Circle of Trust

No one has ever trusted their quarterback more than John Harbaugh trusts Lamar Jackson

September 20, 2021

Pop quiz, hot shot: Sunday Night Football, 1:05 remaining, the Ravens lead the Chiefs by a point. The Ravens have the ball, the Chiefs are out of timeouts, and it’s 4th and 1 from the Ravens 43. Do you boot it back to Mahomes and leave him over a minute to drive it into field goal range for Harrison Buttkicker to seal the win? Or do you risk it all and go for it, knowing full well that if you don’t make it, you will be whole wheat toast in the morning?

Well, if your name is John Harbaugh, you have a third option: You look your quarterback in the eye and tell him to decide.

Pretty incredible stuff from Harbaugh here. No one has ever trusted their quarterback more than Harbaugh trusts his quarterback. No one has ever delegated more responsibility than Harbaugh is delegating. You have analytics guys from MIT in the booth calculating probabilities and forecasting outcomes in real time, but the only opinion Harbaugh is interested in is his quarterback’s. Sometimes the best thing a leader can do is get the hell out of the way.

On a more granular level, however, it shows how Harbaugh has been able to rekindle the flame in Baltimore after nearly getting canned following the 2017 season. He’s leant on his guys, some of whom are MVP-caliber players (that helps!), and they’ve returned the trust. This is a prime example of how that plays out in real time, when the chips—and virtually half the starters—are down. If Harbaugh can keep this going all season, he’s a shoo-in for coach of the year … even if he might have to split it with Jackson.