I couldn’t get the video feed to work for more than about 30 seconds at a time, so I missed most of the presser. My main initial takeaway though, is that Dean Pees will still be around next year. That floors me. I really thought that Steve, after watching this season begin the same way the last one ended – with late leads that the defense couldn’t hold – would step in like he did with Cam Cameron and tell John that it was time to let his friend go. Like the rest of us, Steve was a fan through the years of attacking, aggressive Ravens defenses.
I’m shocked that he’s OK going ahead with this bend-but-don’t-break strategy that Pees employs. I’d love to be wrong, and I’ll gladly eat my words if I am, but more years of Pees, to me, just means more wasted leads, late losses, and defensive draft picks turned into busts.
I love the end of the year state of the Ravens press conference. Every year it makes me appreciate the Ravens front office more and more. I think the Ravens have the best owner in the league. You can see how he has matured as an owner each year. He gets it. His comment about consistency in management really hit me. When he mentioned Tampa Bay and other teams who have had multiple coaches and how they are not winning, that is exactly what I have been thinking.
For everyone who wanted Coach Harbaugh to get fired halfway through the season, you don’t understand that. Being able to keep your head coach and front office together even through one or two losing seasons only helps your franchise. I also like Ozzie Newsome‘s and John Harbaugh’s demeanor throughout the press conference. And when Steve bisciotti said the biggest loss of the season was when Terrell Suggs went down in week 1, we all saw how much this owner really invest in this team. So the Ravens will draft multiple receivers this year and increase their depth on defense. I see a huge bounce back season in 2016. Get your playoff tickets now.
Interesting take from the Ravens brass regarding how they feel about the team as opposed to how the fans feel about the team.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was regarding Joe Flacco and his contract situation and the Ravens’ feelings about putting together a football team without touching his contract if they can.
Also not much of a shock that the only coaching change to be addressed is that of Ted Monachino, who will now be the Colts defensive coordinator and Dean Pees remains.
Heartfelt, straightforward as always from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, who frankly, was in a better mood than I expected.
“Continuity is a strength…it does not stem from laziness. It comes from confidence.”
Those are the words of Steve Bisciotti, and it seemed to be the theme of today’s presser. Bisciotti drew from his experiences as a corporate executive, and then pointed out that the most successful NFL franchises are those that practice continuity. This approach clearly flies in the face of fans who have asked for Dean Pees’ head. No surprise that Pees will stick around. It is a mild surprise that the only change in the coaching ranks will be at linebacker, due to Ted Monachino’s departure to Indianapolis to become Chuck Pagano’s DC.
Other than that, the things shared that resonate the most are the need for a pass rusher, depth at wide receiver and help in the defensive backfield.
The most surprising statement came from Ozzie Newsome, who said that the Ravens will be prepared to build the roster, even if Joe Flacco does not restructure his $28.5M cap number for 2016. I’m not sure if that is simply negotiating posturing or not, but if nothing is done, expect a quiet offseason for the Ravens, unless they trim other vets.
The only thing we know for sure is that ticket prices will not increase.
But will the attendance?
Here’s hoping that Bisciotti’s Theory of Continuity works for the Ravens. Otherwise, next season’s year end presser will be a lot more interesting than this one was.
For those expecting major overhaul and changes, you’ll be disappointed. The major theme of this years State of the Ravens was the importance of continuity. “You can’t turn things over based on your record,” Bisciotti said. His patience and confidence in Newsome and Harbaugh doesn’t appear to have diminished in the slightest, despite the lost season that was 2015.
There were a few key points that stood out:
While getting a contract restructure done with Flacco is important, Newsome said that Joe playing under his current contract is an option. At first, it was surprising to hear, but I put more thought into it, and it makes sense. Newsome probably doesn’t want to come across to Joe Linta (Flacco’s agent) as desperately needing to get a deal done. He made it sound like they’ll find a way to have some flexibility in free agency, with or without cooperation from Joe and his agent. However, still expect a deal to get done.
The Ravens expect Terrell Suggs back. There’s been a lot of talk the last couple days that he’s been mulling retirement, but you didn’t get that impression from the Ravens brass. In fact, Bisciotti towards the end of the presser made it clear that he underestimated how important losing Suggs early in the season was.
The last question was probably one of the most important to fans. When asked whether the Ravens would address the wide receiver position with an early draft pick or via free agency, Ozzie Newsome replied with a resounding “YES.” He then followed up with his desire to add multiple receivers.
– After all of the talk about Flacco’s deal essentially being a “3-year deal”, both Flacco’s agent Joe Linta and Ozzie Newsome considered the possibility of Flacco playing out the 2016 season on his current contract. If his number remains the same, the Ravens are looking at an ugly Cap situation. It is unlikely that they would be active in free agency, especially with a couple of important cogs with expiring contracts, namely Kelechi Osemele and Justin Tucker. The result of that type Cap situation is that, as Ozzie mentioned, the team won’t be as active as others in March.
– Bisciotti preached continuity. While I agree with that philosophy, it will be interesting to see whether he is still preaching continuity if the Ravens have another poor season like this one. Outside pressure will grow even further, and the voices calling for regime change will grow in legitimacy. Obviously, the teams with continuity are the ones who continue to win, but it’s difficult to determine whether that causes the team to win or whether the winning perpetuates the continuity.
– Bisciotti highlighted an important point about flexibility with the top 10 pick. Last time they had one, the need for the most important position on the field restricted the possibilities for that pick. This year, they don’t have one big glaring need, which gives them the flexibility to trade back and gather even more picks to fill in a wide array of needs.
– Bisciotti discussed the trickle down effect of Terrell Suggs’ injury Week 1. If one player is that important to a defense, then you don’t have a very good defensive core. That is the area that needs an upgrade more than the receiver position, but I’m just not sure that their budget will allow it in free agency. I would hope they can find a good player with an early pick.
This offseason will require a ton of hard work in order to have any shot at making the playoffs next year.
There were three major takeaways that I had from this press conference:
– Continuity and retaining the staff – You could see how much trust that Ozzie, Dick, Steve and John all had in each other. This trickled down to the assistant coaches. Aside from Ted Monachino, the coaching staff (including Pees) will return. Harbaugh mentioned losing the identity of the Ravens offense – running the ball. It will be interesting to me to see how Harbaugh and Trestman work together next year on this topic. Historically, Trestman utilizes a pass heavy attack. How will this offensive identity play out over this offseason will be something to watch.
– The importance of a pass rush – Bisciotti mentioned how much of a devastating loss Suggs was to the defense. He also mentioned how important multiple pass rushers are to the team. My takeaway is that the Ravens will draft a pass rusher over a CB in the first round. Ozzie also mentioned having multiple pass rushers, so this is a point of emphasis to me.
– Draft Strategy – Probably nothing new, but the top 4 positions to draft for the Ravens are Tackle, Pass Rusher, Safety and Corner
Dick Cass said very little but he had the most important words in the conference “No ticket price increase.”
Steve B talked about the importance of continuity of coaches, but it wasn’t clear whether he meant head coaches, included the coordinators, or included the entire staff. He was very practical about the turnover of players. Other than the loss of Monachino to be DC of the Colts, I don’t think the coaching staff will have much turnover. In general, Steve B demonstrated tremendous knowledge of the game in describing how the loss of Suggs impacted the team on all 3 levels of the defense.
He was very careful in his discussions of the possible LA moves, but said that history has shown that cities that fall behind in funding stadiums have a history of losing teams. He also said that St Louis, Baltimore, and Cleveland all found the money for stadiums after they lost teams. His comments about the officiating weren’t specific to any crew, but he said he thought officiating hadn’t gotten worse, but the crews need a simpler rulebook and offsite help making calls.
When Ozzie was asked about the ideal position of need emerging as the BPA at #6, Steve B interjected with “pass rusher, tackle, cornerback, safety”. Ozzie said “thanks”. Ozzie said the Eagles had not contacted him about interviewing John Harbaugh. Newsome alo discussed Webb’s addition of ball skills to the back end. The Ravens currently have 3 safeties expecting full-time play in 2016, and Steve B. mentioned it as a draft need. Hmmmmm.
John did not say much with most questions directed to Bisciotti or Newsome, but he gave a very good description of turnovers being a team statistic, which is impacted by an offense that can generate more points and leads as well as a more explosive pass rush.