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Steve Bisciotti Calls Season A Failure, But Is Optimistic

Posted Jan 8, 2014

The owner doesn’t think the team needs wholesale changes, but expects offensive personnel moves.

Asked what his top priority will be this offseason, Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti joked, “Work on that 30-yard chip shot. I’m horrible at it.”

More than a week after coming up short of the playoffs for the first time in the past six years, the Ravens’ passionate, yet level-headed owner was at peace.

There’s no doubt about it. The Ravens’ 8-8 record is subpar. But Bisciotti isn’t about to push the big red button.

“I think your heart wants to react quickly. I think your head, if you’re a wise businessman, you take time and you listen to a lot of people and you contemplate a lot of different things,” Bisciotti said.

“Failure is part of success. We’re all very disappointed here, as disappointed obviously as our fans are – even more so. I’m comfortable with where we are. I’m comfortable with where we’re headed.”

Bisciotti and Head Coach John Harbaugh put things in perspective. By the Ravens’ standards over the past six years, 8-8 seems like the sky is falling.

“I think it’s fair to say it’s a failure because our goal is to be one of the top-12,” Bisciotti said.

“But there are bigger failures out there. There are teams that are a whole lot more disappointed. … If 8-8 is a failure, I hope it’s a long time before I feel worse than this.”

Bisciotti said he felt more disappointed two years ago when the Ravens lost to New England in the AFC championship because that one was more painful. This year’s team may not have been as good as that one, but it was still – all things considered – a contender.

The Ravens were tied in the third quarter of their regular-season finale in Cincinnati. Had they executed just a little better even in that last game (like score touchdowns instead of field goals in the first quarter), they would be in the playoffs as the No. 6 seed.

Then who knows? Last year proved that any team in the playoffs can win the Super Bowl.

“I think we could have beaten Cincinnati like San Diego did,” Bisciotti said. “I’d be just as comfortable going into Denver and New England this year because of what happened last year.

“We’re still 10 days away from losing and it still bothers us all, but quality people take that as fuel and make the most of it. I’m getting over it and I’m excited about going forward.”

Bisciotti is taking into account all the aspects that hindered the Ravens this year. Yes, quarterback Joe Flacco threw a career-high 22 interceptions. Yes, the run game ranked last in the NFL in average yards per carry.

But, as Bisciotti pointed out, running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce were limited by multiple injuries. Had they been healthy, maybe the offensive line would have performed better. Had the offensive line done better, maybe the running backs could have done more even with their injuries. Had the run game worked, maybe Flacco wouldn’t have had so much on his shoulders.

There are many more factors that go into why the Ravens lost just as many games as they won. For that reason, and because there is cache built up from five previous years in the playoffs, it’s not time to throw out philosophies or people that made the franchise so successful.

“When you have a short window of failure that comes out of the blue, the key is not to make wholesale changes,” Bisciotti said.

“Had we not had a history in the last five years, then I would probably demand wholesale changes. But, I think you have to be careful to not to look in a vacuum and decide you have to throw out the baby with the bathwater and let people get healthy, let these guys work together for another year, add some people to the team in the draft and free agency.”

Don’t mistake the comments as being afraid to make changes, however. Baltimore even made wide-sweeping roster alterations after winning Super Bowl XLVII less than a year ago.

The numbers that Bisciotti said were “so striking” was to find the Ravens in the bottom five of nearly every offensive category. Baltimore was 29th in overall offense, 25th in points per game, 30th in rushing and 31st in red-zone touchdown efficiency.

That is where the focus will be on improving.

“I think it’s safe to say that we’re going to look at the offense with the same fine-tooth comb that we looked at the defense last year,” Bisciotti said. “So, I think you’re going to see a lot of changes in personnel and how we approach that. I’m pretty proud of the defense for being able to retool on the fly, and I’ve got the same amount of confidence with these guys in building the offense.”

The Ravens have already begun that process. Harbaugh has already spent time with his coaches, Flacco and Rice in detailed conversations about this year’s offense and what they need to do to be better in 2014. He’ll have many conversations with Newsome about that too.

“There’s no doubt in my mind John has a very good understanding of the direction of this offense and of what we need to do,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. “He and I are very much on the same page.”

Overall, Bisciotti’s role won’t change. He’ll listen, let his thoughts be known and let his football people make the decisions. That’s why he said he enjoys the offseason more than the season. Bisciotti gets to do his job managing people, and there’s no stress of the games that are out of his control.

“[My role is] to support my coach and my GM and get this thing moving in the right direction,” Bisciotti said. “We had a lot of failures on the football field – offense and defense. So I know they’ve got their work cut out for them.

“It’s to be a sounding board for them and to encourage them to make the kind of decisions that they believe are the right ones for us. And I love that part of the job. Even under duress, I still love that part of the job.”

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