*WEDNESDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: Week 4 vs. STEELERS
Head Coach John Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, OLB Terrell Suggs, TE Benjamin Watson & S Eric Weddle
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Everybody doing well? I appreciate you guys being here, and obviously, [it's] a beautiful day. We're excited to get to practice. Before we start talking about football, just a couple bullet points I want to put out there and kind of establish: I have my notes here if you don't mind. First of all, you know, I'm a football coach. We are football coaches, we're football players, and our business is to prepare for the upcoming game – and that's what we're really focused on; that's what our job is. Secondly, I think I said this many times before, but I want to reiterate, just personally as a coach, I'm blessed with a rock-solid franchise, an incredible organization and the amazing people I get to work with – coaches and players who I personally respect and admire very much. And thirdly, just personally, I understand that there are injustices in our country and across the world. Our players understand that, as well, but it's really important to make it clear that our players have great respect and great appreciation for the military, for the police and for the first responders that give so much for all of us every single day."
That said, the fans continue to vent about this. I don't know if there's a message you could give to the fans out there, but there's threats of boycotts, etc. I don't know how real it is, and I know you're focusing on the football game, and that's your No. 1 task, but if there's missing seats at the stadium … I mean, your reaction to what the fans are saying and what' you're hearing, maybe not hearing. (Jerry Coleman)"We're spending our time getting ready for the game. That's what you do as a coach. That was my first point. That's what we're doing; we're getting ready for this game. We had a morning full of meetings on the opponent we're going to play – the Pittsburgh Steelers – who we respect tremendously. We're getting ready to play a football game, and that's what we do, and that's all we can do. The other issues are bigger than that; they are beyond our ability to address and deal with that, but we can focus on the task at hand, and that's our responsibility. That's our job, and that's what we're required to do."
Has the team decided whether or not they will take a knee, lock arms or how they will approach it? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes, all that stuff is … You know, guys have conversations about that. But again, the focus is on the game, and what we talk about in our family, inside, is something that stays in our family."
**The offense is struggling in these first three games and there are many reasons. Have you pinpointed a couple of them and addressed them, in terms of correcting them? *(David Ginsburg) *"We're working very hard to become the best football team we can be – that goes for offense, defense and special teams. Every single area has to be the best unit it can possibly be. We need to be cohesive as a team, play together collectively and win football games. So, that's our focus. On that side of the ball, we're working really hard to be a lot better than we've been. We recognize we're not playing the kind of football on offense that's going to put a lot of points on the board. We want to score points, we want to get a lead, we want to score points, and we want to take pressure off of the other two phases as much as we can. That goes for the defense and the special teams, as well. Every phase wants to do that. Sure, we've pinpointed things. There are areas we're working on – specific football ideas and techniques and ways to attack our opponent – things we need to get better at and execute better in those situations. We're looking at all those things as hard as we can and trying to become the best we can be."
Do you think that the experience the guys got last week on the O-line, replacing G Marshal Yanda, will [create] more cohesiveness this week? (David Ginsburg)"Sure, yes. They are going to benefit from experience for sure, that's a good point. That's going to make us better. Then you watch the tape very in detail, there are guys that played pretty well. There were a lot of good plays in there. You would be pretty happy with the way those two right guards played, and you'd probably be a little bit surprised. So, I wasn't at all displeased with the way the two right guards played. But, across the board, we had an issue here, an issue there, that ended up hurting us against a defense that played really well, and it snowballed on us."
You play another aggressive defense this week. What have you seen from the Steelers, in terms of pass rush? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, they have good pass rushers. I think they always do, their younger guys. We'll see who's out there playing for them. But, we've studied those guys, and I think it's a typical Steelers defense."
When you look at QB Joe Flacco's interceptions this year, is there a trend? (Jamison Hensley) "No, they're all different. That's kind of the way it always works. There's always a little bit of a different situation. The trend is we have to clean that up – the interceptions, turnovers, penalties – anything like that is something that's going to hinder your opportunity to do well on offense. That's all what we're working really hard at."
It seems like CB Marlon Humphrey has come right in with a very confident, aggressive style. Is that what you've seen, as well? What's your assessment of him through the first three weeks? (Childs Walker)"It'd be very positive. I don't want to overstate it, because he needs to keep getting better, just like everyone else. But, Marlon has played well. He's exactly what we've expected him to be. He's smart, he's tough, he has the talents, and he has all the types of physical abilities to play the type of corner that we want to play with. That's exactly what we thought we were getting, so it's good to see that that's how he's playing."
WR Breshad Perriman has one catch for five yards. Is it a focus to get him going a little bit? Is there anything you're seeing in particular out of him and could it be related to not having much of a training camp? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, probably. That probably has to be a part of it. Practice does make a difference. But, all of our receivers, we want to get all of our guys involved. We feel like we have some playmakers out there, and they all need to be involved. Once Breshad gets going and gets confidence, I really think – I told him this – I really think he's going to take off. He's just going to explode as his talent is going to be there for everyone to see. But, you have to make a catch. You know? Make a catch and get yourself going. He's working hard to do that. One thing about him is nobody wants to get it going more than Breshad does, as far as his play goes. I love the way he works at it, and I want him to breakout as much as he wants to breakout."
How much of a loss like DE Brent Urban impact what you guys normally do defensively? (Ed Lee)"It won't change anything we do schematically. We're pretty deep in there. We have guys that can play the position. It just remains to be seen how well they'll play it. I like the guys that are in there – [Chris] Wormley and [Bronson] Kaufusi. And Carl [Davis] played well. Carl has steadily improved, and I think he's really ready to go and play really great football. It just depends on how well those guys play."
With QB Joe Flacco not having any training camp or preseason, is it almost like he's going through a training camp mode? (Jamison Hensley)"I don't know. That's a good observation. I think it'd be on your part, if that's what you think is possibly at stake here … You should probably write that. It's a fair opinion. It doesn't really matter to me right now, because you can't go back and replay it. We just have to go out and have a great practice today. Joe needs to get where he feels like he wants to be. He's very capable of doing that. He's a veteran, he's an accomplished player in this league, and he's had great success. I believe in him and let's roll."
How confident are you that these guys are back on a normal clock after the trip over there? (Mike Garafolo)"Well, we'll see a practice. I feel good. I didn't go to bed until real late last night. I was up pretty late helping Alison with her homework, to be honest with you. With the stuff they do nowadays in school … Have you ever seen the math? I can come up with the answer, and she's like, 'Well, our teacher won't let us do it that way.' You know? Why? It's the right answer? Times have changed. (laughter) *But, I felt good this morning." *(Reporter: "So, math is a bigger problem than jetlag?) *"Exactly." *(laughter)
**In a way, is it good to have a game like this after the one you had last week? It's obvious that you can get their focus really going and you don't even have to think about what just happened, because this is such a huge division game. *(David Ginsburg) *"I said this last time I was asked: I don't think about; it doesn't matter. We have to play the next game. We need to win, and all these wins count the same. Obviously, this is a division game. Division wins are a little more important, because you're trying to win the division championship. That's the goal, but they all matter. Last week, we're past it; we're done with it. We've looked at it and we've moved on from it. But, don't think it doesn't sting. Don't think it doesn't stick in your craw – it sticks in your craw. These guys know how I feel, and they feel the same way, and it's not going away. So, if that motivates … It motivates me. If it motivates you, then so be it."
*What have you liked the most out of RB Alex Collins? (Jamison Hensley) *"Alex Collins, I like the fact that he gets yards. He makes tacklers miss; he breaks tackles. I like guys that get yards on their own."
**Is DE Brent Urban's injury still season-ending? Or is it too early to rule that? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"It's a season-ender. It's a Lisfranc surgery-type situation. Yes."
QB Joe Flacco
On what adjustments need to be made to help the offense get better:"That is how it always is, especially when you win two games. We did what we had to do. Then, all of a sudden, when you go back and you lose one game and you did not play well, now you just lump those first two games in with that game and act like we have not played well at all when it is not really the truth. We played terrible last game. But the first two weeks, we were standing up here saying how it was not statistically the best performances, but it was what we needed to do to win a football game, and that is what this is all about. I think we are getting ahead of ourselves when we all of a sudden say we haven't played well for three weeks. We played terribly last week. There is no way around that, but the other two weeks, we did what we had to do to win football games. I do not think that is anything that we can hang our head over."
On his top receivers struggling statistically:"It is tough. We all want to go out there and put up numbers and do those things. Like I said, when you throw the ball just over 15 times in the first game, and the second game you put up points in the first half and the game kind of goes our way and the defense has 10 turnovers, guys aren't going to have those numbers. It is just not going to happen; that is the reality of it. The reality of it is also, that is why that is tough. That is why when I answer questions as if, 'Was that game fun?' and I'm in a joking matter saying 'Well …' well that is why. Because then you get these questions 15 games down the line – 'Oh you guys were bad Week 1 and Week 2.' Well, no, we were not. We won the game, and we did what we had to do. The stats are not going to be there in those games. You cannot look at it and say we played bad. You have to look at the film and say, 'Good play, good play, bad play, good play, good play, good play, bad play.' You can't necessarily grade people's performances based on how many catches they had and how many throws they completed and things like that. Last week, I think, no matter how you do it, when you look at stats or when you look at a game and grade it that way, they are both going to go hand in hand in that it was not very good. We just have to keep our head down. We built our team to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are coming to our house this week, and we have a good football team. We have to continue to believe that and continue to go out there and do what we have been doing and do it a little better."
On what his thoughts were after watching the Jaguars film: "It is never as good as you think; it is never as bad as you think. Having said that though, when one or two guys do something wrong each single play, even though it is not the biggest thing in the world that we did not do right, they add up. If you do not get first downs, then the game is 30-0 before you know it. You never know how the course of the football game is going to go. We make one first down in one of those first two drives, and the game could be completely different. We could go down and all of a sudden score a touchdown or kick a field goal and the whole game is different from that point on. Everything … There is a butterfly effect to everything. You don't get a first down, and it just grows. That is kind of what you see when you go back and watch film. It was not anything major, but little things and each guy taking their turn and trading turns and doing their little thing that was not completely correct, and then you have a blowout."
On if the team needs to play well early on in this week's game: "The bottom line is we need to play well at all times. That includes early and late. It is the full 60 minutes, and we preach that all the time. The thing that you preach is the basics. You can't be out there in football as an offense and be thinking about 10 different things as an offense. You have to be thinking about the most basic things that you can go play physical and fast, which at the end of the day, is what you have to do to play football and play it well. That is what you have to do. You have to get back to preaching the basics and make sure you are going out there and doing it."
On if the Jaguars game made him less optimistic about the offense: "No, it didn't. It better not, or we have no shot."
On if it feels like it is Week 4 or if he is in catch-up mode because he missed the preseason:"I don't feel like it is catch-up mode. It definitely feels like Week 4. When you get into these games and you are winning football games, you are living through that joyous moment after a football game, and you are living through the downer of getting rolled over like we did. You know that you are right in the middle of football season and you are right where you want to be."
On his response to fans who may be upset over what the team did during the national anthem against Jacksonville:"We preach unity inside of that locker room, and those conversations are private. I am not sure exactly what I would say to those people, but I have a relationship with everyone in that locker room, and I know that no one is trying to offend anybody and pick sides. Nobody is trying to pick sides. We are trying to stand by each other as brothers. There is a lot … Obviously, there is a big-time African-American influence in the NFL, and those guys want to show support for their communities. That doesn't mean that they are picking sides. It just means that they are showing support for their communities, just like any of us would. Our message is to stand by everybody on the team in unity and respect each other."
On if there has been a specific trend for why he has thrown interceptions this season: "What do you want me to say? They are bad plays. I do not care what the reason for it is. The result is not good for the team, and it falls on my shoulders and that is the end of it."
On if it is difficult to get over throwing an interception: "I have thrown many picks in my life. The ones I threw on Sunday aren't going to be the last ones I throw. I am never happy that I throw them, but it is part of the game, and I'm going to do my best to limit them moving forward. You have to understand it is going to happen, and if you don't have a short memory as a quarterback, then you are in trouble and your team is in trouble."
On if he feels like the offense will need the wide receivers going in order to have success:"There is no doubt about it. If you don't get everybody involved and get those guys confidence going and level of play really going, you have no shot. Offensive football … Football is a team game, and it is about getting everybody going and everybody involved. The more that we can do that, the better it is going to suit us. We definitely have to do that if we want to be a good football team."
On if the team discusses last season's heartbreaking loss to the Steelers: "No. This game is always what it is, no matter what has happened prior to it. It is an awesome rivalry, it is a great football game, and it has been since I have been a part of it. We are just excited to get back out there and do it. It should be an awesome atmosphere, and these guys have a good football team. It is going to be awesome. I love when guys haven't experienced it before and they get to go out there and experience it. It is all good, it does not matter what happened. I don't think that fuels it, just because there is already enough motivation for us to go out there and kick some butt."
On if the AFC North is still the toughest division in the NFL: "Listen, I have played in this division for a long time, and it has been different every year. But no matter who is at the top or who is at the bottom of the league and what their record is at the top or what their record is at the bottom, everybody always has a chance to beat everybody. You can say, 'Yeah, alright Joe, you guys have lost to Cleveland how many times?' The game's outcome does not necessarily reflect the types of games that we have been in with those guys. We have been in battles with Pittsburgh. We have to be right around 50-50 since I have been here. With Cincinnati, they have to have our number since I have been here. It is a tough division to play in, no doubt about that. But you do not want to discredit the other divisions either. Every other division has their own rivalries and little nuances about it that make it tough."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On if WR Antonio Brown's TD to win the 2016 Christmas Day game for the Steelers sticks with him:"Anytime your division rival knocks you out of the playoffs, it is going to linger with you for a long time – until you play them again. Like you said, the wound is still fresh, and we are looking forward to playing better."
On his message to the younger players about what the Steelers rivalry means: "You have to get an extra lift in the weight room. This is, I would say, the biggest rivalry in the NFL. It is definitely the most physical rivalry in the NFL, and it is because of the two teams' style of play. You don't cross paths without some things in common. We respect them, but we also know what it is."
On ILB C.J. Mosley saying that people will not see a similar performance from the Jaguars game from the Ravens' defense:"[You will not] ever. Ever. It was very uncharacteristic. They were better prepared for it. It seems as if they were a lot faster than us, they were a lot sharper than us. You have to take your hats off to the previous team, but we have to do better as a team, as a defense during the week of preparing."
On what makes him confident that the team won't have a similar bad performance: "Because of who we are. There has been a standard in this locker room and with this team and these colors. You definitely won't see a performance like that."
On if he tells the younger players to move on from the week prior: "Yes. You get it corrected. Ben Watson always says around here, 'Speak truth, but speak it in love.' We know every man around here, man for man, can play. When you have a bad game, your confidence dwindles a little bit. But we have a bunch of resilient men in here. We just have to get back to being who we are."
On if this is a week he is glad to be playing against the Steelers:"Anytime you get a chance to play your division rival, you are excited. You just want to be healthy when you are doing it. If you are limping going into the game, they definitely are going to take advantage of it."
On what he thinks when he hears Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger say that the offense isn't playing well because it is on him and he has to play better:"Oh, Ben. *(sigh) *He is setting us up. He is playing mind games. Rat bastard. *(laughter) *He is setting us up. Tell Ben I am on to his tricks. I know what he is doing. I am not going to let him fool me with trickery and Jedi mind tricks."
On Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's comments that Tomlin and Suggs have traded words on the field, and what he has said to Tomlin: "That will stay between me and him. It is a good rivalry. It is fun, it is physical, and it is football. That is what we love about it."
On what he is planning to do for the national anthem: "That is a fair question. I wish Jamison [Hensley, ESPN] would have asked it, though, because he is like my favorite reporter. (laughter) To be totally honest with you, I am not going to get into it, because once you get into it, you have to get into it. We have to get back to playing football eventually, so we are going to keep it private amongst the team, but our main focus this week is the Pittsburgh Steelers."
TE Benjamin Watson
On if preparing for such a big game against the Steelers helps get over a loss:"I will say that I am glad we don't have a bye week, because anytime you have a loss, you want to play again. It is the Steelers; we are excited. We have already been focusing on them. Obviously, the last couple days we have been game-planning. I am excited for practice today. It is going to be a great game. They are a great opponent. For us, especially in the division, this is a game that we feel like we really want to win."
On what he thinks will happen pregame Sunday against the Steelers:"I don't know. What exactly do you mean?" (Reporter: "During the national anthem with the kneeling. Will the linking arms continue?") "I will say this: We have talked about it as a team. We love each other in our locker room. We support each other in our locker room. That is a few days from now. Right now, we are focused on the Steelers, as we should be preparing for them. When that time comes, just know that we always support each other in whatever we do."
On what he has seen from the offense:"Watching the film – I'm sure you guys have watched the film – there is usually one guy here or there. We are not that far off. The league is one of inches. It is one of being able to execute your game plan against another opponent very well for most of the time if you want to be successful. There have been times where we have had great drives, or there have been times where we have had a guy here or a guy there, and then we go three-and-out. Offensively, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I would say as an individual, I want to score every time we touch the football. I want us to drive the ball down the field. I want to put our defense on the side. Let those boys rest and let them get something to drink and let them get their strength up, and we have a long drive and score. That is what I would love every time, but sometimes it does not work out like that. Moving forward, we definitely have a lot of work to do. It has not been good enough, offensively. I think everybody on offense would say that – that they want it to be better. Still, it comes down to execution. It comes down to having great plays that we have. It comes to our Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday preparation and digesting the game plan, watching the film, and then on Sunday, simply doing our job. That is what we have to do."
On if it was tough not being able to take part in the Steelers-Ravens rivalry because he was injured last season:"I am definitely going to be excited to take part in it for the first time on the field. Last year, I remember driving down the street. I was taking my daughter to ballet, and it was a Monday, I think. It was Monday or Tuesday maybe after the game going into Steelers week. I remember seeing multiple people with their Ravens jersey on already. They were already ready in Baltimore for the game. I know what this game means to the city. Most importantly, I know what this game means to the guys in our locker room. We know that they are going to come out and try to get a division win, just like we are. I think talking about our execution and our attention to detail and then the passion and emotion … That is a big component of football as well – the passion and the emotion. Whenever you have a rivalry game, you know there is going to be a lot of that – especially early in the game, especially in that first quarter, that first drive. After that, you settle down and you start executing football."
On if the Steelers-Ravens rivalry reminds him of anything he has participated in previously:"Maybe in college. There are some great rivalries. Being in the NFC South and being in the Saints-Falcons – that has kind of that feel. The AFC North though, especially, you have a lot of classic teams in this division. Tough teams, tough cities, and hard-working people. It is always hard-hitting. I remember earlier in my career when I was in New England and I came over to Cleveland when I was a free agent and my wife and my parents saying, 'That is a hard-hitting division you are about to go to – the AFC North.' This rivalry definitely holds kind of a different feel."
S Eric Weddle
On if he has put Sunday behind him:"Yes, this isn't my first rodeo. That game was definitely a unique game. It was bad on all fronts. But, the quickest way to move on is to look at yourself, see what you could've done better and get coached up and move forward. We have a big game this week – huge game, division, Pittsburgh, implications on the division, I mean, everything. This is huge. So, the quicker we can recover as a team from that disaster and move on from it and get on to this game, [the better], because that's really what matters at this point."
On if he takes more responsibility as a veteran to encourage teammates not to dwell on the loss:"Yes. A lot of guys were just distraught after the game – which you love to see. Everyone deals with losses differently. Some guys, they are who they are. Some guys don't want to talk; some guys are mad and mad for days. That's good, but you also have to understand that it's one game. We win and lose together. It's never one guy that makes you lose; it's never one guy or one play. It's multiple things that make you lose. I just talk to guys: 'Hey, you know what you did wrong, we all do. We get coached up. But, you're still a great player. You're still a guy that we believe in. So, why be in the dumps and let it affect you all week – for what? We have to move forward. I need you to be at your best, Sunday afternoon, playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers, not worrying about what happened in London a week ago.' So, it's been good. The guys' spirits are high. We're excited to get out here and practice and get the game plan going and have a great week."
On if the replaying of the WR Antonio Brown touchdown catch on 2016 Christmas Day serves as motivation into this game:"Obviously, the guys that have played in that game remember that vividly and being so close to reaching your goals and not getting it done. I'll tell you this: We've never forgotten that play, that game. We've made strides this offseason of building our team to get in that situation and win the game. When we get on the field on Sunday, our mind is to win the game and not hope to lose the game. I think we've added players – free agency, in the draft – to build our team for that situation that will come, and we'll be ready for it and ready to go win the game."
On if that game-winning catch can serve as motivation eight or nine months after the fact: "You never forget the bad plays or the plays that are so monumental to your season. So, motivation? I think I'm the most motivated guy. Do I look back at that play? You know, quite honestly, the first time I saw it was in the commercial, which was kind of funny, because I lived it. So, I don't really need to see it again. But, I'll be ready for that situation, and I hope it comes, and I'll make it."
On CB Marlon Humphrey:"He sure has been impressive. I love his demeanor. I love how it hasn't been too big for him. He's physical at the line of scrimmage. He can run with anyone. The guy can fly. The plays last week, I thought, were kind of bogus – the penalty. He played great in the red zone, getting that ball out. We're excited about our depth. We're excited about what we can do in our secondary, just matching up and being able to play aggressive and still do what we want to do. We have guys that can cover, that can run and play physical. He'll show up in the run game. He's been a joy to be around; he has a bright future. When he gets in there, we expect big things."
On if he expects players to kneel during the national anthem: "I will just say this: A lot of guys on this team were affected a great deal by what our president said, emotionally. For a guy on this team that loves [his] teammates, it was hard to see some guys. I was affected, but a lot of guys were ... You know, it wasn't a good sight to see. So, we've talked, we've had meetings. It's been amazing to hear everyone's point of view and hear their experiences and just to air it out. You have to remember, we didn't get the news of everything until late. So, we were caught off-guard, and guys were just … It was a bad … Everything … We've talked, it's between us as players and this organization, and I'll leave it at that. I'm not going to sit up here every day, every week, to talk about what guys are going to do, what we're going to do. It's going to be the last time I talk about it, because ultimately, I have a job to do, and that's to play my best and get this team ready to play on Sundays. If guys choose to do certain things, then you can answer that, but we've talked, we're respected. This is the tightest group we've had as a team, and no one will turn their backs on each other. So, regardless of what we decide or what we talk about, that's between us, and we support each other."
On if they had talks about what is going to happen this Sunday: "Yes."
On if he was caught off-guard because he was in a different time zone:"I just said I'm done talking about it. I said what I needed to say, so if anyone wants to talk about Pittsburgh, I'll answer it. If not, I'm going to go."
On QB Ben Roethlisberger's comments on Pittsburgh's offensive struggles: "I'll be like, 'Yes, you're just saying that to soften me up.' No, man. They start out a little slow in the beginning of the year, but they're fine. They have weapons everywhere, matchups. So, we expect them to play great, and we have to play an amazing game as a team for us to get this win."
On what he learned about the rivalry last year:"It's intense, it's physical, it's heart-pumping every play. You just, as a player, you're so locked in and laser focused, that this play can make the difference between winning and losing. [I'm] sharing that with the young guys that, you don't really become a Raven until you play in this game and you win against the Steelers. It was two great games last year; I expect the same thing. We have to play great on defense, have to be sound on our game, communication, and locked in in our eyes, especially in coverage, and play our game. We like what we do on defense, and we feel like we can go out, play a great game and give them some troubles."
On if he talked to S Tony Jefferson on what this game will mean to him: "Yes, he's excited. We just announced that he's going to be a captain for the game. So, he's already just running around and jumping and ready to fight some people. Tony is great. I'm excited for him to get in there and make some big plays for us."
On if it's bothersome that people say the AFC West is the best division in the league: "No, I couldn't care less about any other team other than the Ravens and who we're playing that week. By the records, they have three teams that are playing really good football and one that's not doing so good. (laughter) I just try to do my best and worry about where I'm at now. I don't really pay attention to anyone else."