On Friday evening, the Baltimore Ravens made a major announcement regarding the future of the franchise. The Baltimore Ravens intend to retain John Harbaugh as the team’s head coach for the 2019 season. The announcement comes near the end of a season filled with speculation, and a growing sense of a separation between the two parties. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti considered firing Harbaugh after the Ravens missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year in 2017. In week nine, reports suggested that the pressure was mounting from within the organization on Harbaugh. Other sources also claimed that the Ravens were expected to mutually part ways with the Super Bowl-winning head coach at the end of the current season. Despite all the tension, the Ravens opted to keep John Harbaugh, and plan to extend his contract.
Winning cures all. The internal pressure falling on Harbaugh peaked in week nine when the Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in what was dubbed “the most important game of the year.” Personnel inside the organization wondered whether Harbaugh would retain his position while fans on the outside cried for his departure. Cooler heads prevailed, and Harbaugh continued as the head coach through the bye week. The Ravens put rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in command of the offense after Joe Flacco was ruled unable to play. Since that move, the Ravens won four out of five games, and are on the cusp of a playoff run. Baltimore’s chances to make a postseason run hinge on Saturday’s game in Los Angeles, but the Ravens won’t let the outcome of that game factor into the decision.
John Harbaugh’s reign in Baltimore yielded great results in its early days. He coached the Ravens to the playoffs in all of his first five years and won the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. Since that Super Bowl victory, however, the Ravens have only been to the playoffs once (2014). Despite this, the Ravens only once had a losing record with Harbaugh at the helm (2015). The Ravens were in the playoff mix in 2013, 2016 and 2017, and the Ravens had a chance at the playoffs in late December in each of these three years. The decision to keep Harbaugh boils down to this: He is without a doubt one of the NFL’s best coaches, the players respect and support him, and there are frankly no head coaching candidates worth firing him to get. These factors, along with the allure of Lamar Jackson in year two under Harbaugh, ensure another year of stability in Baltimore.