Better Ravens Head Coach: John Harbaugh Or Brian Billick?

The fan’s reaction to John Harbaugh’s coaching this season has surprised me. In fact, it seems like a complete 180 from the excuses I’m used to hearing about the Baltimore Ravens underperforming.

Tuesday, I posted that Harbaugh may be on the hot seat and the reaction both here on BSR and in the Twitterverse was certainly different than thoughts I heard about the Ravens’ head coach a year ago. Still, there were folks out there pointing to five straight postseason appearances and dropped passes/missed field goals in lost year’s AFC Championship game.

This divide got me thinking. Which Ravens head coach was truly better, John Harbaugh or Brian Billick?

Brian BillickJohn Harbaugh has a career 53-24 record during his 4+ seasons with the Ravens. His teams have finished 12-4 twice and have appeared in the postseason every year he’s worn the headset. With a win on Sunday, he’ll extend that streak.

The Ravens have won three division titles under Harbs and have gone 5-4 in the postseason.

Brian Billick coached the Ravens from 1999-2007. His career record in nine seasons with Baltimore is 80-64 and he has a 5-4 postseason record with two division titles, one conference championship and, of course, a victory in Super Bowl XXXV. The Ravens went to the postseason in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006 under Billick and finished 13-3 in ’06 before falling to the Colts in the postseason.

So who’s the better coach? I guess it depends on who you define success. In my mind, until John Harbaugh hoists the Lombardi Trophy he’ll always be behind Billick. Although, I can’t sit here and tell you I think Trent Dilfer is a better quarterback than Dan Marino.

I think Billick did more with less, while Harbaugh has yet to take a Super Bowl caliber team to the promised land. I also believe that Billick was a more involved coach — whether that be for better or for worse.

So there it is. Weigh in on the poll below and leave your comments.

 

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.

18 Comments

  1. MGW

    December 12, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Let’s not jump too far ahead just yet. Harbs won the AFC North in 2010 and 2011, that’s it. He has not won in in 2012 yet.

    If going to the playoffs and being consistent – two things preached at the Castle, then Harbaugh is an unmitigated success.

    Pittsburgh boasts “Six Titles” on bumper stickers, maybe the Ravens should boast “Five Straight Playoff Appearances, one dropped pass from a Super Bowl appearance, and consistent”

  2. JarJar

    December 12, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I think back to the Buffalo Bills of the early 90′s 4 Super Bowl losses. I bet they would have traded 3 season of playoff games for 1 ring. I think Harbs has been benifiting from players Brian developed, and now that they are getting old and hurt we are seeing that Harbs hasn’t been able to develop talent such as Flacco and Smith to some degree. I think we have 2 SB appearences in the past 5 years under Brian.

  3. Anvil

    December 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I would like Jar Jar to explain if there was so much talent left over from the Billick years, please explain how their record was 5-11, 13-3, 6-10 and 9-7 with no playoff wins his last four years? The fact of the matter is Brian Billick had one playoff win after 2000, with appearances in 2001, 2003, and 2006.

  4. JarJar

    December 12, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    What part of development do you not understand? He took raw talent and developed it. He may have not gotten to benifit from that development because they let him go.

  5. JarJar

    December 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    With the exception of Joe Flacco what was the major difference between Billicks last year and Harb’s firs t year? He in herited a awsome D. Wonder what BB would have done if he would have had flacco instead of the merry go round QB’s he had? I wonder if flacco wouldn’t be stuck at the perpetual rookie he is if he had been coached.

  6. Anvil

    December 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Billick didn’t develop what made his teams competitive, he was an offensive guy. He had absolutely nothing to do with the defense and was the luckiest guy alive that he had that waiting for him when he walked in the door. His superior offensive mind turned the gamplan into run up the middle, run up the middle, maybe pass the ball on third down then punt. Play field position, hope your defense scores or kick three FG’s to win 9-6.

  7. MGW

    December 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Jar Jar,

    Anvil is a Billick Hater, you’ll never get him to concede that Harbaugh-less is an inferior coach. A good coach maximizes his talent getting everything he can out of his players.

    Billick did this, Harbaugh-less hasn’t.

    • Anvil

      December 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm

      I didn’t mention Harbaugh in my discussion and honestly feel he’s a middle of the road coach, kind of like Flacco being a middle of the road QB. Billick was an egotistical @ss that had a ray of sunshine shoved up his @ss one year and many in this city gave him a free pass ever since. 1-4 in the playoffs from 2001-2007 with three appearances in the playoffs during those seven years isn’t good. As zenda mentions below, Billicks D coordinators developed those players, Billick was lucky enough to be along for the ride and ride his D’s coat tails to whatever success he had.

      • MGW

        December 12, 2012 at 3:01 pm

        I agree with you that Billick was an egotistical @ss…he was, but Harbaugh is just as egotistical and hasn’t won the big one. Which coach suggested to area fans that “if they didn’t like it, they should go root for another team?” Billick? No, it was the egotistical, ringless Harbaugh.

  8. zenda dempsey

    December 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    BB did the deed and JH is still an also ran. Have to give the devil his due BB had a dude named Marvin Lewis running his D. When Marvin moved on the Ravens hit slip city.

  9. Dude

    December 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I really have no opinion one way or the other because there are pieces I love and hate about each of them. I think it’s worth noting though that since Harbaugh has been coach, he’s dealt with a round robin of DC’s in Ryan, Mattison, Pagano and now Pees with aging defensive veterans in the five years there and he still has kept the team a contender over that span. Juss saying.

  10. Ed Sanford

    December 12, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Interesting question. Overall, I think that Brian Billick was the better executive coach. Billick was brought here because of his “supposed” offense architectural abilities which, in fact, never materialized. His weakness was a lack of discipline in practice. Harbaugh is more of disciplinarian with respect to practice and player commitment but appears very weak in XOs and managing his coordinators. He is also tiring with respect for his continued defensiveness regarding team weaknesses. After analyzing my own thinking, neither of them are great coaches. I am more of the Belichick blue collar style. That is, very little talk a lot of hard work and quickly getting rid of problems. Both Billick and Harbaugh become so emotionally involved that they can’t solve problems. Case in point, neither of them would have the courage to sit Lewis or set an agenda for the offensive and defensive coordinators and then hold them accountable.

  11. Anvil

    December 13, 2012 at 7:49 am

    Ed,
    Well thought out explanation, hard to argue with anything you stated, well put.

  12. spy

    December 13, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Billick did not have a ‘dog house’ , he was a players coach , if he got mad at a player it was over the next day and he put the nbest players on the field at all times,,,,,,,,,,,Harbaugh is just ther opposite , he hurts the team by the grudges he holds,,,,,,,,,,,,,the players want the man to play who gives them the best chance to win , Harbaugh has not learned this yet , he is too corporate to be an effective head coach………….I’m still waiting for him to make a player better from his coaching…………………..

    • JarJar

      December 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Exactly. He and Cam have had Flacco for 5 years and he is still the same incconsistant QB that he was day 1. I don’t think Flacco will ever be a Manning (either one) or a Brady …. I think a good coach could develop him in to a Rothlersburger.

    • anvil

      December 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      That was his problem in my mind. People were not held accountable for their actions and they knew it. Let’s all agree that 2000 was a great season. What did he do after that which made him a good coach? He had six seasons of mediocre to poor football years. His only solid 13-3 season turned into a one game playoff loss to Indy at home none the less.

  13. Ravens2488

    December 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Brian Billick – Super Bowl winner with Trent Dilfer, basically a bum QB.

    John Harbaugh – Has not won shit with Joe Flacco, basically a QB that both Flacco and Harbaugh feels is an ELITE QB.

    Brian Billick hands down over the Special Teams Organizer

  14. 9inchnails

    December 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Shit, I would bring Billick back and let Harbaugh go coach the Special Teams in SF….