John Harbaugh stood at the center of an improbable 2012 season that saw the Baltimore Ravens get the best of Peyton Manning in Denver and Tom Brady in New England before moving on to knock off his brother, Jim Harbaugh, at Super Bowl XLVII.
It feels longer than five years.
The present-day Ravens aren’t Super Bowl contenders. They aren’t even playoff contenders. It’s a team coasting by on the arm of quarterback Joe Flacco rather than a balanced offense and elite defense. Many of the faces in the huddle that kept the team relevant over the years have either moved on to other teams or retired.
Quite frankly, Harbaugh has been left with a mess of a personnel situation over the last few years. A combination of injuries and bad personnel moves had left the Ravens ill-equipped to deal with the absence of franchise greats Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata.
Of course, being the head coach meant Harbaugh took most of the blame for the team’s shortcomings. They are 31-33 since winning the Super Bowl, and they have only had one playoff appearance in the last four seasons.
In a league where teams can be quick to pull the cord on a coaching tenure, Harbaugh has a lot of making up to do if he hopes to see the end of his contract extension with the Ravens. The team announced Monday he was being extended through 2019.
Still, so much has to change.
The Ravens remain one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL. Danny Woodhead should be a nice change-of-pace option on the ground, and he’ll serve as a much-needed security blanket in the passing offense for Flacco. However, he isn’t the workhorse kind of tailback the team desperately needs. He also has a long injury history. Terrance West should see plenty of carries, as well, but he hasn’t been consistent enough.
A muddled mess in the offensive backfield has put the game in Flacco’s hands now more than ever, and it hasn’t always been the prettiest of sights. Speaking of Flacco, he has missed most of training camp with a back injury. Can he really hold up attempting nearly 700 passes for another year?
Fortunately for Harbaugh, the defense is showing shades of the past. They were actually one of the more underrated units in the league in 2016. Perhaps they can get back to masking some of the other problems on the team.
If not, Harbaugh’s might be the first to go.