JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"Just finished with Jamal [Lewis' Ring of Honor press conference]. That was great – hope that went well. Obviously, congratulations to him. Obviously, he is somebody that we as Ravens are very proud of, his career, what he was, accomplished and what he has meant to the organization and to the city of Baltimore. As far as us, we've been through a day now with the guys. Guys have been here most of the day – coaches and players. We had a chance to go through the tape, study the tape as a group, had team meetings, group meetings, position meetings. Most of the guys have gotten a lift in. We were out at practice and worked through some things. So, we are moving on to New England."
Is there anything you and your 31 fellow coaches can do to kind of maybe expedite the process with the officials and the league to resolve their differences? (Joe Platania)"No, there really isn't. That's out of our hands. We do have confidence in the league in the way they approach the officials, both in the short term and the long term, so we'll trust them to take care of that. We'll focus on our jobs in getting our teams ready. That's what we'll do."
Now that you've had a chance to watch the game, in terms of the short-yardage situations, what did you guys see in retrospect about the run/pass selection? (Aaron Wilson)"We threw the ball on anything from third-and-1 to [third-and-] 4. We threw the ball. That's what we did the week before. There will be times when we run the ball. A lot of it was they were stacking the box against us, and when they do that, we had some options in there to throw or to run. A lot of it was call passes – all things that we have a lot of confidence in. I feel good about that, and we're going to make most of those, but we didn't. [I'm] disappointed about the fact that we didn't convert those."
After looking at the tape the last two plays when you decide to throw and not run, in retrospect, you said it was a fair question yesterday. Now that you've had a chance to review the tape, do you still feel like it's something that maybe you looked back on and could have run the ball? (Jerry Coleman) "You always look back on it. Anytime it doesn't work, you look back on it and say, 'Wish we would have done something else,' maybe wish we would have had a different play called, a different pass. Maybe we wish I would have called a timeout. We could have gotten reorganized and done some kind of a shift. Maybe some kind of a run would have popped through there, maybe it wouldn't have. Pretty sure if we would have called a run and it hadn't gone, you would have been wondering why we hadn't thrown; we all would have. That's fair. It's always part of the conversation. It's something you study. No two situations are ever the same. The next situation is going to be different. It could be a different front; it could be a different coverage. We will do whatever we think gives us the best chance to convert. The thinking at the time was we are in a fast-break mode. I felt like we had them scrabbling. Sometimes in basketball, you have to make a decision. When you get a chance for the last shot, do you run it down there and go, or do you call a timeout and set up a play? We've been doing that fast-break mode quite a bit here through training camp, and I had a lot of confidence, and I felt good about that. But, it didn't work out this time. I do like our players in situations where they have opportunities to do some things; most of the time that's going to pay off for us. I really, really … You go back and watch the tape, the thing I feel really strongly about is our players. I feel really strongly about their heart, their effort, the physical level of the play, and a in a tough environment the way they competed, the way they handled the pressure. Most times, as we go forward here, as we build this, especially with this young offense, that putting it in their hands and giving them chances to make plays is going to be the thing to do. But yeah, you go back, and you look at all of that and you certainly do second-guess yourself."
Was it in Joe's [Flacco] hands or in Cam's [Cameron] hands, or who made the call? (Jerry Coleman)"That's the kind of offense we've played. There are options out there. I'm not going to say which way it goes as far as how we do it. Those guys are a collaboration [effort] in terms of run/pass, pass/run, that sort of thing, and we want to keep building in that direction."
*Was crowd noise a factor at all in the second half with the way the no-huddle was negated or kind of tabled at all? *(Drew Forrester) "Crowd noise is always a factor in a stadium like that, especially when the game got close. I don't feel like it was tabled; we were still in it to some extent. Our pace was what we wanted it to be in terms of if we were more in run/pass. We were at the line calling plays quite a bit, and we were in huddle a little bit."
Can you tell us about the performance of Justin Tucker? First game on the road and his performance was great. (Bill West) "Justin was great. He did a great job, but next week is a new week, so we will hold his feet to the fire, continue to do that. The thing I like about 'Tuck' is he's workman-like. He really pays attention to detail, technique. It's never too big for him, so he's off to a good start. In this league, there are always challenges."
**Do you think it's a good thing for this team to turn the page and look ahead to your next challenge, which is New England, and just a tough loss to take, but look ahead to the next challenge? *(David Ginsburg) *"You're exactly right. That's what you always have to do, and our guys understand that. [I] had a chance to meet with the Leadership Council, and that's exactly what they said. You're never going to forget it. What we want to do is take this … Anytime you lose – and other teams that lost this week and last week face the same thing – it creates an opportunity because it forces you … When you win, you look at everything really hard and you try to build on it, but when you lose, that sting, it really forces you to dig deep – all of us. It's just human nature. To that extent, if we can make the most of that, if we can take this week and make the most of the fact that we didn't win the game, even though we had opportunities to win the game – we didn't win the game – and find ways to do a lot of things better and grow as a football team, in the long run, that's how you get to where you're going. That's how you build what you are trying to build. So, we are going to try to make that into a positive that way, come back swinging next week."
Couple of things: How is Bernard Pollard feeling today? Will he be able to go next week? And also, just the progress from [Albert] McClellan and [Courtney] Upshaw, seems like they've made improvements from Week 1 to Week 2. (Aaron Wilson) "Well, we will see about Bernard. He's got a little rib deal in there. It's just going to come down to him and how he can deal with that pain. He is a pretty tough guy. The outside 'backers played pretty well, for the most part. If you look at the downside, we had some issues in coverage. We jumped some scrambles, jumped some routes occasionally, but they both set the edge well. They were both very physical out there, applied some pressure in pass rush, so there were some good things."
How do you think the offensive line played, especially in the second half? (Garrett Downing) "The offensive line played pretty well. At times there were one-on-one matchups that got us a little bit in the second half, especially that were pretty good players rushing against some younger guys, which is going to be part of the learning process for some of those guys. We will keep building off of that."
Why do you think Brent Celek was able to have so much success yesterday, and how much is that a concern going against Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots? (Matt Vensel)"Definitely, that has to be addressed. We didn't do a good job of covering him, obviously. It wasn't so much that the tight end, per se, got free, it was more issues with our coverage, with the way we handled some of our basic coverages. For different reasons, different coverages that are fundamental coverages, we got skewed a little bit. We got skewed chasing some routes. We got skewed chasing Michael Vick scrambling at times. It created imbalances in our coverage, and they took advantage of that with their tight end. Also, a couple of other times some other guys got open."
John, seemed like a tail of two halves with Joe Flacco, at least from a statistical standpoint – 14 completions in the first half but only 99 yards. Was it a concern that there was such a short yardage per completion and he wasn't able to extend it down the field more? (Mark Zinno) "It's always a concern. You want yards per catch, no doubt, and there were reasons for that. There's no question about that. We'll look at those things and try to correct them and try to overcome some of the strategies that we were dealing with during the course of the game and find ways to beat that stuff."
John, some of the guys did beat press coverage, like Jacoby Jones, but some other guys did have some trouble with getting separation. Did you see anything, or is that just because the Eagles have good cornerbacks? (Aaron Wilson)"I saw a lot of things that we're going to have to deal with, that we're going to have to adjust to. We'll have to find a way to beat some of that stuff. Without getting into specifics – I probably can't – but there are some issues there that we're going to have to deal with and we're going to have to overcome. We have the guys to do it. We've got big, strong, fast guys, and we're fully capable of hurting that coverage, and it's something I expect us to do going forward, absolutely."
Were there a high number of missed tackles yesterday, or was it about average? (Aaron Wilson)"It was a higher number of missed tackles, mostly due to the fact that that's the way those guys run. All those guys – and you put [LeSean] McCoy out there – that's his style. He's going to be a make-miss guy. So, you try to get him running sideways, you try to get him cutting back, you try to rally and make plays, but against the Eagles – the missed tackles percentage on most teams is going to go up. Same token, I expect us to be a great tackling team. I expect us to be the best tackling defense in the National Football League, and that's something that we've definitely got to chase."
Coach, moving forward to game-planning for the Patriots, is it beneficial at all for you when you see a team have some imperfections brought to light in the loss to the Cardinals, or does it not matter? (Ryan Mink)"I don't think it matters."
John, understanding that football is an emotional game, the comments Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis made after the game about the officiating … Do you talk to them about it? Does it bother you? Because a lot of coaches would say, 'Hey, players play, and it's their job to execute.' But the players seem to be deflecting some of that on the officials, or at least putting attention that way towards the officials. Did you talk to those guys, the leaders in your locker room about their comments? (Mark Zinno)"I talk to those guys all the time. And as far as the officiating goes, I'm not going to have any comment about it, because it all goes hand-in-hand. So, no, I'm not going to have any comment about it, whatsoever, in any way, shape or form. And, I'm just going to leave it at that."
John, do you think losing that extra day of being able to be in pads has had any effect on tackling? (Bill West)"That's something that's worth looking at as a study. That's just the reality of it for us. We weren't in pads last week at all, because of the short week; we were coming off of a very physical game on Monday night. We will get in pads one day this week. We will not be in pads next week, because we'll have a Sunday to Thursday turnaround. So, that's something that we definitely have to deal with as coaches and players and try to do the best we can with that. I do believe, though, that we're a good tackling team. We can be a great tackling team. That's something that we have to – and I know we do – take great pride in as a group. And that's something we have to chase."
John, is there anything specific you can pinpoint about the offense's struggles on third down yesterday? (Jeff Zrebiec)"There are a lot of things that we looked at specifically, play by play. Time would not permit to go through each play specifically, but generally, it's a combination of pressure and separation. And because of that, putting the ball on the money and making those plays … All things that we're capable of doing that we probably would all say we could do a little bit better … And we will, we will. That's what you chase. It's not a league of perfection; it's a fight. Every single week is a fight. They've got great players, too, but that's an area that we have to be really good at. And I'll tell you this: We expect to be really good at it, and we expect to be really good on third down. We've got the players to do it, coaches to do it, and I'm confident we're going to be really good at it this year."
How would you assess Courtney Upshaw's play two games in? (Jerry Coleman)"He's on the way. Courtney's not there yet, and he'll be the first to tell you that, but he's on the way for a young guy. A setback by the injury, and by the conditioning level coming in, but I'm looking forward to seeing how fast he progresses in the next couple of weeks. It's going to be interesting to see that."
With the Patriots coming up this week, is there anything to be gained – insight-wise – from James Ihedigbo with him playing in that defense? (Garret Downing)"I don't know, we'll see. They signed a guy – [former Ravens rookie free agent] Cyhl Quarles – so I'm sure that he's being put under the bright lights right now, being interrogated. *(laughter) *There's always value to that, sure."
Nice to have the Patriots in your building this time, though? It's kind of odd to have them playing in Baltimore. (Drew Forrester)"That will be different, right? I don't think we've had them here since '07, right? So, that will be [different]. How many times have we played them at their place? … I can't believe you guys don't have that at your fingertips." *(laughter) *
John, is there still an adjustment period for the defense knowing that with the no-huddle offense, that's more plays for them on defense, just in terms of fatigue and being on the field much longer than in years past? (Jason Butt)"I don't know if I'm putting those two together. I'll tell you, the best thing to do, to stay off the field – and those guys will be the first to tell you that – is to get stops. You stop them, you come off the field, and that's our goal all the time. And then offensively, if we get first downs, they won't be out there, no matter what tempo you're going at. So, bottom line, we just need to get stops. That's what we need to do."
When you shake hands after the game with a guy like Andy Reid, who you've known for so long, how does that rival shaking hands with Jim Harbaugh? (Joe Platania)"I'll tell you, if I had time to think about that, I might have an answer for you. *(laughter) *But I would say this: It's meaningful. It's definitely meaningful. And both are different – one guy is my brother and the other guy is a guy that I was around as a football coach, day-in and day-out, for nine years. So, they're both meaningful. I like it a lot better when we win. I really appreciate that handshake a lot more when I'm the guy saying, 'Hey, everything's going to be OK.' *(laughter) *I don't like the other way very much, and I hope I never get over that."