I said last week that I won’t be fooled by the Ravens win over the Bengals. I warned others not to be fooled either. When I said that, I should have clarified what exactly I didn’t want to be fooled by. I’m not going to be fooled by the players on this roster. And after the overtime loss to the Bears, I feel justified in saying the players are the one who are to blame. The Ravens are a 4-6 team because the players have failed to meet expectations. What’s baffling to me is the continual pointing of the finger at John Harbaugh. I look over the box score each week and I never see Harbaugh’s name in it. That’s all I need to know.
The incessant complaining about play-calling, challenge flags, going for it on fourth down and more has went well beyond it’s limit. I’m not saying that the head coach of a football team doesn’t bear some responsibility for a team’s loss or a losing season – of course he does – but games are won and lost on the field. A head coach’s control is limited and players have to make plays. The Ravens simply do not make enough plays to win football games.
For every person that claims John Harbaugh made a debatable bad decision, I can point to two or three plays made by players that are indisputable mistakes. For every time Harbaugh decided to go for it on fourth and eight, there are plenty of Eugene Monroe allowing Julius Peppers to blow right by him and sack Joe Flacco. There is a Darryl Smith take a stupid roughing the passer penalty or Ray Rice missing a chip block that lead to Flacco throwing a pick six. Here’s a simple thought, if players made more plays, the head coach would never be put in a decision to have to do the unordinary. Bill Belichek is a great coach because he’s always had great players that make his job easy.
I have been accused of being a “Harbaugh apologist.” Even if you think I am, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence from game to game that the players are failing at a much higher frequency than the head coach. I’m not sure what other proof that you need? People have asserted that Harbaugh isn’t fit to coach the team. I assert that the players aren’t very good this year. Bad seasons by Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, all of the offensive line, Haloti Ngata and more. Asking the head coach to overcome all of these below average, unproductive seasons, is too much.
I’m sick and tired of Harbaugh taking the blame for a roster that’s poorly constructed with under-performing stars. There are 53 guys in the Ravens locker room that need to start playing better and making less mistakes. Fans hate Harbaugh’s explanations for his decisions. I get that. Fans can’t be emotionally untied things. But if you actually listen to his thought process, it’s not illogical. You may not agree with the decision or the outcome, but he’s usually right about the options. To his credit, Harbaugh almost never calls out his players in a public forum or throws them under the bus. He always speaks in pronouns, “we,” “our,” “us.” Harbaugh, in his Monday press conference, once again said succinctly, “We create too many opportunities for our opponent.” What he’s really saying is “the players make too many mistakes, they don’t execute well at times and not making enough plays when it counts make winning games for the other guys easy!”
The Ravens have three games coming up at home against the Jets, Steelers and Vikings. Realistically, they have to go 3-0 to put themselves near the top of that last wild card spot. Anything less than that probably won’t be enough. In the end, whether the Ravens make it back to the post-season or not will rest with the guys on the field, not the one on the sideline.
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