Harbaugh’s Loyalty Could Prove Costly

Fix Harbaugh

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.

That’s nonsense!

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.

Fair enough!

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.”

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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

29 Raves on “Harbaugh’s Loyalty Could Prove Costly

  1. Phil on said:

    You’d think if Hostler was going to get the job he’d have been named OC by now. I like that the coaches are going out to proven names, like Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan is my personal favorite and I hope Harbaugh makes the right choice.

  2. purpleneonexpress on said:

    When you think about it, its amazing that a coach with his record the last 6 years is on the hot seat and has a real chance of being fired if we have a repeat of last season.

    I’ve never really been a Harbaugh fan, he’s never struck me as a natural leader and IMHO, is a little on the soft side, kind of a mommy’s boy. Also, the stories of his arrogance around the castle makes me wonder what Johnny Jesus is all about. He presents the corporate image of a choir boy, but when the camera’s are off he evidently feels superior to the underlings and lets them know it. Whats up with that, other than a man who is insecure?

    Harbaugh provided no leadership for the team last year. He was unable to fill the vacuum created by the departures of Lewis, Reed, Boldin and others. Next season we will find out if Harbie was riding the coat tails of these players or if he can provide leadership for a team with no natural leaders.

  3. joe d on said:

    They have given a second interview to Shanahan and Wilson is coming in on Friday for his second interview. To me it sounds like it is between those two and Harbaugh wants Ozzie’s opinion before finalizing it in the next few days. He would look really silly bringing those 2 guys back in and then giving the job to Hostler

  4. Voice of Reason on said:

    My vote is also for Kyle Shanahan. I thought he did very well with the Texans and given all of the turmoil in Washington, their offense played well at times. I also think a change of scenery away from his dad would do him a world of good.

    The Ravens need a young coach. They need someone who can devise a 21st century offense. I want the Ravens to go no huddle 90% of the time. I want to see slants across the middle and 2 tight end sets. I want our QB to throw for 4500 yards a year and be successful doing it. I am tired of ground and pound on 4th and one, and not being able to get a first down. Our offense is tired, boring and old.

    If John Harbaugh wants to be a long term coach, he better learn to reinvent himself and evolve with the times. This is his 7th year and not many coaches last beyond that.

  5. James on said:

    John Harbaugh:

    Great Coach
    Terrible Judge of other’s coaching ability

    Recent Examaples: Cam Cameron, Juan Castillo–both Harbaugh buddies, both bad for this organization.

    • Joe on said:

      If you’re going to include the failures, include the successes

      Chuck Pagano – Harbaugh Hire
      Ted Monachino – Harbaugh Hire
      Dean Pees – Harbaugh Hire
      Teryl Austin – Harbaugh Hire

        • Dot on said:

          Exactly LOL Pees and Greg Mattison are two examples of terrible decisions that are holding our team back..It’s time to get some aggressive minded coaches. I honestly think that Harbaugh wants the same things that many of the fans want, however I also know that Harbaugh is a man of faith and believes that by him landing a head coach position he wants to return the favor to many of his counter parts by giving them opportunities. I think that Harbaugh is a great person and a good coach but needs to cut the loyalty crap out and stick to business.

  6. ERey on said:

    Let’s wait to see who John Harbaugh hires as offensive coordinator and how the offense performs before saying his loyalty could prove costly. As you said to start the article, his resume speaks for itself.

  7. theodore powell on said:

    Package several late picks for a high pick and top safety with sizes 6-4 , 230 with 4.4 speed, more up for top end from Clemson…get rid of elam can not tackle and not a championship player…number 32 is better

  8. Brian on said:

    Harbaugh Hater back at it.

    In reality, it’s pretty impressive the Ravens finished 8-8. It’s even more impressive that they kept themselves in almost every game right up until the end. The fact that they were able to do that despite all of the disfunction they faced speaks to how good this team is. Harbaugh deserves some credit for that.

    As for the OC job, I’ve heard nothing to suggest Hostler has more of a foothold on the vacancy than any of the other candidates. It’s all been media speculation. Harbaugh has always been extremely prompt when promoting coaches, which leads me to believe he has his doubts about Hostler.

    The Ravens had its first bad season in six years. All that proves is that the Superbowl hangover is real. Let’s not lose perspective.

      • Tom C on said:

        Tony, I enjoy your articles but you have been very negative about the Ravens lately. With all the changes after last year, I thought there was no chance we made the playoffs, but we almost did. I have been a season ticket holder since day one of the Ravens and the last 6 years have been pretty impressive. I think you are reading more into Bisciotti’s press conference statement than is really there. But time will tell.

        • Dot on said:

          Most of us have! It’s what our job is as fans.. Tony may be the ONLY journalist out there voicing the frustrations of the fans. We all LOVE our Ravens and the anger and frustration that we are not the best all of the time comes with the territory ….I call it passion!

  9. Charlie D on said:

    “I have to be patient to let people fail but I don’t have to be patient enough to let people repeat failure.”

    Tony, I know this question does not fit your agenda, but where in this statement does he name Harbaugh. He could just as well be referring to Ozzie. It appears to me the Ravens have been much more successful in the 6 years since Harbaugh took over, than the 6 years prior to his arrival. I would also say the Ravens biggest problem is the lack of young, inexpensive talent. I don’t think Ozzie is in trouble, but it makes just as much sense as Harbaugh.

    Harbaugh has been one of the top two or three most successful coaches in the league since he has been here, and I doubt he is worried about losing his job. I think he also knows if he does, he will not be out of work for very long.

  10. JerryB on said:

    A friend of mine likes to say that Harbaugh is turning the Ravens into the Baltimore…Eagles! While it’s true that coaches often hire people they are comfortable and/or have a relationship with, the first and foremost criterion for OC or any assistant for that matter, should be experience with a proven track record of…..success! This organization should have no trouble attracting the best talent available! Hostler DOES NOT fit that description……

  11. Anonymous on said:

    Good assessment, TL. But, I’m not convinced Harbaugh will let loyalty trump objective reality. He knows the boss already disagrees with some of his decisions and another subpar season will not be tolerated. He also recognizes that he’s gone all-in with Castillo (probably because he believes in the ZBS) and he needs an OC that knows a lot more about offensive X’s and Os than he does or he may be looking for a job come Jan 2015. My prediction is that Shanahan will get the OC job. He has the potential to make Harbaugh look like a genius. Shanahan has a fine offensive mind and proven track record of success as OC. He knows how to use the ZBS, and, from his days in Texas, is familiar with the kind of run/pass balance the Ravens use. If rumors are correct, it wouldn’t surprise me if Kubiak’s visit to Baltimore was for the Ravens to get the inside scoop on Shanahan’s real ability as OC and temperament from the HC who worked with him in Texas. The fact that Shanahan had a second interview suggests that Kubiak gave him a ringing endorsement. You’re right that Harbaugh has shown an almost alarming level of loyalty. But he’s smart enough to recognize that he needs a very capable OC, and Hostler’s track record does not provide any evidence that he is capable of saving Harbaugh’s skin.

  12. PG County Raven on said:

    Talk about shooting yourself: hire Hostler! Best OC in this group: K. Shanahan – experienced (6 yrs), successful (4 of 6 yrs top 10 offense), zone blocking scheme background since that is now the bocking scheme of choice.

  13. ravensean509@gmail.com on said:

    I just liked the “same prehistoric approach leading to nauseating results” part. I can’t add anything philosophically to that.

  14. DarthSizzle5 on said:

    Then it would be old news. Good article. I like Kirby Wilson I think b/c he seems like he would be more run oriented. though now maybe that’s not good zbs scares me.

  15. Bruce_Almty on said:

    Hostler has been unsuccessful in developing WRs; of all the WRs that have passed through in the past 6 years, only Torrey Smith has improved enough to warrant a starting position.

  16. RED Raven on said:

    Very Good Article. Sometimes Harbs needs to get pushed past what he is comfortable with so He can grow. I can live with his loyalty, what I think he needs to couple that with is he has the see the picute for what it is and make changes quickly. I am glad MR B said what he said. I think Harbs was getting comfortable. And the only person in that Building that is bullet proof is the owner. Everyone else reapplies every season. If he held his coaches to the same standard as his players ( everyone compeates for thier job everyday), I think he can be a better coach. But one thing I give him credit for is that he does learn from his but whippings.

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