Ravens coach John Harbaugh has become accustomed to game-planning and strategizing in early January.
Since taking over as the Ravens' head coach in 2008, he's advanced to five consecutive playoffs and won at least one game in each one.
This time, in season six, Harbaugh will be at home for the postseason, watching 12 other teams continue their journey in hopes of claiming a Super Bowl title.
When Harbaugh stepped up to the podium for his end-of-season press conference on Monday, Harbaugh apologized to the fans, with the local media on hand, for not getting the job done this year.
"I apologize for the fact that we're even having this press conference, for the fact that we have to sit here and talk about the fact that we're wrapping up the season and the playoffs haven't even started yet," Harbaugh said. "That's not territory we're very comfortable with or very familiar with or that we're very happy about around here. We understand that we didn't get the job done and that we need to go to work to improve in every single way we possibly can. We'll approach it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. We will work like crazy to improve and become better. But, this is going to be sticking in our craw for quite a long time — I can tell you that."
Harbaugh added that in exit interviews conducted with the players that he saw the same kind of feeling in their eyes. Those that have been around the franchise in recent years understand that this isn't a familiar position for this organization.
It will be something that gnaws at both the coaching staff and players all offseason.
"I see guys that are a cross between a little — I don't know if ‘stunned' is the right word — but this is not something they're used to, and they're a little bit ticked off," Harbaugh said. "Every single guy that I've talked to has taken responsibility first. You can listen to somebody when someone says, ‘This is what I think the problem is,' but when they start with themselves and with ‘what I could have done better and should have done better to improve us,' then you know you're more apt to listen to what the rest of the things that they have to say are. To a man, every one of our guys has done that - coaches and players. That's the way they have been all year, and that's what I appreciate about our guys."