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John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

Opening statement:"Apologies for being late. I appreciate you guys waiting. I want to, again, congratulate our team on a victory. The Bills are a very good football team. They're going to win a lot of games – very well coached. I thought they played a good football game, especially their defense. They were tough to deal with. They dialed into some of our protections, and Rex [Ryan] did a great job of scheming us up and game-planning us and made it very difficult for us. I thought the atmosphere was just phenomenal. From the flag to the flyover, to the military salute before the game, to the guys and gals in uniform that we saw before the game coming out of the tunnel and saying 'hey' to them on the field, too. The pilots on the field before the game – it was just an incredible, amazing celebration of what makes this country great, and we were proud to be associated with it. And then we're preparing for the Browns. The players are off today. They'll be in tomorrow working. Coaches, obviously, are working, grinding and trying to put this one away. We've done that as of our 1 p.m. staff meeting, and now we're moving into Browns game-planning, and that's just beginning right now."

Speaking of the Browns, you've heard the news like the rest of us that Browns QB Robert Griffin III is out for the year, and QB Josh McCown will assume the starting role. He has had some success against you. What attributes can he bring to the table?* (Joe Platania) "I don't have the full scouting report on Josh McCown other than to say that he's had a lot of success against us. I think he's 2-0 against us. He's completed a bunch of passes. Am I right about that?" *(Joe Platania: "2-1") "2-1? You forget the ones you win; you never forget the losses. (laughter) *He's been on fire against us. He has thrown balls up in the air. A guy catches it with his feet for a touchdown last year. I remember this guy just having no *conscience and just throwing the ball in there and completing passes against us. We have a lot of respect for him. We know what kind of a player he is. We know how good he is, and he's super good against us. We know we have our hands full. It will be all hands on deck to get ready for the offense led by Josh McCown."

*How much does that change the game plan? I'm guessing all preseason, if you're doing your advance scouting, you were mostly focusing on RGIII. Does that change a lot of your preparation? (Jamison Hensley) *"I think it changes the way you approach the quarterback – part of it. But Hue Jackson is still the offensive coordinator, and we have tons of respect for Hue Jackson. Hue Jackson is a ringmaster, so to speak. He gets in formations, he's still at it, is very creative. He finds ways to attack your defense at your weakest spots. He's going to formation you. He's going to motion you. He's going to run various kinds of routes, various kinds of runs. He's going to put tackles out, tackles over, tackles in. Everybody is going to be in different spots, and you're just going to have to find a way to defend all of their playmakers at all times, because I think that's something Hue Jackson does a great job of."

John, you mentioned how challenging Buffalo was up front from a protection standpoint. How did you think the two rookies, T Ronnie Stanley and G Alex Lewis, on the left side did in their first NFL start? (Luke Jones) "I thought they played well. I guess I read it was the first time in 20 years or something like that that has happened. That's quite the statement there. They both played pretty darn well, pretty darn well for the first time both being out there. They're both very smart. They're both very poised, and they learn. They learn quickly, so I expect them to be that much better next week, and that will be demanded of them. They can't be rookies. They need to be veterans. They expect that of themselves; that's what you appreciate about those guys. We're moving forward."

Coach, how is G/C John Urschel coming along? Can he play center if called upon? (Jerry Coleman) "He's coming along fine. The shoulder gets better all the time. He's ready to play."

He has taken snaps at center? (Jerry Coleman)"He's been playing center since the first day he got here, and he continues to. Yes."

*In a game where you didn't get incredible pressure from your front line, can you talk a little bit about your secondary? *(Stan Charles) *"We didn't get incredible pressure, but we got good pressure. You probably would acknowledge that, correct?" (Stan Charles: "Yes.") "*I thought we had good pressure. On the play-action passes is probably what you're thinking of. They protected really well, and our secondary held up really well on the downfield stuff. That was a thing that was good to see. They devised some shots for us, some double-moves, some high-low-type routes that were deep, and our safeties and corners did a good job with that. They hit a couple deep comeback-type routes, both on the sideline and inside – especially to Sammy [Watkins]. I think maybe he had two or three of those catches, and one Jimmy [Smith] broke up. We were content to cover those tight, but we didn't want to get beat over top."

I don't know if you had much of a chance to see highlights around the league, but a lot of games were decided by the kicker. How appreciative are you of K Justin Tucker and getting him in a long-term contract? (Ryan Mink)(laughter) "The way you frame questions just cracks me up. It has nothing to do with what we saw last night. Our appreciation of Justin Tucker, it has to do with the fact that we've always appreciated Justin. We've always realized how good he was, and we do appreciate it. But he has to make the next kick. We're not sitting here going, 'The next kick is in the bag because we have Justin Tucker as our kicker.' That's why he works hard. That's why those three guys [Justin Tucker, Sam Koch and Morgan Cox] work hard, and protection works hard. You don't take everything for granted, and you try to have great players at every position playing great. We are. We are very blessed to have Justin as our kicker and try to do everything we can to help him be the best he can be."

You mentioned after the game about the offensive line and how difficult of a front they were. You mentioned some cadence issues. Can you expand on exactly what you meant by that? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Not really. What's to expand? You want me to explain our whole cadence system to you?"

Not the whole system, but just what "cadence issues" means exactly? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It means you're going on 'one' or you're going on 'two' or you're going on 'three.' There's various ways to do that, ways to disguise what you're trying to do, ways to keep your opponent honest so they don't jump your snap count. There's communication, and sometimes you're changing the play at the line of scrimmage. It's a lot to keep track for guys. I promise you – offensive lineman – there's a reason sometimes people say they have to be the smartest guys on the team. I wouldn't dispute that. To sit in that stance and be poised through all of that is a challenging thing. We've worked on that from the beginning. It's something that we feel is important – not just to go on 'one' all of the time, so to speak. That would be an oversimplification. We need to get better at that. We had those issues. We need to get better at that."

John, what did you think off the running game after watching the film? (Cliff Brown)"3.3 yards per carry is not what we're looking for. At times, I thought we had some good runs. We held the ball for 12 minutes in the fourth quarter. That was twofold. Teams … That was special teams. That was the defense getting off the field. I think we had two three-and-outs at the end, and that was the offense getting first downs. The last time it was by running. I thought we had some really creative runs in there – some really schemed-up runs. We might have run 'flip' five times in the game, and we ran it at the end, and Justin [Forsett] makes their best player miss on the edge, and I think, got the first down. Before that we had the jet sweep to Mike Wallace. Our guys executed those plays beautifully. Those are critical plays in the game that allowed us to take a knee. Those are the best runs, when you take a knee. Those runs allowed that to happen. The coaching staff and players, that's the thing that you feel best about. The nuts and bolts runs, we were hit and miss. Some of it was their front. Some of it was us not executing, not blocking, not running in the right spot – all of those kinds of things. We just have to get better. There's no magic formula. You just have to become really good at it and run against the right fronts at the right time and execute."

Now that you have had the chance to see him on the field and participate in games, can you talk about what you are seeing with WR Breshad Perriman? (Stan Charles)"I'm probably seeing the same thing you guys are seeing. I'm seeing some big plays out of him, which is good to see. I think he can get a lot better. He can get off press [coverage] better. He does it in practice a lot of times, so I know he is good, he is strong, he is quick. Those are things in games that when you are going against top-flight corners like we were yesterday, he can continue to work on. I thought he blocked well. He had a lot of good blocks. He is a guy that we need to try to get the ball to. But not just him, we have a few other guys we want to get the ball to as well."

I know you were obviously impressed with CB Shareece Wright after the game yesterday, but after watching the tape on him, did anything else stand out from his game yesterday? (Shawn Stepner) "The same things that we saw [stood out]. He had a bunch of tackles; that was the thing. He covered well, too. Maybe that is something you didn't really notice, because he wasn't targeted as much yesterday. He was in tight coverage the whole game. He played all of the zone coverage responsibilities well. When he had an issue, we corrected it, and he fixed it right away on the field. You want to have that kind of communication during the course of a game. To come up and tackle the way he did … A lot of times, what any offense will do is try to scheme the ball to corners, and if you can block up everybody else and block the safety and force the corners to make tackles, you probably feel pretty darn good about that. There were times when they did that. They ran some sweeps against our base front – some man sweeps where they down-blocked and pulled guys, whether it was with [LeSean] McCoy or with Tyrod [Taylor]. Not just Shareece, but Shareece two or three times knifed through there and made some plays for us. As a corner, they probably didn't expect that as much. That was good to see."

What did you see from ILB Zachary Orr in his first career start? (Ryan Mink)"I saw a guy running around, playing really fast – really fast. He knows what he is doing – man, zone coverage, run game – and he runs to the ball. He is like a lightning bolt out there. That is really valuable to the defense."

I know every year you want to start off 1-0 or 2-0, but is it even more important this year to reestablish the winning mentality after last year? (Jamison Hensley)"That is all for you guys to write about. I think it is fair. I think it is probably fun to think about that, but we don't really have time to think about that. We just have to move on to the next one. I was really happy we won. It was really important to win the game. Was it more important than the other years? I don't know; I forgot. And next year is not here yet. Winning was really important yesterday. I was feeling it in the fourth quarter. I wanted to win really badly, and our guys managed to win. That is the thing. I think all the talk … Nobody is going to talk about the things that need to be improved upon more than us in here. We are cool with all that. You guys write that, and fans talk about it. They should talk about it. [Fans will say], 'We need to get better here,' or, 'This wasn't up to par.' We are going to be sitting in this very room tomorrow at 1:00 having the same conversation as a team, and we know that. But you know what? In the end, our guys found a way to win the game. We did not make critical mistakes down the stretch. We didn't make plays so much on offense. We wanted that seven points there, after the penalty, and we didn't get it. But you know what we didn't do? We didn't give them the ball back either. We got the three [points]. Sometimes that is what it takes to win, and our guys did the things they needed to do to win. That was very important."

Was that a no-brainer for you to take the points off the scoreboard [on the penalty] and keep working to try and get a touchdown? (Stan Charles)"Yes, for me and for the analytics, too. Anytime you have a chance to get seven, it is really important to try and do that. There might be some situations where it is not as important, but six points is not a great lead in the National Football League. You guys have all seen it before. You really don't want to be up by six. It is better to be up by six than down by six, but not by a lot. People come back and win all the time when they are down by six. We have our theories for why that is. We certainly wanted to be up by 10, and that is what we were shooting for at that point."

There were a couple times where I saw some double tight end sets. With TE Benjamin Watson's departure, has that affected things in that nature? (Jerry Coleman) "We are still in [double tight end sets]. I don't know if it would have been in it more or less. A lot of our game plan was to be in three wide receivers this last game. Just because of the defense we were playing, we wanted to do that. We were with two tight ends quite a bit, three tight ends occasionally, especially at the end. We have three good tight ends, so we feel comfortable with that."

After watching the tape, did you notice the team's speed on defense even more than during the game? (Ryan Mink)"No. I noticed it both times. It was there in both instances. It was good to see."

How did you think WR Steve Smith and OLB Terrell Suggs fared in their first game back? (Luke Jones) "I thought they both played well. Neither one of them have played much. Steve didn't play at all in the preseason. Terrell, I think he said that ... Probably, both of those guys feel that way about the way they played. I only expect them to get better, but they played well. They both played well. They were both key factors in the game. [They were] probably not up to their standards for themselves, because it is a pretty lofty standard for those two guys. That makes me feel good that they feel like they can play even better, but I thought they played well."

WR/RS Devin Hester Sr. said that it is taking some time for him to get adjusted to the blockers and the blockers getting adjusted to him. What are your thoughts on the return game?  (Edward Lee)"I think we have to block better. It is nice of Devin to say that, but [the Bills] didn't give us many chances with punt return; he had one chance. We blocked not great – maybe a 'C' on that punt return. The rest of the balls, the punter was phenomenal. Their punter pinned it out of bounds every time. I thought he did a great job keeping it out of Devin's hands. On the two kickoff returns, we have way higher expectations and way higher standards to block than what we are doing right now. We are not quite timed up like we want to be on these high, high kicks to the goal line, which people are using. Their guy did a great job – it was 4.5- [second hang time], probably, to the goal line. That is really unusual; we haven't seen that over the years. We have to figure that out, and we have to get a lot better at it. We have to block for our man, so that is on us."

*Have you guys decided whether you are going to do a lot of the high goal-line kicks, or is that a game-by-game decision? *(Garrett Downing) "Yes, we have decided, and we are going to do it. Yes, it is a game-by-game decision."

What played into not going with RB Javorius "Buck" Allen yesterday and activating WR Chris Moore?* (Jerry Coleman) *"It was a personnel decision – numbers, positions, the kind of game we thought we could be in. It was how we wanted to play the game; we felt we needed the receivers, the numbers out there. I wasn't comfortable with it; I would rather have three backs, for sure. Buck [Allen] has done a good job; it is no reflection on Buck at all. But we just felt like in that game we were going to need five wide receivers. The offensive side of the ball made that decision."

There is a lot of talk about CB Shareece Wright, but what about CB Jimmy Smith and how he played yesterday? How valuable is his ability to match up with a WR? (Cliff Brown)"It is very valuable. He was pretty much trailing Sammy Watkins the whole game, and I think [allowing] four catches for 41 yards is pretty significant success for a corner against that player. I'll say the same thing about Jimmy, and he will laugh when he hears this: He could play better. As well as he did, he can do even better. There are going to be technique things that he is going to look at it and go, 'Yeah, I could do better.' We have high standards for Jimmy Smith. We think he is absolutely one of the best, if not right at the top level, of corners in the National Football League, and that is the goal for him."

How was S Eric Weddle back there and his communication? It seemed like it was very organized back there. (Todd Karpovich)"You hit it right on the head. It was very organized, and we were on point with everything that we did. Even things that we didn't like, we looked at them in the system, and we were all on the same page. Coaches and players is what I mean by that. Coming off the field, 'OK, we know what happened here; let's do this.' When you have smart players on the back end like that, it is a big advantage."

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