JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"OK, just want to welcome everybody. Thanks for coming. As you may notice that Kevin [Byrne] and I walked in dressed a little differently than usual, and [Kevin's wife] Sally is back there. We were together at the… Mark Burdett is back there, too. We were all together at Patricia Modell's funeral mass and luncheon afterwards. It was just a beautiful, beautiful ceremony down at the Basilica. David and John [Modell] did an incredible job with their eulogies, and it just kind of makes you remember how important family is. I think the Ravens are a family, the Raven Nation – the fans and everybody – are a family, and the Modells are just a great family. So, it was very meaningful to spend most of the day, really, with the Modells."
You said that when Derrick Mason was let go it was because you had young receivers in your pipeline. With the way Anquan [Boldin] has acclimated himself, especially doing things like he did yesterday, is that as much of a reason, too? (Joe Platania)"Yeah, I think having Anquan was something that gave us a chance to let some of the guys, you know, Derrick and Todd [Heap go]. Because you knew you had Anquan there with the young guys and Anquan being that kind of go-to guy that Joe [Flacco] could have this year and try to make sure that those guys kind of develop that relationship, and I think you'll see it growing. It was there early last year, and it's something we need to keep building."
Torrey Smith showed that he could run a variety of different routes. It wasn't just the deep route in this game. He had some deep ins and stuff like that. Have you seen more progression as a complete wide receiver from him in practice? (Ryan Mink)"Yeah, we've seen those routes completed a lot in practice, obviously, not just those. A lot of the intermediate routes, a lot of the quick-gain stuff, too, obviously he's catching in practice. So, he's catching the full offense. The full gamut of all the routes we run, he's running them, and he's doing a nice job of that. So, it was good to see it happen in a game, and that's what you want; you want to take the practice to the game. And it did show up on a big five-route on the sideline, and a big six-route coming in to get a key first down on a third-and-long."
Can you talk about Danny Gorrer stepping in and just playing really well? (Jim Forner)"Yeah, Danny Gorrer – I'm glad you brought that up. Danny played really well. Like you said, I thought challenging that pass on the sideline at the end of the game and getting that ball knocked loose, where the completion didn't happen until momentum had taken the receiver back past the marker, and we were able to challenge that and win that challenge because of the play he made [was crucial]. Early in the game, he got a little bit loose on Derrick [Mason] and gave Derrick a little too much room on a comeback curl-route to make the play at the sticks. After that he played square, he played tight to the receivers. And like we said, he's a technically-sound corner, plus he can run. He's got good hands, so he's done a great job."
You talked a lot about Billy Cundiff last year when he was going through his Pro Bowl season. It seems like he's been playing as good or better. Your thoughts on how he played against Houston? (Aaron Wilson)"Yeah, I think this game was big. There was a lot of wind blowing towards our bench, so sometimes that can knock some kicks down, but Billy just banged it right through there. In the fourth quarter, we felt like those were all going to be returnable balls in that end in the second half, and we got a couple of returnable balls, but they didn't. He kicked them, he pushed them to the right, and he moved away from the returner and out of the end zone a couple times. And then to make all five field goals, obviously, they weren't longer field goals, but they were in a tough crosswind, and we needed every one of those."
It was Bryan McCann's first game. What did you guys think of his performance? (Aaron Wilson)"Yeah, he did a nice job covering punts, I thought, as a gunner, and covering kickoffs on kickoff coverage. And then [he] had the kickoff return where he busted it up in there. He got caught on the back side a little bit there and got knocked off, but I thought he showed some good acceleration up into the hole there."
Was David [Reed] close [to playing], or was it just kind of, 'He just started practicing.'? (Aaron Wilson)"That's just what we felt like. David could have gone, I think, but since we had Bryan and he practiced all week, and David was coming off the shoulder, we didn't want to jeopardize him if we didn't have to. I think it'll be a good competition between those two guys. We'll just put them both out there in practice and in games and see who can earn the job ultimately. But, it's good to have two guys that can go back there and do that. We'll also have LaQuan [Williams]."
Was that also similar thinking for the third wide receiver spot? Obviously, LaQuan was in there a lot yesterday. (Ryan Mink)"Yeah, I think Cam [Cameron] had a couple packages there where he mixed LaQuan in there. We didn't see as much of Tandon [Doss], but actually, he's got some of that also. So, it's going to get real competitive real fast there at that wide receiver spot as soon as guys start getting healthy. And, it'll be fun to see where it goes. I mean, that's what you want as a coach. You want guys fighting it out in practice every single day, because that's how your team gets better."
What are some of the things the Texans did differently defensively when you were in the red zone? (Barry Barnes)"I don't think they did anything differently down there in the red zone. I think they did what they have been doing really well, and they've been stopping people. We couldn't run the ball down there; that hurt us. You like to be able to run the ball down there a little bit. The field gets a little narrower for the passing game. We had a nice screen pass where the guy made a nice play out there on Anquan [Boldin], and they had a lot of coverage in the end zone. We got to the 10-, 15-yard line, and the routes we tried to throw into the end zone were defended, and I thought Joe [Flacco] made good decisions not throwing the ball into those coverages, because that could have been – probably would have been – interceptions, actually. So, we have to get better in the red zone. We're happy with the field goals, but we're not happy with the fact that they weren't touchdowns down there those other times. I think we scored, what, twice down there? So, that's something we have to do better with."
Do you think that it's [the red zone struggle] a result of coming off a bye and not being loose? (Barry Barnes)"Nah, I think it's a combination of a really good red-zone defense, and we're not good enough down there yet. We haven't really been that spectacular down there all year. It's an area that we have to get better at. We'll just keep working it, keeping coming up with schemes. Really, it comes down to executing the things we do a little bit better down there."
Pernell McPhee seems like he continues to progress as the season goes on. He was in on Schaub a couple of times yesterday. Can you talk about how he has embraced the role of a third-down guy off the edge and what he has given the defense as a whole? (Dan Kolko)"Pernell [McPhee] gives us high energy. He is a really explosive player, as you guys know. He has embraced that role on third down, because that is what he has right now. But, he wants more. He is hungry for a bigger role. We tell guys [that] you earn that. You earn that by how you play, and I think he is on track to earn even more time out there. He has done a nice job."**
Can you talk about what Ricky Williams has brought to the team? He also has embraced his role and has kind of done it silently – you haven't heard much from him – but he has been a big part. (Ryan Mink)"He has been a big part. He has had some big runs for us. You see the run game, but one of the things you don't see is the pass protection part of it. We ran the sprint-pass to the right, where I think we hit Torrey [Smith] on the deep-eight route – the double-move eight route. They had a blitz coming off the backside that he was responsible for, and he cut the 'backer down, then stayed with that block and gave Joe [Flacco] just enough time to get it off. He's a veteran back. He's been important for us."**
Ray Lewis made history yesterday becoming the only player to have 40 sacks and 30 interceptions. Did you have a conversation with him and how does it feel to have him on the team? (Barry Barnes)"It feels good having Ray Lewis on the team, I can tell you that. It feels great having him on the team for all the reasons that we all know about. He got a sack. I think Ed Reed might take some credit for that because they double-teamed Ed and didn't block Ray on that one. Ed used up the blocks, and Ray made, obviously, a great play. Our guys will joke about that. Yeah, it's just a great career. He is doing things that are just indescribable. I think he is the greatest linebacker who has ever played the game – I have said it many times. I think he proves it. You look at his [16th] year, he is playing as well as he had ever played, or at least that I have seen in the four years that I have been here. I am not sure that he has ever played any better than this. What kind of statement is that? It's a big statement."
You have talked a lot about how Joe [Flacco] and Ray [Rice] have become leaders on the team. Was yesterday and example of Ray being a leader, and the halftime talk he had with his teammates, and then just being unselfish and getting Ricky [Williams] in there to get a chance to get a score when he could have certainly stayed in. (Brent Harris)"One thing about the stats, the second part of it, I don't think Ray worries too much about that stuff. You want your freshest back in there, and your freshest back sometimes has the best chance. I'm sure Ray could've carried it in on that one, but that's the kind of player he has always been. He has been a leader for us from the first day of camp. He talks to our guys all the time about execution – that's his thing. We're going to be physical, now let's make sure we execute. What does that mean? That means doing all the little things well and right. And he is on himself about doing that, too. He knows that he is not perfect either. The halftime thing I think was an extension of that and just an extension of the growth of the young players and really all of our guys. I think the communication in all three phases has been really good, but offensively especially, because we have been young there. The fact that those guys are communicating well with their coaches and with their coordinator and together, they are problem-solving. That's when you can make adjustments – when the whole group is problem solving together because they are all on the same page. We have to keep growing that way."**
Most people would consider your first five games as the toughest five-game stretch on your schedule. How pleased are you to go 4-1 through those five games, and can you talk about how you prevent guys from looking ahead? (Jeff Zrebiec)"It won't be hard to prevent our guys [from looking ahead]. Our guys will be looking ahead to Monday night. That's what our guys will be looking ahead to. From what I am told, we had a heck of a practice today – walk-through-type situation. Our guys will be looking forward to Wednesday – that's been their mindset. The toughest game we have on our schedule is Monday night against Jacksonville down there. When you go play on the road on Monday night, look at the numbers. It's a definitely a tough thing to do. It's going to be a huge challenge for us. They are coming off a great showing on the road against Pittsburgh. We know how physical that team can be and how physical they want to be. That's all we'll be thinking about."**
Did [special teams coordinator] Jerry [Rosburg] run practice today? (Aaron Wilson)"Yes, Jerry Rosburg ran practice. [He] did a great job from what I heard. I heard it was a little shorter. (laughter) *Just kidding."*
Is the schedule going to change this week – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? (Joe Platania)"No, we'll have a Thursday, Friday, Saturday week. We normally do Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Wednesday will be a bonus day for us. It will be more a walk-through-type practice on Wednesday – mental stuff."**
It's been a while since the Ravens have hosted a Monday night game. Meanwhile, I think this is the second time, in just as many years, that the Jaguars have had a Monday night game. Are you curious as to why the League hasn't given you a Monday night game? (Ed Lee)"Aren't we in enough controversy with the family right now, to get me involved with that? (laughter) We're happy to go play. Right now, at this point, we're happy to go play wherever they put us. Someday we'll have a big Monday night game. But, you know what? We had a big Sunday night game, and we have a big Thursday night game coming up. So, we've had some really cool-type games here and… This year it's good that way. One of these days, we'll get a Monday night game."
Have you had a chance to talk to Jim [Harbaugh] at all today about his little episode? (Ken Murray)"I have. (Reporter: "Can you relay anything to us?") Detail-wise? No. I can't. I'll stay out of that. I can just tell you this: I think I know who was right, but whoever was right or wrong, I know whose side I'm on. (laughter) I'm definitely taking sides – same side I'm always taking."
You've taken more handshakes in the NFL than he has. Is there any protocol as to… I guess the biggest thing with the handshake is… (Aaron Wilson)"You know what? Everybody's got a lot to learn. I guess, right now, he's 5-1. So, if the biggest lesson he has right now is how to shake hands post-game after a victory, he's doing OK."
One thing you guys talked about, as far as the Houston game last year, was the second half [and] not being able to get off the field on third down. Yesterday's game started out, Houston was 5-of-their-first-6 on third down. But then, after that, they were only 1-for-10. Was there anything specific that you saw from them as far as an adjustment, or was it just a matter of the defense executing a little bit better and getting off the field? (Luke Jones)"I think it was the latter. I think we got a feel for the routes they were running, and we just covered them a little better. That gave our guys time to get a little bit of pressure and get some hits on Matt [Schaub]. They got across our face, a couple times, on some quick-slant routes. [They] got inside a couple of coverages that we probably shouldn't have let them get inside of us on. They made some plays. That's what I remember; they made some plays. There's some real good, tight throws in there. After that, I think we just covered those routes a little bit better. Then we started getting a little more pressure once we started covering better. They were in a lot of maximum protection. Early in the game it was max protection – really in all three downs early. We were even getting some eight-man protection, two-man routes for most of the game. Once we got a little bit of a lead, they started… It was more six-man protection. I think we got [Schaub] moving a little bit off the spot, which took away some of his accuracy. That's a good team. I mean, that team – we said it last night – it's week to week in this league. They're going to win plenty of games. There's a good chance they'll win that [division] championship; they'll be in a fight with a couple other good teams there. But, we've got a lot of respect for that football team, and I thought they put up a heck of a fight. I'm proud of our team. The way we handled ourselves in the fourth quarter running the ball, playing defense, making some big completions, that was big for us. Putting a game away like that in the fourth quarter, it's really important to be able to do that against a good football team."
Physically, it seemed like Joe Flacco took some shots, Ray Rice took a couple shots. From the press box it looked like a very physical game from both sides. Are the guys OK? (Ken Murray)"Well, as far as the [physicality] of the game, you're right, it was really physical. They had a whole front seven of first- and second-round picks – high first- and second-round picks. I mean, that's a really talented front even without Mario Williams in there – really, really good players that want to be a real physical team – and they are. You've seen it before; this team doesn't give up. They play physical from the beginning of the game to the end of the game. The thing that was a little disappointing was our pass protection. You're alluding to Joe's hit, and I think Joe made some great throws, especially in that first drive, and he got hit every single time. And that's not good. I think it's a testament to Joe and his toughness and all that. We've seen it, but we don't want Joe getting hit like that. A couple times it was losing the one-on-one battle. A couple times we misidentified the protection because of some of the looks they gave us, maybe. But also, things that weren't that complicated, I think we can do a better. I think everyone would agree that we can do a better job that way. Now, at the end of the game we did a better job, but we don't need Joe getting hit like that. Were you referring to those guys being 'nicked' up at all? *(Reporter: "Yeah, just the fact that it seemed like they took some extra hard shots that were out of the norm.") *Yeah, I think they're OK. I'm sure they're sore, but there's nothing injury-wise or anything that should be an issue even for Wednesday."
Would you attribute some of the Texans' success, defensively, especially in the first half, to Wade Phillips and the change in philosophy and front that they use now? (Mark Suchy)"Yeah, I think a coach always deserves credit for what they're doing, and he's done a great job with those guys. They're not doing anything really that complicated scheme-wise, but I think he's done a great job of putting guys in position to do things that they really do well. He's got [Brian] Cushing in a good spot. He's got… Now, he's got [Connor] Barwin, and Brooks Reed did a good job, the two outside 'backers. He's got Antonio Smith playing defensive end. He's got a nice nose guard. That front seven is really well placed, and they play that scheme really well. And that's a credit to him. He knows how to mix those guys in."