Ravens Aim For Consistency Over Repeat


When was the first time after Sunday's Super Bowl victory that the word "repeat" crossed their mind?

Owner Steve Bisciotti, President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh looked at one another and each shook their head.

"I haven't thought about it yet," Harbaugh said. "The word repeat means nothing. You go back to work."

What the Ravens want is multiple Lombardi Trophies. And in order to do that, they want to be in the hunt for as long as possible.

After winning the Super Bowl in 2000, the Ravens were in a similar salary-cap crunch as they are today. They restructured numerous veterans' contracts in an effort to retain as much of the championship team as possible to make a run at another title.

When the Ravens fell short in the divisional round, they were forced to drastically slash the roster. Baltimore made the playoffs just once in the following four years.

Newsome and the rest of the front office learned their lesson.

"We will not repeat what we did in 2001 because we're trying to deal where we can win Super Bowls more than just one more time," Newsome said.

"We've got a great nucleus of young players, players that are just heading into their prime that we are going to build this team around. We are not going to be restructuring contracts, doing all those different things to be able to just maintain this team to make another run. We're not doing that."

The Ravens made a quarterback switch after their last Super Bowl win, going from Trent Dilfer to Elvis Grbac. That won't happen this season, as Newsome said their offseason priorities start with getting quarterback Joe Flacco signed long term.

But behind Flacco, there are other free agents such as cornerback Cary Williams, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and safety Ed Reed. The Ravens won't be able to afford to keep all of them, and they won't get crafty shifting money around to do so.

Instead, they'll rely on their younger players who got valuable playing time this season due to the team's rash of injuries.

Newsome said the Ravens only restructured two contracts over past two years, including guard Marshal Yanda last season. He would only do so this year if there was a player available that presented "great value."

"We're not going to get caught up in the moment and do things to our salary cap and make decisions in the euphoria of winning that could hurt us in 2014 and 2015 like we did in 2001," Bisciotti said.

The Ravens' Super Bowl run this season proved that any team can win once they reach the postseason. Baltimore had the No. 2 seed last year, a defense that was ranked higher and a team that was healthier. Yet it lost in the AFC championship.

This season, the Ravens had the No. 4 seed and had lost four of five games heading into the playoffs. But they got hot and healthy at the right time and rode that to a Super Bowl victory.

The Ravens have been consistent in getting to the playoffs, making their fifth straight trip this season. And they finally broke down the door.

"That's our job, to keep on winning, to get us a chance to win," Bisciotti said. "Get in the tournament. We say that and other people take that as not being good enough. But you have to be there. We don't want to repeat. We want to be one of the 12 teams that have a chance to win every year."

Newsome said Harbaugh talked to the team's coaches about their decision to focus long term instead of pouring everything into next season. He stressed that it "doesn't mean that we don't want to try to go and repeat."

But the Ravens are in it for the long haul.

Why win three when you're in position to possibly win four or five?

"If you think that we can build this up to try to repeat, it's fool's gold," Bisciotti said.

"We're not the favorite to win next year. We're not even one of the top four teams favored to win next year. We want to make sure that in 2015 we have as good a chance to win as 2013."

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