So Harbaugh mania begins. It seems fitting that with the two brothers playing each other we compare their fantastic careers as head coaches. They came oh so close last season to playing each other, but with a few more weapons in San Francisco and a little added motivation in Baltimore they were able to get over that hump on this go-around.
Here’s where they stand.
San Francisco Head Coach Jim Harbaugh: Has only coached two years in the NFL; this season and last with the San Francisco 49ers. He stresses hard hitting physical football, and has a personality to match it. Has to be in the top five most intense coaches in the league, and how about those crazy eyes? His teams have both excelled in playing defensive football and he brings an old school offense to the table with his odd take on the West Coast offense.
He is a combined 24-7-1 over the last two seasons. He resurrected Alex Smith’s career and built an even better quarterback in the process with Colin Kaepernick. Last year Jim Harbaugh’s defense finished second in points, fourth in yards allowed, and ranked first in takeaways. He took all the defensive talent already in place and took it to the next level. As if resurrecting Smith’s career wasn’t enough, he did the same for Redskins cast-off Carlos Rodgers. His six seasons with Washington were nothing short of awful, and in one with the Niners he became a pro-bowler. He’s a great motivator and demands the respect of his players. Other coaches, well word on the street is they aren’t so fond of him; not that Jim cares, I’m sure.
Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh: The more experienced of the two, at least in the NFL, John Harbaugh has been coaching the Baltimore Ravens for five great years. In his first year he drafted Joe Flacco and has now developed him into an arguably - I myself am still not convinced - elite quarterback. He is an emotional man, who is very deeply ingrained in his religious faith and this has permeated his team’s locker room. They are a very religious team. Then again, the saying goes teams will mirror their coaches personalities. He is a much more likeable guy than his brother Jim, and it’s understandable why. A little more classy, a little less bellicose and much less crazy with the bulging eyes.
In his five years at the helm in Baltimore he is a combined 54-26, with a 67.5 winning percent. That’s pretty damn good, and best of all is this consistency that comes along with it. His worst season with the club was a 9-7 campaign back in 2009. His defenses have ranked third in points allowed in every season but this one, where they were 12th. Dealing with the injuries he had to though, that’s none too shabby. He has a great eye for talent and is no stranger to taking risks. This year for example he fired Cam Cameron, who many considered to be one of the great offensive minds in the league, in favor of Jim Caldwell. Clearly the move worked.
They are both great coaches, with great careers that are just getting started. Apparently football genius runs in the family, because no matter what the outcome one of these will have a Super Bowl ring come February 3rd. The family dinners are about to become very awkward.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV