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Head Coach John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Posted Oct 14, 2013

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody. Injury-wise, everybody finished the game. [There’s] nothing new to report there. We may have some more information on Wednesday, we’ll see, but we didn’t have anything major, injury-wise, happen to us in the game, so that’s a plus. We spent a lot of time, obviously, studying this game – coaches, players and coaches – together up until right now. A lot of good things were accomplished in the game, and many not so good things were accomplished in the game. So, we’ll go to work collectively and try to make the best of all those things going forward and try to be at our best when our best is needed in Pittsburgh on Sunday. So, that’s where we are.”

There has been a lot of talk about the play just before halftime where Eugene Monroe got beat, and the fumble led to the field goal. Now that you’ve had a chance to watch the film, how do you feel Monroe played overall? (Joe Platania) “Overall, Eugene [Monroe] played well. He played a good game, pass protection and run. That was an unfortunate play, obviously. He got beat there by a good pass rusher, but he played a good game.”

You’ve said several times that you feel the team is practicing very well. Does that make the slow starts in games harder to understand because you’ve felt the team was practicing so well in the week leading up to games? (Jeff Zrebiec) “That’s been an issue most of the year, obviously. We need to start faster. We’d love to start with the lead and try to build on that. We haven’t done that as often as we need to. But I also believe that when you practice well, you play well. And ultimately, that is going to show up. So, we’ve just got to continue to practice well and do everything we can to take it to the game and find a way to do that.”

Did it appear on the film that the backs were in the backfield immediately, or was that not a problem? (Aaron Wilson) “We had too many negative-yard plays on the run. That’s what you are referring to, I think. You can’t have negative-yard plays in the run game. We had some mental mistakes, some errors that just cost us. You need no runs for negative yards. There has got to be at least a gain of some kind moving forward. We’ve got to get a lot better at that.”

Ray Rice has vented some frustration with the running game. Is it a lot of moving parts to get it fixed, or is it more of an easy fix to get things going? (Aaron Wilson) “Well, nothing is simple. But, it can be fixed, and we have the guys to do it. I really feel strongly about our offensive line. I think we’ve got the men for the job – coaches and players. We’ve got a great group. We’ve got some depth in there, too, and there are some things we need to clean up [and] some things we can do better. Frustration can be a great motivator. I like that; let’s be frustrated, and let’s go to work and see if we can get better.”

You talked about the percentage of success in deciding to go for it on fourth down. On the three plays previous, you had a gain of 2 yards, 1 yard and no gain whatsoever. Does that defy the percentages in that case when you look back after viewing the film? (Jerry Coleman) “I don’t think so when you look at the numbers, statistically. I don’t have that in front of me right now, but I feel pretty good about our chances of scoring from the 1-yard line. And when you look at the percentages overall, leaving a team on the 1-inch line is never a bad thing either. I’d rather have seven than three there. I’d rather have three than none, but when you back a team up to the zero – right on the goal line – you’ve got a pretty good chance of forcing a punt and getting that three at least right back and maybe a seven. We saw that play out a little bit in the Super Bowl, too, with the fake field goal. And the field position wasn’t even as good. So, that’s the thinking there.”

Ryan Jensen is working his way back from injury. What role do you see for him when he returns to play? (Garrett Downing) “He’ll be a backup to start with, and then we’ll see what he does from there. We haven’t seen much of him yet. So, developmental backup – that will be his role.”

Is it just a statistical coincidence that the three games this season where Joe Flacco has thrown multiple touchdowns and had 300 yards ended up being losses? (Mark Zinno) “I’d have to do some study on that. I don’t have that answer.”

Joe Flacco said after the game that the Ravens need more yards on first and second down. Is that something that can be fixed by getting better runs on first down, or is it a deeper problem than that? (Dave Ginsburg) “It’s probably deeper than that. Getting more yards in the run game would be big. That would help us a lot. We sure expect to do better with the run game and we need to. You can’t consistently run for two yards a carry and be what you want to be as an offense. It makes it hard to stay with it. But, we need to do a better job of passing on first down, too. We need to pass well on first and second down. We need to keep ourselves out of third-and-long as much as possible. Early downs have not been good to us, and we’ve got to improve that.”

With the penalty situation on offense, is it something where it’s cadence or something else in particular? (Aaron Wilson) “It’s just having success. We get backed up, everybody is hyped up and trying to make something happen. Your offensive line, especially, can get a little anxious. Until this game, I don’t think we had any of that. We didn’t in Miami and we were on the road down there. It’s not something that should happen back to back. That’s really where it hurt us most, when we backed ourselves up to a first-and-20.”

Specifically with the offensive line, penalties against them on hands-to-the-face penalties, are they doing something different or is that something that the NFL is keying on? (Brett Hollander) “I don’t know, because [Green Bay] had one where their left tackle didn’t get called. They might be keying on it; I know Marshal [Yanda] mentioned that. We just told our guys that all we can do is what we can do, which is keep our hands down. It seems like every time we’ve been up in the face area it’s been called. We just have to get them off the facemask.”

Aaron Rodgers says the hit that Matt Elam put on [Randall] Cobb was a questionable hit. What are your thoughts on what Matt did in that situation? (Matt Vensel) “I think Matt [Elam] made a tackle. He was scrambling to catch up with that route as best he could to make the tackle. To say that it could have been more ‘artistically palatable’ is pretty hard for me to understand. That’s a fast route; they ran a very good route there. Aaron [Rodgers] made a good quick throw in there, and Matt did the best he could to try and stop that play. I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

Did Lardarius [Webb] get hit in the head at one point? At one point he was a little “woozy.” It looked like he got kneed in the head at one point by [John] Kuhn, and the Packers went after him offensively. (Jerry Coleman) “No, I’m not aware of that.”

What happened with the breakdown in blocking [on the punt block?] Is that a concern? (Clifton Brown) “That’s definitely a concern. Our punt protection has never been a problem, and now we’ve got two punts blocked. It should have never happened; it was a missed call. We just called the protection incorrectly. They moved their No. 2 man out there off the slot. We changed the protection – we probably shouldn’t have done it that way – and that’s what happened.”

So much attention has been put on the offensive line in terms of the run game. How have the running backs performed in terms of seeing the hole and explosiveness through the hole? (Luke Jones) “It’s all a part of it. It’s collective. We all have to do a better job. We have to game-plan it better, we have to structure it better, and we have to call it better. Let’s look at ourselves first as coaches and then as players. Everybody [will] look at their own position and see where they can get better. Our guys do a great job of that. We’ve got a bunch of guys, that if you talk to them, you’ll see that’s the case. Our guys want to know what they can do better. They’re not worried about everybody else, and they’re certainly not worried about pointing the finger at anybody else. The running backs are going to acknowledge what you just said. The offensive line is going to take responsibility. The coaches are going to take responsibility. To me, that is part of who we are, and I’m proud of that.”

Can you talk a little bit about the stretch that’s coming up here, the AFC North battle with three-straight AFC North battles coming up? (Ryan Mink) “How about we talk about the one-game streak coming up?”

How big is this [game] against the Steelers? (Ryan Mink) “It’s big. It’s big. It’s AFC North, of course. It’s Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. It’s a game that we’ve longed for, all of us here in Baltimore. We’ve always felt it’s a big rivalry. It’s certainly become that, and we look forward to playing it – we always do. We have tons of respect for them. We know what they’re about. We enjoy playing in the game, and I believe they do, too. It should be a heck of a battle.”

Speaking of Pittsburgh, a lot of fans take delight in the fact that the Steelers have struggled, but you always seem to respect the opponent as much as you can. Is there anything you want the fans to know about the 2013 Steelers? (Joe Platania) “I’ll let the 2013 Steelers speak for themselves. How about that? They’re a good football team, very good.”

Do you ever hear the criticism when a decision goes not the way that you had planned? (Jamison Hensley) “Well, I hear it from you guys, so sure.”

And when you watch the film, I know you’re evaluating players, but do you ever do self-scouting? (Jamison Hensley) “Of course. How many times have I stood up here and said, ‘That was a mistake. We should have done that better, would have done that differently.’? That’s got to be part of it. We look at the way we’ve organized the run game. We’ve looked at the way we’ve organized that. How can we do that better? You look at every aspect of what you do, how you practice, what you say to guys, what we serve in the cafeteria. It’s all important. So, most certainly, those strategic or tactical decisions that you’re talking about, you look at really hard. Just answering Jerry [Coleman]’s question over here, that was the right decision to do at that point. I believe that. Going back to that in front of that decision, we’d do it the same way. You have to stand strong.”

We don’t get to speak to Juan Castillo a lot. Just a question about the techniques you said he was bringing in with the run game and the scheme: Has it been the scheme? Has it been the players holding things back to this degree so far? I’m not pointing the finger – just an assessment of where things are with the changes with Juan. (Jerry Coleman) “It’s collective. There are not that many things that are different. We are who we are as far as what we do, but we’ve got to do things better – all of us. That’s really the best answer I can give you. There are a lot of specifics within that, but that’s not for this format. But those are all things we’re looking at. Those are things we’re studying very hard. There are plenty of specific things that we need to do differently or we need to do better. And those are things that we’ll do. We’re not stuck on any particular scheme or any particular technique or any particular way of doing something. We want to find the best way to do it, and we work hard at that, and we’ll continue to do that. We’re going to find our way into our run game. It’s a process. We’re fairly early on. I would have sure liked for it to have happened sooner – I thought it would – but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to keep going after it. We’re going to. And that’s not just the run game. That’s a part of everything we do, all three phases.”

Torrey Smith had the least amount of catches he’s had this season. What did the Packers do to try to take him away? If a team does that in the future, what are some things you can do to try to keep him involved? (Aaron Wilson) “Sometimes, it’s just the way it reads out. The ball went to some other guys. They played a little bit of quarter-half coverage sometimes. They pressed him every now and then. They had a safety on top of him sometimes, [and] sometimes they didn’t. The guy is not going to catch eight balls for 120 yards every single week. It’d be great if he did, but that’s why we have other guys. Other guys need to step up, and some other guys did.”

How good was it to have Jacoby Jones back on the field? (Bill West) “It was great. Jacoby [Jones] gave us a speed element out there, and he’ll probably play more and more offensively as we go forward. Tandon Doss played well. Marlon [Brown] played well. Dallas Clark had a bunch of catches. That’s what you try to do – you try to have enough guys in different spots where you can move the ball around and keep them honest. I believe our pass game is moving in that direction. We did a good job with the pocket compared to previous weeks. We did a good job. The depth of the pocket was better, the width of the pocket was better. We had some errors in terms of who we blocked, especially on their pressures. That really hurt us. And I think we got beat one-on-one maybe twice. So, all those things have to be better, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

With the passing game, is it starting to come together as the group you envisioned when you started the season and you’re getting pieces back on the field? (Garrett Downing) “We’ve been in flux. Personnel-wise, we’ve been in flux – there’s no question. We’ve got a few new pieces on the offensive line. There’s some development going on there. But we’ve never had our receiving group together yet. So, to have all those guys active, except for [Brandon] Stokley, was a plus for us. I really think we can build on that.”

You talk about the run game being a process and going through it. How hard is it for you not to get frustrated that it’s not going as quick as you like? At what point in time as a coach do you say, “Either the process needs to change because the results aren’t there, or we need to make some changes personnel-wise because we’re not getting the results we need?” (Mark Zinno) “You do all that. We’re definitely making changes. We’re not going to sit there and just stand pat with what we’re doing. It may not be visible from the outside looking in, but they’re visible to the people we play against, and they’re definitely visible to us. We know what changes we’re making. So, whether it’s personnel changes, or more likely, scheme changes – not major things, just things that will give our guys a better chance to be on the same page – that’s what we need to do. We’ve got too many situations where we don’t have a hat on a hat. When you don’t have a hat on a hat, that’s a problem. That’s just not acceptable. And there are reasons for that. That’s what we’re looking at – the reasons for that. How do we make sure that doesn’t happen? Well, it’s easy to go back and say, ‘OK, if we’d have done this, if we’d have done that, that wouldn’t happen,’ and make the correction and walk back through it or whatever. But you have to go forward [and] anticipate the problems, and that’s what we try to do. How do we organize and structure the system so our guys can be on the same page against who we’re playing against? That’s what we’ve got to figure out. It’s a little more complicated at this level because of what you see from the other team. They’re always going to give you things that are different, and you’ve got to anticipate well. And even when you anticipate well, sometimes you don’t always execute as well as you can. We’ve just got to do a better job of that.”

John, how much did Brandon Stokley’s health factor into him being inactive, or was it a case of having your full array of receivers available? (Luke Jones) “It was just a decision [at] game time. I don’t know exactly where he was at – probably not 100 percent – just like the week before. But we thought that was our best combination of guys for this game given all the circumstances.”

Last year when you played the Steelers, they were without Ben Roethlisberger for both games. It’s been two years since you last faced him, so I guess just your thoughts on facing him this week and having Roethlisberger back in this rivalry? (Matt Vensel) “Ben is a great player. We always get a chance to shake hands and chat before the game, because we’re both Miami [OH] guys – The Miami University. (laughter) So, we’re both proud of that, and then once the game starts, it’ll be high competition. But he’s a great player. He’s always been the straw that stirs the drink in Pittsburgh, and it’s a big challenge when you play him.”

In the first quarter when you opted to punt instead of sending Justin Tucker out to try a 55-yard field goal … Was it anything other than elements? Or was it just distance, was it wind? (Mark Zinno) “There was a little wind up there, and I was worried about the field position. I thought we were in a field position battle at that point in time of the game, and it felt like pinning them back would be ideal [with] the way our defense was playing. We would have liked to have gotten them inside the 10- [yard line], which we didn’t do. We could have kicked a field goal there, and I think Justin would have had as good a chance or better than most in the league at making that field goal. So, that was kind of a 50-50 call there, but it felt like it was a field position game at that point.”

John, as you try to work through the running game, would you like to see Ray Rice a little more involved as a receiver out of the backfield, just because you know what kind of playmaking ability he has? (Luke Jones) “I want all of our guys involved. Sure, Ray getting receptions is a good thing. When he gets the ball in space and makes plays, it’s positive for us. He had a few yesterday – had the one in the flat [and] their linebacker made a nice play. He had a couple in the check-down area where he made some nice plays. So, that’s always a good thing, especially when they push their coverage out a little bit underneath some of our routes. That should open up for us.”

John, was Bryant McKinnie a healthy scratch yesterday? (Jerry Coleman) “Yes.”

Because he had talked about a knee injury after the game, or having his knee drained ... (Jerry Coleman) “He had his knee drained on Wednesday. That’s not the first time; that’s been kind of a regular thing. Bryant is tough, Bryant is tough. He’s a guy that’ll play through those kinds of things.”

You said after the game you didn’t want to play nervous. Is some of that just situational? Does it change from game-to-game with how aggressive you’re going to be? (Mark Zinno) “Yes. One thing about us is, historically, we’ve had a very good defense. And I always want to give our defense a chance and try to be aggressive on offense, because we think we can make those plays. There are plenty of times when you see a team that’s back in their own end – even deeper than the 34- [yard line] with 20 seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds – complete a pass and kick a field goal; make a play. And I feel like we can do that. I feel like we’ve got a lot of speed out there, and we can make plays and put pressure on people. Hey, can you put a knee on the ground right there? Absolutely, you can. And there will be times where that’ll be the right thing to do. But at that point in time, I believed that we could make a play right there. They were pushing the coverage deep, we had three timeouts, and I felt like we could do it. Same thing for the fourth-and-1 that you asked about – I felt like we would score there. If we didn’t score, I felt like our defense would keep them in there and we’d force a punt. That’s why you do those things. Generally speaking, we’re going to be aggressive – yes.”


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