John Harbaugh's Contract Extension Is a 'Great Thing' for Ravens
Consistency and stability are two words often used when describing Head Coach John Harbaugh's tenure in Baltimore.
Those attributes are two of the main reasons pundits lauded Harbaugh's three-year contract extension, which was announced by owner Steve Bisciotti yesterday.
"Harbaugh's consistency and stability stand out in a league of constant change," The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer wrote. "He's the NFL's third-longest-tenured coach, behind only the New England Patriots' Bill Belichick and Pittsburgh Steelers' Mike Tomlin. He's just the third head coach in Ravens history, after Ted Marchibroda (three seasons) and Brian Billick (nine). The Cleveland Browns, meanwhile, have had nine coaches over Harbaugh's tenure in Baltimore alone."
Speaking of Cleveland, even Pro Football Talk’s Myles Simmons, an unabashed Browns fan, had nothing but good things to say about Harbaugh.
"John Harbaugh has done a very, very good job of crafting a program there," Simmons said. "If you play the Ravens … you know exactly what you're going to get. They're going to play strong defense; they're going to be strong on special teams; and they're going to run the ball at you.
"So I think it's a great thing for that organization that they have that stability with Harbaugh, and he's certainly earned everything that he's gotten."
Ravens Wire’s Steve Rudden wrote: "As long as Harbaugh is the head coach of the Ravens, they have a chance to be special year in and year out."
As successful as Harbaugh, 59, has been — he has a career record of 148-96, led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in 2012 and has made the playoffs nine times in 14 seasons — Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said Harbaugh is actually underrated.
"His teams always contend," Florio said. "He adapts. He changes. He's embraced analytics. … He's got that youthful vibe. He's going to be the next Peter Carroll, and he's going to be the guy that people who marveled at Pete Carroll being spry and athletic, I think Harbaugh's going to put him to shame in 10 years."
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley said one of the keys to Harbaugh's success is how he deals with his players.
"From the time he stepped inside the Ravens' facility, Harbaugh changed the culture, promoting unselfishness while encouraging players to be themselves," Hensley wrote. "The players rave about Harbaugh's competitiveness and how he'll push them while working out beside them."
Florio also praised Harbaugh's ability to motivate his team, saying he and Tomlin are two of the best at it.
"Both coaches show an uncanny ability to coach football, to adapt, but fundamentally to connect with guys that have to go out there and give maximum physical effort and focus all the time, and they do it," Florio said. "Their teams I think are an embodiment of who they are and how they go about their business. And those two are going to be going at it for years to come, and that's good for football as well."
Pundits Continue to Have Conflicting Views on Lamar Jackson's Approach to Contract Extension
As expected, Lamar Jackson's contract situation was a major topic of discussion when Bisciotti spoke with a small gathering of reporters who cover the Ravens at the owners meetings yesterday.
Bisciotti said Jackson's decision to be in no hurry to finalize a contract extension is "unique as hell" but he respects the quarterback's right to do things his own way.
Bisciotti's remarks sparked more debate from pundits about the approach taken by Jackson, who does not have an agent.
ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum applauded Jackson's methods, especially in light of Deshaun Watson's record-setting contract with the Browns.
"He's going to go down as an unbelievable player and a Hall of Fame agent," Tannenbaum said on "Get Up." "If we're having this conversation two weeks ago, we're saying, 'Ah, $45 million a year, about $115 million guaranteed. … Well the world has changed. Deshaun Watson got a fully guaranteed $230 million.
"[Lamar Jackson] walks into John Harbaugh's office, puts his feet up on the desk and says, 'Hey, Coach, I will not ask for one dollar more than what Deshaun Watson got. However, I am not going to take one dollar less. Here is the bill. I would love for you guys to pay it. If you don't, that is fine, because we just saw the Saints, the Falcons, all want to have Deshaun Watson. That is the number. If you would like to pay it, we can sign it.'"
Tannenbaum's colleague, former NFL player Jeff Saturday, is in the camp of those who believe Jackson should want to get a deal done sooner than later.
"To be a Hall of Fame agent, you gotta make the deal. So get in there and make a deal," Saturday said. "I think I'm more concerned about Lamar Jackson's health than he is. This guy's been hit over 850 times since he's come into the league. I'm not saying he's more prone to injury than anybody else, but the potential is always greater because of how many times he's asked to put the ball in his hands, whether it's running or passing.
"So when I look at this, I can't get to the complex fast enough to get this deal done — $230 million fully guaranteed. I think he'll be all good. Generational wealth created. You're with the right organization with the right staff. Let's get it done."
Bisciotti said he thinks Jackson might be waiting to sign an extension because he's "so obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, that I think deep down he doesn't think he's worthy. I think he wants to say, 'Now I deserve to be on top.' I don't think he is turned on by money that much and he knows it's coming one way or the other."
Florio strongly disagreed with Jackson's line of thinking if Bisciotti's assessment is correct.
"He's going to eventually —and he already is — risk losing everything," Florio said. "Never getting the long-term contract. Having his physical skills evaporate before he's ever in a position to get the contract he deserves. And he doesn't understand that doing an extension with a manageable cap number may actually help him win a Super Bowl. He so desperately needs a good agent. He desperately needs good advice.
"If this were anyone that I care about, I would be saying, 'What are you doing? You're jeopardizing your financial future, you're risking your generational payday, for something that makes no sense.' Whether it's 'I don't deserve it until I win a Super Bowl' or — and this is the more strategic view, and I'm not sure he's thinking this way — 'I'm just putting in my seven years in Baltimore and then I'm going to leave.' … His plan should be, 'Let's go in and get this done now.' "
Domonique Foxworth Reflects on Playing Alongside Ray Lewis and Ed Reed
Former NFL cornerback Domonique Foxworth, who played three seasons (2009-2011) in Baltimore with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, talked about what it was like to play alongside the Hall of Famers on The Ringer's "Ryen Russillo Podcast."
"The unique thing about [Lewis] was he had this ability to take himself to someplace mentally before even the most mundane, meaningless game," Foxworth said. "And I'm a young player on that team trying to prove myself, and we're playing I think a night game in Cleveland. We know we're going to win, and we're in the tunnel and I'm like, 'All right, let's go do this.' And Ray has tears in his eyes, and he's getting intense, ready to play. And he mentioned to me how the crime stats in Baltimore are impacted by whether we win or lose. And that's some Michael Jordan-type stuff.
"Ed was always looking for an angle to get better or an angle to get an advantage. I started hosting all the [defensive backs] at my house for film study. And Ed would talk through what he was seeing and thinking. And it's just genius. Him and Ray both. They were quarterbacks mentally."