As the Baltimore Ravens enter their bye week 4-5, sitting third in the AFC North and having now lost three in a row, their week off will be spent answering several tough questions.
One of the biggest and toughest ones has to do with their head coach of 11 years.
John Harbaugh has led the Ravens to the playoffs six of his 10 full seasons, and of course in 2012, coached his team to winning Super Bowl XLVII. But the Ravens haven't seen the postseason since 2014, and with a loss against the Cincinnati Bengals come Week 11, the playoffs once again look to be in the rearview mirror.
The bye week could bring the end of an era. Or it could not.
After his teams 23-16 loss Sunday to the Steelers Sunday in what was considered a must-win game, Harbaugh was asked about the possibility of being relieved of his coaching duties sometime in the next week.
"I've never been someone who's worried about keeping a job," Harbaugh said. "It's always been, for me, [about] doing the job. I've got a bunch of great coaches and a bunch of great players that bust their tails every day to do the best job they can. I feel really good about the way this team has been coached for the last 11 years, and for the last number of weeks we've been in the season. So, there are no regrets. Never been any regrets here with me."
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, in February at his annual State of the Ravens press conference, was asked why there were no coaching changes made after the Ravens' heartbreaking, last second Week 17 loss to the Bengals that knocked them out of the playoffs.
"I’m not going to give a ‘playoff or bust’ edict to you all, or to my coach," Bisciotti said at the time. "He’s under as much pressure, probably, than he’s ever been in his life, and I expect him to keep his chin up and take his positivity and his talents and make the most of this season. I may as well replace him now if I’m going to tell him, ‘Make the playoffs or you’re out of town next year.’ That’s just not the way to run a business.”
Ravens players stood by Harbaugh, telling reporters after the loss that they didn't think there needed to be a personnel change.
"No, I don't. We have a lot of confidence in what we can do as a team," Joe Flacco said.
"There are a lot of teams out there that aren't quite in the position that they want to be in; we're just one of them. Obviously, the name of the game in this league is winning football games, and there is always going to be pressure internally and externally when you're not winning games like you want to. We understand that, and we just have to do more."
When asked about the report of Harbaugh being on the hot seat, linebacker C.J. Mosley responded with, "Let's not worry about that."
The wound of a division loss, especially to the Steelers, is still very fresh. Both Harbaugh and players noted that their bye week will be spent getting mentally, and physically, back on track. And while Harbaugh's future could be in jeopardy, the head coach remains focused on his future with this team.
"We'll keep fighting, and that's what we'll do," he said.
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