John Harbaugh has been a lightning rod for criticism lately – such is the life of an NFL coach, especially during non-playoff seasons. Many fans wanted him gone after missing the playoffs last year. All throughout the 2016 season, the volume of fans wanting Harbaugh gone has grown significantly. I have questioned Harbaugh more and more for what is going on with this team, especially offensively. But many times, it is in the heat of the moment, and that is the worst time to make decisions of this magnitude.
Consistency reigns supreme in sports. But is it success that breeds consistency – or consistency that breeds success? I’ll go with both.
The Patriots have only been good since Bill Belichick has been there. The Steelers have had ups and downs during Mike Tomlin’s reign, but overall they are a great franchise because of their consistency in the front office and at Head Coach.
Even the Cincinnati Bengals. You can say they have failed in the playoffs, which they have, but overall, they have been fighting for a playoff spot for many years now, and part of that is from their consistency at the Head Coaching position.
Don’t Forget the QB
There is another aspect of this that some forget about: the quarterback. Teams succeed with a good Head Coach and a franchise QB. Belichick and Tom Brady. Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger. Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning. Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers. Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson.
Teams that don’t have a franchise quarterback and/or change coaches often, are the ones that are struggling to make the playoffs or even have .500 seasons.
The Ravens have succeeded since Harbaugh and Joe Flacco took over. You want Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to fire Harbaugh? Who are you going to replace him with that makes the Ravens better?
Exactly. You aren’t.
Harbaugh is one of the very best coaches and leaders in the NFL. Harbaugh has lead this team through a lot of changes over the years. The “player mutiny” in 2012 is a great example of that. He heard the players’ issues and figured out a way to make it work. Not only that, but he succeeded through it.
For another example, look at the 2015 season. With as bad as that season was, he had the team fighting each game. They never lost focus or gave up on that season. I think you’ll see that displayed again Sunday. The Ravens have nothing to play for at all, and after Sunday’s deflating loss to the Steelers, you could see the players not wanting to even show up. But I think you’ll see Harbaugh rally his team to victory, and it will be another case of how he is a great leader.
You can say that he has in-game coaching issues. I agree there, but I also think he just needs to do a better job of hiring coordinators. If he does that, his in-game coaching can improve because he won’t have to think about vetoing a play call.
Is the Problem Higher than the Coach?
Harbaugh has proven that he can coach up good players to work together as a team… even when he isn’t given the most talented players. I think someone who needs to be feeling more heat than Harbaugh is General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
Ozzie has been one of the very best in the business for years and that may be his downfall. Has he been given a lifetime pass because of his success? The Ravens roster has not been very good the last few years.
The lack of depth over the whole roster has been poor.
One injury on the offensive line has killed this team.
The lack of wide receiver depth has made it tough on Flacco.
Pass rushers? Not sure where they are.
Cornerbacks? Can we get someone besides Jimmy Smith?
The 2016 draft was a good one for the Ravens, so kudos to Newsome and the scouting department for that. However, the 2015 draft was not. Outside the first two picks in the 2014 draft, that year wasn’t good either. The 2013 class produced only two good players. The 2012 draft was less than stellar. But even 2011 and 2010 only gave the Ravens three long-term players.
Steve Ruiz from USA Today found that “Since the 2008 NFL draft, which yielded players like Flacco and Ray Rice, Newsome has drafted only one player who has made a Pro Bowl appearance while playing for the Ravens. That was linebacker C.J. Mosley… [Newsome] hasn’t drafted a Pro Bowl defensive back in 14 years. He’s never drafted a Pro Bowl wide receiver.”
Newsome has continually done a great job with player contracts, free agency signings, and other roster moves, but he hasn’t lived up to his billing of draft genius.
Eric DeCosta is the “General Manager In-Waiting” in Baltimore and has turned down many opportunities to be the GM elsewhere because he has loved the Ravens organization and his success has been from learning from Newsome. It seems that the Ravens are in great hands if Newsome moves on, but something tells me that Bisciotti is not going that route.
The Ravens will hold their “State of the Ravens” press conference shortly after the season ends and Bisciotti tends to make his decisions on coaches before that event. So, if there will be any changes made, it would be in the next week or so.
I believe that Newsome and Harbaugh are with the Ravens in 2017. I think offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and defensive coordinator Dean Pees will also be back in 2017. Bisciotti is patient and consistency matters. The Ravens success is built on it.