Players optimistic about Harbaugh

His brother Jim is more familiar to his newest players, but news of John Harbaugh's ascent to the Ravens' head coaching vacancy was well received by several players last night.

"I'm excited that we have a coach," running back Cory Ross said. "Now we can get things done."

Added linebacker Antwan Barnes: "We finally got one. I'm sure they picked someone who's going to put forth his best effort, and that's what we want."

Harbaugh, 45, becomes the ninth-youngest head coach in the NFL and is just six years older than kicker Matt Stover.

But Ravens players said they did not think that Harbaugh would have any trouble earning their respect.

"It's not going to matter," said center Mike Flynn, who is one of 14 players older than 30. "He's ready for the job. I'm sure he's going to do his homework and will establish his philosophy. ... I think he'll have instant credibility and respect. It's something he would have to lose."

Said cornerback Derrick Martin said: "I'm young myself. If he can relate to me, I can relate to him. ... It's not too hard to get our respect. We will welcome him."

Harbaugh, a secondary coach for the Philadelphia Eagles this past season and the special teams coordinator for nine previous years, is regarded in football circles.

Among Eagles beat writers, words such as "smart," "leader" and "communicator" frequently followed Harbaugh's name.

"He's one of those coaches who has a fire in his belly for the game," said former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese, who spent the first seven years of his nine-year career playing for Harbaugh and was recruited by Harbaugh when he was the assistant head coach at the University of Cincinnati.

"In some coaches, you can tell that [losses] hurt," Reese continued. "He's a coach who will get after you when he needs to, but he can relate to the veteran players and the young ones. ... The players will love playing for him. I don't know anyone who hasn't."

While Harbaugh brings a defensive acumen to the Ravens, it's the offense that has struggled, finishing in the bottom half of the NFL for the past six seasons under the tutelage of recently fired head coach Brian Billick.

Can Harbaugh retool the offense?

"I don't think it matters," Flynn said. "Brian was an offensive guy, and our offense wasn't as good as it could've been. If he feels he needs an offensive coordinator, then he'll bring someone in."


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