Harbaugh looks to stay perfect following a bye

Harbaugh sidelines

As most of the region prepares to battle Hurricane Sandy, John Harbaugh and his coaching staff are making preparations for the Cleveland Browns.

After already beating the Browns 16-10 earlier this season, the Ravens have plenty to work on as they previously allowed Browns’ rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden to pass for 320 yards.

Harbaugh is currently undefeated coming off of a bye week, winning all four of his opportunities (five if you include the playoff win over Houston last January). Sunday’s matchup will be different though, as for the first time in his tenure, the Ravens will play on the road after the bye.

Harbaugh was taught well and his success after the bye is much like his mentor Andy Reid, who, until the Eagles’ loss to the Falcons yesterday, had won 13-straight games after the bye.

Instead of his usual Monday press conference, Harbaugh hosted a conference call because of safety concerns stemming from the storm. During the call, I asked him what, if anything, he gained from Reid that he’s applied to his success in Baltimore.

“Maybe the schedule and stuff like that,” Harbaugh said.

Last week, the Ravens lost to the Houston Texans by 30 points and were in dire need of some time off to soul search. The players had plenty to reflect upon, as did the coaches, in what was one of the worst managed games in the Harbaugh era.

Making the most of the bye week is a top priority for Harbaugh. “Really work hard and there are a lot of ways to do that,” he said.

“We had some good practice work on Tuesday before we left,” he said. “We were able to outline some areas where we know we need to get better.”

While many players took time to relax with their families, most of the coaches spent time evaluating the disastrous performance in Houston and looking for ways to improve it.

Harbaugh saw the bye week as great time to have the coaching staff reflect on themselves.

“We went to work as coaches for three days and really studied ourselves and we think we have a good plan going forward.”

Being together as a unit for the first time in almost a week, the Ravens got back to work to improve on their play and implement this week’s game plan for the Browns.

“We presented a little bit to our guys this morning, [and took] a little bit to realign and understand where we are at,” Harbaugh said. “You never know what’s going to crop up, you never know what direction you’re going to go – who’s going to play, how it’s going to play out exactly and what you’re going to be.”

Harbaugh made sure to mention the time spent preparing wasn’t just for the upcoming game against the browns, but for all the games after the bye week.

The Ravens will have to find ways to win because their next five games are crucial to their playoff chances – three of the five come against divisional opponents, and two against Pittsburgh, who are now just one game back of them in the standings.

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