The Baltimore Ravens have lost four of their last five games, the latest defeat coming against their hated rival the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.
It also could play a major role in the future of the team as it pertains to longtime coach John Harbaugh.
Report: Pressure is mounting
Citing sources, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday morning before kickoff that pressure is mounting on Harbaugh within the team facility.
Rapoport wrote that a midseason coaching change isn’t expected, but hasn’t been ruled out. The Ravens have a bye this week, giving team brass both a lot to ponder and an extended amount of time to do it.
Jeff Zrebiec, the Ravens writer for The Athletic, called this weekend’s matchup one of the biggest regular-season games of the Harbaugh-Joe Flacco era. The Ravens fell to 4-5 and 1-3 in the AFC North.
This is Harbaugh’s 11th season in Baltimore, and while he has led the team to the playoffs six times and to one Super Bowl victory, the Ravens haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2014 season. Heading into Sunday’s game, Harbaugh was 44-44 in the regular season since 2013.
Harbaugh is coaching for his future
Harbaugh is signed through only this season, so it’s not a surprise that he’s in a win-or-else situation; the surprise would be if the Ravens said goodbye to Harbaugh before the end of the regular season.
Now that Eric DeCosta is finally taking over the general manager reins from Ozzie Newsome, who formally retires at the end of this season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see DeCosta make his first big move to put his stamp on the organization and hire a new head coach in 2019.
Add in another punishment for the franchise after running afoul of NFL rules for the third time in three years — in September, the league found that the Ravens had multiple players with in-helmet headsets on the field at the same time during preseason games — and it might be time to make a change.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti admitted earlier this year that he considered parting ways with Harbaugh after the 2017 season, which saw Baltimore finish over .500 (9-7) for the first time in three years, but still short of a postseason berth.
Defense strong, Lamar Jackson lagging
The Ravens’ defense is once again one of the better ones in the NFL, topping the league in both points allowed (17.1 per game) and yards allowed (293.8 per game). But Baltimore is middle-of-the-pack offensively, with a nearly non-existent ground game.
Also worth noting: the Ravens aren’t winning close games. They haven’t won a game decided by six points or less since Week 15 of the 2016 season, against the Eagles.
One last issue Rapoport noted: there’s internal frustration at the development of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson, namely that it hasn’t been happening fast enough.
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