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Eisenberg: Ravens' Continuity Philosophy Comes From The Owner


Now that the holidays are over, we're in the midst of the NFL's traditional season of change. It's definitely not a peace-on-earth kind of deal.

Since the Ravens' played their final regular-season game last weekend, we've had Black Monday, Black Tuesday and Black Wednesday. Many teams that experienced losing seasons are making changes. They're looking either for a new head coach, a new general manager, a new unit coordinator, maybe two unit coordinators or some combination of the above.

The lesson in all the hullaballoo is it's hard to sell losing to your public. You have to do something to show you're reacting, trying to get better.

But the Ravens just don't think or operate that way.

They were a losing team in 2015, their 5-11 record as dismal as the records of many of the teams making changes this week. But their end-of-year press conference Thursday at the Under Armour Performance Center was like a scene out of a soothing yoga class.

No drama. No headlines. No heads rolling.

In the wake of their worst season since 2007, the Ravens aren't making any major changes, and for that matter, few small changes. They're going to tackle 2016 with the same crew.

It's hardly a surprise. The Ravens are widely known as one of the league's most stable organizations. In two decades, they've only had three head coaches and one GM. Not coincidentally, they believe, they also have won two Super Bowls and made 10 playoff appearances.

The "stay the course" philosophy originates with Owner Steve Bisciotti, and when it was my turn to pose a question Thursday, I asked him about it. Did he develop the approach in the business world and bring it to the NFL, or has he seen since he got into football that patience is the shortest path to success?

"Both," Bisciotti exclaimed.

He spent a long time answering the question, starting by explaining that he learned in business that he was better off keeping his people in their jobs, as opposed to stealing competitors. "It's a sound business philosophy; I didn't want their bad habits," he said. Then, once he got into football, former Ravens Owner Art Modell explained that continuity almost always trumped knee-jerk change.

For evidence of the soundness of the approach, Bisciotti said, look no further than the standings.

"If you look through the league, the teams that have won (recently): Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Packers, Patriots, Seahawks – they have the same people running the show. The other teams who aren't getting to the top are the ones that have been through two, three and four coaches and one, two and three different GMs in just these last eight years," Bisciotti said. "So, yeah ... continuity is a huge part of the recipe for success."

Of course, it's one thing to stand pat when you're winning and everyone thinks you're brilliant, and another thing to stand pat after a losing season like the one the Ravens just experienced. Some fans are clamoring for changes, and frankly, after 5-11, there are some cases to be made.

By doing nothing and saying, as Biscotti did Thursday, that "we all view continuity as a strength," the Ravens are telling their public that they still believe in their methods and their people. Period.

That's not going to make some fans happy, but that's how the Ravens proceed, in good times and bad. Bisciotti was adamant.

"You can't just turn things over based on your record or you'll never … I think that that just sends you down," he said. "You might have a blip up, but we want the blip down to be the abnormality in our growth and our development as an organization, and this is one of those times."

There you go: The owner believes the losing season was "a blip" more than a catastrophic, system-wide failure. We'll have a better idea in a year whether he's right, but either way, the Ravens have a clear organizational philosophy, plenty of evidence supporting their approach, and if you ask me, it's the right way to roll.

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