I think it is pretty obvious the 2009 version of the Ravens have a lot of issues; issues that it seems are going to keep them from making the playoffs this season. For me there is one issue that stands above all and that is a general lack of professionalism. Say what you want about the Brian Billick era but we never saw this level of unprofessionalism during his tenure in Baltimore.
The culmination of this was John Harbaugh’s brother Jim on the field yelling at the referees last night. Yes Jim is a “rock star” college coach at Stanford but he is not employed by Steve Biscotti and the Ravens; therefore he has no business on the sidelines much less on the field in the face of NFL referees. Could you imagine Bill Belichick’s brother standing next to him on the field screaming at the refs? Of course not because Belichick has complete control of his sidelines while John Harbaugh seems to be running a sideline akin to Animal House; I don’t know how much I would be surprised if I saw Ed Reed doing a keg stand on the sidelines next Sunday against the Lions.
For a disciplinarian John Harbaugh doesn’t seem to have any control over anything happening with his team. He allows his players to simply run wild on the field. After Derrick Mason was penalized for the second time this season for his demonstrative treatment of the refs you MUST sit him down and explain his actions are unacceptable.
Along with his players John Harbaugh must take a heap of responsibility for his short comings as an NFL head coach. When a team gets penalized as much as the Ravens the coach must do something…anything! It must be engrained in a players head from training camp that penalties are not acceptable and there will be consequences for their actions.
My friends and I know that anytime Frank Walker has coverage there is a 75% chance he is going to get a pass interference penalty. If fans like us can see this how can professional coaches being paid millions of dollars not see the same thing?
Something else a quality, professional head coach should have total command of is clock management. John Harbaugh and his coaching staff treat timeouts as if they are completely worthless; Harbaugh pisses away timeouts like Natty Boh at a frat party. In the NFL you must have your full compliment of timeouts coming down the stretch…you can not blow them early in the half because your team is confused or you can not get to the line quick enough to get a play off before the play clock expires.
An offshoot of this is how slowly the offense gets to the line after a controversial call. It almost seems as if we want to give the other team time to challenge the play. You MUST rush to the line and get a snap off before the opposing coach can throw the red flag. You may not always prevent them from challenging the play but you may force them into a bad challenge because they didn’t have time to examine all of the replays.
I think this issue speaks to a larger issue with this staff….everything they do is at a slow, plodding pace. A perfect example is how we must call a timeout before making any crucial decisions. A good coach trusts his instincts and makes a decision; this shows his players he has confidence in them as well as his own decisions.
I am by no means calling for John Harbaugh’s job but I think it is time for him to reassess his coaching style. Through the final four games this season he must begin to prove his leadership and show that he can grow as a coach. If he can not make adjustments to his coaching style and improve in areas where he is deficient than I can not seeing Harbaugh being anything more than a one year wonder as an NFL head coach.