Here's a stunner for you this morning. Try not to spit out your coffee.
John Harbaugh has NEVER received a Coach of the Year vote, according to ESPN.
In his 11th season as the Ravens' head coach, Harbaugh has done one of his best jobs yet. The Ravens were 4-5, riding a three-game losing streak, on Nov. 4. They were 2 ½ games behind the rival Pittsburgh Steelers when they took the field next.
"His job security was repeatedly called into question, with one national report not ruling out his firing with another loss," ESPN wrote. "His Super Bowl-winning quarterback was injured, which meant giving the ball to a rookie first-round pick with the franchise at a crossroads."
The Ravens could have fractured at that point. But they didn't.
Instead, Harbaugh rallied the team around the "Good" mantra, that they were going to welcome the challenges, even revel in them, and come out the other side.
Harbaugh and his staff installed an entirely new run-heavy formula. They pulled off the difficult transition from a Super Bowl-winning veteran quarterback to a playmaking rookie. And they went on a 6-1 run to make the playoffs.
"The Ravens are the AFC North champions in a season that could've easily unraveled," ESPN wrote. "One of the most unlikely turnarounds occurred because Harbaugh continually inspired his players at the most critical moments."
So, can Harbaugh get some credit already!?!?!
"Harbaugh probably won't get much recognition for this improbable rebound," ESPN wrote. "Chicago's Matt Nagy, New Orleans' Sean Payton and the L.A. Chargers' Anthony Lynn are the favorites for NFL Coach of the Year. This would continue an unreal streak for Harbaugh, who has never received a vote for Coach of the Year despite some impressive seasons in challenging circumstances."
In 2008, Harbaugh took over a 5-11 team and led them to the AFC Championship the following year. In 2012, he and the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII after losing four of their final five regular-season games. The Ravens have continually been a challenger despite tough circumstances.
Harbaugh is getting some credit from HeadCoachingRanking.com, who ranked him as the fourth-best coach in the NFL. This doesn't take into effect all of those outside factors, but rather assigns a grade to the in-game performance of NFL head coaches each week.
Harbaugh (7.8 grade) trailed only the Saints' Sean Payton (8.0), Chiefs' Andy Reid (7.9) and Rams' Sean McVay (7.9).
The website ranked Harbaugh above Nagy (7.7), Patriots' Bill Belichick (7.6), Browns' Gregg Williams (7.5), Lynn (7.4), Colts' Frank Reich (7.4), Seahawks' Pete Carroll (7.4). The Steelers' Mike Tomlin (7.2) fell just outside the top 10.
Harbaugh was tied with Payton with the highest grade for in-game adjustments.
The Ravens have already announced that Harbaugh will be their head coach in 2019 and that both sides are working together on a contract extension.
"I love these players, I love these coaches, I love this organization," Harbaugh said after Sunday's AFC North-clinching win. "I love our owner. I love our scouting staff. Top to bottom, I love them all. It's a great team to be a part of."
Lamar Jackson Not Included in ESPN's Top 10 Rookies
Keep the doubters coming!
Yesterday's Late for Work centered around Jackson turning critics into believers. Well, it seems not everybody is giving the Ravens' rookie quarterback his due credit.
ESPN and NFL.com did not rank Jackson among their top-10 rookies of the 2018 season.
ESPN seemed to at least recognize that this was a little fishy. Thus, Senior Writer Jeff Legwold gave Jackson a category – "And then there was Lamar" – all by himself.
"There were five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 draft, with Lamar Jackson the fifth when the Baltimore Ravens reeled him in with the final pick of the round. Now here he is some eight months later as the lone rookie quarterback in the playoffs, and he will be the youngest rookie quarterback to ever start a postseason game when he lines up across from the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday -- one day before his 22nd birthday. He topped 60 percent completions in just two of his seven starts, but he plays with composure and awareness and has the ability to wreck a good defensive play at any moment with what he can do with the ball in his hands."
In NFL.com's top-25 rankings, Jackson came in at No. 12. He was just ahead of Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
"Jackson helped turn around the Ravens' season with his explosive running ability and occasional big strikes in the passing game," wrote Daniel Jeremiah.
It's notable that Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (who Jackson just topped in their first head-to-head battle) was the only rookie signal-caller ahead of Jackson. It's also fair to wonder how much higher up these lists Jackson would have been had he been named the starter earlier. He was the last of the first-round rookie quarterbacks to take over.
C.J. Mosley's Leadership Should Be a Bigger Factor in Re-Signing Discussion
C.J. Mosley's AFC North title-sealing interception certainly didn't hurt his chances of getting that long-term extension in Baltimore this offseason that we've all been talking about.
"C.J. Mosley's interception a timely reminder why Ravens need to pay him," screamed an Ebony Bird headline. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec isn't jumping on board that train, however.
"C.J. Mosley's AFC North sealing interception won't change the Ravens' approach in contract negotiations with the four-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker," Zrebiec wrote. "Mosley has played a ton of snaps, and the Ravens know what they have in him. They understand his importance to the defense, his strong play against the run, and some of his struggles in coverage.
Instead, Zrebiec argues that Ravens fans should be looking at something else in the debate over whether it's worth it to pay the pending unrestricted free agent big money: leadership.
"Mosley is one of the most widely-respected players in the locker room. He's not the fiery and vocal leader at the position like one of his predecessors was. He chooses his words carefully, keeps things calm and upbeat and provides a positive example for younger teammates with how he prepares for games physically and mentally, and plays through injuries," Zrebiec wrote.
"Those in the move-on from Mosley camp will tell you that leadership doesn't warrant making him one of the game's highest paid middle linebackers, and that makes sense. But this offseason, the Ravens very well could move on from outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Jimmy Smith, and possibly others. Who is going to be the face of this defense going forward? Who will be the defense's signal caller and the guy who makes sure everybody is on the same page? Who will be the leader in the huddle? I wouldn't discount those questions in the sign Mosley or not debate."
Ravens Should Explore Trading for Leonard Fournette
Won't lie. I'm including this because I personally love the idea. In his Ravens news, notes and opinions piece, Zrebiec also looks forward to a possible big-time move this offseason for Baltimore.
"If I'm the Ravens, I'm keeping an eye on what the Jacksonville Jaguars do with seemingly disgruntled running back Leonard Fournette," Zrebiec wrote. "I'm not sure how much I'd give up for him, but I would at least like to see the price tag. The Ravens loved Fournette coming out of the 2017 draft, too."
The Jaguars recently voided the guarantees in Fournette's contract, and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin called Fournette and fellow running back T.J. Yeldon's behavior during their Week 17 game (Fournette was inactive because of foot and ankle injuries) "disrespectful, selfish and … unbecoming that of a professional football player."
Fournette was voted as a first-time team captain in 2018 at the start of the season.
Two Unsung Heroes at the End of the Browns Win
Before we move on from Sunday's win over the Browns, two unsung heroes deserve a little credit.
On the Browns' final series, safety/linebacker Anthony Levine broke up passes on first-and-10 and third-and-10. That forced the fourth-and-10 where Mosley got his interception.
"Levine twice found himself matched up against David Njoku, one of the top young tight ends in the league," Zrebiec wrote. "On both occasions, Levine won the matchup with a pass breakup. Levine hasn't been 100 percent for a while now because of lower leg injuries, and there are some weeks where he barely practices. Yet, he shows up on game days and makes winning plays."
WNST's Luke Jones pointed to a play right before the Browns' last drive.
"Sam Koch deserves much credit for his 51-yard punt that put the Browns on their own 26 for their final drive," Jones wrote. "After a 37-yard return earlier, Antonio Callaway had nowhere to go near the sideline. A lesser punt very likely would have given Cleveland a potential game-winning field goal try."
- We can't even get in the graphic?!?