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John Harbaugh Press Conference Transcript

Posted Sep 11, 2017

JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE: WEEK 2

Opening statement: “It is good to see everybody. Thank you for being here. It was a very good win – a team win, a very valuable win in Cincinnati. We are very proud of it. We will put that behind us – coaches, in terms of all the work we do on our previous opponent. It is done now, and we are on to prepping and preparing for Cleveland. Players will be in starting tomorrow afternoon, and we will be in full Cleveland mode. Once the players get in, we will have our game plans ready. I just want to say about our fans in Cincinnati – it was great. We had a lot of fans there. At the end of this game, they were ringing the whole lower bowl there, and they were smiling; they were fired up. It was great to see our fans. Then, just the last thing: Thank you and a salute to the first responders in Florida for the job they have been doing. We see it on the news all the time, and they are just amazing people. We have a very generous and amazing, courageous country. Thank you to all those folks down there doing a great job.”

What were you happiest about in the victory yesterday? (Stan Charles) “I was happiest about the victory, in all honesty. That is the goal. It is a team game, a team win. You try to find a way to win the game by whatever means necessary. I was happy that we found the means to win the game, in all honesty. That is what it boils down to.”

Along those lines – and QB Joe Flacco joked about this after the game – did you ever think that in all the different ways you might have to win a game, your starting quarterback might not have to complete a pass in the second half? (Luke Jones) “No I didn’t. I did not think about that. But, it is a good way to win. If you don’t have to complete a pass in the second half of the game to win a game, I guess that is a real positive thing. I am happy about it, and I am looking forward to moving on.”

How did QB Joe Flacco come out? Did he appear stiff at times with his back with the long ball and maybe the ability to go downfield? Were there some limitations? (Jerry Coleman) “No. There were no limitations. He is good. He feels good. I have not seen him yet today, but as far as I know, he is good. I have not heard anything.”

Are there any updates on OLB Za’Darius Smith and RB Danny Woodhead? (Jamison Hensley) “Nothing until tomorrow, probably, definitive. Danny has a hamstring issue, though, so we will just have to see what the timeline for that is going to be after he gets his MRIs and different things like that. But I think there will be timeline there on that, because it is a hamstring. I have not heard about Za’Darius in detail; he was not out of the MRI yet. We will see. We know it is not a structural knee thing. I think I know that. We think we know that, but we will know for sure once he gets out of the MRI.”

How did you assess the timing with the offensive line and QB Joe Flacco, as far as blocking and snaps? (Todd Karpovich) “The timing? That is a complicated question. Generally, I think timing was good. But as far as operation, we had some issues. We had a couple delay of games, we had a couple of false starts. I am not really surprised by that. I think that is something that we anticipated being an issue going in with the way we were running the offense and the fact that they have not been together. It is something that needs to improve and should improve.”

The delay of game penalties in the fourth period, the last two QB Joe Flacco had. Were they from getting plays in too late or just him not recognizing the time on the clock? (Mike Preston) “I think it is all a combination of things. Something like that shouldn’t really happen, so it is hard to put your finger on it. Whether the plays were not in quick enough, which really was not the problem in those two … Maybe an earlier one. We kind of got snagged up on a conversion one. It was … We had to take a timeout in that drive earlier. We got into a situation where we did not know if it was a first down or not. It looked like it was going to be a first down, and they ended up spotting it back half a yard. By the time they spotted the ball, there were 20 seconds left on the play clock and we did not get a reset. We had to call a timeout on that one. There were a lot of reasons for that stuff. We just have to clean it up.”

Do you chalk a lot of that stuff up to it being the first game with some of the penalties? (Jerry Coleman) “I don’t know. Yes, sure that is part of it. The false starts and the delay of games are operational that we need to get better at, and we should get better at that. We are working together with an offense that is new to us, and the group hasn’t been together, sure. The holding penalties – not really. The holding penalties, to me, are technique penalties. That should not happen. They were all legitimate calls, and we just have to clean that up, and we have to block better in those situations. We blocked too well throughout the whole game … I’ll tell you, our offense was very physical. There were some guys coming off the ball; I am talking about offensive line, tight ends, running backs – Terrance [West] and ‘Buck’ [Allen] running hard – wide receivers were blocking downfield. We had way too many really good [blocks] – a really good blocking outing – to have holding penalties bring those plays back. To me, that is something that, just from a technique standpoint, we have to clean up.”

OLB Terrell Suggs said after the game, “We had a great performance, but we can do better.” He also pointed out his own one flaw. Do you look at the film and see areas of improvement, and are you optimistic after Game 1 that this defense will get better and has time to? (David Ginsburg) “Yes, we are going to get better at everything we do. Defense … I saw two things for Suggs. He said one, I saw two. You know, coach’s eye. (laughter) But, he played a tremendous game. He was all over the field. He played with tremendous effort, tremendous heart. I will tell you, the level of effort in the game by both sides in all three phases was A-plus. We can build on that, and we can always work on the things that we need to work on to chase perfection. I think they had half their yards on five plays. They popped a couple runs against us, a couple zone runs. They hit a seven-route pass on us and a screen. Those are five plays that they got most of the yards. Those are plays that we look at real hard and try to clean those things up while we anticipate what is coming next from our next opponent.”

When you talk about OLB Terrell Suggs, to have a game like he did at the age of 35 … (Jamison Hensley) “What does it say about Terrell Suggs to have that kind of game at this stage of his career? You don’t look at him like that. You don’t think about that when you watch him play. I’m sure our opponents do not care how long he has been playing. They just look at the player and how he is playing. It has been fun to watch. He has been a real leader – by example and vocally. We really appreciate him. I am really glad he is on our team.”

The way the first half went, and how well you played and the defense played, did that afford you the opportunity – not just to establish the run game – but to take a little bit off QB Joe Flacco’s plate in the second half? (Peter Schmuck) “Yes, we had the lead. We were playing with a lead. Are you asking me why we didn’t throw the ball more? Are you ticked off we didn’t throw the ball enough? (laughs) Last year, it was, ‘We didn’t run the ball enough.’” (Reporter: “Well, I just wondered if it was fortuitous or if it was his ability for why you did that because of how the team played in the first half. And also, because it wasn’t a close game and Joe had a good first half.”) “I’m not really tying all that together. You can look back on it and think all that, but it’s good to be able to run the ball in the second half, because if you’re able to run the ball in the second half, you probably have the lead. If you can run the ball well enough to keep the lead, or to extend the lead, that’s the whole goal. You know? We’re not trying to chase any kinds of stats or get anybody ready for next week. We’re just trying to finish that game and win that game. When you’re not ahead, you don’t throw the ball or you don’t run the ball as much in the second half, because it’s hard to score points just running the ball. I think that goes as to why sometimes numbers go the other way. You just try to do what you can do to win the game. That was the idea. Was it fortuitous, not fortuitous? I’d say yes, it was good because we had the lead. We’d love to play every game like that. That’d be the goal. But, Joe [Flacco] is fully capable when it goes the other way, and when we have to score points, which could very easily be this week. Or if the defense dictates that to us, which probably defenses are going to do. We’re going to have to be able to – and we’re fully capable with the players we have, including Joe and the wide receivers – of throwing the ball all over the place if we have to do that to win the games. So, we have to develop all parts of our game, really, in every phase.”

LB Kamalei Correa and LB Patrick Onwuasor split time fairly evenly yesterday. How did you think they played? Is it a case where you would like to see one of them seize the opportunity, or do you like being able to use two different guys and match up, play a little more situational? (Luke Jones) “It depends on how they’re playing. If they’re both playing at a Pro Bowl level, then you play them both. If one of them starts to separate from the other, then one would take the job. I’d like to see one of them playing at a Pro Bowl level. Neither of them are doing that right now. But, they’re both playing well enough to win. I’d put Bam Bradley in the mix there, too. He’s an up-and-comer. We’ll just let all those young guys play. They’ll play defense, they will play special teams, they will be in their packages. Hopefully, they’ll all continue to grow as players and all three of them will become great players. They all have the ability, they all have the mindset. We’ll see where it goes.”

CB Marlon Humphrey got in the game. What did you see from him? (Ed Lee) “I thought Marlon played really well. He definitely earned more snaps. He played nine plays on defense and played really well on special teams. I would say he earned more snaps. He played well. All corners played exceptionally well – all three corners [Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith], plus ‘Webby’ [Lardarius Webb] in the nickel, played very well.”

RB “Buck” [Javorius] Allen is another guy that seemed to have a good outing. How have you liked the way he’s come on over the past preseason, training camp and now? (Garrett Downing) “‘Buck’ has really seized the opportunity. He’s running hard north and south, breaking tackles, making people miss, putting his pads down when he has to, and he’s also really good in pass protection. He has good hands. He’s kind of an all-around type of guy, and he’s doing a good job. I would also add Terrance West played very well. He ran hard, very physical – made a difference in the game.”

It doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet, but the interior defensive pressure that you got – when you watch the tape – what did you see from some of those guys? (Ryan Mink) “I saw interior defensive pressure – just like you said. Seriously, we were pushing the pocket, getting our hands up, batting balls. One of them resulted in the ball at the 3-yard line. [Terrell] Suggs got that one. Then, ‘Webby’ [Lardarius Webb] kind of caught a punt, which was good to see he caught a lot of that. We had a good push inside the whole game. We made it very uncomfortable for the quarterback to step up and see his reads.”

The defense caused five turnovers yesterday. Is that the type of thing that can be contagious if it starts out the season this way? (Stan Charles) “I hope so. I mean, you probably can. I don’t know if it’s contagious – it probably is, in a sense. You gain some confidence, some momentum. I do think we have that kind of a group that can get a lot of turnovers in a hurry. Teams are really going to have to think about what they want to do against us, because we can create turnovers and turn the game around pretty fast that way. That’s a good thing.”

I think the offensive line was a big story league-wide. I think eight teams allowed four sacks or more. Beyond the penalties, were you pleased with how that group sort of established the tempo and got better as the game wore on? (Jeff Zrebiec) “I was. That’s a great point. They have not played together – to your guys’ point – they haven’t been together much as a group. But, they’ve been practicing really hard individually. Then they practiced as a group the last week or so. They played well. They were very physical, very minimal assignment errors. The technique was solid, for the most part. They put out a good front yesterday. So, those guys stepped up and played really good football.”

In Cleveland, you’re going against a rookie quarterback early in the season. Does that set up different challenges because of the limited game film? How much of college film will you watch, even though it is a different offense? (Jamison Hensley) “I don’t think we’ll watch too much college tape. We have our division of labor. We have our different coaches that go back and look at everything, and we’ll pull some of that and have a report on it. But, we’ll spend our time looking at DeShone Kizer and what he’s doing with Cleveland – what he’s doing in the preseason, what he did against Pittsburgh. It looked like he played a solid game against Pittsburgh from what I could see so far, just watching a little bit of it, for a rookie. He’s only going to get better. I mean, he’s in there for a reason. Hue Jackson knows what he’s doing when it comes to quarterbacks. He believes in his rookie quarterback – talent, head, poise, all those things. He believes he has a great quarterback there, so that’s the quarterback we’re going to prepare for.”

The tight ends didn’t get very many catches, but were there other things on tape that were good from your perspective? (Ed Lee) “They blocked really well. Yes, the tight ends blocked very well. I thought Ben Watson – I mean, talk about ageless – here he is out there, and he’s in the trenches, blocking gap schemes and getting up on linebackers and doing a great job. They weren’t really targeted that much. I think Nick [Boyle] had the one on the boot play. All three of those guys [Watson, Boyle and Maxx Williams] were a big factor blocking. That’s what we asked them to do yesterday. We only threw it 17 times, so they’re not going to get targeted too much, but they blocked well.”

What’s the difference in the blocking scheme compared to a year ago? (Mike Preston) “As you know, we were a wide-zone, stretch-zone type of emphasis for the last three years. Now, we’re more multiple, I’d say. We run all the different schemes: gap schemes, lead schemes, counters. Those are all part of the offense in the past, but we run more of a downhill type of running style now.”

Is this something linemen prefer more than what you’ve had? (Mike Preston) “Is that a rhetorical question? (laughs) I think it is. Yes, they do. I think linemen like to block the run, right? I mean, lineman like to run-block. So, that’s something they always want to do. They like to change up the schemes a little bit, too. Every type of a system … No one has done a better job in the wide zone and spread zone stuff than Gary Kubiak. He’s done a great job with it. That stuff has done great success over the years. I think he, and Kyle Shanahan, Mike Shanahan, have kind of built that thing into something that’s pretty historic in the National Football League. But, there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. I think for our guys and for our backs and for our personality, this is what we want to do right now.”

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