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Ravens Monday Transcripts: Week 15 vs. Broncos

Posted Dec 10, 2012

Includes head coach John Harbaugh’s Monday press conference and the comments offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell made at the presser.

HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening statement: “I want to thank everybody for coming out. Obviously, we had a game yesterday down in Washington, and it was a tough, hard-fought game. I am really proud of the way our guys played. I thought we played really hard. I thought we competed extremely well, and we came up a little short in the end. Washington figured out a way to win the game at the end, and that’s what you do at this stage in the National Football League. You try to find a way to win a game that Sunday – and that’s what they did. We’ve just got to continue to try to figure out how to finish. We have done a really good job of that for most of the year, and we’ll keep fighting for that finish and keep trying to find a way to finish on the top side of these scores. We’ve got three very important games coming up starting with Denver here on Sunday, and we’re looking forward to that game, and we’ll start preparation for that right now and with the players on Wednesday.

 

“As far as injuries are concerned, I will give that to you now: Ray Rice had a left hip contusion; [he] should be good. Bernard Pierce had a lower back strain; [he] should be fine. Art Jones, fine. [Pernell] McPhee, fine. Bernard [Pollard] continues to work with the ribs; he’s doing a great job fighting through that. There’s no tougher guy, football player, than Bernard Pollard. Marshal Yanda sprained his ankle. We’ll continue to have that evaluated, and we’ll let you know later in the week after he gets an MRI on that exactly how serious that is. But, it seems like a somewhat serious ankle sprain. It is not an ankle break in any way. Jameel McClain is going to be OK. He’s got to get some testing done, but he should be OK. That’s standard procedure. [Vonta] Leach sprained an ankle, so we will be working through that this week. Ed Dickson looks better; he ran a little bit today. So, he’ll have a chance to go on Sunday; we’ll see. And Jimmy Smith, the same thing; we’ll take a look on Sunday and see how he looks in the week leading up to Sunday. Any questions on either one of those two things?”

 

Arthur Jones and Pernell McPhee you just said should be fine, but what were you saying there? (Aaron Wilson) “Art had a right shoulder bruise, and Pernell had a little bit of a groin. That’s where we are with those guys.”

 

Can you talk about what the fake punt formation and the timeout that was called and all the stuff that happened? (Drew Forrester) “We just had a situation out there where the guys couldn’t hear Anthony [Allen] make the ‘hut’ call. It got real loud at that point in time, and we executed it really well. We made a substitution, and we were running a certain play in there that we thought had a chance, and it would have probably had a real good chance, but the offensive line couldn’t hear the snap count. And, that’s something that was disappointing. So, the timeout was taken. It should not have been taken; we should have just let the clock run down there at that time and not used up the timeout. That was an error on our part. So, that should never have happened that way. It was a low-risk kind of a deal, an opportunity to go for it on fourth down, and we just didn’t execute it very well.

 

“Let me go into this: We made a coaching change today. You guys are all aware of that. I know there has been a press release, and it is out there now. But we made a change at offensive coordinator. We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell. It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

 

At any time during the last 24 hours, or for that matter at any time this season, did Steve Bisciotti suggest this move? (Joe Platania) “I’m not getting into any of that. We do a great job in this organization of communicating and talking, and I think we have great leadership here, all across the board, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

 

In terms of the sidelines yesterday, were there some disagreements with Cam Cameron over how things were handled at the end of the first half and also the protection schemes – we are hearing some things about that – that went beyond the normal debate? (Aaron Wilson) “You’d have to be more specific. As far as the end of the first half, no. We had a plan there, and we were not going to try to make a mistake. We were not going to put ourselves in a position to make a mistake there backed up like that. That was my decision. If we had gotten the play off early that would have popped, then you go. And if you don’t pop a play there early, then you buckle it down, and you get out of there without having a bad situation. We’ve all seen that happen. That was my decision on that [and] Cam was on board with that. I haven’t heard anything otherwise about that.”

 

How about the protection schemes? (Aaron Wilson) I’ve heard nothing about that. No issues with the protection scheme. You’d have to be more specific.”

 

At the end of the half or at the end of games, is it your decision or the coordinator’s to take a knee there? (Jerry Coleman) “Game management decisions are always my decisions. So, that was my decision to take a knee there [and] make sure we got out of the half whole. The risk/reward was not in our favor in that situation, the way I saw it.”

 

How long have you been considering a coordinator change, and when did you reach your decision that you would make it? (Gerry Sandusky) “You come to these things when you come to them. And, doing what’s best for the team when the point comes where you feel like it’s the best thing to do, you do it. Anything beyond that is not something I am really keeping track of, for one thing, and I don’t think it’s that important.”

 

How much experience does Jim Caldwell have in calling plays? I know he has been a head coach, quarterbacks coach, assistant head coach … (Jason Butt) “Jim is qualified. Jim is a heck of a coach, and we have a heck of staff. They’ll do a great job, and I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out.”

 

With the timing within the season of doing this, can you get the maximum out of Jim Caldwell’s offense? (Stan Charles) “Well, it’s going to be the Ravens’ offense. That’s the way it always works. We’re down the road with our offense, and we’ll continue to build on what we’ve been doing. I think that’s what you do. Jim has been a part of that the whole season, along with the rest of the coaches. It’s always a collaboration, and we’ll do it together. We’re looking forward to seeing how it plays out.”

 

What does Jim Caldwell bring to the table as an offensive mind? Also, he is one of the guys that you guys said was helping to put in the no-huddle stuff. Do you expect to do more of that with Jim? (Aaron Wilson) “I tried to put this to the whole staff: Jim is a heck of a coach. All the coaches on the offensive side are very good coaches. He brings a lot to the table – all those guys do. They’ll work together, and we’ll put an offense out there, and the guys are excited about it. I know one thing: I can’t wait for Wednesday. I am looking forward to it.”

 

Any specific qualities, just things that jump out to you? (Aaron Wilson) “I think you guys all know. You’ve been around Jim all year. You know what kind of coach he is, what kind of offense they’ve run in the past that he has been a part of. All those things apply.”

 

Was there something yesterday? Was it the loss, was it the second-half offense? (Drew Forrester) “Nope, not specific. We put 28 points up, so you’re not going to say, ‘Well, it’s a reaction to a down offensive performance.’ It’s not that. I think that’s really important to point out. It’d be real easy to go the route that is saying it’s a result of something and somebody is taking the blame for something. It is not that. People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”

 

John, if you guys would have won the game yesterday, you still would have made this move? (J. Michael) “That’s speculation. What’s the point? After the game, the decision was made and this is the way we’re going.”

 

What was the response of Ozzie Newsome and the ownership when you talked to him and informed? (Stan Charles) “We’re going to have to move forward off this. Ozzie is on board. We talk about all these things. We have a great leadership group. We work together on all this stuff. There is nothing more to it than that.”

 

How tough was it for you, given that you have guys have had a long coaching history, going back to the 1990s? (Jason Butt) “It’s tough. Like I said before, it’s tough. It’s tough when you cut players. It’s tough at training camp when you have to tell guys that they’re not going to play anymore, that their dream might be over. Cam is going to go on and coach. He is going to be coaching very soon in the National Football League. A five-year run as an offensive coordinator in this league is pretty good. If you look at the history, it’s a pretty darn good accomplishment. What he has accomplished is very impressive. So, I look at it as more of a positive. I know that it’s hard to say that, and maybe you guys aren’t going to look at it that way, but I am just not going to look at it as a negative. There is no grand theme here. It’s the best thing for our team right now. You make these decisions all the time, and that’s what we’re doing.”

 

John, as integral as the quarterback is in an offense, and you’ve said that Joe Flacco takes more and more ownership of it, is he consulted on something like this? Does his input factor in? (Mark Viviano) “Not on something like this. No, this is a coaching decision. This is my decision. There are not a lot of places you can go to make a decision like this. I’ve talked with Cam a lot about this. We talked a lot about it today, of course with the other guys we’ve been talking about as far as in the Ravens organization. That’s where the decision was made.”

 

Can you share if you spoke with Joe and what his reaction was, if any? (Mark Viviano) “I spoke with Joe. His reaction is for him to say. But, we had a good conversation about it.”

 

Is this an audition for Jim Caldwell as the offensive coordinator? (Drew Forrester) “This is an opportunity for us to try to win some football games and try to be the best football team we can be. That’s the absolute reality of it. Anything else is just something else. What it boils down to and what’s important is going out there at 1 o’clock on Sunday and playing the best football game we can play – then the game after that, the game after, the game after that and the game after that – and try to be as good as we can be over the next month. That is what it is. To me, that’s the only priority that matters. Long-term considerations are long-term considerations, and that’s not in the forefront of our mind right now.”

 

Is Caldwell still the quarterbacks coach? And will he have the dual capacity, or will Craig Ver Steeg, like last year when you didn’t have one, help coach the quarterbacks? (Aaron Wilson) “Jim will still be the quarterbacks coach. He’ll have Craig. Craig is in the room there still. Craig is doing senior assistant duties. He has been doing a lot of our advance game-planning stuff and doing a great job with that. Craig is a very knowledgeable coach. Jim will still be the direct quarterbacks coach at this time.”

 

Will he be on the field or upstairs? (Stan Charles) “We’re still working that out. We’re going to still talk through that and see what the best set up is as far as the offensive staff, how to organize those guys. We haven’t decided that yet.”

 

Is this a case where it’s desperate times call for desperate measures, you need to make a move to change things? (Mark Zinno) “No, not at all.”

 

Do you want to see Ray [Rice] get the ball more. Do you have specific guidance moving forward that you want to see … (Nate Davis) “I thought Ray [Rice] got the ball a lot last night.  (Reporter answers: “In general, though?”) I thought Ray got the ball a lot. If you look at the numbers for the course of the year, he’s right on schedule for where he’s been for the last four years that he’s been here. I think we are right on schedule with that.”

 

Are you concerned at all with that the change could be disruptive at this point? (Brent Harris) “It’s always a consideration. It’s one of the things that you think about; there are a lot of considerations. You try to take all of that into account, and you try to come to a conclusion about what is best for your football team. We do believe in ‘The team. The team. The team.’ And every decision is based off of what is best for the team. That’s a consideration. I don’t think it will be disruptive. I think it will be positive – I believe that – but it will be up to all of us to make it that way. It’s like we talked to the team. The solutions are right here in the room to improving, and our job is to improve. We all get a little bit better. We all work together to be the best that we can be.”

 

I talked to players after the game – a couple that I talked to – said that it does fall on the players, that they should have made plays and that it wasn’t play-calling, specifically the game yesterday. Did you get a sense of the reaction when you talked to the team this afternoon that maybe Cam [Cameron] leaving does fall on them a little bit? Do you feel like there is a little heightened awareness to that? (Brent Harris) “Sure, we all take responsibility for that when something like this takes place. It’s real. You’re talking about anytime guys leave a program who put their heart and soul into the thing – be it a coach or a player – that is real. The burden falls on everybody who’s still here. We understand that we all can do better, so it’s never on one set of shoulders. [There are] nothing but positive things to say for the job that Cam Cameron did here. It’s on all of us to get a little bit better and take that responsibility on and become the best we can be.”

 

Was Terrell [Suggs] close at all yesterday at all? I know with the tarp down he might not have had a chance to move around and test his arm. Was he close? (Drew Forrester) “He was close. He was close. That was a decision right before the game that was made between he and I. We just decided that the conditions and those kinds of things, it was better for him, safety-wise, to not play in that game.”

 

But there’s a good chance [that Terrell Suggs will play this week]? (Aaron Wilson) “I think there’s a good chance. What’s the percentage? I’m not sure, but he has a good chance.”

 

This is the first week that Ray [Lewis] is eligible to play. Where do things stand with Ray and his progress? (Jerry Coleman) “He’s making good progress, and we’ll just have to see how he practices this week. Going into Wednesday, we’ll know a lot more, because he is going to push it a little bit over the next two days. [We’re] looking forward to seeing how that plays out.”

 

So, there is a chance? (Jerry Coleman) “There is a chance, yes.”

 

There are few people in the league that know Peyton Manning better than Jim Caldwell. How much are you really going to try to get some information from him in the midst to him having all these new duties on offense? (Kris Jones) “The thing about that is Peyton Manning is aware of that as well. He knows what Jim [Caldwell] knows about Peyton, so it’s one of those kinds of deals. There is no smarter quarterback than Peyton Manning. He’s right up there with that group of guys. He’s been doing it for a long time. With him, it really is a chess match that way. It’s still football. Those chess pieces are slamming into each other. There is an intellectual element to the game that we have to be very aware of. Jim has a handle on that, but Peyton understands that, too.”

 

Joe [Flacco] has had eight fumbles this year. Does he maybe need to have better pocket presence, pocket awareness?  (Mark Zinno) “Absolutely. That’s something that he’s very much aware of. You turn the ball over, you put yourself in jeopardy. I don’t care what position it is. So when you play that position and you’re in the pocket, you need to protect that football. That’s something that we need to be better at going down the stretch.”

 

What contributed to you guys running the ball so effectively yesterday? (Ryan Mink) “Where do you want to start?”

 

Was it that you were blocking a lot better, were the running backs hitting the holes faster? Where do you think that … (Ryan Mink) “I think those are two big parts of it. The schemes set up very well. I thought we had some great schemes against their front – the scheme that they were running. A lot of things go into that, but our guys did a great job with that. I thought the game plan was very good for the run game.”

 

You said this morning that with this move, you can still reach your goals for the season, which I assume means the Super Bowl. What made you think in the last 24 hours that status quo was not going to get you to your goals? (Nate Davis) “I don’t know that status quo – so to speak , staying pat –  wouldn’t have gotten us there, but what you try to do is you try to put yourself in the best position possible as you see it to be the best football team you can be and then go compete and see what you can get accomplished. Our first goal right now is to secure a playoff berth. We are talking about goals. Our second goal is to win the AFC North. That’s squarely in our sights. Our next goal is to secure as high of a playoff seed as we can, and then the last goal, or the next goal, is to win playoff games and get ourselves to the Super Bowl and win the thing. We all know what those things are, so it’s never one thing or bust. We want to be as good of a football team as we can be to accomplish as much as we possibly can – the ultimate goal being the one that you are talking about. I feel like this is going to give us the best chance to do it.”

 

What do you see from Bryant McKinnie in practice? With the offensive line struggling a little bit, do you foresee him possibly getting some more snaps per game? (Kris Jones) “I don’t really know the premise you are talking about? (Reporter: “Just shuffling around a little bit if that’s an option. The Ravens’ offensive line allowed a decent amount of sacks yesterday.”) I think our offensive line is playing pretty well. Sacks come from a lot of things. Sure, guys get beat one-on-one and all of that. Bryant [McKinnie] is a part of it. When we think he is the best option, we will put him in there. He is working hard at practice. He, obviously, has some ability at pass-protector; that’s a big deal, no doubt about it. I have no – specifically talking about Bryant – would have no qualms about him going into the game. If we feel like he’s the best option at one position or another, we’ll do it. Right now, we think we have the best group of guys out there, but that could change.”

 

What did you see in terms of the Redskins’ overloads? How did you feel about the communication and the reaction to those situations? (Aaron Wilson) “Those were empty protections. Those were five-man protection schemes, so they were bringing more guys than we could pick up. [If] there’s a free runner there, you’ve just got to get the ball out to the right guy on time. We did that on one occasion, if you think about the throw to Anquan [Boldin] up the left sideline, that was one of those same situations. And other times we didn’t do as good a job as we needed to, and that’s what happened on that. So, that was not protection-oriented; that was more related to the adjustment.”

 

How about tackling? I know you had some guys filling in different holes, but some of your regulars seemed to miss some tackles as well. (Aaron Wilson) “Well, you’re playing an option football team, so you’re going to get a lot of one-on-one tackling out there. And I thought our guys … Alfred Morris is a hard runner. When he becomes a downhill runner, it becomes a one-on-one tackle on a tough field. Not to make any excuses – we want to make every tackle right there, we want to make a secure tackle – but there were times where he was bouncing off, and we were rallying to the ball and getting him down. Sure, we can tackle better. I want to be a great tackling team at all times, but our guys are fighting hard to be good tacklers.”

 

John, on that final drive where the Redskins tied it up, you guys were able to get pretty good pressure. Why do you think they were able to move their way down the field? (Matt Vensel) “They made some third-down conversions. I thought they did a nice job of finding some holes, and most of the time it was zone coverage. If you look at each play separately … One time they sat down in a hole, one time they crossed a wall … We’re trying to wall a receiver, and they got across us facing a linebacker and made a play. The last play we dropped coverage and we shouldn’t have, things like that. We’ve just got to do a better job of making plays in that situation, but I thought they executed really well also.”

 

John, the decision with 29 seconds left, you said it was obvious to you when weighing risk versus reward, it was not a good choice to go for anything. Could you take us through that a little bit? You ended up passing the ball on second down in overtime anyway, so what’s the bigger risk there than with 29 seconds to go? (Stan Charles) “Well, you’re backed up in your own end, and you’re going to have to get the ball down the field with no timeouts, right? So, you’re going to have to push the ball down the field and make a big play or get some kind of a pass interference penalty. That’s going to take an extended drop, which they’re quite aware of, so now they crank up their pass rush. If they get to your quarterback in that situation, you have a sack/turnover, and that’s the ball game. To me, that’s not worth it. It’s too much risk in that situation with that little time left. [If] you’ve got a little more time left, you have a chance to complete an intermediate route or a shorter route and run, then get back on the ball and spike and get another play. You have a better chance there, but that’s just how I felt at the time about it, and that’s what we did.”

 

Coach, how about preparing for Peyton Manning now? You just came off a game where you faced two rookie quarterbacks and now you have to face one of the premier passers in the NFL. You guys have historically had some trouble with him. (Jerry Coleman) “Peyton Manning is a great quarterback. We’ve had great battles against him, and I think he’d be the first one to tell you that. He’s made trouble for a lot of teams over the years, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

 

Can you talk at all about what happened behind the scenes during your conversations with Cam last night or this morning, and just your thoughts on the whole thing? (Aaron Wilson) “That’s private. That’s private conversations and that’s private business, and those are conversations between people that take place. I’m not going to share every conversation with every player, every coach; it’s just not public information. But I can tell you this, [although] I’d probably get it wrong anyway, the specifics of it, from memory. That’s pretty hard to remember exactly what was said and be fair to everybody if you start speaking for other people. But, we have a great leadership group. We have a great owner, a great [general manager], great team president – right through our organization at that level who is involved in any kind of conversation, personnel-wise, whether it’s coach or player. And I’m just privileged to be a part of that and be with these guys, and they’re a big help in all those kinds of things.”

 

John, can I get a comment from you about the fact that that streak ended yesterday, with 15-consecutive times you didn’t get into a two game losing streak? (Stan Charles) “Just disappointed. We wanted to win the game. That’s not a streak that you want to end; it’s a streak that you want to extend, and we were unable to do that. So, disappointed about that.”

 

I meant the flip side of that, what it said about your team that it had been three years since you had lost two in a row … (Stan Charles) “Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. (laughter) I wasn’t kind of going in that direction; it was nice to get a little … Thank you! (laughing) Sorry about that.”

 

John, earlier you mentioned the president, owner, general manager … This meeting you said took place last night, is that … (Drew Forrester) “No, there was no meeting. I didn’t say a meeting took place last night. No.”

 

You said you met last night; I didn’t know who you meant you met with … (Drew Forrester) “I don’t think I … There was no big meeting last night. [They were] phone conversations with different people.”

 

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell

Statement: “Good afternoon. It is certainly a pleasure to be here with you. I wanted to give you just a quick update, because I am certain you are probably interested in knowing a number of different things, and like [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] said, I will be available for comments and things of that nature on Thursday.

 

“I had the opportunity to talk to John [Harbaugh] this morning, and he updated me on the situation with our team, etc., on offense, and I certainly agreed to take on the challenge. We have a real fine unit and certainly great coaches – great system. I had a chance to meet with the staff a little bit and just talk with them about some of the things. That’s the great thing about this position is we have a number of guys on the staff that have a lot of experience, a lot of background, and we certainly plan to utilize them. Then, we also had an opportunity to meet with the offensive unit as well. We took a look at the film, we graded it, etc., and I had an opportunity to talk with them and really, in a nutshell, just try to make them understand, really, what we’re trying to do is just to get about that much better. That’s about it. And that’s a difficult task, obviously, trying to get that done in this league. But, that’s what we are shooting for. It’s not a system change. Obviously, the Ravens’ offense is the Ravens’ offense. It is not a philosophical change. John sets the philosophy here of this team, and we follow suit. And, we have a bunch of wiling young men that are certainly going to do a tremendous job of trying to push us forward. So, I certainly appreciate it. I look forward to spending some time with you all a little bit later on in the week. Thanks a lot.”

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