Eagles Wake-Up Call: Harbaugh Says the More Things Change…
This brief commingling of his current and former life is giving John Harbaugh an opportunity to retrace the steps that led him from young special teams coach to seasoned steward of a perennial contender.
There were stories that he shared following Wednesday’s practice that shone a light on an era gone by.
“I can remember the Vet — I remember sitting in this office right here and seeing the Vet come crashing down, right? And then like in slow motion video seeing the cats and rats come running with the dust behind them. (Makes exploding noise.)
“When we first got here, Ray Rhodes — the head coach’s office was in the lowest spot in the building. So when the rains came or it flooded in the building during baseball season, everything filed into the head coach’s office. So I’m walking in one morning and I’m just looking at these cats and they’re huge and they’re hunched over and they’re like (scans media tent with bug eyes)…those eyes just watching you walk past. I’m like, ‘Coach, what’s with the cats?’ He goes, ‘You want cats, or you want rats?’ We’ll take the cats.”
He touched on some of the memorable people and moments from his time in Philadelphia but paid the most generous tribute to Jim Johnson, calling him “the guy that we consider the greatest defensive coach in the history of football.”
“We’re running half his schemes out here right now,” said Harbaugh. “A great man, a great mentor and a great teacher.”
With Johnson schooling him along the way, Harbaugh spent nine seasons as the Eagles’ special teams coach before switching over to defensive backs in 2007. The following year he was hired as the Ravens head coach. Harbaugh has since become the only head coach in NFL history to win at least one playoff game in six of his first seven seasons. His 10 playoff wins since 2008 ranks No. 1 in the league. And of course he is a Super Bowl champion, out-dueling his brother Jim in Super Bowl XLVII.
He was asked how he has evolved as a head coach over the years.
“Probably just gotten better,” he responded. “Learn how to handle people better. If you can survive a couple years in this league and have a little success which we were fortunate enough to do because we have an incredible organization…if you can survive, then you get a chance to get your feet underneath you as a head coach and figure out what you believe in.
“I think what’s interesting to me, everything that we believed in the first day we still believe in this day. So the principles have remained the same. And now you’re eight years into it and your players believe in it completely. So you’ve got the veterans teaching the young guys: this is how we do things. Methods you can change. You can change what time you practice or what time you go to bed or what offense you run, but the principles…that never changes.”
The trip down memory lane led us into the here and now: What does Harbaugh see in Kelly, as someone who is in the earlier part of that learning curve?
“I see that. I see a guy that believes in what he believes,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s willing to fight those battles early on. You have to. You can’t back up from what you believe in as a new coach in this league. He has a nice record in college coming in here obviously, and now he’s done well two years in the pros so he’s backed it up. He’s not flinched one bit from what he thinks is right, what he thinks is proper, and he sticks to it. And that’s what you’ve gotta do.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I’m over here doing this bullsh** & I’m missing my wife’s birthday.” Eagles-Ravens practice observations.
“It is tough, especially with these guys.” Brian Westbrook, Duce Staley on what new three-headed monster should expect.
Tucker provides an update on DeMarco Murray.
How Bennie Logan looks poised to push the Eagles’ D “leaps ahead of last year.” Good work from Mr. Paunil.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski offers his observations from Wednesday’s practice.
• Andrew Gardner did a nice job in 1-on-1’s against a variety of Ravens pass rushers. He ran with the ones once again today. I think it’s a safe bet to consider Gardner your new starter at RG.
• On the second play of 11-on-11’s, Bennie Logan blew up a run play in the backfield, like he did multiple times against the Colts. Bennie could be in for a big season. What Logan does so well is get his hands up faster than the blocker opposite him. Watch his hands against the Ravens this Saturday. Hands are such an underrated part of line play, but that’s where Logan is winning right now.
As does Jeff McLane.
Bennie Logan carried over his impressive play in the preseason opener into defensive line-offensive line one-on-ones. The Ravens’ Ryan Jensen had a difficult time holding his ground against Logan. Eagles linebacker Marcus Smith tried a bull rush vs. second-year Ravens tackle James Hurst and couldn’t get by him. When he tried to spin out, he fell to the ground. Andrew Gardner more than held his own during his one-on-one sessions…
Cody Parkey’s struggles continued. It’s too early to panic, and he could be working on some technique things, but the Eagles kicker was 7 for 10 during field-goal drills. He missed a PAT-like attempt, hit one of the uprights from about 42 yards out and was way wide left from approximately 47 yards. A true team guy, Parkey was essentially the ball boy during punt drills, and handled spotting the football between plays.
Joint practice with the Ravens continues at 11:55. Kelly speaks at 11:35.