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John Harbaugh Press Conference Transcript

Posted Dec 18, 2017

JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening statement: “Good to see everybody – appreciate you being here. Coming off a good victory, we are entering into a short week, so the schedule gets accelerated. We’ll be on a six-day schedule. The Colts had nine days [preparation] since last Thursday, so we have some catching up to do. That’s what we’re working on doing right now.”

How nice is it to have these last two games be at home? (David Ginsburg) “We’re looking forward to the next two games. We’re looking forward to our crowd. We’ve only had six [games] at home so far. We’ve had eight on the road already. You get eight and eight. These will be two of our home games, so they’re very valuable to us, as you said. We’re hoping we play our best football on the last two games of the season. We’re going to need to play our best football to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. We love for our crowd to be at their best, too. Be excited, and make it a really tough environment to play in for our opponents.”

OLB Terrell Suggs used the term “having blinders on,” and RB Javorius Allen was talking about how he didn’t even know who won and lost yesterday. Have you been pleased with the team’s focus, in terms of not waiting on other results? Everyone is curious about scenarios. Do you feel that your team has been pretty in-tune to just worrying about themselves these last couple weeks? (Jeff Zrebiec) “We played a tough game last Sunday night in Pittsburgh – obviously, a very hard-fought game, a very physical game. It was a little bit of a quick turnaround emotionally for us, and physically. Our guys got ready to go play another tough, physical, in-division road game at a place where we always have tough games against [the Browns]. I thought they did a really good job of that. To me, that’s what they did. They got focused on the game, on the task at hand, kept it about that, and that’s what we need to do again this week. We need to keep it about the challenge that’s in front of us and play our best football.”

Is it easier, in any way, because you don’t really have to pay attention too much [to playoff scenarios]? It’s in front of you. (Jerry Coleman) “That’s a good thing to think about, to consider. I’m not thinking about that – whether it’s easy or not. It doesn’t really matter.”

Not necessarily easier, but all you have to do is win. It doesn’t really matter what happens around you. Is that an easy sell for you as a coach? (David Ginsburg) “I’m just not even going there with the questions. We have to win the next game. That’s how we look at it. So all the other stuff, I think is great. You write about it and analyze it and think about it and discuss it, and it’s cool and fun – but not for us. That’s not what we’re thinking about. It doesn’t matter if it’s easy or hard or what would be better or what if this happens. That’s a distraction for us. Our thing is, ‘Man, we have to get in here Tuesday, and we have to get to work on the Colts, because we have some things that we need to understand about this team that we’re playing.’ We need to be prepared out there Sunday and play our best football. Execute, defend, understand what their formations mean, understand when their pressures are coming, where they’re coming from, understand their individual players and how to block them. All the other stuff? It doesn’t matter to us. We have work to do.”

Are you happy with the way you guys finished this season on the road? You were 4-4. Obviously, you would have liked to win every game on the road, but is going 4-4 the right formula to take care of business at home? (Jerry Coleman) “We just need to win the last game. We would’ve liked to have won the one before that. We want to go back and look at all the games. We would have liked to have won a couple more of those, but it’s water under the bridge now. All the other stuff is good after-the-season conversation. That’s it, really.”

Can you speak to the resiliency your team has shown and despite all these injuries … There have been a lot around the whole league, and you have had your share, but are you proud of the way this team has regrouped? The offensive line and the defensive backfield [have dealt with injuries]. (David Ginsburg) “I do appreciate the character of our team and the resilience of our team and the mental toughness and the focus and the ability to get right at the task at hand and push aside the stuff that is not important and get right at what is important and deal with adversity when it happens, to your point, with the different injuries. You are right; it is all around the league. Every team deals with it to one degree or another. We dealt with it quite a bit early and then middle of season. Our guys handled it, and they kept fighting through it. The reports of our demise, I guess, were greatly exaggerated. But we have a long way to go, and it runs through M&T Bank Stadium on [Saturday].”

We know you gave P Sam Koch the game ball on Sunday. Being with your expertise in special teams, what kind of expertise does it take for a punter to consistently get it down to that 5-yard [line] range? (Jamison Hensley) “That is really a good point. Sam is probably more precise than certainly any punter I have seen – not just been around, but seen. They say the ball takes funny bounces for a reason. It is oblong, and it does. You can’t predict it, but I will tell you, Sam Koch seems like he has perfected that oblong somehow, some way, because it rarely takes off into the end zone. That is the measuring stick. We have all watched a lot of football, and we kind of know, ‘Man, how is he getting all these balls to bounce up and to bounce back?’ The precision, I would say, is at the highest level. Exactly how he does it? I have no idea. They have their techniques they work on. He would be the right guy to ask, but he probably won’t tell you. I can’t tell you, so I guess people aren’t going to know. (laughter) But it is amazing.”

How pleased are you with what WR Mike Wallace has done since the bye week? It is no secret the numbers were down the first half of the season, but it seems like he has been a consistent producer the past few weeks. (Luke Jones) “It speaks to that you don’t get caught up in all that stuff. You try not to get dragged into those conversations and those questions, because you realize that they really don’t mean too much. You just have to keep fighting through it. Some games, those opportunities happen. Sometimes, they don’t. There are a lot of different reasons, but a guy like Mike Wallace is always confident – as you know – and he always works hard. Opportunities are going to come his way, and he is going to make those plays. He had a couple really great catches for us. That one on the left sideline, where he battled off, there was a lot of contact there, and he came up with that catch. Joe [Flacco] made a great throw. We had what – four, five, six chunk passes that were really huge for us in the game; that really opened it up for our offense. That is what we need to do.”

WR/RS Chris Moore had some great plays on special teams, and the week before, he had the receiving touchdown. How proud are you of how he has emerged? (Jordan Schatz) “Chris Moore is a guy that we really do think is an emerging player, as you said. I feel like it is time for him to break out. When he didn’t make the one play on the deep in-route, I just went over and told him … He said, ‘I know, I have to make this catch.’ Sometimes, it is like I want to say, ‘Do you realize how talented you are? Do you really, in your heart, understand how good you can be?’ He is going to be. He is going to be a special player, because of what you said. [His] special teams plays are borderline spectacular. When he gets the ball in his hands, you can see the talent and the speed. He plays as fast or faster than anyone we have when you calculate game speed. Yes, we are looking for big things from him, for sure. I would like for it to be [Saturday] afternoon, too. That would be great. You hear that, Chris [Moore]?” (laughter)

It seems like every week we are talking about RB Javorius “Buck” Allen. Yesterday, they had a really good defense, and he was able to find yards. How have you seen him get better? (Todd Karpovich) “Yes, that is a great point. ‘Buck’ Allen is an all-around consistent player, an all-around really good player – everything he does. [He] runs the ball, pass protection, catches the ball out of the backfield, always knows what to do, special teams, he is on the punt team, he is on the kickoff team, he is on the punt return team, he is on the kickoff return team. He is a four-phase guy in special teams – always gets the job done. He has really progressed into what we all hoped he was going to be when we drafted him. I say with him, too, it is not over yet. He continues to improve. I think his best football is still in front of him.”

When we talk to QB Joe Flacco, he will never say where he is, as far as health. From what you have heard, how much healthier is he now? He was dealing with that back issue in preseason, but how healthy is he now compared to earlier in the season? (Jamison Hensley) “I really don’t know. I probably wouldn’t give you the answer if I knew, but I really don’t know. How can you gauge that? I am sure he is healthier. How much? That is impossible to say, really, unless you are him, and he is not going to tell you, probably, as you said.”

Have you ever seen yardage measured with an index card? (Jerry Coleman) “I am going to stay away from that one. I like [NFL official] Gene Steratore a lot. I think he does a great job, does a great job.”

It was a wild scene on the plane last night. (Ravens senior VP of public and community relations Kevin Byrne) “Oh man, it was great. It was great.”

(Reporter, Jim Forner: “I told them to stop the plane so I could keep the signal!”) “I got off the plane … What Kevin [Byrne] is talking about is … I didn’t even know we had WiFi, and we could get it. All of a sudden, everyone is watching it, so I figured out how to finally get it on [the plane’s TV]. We had the New England-Pittsburgh game that everyone is watching on the plane. Guys are yelling and screaming. We all got into it; coaches got into it. I could not believe a couple of calls. I’m screaming, ‘How could you do that?’ It was like being in your basement; it was like being in your ‘man cave’ with all your best friends looking at a football game. Everyone is yelling, everyone is screaming, rooting for different teams. Most of us probably, you know who we were probably rooting against. But that is just human nature. I got off the plane, and I thought that Pittsburgh won. It looked like it was a catch, and [the TV signal] went out. See, New England scored, and then the video went out. Then, [the Steelers] are at the 10-yard line. We are like, ‘How did they get down there so fast? Was it a kick return? What happened?’ Nobody knew. But they were, and then, bam, it was a touchdown. Then, it [the signal] went out again. Then, I got off the plane. I am driving home, flipping through the radio and got NFL Network for a minute. I heard the Tennessee game – the end of that – which was cool. Then, they explained what happened in the Pittsburgh game. [They said], ‘A catch. No catch. Nobody knows what a catch is!’ Which is probably true. Pittsburgh ended up not winning. It is just crazy. It is the NFL, which is why people love it. We were in one of those games just a week before, so we know how it goes.”

Off of that catch, are you able to use that as a teaching moment? It has bitten a couple of teams. You do not want it to bite your own team. Are you able to use that as a coaching moment to your pass catchers? Do you say, “Here is what you need to do when you are falling to the ground.”? Do you use that as a teaching moment? (Sarah Ellison) “That is probably a really good point. What we do is … That is one of many examples of that. We have ‘Plays of the Week’ every Friday, where we show those kind of plays to our team and talk about it, whether it is rules or techniques and things like that and try to learn from every other situation around the league every week. It is really valuable. It is a really valuable tool, and we usually use the TV copies, because they give you the best views.”

Any other injury updates? You talked about MRIs for WR Jeremy Maclin and DT Carl Davis? (Jamison Hensley) “Nothing serious with those guys, in a sense that they would be out for the season. I think that’s quite a statement, given the fact that there’s not a lot of season left – up to six games. We expect both of those guys back as soon as possible. I think both of those guys will do everything they can to get back this week, [with] varying degrees of likelihood. It kind of depends on how they come along the next couple of days and how they progress. Anywhere from maybe more likely that it wouldn’t be this week and maybe the week after, but you never know. It could be this week with both these guys or either one of those guys. We’ll just see how they progress. They wouldn’t have to practice to play in the game at this stage. They’ll go to work, and they’ll do everything they can to be ready for Sunday, I’m sure.”

How happy were you for OLB Za’Darius Smith – a guy who has worked really hard to make that kind of impact play and to come up with a strip-sack in a clutch moment? How pleased were you to see that from him? (Ryan Mink) “I was pleased to see it for all of us, but I was happy for him, too. That’s kind of how you look at it as a coach. You like to see guys succeed and [see] where the hard work is put in to make a play like that. It was a quick throw [by DeShone Kizer], and he just had a tremendous out in-and-out move. He kind of faked it – he was going to go to a power move, bull-rushed the tackle back, and he slipped outside and got around clean before the quarterback could even think he could be there. That’s why the strip-sack happened. It was just a great play. Za’Darius has become, quietly or not, maybe not in Baltimore as much, but nationally, a really good pass rusher – one of the better pass rushers in football, an ascending pass rusher. I, personally, love his work ethic, love his attitude, love being around him every day, the kind of guy he is. We want to see more of that.”

I know you’re just now getting into film on Indianapolis, but when you look at their defense with head coach Chuck Pagano there, does it remind you of what you guys do a lot? (Garrett Downing) “You look at every defense, and you try to categorize in terms of what the structure is and how to organize. Within that, there are a lot of little details about how they adjust, what they do, different formations and motions and things like that – what they like to play in different situations. Most of the basic, general stuff is similar; there are only so many fronts that you can play. It’s all the little additions that people put on them and the way they do stuff. They do a lot of things that we are familiar with, that we’ve done here in the past. They do some things differently, too. Chuck and [defensive coordinator] Ted Monachino have put their own spin on the system. So you just try to take it for what it is and teach your guys what they’re going to be presented with on Sunday.”

Did RB Alex Collins get through the game OK? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Mhhmm.” (nodding head)

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