John Harbaugh Is No. 2 in PFF's Head Coach Rankings, Makes Hall of Fame Tier
John Harbaugh isn't just one of the best coaches in the NFL, he's one of the very best of the best and a Hall of Fame candidate, based on Pro Football Focus' head coach rankings ahead of the 2022 season.
PFF used analytics to rank the 26 head coaches with at least one year of experience and divided them into four tiers. Harbaugh was one of only three coaches in Tier 1 (Hall of Fame Coaches) and was ranked second overall, sandwiched behind New England's Bill Belichick and ahead of Kansas City's Andy Reid.
"These coaches are set to one day admire their busts in Canton," PFF's Conor McQuiston wrote. "All have enjoyed success for at least a decade, won at least one Super Bowl and played in multiple conference championships. There is room for debate as to their exact ordering and the exact approximations of their effects, but their accomplishments and longevity speak for themselves."
McQuiston wrote: "Harbaugh's head coaching career includes many iterations of offenses helmed by the typically solid yet unspectacular Joe Flacco that generally lacked upper-echelon talent. Despite this, the Ravens have always fielded above-average offenses — and tremendous defenses."
PFF's multileveled analytics model estimated each coach's contribution to points scored or allowed, and then used Pythagorean wins to estimate how many games the coach would win with an average team, defined as a team scoring and allowing 348 points in a season. Based on that model, Harbaugh was projected to have a record of 10.7-6.3 with an average roster.
The rankings were heavily criticized by the "Good Morning Football" crew, mainly because the Los Angeles Rams' Sean McVay (No. 11) and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin (No. 13) did not crack the top 10.
While the exact order of the rankings is debatable, it's hard to argue against Harbaugh being one of the elite coaches in the league. The Draft Network's Ryan Fowler agreed that Harbaugh is on a Hall of Fame arc.
"Owner of the most road playoff wins (8) in NFL history, Harbaugh belongs in the Hall of Fame conversation," Fowler wrote. "The 2019 Coach of the Year, Harbaugh brought a Super Bowl title to Baltimore in 2012 and has four AFC North titles on his resume. The Ravens have made the playoffs in nine of his 14 seasons on the job. At just 59 years old, Harbaugh will continue adding to his long list of coaching accomplishments."
Ravens Should Not Be Overlooked as Super Bowl Contenders
The Ravens are not among the favorites to win the Super Bowl, but multiple pundits believe they should be.
The addition of first-round pick Kyle Hamilton and free agent Marcus Williams at safety, combined with the return of running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards from season-ending injuries, are the main reasons the Ravens should not be overlooked, Bomani said.
"Williams' ability as a deep middle safety was renowned throughout his New Orleans Saints tenure, and Hamilton made waves in South Bend due to his versatility in coverage and as a run defender," Bomani wrote. "If that duo hits its ceiling in Mike Macdonald's defense in 2022, the sky is the limit for Baltimore.
"The team will also return its top two running backs from 2020 in J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards after each missed all of last season due to preseason ACL tears. Both finished the 2020 season with 80.0-plus rushing grades, with Edwards' 86.1 mark leading the way. Edwards, Dobbins and [Lamar] Jackson combined for 78 of the team's 93 runs that spanned at least 10 yards or more that season. The return of the three-headed ground attack drastically changes the Ravens' offensive dynamic."
The Draft Network's Carmen Vitali also believes more people should be talking about the Ravens as Super Bowl contenders.
"I'm not exactly sure why we aren't talking about the Ravens more," Vitali wrote. "They warranted buzz following the 2022 NFL Draft, which yielded fantastic results for Baltimore. It's hard to argue that any team had a better draft, honestly. And it was multifaceted."
Like Bomani, Vitali cited Hamilton and Williams as difference-makers.
"That right there is perhaps one of the best safety tandems in the league, if not the best," Vitali wrote. "These additions to the Baltimore secondary are crucial, given that the defense finished dead last in passing yards allowed last season, allowing an average of 278.9 per contest. They also ranked 26th in interceptions after picking off just nine all year and ranked 17th in passes defensed with 72."
Rashod Bateman Is Ravens' Biggest X-Factor
How far the Ravens go this season could hinge on whether wide receiver Rashod Bateman can make a big leap in Year 2.
Vitali and Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport both identified Bateman as Baltimore's biggest X-factor.
"The second-year receiver is set to take on WR1 duties with Marquise Brown now in Arizona, and he'll need to be a factor beyond the middle of the field," Vitali wrote. "A lot of weight will be on Lamar Jackson's shoulders to elevate the aerial attack, but Bateman becoming the primary second option behind Mark Andrews would certainly help the Ravens' offense."
Davenport wrote: "While appearing on teammate Marlon Humphrey's podcast, Bateman said that he's up to the task of being the franchise's top wideout. The Ravens had better hope Bateman is right. Because their odds of a deep playoff run hinge in no small part on his ability to replace Brown's production."