The Baltimore Ravens have one of the most well respected head in coaches in the NFL in John Harbaugh, but after failure to qualify for post season play in three of the last four years, it's fair to wonder where exactly he ranks among the pantheon of the league’s best leading men.
General manager Ozzie Newsome’s recent moves in free agency suggest that he believes in Harbaugh, and has taken it upon himself to ensure that the cupboard is stocked. The team is suited and booted for a return to the playoffs in 2017. However, while this maneuvering in free agency is obviously meant to help Harbaugh this season, it also sets some pressure upon his shoulders to deliver that aforementioned rebound.
Not every lost season can be blamed on Harbaugh; 2013 and 2016 were years in which the team came within a few inches of potentially making it into January play, while the rash of injuries in 2015 caused owner Steve Bisciotti to concede that “he graded on a curve.” However, even though it can't all be blamed on Harbaugh, there were certain bizarre decisions that he made that seriously set the Ravens back in games, and maybe outright cost them wins.
Some particular head scratchers include accepting a penalty against Oakland that effectively gave them a touchdown, as well as the infamous fake field goal against Washington that saw kicker Justin Tucker line up left footed prior to throwing an incomplete pass. Some of these decisions were completely unacceptable and they can't be tolerated beyond 2017.
In Harbaugh’s defense, more talent can always help. Maybe if Tony Jefferson were lined up in the end zone on that fateful Christmas night in Pittsburgh, he would've de-cleated Antonio Brown before his goal line reach, and we wouldn't even be talking about Harbaugh’s job security. That isn't how things work unfortunately, and while the signings of Jefferson, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Williams, and potentially Morris Claiborne may all give him the ammunition he needs to post double digit wins, it won't matter if he can't hit he proverbial clay pigeon.
Those additions as well as the somewhat controversial decision to retain pass-happy offensive coordinator Marty Morninwheg are all contributing factors to the pressure that Harbaugh is under to deliver this season. While Bisciotti perpetually preaches patience, it's hard to imagine him sticking with a coach who is unable to lead a proud franchise to the playoffs in four of five seasons. Here's to hoping that isn’t the reality this fan base is facing 365 days from now.