The Baltimore Ravens went from the highest of highs in winning a Super Bowl to the lowest of lows in not even making the playoffs. That’s when the whole blame game started, and everyone started to point their fingers at head coach John Harbaugh.
On Monday, the Ravens announced a one-year contract extension with Harbaugh that will push his contract through 2019. However, it still doesn’t mean his job is completely safe.
There has to be a fall-guy when a team starts losing too many football games, and it looked like some people were ready to make Harbaugh that guy. Earlier in the year, FOX Sports writer Cameron DaSilva had him listed as one of the nine NFL coaches believed to be on the hot seat heading into the 2017 season.
DaSilva could actually be correct given the short-term memory in the NFL.
A team is only as good as their most recent season. People aren’t talking about the Lombardi Trophy Harbaugh helped the team win four years ago at Super Bowl XLVII. They aren’t relishing over the fact that his 10-5 playoff record is second only to Bill Belichick (20-6) among current coaches. No one wants to talk about his 10-year tenure and him being the winningest coach in Ravens franchise history.
It’s straight to the cutting board in this day and age.
The Ravens have obviously struggled since their last trip to the Super Bowl. They are 31-33 over the last four seasons, and they have only been back to the playoffs once. They were defeated in a divisional showdown with the New England Patriots in their last playoff appearance, where they blew a pair of double-digit leads. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that year.
It isn’t too far-fetched to think the Ravens could have beaten the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game, if they could have held on against the Patriots. That would have made for Harbaugh’s second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons. The hot seat conversation wouldn’t even be relevant if Harbaugh’s team accomplished that feat.
Neither outcome should be an indictment on Harbaugh’s coaching abilities. Losing gives off the false illusion that he’s the problem in Baltimore, when bad personnel moves combined with the worst luck with injuries have turned the Ravens from a perennial playoff contender into a hot mess.
Fortunately for Harbaugh, the Ravens front office isn’t looking at things through a short-term lens. It’s not surprising for a franchise that’s had only three head coaches and a 21-year general manager. The new deal gives Harbaugh a little extra time to right the ship in Baltimore, but change will have to come quickly.
More losses will only lead to more whispers of a Harbaugh-less future for the Ravens.