After missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season, John Harbaugh's seat has never been hotter during his decade long tenure with the Baltimore Ravens than now. He is under pressure to make the playoffs in 2018, to save his job and show that he is still a capable coach. It also seems that if he is going to go down, he's going to go down with his guys at defensive and offensive coordinator.
However, what if he doesn't make it to the end of the season? Owner Steve Bisciotti hasn't fired a head coach in midseason, but Harbaugh is only the third coach in Ravens history and the second under Bisciotti's ownership. There is always a first for everything.
We could find out more at the State of the Ravens press conference, but Bisciotti, while still having faith in his coach, can't be happy right now. The fact that Harbaugh isn't necessarily an X's and O's coach, and showed loyalty towards Dean Pees for six years despite what turned out to be 18 4th-quarter blown leads does not help his resume. It's also not good to know that Harbaugh had a hand in the decision making on the 4th-and-12 play that ended the Ravens season.
Another factor for a potential midseason firing is what the team looks like at the bye week. Over the last three seasons, Baltimore has been 2-6, 4-5, and 4-5 at the halfway point of the year. While the team should be commended for fighting in the second half of their recent seasons, it's still a tough situation to climb out of when you start off slowly. Just ask the Los Angeles Chargers who started the 2017 campaign 0-4 before going on a run to finish 9-7, only to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
While the return of Marty Mornhinweg was unpopular, the offense did score twenty points or more from Week 8 through Week 17, showing much improvement. General Manager Ozzie Newsome shares a lot of the blame for the offenses first half struggles due to a lack of investment on that side of the ball last offseason. If Ozzie adds the pieces necessary to help the offense, then an early return should be expected.
Harbaugh also hired from within to replace Dean Pees, choosing Don "Wink" Martindale over established coordinators. Martindale comes with risk because of his 2010 tenure as coordinator of the Denver Broncos defense, which was the worst in the NFL that year. Martindale did have factors working against him with Elvis Dumervil missing the season due to injury, aging players, and a season mired with the Tim Tebow drama after head coach Josh McDaniels drafted him. This was also pre-Von Miller, and who knows how much Martindale has changed since 2010.
Every Baltimore defensive coordinator had been different, from Rex Ryan to Greg Mattison, and Chuck Pagano to Dean Pees. The Ravens defense has talent both young and old, but with Pees the end the results were the same. Harbaugh can't have that result again with Martindale.
2018 is going to be the last chance for Harbaugh to right the ship as Baltimore's head coach. It's a shame because he should've been among the coaches in the playoffs this year if his defense just made one stop on a 4th-and-12 at home. Unfortunately, this is the situation Harbaugh and Bisciotti find themselves in entering 2018, we will find out more of what the owner is thinking pretty soon.
If things stay the same as the last two years, with the offense struggling early and the defense continuing to falter late, does Bisciotti pull the trigger and give way to an interim coach like Mornhinweg or Greg Roman? For the Ravens sake, they hope it doesn't come down to that.