It’s been a long honeymoon since the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl win in the 2012-2013 season. Baltimore is just 31-33 in the regular season since their championship campaign of a few years ago, and things have grown uneasy inside the state of Maryland.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh reacts on the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Head coach John Harbaugh has been under fire recently as losses and inconsistency have continued to plague the team. Attrition and a number of player departures have forced the Ravens into rebuilding on the fly with limited cap space and draft picks. A crucial Christmas Day loss to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers was the final nail in the Ravens season and prompted the question: should the Ravens part ways with Harbaugh? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate this fan based concerning question.
Green: Of course not. Despite a few hiccups over the last few seasons, Harbaugh’s regular season record stands at 89-59 and he still boasts an impressive postseason record of 10-5. He’s been to the playoffs in six of the last nine years and his teams have been one of the more feared units in all of football. Sure, the Ravens missed the playoffs in back-to-back years, but the Steelers stuck with Mike Tomlin when they missed the playoffs in 2012 and 2013 and now they’re a dark horse Super Bowl pick. The Ravens couldn’t be in better hands with Harbaugh and it would be a setback for the franchise if they parted ways with their Super Bowl-winning head coach.
Riley: Every team goes through a phase where a new voice is simply needed to move the needle. Harbaugh has had a great tenure in Baltimore, but every coach’s voice grows stale at some point in his career. Baltimore was a powerhouse during Harbaugh’s first few seasons. Some of that success was due to a supremely talented roster, but Harbaugh was also an iconic force, yelling, pointing and guiding his Ravens teams into deep postseason runs with fire and passion despite a young quarterback named Joe Flacco. NFL windows are short and both Harbaugh and Flacco may have already moved past their primes.
Green: If there’s any coach in the NFL that has earned the right to play out his contract, it’s John Harbaugh. Once his contract is up after next season, then Baltimore can assess and see what the best move is going forward. As long as Baltimore remains competitive, that’s all you can ask. The Ravens were in the hunt for the playoffs all the way until their week 16 loss and that game could have gone either way. That battle with their archrivals was for a playoff seed and the division rights and they just missed out by only an inch. It was a great play by Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, so salute, and see you next year.
That loss wasn’t on Harbaugh—it’s just an example of how fine the line between winning and losing is in the NFL. Baltimore not only needs to stay the course but look into resigning Harbaugh when his contract is up after the 2017-2018 campaign. Again, take a look at how Pittsburgh dealt with Tomlin missing the playoffs in two straight years. They handled it right. Baltimore should take notes.
Riley: No one is taking anything away from Harbaugh. He’s had a great career and has been instrumental in the Ravens’ prominence since 2008. This isn’t the NFL of yesteryear where head coaches could be with one team for decades. Faces and players change so consistently in professional football that sometimes the franchise has to change as well to adapt. A few seasons of mediocrity can feel like a few decades and despite all of Harbaugh’s previous accomplishments, he’s not getting paid or judged on what he did four years ago, it’s about right now. And as it currently stands, Baltimore is nowhere near as dominant or consistent as they were just a few seasons ago. A change in talent is obvious but what about the head-scratching penalties or questionable coaching decisions in the fourth quarter? It hasn’t been all Harbaugh’s fault, obviously, but the coach is always the first to blame and often the first to go. I think Harbaugh is a great coach but it might be time for a change in Baltimore.