Last year was John Harbaugh's first year as an NFL Head Coach. One trip to the AFC Championship Game later, I'd say he had a pretty good rookie year.
Harbaugh's authority was occasionally challenged last season by veteran players on the team who were not used to doing things the way Harbaugh liked. They were used to the old regime with Brian Billick at the helm. On top of that, a lot of the veterans felt like the job should've been given to the Defensive Coordinator at the time, Rex Ryan.
There's no mistaking who's in charge now. The dissidents have left town (see: Chris McCallister), Rex Ryan is now the coach of the New York Jets, and Harbaugh is the only Sheriff left in town.
Harbaugh was a surprise hire last season for the Ravens. GM Ozzie Newsome caught everyone off-guard with the hire. Harbaugh favored a hard-nose practice philosophy that Baltimore had not seen during the Billick years. And frankly, it did not go over well at first.
The "practice hard, play hard" philosophy would appear to have come from his time as a top-flight special teams coordinator for the Eagles. On special teams, perseverance and hard work take precedence over any measure of talent.
That's just how Harbaugh ran his team. He made veteran players work just as hard as his rookies. This was the main source of discontent through the team. But the players could not argue with the results. Talk about setting the bar high.
While Harbaugh's fingerprints are seen all over the team, he lets his Coordinators run their respective units.
On the offensive side of the ball Cam Cameron pulls the strings. He gained acclaim as an Offensive Coordinator of the San Diego Chargers a few seasons back.
That offense featured a developing star at QB in Phillip Rivers, the unquestioned top player in the NFL at the time in RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and the big threat at TE Antonio Gates. It was one of the most productive offenses in the league.
He took a job as the Head Coach of the Dolphins 2 seasons ago, and to put it lightly, he floundered badly. The Dolphins went 1-15 (which looks better now that the Lions actually ran the table and lost every game), and Cam Cameron was updating his resume shortly thereafter.
Ironically the Dolphins lone victory came against the Ravens, who hired him as the Offensive Coordinator. Cam Cameron was hired largely due to his good reputation for developing young quarterbacks. Turns out it was a well-earned reputation.
Rookie QB Joe Flacco and Cameron breathed life into an offense that had never been very exciting under the old regime. Cameron was willing to embrace whatever tricks and gimmicks it took to score. He used the Dolphins new "Wildcat" offense to utilize back-up QB Troy Smith's speed. He ran reverses and QB to QB passes.
For the first time in the franchise's entire history, the offense was, dare I say, entertaining. Needless to say, Cameron should enjoy the same level of autonomy with the offense that he had last season. So Cameron will try to keep the offense clicking and take it to the next level, along with Joe Flacco's development.
On the defense, things are a bit interesting. With the much lauded Rex Ryan leaving for greener pastures, Harbaugh installed Greg Mattison as the Defensive Coordinator. Mattison served as the Linebackers' Coach for the Ravens last season, but is best known as the Defensive Coordinator of the Florida Gators from '05-'07.
There he ran a fast, attacking defense, just like the Ravens'. So it would appear that he was handpicked to run the defense when Ryan left.
One year later he finds himself with the keys to the NFL's Cadillac of Defenses. A bit aged at one time, it's just received a big infusion of youth. It'll be up to him to make the new parts fit into the scheme.
To make the new parts work better than the old parts. He should be up to the task after running a dominant defense at Florida year in and year out, in spite of college football's high roster turnover rate.
Mattison should receive the same level of independence to run the defense, just like Ryan got. Ozzie Newsome has yet to make a mistake on a Defensive Coordinator, so it would be wise to expect nothing but the usual from the Baltimore Defense.
The Assistant Head Coach is the Special Teams Coordinator, Jerry Rosburg. He started with the team a year ago as the Special Teams Coordinator and took up the role of Assistant Head Coach this offseason.
As the Assistant Head Coach, Rosburg will be Harbaugh's right hand man. He will be responsible for ensuring that the whole team is adhering to his philosophies. And what better person than the Special Teams Coordinator to help run Harbaugh's up-tempo hard work practices.
Those are the big names on the Baltimore coaching staff, but there's a name that will be just as important to the team this year.
Hue Jackson. He's the Ravens QB Coach. The development of Joe Flacco into an NFL franchise QB is nearly as important to fans as another Super Bowl trophy.
Hue had success in his first year with the Ravens, with Flacco steadily improving as the year went on. Flacco will need to build on his early success and it's Hue's job to ensure it happens.
Hue has coached multiple offensive positions, which should aid in young Flacco's development. He can help the QB understand what the RB needs to succeed and what the WR needs from the QB.
He's coached both positions before, in addition to being the Offensive Coordinator previously. He brings a wealth of knowledge that is now at Joe Flacco's disposal.
He plays a vital role not just for the team this season, but for the franchise's long term plans. His tutelage of Flacco will help determine the franchise's future.
All of these coaches have separate roles and responsibilities. John Harbaugh maintains work ethic and that hard nosed attitude, in addition to determining the offensive and defensive philosophies. Cam Cameron will run the offense and try to squeeze every last point he can get out of every game.
Greg Mattison will be entrusted with the crown jewel of the franchise, expected to keep the defense dominant. Jerry Rosburg is expected to keep the special teams explosive and consistent, while enforcing Harbaugh's tough minded philosophies team wide.
And Hue Jackson is holding the franchise's future in his hands as he tries to shape young Joe Flacco into a franchise QB.
These are the coaches with the most say in how this season unfolds for the Ravens and their fans. It would appear to be in safe hands.
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