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Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Posted Sep 9, 2013

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming over. [We] just finished some preparations for the Browns. Obviously, we’ll be moving through that throughout the course of the week. We’re excited to do so, and we’re ready to move on.”

Any further clarification on the replay “snafu?” [What happened] on the [Wes] Welker drop? What [did] your upstairs people [see] when they saw it? (Joe Platania) “We could have done a better job with that, looking back on it, to get that information communicated. We could have been better with that.”

With Tandon [Doss] back, how much does it help to have a guy that knows the offense, that has that background [with Baltimore] without having to go outside? (Aaron Wilson) “It helps to have a guy that’s been here, certainly. When you can bring someone back like Tandon [Doss], who knows the offense and is ready to plug right in and play for us, [it helps]. There’s no teaching we have to do; he knows what to do. It’s a big plus for us, and we’re very fortunate that he was available for us.”

Without harping too much on the whole replay situation, could you clarify the communication process that went down? (Jerry Coleman) “We’ve been all through that communication process on replays. I think everybody understands how that works. We just have to do a better job with it. We’ve got to see it.”

Was there a quality coach that you speak with? (Jerry Coleman) “I’m not going to get in to all of that. We just have to do a better job with it, and that’s on me. We’ve got to do a better job of it.”

With Jacoby [Jones], do you expect him back in October most likely? (Aaron Wilson) “We’ll see how it goes with Jacoby [Jones]. He’s got a sprain. It’s not what you’d call a serious-type thing. We just have to see how it goes. [It’s] day-to-day, week-to-week. [We’ll] see how fast he can come back.”

Is the prognosis better for Michael Oher? (Aaron Wilson) “Prognosis is the same for Michael Oher – day-to-day, week-to-week.”

Any update for Arthur Jones? He tweeted out that things have progressed, but from a football standpoint, where does he stand? (Jamison Hensley) “We had good news on that. Arthur [Jones] went and saw a specialist, and without getting into the details of it – I’ll leave that to Arthur – it was very positive. Good news, it seems to have cleared up. He should be good, and we’ll just have to see how ready he is to play this week. That will obviously be the issue football-wise. We’ll just see how ready he is to play. I can’t make a prediction on that right now.”

After you watched the tape, did it look like a lot of the secondary troubles were tackling? Is that something you’re going to focus on this week and stress to the players? (Ryan Mink) “Yes, it was fundamentals, and there were some scheme issues. No. 1, [there are] scheme issues that we have to do a better job of as coaches – making sure that we’re running things that are being taught in such a way as that they can be executed quickly, especially against an offense like that that makes you operate quickly. We need to do better with that. We need to do a better job of the fundamentals and the basics of playing the game under pressure, under stress against a good offense. We can do much better with that, and I’m really excited about that. We can really improve back there going forward. Obviously, we have to. That kind of performance – in the end – is never going to be acceptable. We’re capable of playing far better than that, and we have to.”

With [Wes] Welker’s touchdown, was that just a miscommunication there with Corey [Graham] and Lardarius [Webb]? (Matt Vensel) “Yes, that’s exactly what it was. Two guys played different techniques.”

Joe [Flacco] had a couple of [interceptions and] in the preseason he had a few. Is it just coincidence or something to be concerned about? (Clifton Brown) “It’s obviously something to be concerned about. I would say those are more technique issues. Again, fundamentals [like] the routes and Joe [Flacco] being on the same page in terms of the way the route is going to be run – angles of the route – things like that. [They’re] things that we have to keep working on. We’re not there yet 100 percent on those things. The other thing in the passing game is just catching the ball. We just have to catch the ball. We have 87 plays in that game; we have 50 plays in the first half without getting more than four plays in any one series in the third quarter. We’re up 17-14 at halftime, and I don’t think we played very well in the first half. [Then] we have all the mistakes in the third quarter that put us out of the game, basically. Guys keep fighting. We have to execute better with the simple things, the basic things that we’re fully capable of doing.”

Would you like to find a clear-cut kick returner or that could be a by committee? (Garrett Downing) “We’ll just go with the best guys we have. As a coach, what you do is that you play with the guys you’ve got. We’ll put the guy out there that gives us the best chance to hold on to the football and get us some yards. That’s what you have to do; that’s what we did during the game. Obviously, the punt returner we were forced to put out there was Lardarius [Webb]. You deal with the guys you have and you get ready to play the game. We’ve got some guys that are fully capable of doing it that we’ll have a lot of confidence in.”

Michael Huff was pretty disappointed after the game with his tackling. Was there anything fundamentally that popped up from the film that you guys were able to see? (Aaron Wilson) “Anybody that knows football can see that – what it was fundamentally. That’s exactly what it was; it was fundamental issues that he’s definitely able to play better and he will. He worked very hard, and personally, I feel good about him as a player. I’m just looking forward to seeing how he bounces back. I think he’ll do well.”

The story came out right before kickoff on Thursday that you’ve gotten a contract extension. Can you address that? How gratifying it is for Ozzie [Newsome] and Steve [Bisciotti] to show that support and reward you for how much success you’ve had? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Thanks for bringing that up. First of all, it’s an honor to be coaching here. It’s an honor to be a head coach. It’s an honor to be a coach in the National Football League. Then to be able to do it with the Baltimore Ravens – it’s a dream come true. It’s beyond what you would even hope for. I’m just so grateful to Steve [Bisciotti] and Ozzie [Newsome] and Dick [Cass] and Kevin [Byrne] and everybody in this organization – top to bottom and sideways – that makes coming to work every day such a treasured thing for us. I think we all feel that way as coaches. Something like this is a team thing. Anytime a player has an opportunity to sign an extended contract or come here, it’s because it’s a team effort. Coaches have done a great job; players have done a great job. I’d like to think it benefits everybody here that’s part of our team. I’m just very excited about it and ready to move on to try to prove that decision to be the right one.” 

It’s my understanding that this was done a couple months ago. Was this something that was done early in the offseason and you just didn’t feel the need to put it out there? (Jeff Zrebiec) “It was done before it was announced, without getting into any of the specifics about it, and it’s much appreciated.”

Did the timing of the announcement catch you off guard? (Jerry Coleman) “Well, the timing of what the media does oftentimes catches me off guard, so I’d have to say that’s probably true.” (laughter)

The perception of the media was that Ryan Jensen was an IR candidate. Is this a procedural move, or do you really think he’s going to be a player for you guys sooner than most people think? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Yes, the latter. We feel like he’s going to be a player for us sooner rather than later, and that’s why we held on to him on the 53- [man roster]. We’ve got high hopes for him for this year, and he’s not too far out. He had a broken foot early in training camp, but it was early in training camp. He’s worked really hard. He’s in very good shape. He’s going to have to get in football shape, but he’s getting closer to being back, so we’re excited about him.”

Does Deonte Thompson fall into that category, too? (Aaron Wilson) “Yes, Deonte [Thompson] would fall right into that category. He’s making progress, and he’s close as well.”

Could Ryan Jensen provide depth at guard and center? (Ryan Mink) “Yes. Ryan [Jensen] is a two-way guy. He can play both guard spots and center.”

Do you feel like you’ve been given a bit of a reprieve since the other division teams lost and now you’re going to play a division game? (Joe Platania) “The great thing about it is – and we all know this – it’s week to week in this league, and it’s going to be that way. What we need to do is take care of our business. If we take care of our business, we’re going to be in the hunt and make it interesting, and if we don’t, we’re not. I know that’s kind of a bad answer, but it’s the truth. All of a sudden, we find ourselves tied for first place. We also find ourselves tied for last place. (laughter) That’s where we’re at, and we’ll make it where we will.”

How do you want your team to deal with that loss? Do you want them to move on or do you want them to be ticked off? (Jamison Hensley) “That’s a good question, and I would say this: I want both. I want them to feel how I feel, but that’s how we all feel. We’re ticked off at ourselves, to use your term. We’re not happy about the way we played, especially in critical situations. Against a good team like that, and all credit to them, but you can’t just hand them points. It’s just not something that you can do. And we did that – we handed them opportunities. Going forward, we’ve got to improve from that. So, yes, we should be upset about that. We also have to move on from it emotionally, and we have to prepare for the next challenge. It’s just like a play. You can’t carry the last play into the next play. I think we did that a couple times during the game, too. Guys carried the last play into the next play and let it complicate things. So, we have to not carry the last game emotionally into the next game.”

Is this just the right kind of year to have an emergency list for potential free agents? (Aaron Wilson) “That’s an ongoing process for us. We have to be looking at guys at all times. Guys are going to get hurt. We’re going to need to make personnel decisions. We’re going to have needs, and we’ll be looking at guys constantly.”

Marlon Brown played more than you had probably planned. How do you think he did? (Matt Vensel) “I would say he played well. He’s a rookie. It wasn’t too big for him. He handled the situation extremely well, which we all thought that he would, and I’m happy to see that he did. We’re looking forward to seeing how he develops. We’re kind of excited about it.”

How would you evaluate Gino Gradkowski in his first regular season game? (Ryan Mink) “Gino [Gradkowski] did a good job. The thing about Gino – and he and I talked about this – that people are going to question is [that] he’s a 300-pound guy, which we all say is pretty darn big, and there are a lot of centers who aren’t as big as he is. But, you say, ‘Is he going to hold up physically against the bigger defensive linemen?’ He’s going to have a challenge again this week. He did that really well. Physically, he did a good job. Then, of course, running the show, he did a good job, [but] he could do better with that. For the first time out against that defense, it was pretty good. There is a lot that he can improve on and get better at.”

Is there something about home openers [that is unique], especially being the defending Super Bowl champions? (Jamison Hensley) “As coaches, we’re probably always wary of those things, but I like our guys’ ability to handle that part of it. There’s nothing like playing at M&T Bank Stadium. Any player or coach that plays here for the Ravens definitely feels that way. We’re really excited to be coming back home to our fans. We just feel a need to play the way they expect us to play. That’s our challenge, and we need to do that.”

I know you guys traded Anquan Boldin for salary cap purposes, but did seeing him play the way he did yesterday make it difficult to block out all the second-guessing? (Jeff Zrebiec) “I haven’t heard any of it, probably by design. My wife did mention it to me a couple times. (laughter) (Reporter: “What about Jim [Harbaugh]?”) No, Jim didn’t say anything. [Anquan] is a great player, and there’s nobody here who didn’t want Anquan back. He plays for another team now, and I happen to have a rooting interest in that team, I guess. I haven’t watched the game, but I have a rooting interest in Anquan, too. We all do. He played well. It was a business decision both ways. It was definitely disappointing that it went the way it did, but I’m happy for his success and looking forward to our success as well.”

With the blocked punt, have you figured out what happened, and is it easily correctable? (Clifton Brown) “It’s easily correctable from the standpoint of … The situation is that we understood what they were doing, and we tried to execute the assignment right. We had assignment issues sometimes in the game in different areas, [and] we had technique [and] execution issues at other times. And then there were a few scheme issues – understanding the scheme. That was an execution of fundamentals issue. The guys involved fully understand it, but we need to get better at it. There are really fast guys coming off the edges. When you’re young in this league, you need to know how to do it, and we just have to get better at it. That was a big turning point in the game, as it always is. When you’re backed up like that, and you get a punt blocked … It happened for us in the preseason, and you saw what a turning point it was. Hats off to the guy who rushed off the edge there – he did a great job. But, we need to block better.”

Are you anxious to see how they bounce back from something like that? (Jerry Coleman) “We couldn’t wait to get back on the field Friday afternoon with the team, and they felt the same way. We couldn’t wait to get on the field this afternoon and couldn’t wait for the team meeting. We believe we’re capable of being a very good football team, but we’ve got to make it happen.”

Do you anticipate the lineup being very similar with personnel groupings, without getting into strategy? (Aaron Wilson) “Without getting into strategy? (laughter) Without getting into strategy or specifics, we’ll see how that shakes out.”

What things did you see on film that were better Thursday night than you had initially thought? (Luke Jones) “There were a lot of good things. We played well in a lot of ways, but you can’t make the mistakes we made. We had, on defense, 309 yards on seven plays. Take away seven plays, and you’re looking at a pretty darn good game against Peyton Manning – about 200 yards. Well, that’s always the case when you give up a lot of big plays, so that’s on us. We’ve got to corral the big plays, build on all the good things, build on those 63 plays or so, but take care of those seven, whichever seven those are going to be next week. You’ve got to chase all that as you go forward.”

The play of the front seven seemed to be one of the good things from Thursday. It seemed like you guys did a good job against the run and got decent pressure, too. (Matt Zenitz) “I thought the front seven did play well. We defended that spread attack with six in the box to play run defense. We did a nice job with that, and we were also able to get pressure. A lot of the things with Peyton [Manning], numbers-wise, is that he gets the ball out very quickly, and that’s by design. But we got a number of hits on him and we got a few sacks. So, we felt good about that, and that’s something to build off of.”

You fell behind late in the game and had 62 passes from Joe [Flacco], and 30 in the first half. Is that more of a tilt than you wanted? (Clifton Brown) “We know we have to run the ball. We have to run the ball well. We’re definitely not there, in terms of our ability to run the ball; we’ve got to get better. But, you do whatever you need to do to win the game. I don’t anticipate many games where we’ll throw the ball over 60 times, but we had 87 plays. Percentage-wise, we’ll probably run the ball more most of the time than we did in this game. If we catch 80 percent of the passes that we dropped, now you’re looking at a lights-out performance in the passing game. We’ve just got to execute better that way.”

Any conversations with Dallas Clark or Ed Dickson after the game? (Bill West) “Sure, lots of conversation. They both did things really well, and they both did things they’d like to have back – catching the ball being the main thing. Those guys have good hands and they can catch the ball. But, you have to go out there and you have to do it. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what you’re on the team for. They know that, and they’re excited to get back at it.”

For years in this league, if you stopped the run and forced a team to pass, it was a little bit of a leg up to make someone one-dimensional. Some of these teams you run up against – Denver, high-powered passing, and there are some other ones – is that still the case in the NFL? (John Eisenberg) “It’s definitely the case, because if you don’t stop the run, it makes it really impossible to stop the pass. But our issue was the big plays. You can’t give up a screen for a touchdown. That’s just not acceptable. You can’t leave guys wide open. You can’t miss tackles that turn into big plays. You can’t turn guys loose in the red zone. You can’t do it.”

You add two veteran pass catchers in [Dallas] Clark and [Brandon] Stokely in training camp – I guess about midway – and then [Aaron] Mellette and [Marlon] Brown are two rookies. How much does your faith in Joe Flacco – his handle of the offense and his leadership – allow you to usher in a bunch of new pass catchers? How much does that help? (Jeff Zrebiec) “That’s definitely a part of it. You feel like Joe will bring those guys along and train those guys and those kinds of things. But that’s our challenge right now; that’s what we’re faced with. It’s a good challenge, because they’re talented young guys, and we’re excited about the kind of players they’re going to be.”

It’s been a stated goal of this organization the last couple of years to get younger and to get faster. When you do that, do you sometimes run the risk of having the lack of poise and the lack of execution? (Joe Platania) “Well, it’s a risk that has to be taken by every team – that’s just a fact. We were at one point in time a few years ago the ‘oldest team,’ and everybody said we’re too old. They said we couldn’t win because we’re too old. Then, we won. So, if we’re a younger team now and they want to say we can’t win because we’re too young, then we plan on proving them wrong there, too. You have to work through the mistakes. Guys make mistakes, whether it’s a punt protection deal or dropping a pass or not playing a defense right – whatever it is. You just keep coaching through that stuff. It’s a long season, as we’ve found out. It’s a one-week season every week in the National Football League.”

I know Aaron Mellette was inactive the other night, but is he someone you can see factoring in a little bit? (Matt Zenitz) “Yes, we could see that. We’ll just have to see how it all shakes out. You put your 46 guys up [on the gameday roster] that make the most sense for that game. But, he’s playing well. There’s nothing that he’s doing that wouldn’t make him a possibility to be active. We only had four receivers up.”

 

CB Corey Graham

On how difficult it was to watch the film from the Denver game: “It was tough. It definitely was – especially when you’re watching film and guys are out of character and not doing things that they normally do. So, it was tough for us as a defense as a whole, and probably as a team. We have to play better. We know what we’ve got to do, and that was unacceptable.”

On if a lot of times he saw a receiver bump to another player and was never picked up: “[With] communication, in zone [coverage] everybody needs to be on the same page in certain defenses. And when one guy is not on the same page, it can be devastating, especially when you’re going against a quarterback like Peyton Manning – a guy that knows where he wants to go with the ball and he’s capable of making all the throws. So, when one guy is off, it definitely can be a problem, but when like two or three [guys are off], it can be dramatic.”

On if part of the issue is having two new safeties in the back: “It’s a lot of things that factor in. I wouldn’t sit here and say it’s just the new safeties. Me, individually, [I] have to play better. I’m pretty sure the other corners feel like they need to play better. Just all of us as a unit, we need to find a way to go out there and get the job done, get on the same page and just make plays. When it came down to it, we just didn’t make the plays that we needed to make, and that’s something that I know, at least me personally, I have to do.”

On lobbying with the coaches to challenge a WR Wes Welker catch that he thought hit the ground: “I saw the ball hit the ground, but once again, playing against Peyton, you saw how fast they got on the line of scrimmage. I’m over there pointing at the ground trying to tell [the coaches] it hit the ground, but shoot, when the other receivers are lined up [and] getting ready to play, I had to run and go over and get to the receivers. So, I didn’t really have time to do too much lobbying. They use a fast-paced offense, they do what they do, and they didn’t really give us a chance to … Coach [John Harbaugh] pretty much would have had to just go off feel if he wanted to replay that one, because it happened so fast. There was nothing we could really do about it.”

On if the zone coverage was getting a little mixed up on Welker’s second touchdown catch: “Yes, that was another thing with communication. We just need to find a way to get things done when it comes to passing off guys and things like that. Honestly, I put that one on myself. I’ve got to see that – I was locked in on the No. 1 receiver and you’ve got to see the next guy come out, and I’ve got to find a way to switch that off. So, it’s one of those situations where it’s communication, probably just getting too locked in on one guy. You’ve just got to look to your surroundings and know what to do and what not to do.”

On if it’s too simplistic to attribute the communication problems to having so many new faces of defense: “It takes time. Anything in football takes time, especially when you’re trying to get 11 people to be on the same page at once. So, it takes time. When you lose guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, obviously it’s big, but I feel like we definitely have the guys to get it done. We’ve just got to get on the same page, find a way to go out there and win games.”

On if it’s about somebody taking command of the defense, stepping up in that position: “I wouldn’t say that, because Daryl [Smith] and James [Ihedigbo], they do a pretty good job of getting guys lined up and getting the calls in and things like that. So, I wouldn’t say it’s too much [about] someone taking command, because those guys already have done that. When it came to the game in Denver, honestly, I know personally with me, it just came down to not making the plays you need to make. It’s really not all about just communication. Most of the time you’re going to bring your guy, you’ve got to make the play. If you don’t make it, it’s as simple as that. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was all communication – it’s just making plays. Guys have got to go out there and find a way to make plays, and me personally, and everyone else, I’m pretty sure we all feel the same way. We’ve got to make more plays. They made more than us.”

On having a chance to come back home and play in front of Ravens fans now: “See, that’s the good thing about it: Football is week to week. We have the opportunity to go out there this week and make up for what happened last week. We’re not feeling good about it; I’m pretty sure this game couldn’t come fast enough. We just can’t wait to even get out there and practice. It’s not too many times you hear a player talk about they can’t wait to get to practice. (laughter) But at this point, we just can’t wait to get out there and practice and get this game behind us and go out there and play and get to this game and make it happen.”

On if defensive coordinator Dean Pees is at his best in moments like this with being constructive: “Yes, that helps. Having a defensive coordinator like that who’s going to make sure … I mean, he’s not going to go crazy and be all out of character – he’s going to be himself. Coach Pees is himself, he’s going to be a calm guy, he’s going to tell you what you did wrong, he’s going to correct it and put you in position to do well the next time. So, we watched the film, we saw what we’d done wrong, and we know what we have to do this week to have a better outcome.”

 

 

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