JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Thanks for coming – in our new surroundings. Good to see everybody. Not much different than what we saw last night. Obviously, we are very excited about the outcome and happy with what was accomplished. The environment in the stadium was just really tremendous. The fans were really into it from the get-go, from before the game, and what we did with breast cancer awareness and the initiative there was really cool. The pregame was neat, and the National Anthem was awesome. I think our singer [Martina McBride] got a little surprised at the 'Oooo!' That was pretty neat. It was just a great night for Baltimore and a great night for the ladies."
In the run-up to this game, there was a lot of talk about the defensive identify that Rex Ryan created here. Considering how well your guys are playing now, what specifically in the defense has the [Chuck] Pagano fingerprint on it? *(Joe Platania) *"You've got to be careful about putting labels on any of that stuff. If you're going to put any label on it, put Ray's [Lewis] label on it. That to me is the thread that probably runs through this defense. There have been a lot of people who have put their fingerprints on it, so to speak, and a lot of people who have had a lot of input over the years. All the guys out there who have been a part of the Ravens' defense can take pride in that performance last night and understand that is how the Ravens [do] defense. That's what they remember it, as the best. But, Chuck has obviously done a great job. All the defensive coaches have. And, I'm proud of those guys and what they've accomplished across the board. Those guys played last night in just the way you want to see them play. It was fast, it was aggressive, it was physical, it was with abandon. Yet, it was with great discipline and attention to detail. To me, those are the things that make for great defense."
Do you have any further information on Tom Zbikowski, his symptoms and if he is feeling any better? *(Aaron Wilson) *"You know what, I have not heard anything along those lines. So, I don't have any information for you on that, sorry."
Is Ed Dickson the new Todd Heap? *(Ken Murray) *"No. No, they are two different people."
Ed Dickson filled Todd Heap's role. Has he filled it as well as you had hoped? *(Ken Murray) *"Yes. He's the tight end for the Ravens. Who was the tight end for the Ravens before Todd Heap? He's Ed Dickson. He has done a nice job so far, but Ed would be the first to tell you he's got a long way to go, too. [There were] a lot of passes that he could have caught last night that would have made for a monster game for him. Those are the kinds of plays that we expect him to make and he expects to make. And yet, he made a couple of those plays, too, so you know he can do it. I think Ed is going to be a really fine tight end here and the sky's the limit. And, I put Dennis [Pitta] in the same category – two young guys that are going to be a heck of a cannon here for a long time to come."
Are there guys who the bye week will help a lot? How optimistic are you to get Ben Grubbs, Jimmy Smith and Lee Evans back from injuries for the Texans game? *(Aaron Wilson) *"I am hopeful, heck yeah. We hope to get them all back. I'd probably be a little bit disappointed if we don't get them all back. I don't think you ever really know for sure with some of these things, but probably the No. 1 goal this week is to improve the health of our football team. We had seven guys out last night with injuries. That's a credit to the guys who played as well as they did."
Going into the bye week with a record of 3-1 and the Ravens at the top of the AFC North, how do you feel about where your team is going into the bye and the grand picture? *(Dan Kolko) *"I like being at the top as opposed to any other option. That's for sure. But, we'd rather be 4-0. We're not going to look back, but that's gone. All that's gone. Really, what you do is, you look forward. The measuring stick is getting better. The measuring stick is, 'Can we be a better team a week from Sunday, two weeks from yesterday, than we were yesterday?' That's the bottom line. And, we're going to fight to do that. That's with everything we do, including what we do in the bye week, and the rest we get. And, the things that guys do, including practice next week, is going to be geared to becoming a better football team. And that's not going to stop with the next time we play. It's going to be throughout the season. It's really not that exciting to talk about, but really, that's what it's about."
Jimmy Smith has targeted the week after the bye week as the time he hopes to come back. How anxious are you to see how your first-round draft pick will impact the defense, especially the secondary? *(Ed Lee) *"I am looking forward to seeing all these guys get back. I'm really looking forward to seeing Jimmy get back and play and really begin his development as a player. I hope that everybody will understand that is going to be his first game playing. When he comes back, we will try to work him in there in the way that it is best for our team and the best for him becoming the player he can become. We'll just have to see to what extent that is and when we get into that situation."
You said in the past that Sergio Kindle was not good enough yet to play. He was good enough to be active last night, or was there a need for another pass rusher? *(Jerry Coleman) *"Well, we had seven guys injured. So, all the healthy guys were up. That was really the main thing. But, we think he's a very good player. In the context of what I said, hopefully you guys will put it in context, it is always a competitive situation. So, the guys that were active were bringing more to the table than he was – at this time. He's a young player. He did a nice job in kickoff coverage and ran down there hard. He had a couple of plays at the end and really brought it in the pass rush. So, that's a good first step for him to get his feet wet, and it will be fun to see how he can respond to that, because sometimes when you play a game, now you've got a little different perspective as far as practice and developing your game a little bit."
Changes in the CBA limit full contact in practices, and some national commentators have concerns that some teams have not been able to develop an aggressive style of play on defense. What are some of the things you are able to do to adjust to the new rules and still prepare your defense to play aggressively? (Barry Barnes) "The first thing is the players. You have physical players – guys that like that kind of football. We have a bunch of guys who like football, first of all, and we have guys who like to work hard – guys who understand the value of putting in a good day's work. But the bottom line is good players playing hard. That's your goal as a coach: put the best group of players together you can and just try to mold them into the best team that you can. We like rough, tough guys here, and we've got a team full of those guys."
Can you talk about Joe Flacco's ability to extend plays like last night when he ran around and was able to step up and complete a first down pass to Ray Rice? How has that evolved or was it just natural for Flacco? *(Ken Murray) *"I think part of it is natural. To me, that's Joe's ability. It's unique to Joe. It's something he does really well. He's got his own style of doing it. He's very athletic. People that want to stereotype him – I think some people did in the draft – as being not so athletic because he's so tall… He's broken that stereotype time and time again. He is an athlete. He can move, he can change direction, and then he can throw on the run. He made some real strong plays on the run. We've got to get better on the back end. Our guys, our receivers and our running backs [need to get better]. Ray had a good example with the one he made. But, he had the chip block on Jimmy Leonhard coming off the edge, then released out, and Joe started scrambling and he got himself open and got the key first down. That's the kind of thing we need to see, and I think our receivers have to catch up with Joe – and tight ends – in that respect and make that even more of a viable weapon for us."
The Jets have a very good defense, but there was a stretch in the game that Joe Flacco seemed to hit a cold streak. What did you seen when you watched the tape today in that sequence? *(Aaron Wilson) *"It was a variety of things. It was very good defense, for one thing. A defense like that pressures you into those kinds of things. We saw that on both sides. That's kind of what happened. That was just sort of the theme of the game, no doubt. But, there were times when our guys were covered. There were times when the pressure got to him and he had to move around and throw it away. I thought he had some good throw-aways in those situations, and there were times when some balls, because of that, just weren't quite on the money. He probably made some tough, really amazing throws and then had some other throws when it was like, 'Man, that's probably one he thinks he could put on there 99 out of 100 times, and that happened to be the one.' So, I would say it was all those things kind of strung together over that stretch."
Why do feel Flacco's completion percentage is down? Is it because of new players or because he is throwing more balls away? *(Ken Murray) *"All those things are a part of it. It's partly new guys who have not probably grown into our… I don't mean to say easy completion place yet, but that's something you grow into, where you have those routes with those guys where that timing is right there and it's things guys just have a sixth sense about. We've got to work into that. We've also thrown the ball downfield a lot. We threw the ball downfield a lot in this game. We took a lot of shots in this game. We took a lot of shots, in that question you had [earlier]. A lot of those incompletions where shot plays where they're high-risk/high-reward-type of plays as far as low probability of completion. But when you get it, it's a touchdown. All those things go into it. I don't think we're too worried about it. We want the percentage to be higher, but you can be 70 percent and averaging four yards of completion or something like that. We're not really interested in that. We want to attack people as well."
**Is it encouraging to you that Flacco is throwing the ball around a lot more this year to different receivers and not just getting locked in to one or two? *(Lamont Williams) *"Yeah, I think that's a good thing. We don't want to just be relying on one receiver or two receivers. We've got a bunch of young guys, and to me, that frees Joe up – and Joe's always felt this – but I think it frees him up even more to go where the defense dictates. You take the ball where you're supposed to take it, and that's challenging too, because the defense is doing everything it can to make sure that you can't understand where the ball is supposed to go. So, that's always going to be a fight back and forth."
**LB Jarret Johnson was saying after the game how one difference this year with the defense is more guys are getting rolled through, and he's coming off the field at times. How important do you think that has been, just the depth and playing more guys? How vital has that been to the defense's early success? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Well, it's been very important. We do have more depth, we do have more pass rushers, we do have more run-stuffers. And, I think our younger guys, the guys who were young last year, have kind of moved into those roles, so they can actually play more plays as well. And then we've just got a rookie class that's ready to play, and that's been a big plus for us. So, hey, the fresher you are out there, obviously the faster you can play. So, it's good to play all the guys – you get maybe 21 or 22 defensive players, and it's good to play them all."
**Given the youth at wide receiver behind Anquan [Boldin] and the new tight ends taking more of a role this year, how crucial has Ray Rice's play been? At times, he's kind of carried the offense. And do you ever marvel at his ability to juke guys out of their cleats and make a play when it seems like nothing is there? *(Dan Kolko) *"I'll tell you, I marveled at that catch he made across the middle. When we ran that crossing-route and he had a defender just draped all over him, and Joe put it in the only place he could put it, and Ray reached out and grabbed it, and then managed to pull away, and then make three guys miss and get up the sideline. He's a legitimate, premier playmaker in the National Football League; he really has been since his rookie year. So, that's a guy that is a staple for us. He's an anchor for us, and he's been doing it again this year, as you say, while these other guys continue to develop."
**Andre Gurode has filled in very well at left guard, but after the bye, assuming Ben Grubbs is back, does it become a challenge trying to work Gurode in there, or do you need him as that swing guy on the interior who can play both guard positions and center? *(Luke Jones) *"Yeah, well I think he's another starter for us. And you have to have more than five starters; that's been proven this year. You look all around the League, even last night for the Jets. So, I think he's a guy that can play as an extra lineman, he's a guy that can play center, he's a guy that should be able to play left guard or right guard for us. And that's invaluable. I think you look at the acquisitions that we've made on the offensive line right before the season started and where would we be without those guys? Those guys have been huge for us."
**Coach, you're getting off to a lot of fast starts, [outscoring your opponents] 52-7 in the first quarter so far this year. Is there anything you can attribute that to? *(Ryan Mink) *"Yeah, we scored 52. And we gave up seven, unfortunately on the… I think it was the kickoff return, right? So, we're going to look at that. We're not happy about that. It should be 52-0, and we'll probably look at the ones we didn't score that we should have scored in the first quarter and just say, 'It's not enough.' The point is, you're always trying to get better. And the fact that we've started fast, and maybe more so than we have in other years, that's a good sign, but it doesn't guarantee anything. But the idea is to get the lead and keep the lead, so we'll try to continue to do that."
**How much did the injuries in the back end last night affect the way you wanted to play defense? *(Ken Murray) *"Well, I'll tell you, it'd be hard for me to point and say it was a problem. But we were down to six defensive backs when 'Zibby' [Tom Zbikowski] got the concussion. So, I'm impressed with the fact that those guys stepped up and played so well. We didn't play Chykie [Brown], so we were really playing with five at that point. And Danny Gorrer played very well. 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] obviously stepped up and played very well. I thought Cary Williams played like the starting corner that he is, I mean, he was in great position all day long [and] very competitive. When you take away the quick game, and your corners don't have to make a lot of those plays, but they throw a couple slants and you break a couple of those slants up, that makes a big difference, because that takes away something that is tough to defend. And the corners have to do that for you."
**Another defensive back, Bernard Pollard, getting the start yesterday, I know that was big for him. He really was happy about getting the start. How much has he come up and helped out, particularly in run coverage? *(Ryan Mink) *"Bernard is just a physical presence out there. He makes his presence felt, every single play. Whether he's blitzing, whether he's coming up in run-defense, but also in coverage, he was a factor in coverage back there. He played very well. I think he's really starting to learn our system, coverage-wise, back there, and it's obviously… It showed up last night, he played really well."
On the kickoff return touchdown from Joe McKnight, you saw [Albert] McClellan run down and get blocked. Did other guys get out of their lanes, or is he obviously just a good kickoff returner? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Well, yeah, we didn't fit it very well at all. I would say it was poor kickoff coverage. We had a safety get too deep on the right side, we had a safety on the left side get completely ear-holed, but there were two inexperienced guys who have never played kickoff coverage in the National Football League before playing safety for us, and they were both out of position badly. They double-teamed Brendon [Ayanbadejo] right at the point of attack and then peeled back and knocked him out of the play. It was a tremendous block by their guy. Albert made a bad decision on the wedge; he got walled and kicked out on the wedge, and that's where the ball ran – between Albert and between Brendon. And then the two safeties weren't there to make the play, and it was Billy [Cundiff] all by himself. So, it wasn't lack of effort; it was great execution by them, but it was poor coverage by us."
Can you say that last night's game against the Jets can be chalked up, with Joe Flacco's struggles, that he just went up against a great defense that made adjustments in the second half, and you probably won't have to face a defense like that again this season? (Barry Barnes)"I'd like to be able to say that. That'd be the convenient thing to say, but no, we probably wouldn't be satisfied saying that. That's part of it, no doubt. We have to play better. That is always a group effort. You look at the tape, and there are so many great things on offense, so many things you are excited about. I am pretty excited about the fact that we had the ball for 12-and-a-half minutes in the fourth quarter. I am excited about the fact that we ran the ball 24 out of 28 times – that's the time of the game that you really want to run the ball and be able to get first downs. Even then, we would have wanted to get more first downs and not let them have the ball at all in that situation – finish the game out. We can do better in every area, and every one of these guys – Joe, Ed Reed, Billy Cundiff, everybody – is going to look where they can get better."**
Are any of the young guys going to stay here during the bye week or is everybody going somewhere? (Ken Murray)"I don't know. We'll find out. We haven't taken a poll about who is sticking around, but certain guys have to stick around because of the rehab-type injury stuff. I think a lot of guys will stick around – probably more the older guys because their families are here. Most of the real young guys like to get back home a little bit unless they are married."**
When do you plan on cutting them loose? (Ken Murray)"We cut them loose today."**
Are they already free? (Ken Murray)"Well, I don't know. Are they out of the building yet?* *We had a conversation with the key veterans and also with the coaches. I'll tell you, nobody likes practice more than me. *(laughter) *That's proven out to be true. But, our guys do like practice. They are not afraid of work, but really with our numbers, we just didn't see a way we could put together a viable practice with our numbers. The rehab is more important, I thought. We think the practices really would have done us more harm than they would have done us good in the next two days. Now, if we could have practiced like Thursday or Friday or something like that, it might have helped us a little bit, but we are not really allowed to do that. I think we will be better off by taking the week away. Guys will still be training, they will be lifting, this [the facility] will be open. I'm certain, knowing our guys, that they will train hard with the cardiovascular stuff, and the rehab stuff will be probably the most important thing we do."
Is this the best time you could have had for the bye? (Ken Murray)"It really is with the number of injuries we have. Normally, you like to have it kind of in the middle, but where we are at injury-wise right now, it is the best timing we could have had."**
How has Terrence Cody's evolution, as the starting nose tackle, filling in for and succeeding Kelly Gregg been in that spot? (Ed Lee)"I think Terrence is becoming… Is he becoming dominant in there? He dominates in there quite a bit. He is big, he is athletic, he is moving so well, he stays square, he doesn't get cut off, he doesn't get reached and he makes plays. I know you put him in there with Haloti [Ngata], and I think our linebackers appreciate having those two guys in the middle."**
Before the season, you said that this team would be a work in progress, obviously many newcomers, many new veterans, and couple that with all the injuries you have had. You are 3-1 with two conference wins against two projected playoff teams, or at least in the hunt. How exciting is that for you going forward once you get those guys back and healthy, as far as the ceiling for this team? (Luke Jones)"It's exciting. We told the guys today, and I really believe this, we are only going to get better, but getting better is a choice. We will decide if we're going to get better or not based on how hard we decide to work. If we do the things we need to do to stay strong and overcome adversity and all that stuff… There are 1,000 things that go into it, but I am excited, and I am proud of our guys, yet, hey, we have a long way to go."**
What's on the menu Sunday as you watch the Houston Texans play, as you get ready for them? (Barry Barnes)"What's on the menu? I don't know, maybe some chicken wings, French fries. *(laughing) *But, I will be watching the game, no doubt. I am sure all of our guys will."
What are the coaches going to do now? How are you guys going to approach the bye? What's on your agenda? (Ken Murray)"We're going to do two things: We're going to do self-scout; we'll take a good day to do that. We'll kind of be doing it all parallel with Texans work, so we will take the next three to four days working on Houston and then working on self-scout – studying ourselves and tendencies and things like that, and really areas where we can get better. We built both of our schemes for the first four games, so we will have to kind of take a look now and see, 'OK, what do we like, what don't we like, what do we want to add?' and kind of look at the next four weeks and see what kind of broad package we want to put together."**
Do you always do that? (Ken Murray) *"I think you always do that at the bye week, yeah. I think you do. You kind of assess where you are at."*
Did you talk to your brother this morning? (Mark Suchy)"We voicemailed. My Dad, my Dad talked to him back and forth. Where is he at? He has the information. There he is back there. He is translating for us." (laughter)
OLB Jarret Johnson
On his assessment of the defense's performance against the Jets:"I mean, we've had a lot of big games here, especially in the last 10 or 12 years. But, that was as good a defensive performance as I've been a part of. After watching the film and seeing it, and seeing the things that were going on – you know, you only know what's in your own window when you're on the field – but going back and watching the tape, there was some huge individual efforts – big plays all over the place, extremely physical. It was an excellent defensive performance."
On how he assesses the defense as a whole now that they are a quarter of the way into the season:"I mean, we've really just shown the potential we have, but it all matters on where we go from here. We've shown how dominant we can be, how versatile we can be. We have a ton of depth. But, it all depends on how we handle this bye week and what we do going forward."
On how he is adjusting to being taken off the field for certain plays with the defense substituting a lot:"It's different. It was a big adjustment this year because we're rolling and subbing. It's kind of weird now because it doesn't matter what personnel group they throw up, I'm usually just trotting out on the field. Now, I'll get out to about the numbers and I'll look back and think, 'Oh, wait a minute,' and I have to come back out which is kind of weird. But, it's definitely an advantage for our team being able to roll guys, keeping guys healthy and keeping guys fresh. Rushing the passer is probably the most exhausting thing you could do on the field, so when you're able to get fresh guys in all the time it's nice."
On how RB Ray Rice compares to other players in the League:"He's an elite back. He's as good as there is in the League. He's… Obviously, his quickness, his lateral movement, is what scares defenses the most. He gets any amount of green grass, and I mean a yard, and he can make you miss. But, he brings it all to the package. He's great out of the backfield. He's great in pass protection; you saw how physical he was picking up a couple of those blitzes yesterday. You really can't say enough about Ray Rice. The more he touches the football, the better we are as a football team."
On what he sees out of NT Terrence Cody this season:"Last year, Terrence was the epitome of a rookie. He talked about Alabama all the time. (laughter) He was a rookie, you know? This year, man, he has worked so hard; he looks great. I think he's playing at a weight that's perfect for what he does. He's moving around, [and] he understands the scheme of how to play run defense. Everybody thinks you just take a big strong guy and stick him at nose tackle and he's going to be good. That's just not true. You've got to know how to play leverage. You've got to see the backfield and how to lean which way to anticipate the block. He's learning all that stuff, and he is light years better than he was last year."
On whether he notices a difference in how many blockers are getting through because of Cody's contributions:"You know, that's the standard here. With Haloti [Ngata], obviously, Haloti does a great job. Kelly Gregg was as good at taking on blockers as there is in football. I'd say Cody is doing as good a job filling in where Kelly left off."
On whether he talks to LB Ray Lewis about the Ravens' Super Bowl-winning defense and whether he notices any similarities:"Oh god, we have an unbelievable respect for those guys. I mean those guys… When we talk about, you know, the Ravens' defense and the history we have, it all started with those guys. They set the bar, and they set it as high as you can set it. We're just trying to match that. We're trying to beat that. It's tough to do; they had a lot of really good veteran players. They had some extremely physical guys and they had a great scheme to go along with it. You know, you never set out to match anybody. You want to be your own self, but you know, if we play anywhere near those guys, we're going to be a good defense."
On whether he thinks the victory over the Jets sends out a message of dominance throughout the League:"We're just wanting to take one week at a time. We want to dominate one week at a time. We've done that in three games – we let one fall – but we have to realize, going down the stretch, is that they're all not going to be blowouts. We're going to be in some dogfights coming up. We're going into a tough 12-game stretch coming up, and you know, we're going to be in some battles. This Houston team, coming up, they're as good as there is in the League. The way their defense is playing, they're a scary football team. So, we've got to get ready to go out and not expect to blow everybody out. We've got to go out and win some dogfights."
On what it was like to be running down the field without anyone chasing him to score his touchdown:"Yeah, it happened so fast. I honestly thought I was picking up an incomplete pass, you know, just doing it to be safe. But, I'll take the touchdown." (laughter)
On whether he is concerned about how the team will react when in a close game:"No, no, no. We've got a ton of veterans. Hell, I can't tell you how many dogfights I've been in. So, we know what to expect. We just have to know they're coming. We're going to have to win some games in the fourth quarter coming up. So, you just got to get ready for it."
On whether his responsibilities at OLB have changed with Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator:"No. They're the same."
On whether last season's game against Houston has come to mind yet:"It always does. It shows how good of a team they are. You can't relax. We had them up – what was the score, 27-3, 24-3, whatever it was – and we came out and their defense picked it up. [They] got a couple three-and-outs, and then we couldn't get off the field. I mean, we went five-straight drives of 10 plays, 15 plays, and that's not winning football. I don't know how many snaps we played in the second half, but it was way more than we needed to. With that team, once you get them down… Well, first you've got to get them down, and then, once they are down, you have to keep them down because they've got a ton of talent, especially if [No.] 80 [WR Andre Johnson] is healthy."
On whether the injuries in the secondary put more pressure on the pass rush:"I mean, you can say that. There's always pressure on the pass rush. There's always pressure on the back end. I mean, everybody's got pressure. If they're struggling on the back end, then yeah, it would help to hit the quarterback more."
On whether he appreciates the bye week more now that he's older:"Oh my gosh, it's not even close. I mean, when you get older… First of all, Wednesdays are brutal because you're more sore. You know, when I was younger, Monday you're a little sore, Tuesday you're feeling better, and Wednesday you're ready to go. Now, on Wednesday I'm still feeling it. So, to have a bye week is huge. We're going to take advantage of this bye week. We're going to rest. We're all going to get three or four good lifts in, get some good cardio in. I plan on taking full advantage of this bye week."
On his first thought when coach Harbaugh gave them the rest of the week off:"Shock, first of all. *(laughter) *I think it was a very wise decision. It's easy to say we're just going to work because that's… We're just going to work. We're going to grind, grind, grind. But, that just shows the maturity of coach Harbaugh and this team to say, 'Ok, what's really best for this team?' You've got five DBs right now. You have a lot of guys that are banged up. How much production are you going to get out of guys who have been in the League eight or nine years by two practices where you're not even preparing for an opponent [and] you're just practicing? I think it shows a lot of trust on our coaches' part, because they know we're going to go home and we're going to work out. We're going to keep in shape and do as much as you can to improve your body going down the stretch. But, I was pretty shocked."
On his personal plans for the bye week:"I'm going to stick around for a day or two, get some treatment and get my first lift in here. Then I'm going to go on back to Florida."