“Greetings” from the studios of AM 1570 WNST here at 1550 Hart Rd. in Towson, where I am stationed following a stop at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills earlier today. I apologize that I have missed a few “Live From” blogs due to injuries my girlfriend sustained in a horse riding accident last Friday, followed by a strange practice schedule today that lead to Nestor and I having to leave immediately following Ravens availability.
There were a lot of interesting things that came from today’s session at 1 Winning Drive. In the Audio Vault at WNST.net you can hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Derrick Mason and Ray Lewis to find out their thoughts on Monday night’s loss to the Green Bay Packers and Sunday’s showdown with the Detroit Lions.
The news that Daunte Culpepper would start Sunday in place of Matthew Stafford is particularly interesting because: 1-It means there’s a team in the NFL that actually doesn’t think they need to lie about injuries for purposes of “competitive edge” and 2-Domonique Foxworth’s was absolutely correct in pointing out that Culpepper has played at a Pro Bowl level in this league, and isn’t that drastically different than Stafford. Foxworth was right to point out that switching from Stafford to a QB like Michael Vick would cause legitimate problems-as Vick would be a drastically different QB.
It was also interesting that Derrick Mason made the point to let Roger Goodell know “you can fine me if you want to” before calling Walt Anderon’s crew “ridiculous” for their flag-happy officiating of the Monday Night Football contest at Lambeau Field. Mason admitted he should have “kept his composure and moved on” after getting hit with the offensive pass interference flag in the 2nd half; but his initial comments will almost certainly earn him that fine from the New York office-to go along with the cringe I saw on the face of at least one Ravens staffer.
But the MOST interesting thing that came from today’s session for me was the semi-arrogant answer John Harbaugh gave to a question and follow up regarding the presence of his brother (Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh) and his father (former Western Michigan and Western Kentucky coach Jack Harbaugh) on the sidelines Monday night at Lambeau Field.
Let’s start with the initial question-which was asked by Jerry Coleman (full disclosure)…”John, we know it was an emotional game for you, how ’bout Jim? It seems like he was losing it out there.” John’s response (after chuckling) was “Yeah, we gotta get Coach Harbaugh under control-but it’s the other one, right? One time I turned around and we were having a debate about the two minute time management situation out there that the officials handled a certain way and I looked back and there’s Jim there screaming at the officials. I’m like ‘you can’t be out here’, you know, back up!”
He then asked Senior VP Kevin Byrne if the team had heard from the league about Jim Harbaugh’s outburst, and Byrne responded that they had not. John confirmed that they expected to hear from the league.
Our own Nestor Aparicio quickly followed up by saying “Why are they down there and what role do they serve as far as being on the field versus watching the game upstairs?”
Harbaugh responded “Cause I want them there. They’re coaches. If you go back to the Championship Game and the run we had last year-the Dallas game when Jim was down there. Every now and then I’ll go back and say ‘what do you think?’ Jim has grabbed Cam on a thing here or there, my dad’s grabbed me on a thing here or there; so it’s a good thing.”
There’s no arguing that Jack Harbaugh’s cry of “What’s Our Name?” was an emotional rallying point for the 2008 Baltimore Ravens as they marched to the AFC Championship Game in John Harbaugh’s first season as head coach. The ’08 Ravens were a particularly emotional team, including a very emotional defensive coordinator in Rex Ryan, and a very emotional LB in Bart Scott. They were a group that fed off any emotional edge they could get. The ’09 edition does not appear to feed similarly off emotional rallying points.
The more troubling part is that the ’09 edition has appeared to suffer from something no coaching staff can afford to suffer from-a lack of attention to detail. This is the same staff that failed to notice a loss of 5 yards on a spot after a Mark Clayton catch in a Week 5 loss to the Bengals, called for a challenge AND a timeout in the waning moments of a Week 11 loss to the Colts, and failed to call timeout before the 2 minute warning in a Week 13 loss to the Packers amongst other things.
While John Harbaugh was chatting with his brother Jim before the 2 minute warning Monday night, was quality control man Vic Fangio trying to let him know he needed to call timeout? While Jim was yelling at the officials, could John have stopped by to chat with Joe Flacco about the strategy that would use on their ensuing drive? (You remember, the drive that appeared more like a 2-hour drill than a 2-minute drill.)
I don’t have a problem with John Harbaugh keeping his family on the sideline at games. He should ABSOLUTELY have two veteran, experienced coaches on the sideline if they’re available……just as soon as he gives them a contract and officially adds them to his staff. Until then, those guys SHOULD NOT be involved in coaching situations. The people who know this roster best are the people who coach these players on a day-to-day basis. If I were Cam Cameron and Jim Harbaugh came to me to offer “advice”, I would probably look back at him and say “Thanks, but I’m not really thinking about Toby Gerhart’s potential NFL Draft future.”
The worst part is the fact that Harbs responded so matter-of-factly, as if no one should question him about the semi “frat party” atmosphere that was created on the sideline Monday while the team was suffering a loss that could be potentially crushing in the race for the final AFC Wild Card spot. It makes it seem like he doesn’t realize that fans are getting tired of his lapses in attention to detail.
With no offense to John, I’d like to have my dad and my grandmother sit with me every time I blog. My dad was a very good writer before deciding to get a real job and work for a living, my grandmother was a journalism professor at Morgan State for nearly 50 years. Sadly, neither would be appropriate-as I have a JOB to do.
Jack and Jim Harbaugh would be VERY qualified coaches to patrol the Ravens sideline with John Harbaugh. And if he wants to have them there in the future-John should do the right thing and give them a contract. I’ve heard a rumor Jim might be interested in new work….