Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will have a quarterbacks coach again, as Head Coach John Harbaugh has added James Urban to his staff.
Urban spent the past seven seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals' wide receivers coach, working with A.J. Green and others, and was previously a quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles for two years.
"Playing the Bengals twice a year, we've seen what a good job James does," Harbaugh stated. "He's highly regarded around the league, including by Ozzie [Newsome] and Marty [Mornhinweg]. We were all excited when he became available."
It's a reunion of sorts for Urban.
Previous to his time in Cincinnati, Urban spent seven seasons climbing the ladder in Philadelphia, where he worked with Harbaugh for five years and under Marty Mornhinweg for four, including two as his quarterbacks coach.
Under Urban's tutelage, veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb went to the Pro Bowl in 2009 and Mike Vick was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year and the NFC's starter in the 2010 Pro Bowl.
"From the outside, it has always appeared to me that the Baltimore Ravens are the preeminent organization in the National Football League," Urban stated. "They are first-class in every way. I have admired and respected Coach Harbaugh for many years. I was with him as a very young coach when first getting into this league – seeing him as a special teams coordinator and a secondary coach. Then I competed against him on the other side for seven years while with the Cincinnati Bengals."
Urban began with the Eagles as their assistant to the head coach in 2004, then grew to offensive assistant/quality control coach in 2007 and quarterbacks coach in 2009.
"I want to win football games, do what it takes to win football games and put people in place to win football games," Urban continued. "The Ravens are about tough, physical, disciplined football, and those are appealing things to me. Obviously, Marty and I coached together for seven years, and he has guided me in many ways – in terms of what I believe about quarterback play and offensive play. I am really excited to be back with Marty and to go to work."
Urban will have the job of helping quarterback Joe Flacco have a resurgent 2018 season in what will be his 11th year under center in the NFL.
Flacco set career-lows in passing yards (3,141), touchdowns (18) and quarterback rating (80.4) since his rookie season (with a full 16-game slate). A large reason for that was a tough first half in which Flacco was still dealing with the effects of a back injury that knocked him out for training camp and the preseason.
Once Flacco got healthy, he turned it on, particularly in the Ravens' final seven games. Over that stretch, his quarterback rating was 89.5. He tossed 10 touchdowns to three interceptions. The Ravens are confident that a healthy Flacco in 2018 can take another step forward.
On Monday, Harbaugh said he would only hire a quarterbacks coach if everything could be "streamlined."
Mornhinweg shared the job of coaching the quarterbacks with Craig Ver Steeg in 2017. Ver Steeg will remain the offensive assistant and continue his deep involvement in game-planning. Previously, Flacco had Rick Dennison, Jim Caldwell, Jim Zorn and Hue Jackson as his quarterback coaches.
"You want everybody to be on the same page. You do not want friction. You do not want a clash of philosophies or anything like that," Harbaugh said Monday, adding that Flacco is a major part of the process.
Harbaugh was asked whether a quarterbacks coach could help Flacco's mechanics. Flacco has received media criticism at times for throwing off his back foot.
"The vast majority of the time, Joe's mechanics and the throws he made – for the situation he faced play to play – were pretty darn good," Harbaugh said. "He made some throws off of his back foot with guys in his face at times that were great throws, that were very accurate throws. Yes, there were times where he missed, for sure."