That alarm you hear is the John Harbaugh wake-up call

December 08, 2009 | Drew Forrester

So…here we are.

Our football team is 6-6 with four games to play.

This time last year, the fans were still romancing their new coach, new quarterback and new – apparently – surge back into the NFL’s small, ritzy elite-status club.

While everyone in town remained enamored with John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco, some national prognosticators had the Ravens going to and/or winning the Super Bowl in February, 2010.

When they started 3-0 in September, optimism in these parts was sky high.

As S.E. Hinton wrote:  That was then, This is now.

This is now — the morning after a dismal performance in Green Bay in which the Ravens were outplayed, outworked and outscored.

But Monday night – to me, anyway – was not as much about Ray Rice’s early fumble in the red zone…or Todd Heap’s drop of a pass near the goal line…or Joe Flacco’s interception with 9 minutes to play that took away Baltimore’s last lifeline.

This might not be popular in Owings Mills, but I will go ahead and be the bad guy and say what a lot of media folks in town want to say but probably won’t.

Monday night was about John Harbaugh.

I think John is a good football coach.  He’s only in his second year.  He’s not yet ready to step into the same room as guys like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and Mike Shanahan.  Those are all Super Bowl champion coaches who enjoyed long runs in various NFL cities.

Nearly two full seasons into his tenure here in Charm City, John Harbaugh is in need of a wake-up call.

I’ll give it to him.

Monday night’s game in Green Bay would have been tough to win if Harbaugh and his staff would have put forth their “A effort”.  The Packers have a better team than the Ravens.  Their quarterback is having a Pro Bowl type season and Green Bay’s wide receiver corps are dangerous, to say the least.  Lambeau Field is Lambeau Field.  I picked Green Bay to win before the game started.  It was going to be a tough night to win a game.

Now that I’ve qualified my position, it’s time to give the wake-up call to the coach.

John, your brother and your dad have no business being on the sideline during the game.

It’s one thing to have them milling around before the game, during warm-ups, in the locker room, etc.

During the game?  They don’t belong there.

And your brother, Jim, can’t be berating the refs at the end of the game and having the ESPN announcing crew making note of it on live TV.

During Monday’s game, the team’s Big Mouth, Derrick Mason, drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for barking at the refs after he was penalized for pass interference.

John, what you SHOULD have done there, immediately, was to have brought Mason to the sidelines and told him to take a seat for the rest of the night.  You could have given Demetrius Williams the remainder of Derrick’s playing time.

The right thing to do Monday night would have been to tell Derrick Mason, “I will not tolerate these barking-at-the-refs penalties any longer.  You’re done for the night.”

The problem with that scenario?  Mason would have come up to you on the team plane and said – rightfully – “How can you sit me down on the bench for yelling at the refs and your freakin’ brother, who’s not even on the staff, is screaming at the refs with two minutes to go in the game?”

It’s hard to tell Mason to shut up when your brother can’t do it.

I know the Harbaugh Family is a Football Family.  I get that, John.  But your dad and your brother should be watching the game from the sky box.  That’s just the truth.

And speaking of the sidelines, virtually every single time the camera panned the sidelines, Ed Reed was either standing next to you or he was busy yapping at a player.

Who was coaching the game last night?  You?  Or Ed Reed?  In the post-game interview, Lardarius Webb said – perhaps jokingly, but maybe not – “Ed Reed was on the sideline coaching all night”.

Ed Reed is NOT the coach of the team.

And for Harbaugh to have him magnetized to his right hip all night didn’t look good.  That’s just me, though.

The final chapter of Monday night’s fiasco was the end-of-game clock management and the lollygagging offensive-effort (or lack thereof) once Green Bay went ahead, 27-14.

Maybe Ed Reed didn’t want to use a time-out with 3 minutes left.  I don’t know.  With 3:50 to go, Green Bay had a first down and ran the ball for a 3-yard gain.  Time out, Ravens, right?  Nope.  For some reason, Baltimore (with 2 time-outs) let the clock tick…and tick…and tick.  The Pack then ran another play…and the Ravens FINALLY called a time-out with 2:56 to play in the game.  On 3rd down, Aaron Rodgers threw a short pass that did not result in a first down.  Time for the Ravens to call another time-out, right?  That will give them the ball (after the Green Bay field goal attempt) with somewhere around 2:40 to play.  No time-out there, either.  Instead, the Packers kicked a field goal at the 2-minute warning and Baltimore had one time-out left with 1:56 to play.

Then, the real fun began.

The last 1:56 wasn’t an exercise in futility because to use the word “exercise” would indicate there was actually some energy being expended.

It was like a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon.  Only this was a Monday night football game and the Ravens had their back against the wall trailing by two scores with less than two minutes to play.

And please, please don’t tell me a team trailing by two scores with 2 minutes to play can’t comeback and win the game.

I have some video of the Oakland-Cincinnati game to show you from a few weeks back if you’re foolish enough to think that it’s reasonable to give up when you’re losing with two minutes to go.

I know the Ravens CARE if they win.  I know that.

But it sure as hell didn’t look like they cared in the final two minutes of the game last night.

Anyone who watched the game knows I’m right.

And that, without question, goes on the shoulders of the coaching staff.

I care if the Ravens lose, but I don’t, if you know what I mean.

In other words, I realize you can’t win every game.  The Packers aren’t chopped liver.  Mistakes by players are part of the game.

I can accept losses.

I can’t accept pissing the clock away in the final three minutes or so and I can’t accept the offense wandering around like a kid in a candy store who gets a sugar high just by staring at the Swedish Fish.

That’s just me, though.

It appeared, last night, at least, as if the Ravens don’t care nearly as much as I do.

And that starts – and ends – with John Harbaugh.

What we saw on Monday wasn’t good enough.

Not even close, in fact.

John Harbaugh needs to do a better  job.

And that’s not a low blow…that’s a fact.

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