John Harbaugh Should Be the Coach of the Year Front Runner
It's time to not only consider John Harbaugh as a Coach of the Year candidate but as a front-runner. In his 12th season as the Ravens' head coach, Harbaugh has put together one of his best campaigns to date.
The Ravens have won eight straight games and are 10-2 for the first time in franchise history. They currently hold the No. 1 seed in the AFC and a three-game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
After a 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers, Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe believes the award belongs to Harbaugh.
"By beating the Niners, in my opinion, Harbaugh won Coach of the Year," Lefkoe said. "It was between Harbaugh and Kyle Shanahan.
"I want to give the Coach of the Year to Harbaugh not just for the fact that he has them at 10-2 and No. 1 in the AFC … For me, it's also the fact that what they did in the offseason. What Harbaugh has instituted in Baltimore after there were thoughts that he might get fired last year … to me, he's Coach of the Year."
Rotoworld's Josh Norris agrees with Lefkoe and said there's no doubt in his mind that Harbaugh will win Coach of the Year.
"This is a team that has two losses, and these are the only negative thoughts we had about them for the first four weeks of the season," Norris said. "... It's very possible this team wins 12 in a row to end the season. That's crazy."
The Ravens have made the playoffs seven times and endured just one losing season under Harbaugh. They're a lock to make it eight this season, with realistic sights on another Lombardi Trophy.
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said it's not entirely surprising Harbaugh hasn't won the award because it usually recognizes the coach who has done the most with the least. For example, Zrebiec points out that New England's Bill Belichick's has only won the award three times with the last one coming in 2010.
"The Ravens have high expectations pretty much every year, so rarely has the team been viewed as overachievers," Zrebiec wrote. "Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta also have led one of the NFL's most well-respected front offices and Harbaugh often shares outside credit with them."
But the Ravens have exceeded expectations through 13 weeks. They revamped their offensive playbook this offseason and rank second in total offense, averaging a league-leading 207.8 rushing yards per game. Defensively, they lost some of their top players from last year's No. 1 unit and have rebounded quite well, thanks, in part, to some key mid-season additions.
Zrebiec said Harbaugh's relationship with Lamar Jackson, who has developed into an MVP front runner, and the Ravens' improvements on both sides of the ball, make him one of the worthy candidates for Coach of the Year.
Other top candidates Zrebiec mentioned for Coach of the Year are Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, who has the Steelers in playoff contention despite the loss of Ben Roethlisberger, Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers, Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills and Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks.
"[R]ight now, it's tough to have the debate about the Coach of the Year without giving Harbaugh major consideration," Zrebiec wrote.
Kay Adams: Baltimore Was the 'Loudest Atmosphere I Have Ever Been In'
Even in downpour conditions, the Ravens Flock showed up in numbers on Sunday.
I was there, and you had to wear nothing short of a trash bag to stay dry in the stands. "Good Morning Football's" Kay Adams and the NFL Network crew were also in attendance, and Adams said it was the loudest atmosphere she's ever been in on a TV set.
"It was a playoff atmosphere," Adams said. "I saw 80-year old grandmothers in Ravens gear in the soaking rain going, 'Big Truss!' running around screaming it around the stadium. It was the best atmosphere, and it reminded me of just what I love about football. I had the perfect NFL football day in Baltimore.
"It's 'Lamarkable' what the effect of winning, and what that can do to a team, to a city, [and] to a fanbase."
It's true. Jackson and the Ravens' success this season has been infectious, and it's radiated throughout the entire city.
"A year ago, the Ravens were seen as a so-so team picked by ESPN to not even make the playoffs," The Baltimore Sun's Editorial Board wrote. "Look at the team now. One person can make a difference. Just as they can in the classroom, in the State House, on the beat, in the board room. It might take a little more time than Jackson's rise, but the day will come.
"Did Baltimore need this ray of hope, this champion in the most gladiatorial of team sports? You bet it did. But not just for entertainment, not just as a distraction, not just to be Super Bowl eligible. Jackson is living proof that what other people think of you means nothing. Not if you set your mind and heart to proving them wrong."
Compensatory Pick in Question With C.J. Mosley on IR
After signing a massive five-year, $85 million deal with the New York Jets this offseason, former Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley is headed to injured reserve.
It's a blow to the Jets and the Ravens' projected compensatory picks. Mosley played just two games this season. He was projected to net the Ravens a third-round compensatory pick, but pundits believe that could now change to a fourth-round pick.
That would give the Ravens two projected fourth-round compensatory picks for the losses of Mosley and John Brown.
Remember, Terrell Suggs' departure was canceled out by the signing of Mark Ingram II and Za'Darius Smith's departure was canceled out by the signing of Earl Thomas III.
Ravens Unanimous No. 1 in Power Rankings
There's no more debating. The Ravens are the consensus No. 1 team in this week's power rankings.
Following their 20-17 win over the 49ers on Sunday, Baltimore was a unanimous No. 1 in all seven publications.
"The Ravens showed they can win when Jackson isn't at his best, and their 10-2 record includes victories over the Niners, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams (combined record of 45-10 against non-Baltimore opponents)," NFL.com's Dan Hanzus wrote. "This is the best team in football -- now we'll find out if it can sustain this incredible momentum to the Super Bowl."
"We already knew the Ravens and Jackson could be thrilling and explosive and well, beautiful, on offense," The Athletic's Lindsay Jones wrote. "Now we know they can also be gritty and ugly. The Ravens held off the 49ers, 20-17, in a freezing rainstorm — their first single-digit game since Week 6 — and have now won eight consecutive games. The Ravens were a unanimous No. 1 from our panel, and how could they not be? This current eight-game win streak includes wins over five likely playoff teams, each one seemingly more impressive than the last."
The Ravens finally claimed the top spot in ESPN, NFL.com, and Sporting News' rankings. Their most significant jump was two spots from No. 3 to No. 1 in ESPN's rankings.
"The Ravens won a classic defensive matchup with the right touch of clutch offense and special teams," Sporting News' Vinnie Iyer wrote. "They had a scoring machine before the 49ers game but proved they can go old-school to win a game, too. They're now the unquestioned best team in the NFL."
The Ravens are the hottest team in football, and they've racked up quality wins against playoff-caliber opponents. But the schedule doesn't get any easier this week as they head on the road to face the Buffalo Bills (9-3). The final four games of the season also include divisional matchups against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, which are never walks in the park.
- Justin Tucker talked about the 'Big Truss' slogan and Jackson on 'The Adam Schefter Podcast.'
- While Jackson has drawn countless comparisons to Michael Vick, don't forget how a more recent dual-threat quarterback paved the way. [ESPN]
- Pat Ricard inked a two-year extension with the Ravens and Ebony Bird's Chris Schisler said the fullback/defense tackle is an integral piece on both sides of the ball: "This is an offense where the players who do the dirty work get the glory the same way that the play-makers do. Ricard is a player who the Ravens have to keep around because what he does is so important to who they are as a football team."