JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming over. Obviously, not quite the same atmosphere we had last week sitting in here, and it's disappointing for all of us. We had a chance, obviously, as a staff starting early, early this morning – even last night – to go through the tape and study it and then as a team today. We just finished up with our corrections practice about five minutes ago, and we're moving on to St. Louis."
Was rookie CB Chykie Brown deactivated because there is another position you wanted to beef up?"Offensive line."
How long do you think WR/RS David Reed will be out with his shoulder injury?"I don't know. Probably three weeks, I would say. I don't know; I'm not a doctor. But, I play one at press conferences, right? (laughter) That's what it normally is."
How do you respond to the commentators who said the team was not ready to play in Tennessee?"It doesn't have any meaning or value for us, because we were ready to play. I hear that all the time, 'flat,' all those kind of words, and you don't know how to define that, because we were emotionally ready to play. All you've got to do is look at the effort. The effort was there. We played really, really hard. We didn't play really, really well – especially in certain situations. We didn't execute the way we needed to. People don't want to hear that, but that's just the fact. We lost a lot of critical situations. We lost on third down. We even lost on third down and got them to fourth-and-short, and then we lost on fourth down on defense a few times. We couldn't stay on the field. Time of possession was a big factor, red zone, turnovers and sacks. Those are all the things that are going to get you beat and the places we didn't execute very well."
Is there anything you can draw on from last season's loss the week after beating the Jets in a very emotional game when preparing the team to play in St. Louis?"I don't think you can count on it. You can't rely on it and say because we bounced back last year we are going to bounce back this year. We're going to have to make that happen. Our guys made it happen last year, but we're going up against a team that's playing tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing them play tonight. They had a great preseason. [They have] a great quarterback, really physical offensive line, three really good running backs. Their defense is playing really well, especially at home last year. [Their defense] gave up very few points at home last year. It's a loud place. We're going to have our hands very much full next week, just like every week in this league, and it's a one-week season – just like it always is. We say it all the time, and it's reality in this league. It's week-to-week. So, as good as we felt about our team last week, we don't feel so good right now. But you can't let that affect how you see your guys and how you see your team and overreact and those kinds of things, because I really believe everybody in the National Football League – especially this year – is a work in progress. And there have probably been more surprises this year than any year as far as who's winning and who's not winning and some of these scores. It's a work in progress, and our job is to do the best job of anybody in the first four or five weeks to establish what kind of team we're going to be going forward. This is the lockout-shortened year, and we haven't had all the time to figure out who we are as a team and who everybody else is."
Is the loss in Tennessee perplexing to you because you had an 18-1 record against teams with losing records?"No. That's just perplexing to you guys, because I don't make that statement. Because to me, it doesn't mean anything. Every week is a different week. So, it's not perplexing. There's nothing perplexing about it. We just didn't play well enough to win in critical situations. We didn't block the run game well enough. We didn't complete passes that we should have completed. We didn't keep the chains moving, you know? We didn't score touchdowns in the red zone. Similarly, on defense, we couldn't get off the field, and as the game wore on, that got to be even more of a factor. So, it's not perplexing. It's disappointing, no doubt about it, but that's how football is in this league. I'd love to see at some point in time… We're working for the point where we can roll out there every single week and just roll over opponents. But, we're not there yet. We're trying to get there, but we're not there yet."
Do you feel the team is good at putting losses in perspective and coming back the next week and playing well?"Well, that's the key – no doubt about it. The key is that it doesn't linger. We have to move on. Just like last week, we felt like we had to move on. We had a really good week at practice last week. If I could stand up here and say we didn't practice well and therefore we didn't play well, I'd say it. We practiced very well last week, and it didn't transfer into the way we executed on game day, which is disappointing. As a rule, that's going to transfer. So, our goal is to get prepared, get ready, get as physically ready as we can with the nicks and the bruises and things like that, but get prepared to play the football game. [We must] have great meetings and have great practices, and starting Friday and Saturday, start building up emotionally."
Why did you decide in the fourth quarter to kick a field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-11?"It was fourth-and-what from the what? The percentages aren't really good. So, I figured, let's get the three [points] right here. We've got about seven minutes left; we have all our timeouts. [We can] kick it down there, try to get a stop, and we've got enough time. If it had been fourth-and-six at the goal, then you're going for it. My thought was to go for it, but it got to be fourth and 11. That was a little too desperate. You can probably make a case the other way, but I don't know how better a case it would be."
Is there a time in the fourth quarter where it is set in stone that you need to go to the hurry-up offense? It was 23-10, and you got the ball back with 12 minutes to go, but you didn't change the pace at all. "We changed the offense. We were in our two-minute calls. We made our two-minute calls. We were down two scores at that point, and you feel like we have enough time. The bottom line is to get down the field and score, so we don't want to rush in there and be off the field and be punting again either. It's not like we had been moving the ball up and down the field. I think the fact of the matter is it worked pretty well, because we did move the ball down the field in that drive. To me, the important thing was to move the ball down the field, and you hopefully get the seven [points]. We needed seven really, and we did that, and we still had over seven minutes left, so we felt like we had enough time. It's not ideal. You don't want to be those kind of numbers down in the fourth quarter, but we feel like we are capable of coming back. No, we didn't feel like two-minute [offense] at that point was the best thing to do, because the priority was to get down the field and score points."
When the coaches are watching game film, is there a higher level of intensity and self-criticism after a game like yesterday's game?"I don't think it's a higher level of intensity, but it's definitely a higher level of… We're pretty critical even when we win, but it's got to be a higher level. I think there are more things probably to critique when you don't win. It's a fine line. That's why, to me, you can't overreact, because it is a fine line. Now, we got beat in every area, but the things that cost us those situations were very specific. To me, that's very encouraging. It's not like there are a number of things that we need to overhaul. We need to stay on course and we need to continue to grow as a football team. The things that cost us were very specific things – certain areas, certain positions – that I know we can get corrected. I came out of watching the film feeling a little more optimistic than I did last night before we had a chance to watch the film. Maybe that's just a glass-half-full personality, but I know our guys feel the same way."
Rookie WR Torrey Smith has gotten a bunch of game reps but has yet to record a catch. How do you feel he has developed?"He's out there to contribute. Joe [Flacco] hasn't gotten to him in read-progression for whatever reason. Every play is a little bit different. It's not like we're not throwing him the ball, because we don't think he is ready. If we didn't think he was ready to catch the ball and run with it, we certainly wouldn't put him on the field. I want to see him make catches as much as anybody, especially downfield, because that's what we brought him here to do. We just haven't gotten to him yet with it. That's something that's really important; we need to do that. We need to push the ball up the field. This offense is designed to do it. We have done it in the past. We threw more 'nine' routes last year than anybody in the National Football League, but it's not just throwing them – its completing them, it's making those plays downfield. That's part of the reason he is here."
With WR David Reed out for a couple of weeks, how important is Smith and WR Tandon Doss?"Those guys are the next guys up. Torrey is going to be important. Tandon [Doss] is going to be important. Obviously, with Lee [Evans] and Anquan [Boldin], those guys are going to be really important, and LaQuan [Williams] is going to be a big part of it, too. I'm sure those five guys are going to be playing, and they're just going to have to step up and make plays for us."
When you looked at the passing game on tape, sometimes QB Joe Flacco had a nice pocket and he was able to look over the field, but the players weren't there. Looking at the tape, was it the wide receivers not creating separation or what was it something else?"It's a lot of things. Sometimes they jump on a coverage that takes away our first or second progression, and all of the sudden he feels a little bit of pressure. Other times, maybe he didn't take it where he should have or could have based on who gets open – those kinds of things. I think all that stuff goes together. So, to sit there and say it is one thing or another… The protection was pretty good for the most part, but there were a couple of instances where it wasn't very good. On the left side, they hit us with a [stunt] game. They hit us with the end coming first and the tackle coming around, and it didn't come clean, but it got a little bit of pressure outside of the tackle. On the right side, they hit us with an up-and-under move that we should have handled easily. Those are technique issues in protection. They really didn't blitz us. I think they saw us handle blitzes probably like the week before, and they saw Joe hurt some blitzes the week before. Those are just technique things that are easily correctable. I think if we get more solid with those techniques, like we are capable of doing, Joe is going to feel more and more comfortable in the pocket. At the same time, Joe knows he has to be able to make those throws under pressure and be able to wait one half a second longer and drive that ball in. We have a concept coming open – give it a chance to get open. All those guys, every one of those guys, that's the first thing they will all tell you. They will all say, 'Hey, it's me doing this. It's me doing that. It's me doing the other thing.' [Offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] will say the same thing. It just has to be better across the board. To me, the bottom line is, if we play the way we practice in the passing game, we are going to be really good. Maybe that is part of where we are going right now and where we have to get, because when you watch us practice, it's efficient. We compete. It's tight coverage out there. We just have to take that practice and now take it to the game consistently."
Did it limit you and your staff only having one game tape of Matt Hasselbeck with Tennessee?"It didn't help us, because a lot of the things they did in this game we hadn't seen them do. We studied [offensive coordinator] Chris Palmer all the way back to his UFL days and even the previous teams he has been with in the National Football League. A lot of the things that we saw him do in our game have never really been a part of his system. I thought [Matt] Hasselbeck did a great job of taking a look at what we were doing and then calling plays at the line of scrimmage and getting them into the best play. When he didn't have it, he threw the ball away. That's what a 12-, 13-year veteran guy is able to do, and he did a great job of that."
How do you play defense against a QB like Hasselbeck who is playing well, throwing accurately and getting the ball out quickly?"You cover him. Bottom line, you cover him. And you mix up coverages, and you change up coverages. We can do a better job of disguising coverages, I think. Although a guy like that is pretty good at reading them, you have to cover their receivers. We hit him a lot, and we'll continue… That's like last year, when we got the three-step stuff. You'll go hit the guy, but the ball is probably going to be out. You hit some batted balls, that's important, but you have to cover their receivers. And we talked about it last week – and you guys saw it – they've got some talent. They've got some playmakers back there, but so do we. And our guys just play good technique. When we played good technique in the back end, especially on the outside, we covered him just fine. When we played bad technique, we didn't cover him. So, maybe that's a function of being young out there a little bit, but that's going to get better real fast."
Are the false starts from T Michael Oher something you're seeing on film or are we making too much of it?"No, you're not making too much of it, and nobody is more frustrated with it than Michael. There's no reason for it. It's illogical. It makes no sense. Michael Oher is a great athlete. There's nobody out there… There's no quicker offensive tackle in football than Michael, so he doesn't have to beat the snap count. And that's got to stop. We've said it before, and my advice to Michael is basically just, 'Slow down. Just slow down with your first set. When the ball is snapped, you'll set. Nobody is running around you. They're not going to run around you; you're too quick.' So, that's something that we have to get done."
Is it a concern going into next week that the team can't get that pressure or get those turnovers that they did the week before? "Well yeah, turnovers are huge. That, to me, is part of the fine line of football. You look at the difference in the game, the last game to this game, basically, everybody is playing hard and playing well. But turnovers were a big difference, and the sacks were a big difference. So yeah, turnovers are a big part of it. But, we're capable of getting them off the field and getting them stopped without a turnover also. Part of that is just defending a little better in the back end. That's something we just have to do."
How much advancement has G/C Andre Gurode made at guard and do you see, if need be down the road, him playing at the guard position? "Well, how much advancement, I don't really know how to measure it. But, he's getting better there. He never played that before, really. He's been a center his whole career; he's been a starting center. So, some of this stuff was different for him. The techniques [and] the angles were different, and that showed up in practice last week. That's why we decided to play Mark [LeVoir] at guard. And Mark did OK. I think Mark will get better, too. But, I think Andre is going to make a lot of progress real fast. He could be part of that equation real soon."
Coming off a disappointing loss, it should bother a player, but is there a balance that a player has to keep to make sure that he doesn't overdo it heading into the next game?"Yeah, you're right it does, it sticks in your… It does eat at your craw. But if they leave it in there, how do you put it aside and get ready for the next week? You can't let it bleed into the next week. You can't let it bleed into your preparation. Our guys are starting to prepare for St. Louis. So, whereas, fans and coaches emotionally, it's there. But, you've got to set emotions aside. You just intellectually learn the lessons, that the game taught us, and you start getting ready for the next week. And our guys have done that. If you look at our history a little bit, these guys, they know how to do that. But it's not a given. It's going to be a challenge this week, when we've got to come out and we've got to figure out how to get the job done."
Should there be a period of real soul-searching and self-evaluation to ensure that the same mistakes aren't made in the following week? "There's definitely self-evaluation. Soul-searching is a little strong. (laughter) Maybe that is reserved for some other things. But definitely, self-evaluation as far as playing. Our guys do a good job of that. Our guys take responsibility, both coaches and players. We all take responsibility. It's our performance. The same performance we took responsibility for against Pittsburgh, we take responsibility for against Tennessee. Both of those games are ours. That's who we are. We build off both of those games. So, we take whatever we learn and we take it to St. Louis, and we try to become a better football team."
Did you talk to your brother after his loss yesterday?"Yeah, we talked today briefly, a little bit. We just talked about situations and things like that. You go back, and you look at what you did. And he had some decisions and some choices that he made in the fourth quarter that he's trying to [decide], 'Was that the right thing to do?' That's just what you do. It's part of coaching."
How has WR Lee Evans looked on film with the sore ankle? Has he been able to do the things that the coaches expect or need?"Well, I think it's affecting him. There's no doubt about it; it's affecting him. We're going to have to take a real hard look at that. To me, if he can do the things that we need him to do, he'll play. If he can't, he won't play. So, we've been nursing this thing, now for a month, and I don't see it getting a lot better. So, either he can play like we need him to or he can't. Same thing goes for Domonique Foxworth. Either he can play or he can't. If they can't play the type of football we need them to play – because they're injured, no fault of their own, these guys are gutting it out – then they're going to have to sit for a while and get healthy. And we'll just have to see how that goes this week."
How do you feel about CB Domonique Foxworth, and are his issues technique-related or related to his knee recovery?"Well, it's technique, but it might be because of the knee. I can't answer that. Only Domonique can say, and I don't think he feels like it's 100-percent. He's said that before, and it's definitely showing up in the way he's playing. He's playing very, very conservatively, and he knows – we all know – we've just got to get that thing right if that's what it is."
Is there any advantage to being able to watch St. Louis play live tonight?"Well, you've got to put up with the commercials, so that takes more time than it would if we didn't have to. We watch TV copies, and you learn things from TV copies, too, but it'll just take a little longer. But it's good."
Would it be a big surprise to get NT Haloti Ngata a new contract by tomorrow?"I'm worried about football right now, so I'm not involved in contract negotiations. But thanks for asking." (laughter)