Some props for Harbs

Harbaugh with The Lombardi

In a recent Baltimore Sun article Columnist Mike Preston outlined 10 key issues facing the Baltimore Ravens as they open training camp.  It was a well-written photo piece, thankfully devoid of the personal animus Preston sometimes brings to his writing.  The first slide, called “The John Harbaugh Factor,” immediately caught my eye.

Preston wrote that, in spite of the fine job Harbaugh has done over the past five years as head coach, it was perceived in some circles that it was Ray Lewis who really ran things in locker room.  In fact, when Lewis announced his retirement late last season, Preston wrote that one AFC head coach said “Now, we’ll find out if little Johnny can coach.”

Little Johnny?

The unnamed AFC coach can be as snarky as he wants, but I’ve heard and read nothing but positive comments about the job John Harbaugh did last year.  Just last week Pete Prisco, the respected NFL columnist for CBS Sports, ranked Harbs third in his NFL coach’s rankings, writing that his coaching last year exceeded the talent on the field and citing his five consecutive years of making the playoffs.

Prisco is spot-on.  Putting the Super Bowl afterglow aside, let’s remember that the Ravens went through some major turmoil last year.  There were significant injuries to Terrell Suggs and Lardarius Webb, a beat up Haloti Ngata, the replacement of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron late in the season (positive though it was), constant turnover on the offensive line, an inconsistent Joe Flacco, and a defense that was getting old and slow. And I’m sure I’m forgetting other challenges the Ravens faced.

Harbaugh and his staff dealt with all of that, plus losing four of their last five games entering the playoffs.  But he and his staff never lost their focus.

His demeanor during the playoffs and particularly the run up to the Super Bowl was respectful, informative, and engaging.

Unlike his brother Jim, who was wrapped so tight during the interviews the two of them did with the media that I thought he was going uncoil and spring off the stage like Spiderman.

Now about that nickname….

What unnamed AFC coach would call Harbs “Little Johnny” to a member of the media?  Bill Belichick?  Marvin Lewis?  Mike Tomlin?  John Fox?  None of the above.

My bet is on Mr. Foot Fetish himself, the Rexinator.  Only Rex Ryan would talk to the media in such a dismissive tone about a fellow coach, one who, not incidentally, was selected over Ryan to become the Ravens head coach.  I guess Rex better get his licks in now, because this time next year he’ll be unemployed.

Quick Hits

What is Vonta Leach waiting for?

The offers from other teams are not going to get any better and if he’s playing the late to training camp game, the Ravens might pull what is a very fine offer to play a disappearing position right off the table.

Players on My Bubble

At the start of camp these two veterans stand out – Jameel McClain and Terrence Cody.  The Ravens will be extremely careful with McClain’s spinal cord injury and I would not rule out an injury settlement if things do not sufficiently improve as training camp progresses.  They want that spine squeaky clean and I don’t blame them.  Cody is coming off an injury, is still carrying baby fat and, as another blogger put it, is a “bad athlete.”  He got pushed around far too much last year.  I look for rookie Brandon Williams to take his place in the defensive line rotation and for Cody to wind up on the waiver wire.

Position to Worry About

I’m on board with all the changes the Ravens made this year except for Anquan Boldin’s slot as the Number two wide out.  I’ve read all the comments and the rationale for essentially cutting the wide receiver who was Joe Flacco’s go-to guy during the playoffs.  This fan still doesn’t get it.  People can talk all they want about Jacoby Jones (who just inexplicably failed a conditioning test), Tandon Doss, David Reed, and Deonte Thompson.  None of them have proven to me they can consistently catch the ball in traffic, run routes, get separation, and fight defense backs for the ball.  Until one of them – or an as-yet-unsigned veteran – steps up and proves it to me, I’m still on the fence with this one.

Training Camp – Bring it on!

24 Raves on “Some props for Harbs

    • Ed in ON on said:

      Whats to agree with? Even if you hate that we didn’t replace Boldin, his salary was 7.5 million. We saved 6M by trading him.

      Michael Huff 1.35M
      Chris Canty 1.5M
      Elvis Dumervil 2.5M
      Marcus Spears 1.2M
      Daryl Smith 1.125
      Bryant McKinne 2.5M
      Which of those signings would you have passed up on to keep Boldin?

      The 6M we saved= Canty, Doom, Huff, and Spears or Smith- 500k

  1. Bonzi on said:

    It’s got to be Rex Ryan who said that. If for no other reason then I can’t imagine what other AFC head coach would be in contact with Mike Preston.

  2. Ron on said:

    I don’t believe that the loss of Boldin will be as bad as everyone thinks. I felt the same way when we let Mason go. Someone will step up and I don’t think it will be Jacoby.

    • bogeyroy on said:

      Agree Ron…I like Bouldin, but he isn’t very fast and doesn’t get separation anymore. Perhaps his replacement runs faster and better patterns and gets that separation. Ozzie seems to know when to let players go…Mason, Heap, Gregg, AD, etc.

      Time will tell.

  3. DarthSizzle55 on said:

    great article, spot on i think with Ryan. Bellichek recommended Harbough to the Ravens and he is more subtle when he decides to be a jerk.

  4. Big C on said:

    Yeah, it would have to be Rex or Marvin and that just doesn’t seem Marvin Lewis’ style. I actually think getting rid of Boldin was a good move. First of all, that money was better spent elsewhere honestly. Especially considering he was a no show for most of the season. He can’t get open in division games. He excelled and got hot at the right time, plus Joe has good timing with him but no way he was worth 6 million bucks. Right player, right price. I think Tandon Doss is too fragile, and Deonte Thompson played in the first 5 games and didnt make any plays. For me it’s between David Reed, LaQuan Williams and Aaron Mellete. The first two have actually made plays when it counted in actual NFL regular season games and both are great specialist coverage guys. Doss got hurt by the freaking punter returning a kick against the Broncos, you really think he can take getting hit by Ryan Clark and Troy? Deonte, I mean is he some kind of charity case… they’re rooting for this kid like they gave birth to him. LaQuan has the size, the speed and makes great catches. So he dropped 1 pass in last year’s preseason. Get off the BS and give him a shot to pay WR in 5 regular season games…

    • Mill on said:

      I like David Reed if he can just stay healthy and gain more confidence in his ability. Before the knee injury he had an open field explosion that I really haven’t seen from any of the other guys mentioned. The fact that the Ravens kept him on at a crowded position instead of giving him the Marcus Smith treatment, speaks volumes of what the organization thinks of him as a player.

  5. Vicky Olsen on said:

    I have to admit that when Rex Ryan lost the Head Coach job to John Harbaugh, I was upset. But over the past few years, I am so glad that the decision makers made the right choice. When I think of how Dallas and the Jets are doing, I applaud Steve and his team for choosing John Harbaugh over Jason Garrett and Rex Ryan. Let’s go Ravens!! Repeat!!

  6. Matthew Richey on said:

    Does anyone think maybe it was Andy Reid? Really seems like the two have the kind of relationship where Reid would be comfortable saying that…

  7. Skip on said:

    Makes sense that Leach waits and I think the teams, including the Ravens, don’t mind him waiting. Let training camp go on a bit, see if any injuries occur and he can then go to the team that needs him the most. The offers aren’t very different between the teams (the Ravens offer isn’t much better than the others) so he should be a professional and wait to see who can really use him.

    Oh- and Preston didn’t need to write that Little Johnny crap.

  8. Raven in Ohio on said:

    My guess as to the identity of the person who made the snarky comment would be Mike Preston. He made it up to create buzz. I trust none of Preston’s blind quotes.

  9. Fran the Fan on said:

    Thanks to everyone for commenting. I really appreciate it whether you agree with me or not. I selected Ryan for the comment because he’s the only AFC head coach with significant ties to Baltimore and the sports media here and we all know he’s inherited his father’s shoot-from-the-hip mouth. He’s certainly put his foot in it more than once since he’s been in NYC.

    I hope I’m wrong about Boldin. I hope Ozzie is playing his cards right and let him go a year early rather than a year late.

    I’m just saying there’s no wide out currently on the team that can make the plays Q did. Somebody has to step up, or Ozzie might be forced to go bargain-hunting for a pair of veteran hands when the rosters are downsized. Pitta and Dickson are clearly options, but since both will be UFAs after 2013 the Ravens will only keep one or the other, and their highest value lies in playing the tight end position.

    I know there is additional uncertainty at inside linebacker but for me the primary focus of this preseason will be the play of the receivers.

  10. BaltoJim on said:

    I can believe that another head coach may have said, “Now, we’ll find out if he can coach.” But I think the “Little Johnny” part came from Preston, himself. He’s been talking smack about Harbaugh non-stop since the moment he became the head coach.

  11. Mill on said:

    Great post! I don’t agree with you on Boldin though. He had a great playoff run but I do not believe for one second that he could or will repeat that performance. Boldin has gotten old quickly. Before that playoff run it was a given that he’d be let go because his cap number did not match his production. The Ravens did what they always do, they cut bait before the player took that sharp decline. My problem with the core as of right now is that I don’t think the Ravens replaced him properly. Jones was ok at times last year but there is a reason Houston gave up on him the year before. He simply couldn’t shoulder the burden of a #2 receiver. And I am not buying that he can now. And Doss, Reed, Thompson etc. are full of potential but that is just a fancy way of saying they haven’t done it yet.

  12. East Endzone on said:

    Preston’s sources are the little devils that talk to him at the bottom of a bottle of gin. He is the reason I cannot read the Baltimore Sun.

  13. john schultheis on said:

    The big mistake was signing McClain. an injury settlement? Your kidding right? Tell me how much? What do you know about “Dead Money” and McClain’s cap hit? His cap hit is big this year as much as they would save by cutting him but add an injury settlement and a lot of wasted cap money!. He is the only experience veteran linebacker in camp that knows the system and calls signals. The Ravens should hope he can play, they have a lot of money invested. If they were dropping him,it needed to be done BEFORE, NOT AFTER, SIGNING HIM TO THIS DEAL! The talk by fans on both sides of Boldin’s staying orleaving are funny to hear.All the ones that say he did not get open, is too slow, must have missed the Super Bowl and playoff run. He single handedly won the Patriot playoff game with a 145 yard pass catching clinic for Pats in the second half after being hurt most of the first half, Not Torrey Smith, not Flacco. He caught all of Flacco’s high passes with unbelievable hands. in the biggest, most important games! He score first TD in the Super Bowl. He should have been resigned not McClain long term. Reed should have been released last year and saved 7 plus Million, he did nothing for 2 years! As far as all this “Cheap” signings they are just that, older players that could have only signed at the price on any team the Ravens got. a bargain? wwe will see.!!

    • Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

      John, McClain’s cap number in 2013 is $4.2M, $3M of which is salary. An injury settlement would reduce the salary and therefore the cap number, not add to it. If the Ravens feel as though McClain is no longer a reliable player given the injury, a mutually acceptable settlement is not unreasonable.

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