Baltimore Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti spoke to the media today. Bisciotti always hosts a press conference at the end of each season, typically with head coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Ozzie Newsome by his side. This year, he broke tradition, and Bisciotti answered questions from the media by himself. Additionally, the presser was staged a month later than normal. Bisciotti usually hosts the “State of the Ravens” press conference promptly after the conclusion of Baltimore’s season. As he addressed in the press conference, he felt waiting was the right move. He wanted to give his staff time to discuss their offseason strategy and focus on important offseason events. Today’s press conference was full of tough questions and insightful answers. Here are my takeaways from Steve Bisciotti’s press conference.
Eric DeCosta will Ascend to General Manager Role Next Year
In a move that shocked no one, Steve Bisciotti confirmed that Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta will take over the General Manager role. For years, numerous NFL teams have tried to lure DeCosta out of Baltimore, and into their respective cities. The attempts have all been fruitless, and DeCosta has adamantly remained in Baltimore. Today, we learned that since 2013, DeCosta has been the heir to Ozzie Newsome’s throne. Newsome signed an extension in 2013 that would keep him as the general manager for five additional years, throughout the 2018 season. The contract was forged knowing that DeCosta would replace Newsome at the end of his term. That moment is now fast approaching, as this season will be Newsome’s last as General Manager for the Baltimore Ravens.
Although Newsome is stepping down as head of the personnel department, he will remain with the Ravens in some capacity. Bisciotti floated the role of a scout as a potential title for Newsome. Whatever he is referred to as, it is apparent that Newsome wants to remain with the organization. Newsome told Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun, “I don’t know what my title will be, but I still will be a very big part of the organization. I’ll be in the building and work with the team every day as usual. “. Newsome’s record in Baltimore is arguably the best as a General Manager since he took the helm of the team’s roster in 1996.
Steve Bisciotti Considered a Change at Head Coach
It’s no secret that Steve Bisciotti despises losing. That’s why it’s not surprising that he considered a change at head coach after the Ravens failed to advance to the postseason for the third straight year. Bisciotti values consistency, however. This and the realization that the Ravens were just a couple of moments away from making the playoffs for the past two years was enough for him to move forward with John Harbaugh in charge. Bisciotti gave Harbaugh and his team credit for the way they faced adversity and righted the ship in the second half of the season. Bisciotti pointed to injuries, specifically Joe Flacco’s herniated disc, as a factor in Baltimore’s shortcomings.
When asked if 2018 would be a make or break season for John Harbaugh, Bisciotti strongly stated that he would not give him an ultimatum. Bisciotti elaborated, saying that it’s not the way to run a business. Bisciotti is confident that Harbaugh will be able to succeed under pressure in 2018. He sees upside in the defense and thinks the offense is just a few playmakers from being among the league’s best.
The Ravens will Aggressively Target Offensive Players
When the topic of adding offensive players was brought up, Bisciotti was very clear that the Ravens will aggressively target offensive players. The offense is in dire need of playmakers, and Bisciotti knows that. “There’s a really good chance we won’t take a defensive tackle in the first round.”, he said. Bisciotti seemed to hint that the Ravens had already identified free agent targets, specifically wide receivers. He was determined not to spill the beans on these plans and did not divulge into specifics. Despite the lack of playmaking receivers in 2017, Bisciotti stood by the decision to draft mainly defense last year.
Bisciotti cited defensive depth was crucial for Baltimore. As everyone knows, the Ravens were crippled by injuries in 2017. The cornerback corps specifically took a hit. Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Maurice Canady, and Jaylen Hill all suffered substantial injuries in 2017. If the Ravens had not drafted Marlon Humphrey in the first round, the secondary would have been torched in the second half of the season. The defensive insurance pleased Bisciotti, and he now wants to see the offense beefed up in 2018. He was fine with the receivers on the roster heading into 2018. The organization had Mike Wallace coming off a 1,000-yard season and signed Jeremy Maclin to be a target for Flacco. Bisciotti also thought that Perriman would step up in 2017, but ultimately was let down.
Joe Flacco’s Heir is not a Pressing Need
Bisciotti and I think the same way when it comes to franchise quarterbacks. When asked about potentially drafting Joe Flacco’s heir, Bisciotti was less than enthusiastic about it. “We have bigger fish to fry”, best characterizes his feelings, along with mine. Joe Flacco is 33 years old, and we are in an age where franchise quarterbacks wait longer to retire. Players like Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady, are all playing well at an older age. It’s obvious that Joe Flacco still has the ability to play at a high level, provided that the Ravens give him playmakers.
The biggest concern moving forward on offense is the lack of playmaking wide receivers. The Ravens simply cannot opt to draft a quarterback in the first round. That player may never start for the team, and there are more immediate issues to attend to. It’s illogical every way you look at it. The Ravens may very well target a quarterback in the lower rounds, that could serve as a developmental passer. This is the only reasonable move the Ravens can make regarding adding a quarterback this offseason.
There are Multiple Causes of the Ravens’ Dwindling Attendance
It’s been noted this past season that the Ravens’ attendance is dropping. It’s visible in the no-shows seen on television, and in the lower number of ticket sales. The Ravens are not alone in this struggle, as much of the NFL is dealing with the same issues. Bisciotti attributes most of this to the recent mediocrity of the team. People aren’t going to spend $100+ on a ticket to see a team that doesn’t excite them. It’s not necessarily the brand of football being played that excites the fans. It’s winning. When the Ravens get back to winning on a consistent basis, ticket sales and attendance will increase.
Another factor discussed was that of the national anthem protests that took place earlier this year. Bisciotti was not willing to fully attribute the matter as a substantial factor in the attendance drop. It’s apparent that Bisciotti was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Bisciotti was not in favor of the protests and understood some fans were offended. Despite this, he also supported his players. Bisciotti wanted the NFL to take a more proactive role, but the league never did.