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Bisciotti will speak, and fans will listen closely


Bisciotti will speak, and fans will listen closely

What does Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti have to say about a disappointing 5-11 season? We’ll find out Thursday afternoon at 2, when Bisciotti joins general manager Ozzie Newsome, team president Dick Cass, and coach John Harbaugh at the annual “State of the Ravens” press conference.

It will be interesting. Bisciotti rarely speaks to the media, and he can’t be happy about what transpired. The Ravens missed the postseason for the second time in three years, and were realistically out of contention by Halloween after starting 1-6.

Inquiring minds want to know:

1. What are the organization’s priorities heading into free agency and the draft?

The Ravens hold the No. 6 pick, and they need playmakers on both sides of the football. They haven’t made a top-10 pick since 2003, when they took outside linebacker Terrell Suggs at No. 10. That was an impact pick for the Ravens, and they need impact draft picks this season to close the talent gap between them and the AFC North’s two playoff teams – the Bengals and Steelers.

RELATED: Is Notre Dame's Jaylon Smith too risky a pick for Ravens?

2. What are the team’s plans at left tackle?

Kelechi Osemele, who will be a free agent, ended the season as the starting left tackle after moving from left guard. Eugene Monroe, who still has three years left on a five-year, $37.5 million contract, has been unable to stay healthy the last few years. Will the Ravens push hard to re-sign Osemele, are they ready to part with Monroe, or will they consider taking a left tackle high in the draft, despite having so many other needs?

3. Is Suggs still a major part of the team’s plans?

Recovering from his Week 1 season-ending Achilles injury, Suggs didn’t speak with the media on locker room cleanout day. He was in a walking boot Dec. 27 while watching the Ravens beat the Steelers. Asked Monday if he had talked to Suggs about rehabbing, wide receiver Steve Smith cryptically said, “Suggs is a little vulnerable right now. So I’m not going to talk to Suggs about it. He’s not a ray of sunshine like he usually is.” Suggs is the Ravens’ all-time sack leader with 106½, but he’s also 33 years old.

4. How worried is Bisciotti about successfully restructuring quarterback joe Flacco’s contract?

Flacco’s salary cap number for next season is $28.55 million, and the six-year, $120.6 million deal that he signed in 2012 needs to be reworked to give the Ravens more offseason flexibility. Flacco wants the Ravens to have more salary cap room to acquire more weapons, but negotiations involving that much cash are not simple.

5. Is Harbaugh planning any coaching staff changes?

With NFL coaches being fired left and right, Harbaugh is safe. But will his staff return intact after his worst season as a head coach?

MORE RAVENS: Why Tucker is 'optimistic' deal will get done with Ravens

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 


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Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.


Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.