4. I like Brian Billick. And I think he really does deserve another chance to be a head coach in the NFL if he wants it. But I think the past few years are proof that John Harbaugh is a better overall head coach. I think Ravens fans have been a little spoiled by success the past few seasons. I think people in Baltimore have a tendency to overrate the talent on their teams a little bit. Remember last year, when so many people were complaining that it must be the coaches' fault that the passing game was struggling because the Ravens had three outstanding wide receivers? Well, as it turns out, they weren't so outstanding. Derrick Mason was old and slow and on his way out of the NFL, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was old and slow and on his way out of the NFL, and Anquan Boldin is a good player, but not an elite player. For all the outcry over how poorly the Ravens used Donte' Stallworth, the Redskins haven't had much use for him either. The point I'm making is that I think one of the things that impresses me about Harbaugh is how he's been able to adapt and get the most out of what he has. None of the teams he's coached in his four years running the Ravens have been perfect. They've all had their limitations. But he's gotten every single one of them to the playoffs. He's coached well when there were zero expectations, and he's had success while under tremendous pressure. In four seasons, Harbaugh has now made the playoffs as many times as Billick did in nine seasons. Now, some of that credit goes to Flacco, who has provided the franchise with a stability it never had under Billick. But the overall atmosphere is healthier under Harbaugh. He has struck a good balance between ruling with an iron fist and giving the players room to be themselves. I've talked to a couple players about it recently, and the way the majority of them feel about Harbaugh now is night and day compared to when he first came to Baltimore. There is accountability, but there is also -- for the most part -- mutual trust and respect. Billick will forever hold the ultimate trump card in the eyes of some Ravens fans because of the remarkable job he did in 2000 with that Super Bowl team. And to be honest, I understand that. That was truly one of the greatest coaching performances in NFL history, getting that team to bond and stick together even though one side of the ball was vastly inferior. But year after year, Harbaugh's teams enter January with a chance to get to the Super Bowl. They've come up short three times, and ultimately the head coach has to answer for that. He'll have to answer for it again this year if the Ravens don't get to Indianapolis. He'll have to do a better job in the playoffs this year than he's done in previous years. That's just how the NFL works. But professional football is a bit like poker. There is an element of luck involved. You can't control everything. You just try to put yourself in a position to win, as often as you can, no matter what cards you're dealt. Harbaugh keeps getting his teams into position. He does it more frequently than Billick did, in fact. But now it's time to prove that he, like Billick, can bring home the biggest pot of all.
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