Transcript: John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE: WEEK 12 vs. Oakland

Opening statement:"Good to see everybody – appreciate you being here. Just a couple things: We want to put our prayers out for Dean Pees, who had a health issue yesterday during the game. We don't know the extent of it exactly just yet. We're waiting to hear, but our prayers are with Dean and 'Mel' [Melody Pees] and their family, always.

"The second thing is we wanted to talk a little bit about the game, in terms of some of the people that didn't get mentioned after the game that Kevin [Byrne, executive vice president of public and community relations] just kind of brought to my attention. Some of the areas that played exceptionally well haven't been talked about too much. I thought the offensive line played exceptionally well in the game – very, very good job with the run blocking and pass protection. Scheme was just a little bit different than we'd been working on, things that we had in the system, but the timing is a little different. The way things look to those guys can be different. I thought they did a really good job. And then, the defensive line played really well. The game was won in the trenches. It was a physical game. The most physical team was going to win. The most physical team did win, and that was the Ravens, and I thought our offensive line and defensive line set the tone on that."

With QB Lamar Jackson running 27 times, obviously it was effective, but is that something you maybe don't want to see happen on a week-to-week basis from your starting quarterback? (David Ginsburg)"Yes." (Reporter: "Is 27 too much? What do you think would be a proper number?") "I don't know. I think it's obvious. It's an obvious answer. If you want me to elaborate with some other kind of point on it … Three of those were taking a knee, so I guess it's only 23, 24. Then there were a couple … [If] we want to [talk] about numbers, yes, you don't want your quarterback getting hit that much. It's not going to last that way, so I think that's pretty self-evident. You probably took a straw-pull in here for who was going to have to ask that, and you had to ask that question. I figure, they're all sitting back here like, 'Oh, I'm glad David drew the short straw on that one.' Sorry, man!" (laughter)

As far as the quarterback situation going forward, QB Lamar Jackson is going to be the guy? Does QB Joe Flacco have a chance to reclaim his job? (Jerry Coleman) "I'm not getting into any of that, any of it. You drew the second short straw!" (laughter)

I think you alluded to it yesterday, but is QB Joe Flacco's health ... Does he have a chance to play this Sunday, or is that hip injury too serious? (David Ginsburg) "He has a chance. It's just a matter of how fast the healing takes place in there. It's not a surgical thing; it's just a calming-down type of a thing with the hip, and I'm not a doctor. They have that commercial with the TV doctors. I'm not even a TV doctor, so we'll see."

You went from a three-game losing streak to now occupying the sixth spot in the playoffs. Does that sort of change the dynamic around the team, or do you sort of forge ahead the same way regardless of having tangibles there? (Todd Karpovich) "You guys are in here every week with me, every week with me. Have I changed? Has anything changed? Has it been the exact same message from every day? So, the answer is 'no.' It's the same dynamic. Nothing changes. That doesn't mean anything. I don't care what seed you are. You have a five-way tie at 5-5 for sixth place [after] Week, what, 10? There are six more games to play. It will be determined in the next six weeks. Nothing is over, so all of you guys who counted us out, we aren't out. We're not dead. Sorry. And anybody who thinks that we have it clinched, no. No way. It's going to be the teams that play the best, the teams that play the best football the next six weeks starting this week, and that's going to be our focus. Our focus is going to be to win this game this week. That's all we can do. So, all the grand things? You're asking the wrong guy. I'm focused on the game, getting ready to play the game, just like our players are. All the critics, I'm dead to them. All of the people that all of the sudden are going to pat you on the back and say, 'You're in sixth place,' that's meaningless. Let's go win a football game. Let's prepare, starting tomorrow, to win a football game, and that's what we're going to do. And, we'll be serious about it, but we'll have fun.

"Our guys love football. They have a great spirit. I love the way they compete. To me, that's what we should be talking about here. Talk about how those guys played. Do you like football? You love it, right? Then you like the way those guys played. I know you do. And, that's what you always write about. The spirit of the way the guys, how hard they played … Take a look at how we covered. Look at how we covered. You talk about tenacious coverage, getting after it. Look at the way we ran to the ball. Look at the way our backs ran, how our quarterback … 'Oh, he had 27 carries!' You know what he did? He won the game. He played his tail, he played his butt off. I wanted to say he played his ass off. Are we allowed to say that on TV?" (Reporter: "You just did.")"Oh, I just did. That's what he did! Celebrate that, move on. We have to get better to win the next game. The way we played the last game won't be good enough to win the next game. That's just the way it works. That's how football works. I would suggest you take that home and apply it in your life out there. It works."

You said you were generally happy with the way that QB Lamar Jackson threw the ball. One thing, watching him, he uses a lot of different release points. Is that something that you guys are finding because he's sort of playing instinctively, or is that something that you try to coach out of him? What do you kind of make of that? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I think he has to. He's not 6-6. He's going to have to use different release points. He does. To me, it's accuracy. I think that would be a great question for Marty [Mornhinweg] later in the week, because he's a quarterback coach. Marty coaches the quarterbacks. I know within that, there are things he likes to see, doesn't like to see. One of the things that they do a great job of coaching Lamar and all the quarterbacks on is the platform. That's the base, and they want to have a good, wide base. They want the knees bent. They want to throw from a low posture to bring the legs into it, just like any sport. And, that's a big part of it. So, I think as long as he has that part of it, the release point is probably not quite as important, especially for a talented guy like Lamar. He's a natural thrower. He has natural accuracy. A lot of times when we evaluate quarterbacks, we refer to them as 'athletic throwers.' Does he have athleticism in the way he throws? And, Lamar certainly does, so as long as you're accurate with that, and you have a good platform, then you can be accurate and put the ball where it's supposed to be."

To that point, when you went back and watched the tape of all those throws, what stood out to you about the way he threw the ball that tells you, "Hey, he can throw more going down the road in this offense?" (Ryan Mink) "I'm not even answering a veiled question like that. Yes, he can throw the ball more down the road! What are you asking me? Are we going to throw the ball more down the road? Come on, come on. Yes, we're going to throw the ball more down the road! He's a great thrower; the guy can pass. You saw him throw. He threw some great balls out there! How many plays did the kid make running around throwing the ball, in the pocket throwing the ball. He can do it. So, all this veiled stuff, 'Is he really a thrower?' I have news for you: He's a thrower. The kid can throw. He's a quarterback. He's a quarterback. So, all these little veiled questions – and if anybody is out there [saying], 'Oh, I can't believe 'Harbs' is getting so ticked,' – I don't appreciate the insinuation of the question. We will continue to say it: Lamar Jackson is a quarterback. Did you see the game yesterday? He's a quarterback. Any more questions about that?"

I want to ask about the running back. Will RB Gus Edwards receive more carries going forward? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes." (Reporter: "And where does RB Kenneth Dixon fit into the picture?") "I don't know. We'll see. We'll see. He has to practice more than one time. I have to see the guy practice. If I see him practice, I'll know where he fits in."

I have a quarterback question. When QB Robert Griffin III came back, he said the year he was off, one of the things he learned was that he should slide with his feet forward. Has that been an emphasis that you guys talk to QB Lamar Jackson about to save his body? (Kevin Richardson) "Yes, that's all part of coaching the quarterbacks. James [Urban] does a great job with that. That's definitely part of it with Lamar, just like all the quarterbacks. They have protections in place, and the quarterback needs to take advantage of those."

There's a video with G Marshal Yanda and Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict. Have you seen the video, and do you have any comment? (Jamison Hensley) "I haven't seen the video. I heard about it." (Reporter: "So, you have no comment if you didn't see the video?")"What do you want me to comment on? My point is, you want me to comment on whether I think Marshal Yanda spit at somebody during the game? Is that what you want me to comment on? Are you really, seriously, asking that question? Here's my point on that: This guy has been playing for how many years? [Twelve] years. He played at the University of Iowa. Have you ever – for whoever wrote the article that makes the insinuation – have you ever heard of Marshal Yanda's character being attacked or him doing something along those lines ever in his whole career? But now, all of the sudden, we're going to say, 'Oh, I know Marshal Yanda spit at somebody, at a person?' Really? Come on. No way. There's no way. Now, go back and look at the whole video, OK? What happened on the play? That's a late play, right? That's a lot of activity going on way after the whistle. Marshal is on the ground; his arm gets stepped on by No. 55 [Burfict]. It's OK. I'm not going to stand up here and say '55' did it on purpose, because I'm not going to point the bony finger of blame when I don't know what somebody's intentions are. So, for all those 'journalists' out there that think they somehow inherited the position to judge another man's character when they don't know his intention, we don't give that any consideration whatsoever. None. It's not worth it. It's kind of an indication of where our society is going right now. So, I think you should rise above that at ESPN. Step above that and respect a guy like Marshal Yanda for who he is and what he's done." (Reporter: "For the record, we didn't write that.")

Some of the younger guys were saying that it was really natural for them to play that style of offense because they ran it in college and high school. Did you notice that, with these younger players running so many zone reads? Was it natural for them to pick it up? (Aaron Kasinitz)"I don't know. The guys have run those plays before, so it's a plus. Are you talking about Gus [Edwards]? Give me some specifics." (Reporter: "Gus, Orlando [Brown Jr.] mentioned it.") "Yes, those guys have run those plays before. That's probably a good thing. It probably is an element of that for the running back, in terms of the feel for when the quarterback is going to give it and pull it. That's valuable. I haven't seen the other guys have a problem with it. So, I don't know. I don't think it's a detriment for the guys who are a little older who haven't done it, but the fact that those guys have been in that offense probably is a good thing. Hey, that's kind of been the way football has been played in college and high school for a lot of years now. Those guys are all coming into the NFL, so there's no doubt you're going to see more and more of that in our league."

You can't always tell everything from warm-ups. It didn't look like T Ronnie Stanley was out there with the starters – at least in the full warm-up drills. Was his status touch-and-go around game time?" (Jeff Zrebiec)"No, he was playing."

What does it say about him and how he fought through? He obviously wasn't 100-percent, but he fought through it? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I thought he played well. When you watch the game, Ronnie was really good. He played a really good game – very physical, finished blocks really as well as he has done, better than some of the [other] games. Yes, I was very impressed with Ronnie's game, and he has a pretty good high-ankle sprain. That's never easy; that's painful. He dealt with it. He had to come out a couple times, but he wanted to get right back in there and play. I was very proud of him."

Do you feel like T Ronnie Stanley has taken a step forward this season? (Childs Walker)"I do. Yes, he's taken a step forward. He's a young player, a very talented guy. From the physicality and a finish standpoint – those are things that he's really been focusing on this year. It seems to be paying off."

We only get to see the earlier part of practices now. With RB Gus Edwards specifically, have you seen him coming on lately? Have you seen anything in him where you were thinking that he was…  (Jamison Hensley) "No, it was just out of the blue. It came out of the blue."(joking) ("Reporter: "No, what I was saying is has he progressed in a certain way?") "He has been practicing great. Yes, he's been practicing great. I think I have said that in here before. He's been practicing great. He's been playing well on special teams. It's a practice sport. It's not like, all of a sudden, guys just show up and they play well, or, 'Give this guy a chance.' Players say that sometimes, 'Just give me a chance!' You get a chance every day in practice. Go out there and dominate – and Gus has been doing that. He's been doing it in practice, he's been doing it in special teams, and he's been doing it in the few carries he's had in games. It has been a goal to get him more carries in games before this. It wasn't like this happened in the last week or two; it's been probably two months that he's been doing it. That's a great lesson for any young player. If you want to play? Play well – play well in practice every day and stack days and earn trust. He's done a good job of that. He has to build on that. I love what he said. He's not sitting there reading his press clippings. His focus is on becoming a better player tomorrow than he was today."

You mentioned with LB Chris Board the fight [of being an undrafted guy]. RB Gus Edwards is another undrafted rookie. Was he also in that undrafted mix of trying to recruit him getting here? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes. Gus, and Mark Thompson was another guy like that. We had a really good free agent class. Our coaches and scouts did a great job of recruiting those guys. I like those guys a lot."

I don't believe you've ever had a chance to go up against Jon Gruden as a coach. Do you reflect back to maybe some of the things you shared with him when he was in the Monday Night Football booth in the production meetings? Does that ever come back, and you think maybe you've said something to him? (Jerry Coleman)"I don't remember. I did kind of make him mad one year. Jay [Gruden] was the offensive coordinator for the Bengals, and we were playing the Bengals in the [2012] opener. We said he couldn't come into the building to do the production meeting stuff. He thought that was over-the-top. We went out to the bus. He was great though. We won that game, as I recall. That's really all. I don't have anything – no funny anecdotes to share, no great stories. Sorry."

When you're talking to the referees before the game, is there any extra emphasis put on, "Hey, you have to protect our quarterback here. He's going to be running and diving forward for plays." Oftentimes, I see quarterbacks not allotted enough protection when they're runners. Is there any extra emphasis on that with QB Lamar Jackson? (Ryan Mink) _"Are you trying to get me in trouble now? Is that your goal?"(Reporter: "I'm not getting you in trouble.")_"You're going to get me in trouble. The league will tell you that they protect all the quarterbacks exactly the same. That's what they'll tell you. So, I'll take them at their word."

In a league that's so pass-heavy, were you proud of the way you ran the ball? A majority of the yardage came on the ground. (David Ginsburg) "That's just a credit to the players. I just feel like however you move the ball is good. There are different ways to do it, and you do it based on your personnel and what's available to you as a coach. You try to figure that out – who you're playing against and what your guys can do well. The coaches do the best they can to put a gameplan together, and sometimes it's run, sometimes it's pass. You want it to be a mix, you know, both. Sometimes you do well at it, and sometimes you don't. But in the end, it's a player's game. The players deserve the credit for running the ball so well. They'll look at the tape, and they'll be like, 'Man, we could do so much better.' And they're going to have to do so much better, because teams will adjust and adapt and find ways to try to stop the plays that we're running. We'll have to improve how we execute them. We always take pride in the players, and a good pride in the players and how they perform. That's what it's all about as a coach."

How does yesterday's post-game victory speech inside the locker room compare to some of the more post-game victory celebrations you've had in the past. I know you used the word "good" at least eight times. I lost track! Where did the motivation come from? (Jerry Coleman)"It was good! Good. That's a message we had the night before that we shared with the guys. We can put it out if you guys want. We should put it out on the website."(Executive vice president of public & community relations Kevin Byrne: "Jocko [Willink], a former soldier.") "Yes, and Leif Babin [from] a book they wrote about their time in Ramadi – two Navy SEALS who were leading a Navy SEAL special forces group in Ramadi during the surge. They're mindset to it – to adversity – it's awesome. It's awesome. Our guys … I don't know, man. It's just us. I told them, 'That's us. Watch this. This is us. This is us.' You're going to be a proud Raven fan? You want to be a real Raven fan? You should be proud of that. But we should put that [video] out. That would be awesome to give some background for everybody, where that's coming from. It was fun."

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