Despite all the speculation this season about the shaky job security of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, it can’t be that surprising to anyone that the team announced Friday he would remain at least through next season.
Owner Steve Bisciotti has said essentially the same thing every time Harbaugh’s status has come into question over the past few years. He has long put a premium on organizational stability and remains reluctant to join in the annual game of musical chairs that has kept lesser teams from climbing out of the competitive abyss.
Still, the timing was indeed curious. The Ravens were on the eve of what might be a watershed game for the franchise. If they beat the Los Angeles Chargers on the road Saturday, they will be positioned well to reach the playoffs for the first time in four years and perhaps overtake the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
If they don’t win this game, they’re going to need some help to hold onto the final AFC wild-card spot.
Bisciotti obviously has decided not to let one game — played on the opposite coast off a short practice week against a team that hasn’t played since a week ago Thursday night — dictate a critical organizational decision. He clearly likes his head coach on a personal level and he has to know Harbaugh wouldn’t be out of a job very long if this were his final season in Baltimore.
So, all the possible explanations are in play. Did Bisciotti just get tired of hearing people trying to make up his mind for him? Did he remove the suspense to allow Harbaugh to coach Saturday’s big game without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his head? Or does he truly believe firing a good coach to vent some organizational frustration is a fool’s errand?
Take your choice.
The Ravens have made some major strides this season and Harbaugh has made the tough calls that have brought them to this critical moment. Maybe he had no choice but to accelerate the development of rookie Lamar Jackson after Joe Flacco got hurt, but the sudden transformation of the Ravens into an elite rushing team is a tribute to the coaching staff as well as the dynamic young quarterback.
Clearly, Bisciotti likes the new direction his team appears to be headed.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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