In what should be considered the opposite of a classic Friday news dump, the Ravens announced Friday evening that head coach John Harbaugh would be staying in Charm City for the foreseeable future.
Rumors had swirled midseason that the coach and organization were heading towards a mutual parting, but the statement released by the Ravens emphatically states their intention to keep Harbaugh around for the short term and long term.
Statement from the Baltimore Ravens: pic.twitter.com/NSog0QWx1P— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 21, 2018
This is great news for a franchise that thrives off stability and consistency. Harbaugh has been the head coach in Baltimore since 2008, joining the franchise at the same time as longtime starting quarterback Joe Flacco. He was, of course, the head coach during the Ravens’ 2013 run to the Super Bowl, the second such victory in franchise history.
With the changes being made around the organization, including Lamar Jackson taking over the starting QB role and Eric DeCosta set to assume Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome’s position as General Manager at the end of the season, it would have made some degree of sense to go with a new head coach as well.
Instead, this is a clear sign from owner Steve Bisciotti and the entire front office that not only do Harbaugh and DeCosta work well together and share a vision for the future of the organization, but that those in charge believe Harbaugh is capable of leading an entirely new generation of Ravens to the promised land.
Sometimes, a successful head coach stays in the same place too long and his message becomes stale. After multiple years of being on the outside looking in during the postseason, it’s possible ownership would have seen the same from Harbaugh. Doubling down on their Super Bowl-winning coach is a strong endorsement of both his past and present, but also his future, in addition to the future of the rest of the coaching staff.
The timing may seem curious, though longtime Ravens broadcaster Gerry Sandusky sees it as a calculated, psychological move.
Totally psychological. It’s ownerships way of taking must-win pressure off a challenging game which could actually increase the chances of winning tomorrow. https://t.co/zV6K9AaqW3— Gerry Sandusky (@GerrySandusky) December 22, 2018
The Ravens enter Week 16 likely needing to win out to make snap their postseason drought, a difficult move considering Saturday’s road matchup against the white hot Chargers. This announcement takes the pressure off the final two games this season as must-wins, allowing Harbaugh, his staff, and the entire team to focus solely on the task at hand.
The reaction online was overwhelmingly positive, from local and national writers alike.
The Ravens decision to extend John Harbaugh makes sense. He has the number 1 ranked defense and the perfect offensive coaching staff for a Lamar Jackson offense. And he has the respect of his players. In other words, he has everything you would look for in a new coach.— Gerry Sandusky (@GerrySandusky) December 22, 2018
Had John Harbaugh been available, he would have been an extremely high-level head-coach candidate. But thanks in part to how he’s turned this season around, the #Ravens made clear he’s staying. They’ll get to work on a long-term extension. More stability in Baltimore.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 22, 2018
Other teams would’ve been ready to pounce. I promise you that. https://t.co/feZ78INhwr— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 22, 2018
No question. Teams were waiting for it. He would have immediately become top candidate on market.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 22, 2018
There may have been some hot coaching candidates this offseason, but outside of Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, there isn't a clear future coaching star out there. The grass isn't always greener, and Harbaugh is widely considered one of the NFL’s upper echelon coaches.
This was the Ravens sending a message about their belief in Harbaugh, the staff, the players and the future, and it eliminates a potentially tough offseason debate. It’s a strong move, and a necessary one, even if the timing was unexpected. Harbaugh will be in Baltimore for a long time, and that’s music to the ears of Ravens fans everywhere.
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