HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Alright, it's good to see everybody. I appreciate everybody being here. It's a beautiful day. What questions do you have?"
We heard about the news with ILB Malik Harrison. Have you had a chance to speak to him? We were told it was non-life-threatening, but do you know the severity of the injury? (Jamison Hensley) "I have not had a chance to speak with him. I don't think it's severe at all. They're in the process of getting it checked out with the [team] doctors. I haven't heard back on that report yet, but it's not … It was in the lower leg, I think. So, I'm optimistic that it's going to be OK. I feel bad for the situation. I'm happy that he's OK. I'm very grateful that he's OK and not hurt worse. Anything can happen; it's just a tough situation."
Over the weekend, we saw an interview with Hall of Fame head coach Tony Dungy. How was that for you to bring out those memories again? (David Andrade) "I'm not familiar with the interview. Which one are we talking about?" (Reporter: "It was premiered this weekend. It talked about your beginnings …") "With Tony Dungy?" (Reporter: "Yes, with Tony Dungy.") "The last time I talked with Coach [Tony] Dungy was two years ago, and we did a …" (Reporter: "So, it was an old interview then.") "Yes, it was an older interview. (laughter) So, I'm going to have to think about what we talked about. (laughter) I've talked to him a number of times, and I always enjoy the conversations tremendously. He's a great … Obviously, he's one of those guys that you look up to. Over the years, I've tried to model certain things after him for sure. He's one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, without question, and one of the best people in the history of the game. So, I hope the interview was good. Was it good?" (Reporter: "Yes, I was excited to see it.") "Oh, good. OK, I'm sorry about that."
There's already been a blockbuster trade today. I know you're not going to get into specifics, but do you go in, given how difficult it is to make these deals, not expecting anything and just keep in touch with executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta? Or do you think this could be a different year in that regard? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, I mean we've made trades before, so anything is possible. Every time that we've been involved in anything … Every trade deadline, it goes down to the end. You never know; things happen fast. So, we have our team, [and] I really like our team. We have everything we need on our team right now, but if we can be improved and if it's mutually beneficial to both teams, you're excited about something like that. But I'm not really counting on it. We're just getting ready for the Vikings right now, and as coaches, that's what we're focusing on."
You mentioned the Vikings. How much do you like the opportunity when the team you're getting ready to play is playing on primetime? [While] it's not the All-22, you still get that early viewing, so to speak? (Luke Jones) "Yes, it's good. It's good. You watch it more as a fan. You kind of get a feel and just watch the game and see how it goes, but it's a lot different watching the coaching tape up here today. It's just a completely different perspective. It's funny, I watch, as a coach … I bet most coaches would say this; we watch a lot of football. I see a lot of football games, but not on TV. So, it's just a completely different experience watching the other tape. On TV, it's not like … I don't really learn that much; I just enjoy it more." (Reporter: "Are you trying to hit the clicker and trying to go back?") "Yes. Yes, exactly. It's like, 'Run that back! I think I saw something.' You can't run it back. (laughter) I guess you can, but I wouldn't know how to do it." (Hensley: "The little back arrow.") "That's the way to do it? OK."
I know you do a lot of self-scouting during the Bye Week. How far in advance do you even do advance scouting? I know you have people who obviously do advance scouting, but for you and your coaching staff, how much in advance do you do advance scouting on the teams that are ahead? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, we do … We go way out. We go way out with some of our advances. There are different aspects of our advance scouting. We have scouts and young coaches that go out and go to games, actually, of teams that we're looking at. So, we're in the process of doing that all throughout the season. We're looking at two games right now; we play two games in five days. So, we've been looking at Minnesota and Miami, of course. You can imagine that, and that's what we've been doing for the last week. Also, [we've been] looking at ourselves, as you mentioned, with self-scouting – a very deep dive on ourselves and everything about us. We've learned a lot. I think it confirmed more kind of what you already knew and understood, but it's always good to get the numbers and then make some decisions going forward in terms of what gives you the best chance to play as well as you can – that's what you try to do. We'll have a plan coming out of that, and hopefully, it'll be successful."
Statistically, at least, [the Vikings] get the ball out quick, and they don't go over the top a whole lot. Do they closely resemble any of the passing offenses that you've played so far, the Vikings? (Childs Walker) "They'll take their shots now. A lot of double moves, a lot of play-action, they'll throw the ball down the field off of boots and off of their zone play-action. It's the 'Kubiak' system. Klint Kubiak is now the offensive coordinator, and he's a chip off the old block. He's definitely running his dad's [former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak] system, and he knows it, obviously, as you can see, very well. It kind of fits what they want to be as a team, I think, with Coach [Mike] Zimmer. So, they do what they do. I don't really draw any comparisons too much, but it's kind of a proven system. We've seen a lot of it over the years."
Does it give you any kind of advantage that Vikings' offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak's father, Gary Kubiak, was the offensive coordinator with the Ravens in 2014, or is this a different system? (Kyle Barber)"There are some things … Yes, the system is still intact, and the principles are still very much in play, because it's all really good football. So, we understand that. It was good to kind of be in the middle of it for a few years there, but every year is a new year."
What is your impression of the Vikings' defensive line? (Mike Preston)"Good, really good, really deep, really talented. They play square, they play with their hands, they get off blocks really well. [They're] very solid, [and] very impressive when you watch them on tape. Inside 'backers [are] the same. They're good edge setters, and then their inside 'backers, those guys know how to play. So, it's a good front seven."
Last week you mentioned one of the issues for the defense was tackling. Is that something you guys [will] prioritize this week? (David Andrade)"We will. We have to, because we have to get better. We actually prioritize it all the time; it's not like we don't prioritize it. But we've got to keep coaching it. We've got to coach it better. There's a lot that has to do with it – from understanding our responsibilities and doing our job, to the technique of tackling, to the angles, the rotation of our secondary, to the fits of our linebackers, to just getting guys on the ground. There's a lot to it, and we'll be working on all those things. You have to. You have to be fundamentally great. If you're not fundamentally great, you have no chance. So, it starts with that. If you want to be a good football team, we've got to be great at the little things, and we've got to keep chasing that."
Coming off the Bye Week, everyone hopes to get a little healthier. We're getting to our health-related portion. (laughter) (Harbaugh: "It's funny how you ease into that.") What are your thoughts on the chances of RB Latavius Murray and WR Sammy Watkins returning? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, they have a chance. I'm going to give you the same answer for all the guys. But really, it's kind of unique this week, because they all have a chance. All those guys that you're talking about and asked me about are all going to have a chance. Whether they make it or not is up in the air. And it really is up in the air, so it's perfect for me." (laughter) (Reporter: "Is TE Nick Boyle a part of that group, as well?") Yes, he's in that group. He'll be practicing."
You are getting a lot of skill-position players probably coming back in the next few weeks. Is there a sense of excitement about the ways in which your offense could potentially be as efficient as it is? You guys have won games passing for a lot of yards and also running for a lot of yards, used big formations, small formations, etcetera. (Jonas Shaffer)"There is. I feel like we have weapons – if that's what you're talking about – and as you said, we're going to add a couple guys with Sammy [Watkins] coming back, and Nick [Boyle] is going to be back at some point. At running back, Latavius [Murray] will be back. I'm excited about where our offense could go; I just want to get it there. [It's] the same thing on defense and still on special teams. So, you kind of go back and forth between, 'This is what we're capable of becoming. These are our issues; these are the areas that we're going to be kind of what we are, so how can we make the most of that?' And there are other areas where we have a chance to make a jump, maybe, because of guys getting healthy. [There are] other things we can take advantage of, schematically, because of the things we've done well that we can kind of build on and add to. All those things, kind of at the Bye [Week], you take stock of."
Have you gotten any kind of a sense of the progress T Ja'Wuan James is making? I know way back when you thought there was a chance he could play later in the season. Is there any more clarity on that? (Luke Jones)"Not clarity. It's still the same timeframe. He would have a chance in December probably, I guess. There's been no setbacks. He looks good. I see him walking around. He's in the meetings. He's got great spirits. He's been running straight ahead. It's November already. Time flies, right? The days are long, but the years are short. Us older guys like Mike [Preston – Baltimore Sun sports columnist] can vouch for that, right?" (laughter)
I'm curious what a Bye Week Halloween looks like in the Harbaugh household? (Ryan Mink)"We don't have anybody at home, and our house is set so far back [that] nobody comes back [there]. It's like any kid … Remember, when you were a kid, you had to make a [decision], especially when you got a little older; you're going for volume, right? You're not going to take long trips down driveways; it's not worth it." (laughter) (Reporter: "Unless your house had really big candy bars.") "Well, if you were certain about what you were going to get, yes. You'd have to know." (Reporter: "Was it worth it for yours?") "We haven't had a trick-or-treater since we moved there. So, I guess if someone came up and rang the doorbell, we'd have to come up with something big. (laughter) But we don't make any plans anymore. How bad is that?" (Reporter: "So, you're one of those who would have to go root around the kitchen.") "Yes, we would have to, right." (laughter) (Reporter: "And you get a banana or something.") "Right." (laughter) (SVP of communications Chad Steele: "You could be Baker Mayfield with the nachos.") "That's actually a good commercial. I've got to give him credit; he's got good commercials, funny commercials." (Reporter: "Any costume? Did you wear one?") "No, gosh no. (laughter) No, no way. Where was I going to wear a costume? What are we talking about here? It's getting a little weird." (laughter)