HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY ZOOM PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. What questions do you have?"
As far as QB Lamar Jackson goes, do you expect him to practice and play this week? (Jamison Hensley) "I'm looking forward to that. We'll see as we get to Wednesday and see where we're at with that."
What does it tell you when you see a player on any team changing their performance with a different quarterback in the scheme? This year, TE Mark Andrews has played with three different quarterbacks this season, and his performance remains the same, or even gets better at times. (David Andrade) "It's certainly a testament to Mark's [Andrews] ability. I do think the really, really, really good players and great players, like Mark is – a great player, make players around them better, too. So, it really doesn't affect their play too much too often. Mark is that kind of a player, and he's playing exactly the way I expect him to. I'm really pleased with how he's playing."
Obviously, yesterday's game, you took a couple hits at cornerback, and you were playing guys that you sort of just had to elevate. Do you anticipate getting some corners back this week? Or is that something you guys are going to have to look at this week and see if you can get more guys in there to solidify the cornerback position? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We have some guys coming back from [the] COVID [list], so that should help us out."
Has there been any update regarding CB Anthony Averett's status moving forward? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, he has some rib issues. It'll be just a matter of whether he can move around and play with it. We'll probably see later in the week – see how he's feeling and how he's moving."
We obviously saw DT Calais Campbell play yesterday, but not play as much as usual. Was he still struggling with the hamstring throughout the game? How did he come out of it? (Childs Walker) "He came out of it well. As far as the effect of it, you'd have to ask him about that."
It seemed like TE Mark Andrews, WR James Proche II and those types of guys were in kind of workman-like mode. Whether it was picking up first downs, tough catches, YAC [yards after catch] yards, whatever it was, and instead of maybe pointing for the first down or celebrating, they're getting right back to the line of scrimmage. Is that the type of thing you can appreciate as a coach? (Bobby Trosset) "Sure, those guys played well. I appreciate you bringing that up and mentioning that. I thought our young guys … A lot of the young guys stepped up and played well in the game. The outcome of the game, I'm certainly not happy at all with the results of the game, but certain guys got opportunities, and they did a good job. We were in no-huddle mode; they were trying to go fast. We were trying to get back in it, so there was really no time for celebrating. I'm definitely not in favor of seeing celebrations when we're trying to get back on the line and go fast, to your point, which is a good one. So, those guys did a nice job. Hopefully, they can build off of that, and I expect them to."
You guys have had to play three different quarterbacks this year. QB Josh Johnson had to play on short notice, and yet he's also played well, like QB Tyler Huntley in relief. Does that say anything about quarterbacks coach James Urban and the job he's done this year? (Cordell Woodland)"Absolutely. Coach Urban [quarterbacks coach James Urban] has done a great job. Coach Roman [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] has done a great job, all of the coaches have on offense. I'm really happy with the way those quarterbacks have played, but we can get better. We're going to be chasing … It's not really where we sit around and we say, 'Oh, everything is great. Everything is good,' because it's not good enough. Josh [Johnson] did a great job. The guy comes in here; he's been here for a little over a week. To play the way he played and to understand the offense, just to get us out of the huddle and get us lined up was an accomplishment. To get the cadence call was an accomplishment. That's not easy. That's really challenging, especially in an environment like that – it was a playoff environment. So, I think you have to tip your hat to him and to all the guys that work with him and around him, starting with Coach Urban, for sure. Now, we have to keep getting better. We have quarterbacks … Hopefully, we'll have Lamar [Jackson] back. Hopefully, we'll have Tyler [Huntley] back, and we'll still have Josh. So, those guys will all be working this week to get ready for this game."
When you bring up a lot of practice squad guys, as you had to, and in particular in your defensive secondary … S Tony Jefferson II, CB Kevon Seymour, CB Daryl Worley, CB Robert Jackson – these guys are experienced NFL football players. What is the impact of them coming aboard at this point in a season, and how hard is that for them to perform and for you to coach? (Mark Viviano)"The challenge of it is, is guys are coming in that haven't really been in the system. You basically have practices for a reason. So, you've got the offseason, you've got training camp, you've got accumulated experiences throughout the course of the season, with games and adjustments you've made and reps that you've had that those guys probably weren't here for. So, you kind of go back … You have to kind of go back to square one and say, 'OK, this is how we play the coverage; this is how we play these routes; this is how we work together,' and there's just not going to be as much shared understanding of what you do. Now, a guy like Tony [Jefferson II] has a little advantage because he's been here in the past, so he's been with us before. So, he had a pretty good understanding of the system; I do think that showed up. But a lot of the other things … There are going to issues with nuances and little things that make the difference. I mean, the difference is inches. The difference is split seconds, in terms of making a play or not making a play. And that's probably the biggest challenge that you're referring to right there."
You're going to face WR Cooper Kupp, who's receiving numbers have been off the charts. What do you see as the biggest challenge in trying to contain him? (Jamison Hensley)"The biggest challenge is the whole package. First of all, he and Matthew Stafford have an amazing understanding of what to expect from one another. I think they read body language really well, because of all the time they've had together this year. It's just two very talented guys, who I think are kind of, sort of made for each other, if that makes any sense. And that offense is definitely built around their connection. So, we're going to have to do the best we can with that, and I expect us to do well, but that's going to be a huge challenge. Nobody's stopped those guys yet. So, it's what they do in terms of adjusting on the run, reacting to coverages, reacting to leverages. They just do a really good job of it."
This time of year, you often share your messaging with us. One thing that comes to mind is the narrowing of focus. What is your message now with this two-game season that it's turned into down the stretch? (Bobby Trosset)"[It's a] two-game season – that's really the message. It's just a matter of us playing the best football we possibly can right now. We believe we have everything we need [and] we have everybody we need, and now we need to go out there and play our best football that we're capable of playing, and that'll be enough. So, we have enough, and it will be enough. We've just got to go do it. We've got to focus on that. So, there's really no focus on anything else. We're talking about the fact that there's no yesterday, there's no tomorrow; there's no previous play, there's no next play. We're not wallowing in anything that happened or celebrating anything that happened. We're just trying to learn from it and take it to the next play and play the next play as well as we can."
Reading the comments from the players after the game yesterday, they were still talking about that they are very confident that there are still things to achieve with this season, and they feel like if they get to the playoffs, you guys could get hot. Did you sense any deflation from them in the moments right after the game yesterday, or did they seem to make that turn to look ahead right away? (Childs Walker)"They made it right away. I mean, [they were] disappointed, but you can't afford to be deflated. There's just no time for that. I know our guys are in a good spot that way. They understand that, they believe it, and they know it's a tough fight. You just look around the league; everybody's in a tough fight. There are a few teams that have been able to kind of get on a roll, and there's always going to be a few hot teams. But our situation is what it is, and we've just got to do the best we can to play the next play the best that we can, and our guys have a good understanding of that. I appreciate that about them. They're going to be in here tomorrow. They'll be ready to go to work, and we'll do our best to get as ready as we can for the Rams. And they're coming here, they're playing good football, and we've got to be ready to go."
Your offense scored a touchdown on its first drive of the game for the first time since Week 6. It looked like up-tempo may have been playing a factor in the success. Is that something you plan to utilize in these final two games? (Kyle Barber)"Of course. Yes, that'll be a part of it. Sure, absolutely."
There's some suggestion yesterday that you weren't happy with how the last couple minutes played out. Is that an inaccurate take by people? And did you say anything to Bengals head coach Zac Taylor about your feelings on those last couple minutes? (Jeff Zrebiec)"No, I don't really know where that's coming from, and I don't necessarily appreciate having to address 'there was a feeling out there' kinds of questions. I think that's kind of absurd. I don't know where it comes from, but [Bengals head coach] Zac [Taylor] and I had a good conversation, just like we always do. We always have good conversations. There's mutual respect there. Everything's fine."
Are there any COVID-19 restrictions that you have in place this coming week at all? (Kevin Richardson)"Yes, we've got a lot of COVID restrictions in place. As far as what they are, I know that I've got this (shows his mask)all around the building right now. If that will change, we'll see. But we're going to do whatever the league tells us to do, in terms of whatever the protocols are, and they pretty much let us know every day."