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Harbaugh Makes History

Thursday, November 10, 2016 7:26
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Perception is Reality

Reality: John Harbaugh makes history and is now the winningest head coach in Baltimore Ravens history.

Perception: The Ravens are a young franchise. They have only had three head coaches in their history… Ted Marchibroda, Brian Billick and Harbaugh. The Cleveland Browns planned to bring coach Bill Belichick to Baltimore with the team, but decided to fire him and hire Marchibroda, who had coached in Baltimore with the Colts in the 1970s. When Belichick was fired, he was not the head coach he is now, but can you imagine that?

It is never easy being the head coach of an expansion franchise or a team that is moving cities. Marchibroda found that out, going 16-31 in his three seasons in Baltimore.

Offensive guru Billick came to the Ravens for his first (and only) head coaching gig. He had a tough time with his offense and with quarterbacks, but was successful going 80-64 (.556 winning percentage) in 9 seasons.

Special teams coordinator Harbaugh succeeded Billick for his first head coaching gig and in 8.5 seasons has gone 81-51 so far. So, in 12 less regular season games, Harbaugh’s teams have won 1 more game.

The biggest difference is Billick’s teams were the best defensive teams in the league. Harbaugh’s never had that defense but he has the franchise quarterback that Billick never had. Both have a Super Bowl win.

Overall, we have been very luck in Baltimore. Since 1999, the Ravens have had 2 head coaches, while the Cleveland Browns have had nine. Look at that again. That is startling. But look at the successful franchises in football… the Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Packers… they have all been consistent at their head coaching position. The teams that change often, looking for the right coach, are the ones that are constantly losing.

Reality: Every Ravens game in 2016 has been decided by 1 score or less.

Perception: 6, 5, 2, 1, 6, 4, 8, 7. That is the difference of each Ravens game this season. All 8 points or less… an average of less than 5 points per game.

6, 4, 3, 3, 5, 8, 3, 2, 3, 6, 2, 29, 20, 3. In 2015, 14 of the 16 games were decided by less than one score… an average of 6 points per game (even with the two blowouts).

Good teams find ways to win. Last year, the Ravens were not a good team, so they could not find a way to win all those close games. This year, the verdict is still out on the team, as they are a .500 team but still playing close games.

As the Ravens begin to get healthy again, the chances of them winning these close games climbs, but the quality of the opponent will also (outside of tonight). The Ravens are 4-4 in the first half of the year, but I’m not sure I see them doing any better than 5-3 in the second half of the year. That might not be good enough to win the division, and it definitely won’t be good enough to win a Wild Card. The Ravens will have to improve on offense in order to get more wins in the second half of the season and win the division.

Reality: Mike Wallace is tied for 10th in the NFL in receiving yards with 614.

Perception: Wallace has been everything Ozzie Newsome could have hoped for when he signed him this past offseason. A lot of people thought Wallace was done after a terrible season last year in Minnesota. But the Ravens needed a veteran receiver that could stretch the field. Wallace fit the bill and he was a low risk, high reward signing.

So far, he has produced the exact way the Ravens needed – tenth in yards and 9th in yards per catch (min. 20 catches). With Steve Smith Sr not being completely healthy, Wallace has been the tough receiver the Ravens have needed on offense.

Reality: The Ravens are averaging 3.5 yards per carry, 28th in the NFL.

Perception: They are 28th in yards per carry and 28th in average rushing yards per game. Only the Giants, Rams, Seahawks, and Vikings are worse.

Twenty-first in rushing touchdowns and 26th in rushing attempts per game is not getting it done. The Ravens passing game is not good enough to carry this team, but for some reason the coaching staff hasn’t given their running game a chance to help. Until Marty Mornhinweg and Harbaugh decide to rely on the running game the way Billick did, this team will continue to struggle on offense.

Reality: The Ravens have given up the second least amount of yards per game in the NFL (298.8).

Perception: Baltimore’s defense has been pretty remarkable this season, even with all the injuries. They are just 1 yard per game from giving up the fewest yards per game in the league.

They are 5th in the NFL in yards per play, giving up an average of 5.0 yards per play.

They are 2nd in the NFL in 3rd down percentage, giving up a first down on just 32% of 3rd downs. (Just don’t let the opposing team go for it on 4th down against the Ravens, as they are the 5th worst, giving up a 1st down on 73% of 4th downs.)

The biggest issue for the Ravens is penalty yards. They are 5th in the NFL, flagged for 605 yards in 8 games. When you are playing games decided by one score, penalty yards are going to be the difference in the game. They have got to clean that up.

Reality: The Ravens lead the all-time regular season series against the Browns 26-9.

Perception: The Ravens have won the last two games against the Browns, four of the last five, and 15 of the last 17.

The Browns are awful once again, and are winless with a chance of going 0-16. When you are this far into the season with a winless team, nobody wants to play them. No one wants to be the only win of their season. But the Ravens have been there before. In 2007, the Ravens went to Miami and lost to the Dolphins… their only win that year.

There is no reason the Browns should beat the Ravens tonight, but there is always that risk. Former GM Charley Casserly says the Browns match up well with the Ravens, because they have good wideouts, and the Ravens secondary has struggled. He also said the Browns defense could shut down the Ravens run game, which would make Flacco have to pass it around, and that hasn’t worked well for Baltimore yet.

This will be another ugly game to watch, but that doesn’t matter. A win is a win, and they all count the same. I’d rather win 12 ugly games than 9 pretty games. The Ravens will find a way to win this one.

Ravens 27-17.

The post Harbaugh Makes History appeared first on Russell Street Report | Baltimore Ravens News.


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