Moving forward with Harbaugh and Jackson

Street Talk Moving forward with Harbaugh and Jackson

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There’s been a lot of talk about how the futures of John Harbaugh and Lamar Jackson are tied together.

That’s probably a fair observation … to a certain extent.

Certainly, the Ravens are moving forward with Harbaugh as the head coach and Jackson as the starting quarterback.

The former is well-established in the NFL. The latter is still working to be an efficient, well-rounded player.

Don’t underestimate Harbaugh’s capacity to make changes if he feels there is a better way to run the team.

He already replaced Marty Mornhinweg with Greg Roman as the offensive coordinator. Harbaugh is confident this move puts Jackson in a better position to succeed. 

“I just feel like, and this is something that I’ve talked about with all the people involved, Marty was great. Greg was great about it,” Harbaugh said. “This was just me looking at our situation, feeling like and deciding pretty quickly that the direction we needed to go – from the way our offense was going to be built from the ground up – needed to start with the run game and build into the play-action pass, and then to the drop-back pass from there, kind of built around our quarterback and what he’s going to bring to the table going forward.

“That’s Lamar Jackson. So, that was the best way to organize it. I feel like, it’s a little overrated sometimes, who’s in charge and all of that. Who calls the plays is important. There’s no doubt about it.”

Ravens coaching moves

photo: Baltimore Ravens

Harbaugh and the rest of the Ravens staff will be closely watching Jackson’s development. Harbaugh is prohibited to specifically comment on Jackson’s workout routine away from the team facility this offseason. However, Harbaugh did imply that Jackson will work with a so-called “quarterback guru” or coach to improve his passing skills. 

“I do know what his plans are. I think he’s still formulating those, and we don’t do it – he does it,” Harbaugh said. It’s his responsibility to do it, per rules, and that’s the way it should be. But, of course, we have thoughts on it and advice and whatnot. He’s going to work at it. He’s going to work at it really hard.

“Who he works with, or where he works, I’ll leave that to him to answer if he wants to answer. But I’m quite sure that he’ll be working at it really hard, and he already is. Throughout the course of the offseason, he’s going to throw the ball a lot. He’s going to have his receivers and throw the ball to them, he already told me that, and all those other things. He should come back, I expect him to come back a better quarterback, skill-wise, than he was when he left. He’s determined to do that.” 

So, the Ravens are not entering the offseason with their fingers crossed that Jackson becomes a better downfield passer. A plan is in place for him to take the next step.

Harbaugh received a contract extension, but he still says all NFL coaches basically work under a one-year deal. If the team loses, the head coach is likely out, regardless of his contract status.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti fired Brian Billick in 2007 with three years and $5 million per season left on his contract. Billick laments that his future was tied to quarterback Kyle Boller, a first-round pick that never panned out.  

“I am living proof that if you miss on a first-round quarterback, as I did with Kyle Boller, you end up broadcasting games and writing about the NFL instead of coaching,” Billick once said. 

So, there will always be pressure to win. While Harbaugh and Jackson are moving forward together, the coach is going to put the best players on the field.

Winning will always be the bottom line. 

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Todd Karpovich

About Todd Karpovich

Todd Karpovich has been a contributor for ESPN, the Associated Press, SportsXchange, the Baltimore Sun, among other media outlets nationwide. He is the co-author of “If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Baltimore Ravens Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box,” “Skipper Supreme: Buck Showalter and the Baltimore Orioles,” and the author of “Manchester United (Europe's Best Soccer Clubs).” Karpovich lives in Towson with his wife, Jill, daughters, Wyeth and Marta, and a pair of dogs, Sarah and Rory. More from Todd Karpovich

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