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John Harbaugh Press Conference Transcript


You won the first two games, and you guys looked good. In the last two, not as good. When you look at the film, is there a discernible difference between the way you played in the first two and the last two? (David Ginsburg)"There is. There are a lot of denominators there. They are pretty straightforward – turnovers, getting turnovers are big, stopping the run, getting first downs, getting off the field on third down. Those are big factors. There have been some big plays against us. It was really more last week than this week, passing-wise. Those are the big things."

A lot of the guys yesterday used the word "execution." Have you seen a drop-off in execution on both sides of the ball? (David Ginsburg)"I don't think we executed well enough to win the game yesterday. Pittsburgh outplayed us, outcoached us. They had a couple good ideas in their run game. I thought they did a nice job of organizing their run game and finding some spots to attack. They blocked them really well, and the backs ran well. We did not defend them as well as we need to. We go to work on that, we have been studying it all morning, and we will go to work on making sure we can try and correct those things."

In looking at the film from the offense in terms of the way they are approaching things, has it become a little bit too one-dimensional? In other words, the passing game. (Jerry Coleman)"In results, certainly. We are trying to … We tried to throw the ball yesterday a little more. But you have to make some plays. A lot of things can be better. It is never one thing in any area. You can pinpoint this, that and the other, and when you look at different plays, it is different areas. That is why everybody has to work to get a little better in every single area, and then plays start getting made and things start looking a lot better. It is never black and white. It is never a total positive or a total negative. It is usually just putting it all together in a way that clicks. When it clicks, it looks good. When it doesn't click, it doesn't look good. We can do that; we are capable of doing that. You saw the plays yesterday that we were close on. We just have to keep working to get that done and we can."

Obviously, when things aren't going well, especially offensively, a lot of eyes go to the quarterback, with QB Joe Flacco. What have you seen out of QB Joe Flacco? The fans have their viewpoint, but what have you seen? (Jamison Hensley)"I do not know what the fans' viewpoint is; I haven't really read it. I think that anybody that watches football, you can look at things and have an outlook and opinion, and it is all fair because that is what you see. The quarterback is definitely the focal point of the whole thing, and it always comes back to the quarterback. That is one thing about Joe, and I think all the really good quarterbacks recognize that and they take responsibility for that. In the end, as far as what happens on the field, it comes back to the quarterback. When it is good, he gets a lot of the credit, and when it is bad, he gets a lot of the blame. Everybody has to get better. Joe said yesterday – I think I read somewhere – that it starts with him. That is good that he does it, that he thinks that way. That is the way the great ones think. That is something that we just have to help him with. We all do that. I want to see him play well. I want to see him put up numbers and make plays, but it is not just him. It is the offense in totality that has to do that."

Has the offensive line been a challenge with getting QB Joe Flacco in a rhythm because you guys have had injuries and inconsistencies? (Luke Jones)"That is part of it. There are 11 guys out there, and there are five offensive linemen. Getting those guys clicking is part of it. There are a couple of young guys out there. I am not going to sit here and say there aren't. There are young guys out there who are learning on the run, especially at right guard. I think James [Hurst] at left guard has been pretty good. A couple of times yesterday – they have some good defensive linemen –they got on our edges a few times. Whether we were sliding in a certain direction, they were bringing the nickel off the edge, and we were just a tick late in getting out there and getting on those guys. They are powerful guys; they get on your edge, and it is hard to recover from that. They will put pressure on the quarterback. We just have to keep working all of those things that we do. We are not going to change dramatically what we do. You can't panic and say, 'OK, we are going to do something different.' Within our offense, we have all the elements to … We have different ways to attack people, different tempos. We have different types of three-, five- and seven-step passing game. We can move, we can boot, and we can keep. We can play-action; we have all of that. It is [about] how do we put it together in a way each week that gives our guys a chance to execute the best? That is what we try to do as coaches. We try to put the best gameplan we can together and then continue to work on the execution within that."

Acknowledging that there are a lot of injuries in front of him, in terms of the offensive line, are there still plays that a quarterback who is in his 10th yea ris leaving out on the field that you look at? (Jerry Coleman)"Sure. He will tell you that. There are plays that every single guy is leaving out on the field. Obviously, when it is the quarterback, it is the most obvious part of it. There is never a game when a player doesn't leave plays on the field. It is when the plays get made that it kind of covers it up a little bit, too. You know the game. If we hit the double move to the left sideline, that is a huge play that might score. If we hit the throwback over there in the right corner – the pylon – that is a big score. That changes the whole complexion of the game, just two plays right there. There were more plays than that that we could have made. All of those things come into play. To me, that is how fine a line it is in this league."

The last two weeks, teams have been able to run the ball without DT Brandon Williams in there. How have you guys been able to fill that void without Brandon? (Todd Karpovich)"We are not defending the run as well as we want to, for sure. Interior-wise, we are playing OK, not as well as when Brandon [Williams] was there. But Michael Pierce is playing really well. I give him a lot of credit, and those young guys are doing pretty well, too, when you watch it. Our problem yesterday was more on the edges. We had a problem on the edges with some of their formations. They put two and three tight ends out there, and we didn't respond to some of the gap schemes as well as we can, as well as we need to, and I think that is where they popped those runs for the most part."

Before the game yesterday, we saw DT Brandon Williams in a walking boot. Can you provide some kind of timeline or anything about Brandon going forward? (Shawn Stepner) "I don't have it. I don't have it. When he starts practicing, you'll know. It's one of those injuries that is just a little bit unpredictable. We're very hopeful it'll be soon. When he starts practicing, you'll know he's close."

CB Jaylen Hill is a guy that's been out for over a month. I know he's someone you guys liked a lot in the preseason. Is he getting close to a point where he's coming back? (Luke Jones)"Yes, I said it was a hamstring [injury], and he sure should be [back]. I won't sit here and say I'm not a little frustrated with it, in all honesty. It was one of the ones that we expected him to be back by now. But, it's just a little slow healing, I guess. Again, when he gets to start practicing … I ask the same question every week: 'Where's he at?' He's just not there quite yet; maybe he will be when we go out to practice on Wednesday – we'll see."

With S Eric Weddle's interception, is there something going forward, as far as rules, where if they would have let the play go on, it would have been a touchdown and you wouldn't have had to settle for a field goal. Is there anything going forward that, rules-wise, they could adjust that, so it's not putting you in a situation like that?* (Jamison Hensley)*"I don't know that there's a rule. I think what they want to have done there is they want those to be allowed to play out. You'll see a lot of them look pretty obvious that they won't blow the whistle on, then you have to go back and challenge them and hope you have an angle. That has happened to us a couple times in the preseason, where they let them play out, and it was pretty clear [that] maybe they shouldn't have – it was down, or whatever – but, then you didn't have an angle, and somebody was blocking the angles, especially in the preseason where there are not many cameras out there. You're like, 'Man, that should've been blown dead.' That one was blown dead, when it shouldn't have been blown dead; it should've been allowed to play out. It's bang-bang. It's a lot easier said than done. When you're out there with a whistle, it's probably a lot tougher than what it appears from where we're all sitting."

Do you have a method to help solve a fumbling problem? I know you talked about RB Alex Collins and the low fumbling tolerance you have. Is there something you can do? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes, we're working on it. We're working on the way he carries the ball, technique-wise. He has to cut one or two things that are an issue that we're trying to fix. I do think, in his case, that he can be corrected. I think he is very conscientious of it. I feel the same way about all of our guys; I don't think we have any 'fumblers.' Once you feel a guy is a fumbler, you're pretty much done with him. But, none of our guys I feel that way about. I think all of those guys are conscientious and just need to focus a little more on holding on to the football the right way. I'll say this: We can't be turning the ball over. That's just it. We just cannot be turning the ball over; that's not the way we're going to win games around here. I don't think too many teams are. We just have to get that done, and if they don't get it done – if any player, not 'they' – if any player doesn't get it done, it's going to be a problem. If we want to win, we have to hold on to the football."

Earlier you mentioned there were a lot of big plays in Sunday's game. Is there anything that you can look to as to why this is occurring. Is it the coach just calling the right plays, maybe a breakdown somewhere? (Ed Lee) "This game was more the run. It was more that they did a good job of scheming up a certain type of gap scheme; it's a counter-gap scheme that they ran. They were bouncing it outside, and we just have to fix that in our defense. I give them all the credit in the world. Sometimes you can overcome it, and they scheme you up and you can fix it a little quicker. We stopped it a number of times, but even at the end in the four-minute [situation], they bled some yards on us. Give them credit. We have to do a better with that particular scheme. It was one scheme this past week that hurt us more than anything."

**You're traveling the opposite way this week. How much, as a head coach, do you consider travel being an issue and the impact on your team? *(Jamison Hensley) *"You definitely think a lot about it; that's something that's always on your mind. It's hard to quantify it, though. It's hard for me to sit back and say, 'Hey, this London thing took a lot out of us. Maybe we're going west now [and] it'll be easier.' I don't know. I don't want to become an expert at those things, but I'll listen to the experts and to the advice. I can tell you, there are a lot of different opinions, and everyone has one, and everyone seems like they know what they're talking about – at least, they act like they do. I think the bottom line is – and the thing I come to after these years now – is that the old ways are usually the best ways. When you start trying to mess around with too many new ideas, you find out it's usually just a bunch of theory. The ways that people have done things for a long time usually are pretty solid. Going out to the West Coast on Friday is what we're going to stick with. We used to do that, we've always done that, and we're going to stick with the schedule that we used to have back in the day when I first got here, and that'll be our schedule going forward. As far as going east, to London, I'm not planning on having that conundrum again for a while. We'll see how that goes, but I think teams going out there have had their issues, for sure, and then even coming back."

*I know you touched on the offensive line earlier. Guys are really battling there, guys who haven't had a ton of experience. Is there a concern how much QB Joe Flacco is getting hit? It seemed like there was a stretch in the third quarter where it may have happened on three-consecutive plays. (Jeff Zrebiec) *"I felt the same way. It was just too much; he's getting hit too much. We have to work on that. That's something that you put yourself in those shoes. Any quarterback wants to be as clean as possible. When you keep your quarterback clean, the quarterback is going to be a lot better. Joe's tough, but Joe just wants to get the ball out in an accurate way, and he wants to be able to read things out. When you consistently keep the quarterback clean, I think it builds a certain rhythm to the offense. We have to figure out how to do that."

Does Oakland QB Derek Carr's status affect preparation this week? Raiders QB EJ Manuel has a little different style. Do you have to add wrinkles just to prepare for him, or is that something you do anyway? (Jeff Zrebiec)"No, we probably wouldn't do it anyway, because we would be 100 percent towards Derek Carr. We don't know right now. We'll assume Derek Carr is going to play, until we hear otherwise. I think the thing that we have seen in watching EJ Manuel is he's running the same offense that Derek Carr was running. So, it's not like they have a different offense for Manuel. He's running the Oakland Raider offense, so we'll prepare for their offense, probably try to have an understanding of what he does well. They are both mobile; Derek Carr can really move, too. So, it's not like you're talking about two guys that aren't mobile. They're both mobile quarterbacks."

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