We’re going to try to improve everywhere, including the coaching. We will stay intact. I’m excited about going forward with our coordinators – all three of those guys. I’m looking forward to that, so there’s not going to be a change there. As far as other coaching positions, guys have opportunities. Guys have goals and ambitions and stuff like that. If you go through the ranks of different guys, everybody is in a different place. There’s always going to be change on your staff. We’re going to look to try to bring in some infusion of ideas, talent and coaching ability that can make us better.
Yep, you heard it right. There will be no major changes among John Harbaugh’s coaching staff this offseason.
After missing the playoffs for the third time in four years, many fans and media expected changes among the coaching staff – and they were all wrong, myself included. Harbaugh opted for what he calls consistency at the helm, instead placing the blame on a roster that needed improvement in all phases of the game.
In a season that saw a franchise low in rushing attempts (367) and a career high in passing attempts from Joe Flacco (672), the Ravens struggled mightily on offense. The play-calling was as futile as the play of the franchise quarterback. It was sloppy – to put it mildly.
So how can Flacco improve? Instead of giving him his sixth coordinator of his nine-year career, Harbaugh seems content to bet on that consistency. He is keeping Marty Mornhinweg on to run the offense again next season, and seems willing to fall on the axe if his team finishes with a similar outcome.
“Everybody always asks that question,” stated Harbaugh when asked if he was being influenced by his bosses regarding his coordinator decisions. “I think it’s fun to write about, but I’m making those decisions. That’s a responsibility that Ozzie [Newsome] and Steve Bisciotti have given me that responsibility.
“That’s my job to do that. That’s my decision to make, whether we keep a coach or we don’t keep a coach. But we do that in conversation. I talk to Ozzie every day, multiple times a day, Steve, multiple times a week, at least. That’s an ongoing conversation that we always have. It’s personnel, it’s scheme, to an extent. It’s coaching staff. They challenge me every way you can be challenged to think things through.
“Believe me – and I hope fans understand that – those decisions are taken very seriously. We’re not just sitting there saying, ‘It’s easier to keep everybody.’ Actually, it’s easier to do the opposite.”
Perhaps it is “easier” to fire everybody – we see it regularly in the NFL, which we all know stands for “Not For Long.” However, as we’ve seen with Harbaugh over the years, he is loathe to make coaching changes until he can no longer avoid it. It’s obvious that he values continuity and loyalty very highly, perhaps even to his own detriment.
One thing was clear – he doesn’t take these decisions lightly.
“I lay awake at night thinking about it,” he said. “I think about it driving to work and driving home, what the best way to do it is and who the best people to do it are. That’s the conclusion that I came to. I have the support of everybody in the organization in that sense, because we talk about it.
“You could go a different way. You could justify or argue or make a case for any kind of direction, but in the end, I have to balance all of that out and say my heart, my gut and my head says this is the best way to go. That’s what we’ve decided to do.”
The best way to go?
Your offense has been consistently bad season after season aside from Gary Kubiak‘s one-year stint. Your defense has watched lead after lead taken from them late in games and there’s been more yellow laundry on the ground than in your neighborhood Fluff and Fold. Mediocrity is never a good thing in the NFL, particularly from a head coach that’s consistently preached about how important it is to get better daily.
Harbaugh isn’t the only one who deserves blame for another dismal season. The front office, the scouts and the players themselves all had a hand in the disappointing outcome of their 2016 campaign.
By preaching continuity after another mediocre year, John Harbaugh has effectively put himself on the hot seat. We all hope that the team will return to their winning ways in 2017, but if they don’t, monumental changes will very likely be in store.
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