The Ravens and Steelers are teeing it up at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday with the winner claiming first place. Yet given a rivalry that for years was recognized as the best in the NFL, the buildup to this important showdown has been relatively non-existent.
It’s more like the night before Christmas than it is the days before Ravens v. Steelers.
Maybe that’s because neither team is what it used to be. The Steelers these days, seem more like the Peyton Manning led Colts who could always put up points but were unable to consistently stop the other team. Pittsburgh’s identity was once that of a tough, gritty team led by an imposing and opportunistic defense. Today, their defense is ranked 27th in the league.
The Ravens were once very much like the Steelers and that helped to feed the beast – the bitter rivalry. Today, we have no idea who the Ravens are. And in part that is why fans are borderline apathetic – a near unconscionable concept, heading into a Steelers game.
Of course a four-game losing streak followed by a bye week doesn’t help either and consequently some fans are a bit salty.
They blame John Harbaugh.
They blame Joe Flacco.
They blame Ozzie Newsome.
They blame the team’s capologist Pat Moriarty.
They blame the scouts.
They blame them all.
And they all deserve some of the blame. They’ve all contributed to the mess that is the Baltimore Ravens.
We want solutions. We seek accountability. We live in a society that has an insatiable thirst to pin it all on someone. We want to finger a fall guy and then replace him because then, after the fall guy is gone, ALL problems will just dissolve and magically go away.
The most popular fall guy is Harbaugh. With one move, one fell swoop, the Ravens can get rid of a sideline manager who repeatedly makes bad decisions, his obsolete coordinators and their collective influence on the Ravens war room which has time and time again failed to make good choices on draft day.
Sound about right?
Well that would be wrong.
Enter Steve Bisciotti!
Bisciotti could study the issues and go round and round the problems. He could go over and under them. He could seek a quick fix – or at least a fix that is perceived to be quick. One that might silence the mob. But for how long?
He could bring everyone together – everyone remotely culpable for this mess and fix it AS A TEAM – go through it together.
Bisciotti is a self-made billionaire. (Repeat that slowly)
He’s a rare breed who has the ability to find strengths in individuals and mesh them in a way that optimizes results. He empowers his people to make the right choices and when they fail, he trusts that they’ll learn why and turn the mistake into a valuable lesson. He’s a facilitator, a conductor, who can bring people together to achieve something as one, as a whole, that all of their individual achievements added together could never measure up to.
For the Ravens, the mistakes are many yet the lessons as of late have missed their mark. Since Ted Ginn, Jr. was tackled by Josh Bynes to finish Super Bowl 47, the shine on the organization as gradually diminished. It now appears dull and lackluster.
So now it’s time to do it the facilitator’s way.
But breaking down what was once great, piece by piece, isn’t the answer. The answer is to come together, check ego at the door and let these very capable men under the direction of Bisciotti, fix the Baltimore Ravens.
When John Harbaugh first walked through that door at One Winning Drive back in 2008, his message was loud and clear.
It’s time to replay that message.
It’s time to be a team not just on the field, but off it too.
Not later. Not during the offseason.
First place is just one win away.