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Late for Work 10/20: Steve Bisciotti Speaks Out in Defense of Harbaugh, Flacco and Newsome

Posted Oct 20, 2017

The picks are in: 42 pundits predict Ravens vs. Vikings game. Another move coming for the offensive line? Ravens-Vikings scouting report. Passionate Dean Pees says defense is not all doom and gloom.

Steve Bisciotti Speaks Out in Defense of Harbaugh, Flacco and Newsome

In a rare midseason interview, Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti defended his top Ravens partners in the face of criticism after the 3-3 start to the season.

Bisciotti said he supports Head Coach John Harbaugh, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and quarterback Joe Flacco, and asked fans to put faith in his decision to stick by them and his business model of using long-term analysis of employees instead of short-term, knee-jerk reactions.

“It is a feeling of dealing with people that you have a level of confidence in their competence,” Bisciotti told 105.7 The Fan’s Mike Popovec and Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi while on the “The Original Greene Turtle's Ravens Rap Show.”  “Right now, if I benched Joe Flacco, a bunch of people would be happy. If I fired Ozzie Newsome, a bunch of people would be happy. If I fired John Harbaugh, a bunch of people would be happy.

“I think a lot of this comes down to, I hate to tell you that all our planning comes down a lot to the bounce of the ball.”

Bisciotti pointed to a couple “bounces of the ball” during last week’s overtime loss to the Chicago Bears. He said it’s extremely rare to have a ball ricochet off a receiver’s hands on two different occasions, both being intercepted and both eventually going for touchdowns the other way. He also said he’s “not real happy” with tight end Maxx Williams for fumbling after he got a first down near the red zone.

If even one of those turnovers doesn’t happen, or some other play goes the Ravens’ way, and the team wins in overtime, then Baltimore would be 4-2 and one of the best four teams in the AFC. Bisciotti said everyone would then be on cloud nine. Instead, they lose in a close overtime battle, and the Ravens are in the middle of the pack.

The difference is that close.

Bisciotti said that’s why he can’t make decisions with a short-term mentality, even if he knows that if he polled fans right now, they’d tell him to fire his franchise’s top figures.

“I have to evaluate people on their ability to do their job over a long period of time and that doesn’t satisfy short-term thinkers,” Bisciotti said. “That frustrates me to no end, but I understand it. I’m not telling you or anybody else how to be a fan; I’m just not going to let you influence how I’m going to be an owner.” 

This is how he looks at the Harbaugh era since hiring him in 2008:

“If we make the playoffs this year, John Harbaugh will have made the playoffs in seven of 10 years,” Bisciotti said. “When I fired Brian Billick, if John walked up there and said, ‘I will be in the playoffs seven of the next 10 years,’ you would have said, ‘Halleluiah, God bless you.’ But now, because they all came at the same time, then you can say, ‘He hasn’t been to the playoffs in three of the last four years. So, if he doesn’t get to the playoffs in four of the last five years, then the immediate reaction is, ‘Off with his head.’ And yet, that would still be 60-percent playoff success, which statistically, it shouldn’t even be 40 percent.”

Bisciotti was asked about the wild unpredictability of the 2017 season. While he admitted that he’s gotten wrong some of the games that he “penciled in” as wins or losses, he said it’s not unique to this year.

“If I went back and took the criticisms from every expert all the way through 2012, it would sound exactly like this [year],” Bisciotti said. “They were all the same, and somehow we won a Super Bowl. ‘Ray Lewis is done. Ed Reed won’t tackle.’ On and on and on.”

Bisciotti emphasized that he has an enormous amount of information compared to what outsiders see and read. He says fans and media will have to let him do his job based on all that information.

“I empower and I evaluate them over a long period of time,” Bisciotti said. “So, you have to trust me, that if there was a weak link, I would extricate myself from that problem. This is unlike my business – a collaboration of everything going right. You really have to understand it before you start pointing fingers.”

Describing the way he runs the Ravens, Bisciotti smiled and said: “Sometimes I’m the fly on the wall. Sometimes I’m the fly in the ointment.”

The Picks Are in: Ravens vs. Vikings

Ah, this feels more like it.

It seems like the more people pick against the Ravens, the better they do. At least, that’s what Ravens fans would like to believe as only four of the 42 pundits below are predicting a Baltimore victory in the Week 7 matchup in Minnesota.

The pundits aren’t the only ones against Baltimore. The math is too.

In ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Vikings are heavily favored with a 75 percent chance of winning. Only one Week 7 matchup is more lopsided.

Despite an unsettled quarterback situation, where it looks like No. 3 backup Case Keenum will get the start, Vegas still has the Ravens as 5.5 underdogs.

“The fact that the Vikings defense ended Aaron Rodgers’ season isn’t the reason the Ravens should be worried about them,” wrote Sporting News’ David Steele. “It’s because that defense is a threat to any quarterback, particularly ones with poor, makeshift protection. The Vikings are seventh in the NFL in sacks and in interceptions and fifth in points per game. The Ravens, meanwhile, just lost to the Bears at home, and their only two touchdowns were on kick returns.”

Another Move Coming for the Offensive Line?

As expected, the Ravens re-signed Griff Whalen to help supplement a banged-up receiver corps that only had three healthy players practice Wednesday.

The only players to fully participate Thursday were Michael Campanaro, Chris Moore and Chris Matthews. Jeremy Maclin (shoulder) donned a red non-contact jersey and was limited again. Breshad Perriman was still out with a concussion, and Mike Wallace (back) didn’t participate Thursday after being limited Wednesday. The good news is that Wallace said he “should be fine for Sunday.”

In a corresponding move to make room for Whalen, the Ravens released offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom. That means the Ravens now have just one healthy reserve offensive lineman in Luke Bowanko. Matt Skura continues to rehab a knee injury.

It’s hard to imagine the Ravens will move forward much longer without more insurance policies.

Who Has the Edge? Ravens-Vikings Scouting Report 

As he does every week, Zrebiec offered a detailed scouting report for the upcoming matchup between the Ravens and Vikings, and I’ve pulled out a few thoughts below. Zrebiec predicts a 20-6 win for Minnesota. 

Passing Game
“[T]he Ravens’ passing game morphed right back into the punchless, mistake-prone attack it has been for most of the season … With Sam Bradford ailing and Teddy Bridgewater just returning to practice, veteran Case Keenum is expected to start his fifth game this year. He’s been plenty serviceable, throwing five touchdown passes compared with just one interception.”
Edge = Vikings

Running Game
“[Alex Collins and Buck Allen] both ran hard and well as the Ravens hit the 125-yard rushing mark for the fifth time in six games. … The season-ending knee injury to rookie Dalvin Cook was a big hit to Minnesota, but Jerick McKinnon has thrived in his absence.”
Edge = Even

Rush Defense
“[Brandon] Williams’ return will help immensely, but the Ravens need more consistency from their young defensive ends and more discipline from their outside linebackers. … Minnesota’s run defense has stifled the opposition, allowing only 78.7 rushing yards per game.” 
Edge = Vikings

Pass Defense
“There have been a few breakdowns and the pass rush has disappeared at times, but this group has mostly been as advertised. … There is star power within this group. Defensive end Everson Griffen, who will likely see a lot of Ronnie Stanley, has a sack in six straight games and has seven sacks for the season.”
Edge = Ravens 

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