**JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Obviously, [we are] coming off a tough loss yesterday and [are] disappointed by that. It was a hard-fought game. If you go back and you watch the tape, the thing that stands out is how hard every one of our guys played and how hard they played when the score was not in our favor. And to me, that's a measure of their character. It's a measure of who we are as a team. So, you take that away and that's very positive. [I have] nothing really different [to report] from what we saw after the game, other than more specifics. Watching the tape, [there are] probably simpler issues than we thought, in some ways, and things obviously we can do better at. But, just as far as responsibility for that game, to me it's on me. We were not in position to win that game. We didn't put our players in a great position to win the game. We obviously weren't ready to handle their scheme, their intensity, the crowd. All the things we were up against in that game, we did not do a good job with, and I take full responsibility for that. So, that's where that is at. We've got nine games left. We're leading our division. It's going to be on our shoulders. It's going to be our opportunity to see what we can do with those nine games, and we're going to attack those things with 'an enthusiasm unknown to mankind,' to quote a great coach. But in the meantime, this week is going to be good for us. We had good meetings today. We had a good lifting session for most of the guys. We had a very good walk-through. We'll have a very good practice day tomorrow, and then after tomorrow we'll get our guys out of here. We need to rest; we need the recovery. We're going to heal up a little bit. The bye week comes at a great time for us. It's right about mid-season. That's a big plus for us, and we're going to take advantage of it."
**The work ethic that you've always shown and the determination that you show to move forward, is there a part of you that wishes there was a game this week? *(Joe Platania) *"There's no doubt, when you have a game like that, you want to get back in as fast as you can. You want to play. You want to correct it and make it right, right away. We don't really have a chance to do that. That's what is going to be tough. We are going to have to read about it, we are going to have to hear about it, we are going to have to think about it [for two weeks]. It's a difficult thing. It's hard, but it's OK because that's the kind of stuff that makes you better. You can't achieve anything without going through some adversity. Nothing great is going to be achieved without adversity. So, the opportunity that presents us now is the opportunity to get better and become whatever it is we are going to become. We are going to find that out."
John, a day later, is it still a rib contusion for Ed Reed? And how did Haloti Ngata and Kelechi Osemele come out of the game as far as soreness? (Aaron Wilson)"It seemed like everybody came out of it well. We don't have any serious, any major, injuries coming out of it. K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] was out there today. Ed was out there. Haloti was out there. So, we were very fortunate with the injuries."
John, last week you said you didn't know what to expect with Terrell Suggs. He came out and it looked like he played well; I don't know if you felt the same way. He played a lot of snaps, too – more than half of the snaps on defense. Seeing him play so much and play so well, does that kind of change your expectations for what you might get from him the rest of the season? (Matt Vensel)"I don't know if I really put a level on it. I just felt like Terrell Suggs was going to be Terrell Suggs whenever he came back. I didn't know that he'd be able to play that many snaps, in all honestly. For him to be able to play 44 snaps is really something. I don't know if that has ever been accomplished. To come back from an Achilles tear at that stage of the offseason and to come back this quickly, and then to play the way he played, it's probably unprecedented. The credit goes to him and it goes to our training staff for what they accomplished – pretty remarkable."
**John, what were some of the issues that stuck out to you from an offensive standpoint? *(Matt Zenitz) *"First of all, handling that front [and] handling that environment. Those are things that are going to be difficult and challenging. Probably, if you look at it realistically, we are probably in the process of determining exactly what we are going to be able to do on the road and in a tough environment against a really, really good team, a really good front. That's maybe the best front in football right there – their front seven. And, [we must focus on] how we are going to have to balance out run and pass, how we are going to have to balance out the up-tempo, no-huddle, the communication, the 'check-with-me's' at the line. What's realistic for us to be able to accomplish and what's the best way to go win a football game? So, when you push the envelope like we are pushing it a little bit, sometimes it pushes back. And to me, that is part of the growth process. You try to do that as much as you can by winning games and figure that stuff out. We did it this game by, obviously, not performing well at all. So, I like to think we learned a lot in that game."
What have you learned from Joe [Flacco] in terms of the way he's played and prepared at home compared to on the road? It seems like he's been a totally different quarterback. (Jerry Coleman)"The results for all of us have been different. We're all a part of that. That's something that we all have to deal with. You never put it on one guy. We all take responsibility, and every one of us has done good things, and every one of us has done not so good things. It goes for Joe, too. We all have to be better on the road; that's something that we aren't happy with right now."
When you look at the film, did you see Ray Rice on the first drive had three carries? Then he didn't have any carries or touches for the next few series. Is that something that the Texans took away, or did you see something that made you move away from that? (J. Michael) "No, we could have stayed with the run a little more patiently. Once they got the tip-ball interception, we felt like we needed to try to get back in that thing a little bit more quickly because of the type of team they are. We probably all say we could have been a little bit more patient with the run – whether it's Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce or whoever it is. We want to get the ball in all of our playmakers' hands. We probably didn't do that like we wanted to – whether it's screens or handing it off to Ray [Rice] or pushing it downfield to Anquan [Boldin] or whatever."
You talked before during the bye weeks about self-scouting and looking at your own team halfway through. A) Are you going to do that this week, and B) Is there anything specifically that you will be looking at in your own eyes? (Drew Forrester) "Yes, we'll do that. I was going to cross-check it, but I don't think we are going to do that now. We are just going to hone in on our own side of the ball, and then, for me, it will be watching all three phases. I've been through all three phases from the game last night twice and probably will go through it again. I will probably go through every game this week on my own, and then get a chance with all the coaches. I've met with all the coaches already separately just to get a feel of what everyone thinks and get everybody's ideas. [I've] talked to a lot of players already, talked to a bunch of players already this morning just trying to get their thoughts. To me, the more information … This is one thing that Steve [Bisciotti] has taught me. The more information you can gather from as many possible sources to paint the picture and then get an idea of where we're at, and then make a plan going forward … I don't want to be too vague on this, but it's kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what we're going to do, because we don't know yet. We have everything we need – we have all the players we need and we have all the scheme we need. Now, what we have to do is organize it in a way that gives our players a chance to play their fastest and their best under pressure, on the road – against good teams and at home. We're going to have to go play Cleveland on the road in a division game. We always have tough games in Cleveland, and that's going to be a critically important. That's a must-win game for us. One of the things scheme-wise [is we must] let's get in the laboratory for three days here as coaches, and let's figure out the things that we feel like we can do the best in that game and then for the next nine games to be the best – to go out there and give our guys a chance to play the best they can play. That's what I mean by not doing that this week. I didn't do a good job of making decisions that put our guys in position to play well in that environment. We have to do a better job of that."
*Coach, give us your impression of [Dannell] Ellerbe's play and [Jameel] McClain's play. *(Robert Klemko) "I thought they were pretty solid. There were times where we overran some gaps. We got a little too anxious and ran by Arian Foster, and he cut back on us a couple of times. That's probably the biggest issue we had. They can slow down a little bit, stay behind some blocks a little bit better, and we probably would have been better off. That's the kind of back he is; he's probably the best in the league in the cutback stuff. They both did a good job in pass coverage. I'd say that assess it pretty well."
As far as the first game without Ray [Lewis] and Lardarius [Webb], how do you think that went, and how do you think Jimmy Smith, in particular, played? (Aaron Wilson) "Jimmy played well, except for the double moves. He did a nice job, but you can't get beat on double moves; he knows that. That's going to be his issue going forward. You have to try to find a way to cover those stop routes but still be on top of the deep routes. Corey [Graham] did a nice job in the slot; he was solid in the slot and played well."
As far as the first time not having two key guys, how do you think that went?* (Aaron Wilson)*"The result wasn't like what we wanted it to be. There's more to it than that. We just have to continue to improve. Every team around the league is a work in progress. I'm amazed by … The Texans get beat 42-17, and then they come back, and they win 43-13 – both times I would like to think against good football teams. It's that kind of a league, and we have to understand that. We have to put this behind us, take everything we can from it to get better and go play our best next week."
After watching the tape, how would you evaluate how Bryant McKinnie performed in his limited work? (Ryan Mink) "He got hurt. He's had a little hip flexor issue that came up during the game. That's all he played once he came out with the hip flexor, so it wasn't that many plays to really evaluate."
**Coach, how did Sergio [Kindle] handle the news [of being waived], and a reflection on how things went? I know you were here when he was drafted. *(Jerry Coleman) *"He was good about it, actually. He understands. He's really determined to be a good football player in this league. We are going to see if we can get him back on the practice squad. We'll see how that goes. There are some tough choices to make there. We still think he has a chance. We really think there's a possibility that he can grow into a player, because we've seen some glimpses of it in practice."
Could some of the defensive struggles affect some of the offense's philosophy, and that may be not to hurry up as much on offense because the defense has been on the field a lot? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, it could. That's something that we probably have to look at and kind of get a grip on. The other way you could look at it is you are going to go out and try to score as many points as you can. How do you perceive that? I'm not looking at it either way, because I have confidence in our defense. All three phases work together but also stand on their own. We want all three phases, like I've said before, to play as well as they can possibly play. We want to score as many points as we can without turning the ball over. We want to shut people down without giving up big plays. We want to play great special teams, and in doing that, we want to keep pressure on our opponent, keep them down in their end as much as we can and play field position football. That's the big picture. How we use the tools that we have to make all of those things work is what we have to come to grips with, and that's something that I have to make some good decisions about."
Bryan Hall and DeAngelo Tyson were both helping out yesterday with some of the injuries. Will they get more of a look now? (Aaron Wilson) "As you know, they were both up in this game because of the injuries, and they both did OK. They both did pretty good, so they probably merited some more opportunities."
Just as a whole, how would you assess the defensive line's play at this point? (Matt Zenitz)"A work in progress. We're not where we've been in the past, obviously. We've been a dominant run front. We've been able to play the run with seven in the box and pretty much dominate the run. We're not there right now. So, that's what we've got to work towards."
You're almost at the midway point of you season. We've seen enough to know what you are and what you're not at this point in time. On the heels of big loss, it's easy to make a knee-jerk reaction, but speaking specifically defensively, is it time for changes in the way you do things or in personnel? (Mark Zinno)"There are always going to be changes. It's just a matter of what kind of changes are you talking about. Are you talking about drastic changes? Probably not. It's not like we're going to change to some other kind of a defense. We've got our structure, but what we have to do is we have to adjust it. We have to realign some of our rules, as far as gap control against the run or how we play coverages and things like that. Personnel-wise, there's not a whole lot you can do, really. I like our players. Our players are most definitely good enough to get the job done, and we'll just continue to improve there. Does that mean young guys? We're going to keep developing the young guys, and as those guys emerge, sure, they are going to get an opportunity."
Do you feel that the team missed more of Ray Lewis' abilities on the field as a tackler and playmaker vs. his communication – putting guys in the right place? (Robert Klemko)"You always miss Ray. Ray Lewis is Ray Lewis. He is one of a kind. He's a one-of-a-kind player, he is a one-of-a-kind leader. He is just a special person. So yeah, we miss him. We can still play great defense with the guys that we have. So, how much do you miss him? It's not really worth putting a weight on, I don't think. It's not something that we really have a choice in the matter on."
Is there a communication gap or lack when he is not out there? (Robert Klemko)"Those guys are young guys. They don't communicate the same way Ray does, sure. That's something that we have to work on. That's one of the goals we had today when I talked to the team. We talked about five things – don't ask me to recite them off the top of my head here. I think I could; I know I could. But, communication was one of them. That's a big deal."
With penalties, is that something that's kind of balancing act as you want guys to be aggressive, but you don't want to give up big yards? Can you coach against that? (Garrett Downing)"Yes, you can coach against penalties, and we always want to do that. We had five [penalties] for, I think, 64 yards. I think that's what it was. There were a couple of them that weren't really that necessary. So, we've got to keep working in that direction. Can I add one thing to that? Give credit to the offensive line. The pre-snap penalties and the formation penalties, those had been eliminated from the week before. We had been having a lot of trouble with that, so to go down there in that kind of an environment and not have the pre-snap penalties was a big plus, and that was something that was a goal of ours."
The no-huddle offense has kept Vonta Leach off the field a little bit more than he is used to. I think he saw 14 snaps yesterday. How is he handling that being the professional that he is? Do you envision using him a little bit more? (Kris Jones)"We want to use him more than that – absolutely. He is handling it like a pro. He and I had a talk on the plane about it. He was great, but he wants to play, and he knows he can help us. He wants to be out there. You can't really guarantee that you're going to do this in one game and that in another game, but on average, Vonta Leach has got to play more than that. There are going to be some games where maybe he doesn't play as much. I'm not defending what we decided to do in that game or what we didn't decide to do – it didn't work. We tried to get back in the game, and it didn't work. But yes, Vonta is a big part of what we're doing."
Despite all the gloom and doom, Justin Tucker looked great again. (Mark Zinno)"Keep him humble. Except for the onside kick … That was one that I'll be on him about, but he appreciates that. No, he has done a great job. He has done well."
Coach, you were talking about the defensive line earlier. Can you assess where the offensive line is at this point of the season? (Ryan Mink)"We're a work in progress. I'm not going to put a grade on it – it's just not what we do. We've done some really good things, and we've done some not so good things. Even in that game yesterday, we did some really good things, and we didn't do some good things. So, we've got to get better – all of us, every position, really."
Coach, have you considered making any changes on the offensive line? Bryant McKinnie only played a little bit, but you shifted some players in and out.* (Matt Vensel)*"That's a possibility. I don't want to make it sound like … We're not benching guys and putting other guys in there and all that kind of stuff. To me, that wouldn't be a fair description of what we're doing. On our offensive line, we're just trying to find a good mix. To me, guys are probably going to be playing since we have a mix of young guys and older guys. I would guess we're going to roll some guys in there and see how they do. Let's take a look at some young guys and see how they do. Let's keep the veterans available and let them play a little bit. Yes, we'd like to have five guys who are rock solid and who are in there and working with everybody all the time. It's really just not where we're at right now. So, let's make the best of it and let's work some guys in there. If we get hot with a group, then we'll stick with it. But, [we're] not shutting anybody out of an opportunity right now, because we're just not sure what the best situation is going to be, and it might be rolling some guys in. Houston does that. A lot of teams do that, so we could do that, too."
What is the key to kind of moving on after a big loss like this? (Garrett Downing)"The key is probably moving on after a big loss like this. *(laughter) *The key is reacting, but not over reacting – understanding that there is opportunity in this whole thing, that it's a 16-game season, that it's a tough league, and if you get so enamored, self-centered around your own situation, then you kind of miss the forest for the trees. And this is just part of the process of building a football team. So, as we're building a football team that we hope becomes a great football team by the end of the season, these are the kinds of things that you've got to work through. And there [are] not too many teams, at some point in time, that don't have these types of things to work through. This is the worst score that we've had, but we've played worse games, and we're just going to have to take the good, build on that, eliminate the bad, and get better."
Along those lines, what is the correct balance in terms of this bye week – mentally getting away from the game, but also focusing on some of the things that you want to improve on? (Evan Washburn)"What we're going to try to do is break it up, and the CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] helps us do that, so it gives us an early work week. We're going to take advantage of that, we're going to work tomorrow – we worked today – we're going to work tomorrow. We're going to put a full day in tomorrow, and then we're going to get away, and that's the kind of balance that we're looking for right now. And there will be a lot of guys coming around, probably working out, getting in the training room through the course of the week. But we really want them, after tomorrow, to get away, get with their family, get rest [and] get recovery. I told them it's OK to get a workout or two in – that's allowed – and then we'll be back here Monday."
What will the bye week look like for you? (Kris Jones)"I don't know yet. We'll see. I haven't made any plans. Actually we're going to … I better not say where we're going on Saturday. But we're big fans of Gettysburg, so we might head up there one time over the weekend. But we'll get away over the weekend. Thanks for asking."
John, when you have a loss like yesterday, does it give you a good chance to remind the guys that a win is a win, no matter how you get it; like the week before against the Cowboys? (Drew Forrester)"That's a great point; it's a great point. And a loss is just a loss. No matter how bad it feels, it's only one. They can't make it any more than one, so that's kind of what we talked about yesterday. We're 5-2 – we're not satisfied with that – but that's what we are. Everybody can say what could have been, what should have been, [but] there are teams who are 2-5 who are saying the same thing. Where are we going from here? We've got to try to get the next win."
On a serious note, the league has made a big issue about reporting injuries after what happened with the Redskins and the Bills. With Ed Reed, they are reportedly taking a look at your game tape. What is your reaction to that? (Jerry Coleman)"I have no problem with that – the game tape and the practice tape. So, they'll look through that, and what they'll find with Ed is that he's practiced 100 percent all the time, and he's played in all the games, he hasn't missed any game time because of the injury. So, our understanding of the rule has been that if they don't miss any time at all according to the injury, then they don't have to be on the injury report. So, there are some nuances there. [Senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] was a part of writing that, I've been told. [Former Ravens head certified athletic trainer] Bill T. [Tessendorf] was a big part of writing that, and [executive vice president/general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] has been a big part of writing that. So, I'm very confident that we understand that rule as well as anybody in the league, and we've kept the injury report very tight. We've kept it to the guys who have to be on the injury report. Not that we're trying to hide any injuries, but we could do what some other teams do and put a bunch of guys on there, and I'm just as happy to do that. We could put all the guys on the injury report, so if they'd rather us do that, we'll do that. Whatever they tell us to do, we'll do. We're trying to follow the rules."
John, are you pleased with the progress you've seen from rookies like Courtney Upshaw and Kelechi Osemele and Bernard Pierce and Justin Tucker at the midpoint of the season? (Matt Vensel)"That's a great point. We have a good rookie class, don't we? I mean, it's a good group. So, Courtney is getting better every single week; he won the game ball last week for defense. Kelechi speaks for itself; he's started every single game. He had the ankle [injury] and then he comes rolling back out there in the second half, gutted it out, and played pretty darn well. Bernard, you've seen his talent. Bernard is a guy – talking about the running game and getting the ball in Ray's [Rice] hands a little – that's something we need to do with Bernard, too. We need to get Bernard out there more. We need to get him some more carries and touches, because he brings a different little style. Christian [Thompson] has played on special teams; he's done a great job on special teams. Who am I missing?"
Gino Gradkowski, Asa Jackson, DeAngelo Tyson … Some of the guys that you see every day that we haven't seen a lot of? (Matt Vensel)"Gino has been active every game, so he's in the mix as a backup guard. I really think he's ready to play if his opportunity comes. Asa has been growing into the thing; he was close to being active this week. He's working in the slot, so that's a possibility with the injury to Lardarius [Webb] that he could see some time. And DeAngelo played this week – did a good job, played well. And Bryan Hall is another younger guy who played pretty well. So, it's good to see how those young guys come out in the next couple of weeks."
John, did you talk to Bernard Pollard on the sideline yesterday? He appeared to be pretty upset. (Aaron Wilson)"No, there was nothing that came to my attention about that. He's a fiery guy. He's a competitor." * *