In an off camera interview following the State of the Ravens press conference in 2013, owner Steve Bisciotti sent a clear message to John Harbaugh and the coaching staff – Repeated failure won’t be tolerated. This was, of course, following the only season in which the Ravens failed to make the playoffs in John Harbaugh’s tenure as head coach.
“I have to be patient and let people fail, but I don’t have to be patient enough to let people repeat failure,” Bisciotti said according to Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun. “I’ll be more apt to get my way next year if their solutions don’t change the problems. That’s fair, that’s where I am as an owner.”
The Ravens redeemed themselves in 2014 with another postseason appearance and victory in Pittsburgh. But let’s not forget, if it had not been for backup quarterback Brodie Croyle taking down the San Diego Chargers in week 17, the Ravens would’ve been on the outside looking in again.
Today the Ravens sit at (1-4) with a very slim chance to make the playoffs.
If the downward spiral continues could John Harbaugh be on the hot seat after this season?
While it’s true the Ravens have been to the playoffs six times in seven years under Harbaugh, with their perennial players and leaders now gone, it is up to Harbaugh to forge the Ravens new identity. Through the first five weeks of the season they’ve looked like a team that doesn’t have one. Outplayed and outcoached have been two words that have been thrown around a lot this season. As Tony Lombardi pointed out in a recent Word On the Street, some of Harbaugh’s recent decisions and strategies have been maddening to watch. Poor clock management, in game adjustments and ill-timed fakes that reek of desperation have been commonplace early on in 2015.
The lack of discipline has been staggering, and while the sheer number of penalties itself has been troublesome, their timing has been worse. Sunday against the Browns was no exception. The Ravens for the second time in three weeks had double digit penalties that directly led to points for the opposition. They lost by three points to the Browns, and a pointless hands to the face flag by Jason Babin cost the Ravens four points. Pointless penalties that affect the outcome of games are signs of a lack of focus, and a lack of focus is a reflection of poor coaching.
The NFL is very much a what have you done for me lately league. Lately the Ravens are on the verge of being a team that’s in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, and that includes the aforementioned good fortune at the end of 2014.
Sure, they’ve been bit by the injury bug, they’ve lost some close games and they’ve had some bad luck, with catches like Gary Barnidge made in Sunday’s game. But playoff-caliber, well-coached teams are able to overcome those obstacles and the 2015 Ravens have crumbled under that pressure week after week.
The first couple of games it was fair to wonder if the Ravens were just the victims of some bad luck, and couple of bounces not going their way. It’s become obvious throughout the course of the season that there’s more to it than that. There are noticeable flaws with the 2015 Ravens and a lack of leadership is undoubtedly one of them.
Steve Bisciotti, at least on the surface appears to be a man of his word. In 2014 he sounded serious about his lack of tolerance in regards to repeated failure. It’s fair to wonder if there isn’t a serious turnaround – and soon – if John Harbaugh’s seat will start getting toasty by the end of this season.