Owner Steve Bisciotti's anual "State of the Ravens" press conference went off smoothly at One Winning Drive on Wednesday. But Bisciotti admitted that missing a Super Bowl appearance "by inches" has not gone down smoothly with his own emotions.
Steve Bisciotti (pictured here at a Maryland basketball game earlier) went on record as saying he wants to extend Ray Rice and Joe Flacco to long-term contracts. He also said it "will take a while longer" for him to lose the bitter taste of a last-second playoff defeat in New England, but that he and Ozzie Newsome and Dick Cass and John Harbaugh will meet again in a "retreat" setting and start diving into 2012 free agency issues...and by then everyone should be feeling a lot better.
Bisciotti emphatically backed the play of quarterback Joe Flacco and guaranteed running back Ray Rice will be on the roster next season. Rice is an unrestricted free agent and Flacco’s contract expires after the 2012 season. But Bisciotti promised both would be “part of this team” in 2012.
Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, club president Dick Cass and coach John Harbaugh met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the 2011 season and look ahead toward 2012.
The foursome would have preferred to be preparing for the Super Bowl, but a 23-20 defeat at New England in the AFC title game ruined those plans. Bisciotti said, “I don’t think any of us are over it.”
Bisciotti also mentioned his desire to open up some practice sessions this coming summer to kids who want to see their Ravens heroes up close and get autographs. That kind of fan access was lost this past year when the Ravens decided to abandon their traditional summer training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster in favor of staying at their private facility in Owings Mills.
Almost lost in the shuffle was the hiring of former Colts head coach Jim Caldwell as the new quarterbacks coach for the Ravens.
As if there weren't already deep ties between Baltimore and Indianapolis, the Ravens and Colts have gotten into the habit of swapping coaches this offseason. Weeks after being fired as Colts' head coach, Jim Caldwell was hired Monday to coach the Ravens' quarterbacks next season. Cam Cameron held that position in addition to also being offensive coordinator in 2011.
Last week, Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano was hired to replace Caldwell in the Colts' top job.
Pagano coached the NFL's No. 3 defense in his first season as a coordinator in Baltimore. Caldwell's Colts went 2-14 after likely Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning never saw the field due to injury. But, Caldwell did lead the Colts to a 14-2 record and the 2010 Super Bowl in his first season as coach. And some credit has to be bestowed upon the man who served as Indianapolis' quarterbacks coach from 2002 to 2009, during which time Manning won three NFL Most Valuable Player awards.
Peyton Manning swears by the guy, and is on record as saying Caldwell is the most influential QB coach he's ever had-- except of course, for Peyton's dad Archie.
Jim Caldwell's take on the vibes coming out of the Ravens press conference: Yes, losing the AFC championship will hurt - for a while. But he is not worried about the Ravens' future, as Caldwell pointed out:
1) They really are a very young team, especially at the skill positions, which means they should only get better.
2) They are so even with the best teams (NE, SF, NYG, PGH) that often a loss is decided by a good or bad break.
3) They have an unbelievably outstanding organization - can't get any better than a Harbaugh, Newsome, Bisciotti and Cass working together - and they are all on the same page.
4) They have great natural leaders across the board, and guys like Rice and Suggs to take over when Lewis and Reed eventually do retire.
5) The entire team is one big family with some true characters to keep things loose, but no malcontents.
Nice perspective from a new member of the Ravens coaching staff, especially since Caldwell has been on both sides of the spectrum of Super Bowl and bust.