Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh took the podium Monday afternoon with his team sitting in the deepest hole they've faced in his eight-year tenure.
After Sunday's 33-30 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens are staring up at the rest of the division and most of the league. Baltimore can't afford to lose any more ground, and Harbaugh laid out the game plan for what it will take to get the season back on track.
The head coach opened his press conference pointing to the three following changes the Ravens have to make:
- Finish games in the fourth quarter
- Coach players to higher levels
- Have the attitude to go win a game
"We definitely believe in what we're doing," Harbaugh said. "We definitely have confidence in the players that we have, the coaches that we have, and in the schemes that we're running. But you also look for ways to improve and get better."
The topic of closing out games in the fourth quarter has been much discussed this year. In all four of their losses, the Ravens had the lead in the fourth quarter and the defense has been unable to hold it. The offense has also missed opportunities, like they did against the Browns when they missed a two-point conversion and also had to settle for a field goal to force overtime.
Players on both sides of the ball talked about the importance of finishing games, and Harbaugh reiterated the message.
"We've lost four close games," he said. "Whether that means scoring at the end of a game to extend the lead, getting the two-point conversion, or scoring a touchdown instead of a field goal. It certainly means getting off the field in the fourth quarter when you have the lead."
Harbaugh also pointed to the coaches needing to improve. With the Ravens battling injuries at several key positions, they have thrust young players into key situations. When the team has so many unproven players in those critical situations, Harbaugh said "it's our responsibility to get them playing consistently."
"We have to coach our players to higher levels," he said. "It's an opportunity when guys go down for other guys to come in and play. It's an opportunity they've been working for and dreaming of. All of these guys in our eyes are capable of playing at the highest level. They're here for a reason."
While Harbaugh called on his coaching staff to improve, he shot down the notion that any of his assistants could be fired as a result of the team's start.
"The coaches are doing a good job," Harbaugh said. "We've just got to collectively find a way to finish games and get the job done. It's tough challenges that we're facing, but we've got just the men for the job right here."
His final point was an overarching theme about what he expects from the team. The Ravens have a culture of winning that spans the organization's two decades in Baltimore, and Harbaugh's teams have never had a losing record.
But this year has been the exception to the norm, and Harbaugh wants his team to find that ability to win tight games.
"The challenge that lies before us is very simply, go win a game," Harbaugh said. "We have to go find a win to play our best and win the game. And that's all we need to be thinking about right now. And that's all we'll be focusing on."