*WEDNESDAY PODIUM TRANSCRIPTS: BYE WEEK
Head Coach John Harbaugh & QB Joe Flacco
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see you guys – appreciate you being here. It's a nice football afternoon in Maryland. We had a good practice, and now the guys will break away for a few days. Then, we'll be back next week getting ready for the Packers."
We talked to QB Joe Flacco, and he mentioned how you're a 4-5 team, and the team just has to go for it. Do you think there's something to that – to play to win from the get? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, of course, that's what we do every week. To say that we aren't trying to play to win from the get … I don't think I could even answer that question. I can't speak for Joe. That's what we try to do every single week. We open up the offense; we run schemes with our run game; we're getting after people on defense. We try to win every single game. So, players have to go out there and play great. They have to execute. If you're talking about offense – we need to complete passes, we need to run the ball well, we need to protect our quarterback, we need to go up and make catches, we need to execute, we need first downs, we need to score points. It's not about play-calling; it's about all of us together, going out there and playing winning football in all three phases."
**There's been a lot of discussion about taking deep shots, but when you look at the intermediate portion of the field, that 11-to-20-yard range, there's been success. How important is it moving forward to get more consistency and production in that area? *(Luke Jones) *"Absolutely. I think it's every area, but it's the chunk area, the intermediate area, especially inside. Those are areas we need to make plays, and we had a few of those with [Jeremy] Maclin. They were in two-man-type coverages, and Jeremy did a nice job of getting open. Joe [Flacco] stepped up and made a couple nice throws there. Those are the kind of chunk plays that make the difference and move the chains. I think that's important for us, but also the simple passes to the flat. Those have to be completed – those quick throws against single-high coverage, where corners are basically one-on-one against wide receivers. Hitches, slants, deeper comeback routes – those all have to be completed, too."
How do you use the bye week? What do you get out it? (Childs Walker) "Are you talking about professionally or personally? It's kind of a broad [question]." (Reporter: "Either.") "Want me to give you my whole schedule during the bye week? Golly gee!" *(laughter) (Reporter: "Michigan sideline on Saturday?") *"Saturday and Sunday, we have lacrosse. My daughter has a big lacrosse tournament – the Mid-Atlantic. Blood is thicker than blood. *(laughter) *Lacrosse over football this weekend, it looks like."
Is there any game, or period of a game, on offense that you go back and look, and maybe that's the blueprint you want moving forward? Is that too bold of a statement? Is there a particular area that has worked that you want moving forward? (Morgan Adsit) "Yes, there are. No two games are going to be exactly the same. So, it's not like building this building out here, where you can say, 'OK, this is the blueprint. We'll follow this exactly right.' There are going to be factors that are going to come into play. We're going to be played differently by defenses; you're going to get different coverages, for instance, in the passing game. Sometimes you can take shots down the field all you want, but then you have a lot of coverage back there, and it doesn't make any sense [to throw there], so you work your levels down to the intermediate, to the short passes. But, the blueprint, basically, is what I would call 'winning football.' It starts with running the ball and stopping the run. Field position is always going to be important. As many three-and-outs as we can get; we want to stuff our opponent back in their end as much as we possibly can and create field position for our offense. Our offense wants to back it out of our own end. So, the first thing we want to do, if we have the ball at the 25 or even further back – is we need first downs. Now, along the way if we can keep pressuring our opponent, and force them to have to stop you, then you create big plays for yourself, too, and guys make some plays, too. Hey, how about you make somebody miss and go score a touchdown? But, if we can push the ball to midfield – at least – and punt them back into their end zone, you can start the process again. Keep them there; stuff them back in there. Maybe it's an interception, maybe it's an interception for a touchdown; if nothing else it's a punt on your side of the 50. You go score; start again. That's basically how we try to play football. Within that, the plays that you run, where you decide to block a front, where you decide to run a check with me, run game-type of a package against the front package that you're going to see – that's all part of the strategy that goes into that and hopefully results in success. But, it's always going to be a chess match; it's always going to be a fight. In the end, it's guys going out there and executing, making plays and playing winning football. That's what we try to preach, so to speak to your question, every single day."
*Where have you seen that specifically? Has it been in a certain quarter or game? (Morgan Adsit) *"You look at the games that we played well. Miami was great, pretty much throughout the course of the game. I think the first half of the Cincinnati game; the Cleveland game was good. You guys all watch our games. You know where the blueprint is at, and you know where it's not. It's pretty straightforward. It's not anything that's really hard to figure out, you know? It's a lot easier said than done – there's no question about that. Getting healthy is going to help us, too, on offense. It's going to help us a lot."
When you watch WR Breshad Perriman, do you think it's confidence or execution that he needs to overcome to be the player that he wants to be? (Jamison Hensley) "Both of those things; I think those things go hand in hand. I can't speak to the confidence – that's something that you have to talk to him about. I don't know how you could play in this league, or get to the point that he's gotten as a pro, or any player at this level, and not be confident. I think all of the players are very confident. Doing it in the NFL and making those plays, it's probably something that once you do it, you probably feel a little bit better about your ability to do it time and time again. So hey, go make a catch; you're a wide receiver. It's not just him – it's any other player. Go make a catch; run a good route."
Could you derive the offensive line's confidence to once losing starters, but are now starting to gain momentum? (David Ginsburg)"They played pretty darn well all year. Losing Marshal [Yanda], then Matt Skura came in and played well, then he got hurt … [Jermaine] Eluemunor was OK – he's learning. To get Matt back, I think, solidifies us back up a little bit, because he's played a lot of football and he's played well. Ryan Jensen is playing at a really high level, so that's been a big plus for us. James [Hurst] at the left guard, that's a new position for him; he's never played it before in his life. He's getting better all the time. But, it's not just like a steady increase either. There are ups and downs a little to that, too. I thought we didn't play quite as well, as a group, this last game as we did the week before. So, we have to look at the reasons why. People attacked them a little bit differently and gave us some problems with the few things they did, so we have to go work on those things. It's always kind of a give-and-take to the whole process. All in all, I'm happy with the offensive line; I think they're doing a good job. But, they have to be better for the next seven weeks for us to do the things that we want to do."
What kind of impact will a healthy RB Danny Woodhead have on the team? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes! It's going to be a positive impact. Danny was brought here for a reason; he was brought here in the role that you can all stand here and envision him playing. That's exactly the role that he was brought here for. We saw it a little bit in the first drive before he got hurt in the Cincinnati game. So, that's the type … It's an opportunity for Joe [Flacco] to have someone to work underneath a little bit, to drop the ball down to when he needs to, to run screens, to put out there as a wide receiver, and create matchup issues for people – also, to give the ball to. That's the kind of guy that we're looking for when we signed him. So, we signed him for a reason, and it's going to be nice to have him on the field."
DT Michael Pierce only had a handful of snaps on Sunday. Is that related to him being sick all last week? (Luke Jones) "Yes, it was. We thought he was healthy, but he got out there and couldn't' do it."
How do you feel about the development of the rookie class? Do you like the production you're getting out them, or would you like to squeeze more out them?* (Ed Lee) "I haven't really thought about it in those terms. Yes, I'm happy with them. Could we squeeze more out of them? That's what we're trying to do – absolutely. We're trying to squeeze every drop out of every guy, out of every rookie. You can go down the line with each guy. I'm really happy with where Marlon [Humphrey] is at. He's playing more and more every week, and he continues to play very well. I think he'll get better. Second round: Tyus [Bowser]. We need to get him on the field more. Tyus is practicing really well, doing a good job on special teams, and [I'm] happy with him. I want to get him out there more, especially rushing the passer. [Chris] Wormley has been really solid in his plays; he's been good against the run; he's what we expected. Timmy Williams has been hurt. He's had the hamstring, and he had some migraine issues that have really held him back from us activating him. I want to get him active. I think he's practiced really well the past two weeks. So, there's a possibility we'll see him, hopefully, against Green Bay. I'd like to see him out there running around, because he has some talent." (Reporter: "Chuck Clark?") "I'm very happy with Chuck. He's been excellent on special teams; he's been like a vet out there on special teams. Who else?" *(Reporter: "Jermaine Eluemunor.") "Eluemunor – we knew he was a project. In all honesty, he didn't play much football. He was in a spread offense in college. You have to give him a lot of credit, a lot of credit for how well he's done so far, just as a really inexperienced player. He's done pretty OK. Is it good enough to win? No. I mean, he knows that, but he's not there yet. But, he practices out here really hard every single day. He listens, he's coachable, has talent, big, strong guy. I think he's going to be a good player. I'm happy with him, too."
QB Joe Flacco
On what gives him confidence that the remaining seven games will go well:"We are a confident group of people. We are out here working our tails off, and you can see it in guys' eyes. You can see it out here in the work that we put in. We just have to have faith that it is going to turn around, and that is what we have."
On what he used this week for and if it was a "mini passing camp": "It was a little bit of everything. It ends up being kind of a passing camp, because you are giving some vets some days off, and you have guys that are injured that you want to get back. You end up going out there and doing a pretty good amount of individual [drills] and just staying sharp and staying ready to go, so when we come back, we have not had 10 days off."
On how the break will benefit him physically: "We had one a week ago after the Thursday night game. I think people always talk about the break you get during the bye week, and I mean, it is just a couple of days. A lot of time it ends up being more of a mental reset than anything. Obviously, little things, physically, can get better. But it is not like you are going to come back and be like, 'Man, I was just off for six months and I feel great!'* (laughter) *Everybody is still dealing with the stuff you deal with throughout the course of a 17-week season. I think it is a good time for guys to kind of reflect and reset, mentally, a little bit. It is nice to have it right in the middle of the year. I think it is the best time to have it."
On if anybody is more excited than he is to get RB Danny Woodhead back:"Probably Danny. *(laughter) *We love Danny. Whenever you have a teammate that has a chance to get back out there and affect us in a positive way … Yes, I am excited about it. I was excited to work with him all offseason and then the one drive we had in Cincinnati. It definitely got cut short. It will be nice to have him back out there, and he looks good right now. I think he is probably a lot healthier now than he was going into that first game, so that is definitely a positive."
On how much of an impact RB Danny Woodhead can have: "It is to be seen. He can definitely make an impact, because when you get him out there and you get him involved, which we hope to do, obviously, it is something that we do well, because he is a good player. But then you also put more pressure on defenses to do different things, and hopefully it opens up some other things, too, and makes other things easier than they have been throughout the first eight or nine weeks. I think he can definitely make a big impact. I think it is on us to get him involved and put that fear in other teams that we can hurt people with him."
On if the team needs to find more consistency on intermediate range passes:"Yes, there is no doubt. There are a lot of places that you can look at right now and say we need to find more consistency. It would be nice to do those things, because when you look at our offense right now, a lot of times, even when we are scoring, they are just long drives. It is great to have a couple of those drives, as long as they are mixed in with quick-strike drives, too. It seems that all of ours are just long ones, and it is tough to have a lot of those long drives and do that consistently. You have to have some of those quick strikes in you, so you do not have to convert four or five third downs every single drive in order to score a touchdown. So that intermediate stuff can definitely help us out, and I think the more we complete some of that stuff – even when we have to call it and check the ball down to the running backs and things like that – I think even that stuff will end up being better and we will start getting 10 yards on that stuff. Anytime you get the ball in your running backs' hands, they tend to break some tackles. Yes, when you start hitting that stuff down the field, it is going to open up … You are going to get chunks in that and you are also going to get chunks in when they cover it and you have to check it down. It is all-around going to help us. It would be nice to get some of those deep ones, too. I think they also open up the intermediate stuff, and we are doing a lot of quick game and things like that, but we are just not getting a lot of yardage after the catch. Hopefully, we can hit some of that stuff down the field, and when we do drop the ball down on some of those slants and things like that, hopefully we are not catching it and [getting] tackled. Hopefully, we can hit guys on seams and get them in creases and things. Because we have some speed out there, and that is really what you want to do – you want to get those guys the ball underneath and let them hit some creases and just go the whole way."
On if his rapport with WR Jeremy Maclin is growing: "Definitely. I said it all along: Jeremy is a good player, and he makes it easy, but the more time you get with him, the better and better it is."
On if he feels the offensive line is getting better and gelling together: "There is no doubt. Those guys are a group. You can't necessarily always look at it individually. It is five guys that are constantly communicating and constantly growing together as a group. They spend a lot of time in the meeting room discussing a lot of different things, so yes, as the course of this season has gone on, you can definitely seen them come together a little bit."
On if he still feels the team is in decent shape when he looks around the NFL: "There is a lot of opportunity out there. We can't dwell on the fact that we are 4-5. We can't go back and change that. It is what it is, and we have to put that out of our mind the best we can. We have to have a short memory and just go out there and play football. We can't look ahead that far either, because when you start doing that and you start trying to look at the big picture of everything every single day, that just wears on you mentally. It is just too much for us to handle. We have to take it one week at a time. It is cliché as it can be, but we have to do that. We have to look at what is important now, and for us, that is getting a little bit of a break here and focusing on the Green Bay Packers."
On if he still wants to open the offense up more: "Yes. We talk about it all the time. I always think … Yes, we need to go after it. We can't sit back and just expect us to not lose football games. There is always a part of that come late in games and depending on the nature of the game, but we have to go and attack. We are a 4-5 football team. You always look at teams in these positions and say, 'Man, they have nothing to lose.' And we should feel that way. We have to go out there and leave it all out there. That is what we do best as football players – we go do stuff aggressively, and we do not think about it. Then, when it is over, we reflect on it and see how we can get better, and that is exactly what we have to do."
On not throwing the ball on the field as often during individual pregame warmups this season: "I am kind of just hanging out in the training room and getting more loosened up in there. I am definitely getting over there [to the stadium] probably earlier than I ever have, and my routine is more inside this year than anything – especially because early in the season, that is what it had to be – and I have gotten in a little groove doing it, and it is what it is."
On if he is in the training room working on his back in the pregame: "Initially, yes. Little things come up here and there, so that is kind of what it has become."
On the value of RB Javorius Allen emerging as a receiving option: "It is always great to have a guy out of the backfield that can do damage. It just opens up a lot of things. That is what we hope Danny [Woodhead] can do, too. I think we need to call a little bit more where we can actually call them as the primary guy, as opposed to just getting the ball [to them] on the checkdown. It would be nice to get our screen game going a little bit. I think the last couple weeks we have kind of … I think in the Miami game at the end of the half, Ryan [Mallett] hit … We hit one [screen]. I think it got called back. I think that is starting to pop a little bit – the screen game for us – and little things like that can definitely help."