John Harbaugh's Monday (11/10) Press Conference Transcript

Opening statement: "Great to see everybody. Sorry for walking in a little bit later than usual, I apologize. Just had a chance to go through the meetings and practice and correct the mistakes, which were numerous, and get on with looking at the Giants a little bit. So we've had a good start to the day. After looking at the tape, I just wanted to single out a couple of the guys, mainly a couple of the coaches. First of all, Hue Jackson. If you take a look at the whole season, last game in particular, but really the whole season, Hue Jackson has just done a tremendous job with our quarterbacks – and not just our quarterbacks, but with our offense in general from a game-plan perspective. And not just with Joe, although Joe is the most obvious quarterback, [but] with all the quarterbacks – with Troy [Smith], with Todd [Bouman], with the guys that were here before. I just think he's really made an impact on our offense. Along those lines, also, Wilbert Montgomery. If you look at what our running backs have done… We've got three running backs playing like starting halfbacks in this league, and that's a pretty strong statement for the coach. You've got guys playing multiple positions. We've got fullbacks playing halfback, halfbacks and fullbacks playing tight end – they line up as wide receivers, they motion all over the place, they're involved in the pass protection part of what we do, they're involved in route running [and] obviously involved in running the ball. Wilbert is responsible for that success there. So I wanted to point those two guys out."

Do you feel that players returned to yesterday's game with their injuries because they sense something special is happening with this team and they don't want to miss it?

"You're talking about Derrick Mason, right, with the dislocated shoulder and other guys who have fought through injuries? I think it's more of the fact that these guys are who they are. I don't think they are circumstances. I don't think you can sit here and say, 'Hey, if the record wasn't what it is, they wouldn't come back.' I just don't believe that's true. Derrick Mason, when you use the term warrior in an athletic sense and in athletic terms, he is [a warrior]. Willie Anderson tried to come back. Willis McGahee came back from the week before. Guys are fighting through injuries, and that's a credit to who they are. They love to play."

How is WR Derrick Mason today?

"He went through the meetings and stuff like that. He's in the training room right now. Kevin [Byrne] and I just walked by, and he's in there getting treatment. He's sore, but he's OK."

Do you expect him to play this week?

"It's too early to say. I'm hopeful. I would say we expect him to play, but we can't say for sure."

Although he was able to return to the game, is it still possible that Mason may not be able to play this week?

"That might not be the case, right? We'll just have to see how he responds. The next day is going to be worse. [We'll see] how it responds to treatment."

Do you plan on rotating the three running backs?

"We could draw straws out of a hat. Can you draw straws out of a hat, [or] behind the back, a short straw? We'll figure something out. They're all going to play. We've got three really good running backs and they're all going to play. How we do it is kind of a game plan thing. We felt like, game plan-wise, Willis was the guy last week. So it will be interesting to see who plays this week."

Is it helpful to have T Adam Terry in the lineup if T Willie Anderson is unable to play this week?

"It's a big part of it, but it hurts us in the sense that we're playing both of those guys at the same time. You can say that we play six offensive linemen as starters, and we really have pretty much throughout the season. So we're missing a starting offensive lineman if Willie can't go. He's going to fight like crazy to be back. I know we say that about all of our guys, and there's a chance he will be back, but we don't know."

Is there anything new to report with S Dawan Landry?

"I wish I had checked before I came in here. I don't have anything new on him. We haven't talked about Dawan yet today. So we'll have to wait and see."

How much more dangerous can this offense be? Is it the plan to have a different player each week who is the more dangerous threat?

"That's the idea on offense, right? We try to spread it around, but also by necessity. Players get put in situations. They're always running routes out there, and all of a sudden they start getting open, and the quarterback starts finding them and they have a chance to make some plays. It was good to see Yamon Figurs step up with a touchdown catch. Obviously, Todd Heap with the five catches. But, I can tell you with Todd Heap, as excited as everybody is in town about Todd Heap catching the ball finally Todd Heap blocked the best he has all year. He was dominant up front at the end of the line of scrimmage blocking. So as excited as we are about the passing game, we're just as excited about the running game part of it because that's what tight ends do. But it's good to see guys step up."

How much of a challenge will it be as you face some of the top defenses in the NFL over the next several weeks?

"It's going to be a huge challenge, not just for our offense, because we are going to play some of the top defenses in the league starting with the Giants this week. They're one of the best coached defenses in the league. Steve Spagnuolo does a tremendous job with those guys. I'm pretty familiar with his style. It's going to be a challenge for all three phases, and we're looking forward to it."

Are you looking forward to going up against your friend Steve Spagnuolo this week?

"Spags, I'm looking forward to going against Spags, sure. It's always that brother thing. It's kind of like the Rex and the Rob [Ryan] thing if you go against a good friend, a colleague, someone that you're close to. There's a number of coaches on that staff – the linebacker coach, Bill Sheridan, is a great friend. It's going to be something to look forward to."

What kind of flexibility does K Steve Hauschka give you?

"The flexibility that a guy like Hauschka gives you as a kicker is another weapon. We have a guy that can obviously kick the longer field goal, which was an advantage for us in the game. He snuck that one through the right corner down there. The kickoff is an advantage for us, too, because he's just naturally going to be a little bit higher and a little bit deeper. That changes the math a little bit on kickoffs."

Do you have a protocol for determining whether both Hauschka and K Matt Stover will be active on game day?

"Yeah, we're going to try to have them both active if we can. You've been through this before here. It's not easy to do that, numbers-wise, all the time. But we're going to try to have both those guys active if we can."

When you have field goals from 47, 48 or 50 yards, how will you determine who kicks those?

"If it's in Matt's pre-game range, he's going to kick it. If it becomes out of Matt's range, then we'll have to make the determination that you always make on a long field goal: is the risk worth the reward? Is the three points worth the potential field position that we're going to lose if we miss it? And, really, what are the chances of making it? It may be within a kicker's range, but the long field goals, the chances of making it drop dramatically because the geometry changes, plus you've got wind affecting it up to a little more. So [it will] just have to be a gut decision. I guarantee you we were considering the field position on that last field goal. If he'd have missed, it would have been a problem."

What is it about Hauschka that allows him to make a 54-yard field goal on his first career attempt?

"I'm stumped, you know? What is it? He made it. I think you find out after the guy makes it. He makes the field goal, and you say, 'You know what? He can do it.' But he's got to make the next one now. That's the challenge."

Was LB Antwan Barnes inactive because of health or was it the numbers?

"It was just a decision as far as what was best for all three phases. We wanted to get our best players up, defense and special teams-wise. That's what we tried to do."

Is the style of play you coach influenced by your 10 years coaching in the NFC East?

"Our style, our identity as a football team, stems, first and foremost, from the players that we have. It's the guys we've got. It starts with the Ray Lewises and the Bart Scotts and the Terrell Suggses – all the way through our roster – the guys that we have on our football team. The offensive line, the way they're playing, that's who those guys already are. So we want to build on what our guys already are. As a coach, you probably try to inject your vision for the program, if that's a great word. I don't know if it is or not. But what you want to be as a football team goes back to what you've been around, so it's probably true to say that."

Has Edgar Jones moved back to linebacker or is he still a tight end?

"He's both. He's a two-way-go player right now. He's a tight end and he's a linebacker. Actually, he's practiced on both sides the last few weeks."

What does WR/RS Yamon Figurs bring as a wide receiver?

"Yamon brings a lot of speed, first of all. He's a threat to take the top off the coverage every time. He could run by a safety or a corner in a heartbeat. I think he was the fastest player at the combine, and he's got athleticism. He's a smooth, fluid, athletic type of guy. He's got good hands. Some people said coming out that he was raw as a receiver. I don't know if that's true. I think he's making great strides right now, in terms of running routes and catching the ball. Jim Hostler has done a tremendous job with him. I feel bad for the weeks that he missed with the injury. Where would he be if he hadn't missed those five or six weeks of practice? So we're just trying to get him to be the threat he's capable of being."

Are you proud that the Ravens' identity isn't just as a defensive team anymore?

"Our identity, in our mind, is a rough, tough, clean, disciplined football team. So that's all three phases – offense, defense and special teams. We're proud of the team we put out there on Sunday, for sure, and we're excited to see the team that we're going to be next Sunday. We have to get better between last Sunday and next Sunday to have a chance to even compete in this football game."

Is it tougher playing in a third straight road game or is it easier because now you're in a groove?

"It's irrelevant. Doesn't matter. We've got a road game this week playing the New York Giants. The comparisons, things like that, just don't have any value for us in looking at it that way."

What can you say about a guy like CB Samari Rolle, after everything that he's been through (injury, epilepsy, father's death), for him to get back on the field and play the entire game?

"Samari Rolle, he's a man that I admire personally – just getting to know him since last spring – for the person that he is and all the adversity that he's been through over the past year, year and a half, topping it off with what happened with his dad over the summer, and then the neck injury. And the thing that we had kind of joked about, last week we were going to keep Samari out of tackling as much as we could. We told the other 10 guys, 'Samari doesn't tackle. You guys make all the tackles, and he's going to stay out of it.' Be darned if the first play [on Sunday] isn't right at Samari, and he's got to run in there and make the tackle. And that's what he did. He came out of it OK. His neck was OK. He got a nice little contusion on his chest, but he got a good, big receiver down, and I think that speaks about the kind of person he is. He overcomes, he perseveres, he's a very resilient person, and we're proud to have him on the team."

What has Tom Coughlin done to make the Giants turn the corner and become the team they are?

"I think Tom Coughlin stuck to his guns. He fought through a situation where maybe it wasn't exactly shaping up the way he envisioned it shaping up. Maybe in some ways, he was able to adjust his style a little bit. But really, I don't know if that's true because they're playing the way Tom Coughlin teams have always played, if you look back at his history. And by playing that way they won the World Championship, so I think he's been Tom Coughlin and done a great job with that team."

Can you talk about the perseverance of the football team, being in the position they are now after going through a three-game losing streak?

"Right, right. I think it says a lot about the character of our team. Ray [Lewis] talks about it all the time. He talks about [how] character is shown in adverse situations, through adversity. And our players stepped up. There was obviously a time, probably, in their minds when they were wondering how this was going to go. But they didn't bat an eye. They went out there against Miami, when we were 2-3, losing three in a row as everybody here had pointed out, and overcame a tough road trip down there against a very good football team. It's turned out to be a heck of a football team, and won a tough game down there. To me, that was kind of the point where that showed up more than anything else. That's a good point."

You had seven penalties for 55 yards in the first half, but none in the second. Did you say anything about penalties at half time?

"It was magic. We sprinkled magic dust on them, magic penalty dust. We have to get better in that area. The thing, and I think one thing we're excited about, proud about, whatever, is, we haven't talked too much about it, but the personal foul penalties have evaporated. Not to say that that couldn't come up and happen again at any time, but I think our guys have been stronger in those situations and not allowed that to happen, not put themselves in a situation where they cost their team 15 yards. I'm proud of that, and I think they are too. And all the other little stuff, the defensive holding, the offensive holding, we just have to keep getting better technique-wise. When you execute good technique, you don't usually hold somebody, and those are the types of things we try to avoid."

Is your philosophy to tell your players to not lateral the ball after an interception and just stay with it?

"We just tell them if they do that, make sure they score, make sure the ball is not in the other team's hands. That's unacceptable; you have to protect the football. Ball security on defense, special teams, offense, it's all the same. Once we get the ball in our hands it's got to stay in our hands. But I'm proud of the fact that they did a good job of securing the football, that's for sure, after they got it back."

Yesterday RB Willis McGahee said that he gets momentum when he gets the ball more. Do you see that he is the type of back who gets into a rhythm with more carries?

"I thought he ran well the whole game, but particularly in the second half, Willis ran really well. He was putting the foot in the ground and getting up field and really running hard. So that was good to see. Why that happened, I'm not exactly sure. We'll have to keep watching. But I know that most good backs like the ball, and he's probably making the case to carry the ball more, which, that's what you want to hear as a coach."

Does it help at all that you're playing the NFC East this year because of your time spent in that division?

"I don't know. Maybe it's a help for them. I'm excited about playing those teams because we've gotten a chance to play them over the years. We've been in the Meadowlands many times, as a coach, and a lot of our players have been there before. It's one of the best places in the world to play. It's a shame they're going to take it down, I guess, at some point. So we're looking forward to going over there and playing. And when you play the NFC East, you play rough, tough football. You're playing four teams that understand that, and we like to think that's the type of football we play, too."

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