Ravens Defensive Coordinator Announcement Press Conference (01/26)


Head Coach John Harbaugh & Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison


John Harbaugh opening statement:

"Thanks for coming, good to see everybody. It's an exciting day here and something we were working on all through last week. You guys asked the questions, and we were in the process of trying to put together the replacement for Rex Ryan, and, of course, for Mike Pettine. Obviously, that's a tough task in the sense that we thought we had the best defensive staff in the NFL last year. We've tried to make it even better. That's been our goal – to try to make it even stronger as we go forward. Greg Mattison will be the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. I couldn't be more excited. I couldn't be more proud. We go back, obviously, a lot of years. Greg is a guy that I have full trust and belief in, not just because of the kind of coach Greg is. If you look at his track record, that's proven. He's been successful at every stop. He's been a coordinator at the highest level of college football, won national championships, done it all, really, at that level. But [also], the job he did this year with our guys... He established himself as a premiere coach in the NFL. If you talk to our players, they will tell you the same thing. They will tell you what an impact he had on them as individual players and our defense as a whole, and I'm sure Rex would say the same thing. So it's a great day for us, and we think we move forward. On top of that, Jerry Rosburg will be promoted to the assistant head coach. He and I have worked together every single day on a lot of administrative stuff anyway. He's a great coach, and he's going to make us stronger in that role. So, please make that announcement. Vic Fangio will move from his role as a special assistant, and he will maintain those responsibilities – all the things he's done for us. You guys know what the challenge is and the rules and all the different things Vic has been a part of in the background. We talked a little bit about it that day we had the media day, a couple of days ago, what Vic is involved with. A lot of that stuff will remain in place, but he will also take over a big role coaching our linebackers. I know it will be a big support to Greg, applying all the experience [Vic] has had over the years coordinating defenses in this league. Vic is going to be a big [help]. His role will be expanded from what he's been doing so far. Those are the major announcements. We'll open it up to questions here. Greg, anything you want to say or anything you want to add?"

Greg Mattison opening statement:

"I think the biggest thing is that I'm very humbled and very proud to be named the coordinator of the Ravens. It's a very exciting time. I think the biggest thing that I plan on doing is utilizing a great staff. Our defensive staff is out-of-sight, and we will work very closely together in making sure we keep moving toward that bar that's been established the way we play defense here."

Will you use the same defensive scheme as you used as defensive coordinator at Florida in your new role with the Ravens?(MATTISON)"I believe very strongly that you have to be aggressive, you have to be an attacking defense. Obviously, that's been the M.O. of the defense here for years. In looking at what we do defensively. We don't plan on changing a great deal. It's not broken, by any means. You mentioned Florida, it's the same in a way here – it's all about that room. It's all about the players in that room. And, it's all about the chemistry and about the players believing it's their defense. That won't change one bit. My job as a defensive coordinator is to keep that going and keep them knowing what it takes to play at that level and to keep them believing it's their defense. We as coaches are there just to get them to play the best that they can possibly play."

Coach Harbaugh, what made Rex Ryan special and what do you believe will make Greg Mattison as a defensive coordinator?*(HARBAUGH) *"That's a great question. Part of it is what Greg was just talking about right there. Any great football team, any great defense, any great phase in a football team is really a result of how the players play and the ability to have the players understand that it is their room, it is their defense, it is their football team. The guys on the field are the guys that make the difference. Rex did a tremendous job of getting the most out of his players and having them believe and trust in what they're doing, be accountable for what they're doing. And, those are the strengths that I've always felt that Greg had as a coach. Just through the years, the ability for the players to relate, to trust, to understand that the coaches have their best interest at heart and just want them to be as good as they can be. I think our defense will evolve in that way, just like we have in the past here."

Can you talk about the adjustment you made this past year going from college coaching to the pro ranks and the challenges you'll face as an NFL coordinator?

(MATTISON)"I never really thought about, 'What's the No. 1 adjustment, No. 2 adjustment?' I guess the biggest thing is they are men and they're professionals. In college, you have to bring a person from being an infant – teach them how to step, teach them where to place his hands, every little part of being a good football player – where in the professional level, they already know that. And your job here is to get them to do something that makes them even better – whether that's mental, whether that's psychological or whether that's technique. The thing I found out real quick is that these guys are like the best players you've ever had at the college level all in one. And, that was kind of a fun thing to learn."

How will being here one season as the linebackers coach help you in becoming a defensive coordinator in the NFL?*(MATTISON) *"A great deal. I think it would be very difficult to come right from college, especially at a place like Baltimore, a place where the defense – and all parts have – but the defense has played so well. I think you have to have been with those players and for those players to be able to see that you are going to try to do everything that's best for them and you are going to try to make them the best player they can be within their game already. I don't think you could do that coming from outside. So, that's been a real advantage. The other thing is, having coached the linebackers, you tie it all together. The thing that linebacker [coach] allows you to do is you have to know what the front four are doing, [and] you also have to know what the back end is doing because you're part of both. That's what makes it a lot easier to coordinate that way."

Can you talk about the selection process and if you looked outside the Ravens' organization in making your decision?*(HARBAUGH) *"Probably, conceptually, we looked outside the Ravens. We sat down with Ozzie [Newsome] and Steve [Bisciotti] and Dick [Cass] and had some discussions in terms of, when this thing was playing out, what would be the direction. I made a decision that the best direction would be to stay within, for a couple of reasons: First of all, we had great candidates in-house. And secondly, the chance to build on what we have in-house enhanced because we've got guys in the room that the players know, they trust, they believe in. Why start over in that sense? That was the thinking as far as staying inside. Then, what we did was we took the last week and went through a full process. We interviewed four guys – you know who the guys are – from A to Z. These were long, thorough, detailed interviews. And the thing that was so exciting for me was these four men had great plans for where we can go forward and how we can improve even as a defense, even from where we are. The things they can do better and how they can work together... Every single one of them expressed support for the fact that no matter who got it, [they'd support him]. They all thought it would be a great challenge; it was something they wanted. But, everyone of them said no matter which one of us gets it, we'll be in full support of the coordinator and we'll work together. And every one of them said the same thing that Greg said. We need to use all the other coaches in this room to the greatest extent we can. In other words, we all coordinate together in that sense. We use the strengths of every guy we have. And, adding Vic to the mix, in my mind, is a big plus in that. So that's how we went through the process."

Can you share your history as a coach and how long you've known Greg Mattison?

*(HARBAUGH) *"Right, right, 1984. Greg was already with my dad at Western Michigan, and my dad said, 'Why don't you come over here and help out a little bit?' The first year I was on offense and the second two years coached a position with Greg. Greg was defensive coordinator. I think I did outside linebackers, right? Those are the kind of things in football that are so meaningful. Those were those bonds that are built. We have those bonds throughout our coaching staff, and that's another reason why I think this is such a strong, strong move."

What does it mean for you to have worked as a coach with Jack Harbaugh and now with his son, John?

*(MATTISON) *"It means a lot, because in the coaching profession there's a great deal of trust assistant coach to head coach. I wouldn't be here today if John Harbaugh wasn't the head football coach. And, a big part of that was I had complete confidence in what he was going to do and how he was going to do it. So, I made the move from college to professional football because of him. I really believed in my heart that he was going to do what it took. That kind of thing and that kind of trust is what makes you as an assistant try to do everything you can to help him be successful and help the program be successful. If you don't have that, you have a problem in your staff and in the program."

Will Vic Fangio now be the coach of all the linebackers? Also, can you weigh in on George Kokinis leaving to become the general manager of the Cleveland Browns?

(HARBAUGH)"Vic will have responsibility for all the linebackers. Greg will obviously have a big input there, too, because you're talking about a big job. That's a value, as a coordinator, you get involved in coaching guys in drills and meetings and things like that. We'll set that up as we go with the quality control coach. How that sets up, that still remains to be determined. We'll have to figure that out. But, it will work well. And, George Kokinis. That's an area that's on the personnel side. I can say from the coaching side that our coaches and myself have great respect for George. You work with a guy every single day, and you get… That's an important role, and George has done a great job here for a lot of years. But, I just saw him this past year. The things we did in pro personnel with the players we added pretty much speak for themselves. Ozzie, obviously, is the decision maker. Ozzie puts the whole thing together, and we know what a great job he does. George was probably the driving force behind all those moves. George is the guy that does all that leg work and all that evaluation work. I've just been impressed with him from the first day on. He's in the division, so now he becomes our rival. He's a brother, but he's a rival. We'll be looking forward to competing against him."

Do you anticipate any other staff moves?

*(HARBAUGH) *"Well, nothing that we'd want to announce. But there are some people who have had some inquiries. We want to hold our staff together as much as we can, but at the same time, we don't want to hold people back unfairly from opportunities. We'll just have to see how it goes in the next couple of days. But right now, I'd say no."

Has Rex Ryan asked to interview any of your other coaches or will he take any others?

*(HARBAUGH) *"Essentially, that's the answer. Rex has got all he's going to get. Mike Pettine, obviously, was important to Rex, and we allowed that to happen. It's good for both those guys. But Rex is finished with the Ravens – as far as that goes."

Can you talk about the opportunity to become a coordinator with a team that has had so many of its defensive coordinators move into a head coaching position?

*(MATTISON) *"I never have looked ahead. My whole coaching career, I've never been one of those guys that [said], 'At this age I want to be here. After this job I want to do this.' And fortunately, there have been opportunities where you have to make a decision. But I've always been one of those guys [who felt that] your job is to do the best job you can do to make these players be the best players they can be. And whatever happens, happens. I've never had a dream that, 'Boy, some day I want to be a head football coach in the NFL.' I never had that. I don't know that when I first started coaching 37 years ago I ever said to myself, 'Boy, I can't wait to be a coordinator in the NFL.' It's just [not me]. I've always believed just do the best you can, and whatever's supposed to happen is going to happen."

If you are able to bring back all of this year's linebackers will you plan to stick to with the 3-4 defense or consider switching to a 4-3 defense?

*(MATTISON) *"If you look, we have both of those principles in our package already. Yeah, we're a 3-4 defense, but if you look out there you're playing some 4-3. One thing we will do in the next year, we're going to keep the package the same. There are too many good things in that, but we're also going to really study closely to make sure we're getting our best players in the best position for them to have success. I think that's something Rex did a great job of, and we'll continue to do that. Whatever that means, that's what will happen as far as putting the players where they'll have the success and the team will have success."

How might you tweak the defense? Is there anything in your mind right now that you can elaborate on?

*(MATTISON) *"That would be unfair to answer that right now because one of the things we're going to do when we get back from the Pro Bowl is we're going to go through every call that was made, every defense that was run last year, and look at and see what the reason [was]. If you looked at that defense, why was it run? What advantage did you get by running it, and were our players that ran that defense in the best position to have success? And, the next thing that we'll do it we'll watch it on film to see how did we execute that defense. After that's all done – that's what the offseason is all about – then we'll say, 'OK, these are all the defenses we're going to run and the things we're going to do the same.' Some of these, if we tweak them a little, they might even be better. But, to answer that question right now, it wouldn't be fair."

Is there a head coach you've work with who stands out and who you really learned something from?

(MATTISON) "I feel like I am probably one of the luckiest coaches to have ever coached over a career because I can honestly say that all the coaches I have worked for have been tremendous people, with tremendous character and great coaches. The first guy I ever worked for – and some of you guys remember – is Bob Blackman [at Cornell]. He was an outstanding coach, an Ivy League coach that went to the University of Illinois. I'll always remember, probably the one thing I'll remember most about him, is that he packed his hat in a game box that traveled with him. He had this hat he'd take out of a box, and I went, 'Wow, when you become a coach like this you have to pack your hat.' He was the first one. He was a tremendous coach. John's father, Jack Harbaugh, I think I learned toughness from him, how you have to coach with toughness but at the same time with fairness. Integrity. He had tremendous integrity. Don't bend the rules, don't do something that's going to give you a short-term fix. It's about the whole program. I've worked with Gary Moeller at the University of Michigan, and Lloyd Carr – tremendous coaches. Bob Davie at Notre Dame and then Ty Willingham. Ty Willingham was a tremendous person to work with at Notre Dame. And finally, Urban Meyer [at Florida], with his success and hard work… What people don't realize about Urban is that he is a tremendous head coach, but he is relentless worker. He's built that program and continues his success their because of how hard he works – and the recruiting part of it all. So, to put one thing that I've learned from anybody… I've been lucky to have all good head coaches to work for. I think guys that have coached as long as I have will look back to that [one] guy [and say], 'That guy was really a jerk.' I can't say that. I have really been fortunate that way."

Can you give us a take on Terrell Suggs' comments that he'd be all for a hometown discount with Bart Scott and Ray Lewis?

(HARBAUGH) "Hey, I'm on board. I know Steve Bisciotti is on board, too. We've said it before: We want all those guys back; we want all those guys back. And not just all the linebackers, we want all our free agents back. We think we have a special place to play. Plenty of guys have gone out and gone elsewhere and have not fared as well in their career. There's something about Baltimore, there's something about playing defense in Baltimore – and certainly, we think playing offense and special teams as well as we go forward – there's something that helps players be as good as they can be. We want to build on that, and we would encourage those guys, as we're talking to them right now, 'We want you all back.'"

Will you try to persuade your free agents and recruit them to stay?

(HARBAUGH) "Well we have. We can talk to them now until they become free agents – and we can talk to them once they become free agents also – but we're not limited because they're still under contract with us. We'll continue to have communication with those guys, unless I'm breaking some rule I'm not sure of *(laughing). *We can talk to them all we want. Yes, we will do that. We want then here."

Will you do any free-agent recruiting at the Pro Bowl?

(HARBAUGH) "We won't be doing any recruiting at the Pro Bowl. We'll be coaching at the Pro Bowl."

(MATTISON) "Please don't evaluate the coaching staff by the Pro Bowl. I've just been told we can run two defenses total, and they don't really play real hard all the time. So, please don't do that (laughing)."

Can you talk about coaching in the Pro Bowl and all that is means to coach there?

(HARBAUGH) "When you win the Divisional game, you know you're in a bowl. That's how you earn a bowl trip. Obviously, we wanted it to be the top bowl, the championship game bowl, but it's a great reward. It's a great opportunity to spend time with the guys that you guys are talking about – the greatest players in the game. You're with their families. We had a chance to do that for a few years in Philadelphia. Ironically enough, we'll be out there with the Philadelphia staff again. So, you spend some time with families, you get to know kids, you get to know husbands, wives, you get to know the whole deal. I think it really helps you in terms of knowing the league, knowing what guys are all about and being around the special people in this league. I know it's going to be a great experience for Greg and our coaches who haven't' had a chance to do it before. I am really excited for them to have a chance to do this for the first time."

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