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Gary Kubiak & Rick Dennison Welcome Press Conference

Posted Jan 27, 2014

John Harbaugh Opening Statement:

“Thanks for coming out. I appreciate you guys getting over here on short notice like this. Even though your articles have said it’s been long notice. (laughter) But it was short notice today, and we’re excited about it. We had a chance to spend the weekend with coach [Gary] Kubiak and coach [Rick] Dennison and get this done. I want you to know for the Ravens, for our coaching staff, for our players, for our organization, for our fans – it’s a great day and I’m excited about it. We’ve got a chance to build the best offensive staff in the National Football League, and coach Kubiak is a guy I’ve had a lot of respect for as a coach over the years, playing against him and all those kinds of things, we know what we’re getting. And I’ve known coach Dennison … We go back as special teams coaches a few years back, and he’s been working with offenses in Denver and Houston. So, it’s a great day, we’re excited about it, we’re making the announcement, and we’re ready to move forward and go to work.”

When it comes to public knowledge of the candidates for offensive coordinator, we heard several names last week, but these gentlemen were not among them. How late in the process did they get to the top of your ladder? (Joe Platania)

(JOHN HARBAUGH) “Well, the top of the ladder would be right now at the end. That’s where we emerged here at the end. We did a great job with a thorough process. That was something that was important to us, to make sure we turned over every stone. We looked at college coaches. We had a list of candidates. Our scouts came up with candidates, and we looked at a lot of guys. Of course, Gary Kubiak was on the list from the beginning, but within the last week, it became apparent that this had a chance to be a fit for both coach and for the Ravens, and we were able to finish it up this weekend.”

How much was the search a total team effort from management, ownership and all the combined mental forces to make this happen? (Glenn Younes)

(HARBAUGH) “It’s always a total team effort, without question. It’s always [a team effort], especially in this organization. All of us work hard to be inclusive and include everybody. As I said, we had area scouts recommending coaches in their area in college. We tried to cast a wide net and look at all the candidates we possibly could. But in the end, it’s an opportunity for a head coach to spend time with coaches and decide what’s the best fit for his staff, and that’s what we did.”

What happens to the existing coaching staff now? What’s going on there? (Mike Preston)

(HARBAUGH) “That’s a good question, and it’s going to be in flux a little bit. We have an opportunity now to hire some new coaches. This is going to be something that’s probably going to create some change on our staff. We’ll have to see how that goes in the next day or two. We have to hire a wide receivers coach, potentially, a running back coach, potentially, a tight end coach, potentially. Those are things that we may have to do. And guys are going to have other opportunities, and that’s just the way it’s going to go. So, we’ll see how it shakes out in the next couple of days.”

Gary, what was it about Baltimore that ultimately attracted you to want to come here? (Mark Zinno)

(GARY KUBIAK) “First, I have great respect for the organization – obviously, playing them many times. But, it gets down to John. We had some great conversations over the course of the last couple of days. For me, I’m excited about getting back in the meeting room and teaching. I’m very fortunate to be a part of this great National Football League for many years, and it gives me a chance to be part of a championship organization and to work with a great, young quarterback. But, I believe in John and how he does things, how he runs his football team, his coaching staff, what he stands for. I have great respect for him. So, for me to get back to work with him in this organization … I can’t tell you how excited I am. It’s a great day and I’m looking forward to it.”

Gary, did you consider waiting, possibly sitting this year out, to see what other opportunities arise? (Aaron Wilson)

(KUBIAK) “John and I talked about this last night: I just really tried to have patience and sit around and see what was going on. I had many conversations with various people, but I think as a coach, I know for one thing I want to keep working, I want to keep going. I love the competition, I love being a part of this league, but I was looking for something that hit me and said, ‘OK, this is it.’ And that’s what happened through the course of this visit. It might have been something that could have happened, but I was sure hoping it wouldn’t, and I was looking forward to getting back to work.”

You bring a diverse background in coaching, but you’ll be coaching quarterbacks for the first time. Just your thoughts on coaching the quarterbacks position for the first time in your career? (Aaron Wilson)

(RICK DENNISON) “The last few years, being a coordinator with Gary in Houston, I was predominantly in the quarterback room. I know how he thinks with a quarterback, how he coaches a quarterback, having spent my time with him. But also I’m going to touch as many areas as I can. I know what kind of system he likes – run and pass – having dealt with it for a long time. So, I’ll try to do as much as I can to help that whole process.”

And could you just comment on Rick Dennison’s role? (Aaron Wilson)

(HARBAUGH) “That kind of sums it up. We have an opportunity to be really well-organized. We have a chance to tie the whole thing together, and to me that’s the most important thing. We’re going to have a chance to take the quarterback room and tie it to the running back, tight end, the offensive line, the wide receivers. And that’s what Rick is going to give us a chance to do. Having been in the system so many times before – he’ll be an extension of Gary in the quarterback room, but also across the whole offense. That’s what got me excited about him. We talked about this yesterday; we talked about it this morning. It’s a unique way of doing it, and it’s going to be a really effective way of doing it.”

John, I know you had a lot of different criteria and input during the selection process, but from your perspective, how much did the difficulty you had preparing to play Gary’s team figure into the deciding factor? (Gerry Sandusky)

(HARBAUGH) “You always, in your mind, you keep a list of the guys that give you the most trouble as coaches. And this staff and what they did offensively, and what they’ve done over the years, have always just been kind of a pain in our rear. And probably right out of the gates, that’s the first thing I thought about. It looks like, in a lot of ways, like we want to look. And we talked about this, too: It’s not going to be the Texans’ offense or the Broncos’ offense or anybody [else’s] offense. It’s going to be the Ravens’. It’s going to be what we build with our players and our coaches. It’s going to look like Baltimore wants it to look. It’s going to be rugged, it’s going to be rough, it’s going to be tough, physical, downhill, precise football – passing game and running game. And that’s what we are looking to become. I think there’s a really good fit here philosophically. We see football from the same perspective, and these guys see football from the perspective of Baltimore’s fans. And that’s what we are looking for.”

You mentioned the possibility of looking for a new wide receivers coach. Do you anticipate that Jim Hostler will not be back on the staff and have you had any contact with Jim at this point? (Matt Zenitz)

(HARBAUGH) “I’ve been in contact with Jim every day. That’s what we’ll work out in the next couple of days. This is something that we did; it’s not like you make a lot of plans this way. Things kind of evolve and you have a chance to figure things out together and see if you can fit. You see if it works for families and see what’s best for ever body involved. Those are conversations we have to have in the next couple of hours, the next couple of days.”

You guys kept the process mostly under wraps. However, the speculation on Saturday was that your choice for making a decision was down to Jim Hostler and Kyle Shanahan. Was that inaccurate, or was there a change of course in the process that led you in another direction? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(HARBAUGH) “I would say that besides the four candidates – and that’s where it was at that time, because I don’t think coach [Kubiak] and I had come to the idea that it could work … At the time, we talked about the four of them, then continued conversations with Gary and with Rick, and that evolved, I would say, in the last few days – last five or six days. But other than those four candidates, pretty much everything else that was reported was erroneous or fictitious. So, we feel good about the fact that we had you on the run. (laughter) We kept it quieter than usual. So, we’re proud of that.”

Much has been made of Joe Flacco’s $120.6 million deal, but really it’s a three-year, $62 million deal because of the cap implications in 2016. How concerned are you with the transition into now what will be his second of a three-year deal with the offense? (Glenn Younes)

(DENNISON) “I’m excited about the transition. Football is football. There may be some terminology things here and there, and maybe Gary can answer this better than I can, but you definitely build your offense around your quarterback. It starts with Joe, and those are conversations that we’ve had going forward. So, we are going to do whatever we can to make Joe the best player he can be, and Joe is pretty fired up about that.”

(KUBIAK) “No doubt about that. I had a chance to talk to him earlier, briefly. But it’s our job to find the things that Joe is comfortable with and to make him as successful as we possibly can. And we’ll do that. I’m just looking forward to sitting down with Joe and really picking his brain in a lot of ways and [seeing] how he has been taught and what he’s done in the past, and taking the things that John and I have talked about that we want to do and meshing those things together and getting to work. He’s a championship quarterback, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach in this league. I’m very excited, along with Rick, to work with him.”

Gary and Rick, how important was it that you two came into the organization together? Were you tied at the hip throughout the process? (Stan Charles)

(KUBIAK) “Throughout our career, unfortunately, we might have been tied at the hip. (laughter) But no, it’s nice. Obviously, we have a great respect for each other. We worked and played together, all those things. But this guy [John Harbaugh] right here is the reason we both are sitting here together. John had talked to Rick, and then Rick talked to me, but really it’s all about John. And John wanted to make this work, and then having a vision for what he sees with this offensive football team. He has done a great job of presenting that to me. I can’t speak for Rick, but I know [he feels that] as well.”

You had some health issues last year. How are you feeling right now? (Jamison Hensley)

(KUBIAK) “How do I look? Am I OK?” (laughter)

Do you have to take any kind of precautions? (Jamison Hensley)

(KUBIAK) “No, I’m fine. John and I talked about that also. I went through about a three-week process where I cut back my hours a little bit. But no, I came out of it fine. I was my old self at the end of the season. But things didn’t work out, and that’s part of this game. I feel great. I’ve been working out. [I’m] looking forward to getting up very early in the morning and going to work again. My wife is tired of me being around the house.”

In talking with [former Texan] Eric Winston, he said he feels like the Ravens’ personnel fits very well with what you like to do. Do you feel that way? (Aaron Wilson)

(KUBIAK) “I think so. Through my conversations with John, the thing that stood out to me from the very beginning is that John talks about being physical – that’s what we want to do. Offensively, that’s where everything starts for us. We’ve got to be able to run the football to make the rest of it go. So, yes. Watching John’s group throughout the course of the years, what they’ve done offensively and how they want to move forward, I think it’s a very good fit. It’s up to us as coaches to put it all together.”

In generic terms, what type of running back best suits your offense? (Glenn Younes)

(KUBIAK) “If they’ll get downhill, we’ll do fine. [They’ve had] some great running backs here that have been very successful. We told John we think they fit what we do very well. It’s our job now to go teach our system and get them comfortable with it. But, it always gets back to doing what you’re players do best. We’ve assured John that’s what we’ve got to do; that’s what we’ve got to go find out.”

Have discussions already gone on about what type of players you want going forward in free agency and the draft? (Mark Zinno)

(KUBIAK) “We’ve had brief conversations, but I think all that will get going now.”

(HARBAUGH) “Yes!” (laughter)

Can I ask both of you what kind of relationship you had with Jacoby Jones? I have no way of knowing whether he left because of problems. (Stan Charles)

(KUBIAK) “I’ve got a great relationship with Jacoby. I don’t want to say I was like a father figure to him, but he was like one of my children – I can tell you that, and I’ve got three boys. We went through Jacoby’s early career, where he was growing not only as a player, but as a man. I can tell you this: I’m so proud of him. I called him right after you won the Super Bowl, John. I’m so proud of the man he’s become, as well as the player. I look forward to seeing him. I look forward to talking to him and Vonta [Leach] as well.”

(HARBAUGH) “I’ll tell you one thing along those lines, if I can jump in: Jacoby and Vonta both, early on, got a hold of me and recommended that we go in this direction. They thought that was something that would work right away. I think they’re both pretty excited about it.”

Rick, do you feel the same way? (Stan Charles)

(DENNISON) “Oh yes. [I coached] both [Jones and Leach] for a shorter time than Gary did, but both are great. They’re team guys, they play hard, they do what they’re told and they listen. We had Vonta over in the Pro Bowl, and we tried to get him to be the MVP. We kept giving him the ball, which he always wanted. I love them both.”

John, all told, how many candidates do you think you interviewed? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(HARBAUGH) “Well, [senior vice president of public & community relations] Kevin [Byrne] put that number … We put 15 on there. I really have not had time to go back and count it, but it’s in that neighborhood. I don’t think it’s quite that high, as far as interviews. We probably looked closely at 30 or more names that we really vetted and went through at both levels – college and pro, position coaches and coordinators. That was something that we wanted to do, but that’s kind of Steve [Bisciotti’s] model, too. When you work for the Ravens, you’re going to turn over every stone. We followed that, and it was a great process. It may have taken us back to where, in the beginning, you might assume that we started. In the end, that’s just the way it worked and we got the best guy.”

John, you’re now on your third offensive coordinator in the last three seasons. From a continuity standpoint, is that troubling for you because everything changes every time a new guy comes in? (Mark Zinno)  

(HARBAUGH) “I think that’s always involved. Hey, we’ll be criticized if we stay the same; we’ll be criticized if we change. We’re going to do what’s best. We’ve got to put together the best offense we can. I’m just excited about where we’re going, going forward. When a coordinator gets a head coaching job, that’s a great thing. We’ve had five or six coordinators go on and do that in one way or another. We’re pretty fired up about that.”

John, based on what you’ve said, it really seems like this picked up over the course of the last week. Was there anything in particular that changed during that time or was there anything that prevented it from working? (Matt Zenitz)

(HARBAUGH) “I don’t know, maybe Gary could talk about that a little bit, too. To me, there is process to everything. There’s timeliness to everything. Having a chance to just look at all the options probably more than anything … For us to look at all of our options – and we were doing that independently – and for coach to look at all of his options – he was doing that … It’s not that we didn’t know that they were out there and not that there aren’t some communications that take place; you hear some things. When I had a chance to talk to Rick last week and talk about some different things, about different candidates and things like that, it just became apparent that we were moving close together. Without getting into too many details, that’s just how it felt to me. It just started to make sense.”

(KUBIAK) “I agree.” (laughter)

With the guys that you worked with down in Houston, do you feel like there’s a good pool of guys that have potential to work well here? (Aaron Wilson)

(KUBIAK) “The most important thing is that we put a good staff together. It’s not important that they’re from Houston or have been with me before, those types of things. Like I said, John has a great vision. When we talked last night at his home for numerous hours, I just really liked his vision for how he saw putting this staff together and what he wanted from each position. We’re going to sit down now and figure out where we go from there and listen to how things are going to work out. But, there are a lot of great coaches in this league. And chemistry is a big thing, and I know [with] John, it’s very important to him, and we’ll make that work. We’ll make that work somehow.”

Any hard timeframe to fill those roles, guys? (Glenn Younes)

(HARBAUGH) “A.S.A.P. – but [we’ll be] thorough. The goal would be to get it done within a week or so. I’d like to get it done as soon as we can and get to work. I know coach [Kubiak] wants to get to work, too.”

Gary, when did this opportunity start to seem real? Or when did you start to believe that this would be the ultimate outcome? (Matt Zenitz)

(KUBIAK) “I think, as I said, at John’s table last night – having dinner with him and just listening to him talk about what he was trying to do and what he was trying to put together. I know about his football team, I know what he stands for, all those things. They’re so impressive to me, but as he continued to talk about what he wanted, that’s what I want to be a part of. And I just want to win and be successful in this league and enjoy coaching, enjoy teaching. So, I’m just glad things worked out.”

John, is this a case where you’re going to change all of the terminology, bring in a whole new numbering system, all of those different things? And is that more difficult with the way the offseason is now? (Stan White)

(HARBAUGH) “We talked about that, and we’ve pretty much left it to, ‘That’s OK to me.’ And pretty much we start talking and you find out that a lot of the terms are the same anyways. So, I think there will be some carryover with that, and I think there will be some changes. The changes, in my mind, will be for the better. We’ve gotten pretty specific – not down to the last detail – but pretty specific in some areas about what we want to do. A system has to work together. You can’t piecemeal a system; you’ve got to build it in a way that makes sense to the guys. One word builds off another word, so it makes sense to the guys, and they can have an organized thought process into their responsibilities. We want to build a system, so we’re going to build a Ravens’ system that’s best for our guys in terms of their talents, that’s best for our guys in terms of their ability to learn and get things right. We’ve got to get our assignments right, so let’s build it from the ground up and build it well. That’s what we plan on doing. So yes, there will be some changes, and they’ll be good changes for the better.”

John, I know you said this is still going to be the Ravens’ offense and the Ravens’ philosophy, but by changing a bit and bringing in some guys with new ideas, does this kind of have the feeling of a fresh start for the offense? (Jamison Hensley)

(HARBAUGH) “Sure. How can you say it doesn’t? We’ll build on as many good things as we possibly can. A lot of great things have been done here. The coaches who have been here, we’re all proud of those guys. Guys have gone on to other things; some guys are here. That’s the way it works in the National Football League, and we all know that. That’s the way it works in life in any profession. But, we’ll build on all the things we can, but it is a fresh start. It’s new and it’s exciting, and we really can’t wait to get going.”

Gary, how much is it in your ambition to be a head coach again down the line? (Aaron Wilson)

(KUBIAK) “I want to be the best offensive coordinator that I can be – that’s what I want to do. I don’t look down the road and at those types of things. I told John this when he first called me, I said, ‘John, you know what? I want a chance to enjoy coaching, teaching, and I want a chance to win. And I know you would offer me all those opportunities if this thing would work out.’ So really, for me, it’s just about getting back. It’s a tough thing to go through, but right now this has been the best day I’ve had in two months, because I’m so excited to be back in this league, to get back to work. I shook a few players’ hands today, I met a bunch of new coaches that I have tremendous respect for five minutes ago in the defensive staff, and that’s why I do what I do. That’s what I enjoy doing and enjoy being with those players. So, I’m looking forward to that.”

Gary, were you in touch with John [Harbaugh] early on in this process, or was this more of a recent development? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(KUBIAK) “No, this has been, what, John, the last few days, right?”

You’ve had a lot of successful running games in the league. What are your expectations for this group? (Garrett Downing)

(KUBIAK) “I have tremendous expectations for them. Like I said, everything is going to start when we walk in our offensive meeting rooms with being physical, regardless of which position you play. And if we do that, we’re going to throw the ball well off our play-action and those types of things. But no, [I’ve] never stepped in a game or in a meeting or on a practice field in all my years in this league without expecting to be successful, and I definitely expect to be that way here.”

John, can you talk a little bit about Gary stepping in as a play-caller, not just assisting, but actually calling plays during games and if that’s a strength? (Ryan Mink)

(HARBAUGH) “It is a strength. We did talk about that, and basically, we decided that if it works, it’s a good play call. (laughter) We could all agree on that. (laughter) So much of that is building a system and coaching and teaching and developing – putting it together in a way that guys can execute, having confidence that you can gain five yards with whatever that call is and taking shots where you can take them, and guys making plays on their own. But I also think that coaches who have done that for a long time and have a feel for that and have been in those situations before have an advantage that way. And that’s obviously something coach [Kubiak] has done.”

Sorry, I’ve got to ask: Last time we were here, you announced that coach [Juan] Castillo was going to be the offensive line coach. Does that remain the same? (Glenn Younes)

(HARBAUGH) “Yes. Yes.”                                 

 Going off that a little, is there … I know you’re still working through the coaches, but is there anyone other than [former RBs coach] Wilbert [Montgomery], obviously who was announced already, that you know for sure is not going to be back? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(HARBAUGH) “I really want to wait on that. We’re having conversations with coaches right now, and I’m not ready to make any announcements at this time.”

John, there was the assumption that [owner] Steve [Bisciotti] was involved, and the front office got involved in this whole process. How do you react to that assumption that Steve is heavily-handed and involved? (Jerry Coleman)

(HARBAUGH) “I’m not sure what you’re talking about exactly, but Steve is always involved. Steve’s going to be involved. This is his team, and he sets the tone and the tempo for everything we do, and I listen, as we all do, to Steve’s advice. It would be foolish not to. Now, if you’re going further than that, then the answer is ‘no, no way.’ Steve gets involved to whatever extent he feels like he can help us, and that’s what he does. He does a great job of it.”

Coach Kubiak, are you calling plays on the field or in the booth like [former offensive coordinator Jim] Caldwell did last year? (Glenn Younes)

(KUBIAK) “I don’t know. John and I talked about that, [and] we said let’s get to work and we’ll figure that out. It probably gets down to how comfortable Joe [Flacco] may be. If Joe wants me down there and is more comfortable with me down there, fine. I’ve done both. So, we’ll see.”

Gary, I know one of the problems Houston had this year was QB Matt Schaub sort of struggled. What do you think happened with him and how much does having experience working with a guy like that help you with Joe Flacco? (Jeff Zrebiec)

(KUBIAK) “I’ve been doing it long enough with enough quarterbacks [to know] if you’re playing in this league, and playing a lot of football, you’re going to go through some tough times. That’s part of it. We [Houston Texans] went through tough times as a team; it wasn’t about Matt Schaub. Joe has been very successful and done a lot of great things, but there’s a lot of pressure playing that position and a lot is expected of you. I think, if anything, I feel very comfortable helping Joe through his years of growth as a player, because I’ve been with so many guys and seen how that has to take place. This league is about rebounding. You’re going to have tough times, you’re going to have tough days and maybe some years don’t go the way you want them to go, but you keep battling and it’s about the long haul. There’s no doubt in my mind, when Joe is said and done – he’s already a championship quarterback – but there’s a lot of great things left to happen and I’m looking forward to being part of that.”

What does Joe [Flacco] need to do to become a better quarterback? You’ve looked at him and played against him a couple times. What do you see? (Mike Preston)

(KUBIAK) “I think that’s what I need to get in there and start working on. Joe and I need to sit down together, and I need to talk to him about how he feels with what he’s done up to this point – how he feels about the future and what he thinks he needs to do better. I need to take my vision of that and study Joe over the course of the [next few weeks] – starting here very early tomorrow morning. And together, we come up with that plan – how we make him better, how we progress as a player. Ultimately, it’s about the team and it’s about the offense and him doing his job for the football team.”

How much film did you review before accepting a job like this? (Glenn Younes)

(KUBIAK) “I can’t say that I ran in and started watching [film right away]. I’ve watched and have coached [against] this team. Obviously, we’ve played quite a bit, so I’ve seen Joe quite a bit. I know enough to know that he’s a winner in this league and has a very bright future. That’s all you can ask for as a coach. In this league, that’s a key piece of the puzzle, and they’ve got it in place here in Baltimore.”

You’ve coached Owen Daniels who’s had success at tight end. What have you seen from Dennis Pitta? (Aaron Wilson)

(KUBIAK) “I remember studying Dennis, and I’m very impressed with him as a player. I know he went through a tough year this year with getting injured, but that position has always been a big part of our offense. I’m sure it won’t be any different.” 

Having been a head coach before and now being a coordinator, what did being a head coach teach you that will help you be a better coordinator? (Gerry Sandusky)

(KUBIAK) “We could be here for a while. (laughter) Let’s just say I understand [coach Harbaugh’s] problems on a day-to-day basis. I know that. But, it gives you a true appreciation of everything that goes on within a football team. I know when you’re coaching a position, you’re locked in on your particular spot, whereas a coordinator, you’re locked in on your side of the ball. Obviously, when you get a chance to be a head coach, you realize there are a lot of other problems on the football team that you deal with. I just have great respect for what [coach Harbaugh] is doing a on a day-to-day basis and how well he’s done it. But I can just tell you – I and think I’ve mentioned it a couple times – really for me, it’s just so exciting to get back in a teaching role, to get back in the quarterback room and to become part of that again. That’s how I grew up, that’s what I did, and that’s my true love for this game. That’s why I got an opportunity, so I’m looking forward to getting back to that.”

 

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