(This blog was scheduled to appear last Friday before our season opener against the Bengals. It didn't run because we saluted Art Modell.)
This will be short and to the point.
We, the Ravens, plan to be very good this season. That is the Steve Bisciotti mindset. That is the Ozzie Newsome way. This is what John Harbaugh is all about.
How good can we be? That's the question. As Chris Berman loves to say: "That's why they play the games." And what does Coach Harbaugh say: "We plan to be as good as we can be."
Sounds simple; even trite. There's much more to it. For the Ravens, it is an everyday standard. Harbs makes sure of it. You see the signs around the building "W.I.N." – What's Important Now! Take care of the task at hand, lift your teammates, be humble. Get better. It's a way of life here.
Coach Harbaugh will start a meeting with: "Why can't this be the best Friday morning meeting in the NFL today?" Before a practice: "Let's have the best Thursday practice in Ravens history. Why can't we do that?"
We're relentless. We're driven. We're vigilant. And, we have fun while we're doing it.
The last two Super Bowl teams were 10-6 (Green Bay in 2010) and 9-7 (Giants in 2011) in the regular season. These teams got hot in the playoffs and won championships. We'd certainly take that. We're not idiots. But, that's not the plan.
Our plan was to dominate the Bengals and then do that again in Philly and the next game and the game after that. We don't want to "just make the playoffs and see what happens." We want to dominate. That's the goal. That's the standard.
People say we have a hard schedule. Sure do. You know what the teams that play us are saying: "Ravens: That's going be a tough game to win." It's not about who we're playing. It's about how we're playing.
Competitively, we want to be a bully. Not in the bad sense. But, in the physical way football allows you to compete. Impose our will. Be tougher, stronger, more physical. Smarter and better prepared. To play with class within the rules, but to bring an aggression that startles opponents. Bam! Here we are. This is how it's going to be on the first play … and every play after this. Welcome to Ravens football!
Here's what you will get with the Ravens – the best we have. Are we going to win the Super Bowl? Don't know. Sometimes the pass is dropped, or the kick is missed. The ball isn't round, and it bounces funny. Injuries happen. But, enjoy this ride and know that we plan to be the best we can be. What's our name? RAVENS!
There are so many predictions made about the NFL … so many opinions from various experts with media forums. Almost all of them state the Ravens are going to be in the playoff hunt – again.
There are two previews that got my attention, both done by people who were, at one time, in charge of assembling NFL teams: the NFL Network's Mike Lombardi and ESPN's Bill Polian.
Lombardi was head of the personnel department for two teams, the Browns and the Raiders. Here's what he said about the 2012 Ravens: "They will be better than a year ago when they should have gone to the Super Bowl. For the first time in a long time, the Ravens offense has a chance to be better than their defense. If Baltimore allows Joe Flacco to establish the pass early in games, utilizing his deep-throwing talent, the defense will be able to play with a lead, making it even more dangerous. This approach would make Ray Rice even better, too."
Polian, most recently the president of the Colts, is a five-time NFL Executive of the Year award winner. Here's his Super Bowl prediction:
"When I think ahead to the Super Bowl, I think we'll see two teams whose time has come in the Falcons and the Ravens. And, we'll witness the ascent of two talented quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. … That anyone spent the offseason criticizing Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn't drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn't make plays. While he doesn't play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record (45-20) shows it. The injury to Terrell Suggs may have deprived the Ravens of the label of AFC favorites, but they can withstand the loss. In their defense, they can scheme rush as long as they have corners – which they do – and their young linebackers will grow over the course of the season. In a one-game situation, it's a flip of the coin between these two teams. But if this game is serving as Ray Lewis' farewell party, I think Baltimore gets the emotional edge. Super Bowl pick: Ravens over Falcons."
Remember, Polian and Lombardi are not long-time reporters or talk show hosts making these predictions.
Rather, they are long-time NFL executives who had to assemble and direct teams.
Repeat with me what I heard at the end-of-practice huddle the other day:
"Dominate on three. One, two, three: DOMINATE!"
Talk with you next week,