Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti held his annual ‘State of the Ravens” press conference last week. The conference in many ways serves as a kick off of the Ravens off season and allows the media and fans to hear what direction Biscotti feels the team is heading. Biscotti was joined by general manager Ozzie Newsome, president of operations Dick Cass and head coach John Harbaugh. For the most part the session was rather bland and little that we did not already know or think was said about the Ravens off season and hopes to contend for a Super Bowl next season. I did find some of Bisciotti comments regarding Joe Flacco interesting and I wonder if there was a need for them to be said in a public forum.
While not trying to pin all of the Ravens hopes on the shoulders of their soon to be 3rd year QB, it seems like Bisciotti did just that. Here is what the Ravens owner had to say about Flacco:
“I think this next year, it’s time for him to do the things that we know he’s capable of doing,”
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s the key to any kind of growth in the system,”
It is surprising to hear Bisciotti come so close to saying that the Ravens fortunes rest so heavily on one players shoulders. As was witnessed last night good QB play does not always lead you to the promised land. Certainly bad QB play will do you in more times than not, but the 2000 Ravens showed that you can win with mediocre play at theposition. I think in some ways Bisciotti painted a target on the back of his franchise QB. Did he mean to, probably not. But I don’t think he e needed to g remotely close doing so.
Flacco is by all accounts a hard working, level headed QB, who does not need external pressure to drive him to improve. Bisciotti would have been better served to say that this off season is bout improving in any area we can, while not creating any more holes on the roster. We need to have improved QB play, get more dynamic players at the receiver position, shore the defensive line and secondary, add depth and become a more disciplined club. After what he said, it seems like sort of a deep play-off run or Super Bowl appearance, Flacco will not have improved enough. Not entirely fair in my opinion. Flacco does need to improve and show that he can win against top flight defenses and that he can make plays that win play-off games, but he is not going to get it done alone.
The Ravens brass also addressed the need to get more playmakers around Flacco, but they were not specific about where those players may come from. Bisciotti expected to have some ability to acquire players via free agency, despite the limitations the expiring CBA has laid on them. It seems like the Ravens will need to get some receivers through the draft, or as Newsome speculated by picking up players who are cut for salary reasons. Either solution seems to leave the Ravens lacking the type of talent they need at the position, or having to wait for it to mature.
Despite the insistence that the Ravens will have the flexibility needed to make moves this off season, Bisciotti did indicate he expects the Ravens roster to remain largely intact. The uncapped year would seem to afford the Ravens the ability to retain most if not all of their restricted free agents. For a team that has a high number of them this is a good thing.
I guess my qestion, after listening to the “state of the Ravens address,” is where are the Ravens headed? After the 2008 season I felt much more confident that the team was headed in the right direction and capable of taking the next steps to the Super Bowl. I am still pleased with the talent level the Ravens will bring back, but I am less sure that those next steps will reflect straight line progress. Considering the make-up of the current roster, are the Ravens in for a bumpy year or two before they can make another run in the play-offs?