Now, I know what you’re thinking. He turned the Ravens into a powerhouse. He took over a mishmash of parts that Brian Billick underutilized and turned them into an almost yearly playoff team. He’s been tasked with playing piecemeal the past few seasons, so we can’t put this all on him. And, to be honest, you’d be (somewhat) right.
The Ravens, in the Harbaugh era, have been consistent in their playoff runs for the most parts. 2015 was a year of unlucky breaks. And they did win their second championship in 2012. But, after that 2012 season, let’s really look at the team. For starters, there hasn’t been a consistent offensive coordinator (or at least a consistent one who seemingly knows what’s what).
In 2012, Jim Caldwell (the genius who turned Detroit into a high-powered playoff team this year) led the team’s offense to the Super Bowl. But, since then, the team’s seen a different OC every season (this past season and in–ironically enough–2012, we saw two per year). I get that the Ravens want consistency (who doesn’t?). But, Harbaugh keeping Mornhinweg on after he’s shown that he’s not going to do what he needs to most of the time to blossom his weapons? That just smacks of someone too comfortable in their space. There needs to be fire lit under everyone’s asses going into 2017, and it’s got to start with Harbaugh realizing that he’s making some boneheaded decisions.
I always hear from more “experienced” pundits that the Ravens don’t have weapons. That’s not true. They’ve got to get some personnel in there that know how to not just rely on Dennis Pitta and dink-and-dunk offense. They’ve got to get someone that’ll instill their running corps with that same “I’m gonna put the fear of God into you” fire they exhibited over the years. Let Flacco air it out; the receivers have shown they can go long when directed to. Stop with all the bozo out routes. Stop with the hesitation to run. Stop with the weird-ass trick plays that fool no one. You want to open up your air game some more? Throw more runs in, then catch defenses sleeping. It’s not rocket science. Hell, any Monday Morning Quarterback worth their weight in Madden discs can tell you that.
Secondly, the Ravens have only seen one actual winning season since the 2012 season. In 2013 and 2016, they went 8-8. In 2015, they miraculously made it to 5-11. 2014 was the only actual winning season at 10-6 and they still missed the playoffs, even with Gary Kubiak helming things. This goes back to having someone at the OC position who isn’t afraid of unfurling his weapons to the world.
Now, the offense isn’t the only one to blame here, even though it’s easy to pile on Harbaugh and Mornhinweg. The defense, while still a stalwart, has shown some vulnerability on, well, many forms of the pass this season. Now, I like Dean Pees. I think he’s done a great job at keeping his defenses near the top. But this season, the wheels just came off. I’m not one to panic. I’m truly not. But, when your defensive backs are consistently being beat on the same types of plays over more than one season, there’s got to be a change.
Again, both of these problems find their root in John Harbaugh. This is especially true since he’s announced that Mornhinweg and Pees will be back for 2017. Players, while they’d never admit it, are seemingly turning against Harbaugh’s philosophies and coaching. Look at the Cincinnati game from New Year’s Day. They out and out gave up and said “eff this. When’s my flight leaving?” That’s the worst thing you can get from your players as a coach, especially one who prides himself on instilling a never-say-die demeanor into his team.
Can the Ravens be righted in 2017? Yes, I believe they can. But, I’m not too sure if it can be done with Harbaugh anymore. There’s no denying that John Harbaugh is a good coach. But, in the NFL, good can never be good enough. Nor can we hold onto the past, since this is a sport that’ll constantly ask “what have you done (for me) lately?” So, unless there are sweeping changes across the board, hold your heads, Ravens fans.
It’s going to be one hell of a year.
If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But, I see more of the same next year. Please prove me wrong, Ravens.