HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Alright, [it's] good to see everybody. What questions do you have?"
I know it was disappointing in Miami, but is there any consolation knowing that with eight games left, you're still in first place in the AFC North? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, it's the nature of it right now. It's going to be that way all season. It's going to be a dog fight throughout the course of the season, I think, in every division to win the division. That's your first goal, to win the division. To do that, we have to find a way to win the next game. We have to stack as many wins as we can. [We're] disappointed in Thursday – that would've been a great opportunity for us if we would have been able to find a way to win that game. We played poorly and lost the game, but we're in the fight. We're in first place; we have to find a way to win the next game."
What was so hard about finding the right adjustments during the game? (David Andrade) "It's a challenge in a game to get going. You have to execute plays, and we didn't do a good job of that."
CB Marlon Humphrey talked after the game about … He was asked about the big plays again, and he said it feels that sometimes there's a disconnect between you guys doing great work in practice, and then it doesn't necessarily show up in the game all the time. What can you and the staff do to kind of help them with that? (Childs Walker) "I don't think that's a running theme for the whole season. I think Thursday night, that was a big part of it. There are no excuses; we didn't play well. We made so many mistakes. We had just error after error, missed assignments, blocking the wrong guy, going the wrong direction, not communicating the check across the board – it was just a myriad of mistakes. Why did that happen? There are a lot of reasons. It was a short week, [and] we played 99 plays on offense four [or] five days before that. I think our guys might have been a little mentally tired, but we're never going to step up and say that's the reason for it. We just didn't do a good job of executing the gameplan, and the gameplan wasn't good enough to tackle what we were going against. It all goes hand in hand. So, we spent time looking at every detail of that. We spent all day Friday, [and] we spent all day Saturday as a staff going through all the things on the different sides of the ball, just trying to detail out exactly what we're doing, making sure we're doing the things guys can do, things that we can actually practice. Sometimes, it's a good idea [and] it looks good in practice. We were walking-through last week, so you don't get a chance to do it at speed, and then you get out there and it doesn't execute. That's the challenge of football. You don't just say, 'Oh, if everything is smooth, you're going to go out there and look great.' You have an opponent that's going to go out there and try to do everything they can to keep you from looking great, and it's going to be who does the best job of it in that game. I think it plays out every week in the National Football League, and that's what makes football so exciting and makes it the game that it is."
It's a cliché to say that the NFL is a copycat league, but when something works against a team, you know other teams are going to look for it down the stretch. With that in mind, how do you perform better against a Cover Zero blitz? What is the key to that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You perform better against it. We have great ideas against it. Schematically, there is nobody who has better ideas against anything than we do. Certainly, Cover Zero, we have some great answers for it that are going to give people a lot of problems. We just have to welcome the next time they run it. We have to do everything in our power to be prepared for it, in terms of being ready to execute against it, communicate against it and make big plays against it. Live by the sword, die by the sword. So, those plays are going to be hit or miss. The blitzes are going to be hit or miss. So, you have to make them pay with big plays, and that's what we're going to work very hard to do."
I know you were asked after the game about CB Tavon Young and didn't have an update. Do you know how severe that foot injury is? (Luke Jones) "It doesn't look real severe. He'll have a chance to play this week. That was fortunate for us."
On ILB Patrick Queen's play, the strip sack, he tried to scoop and score there. Clearly, there are 10 minutes to go and you're down two scores. From a coaching standpoint, do you want a guy trying to do that? It looked questionable whether he could've fallen on it, the Miami lineman was right there. (Luke Jones) "That's a great question. I think in the heat of battle … It's funny; I had the same conversation with our owner, Steve Bisciotti. He was basically saying, in the heat of battle, he was thinking, 'Pick it up.' Then, all of a sudden, he was thinking, 'Fall on it,' when you don't get it. I think that's a judgement call that guys make. When in doubt, you fall on it – no question about it. You want to make sure you get possession of the ball, that's an easy priority to see. I don't think Patrick [Queen] saw the offensive lineman coming. The offensive lineman made a nice play. In hindsight, I definitely want him falling on it. In the heat of battle, I want him falling on it if he's not sure. But if he has space to pick it up, I want him picking it up and running for a touchdown. So, that's football. You try to do the best you can without shackling your guys and handcuffing your guys away from making big plays."
I think today or tomorrow is DE Derek Wolfe's 21-day deadline on Injured Reserve – Designated for Return. Is there any resolution on that? (Jeff Zrebiec)"There's not on that. That's not going to be looking good this year. I think Derek [Wolfe] is going to be out for the rest of the year, in all honesty. It looks that way. So, I don't really have any details on it. I can't say that I understand it completely. It would be a good question for our medical people or for [executive vice president & general manager] Eric [DeCosta], if they want to put a statement out, or if Derek wants to say something, because I won't get it right exactly. But he's not in a place where he's going to be able to play."
Is it just the back? (Jonas Shaffer)"That's why I just said … I'm not in a place to detail all that out."
Was Thursday's game the most uncomfortable you've seen QB Lamar Jackson in the pocket? (David Andrade)"No, it's not the most uncomfortable I've seen him. I mean, he's going to be comfortable, uncomfortable every single week. There are challenges to picking up pressures and blitzes and all those different kinds of things. Lamar [Jackson] does a great job in the pocket. He's one of the best I've seen [at] seeing the pocket, seeing the pressure. He'll hold the ball longer than most and make throws and make plays running out of the pocket. So, I'm very comfortable with what he's doing and the challenges that he presents the defense, and I want him to play like he plays. Of course, [there are] things that he can get better at. He's very aware of [that], and he's the first one to acknowledge them, and he's going to work on improving."
Was TE Nick Boyle close to playing on Thursday? (Childs Walker)"Yes."
The past few weeks, are you still OK with how the pass protection is going, or can there be improvements as far as the overall pass protection? (Jamison Hensley)"Of course. Absolutely, there can be improvements. Those things – from a technique standpoint, from an assignment standpoint, communication, which way we are going to slide our protection or who we're going to work towards … Sometimes, you're in a five-man, empty protection, and they may bring an extra guy, but more often than that, they'll bring a guy that you're sliding away from, and you've got to be able to throw off of that, or Lamar [Jackson] has got to make him miss, because he's not going to be blocked. Those are just the things that go with execution – in this case, the passing game. Sometimes, you just go and run against it and beat it that way. So, there are always things that can get better. I was talking about the general philosophy and approach. You do build around your quarterback, so the way you attack those things is not 'one size fits all.' You do it towards the strengths of your quarterback, your offensive line, your receivers, your [running] backs, and I think Lamar is a very unique guy, so you want to have unique answers to protect and to attack defenses."
What are you seeing from Bears QB Justin Fields and just how he's continued to get better week by week? (Jeff Zrebiec)"The last two weeks, [he's been] super productive. Two weeks ago, and the third game before that, [against] Tampa Bay and San Francisco, [he was] really running around, making a lot of plays with his legs. [He] stood and made some throws the last couple weeks, had a big fourth quarter against Pittsburgh, so he's growing."
What does RB Ty'Son Williams have to do to become more involved in the offense? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Every player just has to contribute and perform and produce when they're out there, and that goes for any player. So, if you're a running back, you need to run hard, you need to break tackles, you need to get yards, you need to pass protect, you need to run the right route out of the backfield, catch the ball and get up [the] field. If you're in the rotation, special teams sure would help you. Get out there and run down kicks, get on the punt team, get on the punt return team, because that's how you got on there when you're the third back, in that case. So, I'm not talking about one player; it's anybody in that spot, or it's anybody at any position. You've got to produce."
We saw G Ben Cleveland running around before the game on Thursday. Does it look like he's progressing to the point where he might be an option coming up? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, he's going to be an option coming up. I don't know if he'll make it this week or not, but he'd have a chance."