Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti held an hour-long conference call with Ravens permanent seat license (PSL) holders Tuesday night and took dozens of questions on a variety of topics.
Here are five of the top takeaways:
Offensive Line Is a ‘Work in Progress’
With the signing of Jeremy Maclin, fans finally seem satisfied with the Ravens’ wide receiver corps. Now the focus has turned to the offensive line, which lost right tackle Rick Wagner and center Jeremy Zuttah (trade), and added just two draft picks in fourth-round selection guard Nico Siragusa and fifth-round tackle/guard Jermaine Eluemunor.
Bisciotti took multiple questions about upgrading the offensive line, which will have Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, Marshal Yanda at right guard and Alex Lewis somewhere (left guard for now), but questions at center and right tackle.
“A work in progress is all I can tell you,” Bisciotti said. “We all take our cue from Ozzie and have learned over the years that if you’re patient, things like Elvis Dumervil will fall to you and Jeremy Maclins will fall to you. We’ve got time, we’ve got some money and we’re quite sure some offensive line help is going to shake out.”
Bisciotti said he doesn’t expect fans to jump up and down over drafting linemen in the fourth and fifth rounds. However, he pointed out that Wagner, who just got a big contract from the Detroit Lions and fans wish Baltimore could have kept, was a fifth-round pick in 2013 and Lewis, who everyone is excited about, was a fourth-round pick last year.
“Fourth- and fifth-round offensive linemen, we’ve had a lot of success in picking and developing the right kind of players that can develop,” Bisciotti said.
That said, it’s still too early to know whether Siragusa or Eluemunor are the answer this year or down the road. For now, the Ravens are watching the market.
“If something comes up on the free-agent market that we think is better than what we have, we still have money, we still have draft picks to trade, we still have some deep positions that we could trade,” Bisciotti said.
“If an offensive lineman became available and they wanted someone that we had where we felt we had depth at that position, then Ozzie will make that decision too. I’m very confident that in mid-June, we’ve gotten most of our needs checked off, and we’ll continue to look for offensive linemen.”
Cross Wide Receiver Off the List
There’s been buzz about the Ravens still being interested in free-agent wide receiver Eric Decker despite signing Maclin, and a fan asked Bisciotti whether bringing Anquan Boldin back was still a possibility.
Judging from Bisciotti’s answer, the answer is no.
"If I have one bullet left in that gun, I better save it for an offensive lineman,” Bisciotti said, referencing having enough money left under the salary cap.
“I think right now we have a lot of confidence in Chris Moore to be our fourth wideout and let the competition begin with the fifth and sixth wideout. [Michael] Campanaro, as you know, has to stay healthy. Keenan Reynolds is developing. Chris Matthews is doing some nice things in camp and did some nice things in last year’s camp. I would say that we don’t have room for a starter at wide receiver now, and I do think that there’s going to be some talent out there that could challenge for a starting position on our offensive line. So, I think I’m going to save that last punch for an offensive lineman.”
Ravens Aren’t Lacking Leadership
It’s a question that’s been asked every year since 2012 and the retirement of Ray Lewis and departure of Ed Reed. Who are the Ravens’ leaders, and do they have enough?
“Our team is not struggling because of a lack of leadership,” Bisciotti simply said.
Head Coach John Harbaugh is obviously the leader of the team, but one fan wanted to know who has stepped up in the locker room. Bisciotti first pointed to quarterback Joe Flacco and linebacker Terrell Suggs.
“Joe’s plenty good,” Bisciotti said. “This is a debate that’s been going on with Joe for nine years and I just disagree.”
Fans often mistake Flacco’s cool demeanor under pressure and easygoing nature when speaking to the media as a lack of passion, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Flacco is also quite outspoken behind the scenes, and a leader that other players look up to.
If fans are looking for someone loquacious, check out Suggs.
“Terrell Suggs has been here 15 years now and, trust me, Suggs is rather boisterous and he’s more than willing to speak his mind,” Bisciotti said.
It’s not just Flacco and Suggs. Bisciotti said the Ravens have 53 players in the locker room and many have emerged as leaders.
“Trust me, if you want to see intensity on a face, look at Marshal Yanda one day at halftime when we’re down and we’ve only scored six points in the first half,” he said.
“We’ll never have a Ray Lewis again. No matter who the next guy is, they’ll say, ‘Well, they’ll never be another Ray Lewis.’ And I’m fine with that,” Bisciotti said. “I just think that people think that when we’re losing we must be lacking leadership, and I just don’t see that as an issue.”
Expect to See Young Pass Rushers in Fourth Quarter
Speaking of Suggs, he will turn 35 years old this year, and one fan called in wondering what the Ravens’ plans are to help keep him fresh.
The fan felt he saw Suggs sitting out more last year, and Pro Football Focus (PFF) backs that up. According to PFF, Suggs played 71.2 percent of the Ravens’ defensive snaps last season. That’s a career-low for a full season’s work, down from 77.8 percent in 2014 and 83.9 percent in 2013.
Suggs still turned in a very respectable eight sacks in his first year back after rupturing his Achilles, but the Ravens turned in just 31 sacks overall, which was tied for the seventh-fewest in the league.
“It’s in our best interest to have some young guns in there,” Bisciotti said. “We were worn out by the fourth quarter. We lost a lot of fourth-quarter leads, and a lot of that was a lack of pressure. The two pass rushers that we got, Judon coming back, Za’Darius is going to have an opportunity to prove himself after he did not produce this year like he did his rookie year. We’re going to have a lot of legs to give Suggs some rest.
“I don’t think we created much pressure when [Suggs] was off the field, so that’s why we did what we did in the draft. We got two guys in that second and third round that a lot of people had first-round grades on. I think you’re going to see some heat, and I think more importantly, you’re going to see some heat in the fourth quarter, which was a glaring weakness for us. We dropped significantly down to 31 sacks, so that’s our lowest total in I literally don’t know how long. It’s not even on my sheet, but it’s unacceptable.”
Bisciotti Thinks Correa Will ‘Emerge,’ Confident in ILB Situation
Outside of the offensive line, if there’s one position fans still have questions about, it’s inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley.
Baltimore suddenly lost second-team All-Pro Zachary Orr when he was forced to retire due to a congenital neck/spine condition. That’s left a spot open, and the first man up for the job has been last year’s second-round pick, Kamalei Correa, who barely saw any defensive action as a rookie.
The Ravens are happy with what they’ve seen from Correa in Organized Team Activities and the start minicamp, and have veteran Albert McClellan as a proven backup in case.
“I think that Kamalei Correa is going to emerge,” Bisciotti said.
“I think it’s the organization’s feeling that maybe we threw too much on a rookie. Because he had some good pass-rush ability and we were in need of pass rushers, we moved him from inside to outside, inside to outside, and he really struggled to pick up the game. It’s so much more complex in the pros than it is in college. We have seen a rejuvenated, focused player that we think is going to do very well for us.”
Bisciotti also said the Ravens have a couple undrafted players that are impressing, and pointed to the team’s history of finding undrafted inside linebacker gems such as Bart Scott, Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain and Orr.
“I think we’re going to be just fine at that inside linebacker spot,” Bisciotti said.