OWINGS MILLS — On Thursday morning, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh addressed the media for his season review press conference. A variety of topics were discussed including the recent retirement of Dean Pees and the upcoming draft.
Overall this was a typical press conference that we have come to expect from Harbaugh. Many of the more detailed issues and answers will come from the annual state of the Ravens address when Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti take questions from the media.
Here are five highlights from the 40-minute press conference, which you can watch here.
1. 2017 season in review:
Harbaugh opened up the press conference by reflecting on the season and all the adversity the team faced since starting back in the spring. “When it’s all said and done, you look at your people and the job they did,” Harbaugh said.” How did we do as a team? How did we compete? How did we handle adversity? How did we respond? In the end, I’m really proud of our people.”
Continuing off of this, Harbaugh complimented his team on their journey since day one and their work ethic to be the best possible team. “From April 15th through this week, we had a bunch of veteran leaders that came to work everyday to be the best they could be,” Harbaugh said.” In the end that’s what you ask of people, so I’m happy with that and I’m excited about where we are going forward.”
As the press conference continued, Harbaugh went into depth about the way the season ended and how disappointing it was. He mentioned how the team went into half time against the Bengals kicking themselves over how poorly they played but were still able to regroup and take the lead in the second half. The Ravens coach hinted at this being a microcosm of their entire season but when it came down to the last play, they couldn’t get the job done.
Harbaugh seemed reluctant to place all the blame on the now infamous 4th and 12 play. He mentioned the punt prior to that drive and how that could have easily bounced in their favor as well as the two defensive penalties on that drive that could have been avoided.
2. The coaching staff:
One of the biggest questions surrounding the Ravens moving forward is the coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has already announced his retirement but Harbaugh said he doesn’t anticipate having to replace anyone else.
“We will find a defensive coordinator somewhere, inside or out,” Harbaugh said. “We are in the process of doing that right now. I’m happy with the coaches that we have and we are building going forward.”
This idea of “building” would come up again later as Harbaugh mentioned how important consistency is from season-to-season. The offensive coordinator job has been a revolving door for many seasons now, so it’s not surprising that they want to try to improve with Marty Mornhinweg instead of starting over again.
“We have great coaches. You can look at the stats but the bottom line is we improved tremendously and faced a great deal of adversity on offense,” Harbaugh said. He admitted that the beginning of the season was slow and frustrating at times for the offense but they kept working and just focused on winning the next game in front of them.
As Flacco returned to full strength and the makeshift offensive line started to gain some traction, there were clear improvements. So it sounds like carrying this finish into next season while continuing to build will be Harbaugh’s goal for improving the offense.
3. Protesting and empty seats:
This has been one of the more anticipated issues for Harbaugh and others to speak on this offseason but I have a feeling the bulk of it is still to come. Harbaugh did speak about this for a while during his press conference but didn’t jump to any grand conclusions.
“Whether it’s the anthem, the kneeling, or the social [issues], those are complicated and tough conversations that you have,” Harbaugh said. He went on to say that he had many talks with his players about the issues they have faced outside of football and how difficult those can be when you are in the middle of a season.
“As a coach it’s tough because I want them thinking about the game, but this was something that really hit the league [as a whole],” Harbaugh said. “That’s a bigger picture than I can stand up here and address.”
Harbaugh did emphasize how the team is always active in the community and many players care deeply about things outside the game. With that being said, the Ravens head coach continued to hammer home how it’s his job to have them ready on Sunday no matter what.
4. Upcoming draft:
It has become apparent that the Ravens haven’t had the best success in recent drafts. For the most part, their first round picks have been consistent but as a whole there have been some busts. This upcoming draft will be especially important for the offense after 2017 focused heavily on the defense.
Harbaugh was quick to say that adding weapons on offense is the number one goal for the upcoming draft. “I don’t think its any secret that we need to add playmakers to the mix.”
The salary cap will be a concern as always so the draft could be the team’s best opportunity to really add weapons. Having a healthy offense is what’s really important but combining that with a solid draft will be the key, as always, for any Ravens success in 2018.
Harbaugh was also questioned about the possibility of drafting a quarterback after a couple shaly seasons from Joe Flacco. “It’s something we will be talking about for sure,” Harbaugh said. “When you have a veteran quarterback at this stage, that’s the time you’re looking for a young backup.”
5. Injury news:
Harbaugh closed out Thursdays press conference by talking about the handful of injuries the team suffered since April. According to Harbaugh, almost every player is on pace for a proper return next year. Marshall Yanda, Alex Lewis, and Tavon Young headline that group but there are many others who are on schedule and working hard to come back.
Jimmy Smith is a bit of a different story though. Since he suffered his injury in December, he will be behind everyone else in terms of recovery time. Harbaugh said that we all know the timetable for Achilles injuries but you just hope for the best.
“If you do the math, eight months will be September for Jimmy but that’s conservative. I’m hopeful but we are going to have a bunch of corners here as you know.”
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