Heading into his 14th season at the helm, there isn’t a lot that John Harbaugh hasn’t seen or hasn’t had to endure during his tenure as the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. He may not hold his breath with feverish anticipation for the annual release of the ensuing season’s regular-season schedule, but he still looks forward to it nevertheless with the hope that it shakes out favorably.
When the 2021 schedule was officially revealed last week, the Ravens were one of the teams who were dealt an unorthodox slate that included a string of consecutive home games early on in the year which meant a subsequent string of road games later on down the stretch.
“I tried not to think about it after looking at it,” Harbaugh said over the weekend during rookie minicamp. “It might give me a headache trying to figure it all out. Quirky, to say the least. It’s probably our turn to get the crazy one and we did. All those home games in a row is different. All those road games is a row is different. We just have to take it as we get there.”
The Ravens will play four straight games at home in M&T Bank from Week 5 to Week 9, with a Week 8 bye in between. Their opponents during that four-game homestand in order will be the Indianapolis Colts, the Los Angeles Chargers, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Minnesota Vikings.
This means that after returning from a Week 4 matchup with the Denver Broncos, the Ravens will go over a month without travel until they face the Miami Dolphins for a primetime matchup to kick off Week 10 on a quick turnaround.
It also means that four of their next five games starting with the Dolphins will be on the road, which just so happens to coincide with arguably the toughest part of their schedule on paper at the moment.
In addition to a formidable Miami team, they will face the Cleveland Browns twice in three weeks with a showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers wedged in between and Chicago Bears team that might have a new quarterback under center and a new lease on life by then.
It is the kind of scheduling anomaly that Harbaugh has yet to witness in nearly a decade and a half on the job but he understands give always comes with its fair share of take.
“You know you’ve got to pay a price for that,” Harbaugh said. “Pay me now or pay me later. I think it’s just a strange different kind of deal. It’s the first time I’ve seen that. Maybe it’s happened before, I don’t know. That really caught my attention right away.”
While the term quirky isn’t the one I’d use to describe the way the Ravens’ 2021 schedule was put together, it was far from a complaint. You’ll never hear much if any bellyaching from a team coached by Harbaugh because he will have them prepared to face and overcome any adversity they meet.
Whether it is the man lined up across from them on any given play or the fact that they will have abnormal travel plans compared to last season when they alternated regularly between home and away the whole year, he’ll have his coaches and players focused on the weekly task at hand.