JOHN HARBAUGH 2017 SEASON REVIEW PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "It is good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here, as always. I am excited about having a chance to wrap things up. We have done that with our players. We are in the process of doing that with our coaches, in terms of the season and then planning ahead, in terms of what we are going to do for the next days, weeks, months and year to become the best team we can be going forward. Just as far as the way the season went – I'll capsulize it a little bit. In the end, when it is all said and done, you look at your people and the job they did. You try to look at it from a lens of every kind of perspective that you possibly can – as a leader – and say, 'Hey, you know what? How did we do in the end?' Individually, how did we do? How did we do as a group? How did we work together? How did we compete? How did we handle adversity? How did we respond to triumphs and disasters and all of those different things that happened over the course of a football season or life? I have had a chance to do that, and in the end, I am really proud of our people. I am really proud of the organization [and] the way we fought. I feel like our players … There was no drag on anything we did all year from April 15 through this week. We had a bunch of veteran leaders that came to work every day with one thing in mind: to be the very best they can be and to help the people around them be the best they could be. We had a bunch of young guys that did not concern themselves with things that young guys do sometimes, but concerned themselves with being the very best that they could be, take the leadership that the vets were giving them, that the coaches were giving them and try to be the best players they could be for this football team. In the end, that is what you ask for people. I am happy with that; I am proud of that. I feel good about our people, and I am excited about where we are going forward. That is where we are at."
You say that you look through the lens a lot of different ways. How do you assess a team that played against so many No. 2 quarterbacks? Is that part of the analysis of how your team did this year?* (Stan Charles)*"It is an interesting way of looking at things, and that is different every year. Every year, you face different situations. You face great running games, you face top defenses, or you face great pass rushers. Some years you face more than other years. That will be part of it when we look at the Xs and Os part of it, in terms of how we build our defense going forward. We do not look at it to assess [and say], 'Hey we are good [or] we are not good.' All of those stats are not quite as good as you think you are. You had 47 or 41 or whatever number of sacks we had. It doesn't not count because of who you played or the offensive line that you played or anything like that. I think that you take it as a whole, and you try to look at it that way. As far as detailing all the little issues out, we will do that with tape. We will do that with our conversations about each player, each scheme that we have and try to tweak it, adjust it, improve it and get better wherever we can. If we face a slew of All-Pro quarterbacks next year, we will have to be ready to stop those guys, and it will not be an excuse if we don't – that we faced great quarterbacks. You take it as it comes, I think."
Have you made a determination on who will be your offensive and defensive coordinators next year? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes. We are not making changes. If guys get opportunities to go somewhere and do some different things, we will see how that goes over the next couple of weeks. I think that is something you deal with every year. Dean [Pees] is obviously retiring. I put a statement out on that and have just a lot of love for Dean Pees and a lot of respect for Dean. The job he did here over eight years, I think was just tremendous. The record speaks for itself, in terms of the defense that we played. It is not without adversity or challenges, obviously, but every team faces that. The rest of it – we will build from there. I will find a defensive coordinator somewhere, inside or out. We are in the process of doing that right now. But I am happy with the coaches that we have on defense and offense. We are building going forward."
I know we asked you during the bye week, but I am going to ask you this again. What are you seeing from the offense and Marty Mornhinweg being in charge of that tells you, "This is improving. This is getting better." What gives you confidence that is the right decision? (Luke Jones)"Well, first of all, you look at who is coaching for you and what we are doing. I am going to tell you what, I have said this all along – I'm not going to change it – we have great coaches. The creativity that I saw and ways that we schemed guys open, schemed run game, schemed pass game, schemed plays to be created, I was happy with that. You can look at the stats, and I can give them to you if you want; I happened to bring a few in, because I am not really a stat guy. The bottom line is that we improved tremendously, and we faced a great deal of adversity on offense. I am not going to stand up here and make excuses, but there were a lot of tough situations that we faced on offense. You deal with those things as they come, and you try to find a way to win the next game, whether it is the quarterback does not go through training camp, or both your guards get hurt, or whatever it might be along those lines. You have to find a way to win the next game the best way you can, and we did that. Sometimes it meant trying to win a game a certain way. Other times it meant, 'Hey, let's try to scheme up some plays and scheme some guys open and things like that.' But at the end – over the last half of the season – we are the second-highest scoring offense in the league. That is not something that you take lightly. What we talk to our players about and what we talk to our coaches about and something that I believe personally is that you put everything you have in to getting a little bit better every single day. We talk about 1 percent better – that is a way of visualizing what it takes. What does it take to get 1 percent better every day? It takes everything that you have – every ounce of energy, expertise, ability to overcome adversity, because there are a lot of things that are going to break you down. You have to overcome those things. If somebody gets hurt, you have to overcome it and get 1 percent better. You have to find a way to build around those things. You do it against a bunch of opponents that are very talented that are trying to do the same thing. That is the challenge and the drama of the National Football League. Our guys did that. That is what we did. I understand what kind of offense we are capable of building. To me, we are in a process right now – the process of building a football team that has been taking place since 2015 – 2015, 2016 and 2017 through the draft, because it is a young players' league, in terms of the way the cap works. We have drafted well for the most part. We have drafted a lot of good players here. Have we made mistakes? Sure. Everybody makes mistakes here and there, and you have to overcome those mistakes. I believe in these coaches. I understand the job that they did this year because I see it close up. I think our offense made a heck of a lot of progress, especially considering the adversity that we faced and the challenges we were up against this year. That is why we are rolling."
With your salary cap situation being so low, how important is it with the draft coming up to not just hit on your first-round pick, but multiple picks, and could there be changes with personnel with people making decisions at that level? (Jerry Coleman)"You mean as far as the players that we bring in and changing players on our team and things like that?" *(Reporter: "Yes, and the decision-makers. Would you like to be involved in personnel and maybe more involved in choosing?" *"We have a great system here. I appreciate the question, because I think it is a fair question. Our system and the way we do it, I love it. Ozzie [Newsome] and I have a phenomenal relationship. We work every single day to be the best that we can be. He helps me, and I help him. He is involved in football, and I am involved in personnel. We understand each other's areas, and we work together. That is the way that it has to work. I will be involved in personnel to whatever degree I can to help the best I can, because I understand the roster. I understand how we want to fill the roster and how we can make the team better more than anybody does. I will watch all the players, and I will understand who the players are. But also, we have great evaluators, and we will lean on those evaluators. That part of it – it will be very important. We have to draft well. We have to do a great job of bringing in guys that can make our team better. There are going to be specific areas that I will be looking to bolster on the roster for sure, and Ozzie feels the same way."
Is offense one of those areas, maybe wide receivers and tight ends? (Jerry Coleman)"Absolutely. We want to get playmakers. That is something that we need. I do not think it is any secret that we need to add playmakers to the mix, and we have playmakers. We have young … One thing we told our young guys … Our young guys were sitting in those chairs. We broke the team meeting and had the young guys come down to the front, the first-, second- and third-year players. It was amazing how many of them there were, first of all. I said, 'Look around. You guys are the foundation of this football team, and here is what needs to be done between now and when we come back in April. You need to be a better player. You need to be a much better player April 15 than you are right now. That is not going to be here. You are not going to do it by coming to practice every single day.' They did a great job every single day applying that, but [I said], 'I need you to apply that from now until when we come back – whatever area it is.' Then, we have talked to individual guys about that area, including strength and conditioning, route-running, catching the ball. [I said], 'All of the things that you can do to be a better player, you have to do.' I fully expect our players to do that, but with that goes the fact that we are going to add players. It is not to say that we can't add some players through free agency. That is the way that the salary cap has worked, and the draft will be a major part of that, sure."
Owner Steve Bisciotti said last year that you needed QB Joe Flacco to be better. In your opinion, was he better this year, and can you assess his play overall? (Shawn Stepner)"I do not know that it is a fair comparison one year to the next. I know Joe has dealt with injuries the last two years. When you look at it objectively … Again, during the season, we are not going to stand up there during the season and make excuses. Joe certainly is not going to do that; he never does that. But he is coming off a major knee surgery in 2016, and in 2017, now, he tweaks his back two weeks before training camp and missed all of training camp. To say that was not a factor in our passing game early combined with the personnel issues that we had there, it just wouldn't be fair to Joe. Joe did a great job of fighting through that, and really, I would say Marty [Mornhinweg] did a great job of getting Joe from week to week, because it was not like you come back there the first week, and he is ready to throw himself 100 percent in to a bunch of grinding work, and yet, he missed all of training camp work as well. We had to kind of work him back in week to week and make sure he was capable of performing, that he could go out there and make it through a game from one week to the next. I think Joe did a great job that way. As far as numbers and things like that, the first half of the season to the second half of the season was dramatic. To me, it speaks to what I am talking about. I think the number of interceptions, the touchdown passes, those kind of things, it is just a dramatic turnaround. It definitely speaks to his health. The other thing Joe did a great job of was he protected the football in the pocket. We had no sack-fumbles all year. He got the ball out. Maybe sometimes he got the ball out quick, but I think he was under duress a lot of times early in the year when we lost both of our guards. He did a good job of managing that situation, and I feel like towards the second half of the season, we were completing some more balls downfield. The fact that he protected the ball in the pocket and did not take very many sacks, speaks very well to the season that he had."
Is there a concern about QB Joe Flacco's mechanics? Is bringing in a quarterback coach a possibility, or do you still like having Marty Mornhinweg to have that direct interaction? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We will figure that out. I think that is a good question, and we will try to work that the best way we can. You want that to be streamlined; you want everybody to be on the same page. You do not want friction. You do not want a clash of philosophies or anything like that. That goes with Joe being a major part of that, because you are talking about a veteran quarterback. It is a little different than any other veteran quarterback. He is a big part of that process – what is best for him. If we can do that, we will do that, and I am kind of working through some of that right now. As far as his mechanics and all that, when you miss training camp and you are working with a back tweak, I think all that being considered, Joe's mechanics were pretty good. Can they be better? If I can go play by play and break it all down, anybody who knows anything about the position, any coach can look at it and say, 'Hey, you know what? He is throwing off his back foot,' or, 'He should have had his toe pointed here.' Or [they could say], 'His elbow dropped a little bit.' That is not hard to look at and see. The difficult part, the challenging part, is to look at the 'whys' of it. Why is it happening? Play by play, we have done that. The vast majority of the time, Joe's mechanics and the throws he made – for the situation he faced play to play – were pretty darn good. He made some throws off of his back foot with guys in his face at times that were great throws, that were very accurate throws. Yes, there were times where he missed, for sure. I think a whole training camp, a whole offseason of continuing to work on those things going into a season are going to make it better going into the season. He needs a healthy training camp and a healthy OTAs and all of that to be his best, just like any player does. I am excited about that going into next year."
Are you more hands-on with QB Joe Flacco in the offseason as far as what he works out so he does not have a setback physically? (Todd Karpovich)"Well, the rules are the rules. Joe is a good training guy; he works hard. He has certain plans for certain times of the year. I do not know the exact dates of where he is going to be and when he is going to be back here and things like that. That is something that we will talk about probably in the next few weeks. There are certain things he is not allowed to do here in the building, and that is a little bit tough. It used to be quarterbacks would come in throughout most of the offseason, and they would work those mechanics with their coach, and they would work film study and they would work on helping build the system with the coaches. They just do not allow you to do that now. That is just the way it is. It is for everybody. That is the rule for everybody, so we have to work around those rules a little bit, too."
With the injuries to QB Joe Flacco over the last two years, will you look to get a quarterback in the draft? (Mike Preston)"I think that is a fair question. It is something that we will talking about for sure. Every position, certain positions are going to be more important than others, but when you have a veteran quarterback at this stage, that is the time you are always looking for a young backup. I do not think that jeopardizes Joe at all. He is our guy, and I am excited about our chances next year having a great season, and Joe is too. If we draft a quarterback, if it turns out to be the thing we do, it is only going to make our team stronger."
Understanding the goal every year is to make the playoffs, to win a Super Bowl... You have fallen short of that now three-straight years. What has been Steve Bisciotti's reaction now to you regarding that recent record and expectations going forward? (Mark Viviano)"Steve is great. He is a great leader. He is a great friend and a great mentor. Our relationship is built on the fact that he makes me better every single day as a leader. We also have become really close over the years just as friends. When you get to a point like that and you have that kind of a relationship, you can talk about everything. You can drill deep in every area, and you can be honest with each other. He allows me to say, 'Hey, no, Steve, think about it this way.' Certainly, he [says], 'John, rethink that. Look at it from this other perspective and see what you think.' That is the great thing about our relationship. He wants to be successful, he wants to win, and I think both of us – this is, to me, something that goes through Ozzie [Newsome] and something that we will push through the whole organization; it is the way our people feel – it is that our focus is on tomorrow. Our focus is on, 'Can we be better tomorrow than we were today?' That is just the truth of it. What are we going to do to make ourselves better? What coaching … How are we going to set the coaching staff up? What schemes are we going to build? How are we going to set our blitz package up a little bit better? How are we going to play our two-deep coverages better? How are we going to develop our players better? Today, tomorrow, this week, this month – what are we going to do for the next three months? How are we going to handle the draft? To me, that is our focus. It is not looking back and saying, 'Hey, we did not do this,' or, 'We did do that.' Everybody is full-speed ahead to be the best we can be and has been for the last three years. How do you second-guess that? Football is tough. It is a drama. There are things … They do not write a script. They did not write a script for the Bengals game. We went out there, and we did not play a very good first half. It is kind of like the first half of our season. We did not do the things that we needed to do to get a lead. We find ourselves behind. We return a kickoff, are you kidding me? We take a kickoff back with 30 seconds left in the half down to the 5-yard line and then score a touchdown and get ourselves right back in the game. And we are ticked at ourselves at halftime for how poorly we played. That is football. It is the way it works. It is not perfect. They played exceptionally well. We come out in the second half, and we fight our butts off. We scratch, we claw, we get the run stopped. We crack a few runs here and there. We make a couple of passes. We catch the ball better. We find a way to make a couple of plays, and we get the lead. We get a couple first downs, we punt it down there, and our gunner does a great job of knocking their corner into the returner, just like you dream about, just like you coach guys to do. The ball comes out and it goes straight out of bounds with guys scrambling after it. If it takes a little different angle, we win it right there. We come out, and we are scrambling, we are fighting. We are trying to get them stopped. We get a call here, we get a call there, the game could be over right there. That is the way it goes. We get into a fourth-and-12 situation, we get into a coverage that we think has a chance. We do not play it exceptionally well. It is a little bit of a safer coverage. It is a coverage built for that down and distance, and he moves around the pocket a little bit and drops one in there, and your heart is broken. That is football. Nobody writes a script. You do not get a chance to decide how the script is going to be written. That is all you can do. That is the human reality of the whole thing. To me, that is why it is great, and that is why it is so tough. We have been on the other side, too. We have made that pass. We have made that miracle happen. We have done it this year in games. We are going to do it again. That is where this team is going; that is what we are building. Because we have heart, we have courage, we have character. We have a bunch of guys that love football. We know what type of guys we want to have here playing for us. We understand our city; we understand our fans. We understand what they respect, and we want nothing more than to get it there where we can have that moment, where we can complete that pass and have the whole city go crazy and be dancing in the streets. That is what we are fighting for. I wanted it to happen this year. I wanted it to be the miracle year this year. Maybe we could have done it, and then all of a sudden, it is not to be. OK. Are we going to lament it and look back and beat ourselves up and find reasons that are not there and point fingers? That is not what I am going to do. That is not what leaders do. Let's go to work."
The drama you just described and the friendship that you described with owner Steve Bisciotti, in that, is there an added sense of urgency about where you stand right now relative to where you've been, even though you're going forward? (Mark Viviano) "I don't know if I follow." (Reporter: "Is there a greater sense of having to make those plays now going forward, given that the expectations haven't been met here recently?") "Not for me, because it couldn't be any greater. It couldn't be any greater now than it was last year, or last week, or four years ago, or eight years ago, or 10 years ago or 20 years ago when I was coaching special teams for the first time in Philadelphia. That sense of urgency is on full blast every single day, and if it's not, you can't make it in this business. It continues. All these things that you go through, I think it steels you, it makes you tougher, it makes you more experienced, it makes you better, and it fuels you."
President Dick Cass sent a letter to season ticket holders earlier this season. What would your message be to a fan has that has been disenchanted? There were boos at the end of the first half with the way the offense was playing. What would your message be to the fanbase at this juncture? (Bo Smolka)"I think I kind of just said it. As far as boos, we play in stadiums all around the [league], and you hear that all the time – that's sports. It's even in college sports now, probably more than ever before. It's definitely part of pro sports, always has been. That doesn't bother me one bit. I want to earn the right to have [the fans] cheering and have them going crazy. I love our fans. Our fans are great. Those fans, in the last few games in our stadium, they were loud, and they were into it. To me, that's what I care about. I think they have great passion. I think they love football. I think they want to see us be really good. I think they're tough people. That's what I love about Baltimore and their fans. Let's get it going again! Let's make it exciting. We'll do that by playing great football. As far as our team goes … Is that your question? What I want to tell them about our team?" *(Reporter: "It's a fairly crisis situation with how a lot of the fans are feeling. Obviously, the organization feels that way, with Dick Cass taking the steps of writing a letter to the PSL owners. Just kind of getting the organizational temperature for the fan base.") *"That's a great question. From my perspective, I'm a coach. That's the perspective you have as the coach. The broad-based stuff and the things that Dick put in the letter were awesome and honest. One thing about this organization is it's honest. This organization doesn't go into its shell. This organization doesn't hide. This organization doesn't not say anything. This organization comes out and says, 'Hey, we get it. We understand where we're at. This is what happened here; this is what happened there. Some of you feel this way; some of you feel that way.' This town should be proud of that. They don't run, and they don't hide form anything. They talk, they communicate and they put it out there. Look around the league – I don't see that anywhere else. I haven't seen that letter written by any other team. That's pretty amazing to me. So, what do we do? We're us; we are who we are. We're the Ravens. We're Baltimore – that's who we are. We'll always be that. We'll always be fighting as an organization to be that. Whether it's the anthem, the kneeling, the social [injustices] – all those sorts of things – those are complicated, tough conversations that you have. They're best had one-on-one. I've had a few of those with players here and there, but we're about football here. We're talking about that kind of stuff. You try to take all those influences, all those things that go on in people's lives – whether they are personal things or political things or whatever – and you try to deal with them in a great relational way with your players and make sure the guys are ready to come out and play their best on Sunday. That's what the coach does. As far as the big-picture part of that, that's a whole other conversation. Our players are in the community – I can tell you that. I know of guys who are riding along with police, who are in firehouses around Baltimore, who are in schools, who are in daycare centers, are at shelters every single day, to try to make a difference. Our players are great with that. [Director of community relations] Heather Darney does an amazing job of organizing that. I think the more our fans could learn about that stuff, I think they would really be proud of the people that are representing them as football players in this town."
**How much time could you take in the middle of all that, to assess every single player who took a knee in London, to then – three months later – to see a half-empty stadium that's a direct result, according to your president? Some people outside of the organization said that the team should have done something about it. I don't know as a coach, how much time you could take at that point? *(Nestor Aparicio) *"It's a good question. You do that all the time as a coach. As a leader, you do that. I'm talking to our guys every time, every chance I get about all their things. So of course it comes up with different guys that felt strongly about different things, one way or the other. I had guys cry. I had guys vent. I had guys express frustration about all the different pressures that they feel, from the different places in their life, that they get them from. Just like everybody in this room, all these players have all these pressures from family and friends, organizations and groups, and all those different things because they're out there and they have to deal with that stuff. As a coach, it's a little tough, because I want them thinking about the game. I want them thinking about the challenge at hand, because we have to go out here and play a football game. I know this was something that hit the league a little bit. That's a bigger picture than I can stand up here and address. I couldn't certainly solve it. There's nothing here I could say that could solve it here. There's nothing anyone in the room could say that could solve the big societal issues. You just try to understand where guys are coming from and try to perform and get guys in a place where they can play their best football on Sunday. That's what you try to do as a coach, and that's what I tried to do."
When you go back to the play that decided the season – the fourth-and-12 – what can you tell the fans about what happened on that play? (Jerry Coleman)"Any call that doesn't work right, I'm second-guessing. I'm involved in that call. We called a good defense, and we just didn't play it very well. That's what you have to look at. I'm going to look at it big-picture-wise and say, 'OK, why didn't we play that play well with our structure?' It's a young guy, whoever it might be … It's football; it happens. It wasn't played well. It wasn't played the way it needed to be played. From a football standpoint, a secondary teaching progression, we didn't play the defense quite right. [Andy Dalton] dropped the ball in there into a spot that was crazy. Again, that's the drama of football. We'll do everything we can to make our defense better next year. Our defense was pretty darn good this year, but I guarantee it can be better. As young guys get better, and we tweak the system and make it even better – which I happen to think is the best defensive system in football right now – we'll make it even better, because that's what we're going to do."
How close are you in the defensive coordinator search? Is there a quality you're looking for in a candidate besides just a great defensive coordinator? (Peter Schmuck)"Definitely continuity. I'm a believer in this system. This system has been something that's been developed for a long period of time, and we have worked really hard every single year to make it better. We've evolved it and grown it, and I think you see the results. I know our opponents do and [admit] how hard we are to play against. I'm not going to bring somebody in from the outside and flip the whole system around, do something completely different. We're going to build on everything we've done. So, it'll be somebody who's been involved in this system before, for sure, somebody either inside or somebody who's outside who has been in this system before. You can probably figure out who those people are; you guys have written some stuff about that. I'll hopefully know soon, and we'll roll. It'll be a guy who allows us to continue to get better."
When you look at the wide receiver group, did you feel like you had the right mix of talents this year and you just got a little unfortunate with the injuries, or is that an area where you need a reimagining? (Childs Walker)"I don't know what word to exactly put on it. I think it's a good question. That's an area that we have to look at really hard. We have to build that whole area up. You have free agents, you have injuries, we have a couple young guys in there, at different situations with those guys. You guys can all can look at the situation and say, 'Hey, here's what it is.' I see the same thing everybody sees. We have to build that thing up to where it's great. I have no problem with the guys themselves. I think the guys themselves competed like crazy and did everything they could to be as good as they can be. The passing game wasn't where it needed to be. We all know that. Some of that is the fact that we didn't get a chance in training camp to really develop it. Danny [Woodhead] missed all of training camp, [Breshad] Perriman missed all of training camp, and Joe [Flacco] missed all of training camp. Now we come into the season, and we're just trying to see what we can execute, and do efficiently against a NFL defense. That's a tough starting point, but I want to start in a way better place next year than we did this year. I think the personnel part of the wide receiver position is a big part of that."
**At last year's end of the season address, a lot was made about getting QB Joe Flacco weapons and doing more to support it. You signed RB Danny Woodhead and WR Jeremy Maclin, but you didn't draft any. Do you have to have a departure from that? I know you're going to say you want to take the best player available this offseason, but do you have to go all in now about finding some of these offensive players? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"'The best available player thing,' I think it's better for Ozzie [Newsome] to answer that. That has been a mantra, and I don't think you ever get away from that. That's a way of looking at it. You're not going to walk away from a great player to chase a need, but you're always drafting to your roster. So you say, 'Which is it?' Well, it's both. The more you have a need in an area, the more you're trying to get that area filled. The best way to do it is through the draft. There's no question, I think if anyone looks at the needs on our team, that's where we're going to be looking to fill our roster. I'm not giving away any secret there. Everybody in the league knows that. We have to do that. If there's some player sitting there, just staring us in the face, at a position of strength – knowing Ozzie and his system, and I would agree with it – you're just not going to not take that guy. By the same token, the draft is to make your team as strong as it can possibly be. I think that's where our focus is going to be."
*Have you seen enough with how RB Alex Collins has played this year to feel good that going into next season he will be a starter? Or, do you look to even upgrade the running back position as well? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I'm looking to upgrade everything. You know that's how I'm going to answer the question. Alex Collins has proven the fact that he can be a very good back in this league. [Javorius] 'Buck' Allen – look at the year 'Buck' had. We have other guys in the mix there, too. Terrance [West] is a free agent now. What a tough year for Terrance West. He was doing pretty darn well. He gets the calf injury, misses a chunk of the season, and at that point in time, there's really no way to work him back in. I tried – there's one game I wanted to get him out there, and the game didn't even go where I could put him on the field. Those are challenging things, but we're going to look to have the best running back group we can. If that means we add a guy, I'm all for it. If it means it's these guys we have, then yeah, I think they're good enough. I'm all for adding a guy in that position, if we get the right kind of guy that can make us better." (Reporter: "Would RB Kenneth Dixon be a guy, too?") *"Kenneth Dixon should be right in that conversation. Kenneth has to take care of his business and be ready to go. I see him in here doing it all the time. Heck yeah, Kenneth Dixon is a big part of that conversation."
Does the organization have to come to terms with WR Breshad Perriman with the fact that he might be a blown draft pick? (Stan Charles)"The labels and all that, I try to stay away from. But the question is something that absolutely Breshad and I talk about. Breshad is a wonderful, wonderful young man. He wants to fulfill all the expectations that he has for himself, for his family, his dad, his mom. I met them. They want the best for him, and he wants to be great. That's something that we have to find out. It's up to Breshad; it's up to us. In the end, this is a tough league. You have to go out there, and you have to earn your stripes. The injuries have really taken a toll on him. We'll see how it goes. I'm confident he can do it. I'm hopeful he can do it; I want him to do it. I'll do everything I can; we'll do everything we can, as a coaching staff, to make him the best he can be, because we need him to be great. But if it doesn't work out, then it's going to be somebody else – that goes for any player."
What were your opinions on WR Breshad Perriman coming out of OTAs this year? (Stan Charles) "I felt great about him. Then the injury happened, and boy, it just set him back. Every time he's gotten hurt, it sets him back, for whatever reason. That's been the toughest thing to deal with."
**Do you expect WR Breshad Perriman and WR Jeremy Maclin back next season? *(Jerry Coleman) *"I expect everybody back. We're three days from the season, and we haven't had that meeting yet. As far as the salary cap, the numbers and all those kind of things, those are good questions for the next meeting probably. We'll decide all those things. I'm encouraged by everybody. There's not one guy here that I don't want back because I don't want them. There's really nobody like that. I like everybody, and I think they bring something to the table."
CB Jimmy Smith tore his Achilles in early December. Is the expectation that he'll be ready for the start of next season, or is that still up in the air? (Jamison Hensley)"It's up in the air. It's a good question. It's normally a 6-8-month injury with an Achilles. You saw how fast 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] came back from his. Then there's always a building back to your skill set, too – so we understand that. If you do the math, eight months will be September for Jimmy. That's conservative; it's really a little more than that. We'll see where he's at. I'm hopeful, but we'll have a bunch of corners here, too, to make sure that we have enough corners – as you know."
It seems like there were more drops this year. Did it seem that way to you, and is that correctable? (Brett Hollander)"Yes, it was a problem. It's fixable by having receivers out there that catch the ball. Either they catch the ball better or we get guys who catch the ball. I think the No. 1 trait for any receiver is catching the football. If you're going to be a receiver – whether a wide receiver, tight end or a running back – you have to catch it. Period. That's what you do – you catch the ball. So all the other stuff is important, but it is below that. You have to have receivers that will catch the ball. I don't mean just catch the [easy] ones; you have to catch the rough ones, too. The contested catches are the ones that set them apart in this league."
Are there any other players beside CB Jimmy Smith who are going to be having offseason surgery? Is there anything like that you're aware of? (Luke Jones) "If I miss somebody just ask me about them. Tavon [Young] is doing great. Tavon should be ready for OTAs and ready to roll. Kenny Dixon will be ready to roll. Alex Lewis will be ready to go. Albert [McClellan] should be ready to go, at least by training camp – maybe sooner. I think sooner, actually. Jimmy [Smith], we talked about. Marshal [Yanda], I won't do anything with Marshal until training camp, probably. But, Marshal will be ready long before that, and he's already moving and doing some things. Brent Urban will be ready to roll, if we re-sign him. He's on my list, so I brought him up. I'm all for re-signing Brent Urban – for the record. Anthony Levine – he had a little injury in the game. I haven't gotten a report on that one yet, so I don't know the extent of his injury. It wasn't a surgery-type injury, I don't think. Darren Waller, I don't know – haven't talked to him since he's on suspension. At some point in time, I'll be allowed to talk to him. When I'm given the thumbs up on that, I'll find out about Darren. Is there anybody else that you guys can think of? Tim White is 100-percent now. He's healed. He probably could've played the last six weeks of the season, but we didn't have that roster spot. He wasn't one of those guys."* (Reporter: "Would Jeremy Maclin have been ready if the season was still continuing?")* "Maclin would have had a chance for this game – a very realistic chance for this game."
Closing statement:"Thank you very much – appreciate you guys. Thanks for a great year! You guys have been good, been tough, been fair. I appreciate you very much. We have a great media corps in this town. After 10 years in this town, you get to know each other pretty well. It's a great group here, and thanks for all you do."