Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is under “mounting pressure” to turn his team’s season around, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Ravens started out the 2018 campaign strong, but since a primetime victory over the Steelers in Pittsburgh staked Baltimore to a 3-1 record, Harbaugh’s club has dropped three of its last four to fall to third place in the AFC North. And, while a midseason firing is not expected, an ugly loss against the Steelers today would give team brass a lot to think about in that regard.
Harbaugh has generally achieved excellent results since he was hired in 2008, leading the Ravens to two division titles, three AFC Championship Game appearances (including one win), and a Super Bowl win. But Baltimore has not qualified for the playoffs since 2014 — though the club had several near misses during that time — and while injuries and mediocre rosters certainly played a big part in that, the three-year drought is tough to take in light of Harbaugh’s earlier success.
Indeed, owner Steve Bisciotti said earlier this year that he considered firing Harbaugh at the end of the 2017 season, which culminated in a Week 17 last-minute loss that knocked the Ravens out of a playoff spot. Ultimately, Harbaugh kept his job, the front office finally added a number of legitimate weapons for embattled quarterback Joe Flacco, and the Ravens have thus far managed to avoid the spate of calamitous injuries they have suffered in recent years.
But the team is now 4-4 and is at a crossroads. As Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com points out, if the Ravens win their next two games (home divisional contests against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati), Baltimore will have an 85.6% chance of making the playoffs. If they lose both, the odds drop to 10.4%.
Further complicating matters is the fact that this will be GM Ozzie Newsome‘s last season at the helm, and assistant GM Eric DeCosta, who will take over for Newsome, does not have as strong of an attachment to Harbaugh. Plus, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson is reportedly not progressing as well as the team had hoped, which also reflects poorly on the head coach.
Harbaugh is under contract through 2019, and he has compiled a 105-71 record (including playoffs) as the Ravens’ sideline general. If he does get the ax either during the season or after it, he will surely make the short list for other clubs in search of a new head coach.
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