For hungry Ravens coach John Harbaugh, yesterday's gone

There are no fancy slogans this season, like "Play like a Raven," or talk of 53 mighty, mighty men.

Unlike some other Super Bowl winners, the Ravens aren't declaring that the road to the next championship runs through Baltimore, and they aren't reminding people that they are the defending champions.

It's all been quiet, not even video clips of Anquan Boldin, Ray Lewis or Ed Reed. All the confetti is gone.

The Ravens have moved on from last season.

"I feel young. I really do," said John Harbaugh, who is entering his sixth season as Ravens coach. "It's like I just started yesterday, and I have to prove myself again. I would say that's probably a good thing."

The Ravens' unofficial theme of 2013: Stay hungry. That's what Harbaugh is preaching, and he believes that is the only way to forget about last year's championship and get on with tomorrow.

Did you notice that when the Ravens were introduced for the first home preseason game this year, there was no "Ladies and gentlemen, your defending Super Bowl champions" as they ran onto the field?

It wasn't coincidental.

When training camp opened, Harbaugh set the tone immediately, squelching most of the questions about repeating, and even told the media to "get over" the storyline.

He annoyed some people. I laughed. It was calculated, almost as predictable as offensive tackle Michael Oher's jumping offside every game.

"Was I setting a tone?" asked Harbaugh, with a slight grin. "Last year's champions are last year's champions and this year's champions will be this year's champions, and that's a fact. The one and only thing I have said about repeating is that this is a great opportunity and that this year's Ravens team is the only one with that opportunity. Thirty-one others won't, and that's unique."

And that's it, folks — that's all you're going to get about repeating. It might sound a little smug, but it's part of the evolution of Harbaugh as a coach. Never has he been more confident in himself, his philosophy, his system and his assistant coaches.

He should be.

It's strange that he isn't mentioned in the same breath as other top NFL coaches, such as Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin or even Mike Shanahan. Harbaugh's record is quite impressive.

He has been to the playoffs every year as a coach, has won a Super Bowl, has coached in three AFC championship games and has an overall record of 63-30. Only Bill Cowher, with six, has more consecutive playoff seasons (1992-1997) to start an NFL coaching career.

"His results speak for themselves," said Cowher, the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach. "Just looking at John, I coached special teams just like he did. He came in being a special teams coach. He does a very good job of understanding his team, of keeping things status quo, of being real with them.

"I think it's one of those things again [where] he surrounds himself with good coaches, which is a big part of the success of any organization. He's a good manager of people. He understands the game, and he respects the game. He's a leader. I think he obviously inspires people around him."

That wasn't always the case. When Harbaugh became the head coach here, he had a Napoleon complex. When challenged, he didn't mind telling everyone he was the head coach, which irritated fellow coaches and employees inside The Castle.

But Harbaugh always has been a good listener, and his mind is like a sponge when it comes to learning the game.

"What do you think?" he often asks.

 
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