In 2008, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti made a bold decision. A decision that he knew would change the direction of not only the Ravens, but Bisciotti himself. This was the Ravens owner's first chance at hiring a new head coach, after becoming the majority owner of the team from Art Modell in 2004. Steve Bisciotti knew he had to get this right after he fired nine-year head coach Brian Billick following a disappointing 2007 season.
Bisciotti made an offer to the hottest coordinator on the market, then Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, but Garrett would stay with the Cowboys after owner Jerry Jones gave him a raise and a promotion to assistant head coach. Garrett was one of two candidates Bisciotti brought in for a second interview. That second candidate, former Philadelphia Eagles special teams and secondary coach John Harbaugh, would eventually get the job as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens . Many Ravens fans were flabbergasted at the hiring of a special teams coach. Some didn't even know who John Harbaugh was.
Bisciotti would hire Harbaugh based on his experience as the owner of Aerotek. He thrived on hiring young and unproven employees to see if they can earn their resumes, and earn their place in business. That's what he did with the hiring of Harbaugh, instead of hiring an experienced coach at the time like Bill Cowher or Marty Schottenheimer; or a well known coordinator looking to be a head coach like Garrett or Rex Ryan. Bisciotti took a massive gamble hiring someone who had never run an offense or defense to handle a team that was defense dominated and had the presence of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, Bart Scott and Chris McAlister. Not to mention an offense that had talent like Todd Heap, Derrick Mason and Willis McGahee, but were miles behind the defense.
Almost nine years later and John Harbaugh, the "special teams coach" is now one win away from tying Brian Billick for the most regular season wins in franchise history after his team's comeback victory over the Cleveland Browns last week. Billick coached the Ravens from 1999-2007, and notched 80 regular season wins to go along with five playoff wins and a Super Bowl victory. Harbaugh has far surpassed Billick's playoff wins with ten of his own, to go along with a Super Bowl win, but Harbaugh stands at 79 regular season wins as the Ravens head into their Week 3 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday afternoon.
The Ravens have only had three coaches in their now 21 year history. Billick, Harbaugh and the late Ted Marchibroda, who was the first ever head coach of the Ravens and a former head coach of the Baltimore Colts. Marchibroda coached the Ravens from 1996-1998 and became the only man to serve as head coach for both the Baltimore Colts and Ravens.
Not only is John Harbaugh one win away from tying Billick, he has been considered one of the best head coaches in football since becoming the leader of the Ravens in 2008. Harbaugh has brought consistency, passion, leadership and a winning formula to a team that, despite their Super Bowl XXXV victory, really needed it. John Harbaugh is a better coach than Brian Billick. He is the best coach in Ravens history and has been for a while now. All he needs now is one more win to officially move in to the top of the wins list with Billick, and then one more after that to stand alone in the record books.
Harbaugh may still have his critics and there are some who believe his success only came because of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It comes with the territory of being a head coach in the NFL, but there is no denying - what Harbaugh has done during his tenure with the Ravens has been nothing short of remarkable.