HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH TUESDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Great to see everybody. First of all, I had an opportunity to attend the funeral for Art Modell with the Modell family and all the friends of the Modells, which is obviously a very significant number. It was really a very special occasion. David and John did just a tremendous job telling the story of Art, and then the grandkids did a great job. They did some readings, and they were really good. So, a lot of great people were there. A lot of NFL representatives, obviously, more friends than family. It was just a really nice, nice service.
"As far as the game last night, I've had a chance to watch the tape, and there are plenty of things to work on. The score is not necessarily indicative from a football perspective of what you see as a coach. We've got lots of things we need to do to continue to get better, to improve, between the first week and the second weeks. [We need to improve on] lots of things if we are going to go up there and compete against a very talented Eagles football team in that tough stadium. So, that's where we are."
The rigors of an NFL schedule don't ever let you rest, but given the trying week it's been with Mr. Modell's death and then a Monday night game, did you get any chance to "exhale" today after the win? (Joe Platania)"No, not today. Last night in the locker room was great. It always is in a winning locker room. Winning is a lot of fun. Then, last night at home for a few minutes … But, it's been a grind ever since. We've just got a lot of work to do between now and then to get ready to go. That's the great thing about it. We wait a long time for these games, and now they start coming pretty quick. And, that's a good thing."
Did the team come out healthy other than Ed Reed's hamstring strain? How is Corey Graham? (Aaron Wilson)"Everybody's fine. Nothing serious with anybody."
After you've had a chance to look at the tape, can you talk about how Ramon Harewood played, as well as his journey getting to this point? (Ryan Mink)"Sure. Ramon played well. Do I have a big saga about how his journey to get to this point is? No, I don't have that at my fingertips. I haven't given that one second of thought. But, what he accomplished in the game is good. It's just the beginning for him. He's got a lot of work to do. He knows it. We've got some depth on the offensive line now; that's a good thing. So, we'll just take it from there. As far as the game goes, it was just a team victory. It really was. It was all three phases playing good, solid football. All three phases can get better at everything they're doing. That's a good football team; I just want to keep emphasizing that. The Cincinnati Bengals are going to win a lot of games. It kind of snowballed on them a little bit in the third quarter there, but this football team is going to be standing at the end. So, it's a good victory."
Is going to play in Philadelphia a little more special for you given your years there as a coach? Or, do you treat it like any other game? (Kris Jones)"Probably both – if that's possible. It is like every other game, because it's an important game. It's a tough opponent. It's a tough venue. But, it is special. Anytime you get back and you drive up to the same parking lot you drove into for a number of years as a coach, or a player, and see a lot of familiar faces – whether it's on the other sideline or whether it's in the tunnel coming out onto the field [seeing] the security people and people that work there that are so familiar with you – it means a lot. And it really doesn't hit you until you get there. Then, all of a sudden, your emotions flood up on you. That happened in the preseason last year when we played there. I assume this year will be the same, or even more intense. But, that's just a minor side story. The football game will be the story. Two really good football teams [will be] going at it. It's a big challenge for us."
Can you talk about the influence of Andy Reid in you becoming a head coach and how it affects the way you coach every day? (Aaron Wilson)"Andy, just as you are saying, has been a huge influence. He's been an influence on a lot of guys. A number of guys off his staff have gone on to be head coaches in this league. That's a great testament in and of itself to how he does things. I've got a lot of respect for Andy; I've got a lot of love for his family. We've been pretty close over the years. Haven't talked very much recently, I'm not sure why. Actually, I think I do know why. (laughter) The schedule makers laid this thing out, and that's just how it works. I just have immense respect for what he's done, how he does it and, sure, it's impacted some of the things we've done here."
There were some questionable calls made by the replacement referees in last night's game. Are there any calls you will be sending to the league for explanation? (Mark Zinno)"Yes we are. We are sending different plays to the league for further explanation. I don't know that I'm at liberty to comment on what plays those are, but we're sending a couple of those in, yes. In all fairness, I thought they did a pretty good job of keeping the game moving. In our game, at least, they did pretty well."
John, I know there's been a lot of talk about Ray's [Lewis] weight loss leading up to last night. He has 14 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble – seemed to be all over field at least from my perspective. How did he look to you?* (Matt Zenitz)* "I would agree, I would agree. He was all over the field. He played great. He's moving really well. He's still physical at the point of attack. He's a tremendously instinctive football player. A lot of great individual performances – Ed [Reed]. You can look at Ed. You can look at Haloti [Ngata]. [The] corners played well. Just a number of guys played really well. I'm going to forget some guys. I hate to do that, when you start naming names, but Ray had a tremendous game. I'll say this, too: He gave a tremendous talk today, too. He had a tremendous game last night and then at the Art … He just was phenomenal in his message at the Modell funeral."
Jacoby Jones didn't do a lot of special teams. He had the one punt return, but you tried some other guys, Deonte [Thompson] and had Lardarius [Webb]. Was it because he played a lot of three-wide that he didn't do much on special teams?* (Aaron Wilson)*"No, that really wasn't it. That was his role on special teams what he played in those particular reps. We've got a plan with the other guys. We feel like we have some guys that can do some things. So, that was the plan special teams-wise for Jacoby."
Does Anquan [Boldin] feel a little bit more comfortable in the slot now that he has some other speedy guys on the outside? (Kris Jones)"You know, I don't know. I'm not big on 'comfortable.' It's like … You'd have to ask him that how he feels about being in the slot. I'm pretty sure he feels pretty good in there. He's been there a lot in his career, and I know he appreciates the weapons around him, which is to your point; it's a good point. But comfortable, I don't think I'm going to answer any more comfortable questions for the rest of the season. *(laughing) *This is not a comfortable sport. It's a confident sport. I think confident would be an appropriate term, but it just doesn't seem like it's very comfortable out there, generally speaking."
**You talked about the film and seeing some stuff that you can correct. How important is it going to be to solidify the run-defense going forward? You said last night that was one area that there were way too many third-and-fourth and shorts. *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Yeah, it's going to be very important. Run defense is critically important; it's a staple for us. It's how we base our whole philosophy defensively. That's where it starts, and we're going to have to do it. It was all very correctable stuff. That's the good news – nothing that we are not capable of, nothing that we haven't seen before scheme-wise. It was just little minor technique errors on our part that we can fix, we should fix. [It was] probably guys trying to do more than they actually should try to do, and continue to have confidence in the guys around them a little more."
With the Eagles, I think they threw four interceptions last week. Do you look at their offense the same, even though they kind of made a lot mistakes last week, as still an incredibly explosive group? (Garrett Downing) "Oh yeah, man. I think they had over 500 yards of total offense, didn't they? And they had four 20-yard plus plays called back. This team, their offense, it's just as explosive as any in the league, maybe the most explosive offense in the league right now. They've got speed and playmakers everywhere. They have a quarterback that is renowned for his playmaking ability. It's just … Talk about scary good, to use a term that someone threw out there last night, which I did not, as you all know, coin. Would you all agree with that? (laughing) I agreed with somebody's statement, for the record. And same thing with, for the record, on Joe's [Flacco] contract thing, Steve [Bisciotti] might be listening to this. I want to clarify my remarks there. (laughing) It was tough and cheek. They are very good, yes."
What about the speed and depth that the Eagles have on the defensive line? They have a bunch of guys that they rotated in and out last week.* (Matt Vensel)*"It's amazing. They've got 10 defensive linemen on the roster. They are all legitimate pass rushers. They are all high-motor, high-effort guys. I have been around Trent Cole when we were there. The energy he plays with is really amazing. The whole defensive front is like that. They've got DeMeco Ryans in the middle now. Their linebackers are downhill playing guys. [They have] two of the best corners in football [Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie]. It's a talented football team."
Speaking of the run game, what do you see from LeSean McCoy, and do you expect him to really test you guys on the edges? (Ryan Mink)"Well, yeah. That's right. That's what he does. He is edge-to-edge; he's sideline-to-sideline as a back. He will test the edges. I think our guys out there did a good job this last game, but they are going to get tested like they've never been tested before in this game against this back. 'Shady' [McCoy], we had fun interviewing him when he was coming out from [the University of Pittsburgh]. He is a great guy. He has a tremendous personality, and I think the flair of his play matches the flair of his personality. He is a homerun hitter. Every time he touches the ball, it reminds of a [former Eagles RB Brian] Westbrook-type guy. They don't use him exactly the same way as [Eagles head coach] Andy [Reid] used to use Brian, but same type of results."
John, you guys made a run at Evan Mathis, and he chose to stay with the Eagles. Could I just get your thoughts on him and just the interest you guys had on him at that time? (Aaron Wilson)"I have a lot of respect for Evan. Obviously, we made a run at him. He chose to stay there, like you said. A lot of guys do. I just have a lot of respect for him as a player."
John, with Ray Rice only getting 10 touches last night – I know it's a product of the game plan and how things go – but if the passing game were to continue at that success rate, is there a concern that Ray's role in the offense may dwindle? (Mark Zinno)"No, I don't think his role is going to dwindle. But, I think when you put more guys out there touching the ball that capable, then you like spreading those touches around. Hopefully, Ray's touches are that much more effective as a result of that. We're not really counting touches, per se. I think he is going to get his touches, we all agree with that. [RBs coach] Wilbert [Montgomery] has alluded to that, [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] has alluded to that. Over the course of the season, he is going to get his touches, but I am more concerned with him getting his production. That, to me, is the important thing – that he is a difference maker on the field because that's what he is as a player. He is a difference maker. How those touches come or how many touches is less concerning to me than that he is put in position to make those plays."
Ray Rice made the comment that the offensive line is as athletic now as it has ever been. By going a little younger, do you feel like that is part of the upside with these guys, that it is a very athletic line? (Aaron Wilson)"We're just going to have to see how that goes. We've got nine good players on our offensive line right now. That is a real plus for us. They all bring different skill sets to the table, so where there are pluses – as you're talking about – for one group of guys or certain guys, there are other pluses for other guys that are positive. So, the fact that we've got a deep well right now is a plus. I anticipate all those guys playing extensively."
Coach, what led you to using Ramon Harewood at guard? (Ryan Mink)"What led us to using him at guard? Well, he's an offensive lineman. He can bend. That's the main thing, Ryan. I thought you were looking for another chapter on something? You aren't? You just want a specific answer? OK, he can bend. He can bend. He's a big guy with long arms who can bend and get leverage on defensive tackles, and he's done a good job with it."
**Coach, 49ers play the Lions this week. You think there will be any fireworks in the handshake? *(Garret Downing) (laughing) *"Fireworks in the handshake? Well put, well put. You know, I was thinking about that a little bit – I don't think there's been so much attention paid to a handshake since Grant and Lee shook hands at Appomattox. *(laughter) * You like that, huh? It took a little time to think about that today. I thought it was appropriate."
Which one was your brother? (Mark Zinno)"Obviously he was Grant. *(laughter) *For the record."
Coach, 791 points scored around the league, a record for Week 1. Do you think your offense has evolved to the point where you can participate in that type of production? (Joe Platania)"I haven't thought it that way, Joe. I think it sounds like a good story though, but you're not getting a quote from me on that." (laughter)
It didn't seem like Dennis Pitta's chemistry with Joe Flacco was hurt at all by him missing the preseason. Can you just talk about the role Dennis played last night and the role you expect him to play going forward? (Matt Zenitz)"Yeah, that's probably the role that we envision for him. And obviously, Dennis – I think he had five catches was it? Five catches [and] he got targeted seven or eight times in there? Obviously Ed [Dickson] came down with a big play, tough catch, guys were draped all over him. So, our tight ends are going to have to be … Tight ends are a big part of this deal. Big receivers up the middle is, I think, something that the NFL is moving towards, and you've got two athletic guys that can really catch the ball [in Dennis and Ed]. We didn't really know how they were going to be affected by the time off; we were hopeful that they wouldn't miss a beat. I don't know if they missed a beat or not, or what they would have been if they'd had all that practice time – you've got to kind of speculate on that – but they both are where we'd hoped they'd be. But we can get a lot better there."
Can you talk about the relationship Dennis Pitta has with Joe Flacco, and how that helps in terms of carrying over to the field? (Matt Zenitz)"Because they're like, buddies? They're buddies. Joe and Dennis are buddies. How much does that carry over to the field? I have no idea. I don't know that it does or doesn't, but they are pals."
Rookie K Justin Tucker had six touchbacks and three field goals. Are you still surprised at all at how cool and calm he is? (Mark Zinno)"He is cool and calm. But it's funny, on the field with him, he's really not that cool and calm. He doesn't have that kind of a personality. He's got more of a competitive, attacking kind of a mindset. When you get after him, he's all excited. He's fired up about the next kick, and he attacks it. Two of those were line drive squibs – which I'm not saying whether that was planned or not – but he kicks it different ways. He goes after it, he attacks it. The balls that were the touchbacks weren't out of the back of the end zone, but they had such good hang time, there's no way they were going to bring them out at that point. Then making the field goals was obviously pretty important, too. So, it was a good start, but you've got to be consistent through a whole season, and he's definitely capable of doing that though."