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John Harbaugh Press Conference Transcript

Posted Sep 25, 2017

JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE: WEEK 4

Opening statement: “We reviewed the game last night on the plane. It didn’t take as long as the plane ride – I can promise you that. Studied it in depth, talked to coaches and players, and have been working on the Pittsburgh Steelers all day today. We have a mission in front of us, and that’s the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they’re coming into our place, and we have to get ready to play. We did not play well, obviously, yesterday in London. The score verified that. It was pretty indicative of how the game went, from beginning to end, all three phases. [We] were outplayed, outcoached, and we were beat in every way you can get beat. The good news is when you get beat like that, it’s still one loss. You lose by one point or you lose by the number we lost by – it’s still one loss, and we move forward with all of our aspirations intact. We have to become good enough to beat the Steelers on Sunday.”

A lot of people are talking about putting that [loss] behind you. Is that the idea, not to even think about it past today? (David Ginsburg) “The old saying a coach told me one time – a coach named Mike Gottfried, who was a good friend and mentor – he said, ‘You win or learn.’ You know the old thing, ‘Win or lose?’ Well, his thing was, ‘You win or learn.’ I like to learn from the wins, too, but you are probably going to learn a lot more from the losses. That’s what we have to do. We have to look at it and learn from it. We’re fully capable of playing [well]. The things that we did in that game are things that we can improve on in all three phases. I can give examples on defense, offense and special teams that we will go to work on. Players have already seen the tape; every single one of them has seen the tape. They saw it last night. I saw them watching it and talking about it. We’ll work on correcting the things we need to correct, but you always have to do it with a forward mindset. We can’t correct the mistake and then replay the game from last week. We have to apply the correction, the improvement to the next game. That’s what you try to do. We’re getting ready for the Steelers, and we need to apply what we’ve learned in the last game to the next game. So really, all eyes are on the game ahead of us – the Pittsburgh Steelers game.”

When you lose a game like this, do you have to reflect back on an inkling that something like this could have happened? (Stan Charles) “You probably do, in a real sense. I don’t know to what degree. It’s kind of a broad question, but it’s a good question. You just look back and you say, ‘OK, what should I have seen coming, and what should we have done a better job with?’ In all honesty, we weren’t the team … I didn’t recognize our team out there yesterday, and I told them that. The team, the way we played, was not the way we’ve been practicing or playing. We had a really good week of practice. But, we didn’t have our legs. We just weren’t right yesterday. So, we have to put that behind us, move on and get ready to play the next game.”

You got out of the game fairly healthy, except DE Brent Urban got hurt. Are there any long-term issues? (Todd Karpovich) “Brent Urban is a long-term issue. He has a Lisfranc; he’s going to need surgery. So, that’s the only long-term injury we had. After that, I think we’re pretty good.”

When a game snowballs like that, when it starts going downhill and it just speeds up, because of the emotion and the momentum of football, is there some of that you can dismiss as a fluke? That it just got going in that direction and couldn’t turn it around? (Peter Schmuck) “Yes, I do think games go that way sometimes. [Jacksonville] was making plays and kept making them. We kept trying to find a way to stop it and made it worse. I give them all the credit. They made the plays and got momentum. I don’t know what that momentum, that elusive thing, that momentum is all the time. We’ve had it in some games and it’s gone our way. They got us behind the eight ball right away with the blocked punt and created field position for themselves. And to me, it didn’t end the whole game.”

Can you talk a little bit about the kneeling down in the last 24 hours? A lot of fans have been calling into the radio station very upset at the organization. Some are burning their jerseys, some are getting ready to boycott the game on Sunday, and they have petitions to take down Ray Lewis’ statue right now. There’s a lot going on, and the fans are very upset at the organization right now. (Bill West) “We talked about it last night a little bit. Our owner, Steve Bisciotti, addressed it. Our players talked about it, and it’s an emotional issue all around. It’s not a new issue. It’s been around for a long time, in terms of our nation. I think all the teams are facing this. It’s a conversation that’s taking place in locker rooms and in living rooms and in board rooms, cafeterias, and around the coffee machine all over the country. The truth of the matter is, or the way I look at it, is I think that’s a really good thing. I think it’s a good thing that it’s being talked about. It’s something that’s a positive, you know? It’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be painful, and it’s a tough conversation. But as for us, here, as a football coach, my perspective of our team: I love our players, and I support our players. A team is about unity; a team is about one accord; a team is a brotherhood. [The same goes for] my daughter’s lacrosse and basketball and tennis teams. Whether you’re in a club or in a high school, there’s something about being a part of something that’s bigger than yourself, that demands that you lock arms and you stand together, whether that be in front of a flag or it be for someone when they’re having a tough time. That’s what brotherhood and sisterhood – that’s what being part of a team – is all about. Our team is united; we stand together as brothers. I’m proud of that. It meant a lot; it means a lot. The other thing, I think, to talk about a little bit, is the fact that these things aren’t going to be easy. They’re not something that’s going to be resolved in a day; they’re not going to be resolved in a week. But, we are going to be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers this week. We are going to line up in a very important divisional game on Sunday afternoon. It’s going to be a sport; it’s going to mean something; it’s going to be the Baltimore Ravens playing the Pittsburgh Steelers for the division lead. So, I’m trying to say the right things about all the big issues in our country, but I guess what I’m trying to say is, what we’re for is unity. We’re for standing together, and that’s what a team is all about. And really, that’s all that we can do. We’re going to stand together on Sunday and try to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re going to try to line up on the other side and try to beat us. And, in all honesty, that’s our focus; that’s my focus. That’s what we’re thinking about.”

As the focus, locking arms instead of kneeling … Locking arms is one thing and bringing politics into a locker room … Wouldn’t it be better to keep the politics out of the locker room and be that team on the shelf? (Bill West) “It is a great question. I totally understand what you are saying. I wish it was that simple. Every locker room is facing the same thing in every single sport. It is just the way it is. It is just the reality of the thing. I think everyone has to make that decision for themselves, in terms of how they are going to express themselves in terms of what they think. It is hard for anybody to do … You can’t do that for anybody else. For me, I’m not taking a knee. If I am taking a knee, it is to pray – that is what I will be taking a knee for. I’ll be praying for our country, that we find a way to come together. America is created on a great ideal – the greatest idea ever – the idea of liberty for everybody, the idea that all men are created equally under the eyes of God. I am praying for that. I am praying that we come together. I am not praying for divisiveness; I am praying for unity. We had a chance … I had a chance two times – it was unbelievable – to travel overseas with our military. There is no greater honor than that. You walk in the streets in a city in Turkey or in Afghanistan at a foreign operating base, or in Iraq, and you walk with our military men and women, personnel, the people that we were traveling with. It was a goodwill mission; we were not in any combat or anything like that. We were just over there in another land with Americans. I can tell you that when you do that and when you walk next to an American or when you see an American face in that crowd right there, you are unified. You are together. You are happy to see that face. Why? Because that is an American, that is a brother, that is a sister. That is someone that understands that we have the same value system; we stand for the same thing. We have our disagreements. That is what a team is all about and that is a beautiful thing about sport. You have a chance to express that on the field of play. You may not agree, but you can stand together.”

You have a winning team and a losing team after the game, but the pregame is normally a different state than you are going to be in with guys getting fired up. Was that any kind of distraction for the team? (Peter Schmuck) “You have to ask the players that individually. I can’t speak for them. It was not for me. It was an exciting environment. I was excited out there to walk in that stadium and see those fans. We had probably – I’m going to tell you what – it had to be 20,000 Ravens fans there. The place was Ravens fans. And our fans were actually from Baltimore who were there cheering for us. They made the trip over, and they were loud and they were into it. I am just more disappointed than anything that we did not give them what they deserved – a good performance. We were not able to do that. Why it didn’t happen? Was it this, was it that, was it the other thing. It is impossible to put a finger on it. I just know that we did not get the job done. We let our fans down, we let each other down, and we did not play well. To put it in perspective, it is one game. You move on to the next game.”

I know you want to move over to the next game, but I have to ask you one more question about yesterday. If you had to do it over again for the next October, would you do anything different in the way you approach it? I was looking at Jacksonville’s history, and I know they are a better team today than they were three or four years ago, but they got killed the first time they played there, and I think they have won two or three in a row there now. (Stan Charles) “I think [senior VP of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] told me three in a row now. I am sure they understand it better than we do. I would try to figure out some different ways to do it. There were certain things that came up that you looked at and you go, ‘That wasn’t ideal.’ But, we really had no way of knowing that. Even all the people that we talked to, you do not get everything. Then, some things we have no control over. We have no control over where we stay, how far the bus ride is and how long it takes us to get to the stadium and those kinds of things. What impact they have are things we look at. To be honest with you, maybe I will get in trouble for saying this, I do not plan on going over there any time soon to play again. Somebody else can have that job.” (laughter)

Do you know yet if you guys will do the same thing during the anthem Sunday against the Steelers? I think the Steelers just said they are going to change up what they do and they are going to come on the sideline instead of standing in the tunnel. Do you know what you are going to do? (Shawn Stepner) “The Steelers are going to come on the sideline? What else did they say?” (Reporter: “That is all that I heard about what they are doing.”) “You have no other information about what the Steelers are going to do next Sunday? Because I’m all for it. (laughter) We will see as it goes. I do not know. That is something that is an organizational, it is a player decision. I will give about – in all honesty and being truthful – about that much (signals extremely small amount) of thought to that, because I don’t think that is going to impact the game one way or another. What I am interested in is playing our best in the football game. That is just as honest as I can be about it. The other part of it will get figured out as we go.”

The fact that it is the Steelers you are playing at home, does that help any way after a long trip and a tough loss by a large margin. Does coming home and knowing that everyone is going to be at their best this week with Pittsburgh help? (Brett Hollander) “It is a great question. We will find out on Sunday. That is the kind of stuff that I think is a fair and good question and is worth thinking about, but really as coaches and players, we do not have time to think about that. What we spend our time doing is preparing to play the game, because that is a full-time job.”

The coaching mantra is that any team can beat you at any time. That is obviously true. This weekend, everyone in your division lost. There was a huge upset on opening night. There were lots of upsets yesterday. Are we reaching that ultimate NFL dream of lots of parity, or has it just been these three weeks? (Peter Schmuck) “That is a great question. Probably more things happen crazy early in the season. They did a movie … I love the movie, wasn’t it in the ‘90s? ‘Any Given Sunday’ [with] Al Pacino. I almost have that speech memorized, and when I have it memorized the team will get it before one of these games. Maybe I will give it to them during the week; I won’t waste it for a game. I think it is true. Any given Sunday, that is what makes football so great. There was no crazier Sunday than this Sunday. I didn’t hear about it until this morning a little bit, because we were on plane and we did not have WiFi. We did not get too much of the news. Crazy weekend, that is the National Football League. To me, that is what makes it so fun to watch. It is full of drama, and I can’t wait until next Sunday to see what happens.”

Was it nice finding out that the Steelers lost yesterday? (Stan Charles) “I am not going to say anything on camera that can be pinpoint bulletin board material. But we want to win the division. They want to win the division. There are two other teams in our division that want to win the division. It is the ultimate competition. We respect them. They are a heck of a football team, and we can’t wait to play them. They can’t wait to play us.”

Just to confirm about DE Brent Urban, he is going to go on IR, I would assume? What have you seen out of DE Bronson Kaufusi and DE Chris Wormley in practice? (Ryan Mink) “Those guys are ready to go. Kaufusi and Wormley are ready to go. I am looking forward to seeing them play. We have some depth there. That is the good news about that particular situation. We have a lot of depth in our defensive line; I have been saying it all along. Those guys will be there trying to step up. We have had a lot of practice this year of guys stepping up. We are getting good at it now.” (laughter)

RB Alex Collins ran hard again yesterday. Is he earning more reps with the way he is practicing and playing? (Todd Karpovich)  “I would say so. Alex had a big game. He made guys miss and broke tackles and outran people and protected the football in a good way. Any player that plays well gets to play more. The responsibility grows as you play well.”

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