Skip to main content

Transcripts: John Harbaugh NFL Combine (3/1)

Opening statement:"Good to see everybody; [I] appreciate you being here. [It's] been a great Combine. What questions do you have?"

On if he has had recent discussions with QB Lamar Jackson and his thoughts on the contract negotiations:"Yes, we've been texting back and forth, here and there, ever since the season was over. So, I feel like Lamar [Jackson] is doing really well. It's just what it is; it's part of the business. It's what you expect when you have a great quarterback, when you make a great decision in the Draft. Lamar has done a great job in terms of developing as a quarterback, and winning football games, and competing and doing all the things that he does. I feel like we've done a great job in terms of bringing out the best in Lamar over the years, and it's just evident in the way he plays. He's my quarterback; he's my guy. I love him, and as a coach, I'm looking forward to seeing it get done, but it's not easy. It's never easy; it's the business part of it. I'm very hopeful and excited – fervently hopeful – and I can't wait for it to get done."

On if he has thought about life without QB Lamar Jackson:"Not very much. As little as possible, for sure. Our plans are for Lamar [Jackson]. One of the things we did – and I think some of it was written about – when we went through a process with the offensive coordinator position. We interviewed 14 candidates; we had 21 different interviews. They were extensive interviews on Zoom and in-person, and of course, that comes up, because we're talking about how we're going to build an offense, and all those interviews were based on Lamar being the quarterback. 'If Lamar's the quarterback, how are we going to build the offense?' So, that's the direction that we're planning for."

On the report that QB Lamar Jackson's input was not taken into consideration while selecting an offensive coordinator:"That's not black and white. What does that mean exactly? I've heard different words about it. Lamar [Jackson] and I had a great conversation after the season about every aspect of our offense. Lamar … It matters to him. He wants to be involved in the wide receivers, he wants to be involved in the offensive line, he wants to be involved in the scheme. He wants to be a part of the best offense in football – there's no doubt about it. So, we talked extensively the week after the season – that Wednesday or Thursday or whenever it was – and after that it was all by text back and forth. It's a fast-moving process, as you know. There's no way any one person besides the coach – me doing the interviews – I'm the only one that can be fully involved in every interview and do all the interviews. You're not going to have anybody involved with everything, and certainly not a player who's preparing to play football. You do the best you can with that. I did the best I could with that; I think we all did. People like [assistant head coach and defensive line coach] Anthony Weaver, who led the [search] committee, was amazing in the whole process [as were] everybody involved in the whole organization, the candidates that were involved. I learned a lot, and I'm really confident in the outcome. I think it's been written, 'Wisdom is in the results,' and I'm pretty fired up about the results of that search."

On the possibility of franchise tagging QB Lamar Jackson:"That's not something that I'm going to get too involved in, in terms of what we do or how we do it, but I will say this about Lamar Jackson: There's no bigger, better competitor in football than Lamar Jackson. Lamar is a competitor, and he's going to want to be a part of the best offense in football, and that's what I know about him. I'm just looking forward to getting to work."

On why QB Lamar Jackson did not travel to the Wild Card playoff game in Cincinnati:"He was injured."

On new offensive coordinator Todd Monken and what he will bring to the offense:"Everybody brings something to the table, and so many of these guys … What I found out is there are so many great coaches in football right now. That's [something] that gets you fired up. I'm a career professional football coach, so that got me fired up, but Todd [Monken] was unique for us. I think he's unique for Lamar, and he's unique for our offense, and where we want to go and kind of our style. He wasn't kind of locked into a system quite as much. He's been in every kind of system, he's coached at every level, he's run the ball, he's thrown the ball, he's protected different ways, he's played with four and five wide receivers, he's had running backs, he's played with tight ends. He's kind of done everything. He's played fast, he's played out of the huddle, all those things, I thought, were things that we're going to want to do going forward. So, I'm excited about him. We've already started building the offense, and I can't wait to get back to work after we get back from the Combine on that."

On his first impression of QB Lamar Jackson when he was drafted in 2018:"Way back when? My first impression of Lamar Jackson when we drafted him? Humble, determined, competitor. The first thing he said was, 'I'm bringing a Super Bowl to Baltimore,' and I'm a believer. I believe that's going to happen. Kind of getting back to your question … Things are tough; it's a tough league. It's tough to win every game. Just talking to the guys, my good friends in Philly – my good friends in Kansas City won the Super Bowl. My good friends in Philly lost the Super Bowl. My good friends in Philly? You'd think they didn't win a game this year right now; that's how they feel, that's how it kind of works, and that's how we felt. That's how we felt after our Cincinnati game, but everybody does their best. Nobody does more than Lamar. I promise you – to your other question back there; I didn't mean to skip over it – but if he could have played, just like all of our players, he would have played. There's no question in my mind about that. He would have played as soon as he was ready to play. Hopefully it would have been the next week; I don't know, but never doubt that about Lamar Jackson. He's going to be out there, he's going to be competing, he's going to be giving everything he's got in every situation."

On if it says something about QB Lamar Jackson as a leader that he didn't travel for the Wild Card playoff game to support his teammates:"No, I don't think so. I think his focus was on getting himself back on the field. You can talk all about that stuff, but he was thinking singularly about one thing: rehabbing, keeping the swelling out of his knee as much as he could. That's all he was thinking about; that's all he talked about."

On if he is confident in QB Tyler Huntley as a leader:"Yes, Tyler [Huntley]'s a great leader; the guys love him. He's a competitor, they believe in him. I love Tyler. He's a young, developing quarterback. He's another competitor. He's one of our guys, so he has a great future."

On if it's possible to separate his feelings on QB Lamar Jackson as a player during contract negotiations with him:"Well, here's the thing: fortunately, I don't have to do that, because I don't have to do the negotiating. So, I'm on [executive vice president and general manager] Eric's [DeCosta] and Lamar's [Jackson] side to get a deal done. The thing I do know is that both those guys are good people who want to get the deal done, and then the rest of it's just business. So, I'm sure they'll figure it out, but yes, I'm sure that's challenging for the two guys involved, but I'm out of that. I'm for the Ravens, and I'm for Lamar, and Eric and us together – we're a team."

On if how the Ravens evaluate wide receivers will change:"That's a great question, and I think that's still to be determined in terms of how we'll evaluate our wide receivers. I know [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] will have a big part of that in terms of what he wants to do offensively. I'm excited about Rashod Bateman. Let's not forget; we drafted Rashod three years ago and Rashod's had a couple nicks the last couple years, but I'm telling you he's a supremely talented, supremely determined football player. He's champing at the bit to get back here and go. I've been texting him – guys like to text. I've been texting him … I did talk to Isaiah Likely on the phone; we actually talked on the phone. (laughter)That was a breakthrough in player-coach relationships in the 2020s … But, he [Rashod Bateman]'s ready to roll."

On the cornerbacks in this year's Draft:"It's funny you say that; I've been watching those guys on tape in between interview sessions. So, I've probably seen, in my opinion, 10 cornerbacks that could go in the first two rounds; it's loaded. They're all great players, they're all potential starters, first-year starters. It's a great crew."

On offensive coordinator Todd Monken's transition from Georgia to the Ravens:"The good thing about [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] with that challenge is he's been there before in a couple different situations, so he's experienced with that. He's not a first-time coordinator; he's not a first-time new coordinator changing jobs. He's done it in the NFL, he's done it in college, and he's done it both ways, so I'm not too worried about it. When you talk to him, you get a feel. He's pretty secure in how he looks at things, so he'll be fine."

On how quickly he knows when a prospect is special:"That's a good question: How quickly does it take to determine a guy? You've got to be careful not to do it too quickly, because you can definitely make up your mind, and then you get a little bias to your first opinion, and you don't want to do that, because sometimes the more tape you watch, it can definitely sway what you think. So, you usually know pretty quickly, but you've got to watch it all. It's a good question."

On his impressions of Buccaneers' new offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who the Ravens brought in for an interview:"[Offensive coordinator] Dave [Canales] was I guy that we didn't know anything about. I talked to [Seahawks head] coach [Pete] Carroll about David, and Coach Carroll, really, just gave a great recommendation, in terms of who he was. And I would say [he] was all that Coach Carroll said and more. He's a great guy; he's a very likeable guy; a good family man; a strong faith person. But man, his command of the offense – not just the offense they ran in Seattle, but the new one – the one that they've run for the last 10 years, and then his ability to deal with quarterbacks I just thought was off the charts. He's going to do a good job."

On if he thought that QB Deshaun Watson's fully-guaranteed contract would set a precedent for certain QB contracts around the league:"I probably didn't as much. I wasn't thinking so much about those ramifications. I just felt like and put my trust in the fact that we want Lamar [Jackson], and Lamar wants to be a Raven, and in the end, that's going to work itself out, in my mind. Then you just let providence do its work; you let providence do its good work, and I trust in that. So, whatever providence ends up determining in the end, I'm going to be all for, and I think it's going to be what's best for everybody. But I've always been confident that it's going to get worked out, and I still believe that."

On factoring in player character during the Draft process:"I think the scouts do that. The scouts will factor that in, and they'll talk to us about it. My interest is going to be, 'Does he have a good heart?' And, obviously, that's hard to define, but the bottom line is, 'Does he treat people the right way? Does he respect other people? Is he fundamentally humble?' But you still want confident; you still want competitors; we still want very tough, persistent, resilient people. And then what's their football character, as well? Are they tough? Do they like football? Do they like meetings? Do they want to lift weights? Do they want to practice hard? Are they into it? When they drive home at night, are they thinking about football? When they drive in, in the morning, are they thinking about football? Because, I am, all the time, and you want the people around you to feel the same way. So, that's kind of what we look for in players."

On how ILB Roquan Smith was able to acclimate himself so quickly in Baltimore:"Probably because he [Roquan Smith] is that kind of guy we just talked about. He thinks football all the time, and he's our kind of guy."

On if he likes multi-sport athletes:"I don't know. We talked to one of the receivers yesterday, and he's played football since he was four [years old], and it's the only sport he played, and he's pretty good at it. [But] yes, you usually like multi-sport guys, though, too. Football players come in all shapes and sizes, really – they really do. It's just kind of different than other sports."

On if he watched Georgia's tape to get a feel for offensive coordinator Todd Monken's style of offense:"We watched a little bit of it. It was more in the context of him [offensive coordinator Todd Monken] expressing his vision for our offense going forward, so we watched some of their tape doing it. I didn't sit down and breakdown Georgia tape; I didn't have time. It would have been nice, probably, but I didn't feel like we needed to."

On if he could envision his brother Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL:"I don't know. I feel like, again, you talk about providence too, and it's good work; I think he's really good about that. He talked about, 'Make no oath for the future.' I think he's honest about that. That's probably the difference with him and all these other guys who act like they're not open about opportunities that come along. Jim [Harbaugh] is open about it. I think his players respect that; his coaches respect that. And he's just an open book, man. He's a fun guy to be around. I saw some of the Michigan guys here, [and] they just laugh about how fun it is to play there and what a good guy he is. So, I think he's at Michigan for life, probably, but then again, maybe God's got other plans. So, we'll see."

On if you can be too honest when exploring opportunities:"Can you be too honest?(laughter)That's a really good question." (Reporter: "Because when you said that stuff …") "That's a deep question. That's a whole lot of honesty involved there, right? That's a good question for the philosophers."

On running backs coach Willie Taggart and other coaching changes:"[Running backs coach] Willie Taggart, man, is one of the best coaches in football, no doubt. [He's a] groundbreaking person, groundbreaking coach. Changer – he's a game-changing-type of a person to me. [He's] one of the great offensive minds in the game, for sure. He's going to bring so much to our offense. Our players are going to love him. I know [offensive coordinator] Todd [Monken] already loves him. He's a difference maker. Tee Martin going to quarterbacks coach is another guy I'm really excited about – just not from the standpoint of change – [from] the standpoint of I think Tee has been preparing for this for his whole life. Tee is a quarterback guy. He played the position, studies the position, and I can tell you this: When we interviewed him for it, he blew us out of the water with it. So, we're still looking for a [wide] receivers coach; we're still looking for a safeties coach. There could even be guys on the staff, presently. We're just looking at all options, [and] we're taking our time. So, that's where we're at with our staff right now."

On what the team looks for during interviews with Draft prospects and if there are common issues that crop up:"What's interesting is very few guys have too many issues. I can remember starting off 25 years ago and half the guys had really, pretty kind of legitimate issues. Nowadays, they'd be blow-up issues; everybody would be talking about them. College, it's tough to get through college nowadays. There's a lot of scrutiny: social media, cameras, phones everywhere. These guys are on it; they are prepared more than ever before. So, it really doesn't come off very often, but when it does come up, you just have to decide where you draw the line. Our organization draws the line at certain things that we don't cross over; that's because [owner] Steve Bisciotti makes that decision, but after that, we just try to judge who they are as people."

On how he would advise a player to share incidents in his background with teams during the Draft process:"I would advise the player to be 100 percent honest; that's what I would say."

On what makes the most successful head coach-quarterback relationships:"That's a good question, because relationships are always based on everyone is different. I go back to honesty is a big part of it. As long as you can be honest with one another, even when it's a tough conversation. We talk a lot with our players about confrontation. Our idea of confrontation comes from my dad; confrontation gets a bad rap in terms of definition. Confronting things is a good thing; we want to confront everything, but we don't want to confront anybody. We're not about confronting one another; we're about confronting all the issues that are between us and being the best we can be. So, when you have two people – a head coach and a quarterback – who both want to be the best that they can be and want their team to be the best that they can be, then you're willing to confront everything related to football and being the best we can be. That's the relationship that Lamar [Jackson] and I have. If Lamar's upset about something and he thinks something can be better, he tells me, and if I have an issue with something, I ask him, but we have a conversation about those things. I feel like that honest part of it and just saying, 'Hey, what are we here for?' We're here for football. We're here to be the best football team we can be. We're here to be the best football team in the NFL and prove it. That's what we're trying to do every single day. So, doing that, we can confront everything related to that, and to me that's what the relationship should be about, [with] the quarterback, but also with all your players."