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Think Ravens would be better off without John Harbaugh? Think again

Think Ravens would be better off without John Harbaugh? Think again

After missing the playoffs three of the last four seasons, is coach John Harbaugh in danger of losing his job?

That decision is ultimately up to owner Steve Bisciotti. However, firing Harbaugh would be the kind of mistake that could set the Ravens back for years.

People on talk radio and social media who want Harbaugh gone, and they are being heard from, should ask themselves these questions. Did the Ravens (8-7) look like a team that had tuned out its head coach during Sunday’s classic game against the Steelers? Which team has more impact playmakers, the Ravens or the Steelers? If Harbaugh is not the head coach you want, what realistic candidates do you have in mind, and why do you think that change would make the Ravens better, not worse?

If Harbaugh were fired, I think he’d get a phone call from another NFL team before he got to his car in the parking lot. Coaches with six playoff appearances in nine years, who have a Super Bowl ring and who have a 10-5 career playoff record don’t grow on trees.

There are not 32 NFL head coaches that you can win big with. You can win big with Harbaugh. He has already proven that. When was the last time the Ravens played a playoff game or an elimination game like Sunday’s and got their doors blown off? It doesn’t happen. Every team that faces the Ravens knows what they’re in for – a 60-minute dogfight.


Harbaugh’s successful track record doesn’t give him a lifetime pass, not with a 31-32 regular season record the past four years. But he should definitely get another opportunity to get the Ravens back in the postseason.

Here’s what the Ravens need: They need more pass rushers who can consistently pressure quarterbacks. Even if linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil return next season, and Suggs says he plans to come back, asking their bodies to hold up as the lead pass rushers for 16 games is likely asking too much.

The Ravens need more depth at cornerback. Tavon Young was a nice 2016 draft pick there, but whenever top corner Jimmy Smith was injured, the Ravens still looked too vulnerable in the secondary, and Smith continued to have trouble staying healthy.

Most importantly, the Ravens need more offensive playmakers and a system that maximizes their talent. Their offense has not played at a championship level since Gary Kubiak left as coordinator two years ago. Joe Flacco has not played at the same level at quarterback since Kubiak left.

Elite or not, Flacco isn’t going anywhere. So next year’s offensive coordinator, whoever it is, needs to have a Kubiak-like influence on Flacco. Especially with Steve Smith Sr. expected to retire, the Ravens need wide receiver Breshad Perriman to play like a first-round pick next season, and an offense that can be more quick-strike and less methodical.

Firing a head coach with one losing season in nine years?  That’s a change the Ravens really don’t need to make.


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Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

Ravens' options in a potential Matthew Judon trade

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Ravens have expressed interest in moving on from Matthew Judon through a trade this offseason. 

Judon, who isn’t under contract for next season, was tied for 19th in the league in sacks with 9.5 — a team-high. He was also the team-leader in quarterback hits with 33. The next best pass-rusher was Tyus Bowser, who registered 10. 

Lined up for a big payday, and with a high-priced franchise tag an option, the Ravens could lose their second pass-rusher in as many years on the free agent market should they elect to not pay Judon the elite pass-rusher money he’ll likely command.

Which brings the Ravens to the report from Schefter that indicated the team could move on from Judon, 27, through the sign-and-trade route. 

Should Judon, or the Ravens, walk away from the negotiating table in free agency, two options exist: The Ravens could either let him walk freely to another team and likely receive a 2021 third-round pick as compensation, or place the franchise tag on Judon. 

With the franchise tag option, the Ravens could keep him for a season and essentially kick the can down the road for a year, or trade him for a return that would likely be greater than the compensatory third, and more importantly, the help would be immediate. 

A few weeks ago, coach John Harbaugh said re-signing Judon would be, “pretty hard,” but that the team was going to try.  

But if the Ravens aren’t able, or are unwilling, to sign Judon, a potential blueprint for a future trade might have been laid out last year by the Chiefs. 

Last season, the Chiefs traded Dee Ford to the 49ers for a second-round pick just a month before they sent first and third-round picks to the Seahawks for Frank Clark and a third-round pick.

Ford had 13 sacks in 2018 and 29 quarterback hits while Clark had 13 as well and 27 quarterback hits. They both immediately signed long-term, expensive contracts with their new teams. 

Baltimore could make a move similar to that with Judon and get better, and more immediate, compensation for him and later add a pass-rusher with the draft capital than the team added.

The Ravens have just under 29 million dollars in cap space, meaning they’ve got the space to sign Judon to a long-term deal or keep him on the franchise tag, but they’d need to make some moves to be able to field a full roster. And that full roster, if Judon isn’t in Baltimore in 2020, needs pass-rushing help. 

Baltimore had 37 sacks as a team, and just over a quarter of them came from Judon. It also had 111 total quarterback hits, and 29.7 percent came from Judon. 

So the report that the Ravens could move Judon could play out, perhaps the most interesting aspect of a Judon trade would be the replacement the Ravens would need to have lined up.

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With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has a decision to make on his playing future, but he's in no rush to make it.

The 35-year-old is under contract with the Ravens through the 2020 season, but will take the next month or so to decide if he wants to continue playing or hang up the cleats.

"I'm going to take my time now," Yanda told Ravens.com regarding his future. "Done playing for the year, just take some time over the next month and basically just go with my heart and see how I feel."

The eight-time Pro Bowler was a vital piece in the NFL's best rushing attack in 2019. Yanda, the leader of the offensive line, started and played in 15 games this season for Baltimore, missing the regular-season finale as the Ravens rested multiple starters with the No. 1 seed already clinched.

Following Baltimore's upset divisional playoff loss to the Titans, a visibly disappointed Yanda refused to address his future, but he was definitely thinking about it then.

But if Sunday's Pro Bowl was the last time Yanda put on the pads, he didn't treat the game or experience any differently.

"Not necessarily," Yanda said if he cherished Sunday's Pro Bowl differently. "You're not in that frame of mind. I definitely didn't think about [my retirement decision] too much today, just because it was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game.

"I didn't have those feelings as much as the Tennessee game," he continued." Yeah, it's a possibility. But those feelings were more in the Tennessee game."

Even at age 35, Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game. He's made the NFL's second-team All-Pro squad the past two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler every season since 2011, minus the 2017 season where he played just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury.

There's no debate: Baltimore would greatly benefit from Yanda returning.

"You want people that want you back," Yanda said. "You want to be playing very well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."

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