Head coach JOHN HARBAUGH: Monday Transcript
Opening statement: "A couple of things, just some game-specific things: We have no new injuries from the game. We're still dealing with certain issues, and you can ask me about those as we go, but nothing new. There are some things that led to [our success Sunday] – some compliments to our guys basically. First of all, conditioning. Our team did a real nice job with the heat. We didn't wilt at all. It was a factor in the game in terms of executing our offense or defense, staying strong in the fourth quarter. Offensively, we did a really good job with motions and shifts in the game. We were able to get those guys off balance a little bit with some of our adjustments, and I thought Todd Heap, specifically, had a real complicated game plan there. You know you watch that and sometimes you take it for granted, but all the adjusting and moving we were doing on offense – and to not have any issues with the clock – were really pretty impressive. And Todd was a big part of that. Defensive adjustments, too. The discipline, as far as adjusting to all of their different formations, the 'Wildcat' and the different things, [was impressive]. We lined up to those things really well. Defensively, in the back end, this team has done a good job in the past of getting big plays in the passing game or the gadget plays and also running the ball really well. We did a nice job of controlling the run game and a nice job of not giving up the shot pass. I thought our defense did a good job with that. [Terrell] Suggs' TD, obviously, was the turning point in the game – if you want to call it that – early in the game. It kind of got us going and got momentum going a little bit. It was just a huge play. Offensively, I thought we were balanced. We were able to run the ball, we threw the ball well, and the screens were a big part of it in some critical situations. For us to execute those screens was big. The two-minute drive was big, right at the end of the half. We did a nice job at the end of the half and at the end of the game in both phases: four-minute, two-minute and then getting that touchdown at the end. Joe [Flacco] running the offense that way, guys executing under pressure… We've worked on that just constantly. It was an issue in a couple of games, but we didn't do it as well and I thought our guys really did it well. [Matt] Stover with the field goals was big, and it was windy down there. I don't know if you guys felt it or not, but there was a lot of crosswind down there, and he managed it really well and knocked those things through. The punt game was big. Sam Koch… I don't know if I've ever seen somebody net 54, 55, or whatever he netted. It might be some kind of a record. And then to have two of [his punts] pin them inside the 5 in critical situations – those were big plays. Coverage generally was good. I felt punt coverage was really good. Kickoff coverage – it wasn't really pretty but we hung in there with [Ted] Ginn [Jr.]. After the first one, I thought the first kickoff cover was not good. After that we hung in there with Ginn and we were skying it. I've never really seen a returner cover as much ground as he covered on the two mortar kicks to get those balls in his hands. He's a talented guy. The penalties were better. We still have got to improve in that area, but I think we're moving in the right direction, at least as of last week with the penalties. So, that should cover everything."
What do you feel needs to be "cleaned up" after the Ravens' impressive game on Sunday?
"There are a lot of things. We had a great meeting today and went through them. We talked to our team about [the fact] that we're proud of the team we were last week, the performance, the effort and the fact that we won the game. But we're interested in the team we're going to be next week. That's what we've got to focus on. We can get into a lot of different specifics, but there are plenty of them that we've got to work on."
Will CB Chris McAlister be back in the starting lineup this Sunday, and is his knee injured?
"It's no different than what we've been saying. I said last night there's no injury, per se, nothing that's keeping him out of the game or he's not well enough to play. Any decision we make, and the decision with Chris [McAlister] is no different, it's a football decision. We're always going to put the best 11 players on the field for that situation to play as well as we can whether it's offense, defense or special teams. And that's what we did yesterday. We put the 11 guys out there that we felt were the best to defend whatever we were seeing in that particular package. And that's kind of what I was trying to get at last night a little bit, and maybe I wasn't very clear about it, but we had the corners out there in those situations that we wanted to have our there."
Was it CB Chris McAlister's performance in practice or his performance in previous games that led to this decision?
"It was just putting the best players out there – the guys that play the best. And Chris has been working hard to be the best player he can be, and that's what we do."
Is McAlister in the "dog house"?
"I don't know what [that means]. We don't have a dog house around here. If you see a dog house, let me know."
Was there anything that happened off the field with McAlister that led to this decision?
"No. We don't tie discipline to playing time, per se. We have a discipline policy in place, and we put that together with Ozzie [Newsome]. And it's very clear-cut, and the players know what it is. That's not something that's for publication. Every different player has situations that come up and they're dealt with, and Chris is involved with that just like the rest of our players are. But we don't tie any kind of a punishment, pulling a guy off the field. How much a guy plays is based specifically and directly to what gives us the best opportunity to put our best players our there in any given situation."
Did McAlister practice Friday?
The entire practice?
"I can't remember exactly what the numbers were, but he practiced Friday."
Can you talk about NT Justin Bannan and CB Samari Rolle?
"Well, Justin Bannan, as we've talked about the last few weeks, he's done a heck of a job. I don't think there's any drop off right now from Kelly Gregg, and that's about as fine a statement as you can make about the way a nose guard is playing. He's playing as well or better… I don't know if there's another nose guard in the league playing better than Justin Bannan right now, and that's been critical in our run defense. You want to talk about Samari as far as his opportunity to come back and play this week? We think he's got a good chance to come back. He is meeting with the doctor today, and we'll throw Dawan Landry into the same mix. Dawan has a doctor's appointment tomorrow. I don't know what the percentages are – probable, possible, whatever it is. We'll know more at the end of the day tomorrow on both those guys, but they both have a chance to play on Sunday."
Do you miss Rolle?
"Well, sure. Samari is a heck of a corner. When we get Samari back, we're going to be that much stronger in the back end. And when we get Dawan back, the same thing. Those are two starting [defensive backs] that are going to be back in the mix. That's going to be a big boost for us."
Does it surprise you that Rolle and Landry could be back so soon?
"You know, it's interesting. We talked about Samari having neck surgery, and I guess that conjures up images of traction in all of our minds. I was a little surprised when they first told us that this would be a four- to five-week issue, but that's the type of surgery it is. There's a bone graft involved, and I guess they say Samari's got really strong bones, and he's coming back quickly. I'm going to have to say, yeah, I was a little bit surprised in both those cases that you could come back that quickly in these situations."
It seems the team is having good success in the no-huddle offense. Does Flacco like running that more?
"I think Joe likes to run it. I don't know if he prefers it over the huddle or not. We've never really talked about that. But I think*it *puts defenses in a tough spot. It makes those guys operate maybe a little more simply at times, and that's an advantage to the offense. We've had some success in it, and other times we haven't. But it's been effective so far, and Joe seems comfortable with it."
What is your assessment of the offensive line, and what is T Adam Terry's status?
"First of all, Chris Chester came in and did a nice job. He was physical. He was up to the standard of that group, a little bit, with his style of play. I think he's got a lot to be proud of. The fact that we didn't have miscommunications back there, no real busts, that's a big credit to the whole group. I think they rallied around the fact that we had lost Marshal [Yanda]. We just talked to Adam Terry in the training room as we were coming through there, and he just got back from the doctor. He's going to go ahead and have a scope tomorrow on his knee. It's a little bit of an opportunity to go in there and just see what the deal is. He's got a slight meniscus tear on the outside, and that's something you can play with. We've been trying to get that thing back and see if he could play with it, but he's not coming back as quick as we'd hoped. So they'll go in there and see if they have to sew it back up or clean it up or whatever they do to it, and we think he'll be back in two or three weeks with the surgery."
What is the toughest challenge that Oakland presents?
"Well, they're a team that can run the football. They're a team that is very physical up front on defense. We think they've got a heck of a defensive coordinator [Rob Ryan], that's for sure. They play really hard. [Their] special teams right now are No. 1 in the league, so they're going to present a lot of challenges to us across the board. I think the biggest thing about an Oakland team that you can always count on, you're going to get a big, strong, fast, downhill-playing outfit coming in, and they've got a lot of skill on offense. So it's a big challenge for us."
Do you feel like the running game is back to where you would like it to be?
"It's a great question, 'Is the running game where we want it?' I think it was good last week. But, as we all know, one week to the next doesn't guarantee anything. I'm sure Oakland is going to be cranked up to stop that running game, so we've got to find a way to run it against them, and to throw it and to run the screen game and to protect the quarterback and all the things we have to do."
How important was this win in light of the 31-3 loss to Indianapolis the week before?
"It's so important from a standpoint of our guys' character, the fact that they were able to take all the shots and put that aside and go to work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and prepare to play a football game. Then to show up on Sunday and play the way they did, improve in so many areas, I think it's a testament to their character and work ethic and [to the] kind of football players they are."
You mentioned yesterday that McAlister would have a chance to start this week. Is there anything that he needs to show you in practice to get back into the starting lineup?
"It's not about any single player, per se. It's going to be the guys that we think can play the best in that situation. If he's one of the guys that we feel like we put on the field, he's going to give us the best opportunity to play the best defense at that moment, he'll be out there. If we think there's a guy that can do it better, then he'll be out there. You look at Fabian Washington – just talking about the guys who were playing – they had Ted Ginn, [and] we matched [Washington] up on Ted Ginn. I think Ted Ginn runs about 4.30, right? So Fabian only had to slow down just a little bit to cover him, and he did a great job. And Frank [Walker] played a good, solid game back there. So the opportunity to develop some corners is a plus. But Chris is still very much in the mix; he's part of our plans. He's going to be a part of our success or failure as we go forward, and we're counting on him to play good football for us."
Do you have plans to ask the NFL to review the hit on TE Edgar Jones?
"Yes we do. We will be sending that one in along with our usual plays. It will be interesting to see what they say."
Is QB Troy Smith progressing physically?
"Yeah. Troy, I think his strength is back. It seems like he's back in the weight room lifting and training. He looks like he's just about to where he was before, if not 100 percent. He's progressing as a quarterback, too. I think there's some makeup ground there from a timing standpoint – throwing the ball, footwork, those kinds of things – that he's getting closer to what we saw there in training camp, where he was that third preseason game. He figures into our plans as we go forward."
Troy was the No. 2 quarterback yesterday. What went into that decision?
"We just felt like he was back enough to do it. Troy's a talented quarterback, and if Joe can't go, we think Troy can go in there and do some things that are going to cause defenses a lot of problems. We've got confidence in Todd [Bouman] too, but Troy was the guy this week."
With LB Antwan Barnes' penalty, he said he was trying to help S Haruki Nakamura up. Did it look like he was taunting?
"That's a good question on Antwan's penalty. He felt like he was just leaning over to pick Haruki up. Obviously, the official felt like he was leaning over and talking to the returner. We take Antwan at his word. I think that's what he was trying to do, and so it's unfortunate. He's going to have to be careful about his body language as we go forward. And those are the types of penalties, and we talk about the penalties, [where] we're making progress in that area, and we can still get better in that area."
You talk about risk vs. reward with Flacco. With the way he worked the two-minute drill, can you give him more?
"I'm not sure how much we haven't given him. You get in a two-minute offense, we've got a certain two-minute offense that's part of our system, and he's got the whole package. Now, how Cam [Cameron] calls plays in situations, whether he might be thinking, 'You know what? I'm going to hold back in my play-calling here a little bit,' I can't say for sure. I'm not sure if Cam could stand up here and tell you either exactly what the equation is, but I don't have the feeling that we're holding things back or cutting things down too much for Joe. He's got to be able to run our offense for us to have the best chance to win, and we need to get everybody involved. We've got some guys running around out there that we think can make plays, and it's really Joe's job to get those guys in the mix."