Dec 25, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
John Harbaugh should keep his job as the Baltimore Ravens head coach. Reason 1: Stability Is Important
Last season the Ravens went 5-11 and Steve Bisciotti preached stability and continuity. This season the Ravens barely missed the playoffs and stability is still important. Like it or not the Ravens are experiencing life in the NFL. The New England Patriots may seem immune to the ups and downs of the most challenging league in professional sports, but they seem to be the only team with the antidote. The Ravens went to the playoffs five straight times and won a Super Bowl. Since then, there have been three out of four seasons without a playoff birth. Being a perennial power in the NFL is hard.
The reality is that the Ravens would probably be heading to the playoffs if Antonio Brown couldn’t stretch his arms into the end zone. The Ravens had a goal, and they almost reached it. This was not a bad season. To be fair, it wasn’t a great season either. 2016 Ravens football will not be cataloged in the pantheon of great Ravens seasons. However, Baltimore found that the train is still on the tracks, and the team is headed in the right direction.
There were moments this season that any Ravens fan had to question John Harbaugh’s fate. I wrote several articles exploring the possibility. The four game losing streak was painful and it felt like 2015 all over again. The Ravens fell short when it really mattered and that was hard to handle. The Ravens may have frustrated us, but if they made the playoffs we would be singing another tune. Harbaugh has kept the team together through some really tough times. Stability is important and that’s what we get with Harbaugh.
Nov 6, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) high fives fans after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-14 at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Reason Two: Starting Over Is Scary
When John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco came to town there was a buzz about the team. It was a new era, it was exciting and fresh. Many fans want to get that feeling again. A new direction is always something that gives us hope and energy. However, the only reason that feeling came to town, was because Harbaugh and Flacco were the right people to rejuvenate the franchise. It’s easy to think the grass might be greener on the other side, but for all you know, there is a moat with hungry crocodiles in it.
Harbaugh is 84-57 in the regular season. The Ravens have gone 10-5 in the playoffs under Harbaugh. When the team has made the playoffs in the Harbaugh era, they have never lost their first playoff game. Harbaugh has taken the purple and black to three AFC Championship games and won Super Bowl XLVII. Things may not be what they once were, but it’s still could be a lot worse. Harbaugh has still only had one losing season. Say what you want about the 2016 Ravens, they had a shot.
Harbaugh is a good head coach. He may not have every answer there is. He may frustrate us to no end sometimes. At the end of the day however, the good outweighs the bad. Do you really think Josh McDaniels or Kyle Shanahan could top what Harbaugh has done? Even if you do, that is a scary thing to bet on.
Sep 3, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh coaches against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Ravens defeated the Falcons 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Reason 3: Even Winners Have Bad Moments
The Pittsburgh Steelers get a lot of credit for being patient with Bill Cowher. Cowher started his run as the Steelers head coach much like Harbaugh did with the Ravens. Cowher led the Steelers to the playoffs six straight Super Bowls. Then he had three frustrating seasons, without a playoff birth. The Rooney family stuck by Cowher and the Steelers went to the playoffs four of the next six seasons and won Super Bowl XL. It would have been easy for the Steelers to give up on Cowher but they knew he was a winner. When a Ravens guy points to Pittsburgh to make a point, it’s really annoying. That being said, the Ravens should look at what happened to a similar coach of a similar franchise.
Before winning his first Super Bowl, Bill Walsh had two losing seasons. Now, Walsh is considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Just imagine what would have happened if the 49ers would have given up on him after a 2-14 season. Tom Coughlin has had eight losing seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants. However he took the Jaguars to two straight AFC Championship Games and won two Super Bowls with the Giants. The NFL has taken some very great coaches to very low moments.
Harbaugh has done some historically great things with the Ravens. He deserves our patience. If Harbaugh had taken the Ravens on another 5-11 no thrill ride, things would be different. Harbaugh kept the Ravens in the hunt. Things may not have gone the Ravens way but Harbaugh has proven he can rebound from a bad season. The Ravens should keep Harbaugh. If he can reach new heights in his career, he could end up being one of the all time great coaches.