When the University of Maryland men’s basketball team won the national championship in April 2002, it was a tremendous accomplishment. They fought through the toughest conference there was and knocked off perennial powers during the NCAA tournament.
In my opinion, that team was successful because each person on the team and the coaching staff was a perfect fit for their specific role. They didn’t try to mask deficiencies. They could give their all because they knew where they were was a perfect fit.
Steve Blake was a true point guard. Juan Dixon was a pure shooter and the team’s go-to scorer. Byron Mouton did a little bit of everything. Chris Wilcox could match athleticism with any player in the country. Lonny Baxter was a rebound machine. Tahj Holden and Drew Nicholas were effective, versatile role players.
Gary Williams was the ideal head coach for that team. He had as much passion and intellect as any coach had. Jimmy Patsos was just the kind of assistant coach the team needed. He was like Williams 2.0.
My point is that you can have good players and good coaches in an organization, but if their roles aren’t defined or if they aren’t effective in their given role, potential will go unrealized.
Prime example: Gary Kubiak. When he was the offensive coordinator for the Broncos, Kubiak led Denver to eight Top 5 rankings in 11 seasons (73 percent). When he became the head coach of the Texans, Houston’s offense finished in the Top 5 three times in eight seasons (38 percent).
Kubiak wasn’t a bad head coach but he’s a better offensive coordinator, as evidenced by the 35 percent spike in offensive efficiency. I know that in Denver, Kubiak had John Elway, Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe. But in Houston, he had Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, more experience and coached in a less competitive division.
Dean Pees hasn’t been a head coach in the NFL, but his six seasons as a defensive coordinator have yielded impressive results. Whether in New England (2006-09) or Baltimore (2012-present), none of his defenses have finished outside the top 12 in scoring. 2012 was the worst Pees-led defense ranked (17th overall), but I think he’s pleased with how that year ended.
Jerry Rosburg has done his fair share, too. Since he came to Baltimore in 2008, Rosburg has helped the Ravens achieve the highest kickoff return average in the league (25.0 yards per return). He also engineered the intentional safety at the end of Super Bowl XLVII that took eight precious seconds away from the 49ers. Before joining the Ravens staff, Rosburg spent time in Atlanta and Cleveland, where he routinely helped his players set records.
Then there’s John Harbaugh. First, I must speak of his character. Long story short, he’s been an inspiration and encouragement to my family and I in what has been an extremely difficult last year.
He is a man of faith and a man of his word, meaning, he’s accountable and is willing to listen to his staff. He’s strong-willed, but uses his experience to gauge his stubbornness. Being stubborn isn’t bad if you’re right and your ways are proven.
Since taking over in 2008, Harbaugh has become the leader in playoff winning percentage among active head coaches (69.2). Overall, he ranks 10th all-time in head coaching playoff winning percentage. To get to that point, Harbaugh has averaged winning 10 games a year over his six years in Baltimore.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, Harbaugh has won 71 of the 110 games in which he’s coached the Ravens. For a head coach to win over 64 percent of his games is not normal. Only four of the 33 active coaches that have been a head coach at one point have a winning percentage above 64 percent (minimum of 50 games).
I could go on about Baltimore’s assistant coaches, but frankly that would take a long time and I’m not sure I’d do them all justice. Just know if you make it on to this staff, you can flat out coach.
Harbaugh, Rosburg, Pees and Kubiak have a combined 61 years of NFL coaching experience to go along with six Super Bowl rings.
There’s no disputing these four men are among the very best at what they do.