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News & Notes: John Harbaugh Backs Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg

Posted Oct 16, 2017

Head Coach John Harbaugh also talked about the wide receivers, the team’s safety play, linebacker NaVorro Bowman, right guard Jermaine Eluemunor and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.


Head Coach John Harbaugh backed Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg Monday following the team’s 27-24 overtime loss to the Chicago Bears.

The Ravens offense didn’t score a touchdown Sunday and currently ranks 29th in yards per game (289.2) and 30th in offensive points per game (15.3).

Harbaugh pointed to problems with the team’s passing attack, which ranks next-to-last in the league with 160 yards per game. He said the offense needs to connect on more big plays, which means not dropping balls when receivers have a chance at one.

But most of all, Harbaugh cited multiple reasons for the offensive struggles as Mornhinweg takes heat from media pundits and fans.

“I think Marty is a great coach; there’s no question in my mind about it,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We’ve seen him over the years, we know what he can do. I know what he’s trying to do, I know what all the coaches are trying to do.”

Harbaugh said the coaches are doing everything they can to put players in position to make plays.

“You’re in it together. The players are in it together, the coaches are in together, we’re fighting together to try to do it,” Harbaugh said.

“I think anytime you try to pin the blame on one person in a team sport like this, that’s always been a big mistake. That’s nonsensical. It just doesn’t work that way. But I understand that’s how it works [on the outside]. We all understand that.”

The Ravens offense has put together some good showings. It did so when protecting leads in the first two weeks against the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, and had its best performance in Oakland a week ago, in which it finally hit two big plays, blocked well up front and once again ran the ball effectively.

But Baltimore’s offense has had duds in its three losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Pittsburgh Steelers and Bears. The Ravens had the ball on their 40-yard line or better on four of its final five drives and didn’t capitalize, including in overtime.

“We have to put it together. We have to keep working,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a lot of season left. Every week is a different week. We have good players, we have good coaches. We’re capable of putting together a good passing attack.”

Harbaugh Discusses Wide Receivers

A big part of the Ravens’ offensive problems in the loss to the Bears was quite easy to see.

A pair of drops proved especially costly and wiped out two opportunities for big plays.

The first was a drop by receiver Breshad Perriman, who dusted Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller and had an easy catch. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw a great ball and Perriman tried to turn and catch it with his hands (not against his body), and it simply bounced off.

Perriman was hit hard by the safety coming over the top and was out for the rest of the game (concussion). Harbaugh did not provide an update Monday, simply saying he hoped he would be available this week.

Later in the game, Flacco rolled to his right and tried to zip a pass to second-year receiver Chris Moore for what would have been a 15-yard gain. The ball hit off Moore’s shoulder pads, was intercepted by Bears safety Adrian Amos and returned 90 yards for a touchdown.

Wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who stepped in after Perriman went down, also dropped what should have been an easy first-down catch.

“No question, we have to catch the ball better. There’s no doubt about it,” Harbaugh said. “Catching the ball, to me, is a prerequisite. If you’re a receiver or tight end … your job is to catch the ball. That’s it.”

Safeties Played ‘Really Well,’ But Have to Cut Down on Big Plays

The Ravens have one of the most talented safety duos in the NFL with Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, but they had a tough game against the Bears.

Weddle already put the loss on his shoulders after he tried to strip Bears running back Jordan Howard in overtime but instead gave up a 53-yard run that set up Chicago’s game-winning field goal.

Jefferson was credited with giving up two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.

In the second quarter, Jefferson attacked the line of scrimmage and tight end Zach Miller, who originally looked like he was going to block, ran right by him on the trick play halfback toss from Tarik Cohen.

In the third quarter, Jefferson broke on an outside route to cover Miller, but so did cornerback Lardarius Webb. Tight end Dion Simms was left wide open, and Jefferson couldn’t quite recover in time to break up the 27-yard touchdown pass.

“Our safeties played really well except for a couple of bad plays,” Harbaugh said. “Those are plays that those guys are beating themselves up over. I know how they think, I know how they are. They’re both great players, they both have high standards for themselves.

“But, you know, you have to play all the plays really well. That’s the standard they set for themselves. We have to eliminate those big plays. The plays we gave them, really three plays when you look at it … we gave them two pass plays and a long run play. If not for those plays, it’s a pretty dominant defensive performance all and all. But that’s how it goes.”

After Rumors, NaVorro Bowman Signing With Raiders

There were reports early Monday morning that the Ravens were interested in signing veteran linebacker NoVorro Bowman, who was surprisingly released by the San Francisco 49ers.

Bowman is a three-time Pro Bowler who hails from Maryland.

However, Bowman has reportedly signed a one-year deal to stay in the Bay Area, now with the Oakland Raiders.

Before the news broke, Harbaugh was asked about whether the Ravens were looking at adding Bowman.

“That’s something that [General Manager] Ozzie [Newsome] … If he was doing press conferences, he could probably answer that question for you,” Harbaugh said with a smile. “I really don’t know the answer to that right now.”

Harbaugh Gives His Take on Eluemunor and Kaufusi

Two young players who have had to step up because of injuries are rookie right guard Jermaine Eluemunor and second-year defensive end Bronson Kaufusi

Elumunor got his first start of the year Sunday after Marshal Yanda went down with a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 and Matt Skura suffered a knee injury last week.

“He had some good plays and some not-so-good plays,” Harbaugh said. “He fought, competed. One good thing about him [is] he’s very physical, he’s very stout, so he didn’t get pushed around. He got edged one time, really badly, on a pass protection – he’ll want that one back. But, all in all, he did OK.”

Eluemunor was beaten on an inside move on a critical third-and-2 pass on the Ravens’ final offensive drive in overtime. Flacco faked the hand off and was trying to wait for Moore to get by the Bears linebackers – which he did – but Flacco’s throw was affected by pressure in his face and missed the target. The Ravens punted and the Bears won the game on the next drive.

Kaufusi has been called upon after Brent Urban suffered a season-ending foot injury in London, but only played five defensive snaps Sunday compared to at least 54 snaps by starting defensive linemen Michael Pierce, Willie Henry and rookie Chris Wormley.

“He was healthy,” Harbaugh said of Kaufusi. “I mean, you have to play well and he’s learning, to be honest with you. We had to stop the run and we needed a little more physicality in there. Fifty-four snaps is probably a lot, but we had 80 defensive snaps. So, you earn your snaps.”

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