Harbaugh is Selling, Who’s Buying?

animated harbaugh-at-podium

John Harbaugh has been incredibly successful during his 5+ years as the Ravens head coach. Even his harshest critics would have to admit that overall Harbaugh has done ok.

Yet there are times when Harbaugh says things that even his most ardent supporters take pause and wonder exactly what he’s talking about.

At times he’s condescending, other times arrogant.

Then there are times when you scratch your head and wonder if he really expects us to buy what he’s selling.

And still there are other times when he says something, seems pretty committed to it and you wonder if he took a little joy ride with Snoop Dog.

Today he was questioned about the team’s clock management, snapping the ball with 14-15 seconds on the play clock inside of 4 minutes while the Ravens were trying to burn the game clock.

Here’s ball coach’s response:

“I thought that was good. You have to make a decision really, when you want to go in your four-minute mode and when you want to milk the clock completely down. And what happens when you get out of a rhythm, when you go into the four-minute mode, you change your rhythm. And when you get out of rhythm, sometimes you do things like jumping offsides. They know the snap count, because you’ve run the clock down, so they can get off on your snap count. They don’t have to determine [that]. They know when you are going to snap the ball, so they get a great takeoff, and it’s much harder to execute under those circumstances.”

“If you get into that four-minute mode too much, and you milk the clock all the way down too much, you have less chance of being successful. The best clock manager is converting first downs. When you convert first downs, that’s when you’re going to run the most time off the clock. So, you’ve got to balance that with rhythm. We decided we were not going to go on the clock in the four-minute mode with 10 or 11 minutes left in the game; it just wouldn’t be smart. So, we were taking the thing down under 15, 12 and 10 seconds throughout the fourth quarter, and to take it all the way down, you’d make it tough on your offense to convert first downs.”

Does he really expect us to believe this? Is this some sort of pioneering approach to game clock management that many of the great signal callers in the league have somehow managed to overlook?

I hope those guys at the presser were wearing boots.

Later during the same presser, Harbaugh was asked if Ray Rice’s lack of productivity is injury related.

“You’ve got to look at the numbers, and definitely, it’s not the same. There’s no doubt about that. So, what is it? It’s injury or it’s not as much room to run, or it’s both. His health has been a factor, no doubt about it. He’s working hard to become healthier. That’s important. That’s a hip flexor. That’s a muscle injury, and it’s hard to predict exactly what impact that has, but you’ve got to assume it’s had an impact.”

So if Ray Rice’s health has been a factor since Week 3, then why for so long did the Ravens just go with just 2 tailbacks? Why isn’t Bernard Pierce featured? Why can’t they suit up Bernard Scott who has fresh legs?

Instead the Ravens keep sending Rice out there – a player who can’t break a tackle, can’t elude defenders, has no burst, is noticeably slower and can’t handle his blocking assignments.

It makes no sense.

Harbaugh needs a Clock Management 101 refresher course and he needs to play healthy players.

He owes that to the rest of his players and the franchise.

He owes it to the fans.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

23 Raves on “Harbaugh is Selling, Who’s Buying?

  1. joe d on said:

    Agree 100%. I like Harbaugh but his dismissive attitude when questioned about a variety of topics certainly wears thin. I don’t know if he believes his BS or if he thinks the fans and press are just stupid. As for RR either he is hurt or he isn’t. If he is hurt why keep sending him out every game only to see him struggle. Why not deactivate him each week until he is 100%. Which leads me to believe he isn’t hurt. I think he has definitely lost something and combine that with a very poor offensive line explains why he is barely averaging 2.5 yards per carry.

    • We hired the wrong Harbaugh on said:

      You are definitely correct on this one. Horribaugh “coach speaks” the most basic question, but I don’t think he expects the fans and press to buy it. His responses are just blather to use up time and get off the podium. Many times I can’t hear the questions being thrown out by the press, but they are not challenging his responses shame on them.

      • dumb on said:

        come on man, how can you really call him “horribaugh.” you can say you don’t like his methods, but to deny he has been extremely successful in this league as a head coach is asinine.

        • dumber on on said:

          Did not say he has not been a successful coach. (Where did you see that?) I Like his effect on the organization, and do respect his abilities. He is just “Horribaugh” during press conferences.

    • Paul on said:

      Would we prefer The Belicek way of handling an interview? He says nothing and is rude and condecending. I think Coach Harbaugh is trying to say nothing, with a lot of words, in a very polite way. I have no problem with how he handled the questions. All of the players, coaches, and management hate doing press conferences. It’s unfortunate they’re forced to do them.

  2. JerryB on said:

    He’s a master at coach “spin”! Might make a great President some day! LOL! Hard to argue with his record, but let’s put it into perspective – in his first year as head coach, he lost his starting and backup QBs to injury and illness and got “STUCK” with a guy from little Delaware. And, the rest, as “they” say, is….history! How many postseasons would he have gone to with Kyle Boller or Troy Smith at QB? Harbaugh has some obvious strengths, but game planning and game day decisions are not among them! And, his penchant for hiring “cronies” has been a problem. So, in the “what have you done for me lately” NFL, it’s…..wait and see!

  3. Marcus on said:

    Don’t know why anyone would expect any real answers from Harbaugh during his pressers. He’s been using coach speak for 5+ years, he isn’t going to change. He went to the belichick school of dealing with the media.

    • g money on said:

      and really, who cares what he says at his press conference? I expect him to shade the truth. I don’t put a ton of stock in what happens in his press conferences, I care more about what happens on Sundays. And he has won a bunch of football games in Baltimore, I think I can give him the benefit of the doubt. he’s been one of the most successful coaches in league history through his first 5 years, really, what do our fans want?

  4. bruce m. on said:

    TL, totally agree on Ray Rice, but with respect to clock management, I’ll partially “buy” Harbaugh here. If you can line up and have your OL beat their DL then sure, mosey up to the line and slow-snap with a second or two left on the play clock. Let them put 9 in the box and run-blitz. But with this Ravens’ OL and run game, that’s going to lead to 3 straight TFLs and a punt. The 2013 Ravens are the worst team in modern NFL history at running the football, that is not an exaggeration, and that means you can’t run the 4-minute offense like most teams.

    The Ravens need to stay in a 3-wide spread formation and use the pass to set up the run EVEN IN the 4 minute drill, because that is the ONLY time they run OR pass well. They ought to go no-huddle through the entire game. Haven’t we all as fans complained about how lethargic the Ravens are when they huddle up? How Flacco doesn’t have enough time to make line calls and adjustments because they break the huddle with 10 seconds left?

    I think people are underestimating how bad this offense is. It’s the worst rushing offense in modern NFL history and probably the worst OL in Ravens history (mostly due to coaching.) At this point you just have to do whatever works, and even if they’re not passing the ball very well, at least they’re around league average. Give me “average” over “worst of all time” any day.

  5. Pam on said:

    I am a bottom line, no bull kind of person. Ravens made way too many changes this year. That and so many BIG UNEXPECTED injuries of our key players have hurt us. So many are expecting a repeat season out of a team that clearly is not the same as last year. It is a very disappointing season so far, and that is the reality of it. I think Harbaugh is panicking and is speaking weird stuff because he is trying to stay diplomatic. He just needs to tell the truth, whether the fans want to hear it or not. We as fans need to understand the reality and just deal with it instead of going off the deep end all the time. Just my 2 cents. I love my RAVENS regardless of the frustration.

  6. Eric on said:

    In looking at the big picture here, Harbaugh has had great success here and he is very astute in how he handles the media during press conferences. I watch most of his press conferences on the live feed, and this particular one, he was in a good mood and actually answered all of the questions. Sure, the answers provided were done with the “coach-speak” spin that we are accustomed to. I thought his response to the Ray Rice question was truthful from the perspective of Rice’s health. I obviously can’t know this as fact, but I’m guessing that it’s the case, because I believe that Rice would be more productive if he was truly healthy; poor play of the O-line notwithstanding.

    Like the writer indicates, why not get some snaps for Bernard Scott? He has a different running style than Rice and Pierce and he may be effective if given a chance.

    I believe that the clock management criticisms are not valid. The team is usually very effective in 2-minute situations and overall manages the clock well. They’re not perfect, but they generally do well with clock management.

  7. Your English Teacher on said:

    I think that it’s pretty clear that Harbaugh says what he says for the teams’ consumption, and not for that of the fans and the media. If he goes out there and says “We’ve got huge problems on offense. Flacco’s confidence is shot. Rice is probably done and we’re going to have to gut this O-line this offseason”, then how is that going to affect his team? He’s correct in his stance. His primary job is to coach the team to its best possible performance – not media relations.

  8. Brian on said:

    Harbs is dead on with the time management. We were struggling on converting first downs the entire second half. How do you expect them to convert first downs when it means the most if the defense just has to watch the clock and tee off –

    Rice? I hope he is still hurt, because if not he is done! The O-Line isn’t helping Joe or Ray but I have yet to see Ray break a single tackle all year.

    Side note – Get out of shotgun. It’s a whole lot harder to run out of shot gun when Leach is off the field. Need more fullback sets instead of 3 wide.

  9. Voice of Reason on said:

    I for one, am tired of the window dressing with the press conferences. John Harbaugh is the master at saying nothing. He can’t speak the truth, because if he discloses injuries for everyone to see then the next team we play will be gunning for the player. He could say, we are not a very good team this year, but we are doing the best we can. He could say we are exploring different plays and formations so stay tuned. He could say the players are practicing on their own and putting in extra time to get better. But I never hear any of that. The reporters on the other hand (except for Jerry Coleman) don’t ask critical questions. They never ask why don’t you use such and such player this year. I would ask why Kyle (Juice) hasn’t been used as a TE or H back? Why don’t you bring Matt Furstenburg up from the practice squad? Do you regret releasing Bobby Rainey? I would ask what exactly was done during the bye to improve the team when in fact it hasn’t improved at all? Why aren’t these questions being asked? What are the reporters afraid of?

  10. John on said:

    When a reporter asks Harbaugh a obvious question, Harbaugh will say something like, “I don`t understand what you`re asking.” In other words Harbaugh doesn`t like the question being asked and clearly shows so that`s his response in order to have the reporter rephrase the question. It`s like, How dare you ask that, don`t question me. TOTAL ARROGANCE!

  11. Rick on said:

    It is exactly this kind of comment from Harbaugh that makes one believe he thinks we are all drooling idiots. This is the same sort of nonsensical crap Billick used to spout with his “parameters of the dynamic” diatribes.
    None of what he said, makes any f-ing sense at all and he should be called on it.

  12. Jason on said:

    Maybe his talk about rhythm would be more believable if he took some drumming lessons and learned what rhythm means. Because he aint showing he does, no matter how good he is otherwise. Rhythmn-schmythm.

  13. Trav on said:

    I don’t expect Harbs to answer questions, or admit to problems, or throw his players under the bus, at a press conference. Belichick doesn’t either.

    What I do expect is that he will show us on the field that not only does he understand what has to be fixed, but that he is fixing it. Or, as to situations that were not handled well the last time (like clock management), that he has learned something. But on offense we see mostly the same thing, week after week – a few new formations once in a while, but limited play calling variation. Does anyone think Belichick would not have kept changing up personnel on his Oline? Or that he would not have noticeably tweaked his O scheme to mimimize his team’s weaknesses, instead of doing the same thing over and over? Sometimes Harbs is just too stubborn for his own good.

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