that we are so much farther along. I’m sitting here (on Thursday) talking about Pittsburgh but honestly NOBODY has talked about Pittsburgh in my facility since Tuesday.  That’s what they do.

What I’ve learned is that my Florida house is a wonderful haven from Monday to Thursdays because you all are talking about the win or the loss and I’m talking to John Harbaugh on Monday night about the next game.


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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi


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