Will Harbaugh’s Loyalty Prove Costly Again?

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Training Camp

Escalation of Commitment is a business term used to describe a tendency to invest additional resources in an apparently losing proposition, influenced by effort, money, and time already invested.

The term also has applicability to sports, specifically football and it occurs when coaches justify an increased investment of time and effort in a decision despite new evidence that suggests that remaining committed outweighs the desired benefits.

Brian Billick was guilty of this with his commitments to Elvis Grbac and Kyle Boller.

John Harbaugh was guilty of it with his loyalty and commitment to former offensive coordinator and long-time family friend Cam Cameron.

And now Harbs could be at it again with Offensive Line Coach (call him Running Game Coordinator until you heart is content) Juan Castillo.

Castillo arrived in Baltimore with a healthy resume. He was a long-time offensive assistant in Philadelphia that began during the Ray Rhodes era and continued through most of the Andy Reid era. Castillo and Harbaugh were on the same staff in Philly for 10 seasons and now they are side-by-side in Baltimore.

Harbaugh opted to park his old friend on the Ravens staff late in January, 2013 where he ended up earning a ring. When the new season began, Castillo couldn’t wait to put his stamp on the Ravens offense vis-à-vis a zone blocking scheme in the running game.

It’s still early but the results have been very poor so far in 2013. The Ravens rank 25th in yards per game (77.3) and 31st in yards per carry (2.6). And when you have Ray Rice, Bernard Pierce and Vonta Leach in your backfield and an offensive line that averaged 3.9 ypc and 134.8 ypg in the postseason under Jim Caldwell and Andy Moeller’s guidance (against playoff competition no less), the near 43% drop off in productivity is alarming.

Maybe Castillo is doing what Cameron did – fitting personnel into his system instead of developing a system to make the most of the skill sets of the offensive linemen.

Zone blocking requires a coordinated effort. It requires movement in unison from players who are technicians. This often helps with smaller offensive linemen who possess excellent footwork.

The Ravens don’t really have linemen built that way. They are more equipped for mauling, man blocking and the results so far suggest they are more comfortable with the mano-a-mano approach.

And their running backs may be better suited for that style as well. Ray Rice seems to lack the patience and first step explosiveness to exploit zone schemes. Bernard Pierce is a read and one-step cut runner. Both are excellent backs and they have the intelligence to adapt.

But why make them adapt at all? Why “fix” what wasn’t broken?

The Ravens are (2-1) and they will make their way to Buffalo this week to take on the league’s 30th ranked rushing defense which yields 155.0 ypg. If the Ravens fail on the ground this Sunday is that sufficient evidence that Castillo’s plan isn’t working?

Or will John Harbaugh escalate his commitment like he did with Cameron?

Should the Ravens abandon the zone blocking schemes in the running game?
Yes, the change was unnecessary (84%)
No, they need more time for it to develop (16%)
This poll has completed. Thank you for voting.
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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

11 Raves on “Will Harbaugh’s Loyalty Prove Costly Again?

  1. Jimmy Dundalk on said:

    The Ravens will look good this week against a very weak defense and Harbaugh will think everything is OK , but we know it isn’t,,,,,,,,,,,,,very good observations Tony,,,,,,,,,,,Harbaugh is guilty of another business term , mismanagement…………………

    • dumb on said:

      Jimmy, no racist or disparaging remarks against Castillo this time? Also, the Bills have a solid front 7. Mario Williams played most of the game against the Jets hurt. Their secondary is beat to shreds, but if we don’t block they are more than capable of stopping us on the ground.

      • Jimmy Dundalk on said:

        Hey dumbo , read the comments below and you will see most of them agree with me,,,,,are you looking for trouble hombre,,,,,,,why would you even think there should be racist comments about Castillo , you sound disappointed comments like this are not there,,,,,,,do you spend your time looking for racist comments hombre ? ,,,

  2. Joe Deasel on said:

    Agree 100% Tony. It’s not hard to figure it out, Juan Castillo becomes offensive line coach and changes the blocking scheme and bingo the run game goes into the crapper. Ya think maybe there is a connection John?

  3. ravensterpsarmy on said:

    We look around for answers to the run game and lo it us said the coach. It wasn’t broken thus the hurt was self-inflicted! Yes, that what we’ve done with this move! It’s tough to watch the offense!

  4. OrangeNeons on said:

    I think Harbs will have a much shorter leash with he and dad’s friends after the Cameron debacle. I doubt, unless he’s got a wish to be fired, that he will steam off the owner again and force the owner to intervene because of his blind loyalty to his buds. I don’t think the owner appreciated having to force Harbaugh to fire Cameron. I think the next time the owner will just fire Harbaugh and be done with it.

    And it’s one of the reasons I find John to be somewhat of a hypocrite, running around hollering team, team team, but choosing to ignore the dysfunctional offense and its architect, who was a life long friend. Cameron stayed employed with the Ravens at least 2 years after he should have been let go and the sole reason was his friendship with Harbs. Harb’s demands productivity, unless its a good family friend and then Harbaugh turns into a hypocrite.

  5. jaxxmjd on said:

    With Cam, it took a number of ugly games and an online petition to get the ball rolling on his departure from Baltimore. Perhaps someone needs to crank out another petition?

  6. Rants N Ravens on said:

    It never ceases to amaze me when Ravens fans rip Harbaugh. Name one NFL coach who has won more consistently in his first five years in today’s NFL. And before you start with the “he had Ray Lewis” or this guy and that guy…you could argue that way about every single successful coach that’s ever worked in the NFL. Bellichick’s had Brady. Dungy had Manning. Tomlin has had Big Ben. Etc., etc.

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