Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti addressed the media for about 45 minutes Friday afternoon, answering a wide range of questions about his team, coaches, front office, players and fans.
He looked back and forward in talking about how the Ravens can move on from a difficult ending to the season that left Baltimore out of the playoffs for the third straight season and fourth time in five years since winning Super Bowl XLVII.
Here's everything you need to know:
Ravens Are 'Disappointed, Embarrassed and Determined, But Not Stagnant'
One thing media members, and probably fans, were most interested to see was Bisciotti's level of alarm.
The Ravens have opted for more continuity than change this offseason, most notably with the big decisions of retaining Head Coach John Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
On Friday, Bisciotti was asked if maintaining stability has given way to stagnancy.
"That's for you guys to decide," Bisciotti said. "I don't think we're stagnant at 1 Winning Drive. I think we're as enthused as we've always been.
"Disappointed, embarrassed and determined, but not stagnant."
The successful businessman said he has had to make changes in his other line of work before when it's struggled, and he uses those experiences when deciding when change is necessary as the owner of an NFL team.
"I hate losing, and my fans hate losing," Bisciotti said. "They get angry and say things they say they shouldn't, and I get angry and say things that I shouldn't, too. Luckily, I don't do it in front of the microphone usually."
Decisions to Maintain Harbaugh and Mornhinweg
Bisciotti said moving on from Harbaugh at the end of this season was a "thought."
"It was certainly a consideration, but not one that I was inclined to make this year," Bisciotti said.
Asked if Harbaugh would be back next year if the Ravens don't make the playoffs in 2018, Bisciotti said, "I'll see you next year."
"I'm not going to give a playoff-or-bust edict to you all, or to my coach," he said.
"He's under as much pressure probably than he's ever been in his life, and I expect him to keep his chin up and take his positivity and his talents and make the most of this season. I may as well replace him now if I'm going to tell him, 'Make the playoffs or you're out of town next year.' That's just not the way to run a business."
The Ravens made the playoffs, and won at least one game while there, in Harbaugh's first five years as head coach, capped by Super Bowl XLVII victory. Only three teams have more playoff berths since 2008 and one team (the New England Patriots) have more playoff wins.
In the five years since, however, the Ravens have made the playoffs once and hold a 40-40 record overall.
But Bisciotti doesn't make decisions on that alone. There are reasons and nuance to such complex decisions. The Ravens had an abnormal slew of injuries before this season even began, perhaps most importantly to quarterback Joe Flacco, which hampered the offense greatly in the first half of the year.
After holding a 4-5 record at the bye, the Ravens won five of their final seven games, but fell just one fourth-and-12 play short of reaching the playoffs. During the Super Bowl run, those big plays have gone the Ravens' way (Mile High Miracle, fourth-and-29). But in the past two, they haven't.
"I was very proud of the way John kept fighting and held the team together when we were losing in the middle of the year," Bisciotti said.
In regards to keeping Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Bisciotti looked at how the offense improved during the second half once Flacco and others got healthier and the offensive line settled in.
Over the final nine games of the season, the Ravens were second in total points per game (29.4), fourth in offensive points per game (26.4), gave up the second-fewest sacks (10) and committed the fewest turnovers (five).
"We've gone through four offensive coordinators in the last five years," Bisciotti said. "And Joe was comfortable with his relationship with Marty and they produced in the second half of the year. So, when John wanted to keep him, then I backed him."
Eric DeCosta Taking Over as General Manager in 2019
The biggest news of the day is that the Ravens will make a change at general manager next offseason.
Bisciotti announced that Eric DeCosta will take control of the 53-man roster in 2019, though Ozzie Newsome will remain on staff.
The decision was made four years ago, and DeCosta has turned down numerous opportunities since then (including with the Green Bay Packers last month) as Baltimore has held its promise.
The Ravens will, however, begin to hire more experienced scouts after losing three of their top home-grown evaluators to other teams, specifically the Super Bowl-bound Philadelphia Eagles.
Reaction to Attendance at M&T Bank Stadium and Kneeling
Bisciotti said he is "worried" about dropping attendance at M&T Bank Stadium, but believes losing is the biggest reason. He remembers attendance being an issue the past two years as well.
One thing the Ravens can try to address immediately, and have aggressively done so for a long time, is to upgrade the stadium experience. A year ago, the Ravens announced a three-year, $120 million self-funded investment to address just that.
"The problem is throughout the NFL; it's not just here," Bisciotti pointed out. "So, am I disappointed in it? Yes, I'm disappointed in it. Concerned? Yes.
"If winning is what we need to do to fill the stadium up, then that's part and parcel with why we're here. We're here to win games, we're here to succeed, and when we fail, the no shows are a way of telling us that our fans aren't pleased. So, we've got to win. And I hope that solves the majority of the problems."
Bisciotti talked about fans' response to about a dozen players kneeling for the National Anthem before the team's Week 3 game in London, and whether it affected attendance.
"I do think it's significant and I do think that it hurt and insulted a lot of our fan base," Bisciotti said. "And I understand that, but I also am supportive of my players."
Bisciotti said President Donald Trump's tweet "basically challenged" players, but he wishes he had more time to talk to the players about finding other ways to express their anger instead of kneeling.
The owner had about a one-minute conversation with linebacker Terrell Suggs and tight end Benjamin Watson before the game.
"There was no time for me to tell them what I thought and what I thought would be an opportunity for them to look for an alternative," Bisciotti said.
"So, I'm not pleased with it. But, again it's going on throughout the league, so I don't know if that affected attendance everywhere else. I'm not going to put that on our attendance because we were talking about attendance last year. So, I just am not going to say that that is the main issue."
Ravens Aren't Concerned With Replacing Flacco Right Now
Those saying the Ravens may draft a first-round quarterback to start grooming Flacco's replacement may want to back off their proclamations.
Bisciotti said that Flacco was "obviously producing at sub-standard with his back injury" in the first half of the year, but was pleased with the progress he and the offense made when healthier.
"I think that you can think about life after Joe, but most of the franchise quarterbacks – I don't know of any franchise quarterbacks that are retiring at 33, 34, 35 anymore – none of them," Bisciotti said.
"So, no, that's not really something that we're worried about right now. We've got bigger fish to fry."
Flacco missed all of training camp and the preseason with what Bisciotti revealed was a herniated disc. He didn't start throwing until the week before the Ravens' first regular-season game.
"I think that we were conservative. If you want to call it boring, we probably were boring," Bisciotti said. "Part of that was protecting Joe and getting the ball out quickly, and it showed up in some pretty ugly offensive numbers.
"But, what we saw in him when our offensive line solidified and he got more comfortable in the pocket … Obviously, if we could recreate the last half of the season, then I think we would maybe still be playing. We're a long way off to have to worry about Joe, I think."
Attention Is on Improving the Offense, Ravens Can Make a Splash
Although the Ravens were happy with the way the offense performed in the second half of the season, they know they still need to make upgrades on that side of the ball.
And judging by what Bisciotti said Friday, it seems Baltimore is committed to doing so this offseason after making heavy investments on defense last year.
"You can be assured that the majority of our attention will be on offense this year," Bisciotti said. "I think that we can make a splash and help us on the way to getting our offense clicking better."
The Ravens are tight against the cap, but Bisciotti was confident they can make room to pursue top free agents. Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry is the biggest name on the market, followed by Los Angeles Rams' Sammy Watkins, Washington Redskins' Terrelle Pryor and Jacksonville Jaugars' Marqise Lee. Baltimore will also be looking to take offensive playmakers early in the draft.
"I think that there's a really good chance we won't take a defensive tackle in the first round," Bisciotti joked. "I hear the criticism. We will be exploring all options in free agency and the draft for targets for Joe."
Here are some other key notes:
- Bisciotti said he still has a lot of passion for the job, and will be the Ravens' owner for the "foreseeable future."
- Bisciotti wished departed Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees luck in Tennessee, except when playing the Ravens. He said he heard during the 2016 season that Pees was going to retire, but wasn't sure if it would happen.
- A raise in ticket prices is a "few years away." Bisciotti is interested in lowering prices at concessions stands.
- Bisciotti said the league's rules regarding what is and is not a catch these days are "stupid." He agrees with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's mission to start over when defining it, and said he expects significant changes.