Late for Work 1/5: Harbs Addresses Mason’s Sideline Spat

Plus how Marvin Lewis’ return affects the Ravens and the most-feared playoff team.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 at 9:30 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Harbs Addresses Mason’s Sideline Spat

Head Coach John Harbaugh downplayed Derrick Mason’s sideline argument with a referee during the Ravens’ 13-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

On his weekly WBAL radio show, a caller, who identified himself as a little league football coach, said Mason deserved to get flagged and asked Harbaugh when he was going to get Mason "under control."

"Derrick’s under control," Harbaugh said. "This is not little league football, this is pro football and these are grown men. There’s something we were talking about during the game and we talked about it on the sideline and he was upset about something. I went back over about 30 seconds later, we had a good conversation and he was ready to play. Derrick played very well, so he didn’t get flagged."

As he has done in the past, Harbaugh emphasized he doesn’t mind an occasional disagreement because that’s what happens inside a football family and open conflict can often times lead to faster resolution.

Mason and quarterback Joe Flacco had a sideline argument in the Ravens’ win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 11. The duo hasn’t had any problems since and they seem to be playing well together.

"We’re in here every single day…we’re like a family. I’m pretty sure Joe’s had some spats with some people, with some brothers and people like that," Harbaugh explained.  "Sometimes you have some of your biggest fights with the people you care about most.

"We’re not afraid of a little confrontation because we care about each other and we get it worked out and it’s all honest. I’m not into this phony, fake, ‘be nice,’ put your arm around guys, everything’s OK, and [have] underlying things that are not getting worked out.  I’d rather talk it out, work it out, put it out there, and that’s how you show people you really care about them."

Who’s the Most-Feared Playoff Team?

Teams won’t admit to fearing anyone, but there are opponents they’d prefer not to face. polled its eight writers on who they thought was the one team no one wants to play. The answers were diverse, but the Ravens and the Packers were the only two teams that got more than one vote.

Jason La Canfora and Elliott Harrison believe the Ravens are the most feared.

"No one in the AFC wants to face the Ravens as a wild card," LaCanfora wrote. "They’ve won three road playoff games the past two seasons, Joe Flacco is much improved, and the run game has looked better down the stretch. They have won at Pittsburgh, managed to let the Patriots off the hook in overtime in New England (they won at Foxboro last year in the postseason), and have a playmaking defense. They’re playoff-tested, and they don’t mind going on the road. Peyton Manning has had their number, and avoiding what appeared to be a likely wild-card meeting with the Colts already bodes well for them."

Said Harrison: "No one should want to play the Ravens right now. Baltimore plays a physical game on both offense and defense. The Chiefs’ main strength is their ground game, but they’ll face the league’s fourth-best run defense – a unit that forced four fumbles Sunday against the Bengals. Many consider New England the Super Bowl favorite, but the Ravens destroyed the Patriots in last year’s playoffs and took them deep into overtime at Gillette Stadium earlier this season. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Ravens right now, besides their five-game win streak, is how effective Ray Rice and the running game have been (104-66 run-pass ratio over the last three weeks.)"

Return of Marvin Lewis Could Spell the End for Ochocinco

A big-time AFC North decision was made yesterday when the Bengals and Marvin Lewis agreed to a contract that will keep Lewis as the head coach in Cincinnati.

Owner Mike Brown and Lewis didn’t announce the terms of the deal at their press conference, but said it was a two-year contract.

How will the return of Lewis affect the Ravens?

First, Baltimore may not have to worry about matchups with receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. The team’s website said Lewis’ return "would seem to seal the departure" of the two receivers.

Second, the Baltimore Sun’s Jamison Hensley believes as long as Lewis is around, the Ravens will continue to have tough matchups against the Bengals.

John on Jim: "Michigan is Done"

If you have been following the national frenzy around John Harbaugh’s brother, Jim, and where he could wind up coaching next year, John has narrowed the potential landing spots down by one.

The University of Michigan released a statement denying reports that current Head Coach Rich Rodriguez will be fired.

On his WBAL radio show last night, John Harbaugh said he believes there is no longer a possibility of his brother going to Michigan.

"I don’t know what he’s going to do," John said. "I think the Michigan thing is done now. I don’t think he’s interested in doing that, which is hard for him because he loves Michigan. But it says a lot about Stanford and we’ll just see what happens."

Jim is one of the hottest coaches in the country, especially after leading his Stanford team to a 40-12 blowout over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl Monday night.

Jim is also rumored to be the front-runner for the vacancies with the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos.

La Canfora is reporting that Jim is quietly emerging as the Miami Dolphins leading candidate too, even though the team hasn’t officially made a statement on Tony Sparano’s future.

NFL Starting Quarterback Rankings

Both ESPN’s "The Professor" John Clayton and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole released their 2010 quarterback rankings.

Both agree on where Flacco ranks among all 32 NFL starting quarterbacks. Clayton put the "elite" Ravens quarterback at No. 10 and Cole placed him at No. 9.

"At some point, those who like to give me flak about Flacco’s elite status will have to concede he has it all," said Clayton. "He doesn’t throw many interceptions (10 this season); he has a big-time arm; and he wins playoff games (3-2 record)."

Cole noted Flacco and Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan’s numbers are "practically carbon copies," but the key difference is that Flacco is 10-12 in games decided by less than a touchdown.

Harbaugh believes Flacco is on a learning curve that can be compared to the top quarterbacks in the league.

"The three-year arc that Joe is on is really favorable," Harbaugh said yesterday. "I’m talking about comparing him to the Mannings, the Bradys and the Breeses and all the other top guys. Joe is right on track, and he’s ahead of some of those guys and slightly behind some others in different categories."

Week 17 Power Rankings

This is the last official list of the 2010 season. Baltimore doesn’t fall below No. 4 in any of the rankings. This weekend’s wild-card opponent, the Chiefs, was ranked as low as No. 14 and never got higher than No. 11.

ESPN: Ravens are No. 4, same as last week. The Patriots, Falcons and Steelers make up the Top 3. James Walker notes that Baltimore is a wild-card team nobody wants to face. Kansas City is No. 11.
USA Today: Ravens are No. 3, same as the last two weeks. Two teams the Ravens have lost to – the Pats and Falcons – remain the board leaders for the third week in a row.  KC is No. 12.’s Jason La Canfora: Ravens are No. 4, down from No. 3 last week. The Patriots, Falcons and Steelers lead La Canfora’s list, but he notes that Baltimore is a playoff road warrior. The Chiefs are No. 11. Mike Florio ranked the Ravens No. 3, same as last week. Florio says John Harbaugh’s team could be knocking Jim Harbaugh’s name out of the headlines. This weekend’s opponent is No. 12.’s Peter King: Ravens are No. 4, same as last week.  The Top 3 are the Pats, Falcons and Eagles. King said he didn’t want to dump all over the Chiefs, who he lists at No. 14, but they got swept by Oakland have a potential distraction with Charlie Weis announcing he will be going to Florida next year.

Quick Hits

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