The “State of the Ravens” press conference following the season has become an annual ritual in Baltimore. The organization’s top decision makers - owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh and team president Dick Cass - show their accountability to the fanbase but fielding questions from the media. The 2017 edition shed some light on their vision for the coming offseason.
Bisciotti opened the presser by stating that his over arching feeling about the 8-8 record was “bewilderment”. He said he was disappointed by missing the playoffs when they were very close. He also said it was frustrating that the defense collapsed late in the year after the offense finally starting playing better. Biscotti realizes the defense needs as much scrutiny as the offense this offseason.
Overall, Bisciotti is pleased that his general manager, head coach and quarterback all take full responsibility for the teams failures, and he wants them to work in 2017 as if the 2016 struggles were each of their faults.
On roster construction...
- Bisciotti said accessing the salary cap situation is the first order of business this offseason, and they will have to weigh dead money against saved money when it comes to releasing players under contract.
- Bisciotti said they made some mistakes evaluating their personnel last offseason, including some second and third year veterans and Shareece Wright in particular.
- Bisciotti answered a question about his perspective on needing to field a younger team, by saying he doesn’t see age, he sees accomplishments and production.
- Bisciotti alluded to the difficulty in building a competitive roster under the salary cap model. He said they plugged some holes last offseason, only to spring new leaks.
On Joe Flacco...
- Bisciotti stated that Flacco was not as good as he has been in 2016, but he is optimistic that they can get more out of Flacco in 2017. He thinks the 2015 ACL tear hurt Joe’s accuracy but he needs to prove he is back and better next year.
- Harbaugh said Joe will be better next season because he will be healthier, and the team needs him to play high end football.
On the roster...
- Bisciotti said he believes missing on high draft picks has played a significant role in the team’s regression. But said all of the pundits liked Matt Elam and Arthur Brown, all teams miss sometimes and his confidence in Newsome and Eric DeCosta is not shaken.
- Bisciotti said they will have to decide if they believe Dumervil can get back to where he was. And that he wouldn’t count out Steve Smith Sr. returning to the team next September.
- Bisciotti went on to say the front office had a strong draft in 2016, late round picks like Alex Lewis can develop into top players like Kelechi Osemele.
- Newsome said the coaches and front office are in agreement that they want to retain Terrell Suggs, not only for his performance but for his leadership. “Practice is better when Sizz is on the field.”
- Harbaugh wants to build the best offensive line in the league
On the coaching staff...
- Bisciotti stated his belief that firing coaches is not a solution and is a bad model in the business of football.
- Harbaugh believes wholeheartedly that Marty Mornhinweg is a great coach and is the right fit for the Ravens personnel.
- Harbaugh said the goal is to not be in so many close games, and help the offense put teams away in the 4th quarter.
- The entire organization is in agreement that they need a more balanced offense, success still comes back to defense and controlling the clock. Bisciotti said “600 passes is not our identity.”
On the draft/offseason needs...
- Newsome listed areas to attack in the draft as depth in the secondary, bigger/stronger offensive line and possibly backup quarterback. He went on to say that they hope to develop the young pass rushers already on the roster (he named Matt Judon and Za’Darius Smith) because most elite pass rushers are taken in the top five overall.
- Bisciotti is more focused on finding players that fit with the team early in the draft who can plug and play, rather than reaching for high end playmakers.
- Newsome alluded to finding a complimentary veteran receiver “who still has some juice left.”
- Bisciotti said “Categorically, we will not take players with a history of domestic abuse,” even though [Tyreek Hill] helped the Chiefs make it to the playoffs.
- Newsome said he is not scared of taking risks on players with character concerns as long as the Ravens have a plan in place to keep them out of trouble. He evaluates all prospects on a case by cap basis.