In fifth year with Ravens, Harbaugh faces biggest challenge yet

July 23, 2012 | Luke Jones

Harbaugh and the coaching staff will be too busy to dwell on last season as the Ravens begin their 17th season in Baltimore.

They’ll need to determine if Williams is up to the task of replacing Grubbs at left guard while they evaluate younger options Osemele and Jah Reid. Meanwhile, they’ll hope aging veterans Bryant McKinnie and Matt Birk will hold up at their respective positions on the offensive line.

Finding the right combination in trying to replace Suggs’ production will be an ongoing problem, one they may not be able to solve this season if the 29-year-old is unable to return this year.

The head coach will be faced with the agonizing dilemma of whether to stick with the maligned Cundiff — the type of choice that can divide a locker room — or offer his faith to talented rookie Justin Tucker, who’s never even made an extra point in the NFL let alone attempted a field goal in the final seconds of a conference championship game.

And he’ll do it all while keeping an eye on his veteran safety, monitoring his physical and mental well-being as he enters the final year of a six-year contract. There’s just no predicting what will happen with Reed after such a mercurial offseason.

All these decisions must be made while maintaining a strong grasp on his football team, keeping players looking ahead rather than dwelling on what went wrong over the last six months.

It’s not an impossible task by any means as the Ravens are one of the model franchises in the NFL. These obstacles aren’t too much to overcome as they still look to be one of the best teams in the AFC.

If anyone’s up to the task, it’s Harbaugh.

He’ll once again have the chance to prove why he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL.

But it will be Harbaugh’s most challenging season to date.

3 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    If Cundiff makes the kick, If Evans catches the pass,life would be so much better for the Ravens. What If everybody could go back in time on a “IF” how things would change in their lives. But we can’t so we deal with the decisions we made and life goes on. Hopefully this year the kick is made and the pass is caught…Go Ravens, What IF.

  2. chuck Says:

    And what IF Matt Schaubb, a QB who had thrown for 4,800 and 4,400 yards the previous two seasons (Flacco has never thrown for more than 3,600 in a season), had been healthy enough to play in the Divisional playoff game in Jan, and not some clown named TJ Yates who seemed to not be able to distinguish a white jersey from a purple jersey? And what if Houston hadn’t turned the ball over twice early in the first quarter which lead to two Baltimore TD’s, including a fumbled punt return that gave the Ravens a first down on the Houston 2 yard line?

    A common theme among fans in Baltimore is that the Ravens outplayed New England in the AFC Championship game. And if this happened or that happened the Ravens would have played the Giants two weeks later. And given that the New England defense was the worst ever to make it to a super bowl that may be true. But here’s a fact that people in our city seem to forget: Houston dominated the Ravens in Baltimore a week earlier but lost the game.

    Foster rushed for 132 yards and averaged 5 yards a carry. Johnson had 8 receptions for 111 yards. Rice was held to 60 yards and averaged less than three yards a carry. Flacco completed only half his passes. The Ravens had nearly as many punts as first downs (9 to 11).

    Fans in this city dwell on what could have been in New England. But it’s as if what happened in the previous week -statistical domination by Houston in Baltimore – isn’t worthy of consideration.

  3. unitastoberry Says:

    Chuck here are some more what ifs. What if Brian Billick sticks with Tony Banks instead of Trent Dilfer in 2000? What if Jamal Lewis never finds the gopher hole at Westminster? What if we had drafted Lawrence Phillips not Ogden? And here’s one for the old timers out there.What if Don Shula pulls Earl Morral at the start of the second quarter in Superbowl 3 and puts Unitas in a quarter earlier????????? What if Bubba Smith was right and Mr Shula threw the game and made a fortune or caused Caroll(I bet on my team all the time) Rosenbloom to loose his shirt?

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