John Harbaugh handles losses the right way


Dec 21, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Fans want blood after a loss, especially a baffling loss like the Baltimore Ravens’ 25-13 drubbing in Houston. To his credit, John Harbaugh doesn’t give it to them, instead opting to move on and focus on the positive.

With regards to motivation, there are really two types of coaches. One type is the screamer, the guy who will pull you the second you make a mistake. The other is the quiet type, the guy who will leave you in there after a mistake and will try to encourage the team after a tough loss. Harbaugh, more than any other coach in the NFL, is the second kind. And that’s the biggest reason why the Ravens are among the most successful franchises in the league.

Listen to what Harbaugh said after the Texans game: “We need to leave everything that’s baggage here. And everything we can learn from, we’ll take with us. And we’ll fight like crazy next week and try to win a tough AFC North game in our stadium.”

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His response to that loss perfectly encapsulates Harbaugh. Always looking forward, Harbaugh is among the league’s best at helping his team regroup after a loss.

That the Ravens have only lost back-to-back games once this season is telling. In fact, some of the Ravens’ best performances came off losses. Their 26-6 domination of the Steelers came a week after a loss to Cincinnati, then after a loss to Indianapolis, they stomped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-17. More recently, the Ravens regrouped from a heartbreaking last-second loss to San Diego, defeating the Miami Dolphins the next week 28-13.

There are downsides to Harbaugh’s constant encouragement. The Ravens have a tendency to continue to play struggling guys too long, hoping they bust out of their funk (Jacoby Jones is a recent example, as was Chykie Brown). Same with coaches. The Ravens stood by Cam Cameron for far too long, and there is a very good chance they will stand by Dean Pees too long as well.

Those downsides are minor, though, compared to the confidence Harbaugh inspires in his team.

No matter how fans feel about Harbaugh, no one can deny he does a phenomenal job of keeping the Ravens in the right state of mind. Paired with the even-keeled Joe Flacco, the Ravens have the right leadership in place to come back from that terrible loss.

Regardless of the final score Sunday, fans can count on two things: The Ravens will play their hardest, and they will have the right state of mind. And Harbaugh is the reason why.

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