John Harbaugh has been a very successful coach in the NFL. The numbers are all there for you to study and absorb if that’s your thing.
- 5 straight trips to the playoffs
- 3 AFC Championship Game appearances
- 1 Super Bowl victory
There are franchises around the league that would die for such success yet here in Baltimore we stop just short of ridiculing it because this season wasn’t such a good one for Harbaugh.
You see 2013 was Harbaugh’s first as a head coach without Messrs. Lewis and Reed. Whether true or not, many fans believe that Harbaugh cleared the locker room decks of outspoken players and subscribe to the popular opinion that Anquan Boldin and Bernard Pollard are both gone because they didn’t back down to ball coach.
Boldin isn’t here because the front office believed he flunked the litmus test for “Right Player, Right Price.”
Pollard is gone because he’s a human personal foul machine and during the Super Bowl he couldn’t cover a corpse with a blanket.
What we can agree on is that a defacto leader was missing from the Ravens locker room this season for the first time in the franchise’s existence and as such there had to be some sort of an adjustment. Without that leader the Ravens became John Harbaugh’s team for the very first time.
Now coming off a Super Bowl title, there’s a rather natural air of confidence – a bit more swagger and if the truth be told a heightened level of arrogance. Perhaps Harbaugh felt a bit bullet proof – the Teflon Don of Baltimore.
At the end of the day – end of the season, reality struck and the 8-8 campaign didn’t sit very well with Harbaugh’s boss. But Steve Bisciotti did what most men who are adept at handling personnel do. He decided to give his well-credentialed coach a hall pass and a warning. Fix the problems or boss man will step in.
So the very first thing Harbaugh does as part of an effort to improve in 2014 is to name Juan Castillo the Offensive Line Coach. Castillo, justly or unjustly, was vilified in Baltimore this season and responsible for the single biggest catastrophe the Ravens encountered in 2013 – the offensive line.
Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell leaves to be the skipper in Detroit and considers (now) Assistant Offensive Line Coach Andy Moeller as his Offensive Line Coach with the Lions. So it stands to reason that Caldwell wasn’t casting the finger of blame in Moeller’s direction.
With Caldwell gone, Harbaugh now has the task of replacing him. If we are to believe what we’ve heard so far the top four candidates for the Ravens job opening at Offensive Coordinator are Kyle Shanahan, Scott Linehan, Kirby Wilson and Ravens wide receiver coach Jim Hostler.
Hostler has one season’s worth of play calling experience as OC for the San Francisco 49ers where the players took to him like Lindsay Lohan takes to sobriety. The 49ers ranked a distant 32nd in offense that season.
Some believe that as more time goes by, Hostler’s chances improve to land that promotion.
Could this result in the same prehistoric offensive approach producing the same nauseating results despite a quarterback who is paid to be one of the league’s best?
Apparently Harbaugh has infinitely more confidence than most in Castillo and Hostler. Hopefully his faith is rewarded but regardless Harbaugh is playing career Russian roulette. Castillo is bullet number one, and Hostler if promoted is bullet number two.
And for those that don’t think that Harbaugh is at risk, just ask Brian Billick.
Steve Bisciotti is far too competitive and driven to allow a coach’s contract to stand in the way of progress as he explained to The Sun’s Mike Preston earlier this month.
“I have to be patient to let people fail but I don’t have to be patient enough to let people repeat failure.”