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  1. #1

    Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia



    Let me start by stating that think John Harbaugh is one helluva football coach. He's a tremendous motivator. He's generally in touch with the mind of his players. He's a decent field strategist, and its obvious from his record that he gets results.

    One thing that has struck me as peculiar about him though, is his reluctance to play rookies until they've seen significant time in the organization. I think he places too much emphasis on the value of "veteran presence". Even when it seems obvious to outside observers that a rookie has more natural talent or a more developed skillset. I'm sure there are things we don't see as well as the coaching staff does, and I'm sure that rookies are somewhat more subject to mistakes, but even considering those things I think that Harbaugh places a greater value on experience than talent.

    The most obvious exception to this, was rookie Joe Flacco. But even here I can't help but think that had there been any other choice Flacco would have carried a clipboard for a year. And I guess that's really my point. Flacco made it pretty clear that there's no reason to be reluctant about playing a talented rookie.

    When I look at this year's Ravens team I see some examples of the same thinking. Elam looks from my perspective to be talented enough to be playing over either Ihegdibo or Huff. Arthur Brown shows me far more than Bynes. And even at the risk of sounding like a Maryland Homer, I think Furstenberg has shown me more than Clark, and arguably even more than Dickson.

    This isn't meant as a criticism as much as it is a curiosity. Does Harbaugh value lesser talented vets more than he should, relative to more talented rooks? Does anyone else see this? Or is it just my flawed view of the situation.




  2. #2

    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    While I certainly think the rookies should've got more playing time, especially after the game was decided, they would've faired no better against peyton manning. As the season wears on they'll carve out significant roles if not starting spots (well, Elam and A. Brown at least).

    You can say that one player "shows" you more than another but I believe the coaching staff really was happy with the way Ihegdibo and Bynes performed in training camp. I personally trust the guys that get to see them everyday in practice and am confident that those two (along with the entire team) will play much better




  3. #3
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    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    Quote Originally Posted by owknows View Post
    This isn't meant as a criticism as much as it is a curiosity. Does Harbaugh value lesser talented vets more than he should, relative to more talented rooks? Does anyone else see this? Or is it just my flawed view of the situation.
    Well, I don't mean to be condescending but I think in this case it may be your flawed view of the situation. Look, the coaches know way more then us fans about every player on the roster. They see things every day in practice that we don't. They get paid good money to evaluate every player, rookie or veteran, and they understand what it takes to be ready to be a starter in this league. Last night was horrendous and it is easy for fans to second guess everything about what went wrong, but I doubt very seriously that Harbaugh has any prejudice against rookies. I can give you a long list of names of rookies who have started on this team since JH has been HC.
    "Screw it, let's ride"!




  4. #4
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    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    I can understand Harbaugh not putting the young guys out there against Peyton. The last time the Ravens did that against Peyton was by force due to injury and the game was over by the first quarter.

    In the past, Harbaugh has given the veterans the respect of a long leash in performance, when the young buck is on his heels (Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb come to mind), too long for my taste, but I understand it. When he makes a decision, he wants to make sure there is no reason second guess it.
    "When questioned, the Elders explained that they were in search of magical powers. However, they're actually searching for the whereabouts of a certain ring. This ring is a legendary treasure that long ago was known to exist"




  5. #5
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    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    Always noticed this myself, can't ever remember a rookie starting day one, its been due to injuries or eased in gradually. Who knows how smith would turn out if he wasn't throw to the wolves early. IMO they need to take their licks and learn on the fly. It's the best way. Mike oher might be the last one started day 1 legitimately.




  6. #6
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    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    I think Harbaugh has done well with rookies. As you said, a rookie started at the most important position with Flacco. But circumstances dictated that. Michael Oher was given every opportunity as a rookie. I believe Torrey Smith, Kelechi Osemele, Bernard Pierce, Courtney Upshaw and Ladarius Webb all played big roles in their rookie seasons.

    By the end of this year I'm willing to bet Marlon Brown, Elam and Authur Brown all play big roles. Possibly even Brandon Williams and Aaron Mellette.




  7. #7
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    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    Flacco started due to two injuries, he was third in line. Lets not paint over the past, boller and that other guy were ahead of him, one got inj the other had a cold or something along them lines




  8. #8

    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    Quote Originally Posted by lowrider View Post
    Last night was horrendous and it is easy for fans to second guess everything about what went wrong, but I doubt very seriously that Harbaugh has any prejudice against rookies.
    This thread has nothing to do with last night's game... nor is it second-guessing of anything about last night's game. It is simply a general observation regarding Harbaugh.

    I can give you a long list of names of rookies who have started on this team since JH has been HC.
    I'm not suggesting that Harbaugh never plays rookies.. or never starts them. Only that he might place a greater value on inferior talent sometimes, because of experience. But for the sake of argument, who other than Flacco and Tucker (which were kind of necessary) would be on your long list?




  9. #9

    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcfball View Post
    You can say that one player "shows" you more than another but I believe the coaching staff really was happy with the way Ihegdibo and Bynes performed in training camp.
    I was happy with the way Bynes and Ihegdibo played in camp too. I'm not suggesting that they're bad players. Only that Brown and Elam are better players... and that their play in camp shows this. And that Harbaugh valued the experience of Bynes and Ihegdibo, over the talent of Brown and Elam.

    I think that Harbaugh places a greater value of veteran presence at times, than perhaps he should. That's my only point.

    I personally trust the guys that get to see them everyday in practice and am confident that those two (along with the entire team) will play much better
    I on the other hand, suspect that what we see isn't too much different than what THEY see. And that Harbaugh will make a change to Brown and Elam before too long. My question is, why didn't he do it to start with? Camp is supposed to be about determining who are the best players. And I think that when there is a position battle, Harbaugh sometimes disregards who is the better player, and goes with "who is the more experienced" player.

    In the end it will work itself out.. but I guess I am left wondering why he doesn't just believe what he sees.




  10. #10

    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    I think Harbaugh would start a rookie if he thought the rookie was clearly the better option. But if it is close (even if the rookie looks possibly marginally better), I think he would rather the rookie continue to learn (since the NFL is worlds apart from college ball) so as to increase the chances of success for the rookie once he sees the field.

    The main problem with starting rookies, is that you can actually do permanent damage to certain young players by playing them too soon and having them fail and get discouraged. It is more important to succeed when you do get on the field than it is to get starts as early as possible. Obviously not all rookies fall into this category, some might have the mental fortitude to work through a bad start or bad season and keep playing hard and power through it, but there are no guarantees.

    We also have a better than average GM, team and depth, so there is more likely to be a serviceable veteran at every position than would be the case on lesser teams. And of course we rarely if ever draft in the top 10 of the draft where the "clearly starts as rookie" type of players get drafted.

    I don't disagree with the thesis, I am just not so sure it is a problem.




  11. #11

    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    I don't disagree with the thesis, I am just not so sure it is a problem.
    I'm sure we can both point to times where it has been a problem, and times where it has not.

    I guess this year it seems to me that in the particular cases of Elam and Brown, that there was a pretty significant quality difference over the incumbents... And what i'm puzzling over is why given the perceived difference, did Harbaugh stick with the vets?

    I personally think John has a little bit of an old school "you gotta pay your dues" mentality... and that it sometimes drives these decisions. Maybe that's it.. or maybe he thinks that on a team that had so many off-season changes that he has to stick with a little continuity.

    In either case.. I think the better players were watching the game from the sidelines




  12. #12
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    Re: Harbaugh's Rookie-phobia

    Two words: Rookie mistakes. Harbaugh values consistency in play. He does not like to be blindsided by someone on the field making an unanticipated faux pas at a critical time; those are the sorts of incidents that lose games. It's all of a piece with his philosophy of avoiding risk by minimizing unforced errors. Thus he will prefer mediocre but consistent play to inconsistent brilliance shot through with inexplicable major mistakes. All but the most polished rookies fall into the latter category-- & drafting late, the Ravens don't get much chance at drafting anyone of day-1-starter caliber. SATSQ.




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