Firing Harbaugh would set a great example
It doesn't matter how successful you are or for how long. Once you have your first vaguely disappointing season, you're out of here.
What kind of coach is going to want to join the Ravens if we fire Harbaugh this year? Talk about no margin for error. It's horrible business model, of course. We don't want to be like the Raiders. We also don't want to be so blinded by the Super Bowl that we act like a consistent winner has a ceiling below that just because the team has lost a few very close playoff games. It's the most dangerous mentality a team can have, and it has destroyed quite a few consistent winners in the past who actually made the bold move to fire their coach.
Hindsight says Harbaugh supposedly inherited a perfect (5-11) situation. Nevermind the fact that the team was so fundamentally flawed, so old, and with a locker room so out of control. There was potential for sure, but expectations were relatively poor and the only way the team would be successful was a) if the crucial flaws on offense were mitigated and b) if the locker room could be controlled the way it wasn't in 2007. Both of those things happened, and the Ravens made it to the AFC championship game. And they never stopped winning after that. Somehow, they were able to do that with a supposedly substandard coach.
Talent only gets you so far. Many people want to act like the quarterback and the head coach are both problems for this team. If that's the case, there's no way the defense and running game would be able to lift two liabilities all the way up to Super Bowl contention. If you can name a team that was consistently in contention without a genuine strength in either of those two departments, I'd love to know who did it.
And that leads us to 2012, where let's be honest - the talent isn't really there, either. I'm actually not blaming Ozzie for this one, at least not to the point where he should be criticized too harshly. The Ravens have been completely decimated by injuries. The QB play has been questionable and arguably below average, the defense has collapsed, the coordinators are both widely panned...yet the team is still 9-5. How do you explain that? Luck? Perhaps. But it only goes so far (the point differential is still alright) and not all of it has been positive - look at certain circumstances in the three close losses this year. The schedule? Perhaps. But the Ravens have still played a wide array of solid opponents and pulled off wins in some of them. Every part of this team has been criticized this year, but the 9-5 record confirms that some of those criticisms are unjust. Knowing what we know about this team, I think the coach is one example of misjudgment. If a team isn't showing dominance on either side of the ball but is winning anyway, how can the coach not play a positive role in their success?
The fact that Harbaugh was a special teams coach gave people the perfect opportunity to never give him credit for anything. The impact of the head coach is based so much in subtleties. How he prepares a team for games, how they prepare and focus themselves emotionally, how united they are in achieving their goals. None of this is easily noticeable. None of it can be analyzed on a replay. But it absolutely shows in a team's results. And if there's any . Clock management and challenges are miniscule in comparison (not to mention EVERY fan base thinks their coach is terrible at it). On the largest scale - as an organization - the Ravens are run like a well oiled machine. That has a lot to do with the owner, of course. The GM, too. I have a hard time believing the head coach isn't a necessary element to that as well. It's not about what we see, it's about what we don't see - that's why we've been able to have so much success with a coach whose qualifications aren't as visible on the most superficial level.