John Harbaugh sometimes gets mocked by sports talk radio callers for being a “special teams guru,” as if his ability to scheme up a good punt protection was the sole reason he was hired as Ravens head coach.
He got the job for a myriad of reasons, one of which is his ability to manage and work with others. As he does with his offensive and defensive coordinators, Harbaugh trusts his special teams coordinator, Jerry Rosburg, to handle his area of expertise. But that doesn’t mean that Harbaugh has no input on special teams.
And, as it turns out, a tweak made by Harbaugh on Sunday led to Lardarius Webb’s punt return touchdown.
Webb had been forced to make fair catches on punts throughout the 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns because, as Rosburg pointed out on Thursday, Browns punter Brad Maynard kept punting the ball away from Webb to the other side of the field, where the Ravens only had one player blocking the Browns' gunners.
“It was actually John’s idea [that] we went away from that and put Haruki [Nakamura] in the back,” said Rosburg, who is also the team's assistant head coach. “We had a two-returners-type thing. That helped us, too, because the ball wasn’t aimed one direction or the other, and we had a middle return. We were able to split it.”
Webb got key blocks from Edgar Jones and Emanuel Cook and then was off to the races, sprinting 68 yards for the first punt return touchdown of his career, a fourth-quarter score that sealed the win.