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Mike Preston: Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti must stand up and deliver a clear message

The Ravens are in the most critical state in the franchise’s 22-year history in Baltimore and it is time for owner Steve Bisciotti to address the fan base and its concerns.

Bisciotti has done this in the past with his annual “State of the Ravens” news conference at the end of the season, but so far there has been no announcement about one this year.

There has been speculation around The Castle that he might be speaking soon.

If he doesn’t, that would be a grave mistake for this franchise. Excitement about the Ravens dulled to the point this past season that M&T Bank Stadium was missing nearly 20,000 to 30,000 fans in each of the last two home games.

Bisciotti has to stand up or risk losing a nice chunk of his fan base.

No one is looking for an apology. Despite missing the playoffs three straight years and four times in five seasons, the Ravens have been one of the NFL’s most productive franchises during their brief history, on par with the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

But fans want to hear Bisciotti’s take on the season. There is a sense that he struggled with the outcome of the last game, a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that eliminated the Ravens from the playoffs. He had to because he is a self-admitted fan. There were some who were angry, disappointed and depressed that the Ravens couldn’t hold a late lead against the Bengals.

And as an owner, one of only 32, he probably went through all those stages. But the Ravens’ situation is much bigger than just one loss in one big game.

It’s about years of frustration with watching boring football. It’s about a lack of buzz because there are no homegrown superstars to identify with on this team. It’s about poor drafts and a lack of imagination on offense.

Other teams made changes. The Green Bay Packers brought in new administrators and made several coaching changes. The Dallas Cowboys brought in a bunch of new assistants. Every team in the AFC North made a major coaching change except the Ravens.

What’s up with that?

We’ve already heard from head coach John Harbaugh, but the main message needs to come from Bisciotti.

Fans want to know his thoughts and if he is in agreement with Harbaugh about keeping the status quo with the coaching staff, or just allowing him to pick his own coaches, which usually is the case. They want to hear his thoughts on players kneeling before the national anthem and the impact it had on the game.

They want to know if the Ravens are going to bring in some new faces to infuse fresh blood into the front office to help with the draft. There are questions about why this team can’t draft good, skilled players on offense and if the team is looking to find an heir apparent to quarterback Joe Flacco.

Are the Ravens close to being serious playoff contenders? If not, then how much longer do Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome have to turn them into one? The Ravens can send out others to answer these questions, but it won’t have the same appeal. President Dick Cass oversees more of the business side than what happens on the field. Newsome, like Harbaugh, is getting a lot of darts thrown at him these days because he is seen more as part of the problem than the solution.

Bisciotti has to calm these storms.

In the past, the Ravens seemed to have him front and center earlier than now, which lends credence to the theory that Bisciotti really doesn’t want to have the “State of the Ravens” news conference this season.

The assumption here is that he’ll remember those empty seats in the stadium or the nasty emails and phone calls the team received when the Ravens kneeled in London before the Jacksonville Jaguars game. Fans used to dress up on Fridays in all purple in preparation for that Sunday’s game, but now Friday is again just the final day before the weekend.

The old Ravens pennants and flags that used to fly on cars in late December have disappeared. There are enough old Baltimore football fans around who remember what it was like right before the Colts left town, how the fan support had been drained from the city.

The Ravens are nowhere near that state, but a lot of us remember.

Bisciotti does.

He knows he has to talk.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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