Street Talk Facing the Music

Posted in Street Talk
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Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti doesn’t back down from a challenge.

Despite speculation he might forgo the annual State of the Ravens press conference after a disappointing season, Bisciotti will field questions from the media on Friday, Feb. 2 in Owings Mills.

Biscotti usually is joined by team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and coach John Harbaugh. This time, though, Bisciotti likely will be addressing local and national reporters by himself.

Several members of the front office, personnel, coaches and players will likely be in attendance as spectators. It’s certainly a deviation from years past.

However, Bisciotti’s voice needs to be heard in what has become one of the most tumultuous times in Ravens’ history.

The Ravens have missed the playoffs for three straight years, and four of the past five seasons. There is still lingering anger about players taking a knee in protest during the national anthem in London.

In addition, fans have grown wary about the lack of excitement surrounding the team because of a sputtering offense and critical breakdowns on defense.

Bisciotti will address these issues head-on.

In the past, the owner has not minced words or shied away from tough questions. Expect that trend to continue this year.

There do not appear to be any quick, short-term answers to turn the Ravens back into a Super Bowl-contending team in 2018. Nonetheless, the franchise needs to at least get back in the playoff hunt to regain the confidence of its fan base, which showed its frustration by not showing up to games late in the season.

The team has already undergone significant changes.

Linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator after Dean Pees retired after the season. However, this story took a new twist this week when Pees reportedly came out of retirement to join the Tennessee Titans as their defensive coordinator. New coach Mike Vrabel also hired Pees’ son, Matt Pees, as a defensive coach, so that might have played a key part in the decision.

There was some speculation that Bisciotti wanted to part ways with Pees after the Ravens’ monumental collapse in the season finale against the Bengals. In that game, the Ravens’ secondary surrendered a 49-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Tyler Boyd on a 4th and 12 in the final minute that gave Cincinnati a 31-27 victory.

The loss allowed the Buffalo Bills to leapfrog the Ravens for the sixth and final playoff spot.

However, Pees had decided to retire several weeks prior to that game, according to a report by Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi. So, it’s unlikely Biscotti forced Harbaugh’s hand to make a change. Furthermore, the Ravens likely would have looked further outside the organization for Pees’ replacement if Biscotti was involved in that decision.

The Ravens will face the Titans on the road during the 2018 season.

In addition, the Ravens hired James Urban as a quarterbacks coach to work with Joe Flacco, who threw for 3,141 yards with 18 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. His 80.4 quarterback rating was 25th in the league.

Greg Roman, who helped revitalize the team’s running game, was promoted to an assistant head coach.These are minor moves that will ideally keep the team moving forward and back into the postseason discussion.

The big picture for the franchise will come from Bisciotti this week. Expect some revelations and significant news to emerge from his press conference.

The owner’s voice can do wonders toward the confidence of a fanbase.

The Ravens certainly need a jolt.

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich
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