Forced to assess the 2017 season far sooner than anticipated Matthew Stafford Jersey White , Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged changes must be made for Baltimore to snap its three-year run missing the playoffs.
He will not, however, shuffle the coaching staff.
Harbaugh will fill the void left by the retirement of defensive coordinator Dean Pees, but said Thursday he will bring back offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and attempt to keep the rest of the staff intact unless guys get opportunities to go somewhere and do some different things.
Pees announced his retirement Monday, less than 24 hours after the Ravens (9-7) were bounced from the playoff chase with a 31-27 loss to Cincinnati.
The in-house contender for the coordinator job is Ravens linebackers coach Don Martindale. Chuck Pagano, fired as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts on Monday and Baltimores defensive coordinator in 2011, is also among those being considered.
Asked to describe what hes looking for from Pees successor, Harbaugh replied: Definitely continuity. Im a believer in this system. I think this system has been something thats been developed over a long period of time, and we have worked really hard every single year to make it better. Weve evolved it and grown it, and I think you see the results.
The Ravens have long been known for their defense, and this year that unit was the strength of the team. Baltimore recorded three shutouts, led the NFL with 34 takeaways and ranked 12th in yardage allowed.
The offense, on the other hand, needs help. Harbaugh lauded the performance of quarterback Joe Flacco , who rebounded from a back injury to come on strong during the Ravens late-season playoff push.
But the coach was unrelenting in his assessment of the wide receivers, noting that there were too many dropped passes and far too few big plays from a unit built around veterans Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin and featuring 2015 draft pick Breshad Perriman, who is thus far a first-round bust. Baltimore ranked 29th in net yards passing per game (189.4).
Thats an area weve got to look at really hard,, Harbaugh said. The passing game wasnt where it needed to be.
Tight end Benjamin Watson led the team with 61 catches and six touchdowns. Wallace and Maclin combined for only seven scores, and Baltimore had only five catches of at least 40 yards.
Covering a variety of topics in a session that lasted nearly 40 minutes, Harbaugh said he and owner Steve Bisciotti, along with general manager Ozzie Newsome, are looking forward to improving upon a three-year stretch in which the team has gone 5-11, 8-8 and 9-7.
Our focus is on, can we be better tomorrow than we were today? And thats just the truth of it, Harbaugh said. To me, thats our focus. Its not looking back and saying, `Hey, we didnt do this or we didnt do that. Everybody is full speed ahead to be the best we can be, and has been for the last three years.
Had Cincinnatis Andy Dalton not thrown a 49-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play with 44 seconds left, the Ravens would have spent this week preparing for the playoffs amid a city bathed in purple. Instead, Harbaugh was left trying to appease a fan-base that responded to mediocrity and the teams take-a-knee stance during the national anthem on Sept. 24 by staying away in record numbers on Sundays.
We understand our fans. We understand what they respect, Harbaugh said. And we want nothing more than to get it there, so we can have that moment, we can complete that pass and we can have the whole city going crazy and dancing in the streets. Thats what were fighting for.
I wanted it to happen this year. I wanted it to be the miracle year this year. Maybe we could have done it, and then all of a sudden, its not to be. OK, are we going to lament it and look back and beat ourselves up, find reasons that arent there and point fingers? Thats not what Im going to do. Thats not what leaders do. Lets go to work.
PHOENIX For the first time in 52 days Golden Tate Jersey White , A.J. Pollock was back Monday where he belonged in center field and hitting fourth in the Arizona lineup after missing time with a fractured left thumb.
St. Louis, meanwhile, seems to be in a juggling mode where its outfield is concerned. Jose Martinez, who has spent most of the first half at first base, did pregame work in right field for the second straight day, and that appears that is his position moving forward.
Pollock was hitless in four at-bats and scored a run, but the Cardinals took the first game of the series when Yadier Molina had two hits, including a homer and three RBIs in a 6-3 victory Monday.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo apologized to Molina behind the batting cage before the game for language he used in an argument the second inning of an April 8 game in St. Louis. Lovullo was ejected and Molina had to be restrained as players from both teams entered the field.
Everything is in the past, Molina said. I have a bunch of respect for him and the organization in Arizona.
Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke is to oppose St. Louis right-hander Jack Flaherty in the second game of the series Tuesday.
St. Louis broke a four-game losing streak and, with four runs in the first inning, had a lead for the first time since last Tuesday. The Diamondbacks have lost four in a row.
It is frustrating, Lovullo said. I think we are a better team then we have showed these last four games. The season has its ups and downs and we should know that. We had a situation just like this before.
Pollock, who has missed extended time because of injuries the last two seasons, will be monitored, Lovullo said.
He wants to play every day. He makes that perfectly clear, Lovullo said. He does not like to come out of the lineup, and I love that. But I explained to him that were going to control his playing time and his innings until hes one hundred percent removed from any more things popping up.
Pollock was slashing .293/.346.503 with 11 homers and 33 RBIs in 40 games before his injury.
Martinez leads the Cardinals with 52 RBIs, but he also leads NL first basemen with seven errors. Rookie Tyler ONeill started in right field Monday, with Matt Carpenter at first.
One of those tough conversations, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Martinezs position shift.
He is so good offensively. And trying to figure out ways to maybe help our defense a little bit on the infield. Were going to be working him as hard as we can to get him comfortable there and plug him into the equation. There are still going to be some opportunities at first.
Tyler ONeill is going to play, Matheny said. We know when he gets hot, hes got the potential to do good things for us. Try to get a good look at him while he is in play mode. Hes been swinging it well. Just some different looks. Get some other guys engaged in the infield, too.
Greinke, 8-5 with a 3.41 ERA, has 13 scoreless innings in his last two starts, victories at Pittsburgh and Miami as part of a three-win road trip. He has won three starts in a row and was 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA in six June starts, dropping his ERA to the lowest it has been since the second week of the season.
Hes on a Zack Greinke run, Lovullo said. He had a real nice run from the middle of May last year until the end of the season, where he just grinds up innings. Fast innings, which equal wins.
Greinke is 12-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Cardinals. He has more victories against only team, Detroit (13). Greinke is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in eight home starts this season and is 16-2 at Chase Field the last two years.
Rookie Flaherty, 3-3 with a 2.92 ERA, has made quality starts in four of his 11 appearances and had a career-high 13 strikeouts while giving up only one hit in seven innings of a no-decision against Milwaukee on June 22. He gave up four runs in four innings in his last appear, a 5-1 loss to Cleveland.
Flaherty, 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts on the road, has never faced Arizona.