I’ve been holding off writing the next RFM article until Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti gives his annual “State of the Ravens” press conference. Normally that would have happened a week ago. I’m starting to wonder if it’s even going to happen at all this year?
The Ravens were once the hottest trending organization in the NFL during the years 2008 to 2014…but since then they’ve failed to make the AFC playoffs 3 years in a row. The team seems mired in NFL purgatory, which is when you’re consistently finishing between 7-9 and 9-7, you’re too talented to tank but not talented enough to make the playoffs, you’re constantly up against the salary cap because you signed a bunch of guys to long-term contracts (when you were winning), and your middle-of-the-pack draft position doesn’t seem to be yielding much action, especially from the first 3 rounds.
On top of all that, a lot of people have stopped showing up at home games. In a stadium that was regularly filled for a very long time, there were some games in 2017 at which you could count anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 empty seats.
It is thought that Steve Bisciotti is delaying any public comment on the state of the Ravens until he figures out why everything he asked for to improve in last year’s address just never happened.
The Ravens are mired in mediocrity—and Bisciotti really hates mediocrity.
Something else has been slowly contributing to the mediocrity, and that’s the steady erosion of Baltimore’s personnel evaluation staff talent over the years.
There have been plenty of changes in the Ravens’ scouting department, and they’ve been underreported. The effect that The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says those changes have had on the team is evident to many, but few have connected the dots.
The most under-discussed factor in the Ravens’ falling into the throes of mediocrity — they are 40-40 in the regular season since their Super Bowl victory — is how many quality talent evaluators they’ve lost in recent years,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.
“The trend started before the Super Bowl as teams would come every offseason and look to pluck from one of the more well-respected front offices in the NFL.
“However, the departures have seemingly taken a toll and could go a long way in explaining why the Ravens haven’t drafted as well lately under General Manager Ozzie Newsome.”
A number of those talent evaluators have gone to the Philadelphia Eagles. It includes Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas, Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Weidl and Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham. They also have T.J. McCreight, a player personnel executive.
Douglas was with the Ravens for 15 years and had a hand in drafting players such as Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Pernell McPhee and Lardarius Webb. Over an 11-year span, Weidl scouted Kyle Juszczyk, Haloti Ngata, Arthur Jones, Torrey Smith and Timmy Jernigan. Last year, Douglas nabbed the two other former Ravens scouts on his staff in Cunningham, who spent nine years in Baltimore, and McCreight, who was here for eight.
Zrebiec points out the Ravens have also lost NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah and Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage.
Speaking of Jeremiah, he commented just yesterday about how good the Eagles have become at adding talent and paid them the ultimate compliment.
Some notable moves the Eagles have pulled off the last two years since Douglas has joined their staff include drafting quarterback Carson Wentz and pass rusher Derek Barnett, and trading for running Jay Ajayi and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. They also were aggressive in stockpiling free agent wide receivers, signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith last offseason.
“The Eagles’ ascent this season provides a reminder of how many good scouts the Ravens have lost,” wrote Zrebiec.
“The Ravens certainly have other strong evaluators, but it’s never easy to lose so many scouts who are familiar with the attributes that the front office and coaching staff are looking for in players.”
Steve Bisciotti is taking all of this in right now, and for the moment, he’s speechless.