Baltimore Ravens: Comparing Brian Billick and John Harbaugh

Jan 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Baltimore Ravens former coach Brian Billick on the NFL Network set at the Phoenix Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sport

Brian Billick was the coach who first got the Baltimore Ravens to greatness. John Harbaugh has had some pretty amazing moments, but has missed the playoffs three of the past four seasons. Which coach has the better resume, today.

When the Baltimore Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII, John Harbaugh had emerged as the unquestioned top coach in Ravens history. The Ravens had gone to the playoffs five years in a row, they went to the AFC Championship three times in those five years. The Ravens won their division in 2011 and 2012. This was the best stretch in the history of the Ravens, and it isn’t even close.

Then Harbaugh went 8-8 in 2013, making it his first season without the playoffs. It wasn’t anything to freak out about because the Ravens were due a down year at some point. In 2014 the Ravens sneaked their way into the playoffs with some help from the Kansas City Chiefs. They beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh and gave the Patriots a run for their money. Everything was good again, and Harbaugh was the unquestioned winner of this debate.

2015 was a train wreck that nobody saw coming. With a boatload of injuries and Murphy’s law coming hard at the Ravens, 5-11 was the best they could do. After an 8-8 2016 season, the debate between the Ravens second and third coach is now reopened. Harbaugh had nothing but success for five years. The last four seasons have been wildly underwhelming. Now both coaches in this conversation have enough ups and downs to make for a real argument.

Harbaugh has more wins than any coach in Ravens history. With a record of 85-59, he has taken the lead from a numerical stand point. Billick went 80-64 from 1999-2007. The biggest argument for Harbaugh is playoff success. Harbaugh is 10-5 in postseason play, while Billick was 5-3. Harbaugh has never lost in the first round of the playoffs either.

Who Has The Edge?

I think Harbaugh and Billick are equals. Both are Super Bowl champions. Both have been strong leaders. Remember, Billick is in the ring of honor. Harbaugh has had a franchise quarterback for his entire tenure. Billick’s best quarterback was Steve McNair, and that didn’t last long. As it stands right now, the two coaches have given the team very similar results.

If I had to chose one, I’d pick Harbaugh. He has had more success in the playoffs and had the best five year span the organization has seen. Secondly, Harbaugh still has a chance to add to his resume. A few more good seasons and the argument is over. I just think both coaches have a lot to be proud of. If Billick had a quarterback during his tenure, I think he could have equaled Harbaugh’s playoff success.

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