Ravens Players Turned Against John Harbaugh During October Practice

Michael Silver’s piece on Yahoo Sports about the Baltimore Ravens “mutiny” during an October practice has received a lot of different opinions here in Charm City. I’ve read through the article a few times and am encouraged by John Harbaugh’s ability to unite his players during their most difficult part of the 2012 season, but I can’t help but be a tad worried about the players turning on their head coach — even if it was for just a few minutes.

Harbaugh told the team they would be practicing in full pads on Halloween before breaking for their bye week. The Ravens had been beaten 43-13 by the Houston Texans 10 days earlier, and narrowly defeated the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs in the two weeks prior.

“Practicing in pads did not go over well with some of Baltimore’s other veterans, including safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, and several of them openly challenged Harbaugh’s edict,” Silver writes.

“It was practically a mutiny,” one Ravens player recalled. “It came very close to getting out of control. But the way Coach Harbaugh handled it was amazing. He let people have their say, and he listened, and he explained himself, and pretty soon it was like a big group-therapy session. In the end, a lot of positive things were said. We didn’t practice in pads, but we came out of there stronger as a group.”

Silver adds that Harbaugh “welcomed the dialogue and solicited additional criticism” and that the “subject shifted to Harbaugh’s treatment of his players and perceived mood swings.”

“I’ve never seen a head coach handle anything like that as well as he did,” said a Ravens assistant who attended the meeting. “There were some things said where we were like, Damn.

“A lot of coaches would have acted like dictators and been very sensitive about the way their authority was being questioned. John said, ‘Hey, let’s talk about this.’ He showed great leadership. Instead of worrying that it would make him seem weak, he turned it into a strength.”

Players questioned Harbaugh’s demeanor and challenged him for being “brusque and negative on certain occasions”.

“He said, ‘I don’t remember saying that, but if I did I apologize,’ ” the Ravens assistant said. “He said, ‘Hey, you know what? That was in the heat of the moment, and I was wrong.’

“John’s great quality is that even if he goes down the wrong street, he’s willing to say, ‘I went down the wrong street’ and correct it with the team. Whereas other coaches are so damn stubborn, they won’t admit they were wrong, and it splinters the team.”

Harbaugh said he wasn’t threatened by the criticisms and wanted to his players to speak freely so that they weren’t “sneaking around talking behind corners”.

It all seems fine and dandy now. The Ravens are 9-2, could sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers for the second consecutive season and  have a good chance of grabbing a second seed in the AFC. But I can’t help but be worried about this divide. Hearing a story about the veterans questioning the leadership of their head coach reminds me of the end of the Brian Billick days. Wasn’t “losing the locker room” an excuse used by the local media for Billick’s firing?

And speaking of the local media, somehow this story never got reported here in Baltimore by the radio stations, news channels, newspapers and online publications that follow the team everyday. If not for Silver — who wrote about it a month after the fact — fans would have never heard about this little meeting.

It makes you wonder if this isn’t the first time something like this happened behind closed doors at The Castle.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @zamwi or send him an email:zach@baltimoresportsreport.com.

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. B.Y.

    November 29, 2012 at 10:48 am

    stop making aproblem where there isnt one.cmon man!

  2. Charles B

    November 29, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Zach, you are a part of “The Local Media” how come you didn’t report this when it happened?

  3. Daniel

    November 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Zach you are once again overreacting as usual. First Flacco and now Harbaugh, it’s like you can’t wait for both of them to leave. I promise you if they both end up being gone, the Ravens won’t come close to replacing what those two have brought to this team. Since you want Harbaugh and Flacco gone, I’m going to ask you who would you like to be the Ravens next head coach and QB? and don’t go Skip Bayless on me by not responding. Be a real man and respond back.

  4. MGW

    November 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Zach, you know the Pink Hats won’t let you say ANYTHING even bordering on negative about their new found love, the Ravens.

    It’s all peaches and cream to guys like B.Y. and Charlie B.

    They like to pretended everyone gets along, one big happy family.

    They defend everything from Harbaugh, to Flacco, to nut case Reed, to Ozzie’s poor drafting the last few years (highlighted by first picks Kindle and Jimmy Smith)

    You cannot tell these guys the Emperor has no clothes…the Ravens PR has already told them otherwise and they drink the Kool aid Jim Jones’ style.

    • Daniel

      November 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm

      I’ll gladly be a homer of a 9-2 team instead of a crybaby who acts like this team is 2-9 or a mess like the Jets, Eagles and Cowboys.

      • MGW

        November 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm

        Daniel, the only thing I’m trying to point out is that the team isn’t perfect. More than one departed player has had bad things to say about Harbaugh. Now we ate getting word that some current players don’t always care for his style. It happens.

        But if you bury your head in the sand and pretend its one big happy family, you’re crazy. These are egotistical overpaid kids who don’t want anyone telling them what to do, let alone some Special Teams Community Organizer with little or no Xs and Os experience.

        • Daniel

          November 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm

          How the hell are they 9-2 if these problems are serious? We know what happened in 2007 when Billick lost the team, 5-11 which included nine straight losses. Harbaugh is doing something right, they obviously don’t hate him. It’s not perfect but usually serious lockerroom issues lead to losing, it’s hard to win four straight when you hate your coach and can’t stand to be around him. I never said they were one big happy family, it appeared as if people like you think the Ravens are about to fall apart. The players may not like Harbaugh’s style all the time (I know I don’t) but some of you act like the Ravens are a nightmare circus similar to the Jets.

  5. Ravens2488

    November 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Agree MGW. I’m a diehard Ravens fan but not a “Homer” like B.Y., Charles and Daniel. These assclowns believe Flacco when he says he’s an elite QB.

    Daniel, do you know that 4th and 29 play with the game on the line and a dump-off to Rice from Flacco was a dumbass play by Flacco that only shows he is about one of the dumbest QB’s around? Rice did a 1/100 miracle of actually getting 29 yards. It’s typical Flacco, dump-off to Rice to pad his totals even when the game is on the line. Just like Flacco’s changing of the call on 4th and 1/2 yard to a freaking pitchout. Flacco is just plain stupid.

    Why do you think Rice is the best receiving back in the NFL? Because that’s the only guy Flacco can hit. Receivers come to Baltimore to die.

    Flacco has 3 passes…

    1. The dumpoff to Rice
    D. The long pass down the right sideline to Torrey Smith
    4. The jump ball in the endzone
    h. The long pass down the middle that always ends up short of the receiver

    • Daniel

      November 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Are you man enough to answer this question, who would you replace Flacco with who will actually be available? It has to be someone you know for sure Ozzie would sign over Flacco. Go ahead I’ll wait, you won’t have an answer for me.

    • Daniel

      November 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Flacco outplayed Brady in the AFC Title game and if soft Lee Evans had actually manned up and fought for the ball Flacco and the Ravens would have been in the Superbowl. Joe frustrates me sometimes and yes that was a stupid decision he made on Sunday but I still want him here because I know there is nothing else better out there and he is capable of getting the job done. You can cry all you want about Joe but you know you will have to suck it up and accept him for who he is, he’s not going anywhere.

  6. AssClown

    November 30, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Daniel,
    They won’t answer your question on who they would replace them with because they don’t have an answer worth giving. They don’t like Flacco/Harbagh and never will. MGW and 2488 wanted the Ravens to hire Rex Ryan; look at the circus in NY right now with that guy and that team. Its a personal thing so they will continue to spew these types of things because its what they do. Just turn them off and go somewhere else, you wil not be able to have a discussion on this point.

    • Ravens2488

      December 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Assclown, you sound like someone I know. You ever been to Ottumwa, Iowa or in that state? You ever drive by Eastern Buffet and have the guy in your back seat give an ass shot to a group of day laborors? You ever crop dust in your buddies office?

  7. MGW

    November 30, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Um, OK, “AssClown”.

    If I was Daniel, I wouldn’t be very happy that someone who calls himself “AssClown” was backing me up.

    I was trying to have a reasonable debate, but when someone named “AssClown” enters the fray, any hopes of reasonable debate go out the window.

    Rock on, my man. Rock on.

  8. B.Y.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    ive goy your assclown swingin bitch

  9. The Intimidator

    November 30, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Gotta go with MGW on this Daniel, when “AssClown” has your back then you need to rethink your argument.

    You did ask a question though Daniel about who would we want to replace Flacco. And I see your point because that’s the problem the Ravens are also having right now. They know Flacco isn’t the answer at QB for them which is why Flacco isn’t signed yet. Think about it, if the Ravens knew they had a QB in Flacco that would lead them into the future don’t you think they would have him signed by now and not have given Rice, Pollard and Webb signing precedence over Flacco this past year? If Flacco was a Top 10 QB the Ravens would have him signed already. The other issue is that Flacco thinks he’s an elite QB and deserves $100mil. You don’t give that money to a QB who ranks in the bottom half of the league.

    Here’s my thought process on this. The Ravens Franchise Flacco this year, maybe the following one also and look for a compatent QB in the draft like the Packers did with Rodgers years ago, Patriots did with Ryan Mallett, 49ers did with Steve Young, Jets did with Tebow (Not really on that, had to throw that in as a joke) and they groom him or they will see which QB’s are out there the following off season.

    Look, the Ravens will be a .500 team maybe not next year but the following year. Lewis, Reed, Leach, Pollard, Boldin, Birk and some other vets will be gone in two years or less. Other than Rice and Suggs this team has no top stars after that. Plus Rice and Suggs production will drop off in two years. Ngata has dropped in production since he got his money. Torrey Smith is only as good as a deep right sideline threat. Webb has had knee surgery twice and can’t be counted on since he is injury prone. So far Terrence Cody, Sergio Kindle, Jimmy Smith, Michael Oher (maybe not Oher as much) have not lived up to their hype. Harbaugh isn’t into signing veterans much because he likes to control the young or rookie guys.

  10. The Intimidator

    November 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    And B.Y. comes into the fray with a popular saying from the late 80′s/early 90′s… “I’ve got your assclown swingin bitch”… Perfect for this entire conversation B.Y…. I would lay money that you are a party boy aren’t ya B.Y.? You go to the local male strip clubs and make it rain don’t ya?

  11. Cold Beer

    December 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Zach, The Intimidator, MGW and Ravens2488 are the only guys on here who are spot on with their comments.

    Assclown could have been but he sounds like he was commenting while doing “meth”.

    Daniel has some good comments but he seems like a “Homer” who won’t come out of the closet. There is a difference between being a Ravens fan and a Ravens Homer Daniel. Be a fan, not a homer.

  12. Anvil

    December 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. This town has the whiniest MF’ers I’ve ever seen. Look at Jason Garrett which was the Raven’s first choice for head coach in 2008, he’ll be unemployed after this season. Rex Ryan will be fired as well. What coaching prodigy is waiting in the wings to come to baltimore? What QB that has come into the league since Flacco would you take? Who has a better resume since coming into the league since 2008? Good luck.