Palace intrigue generally runs hot when an expected Super Bowl contender staggers to this degree.
But the vibe around the Ravens has been weirdly peaceful in recent weeks, with no hint that coach John Harbaugh or general manager Ozzie Newsome are in danger of being pushed out. We won’t hear owner Steve Bisciotti’s thoughts on the season until Thursday, but the Ravens brain trust already seems wholly focused on designing a better roster for 2016.
Harbaugh was secure even before his team’s Week 16 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the game was a powerful reminder of how he held on to the team in the face of agonizingly close losses and absurdly poor injury look. On a player-for-player basis, the Ravens had no business competing with the Steelers. But, as my colleague Jeff Zrebiec detailed in an excellent story, this undermanned team bought into Harbaugh’s refusal to be depressed or quit on any game.
These have long been among his best traits as a coach, and he displayed them even in his worst season. We saw his team put up a fight again Sunday on the road against the best team in the AFC North.
I see little reason for the Ravens to tamper with the status quo. Stability is the franchise’s trademark, and Bisciotti, Newsome and Harbaugh maintain a three-way dialogue that’s the envy of many front offices around the NFL.
There’s also plenty to like about the roster, which should be bolstered by the franchise’s best draft position in 15 years.
Harbaugh has been reluctant to blame his team’s record on injuries. But there are injuries and then there are INJURIES. We simply can’t pass fair judgment on a team that lost its quarterback, its vocal leader on defense, its projected starters at wide receiver and running back and its starting center and left tackle.
There isn’t a roster in the league that could sustain those hits.
If we’re having the same conversation at this time next year, the story will be different. But for now, the Ravens deserve our patience.