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Late for Work 6/7: John Harbaugh's Ability to Adapt Is Why He's an Elite Head Coach

HC John Harbaugh
HC John Harbaugh

John Harbaugh's Ability to Adapt Is One Reason Why He's an Elite Head Coach

It's not by coincidence that the Ravens have been in the playoff conversation virtually every season since John Harbaugh arrived as head coach in 2008.

ESPN's Mina Kimes and The Ringer's Kevin Clark ranked the top 10 NFL head coaches on “The Mina Kimes Show,” and Harbaugh was No. 4 on both of their lists.

Clark attributed much of Harbaugh's success and longevity to his ability to adapt.

"You have to remember, it was not easy to earn the respect of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis and these veteran guys, and there are practice stories about how hard he had to work to get those guys into the fold. There is a buy-in," Clark said. "The fact that you get basically everybody to buy in, it doesn't matter if they're a veteran, it doesn't matter if they're a superstar.

"The ability to adapt year in and year out, to understand the players, the ability to endure, I don't think we give enough credit to these guys, to rebuild a team three and four times."

Clark said Harbaugh and the Ravens building the offense around Lamar Jackson in 2019 is "one of the top five coaching jobs I've ever seen."

Kimes noted that in addition to being adaptable, Harbaugh is also unflappable, citing his calm demeanor when he was informed by a reporter that Jackson had requested a trade right before Harbaugh sat down to speak with the media at the NFL Meetings.

"He has shown over the years that he can adapt, handle adversity, handle what was one of the more chaotic offseasons in the NFL," Kimes said. "I can't get the image out of my mind of the owners' meetings when Lamar Jackson's trade request broke right before John Harbaugh spoke, and he seemed totally unrattled, completely unflappable. Not every head coach would have handled that that way."

During the podcast, Kimes and Clark also discussed which coordinators they expect to make an impact this year, and Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken was mentioned.

"Todd Monken has the capability to be a kind of mad scientist, and that can only help Lamar Jackson," Clark said.

Jackson Among Quarterbacks Helped the Most This Offseason

Speaking of Monken,’s Judy Battista named the Ravens as one of four teams that greatly helped their quarterbacks this offseason, and she cited the hiring of Monken as one of the reasons.

"The Ravens' ultimate support for Lamar Jackson obviously came in making him, deservedly, the highest-paid player in the league," Battista wrote. "But beyond that, they also hired an offensive coordinator in Todd Monken who not only wants to throw the ball, but also knows how to use running quarterbacks (SEE: Georgia product Stetson Bennett — nobody's going to confuse him for Lamar, but he can move).

"Then they overhauled the wide receiver room, giving Jackson the best cast of pass catchers — including veteran additions Odell Beckham Jr. and Nelson Agholor, as well as first-round pick Zay Flowers he has ever had in Baltimore. The Ravens fielded one of the worst passing offenses in the league last season, but the days of Jackson having to be a one-man band may finally be over."

Kyle Hamilton Is Poised for a Breakout Season

Safety Kyle Hamilton is looking to pick up where he left off last season, when he became one of the defense's most impactful players after a rough start to his rookie campaign.

Hamilton's improved play came after he switched to nickel back. Pro Football Focus’ Gordon McGuinness believes the versatile Hamilton is poised to have a breakout season in Year 2.

"Allowing Hamilton to have a similar alignment breakdown to the Los Angeles Chargers' Derwin James would make sense, as James spent 530 of his 909 snaps in the box/slot," McGuinness wrote. "That would allow the Ravens to utilize Hamilton in the slot against tight ends and bigger receivers while attacking downhill against shorter routes. If they do that, Hamilton can be the best and most important player on the Ravens defense in 2023."

The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer said Hamilton is one of the most interesting players on the team "given the breadth of his talents and the uncertainty around where he'll put them to use."

Harbaugh said yesterday that Hamilton won't be a "traditional safety" even with the departure of safety Chuck Clark, who was traded to the Jets this offseason.

"He's not going to be the nickel," Harbaugh said. "He's going to be a safety. A traditional safety role? Probably not in our defense, because we move our guys around. Our safeties are rushing the passer. They're playing linebacker. We do a lot with those guys. The fact that he's able to do all that really helps us be who we want to be on defense."

Tyler Linderbaum Ranked Among Top 5 Centers

McGuinness also had high praise for the Ravens' other first-round pick in 2022, Tyler Linderbaum. Even though Linderbaum has only played one season, he already has established himself as one of the best centers in the league, according to McGuinness.

McGuinness ranked the 2022 first-round pick at No. 5 in his center rankings.

"As a rookie, Linderbaum ranked fourth at the position with an 84.2 PFF run blocking grade, and Todd Monken's arrival as offensive coordinator could lead to more zone runs, which fit his skill set," McGuinness wrote. "His 53.5 PFF pass-blocking grade was the sixth-worst at the position, but a lot of this came from rookie struggles against stunts, something that it would be fair to expect a significant improvement from in Year 2."

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