DAILY INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTS
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "Good to see everybody. Obviously, we had a chance to go to work and take a look at the tape and study it and analyze it and break it down and try to find the areas where we can grow as a football team – like we do every week. There are plenty of things we can do to get better, just like when we win. So, that will be our challenge. Just to state a couple of things before you ask them: PUP guys… They're available to go this week. It's been six weeks; it's Week 7, so they can practice. They don't have to practice. Basically, they have a 21-day window to begin to practice if they're healthy from now until a certain date. I'm not sure what the date is, it might be 21 days even. And then the clock starts at that point to determine whether you bring them up and put them on the 53-man [roster] or not. We will practice Ed [Reed] this week, and we will practice Brendon [Ayanbadejo] this week – starting on Wednesday. We haven't determined if we will start practicing with Matt Lawrence or not. We'll just evaluate that in the next 48 hours with the doctors and with Bill T. [Tessendorf, vice president of medical service/head certified athletic trainer] to see if we want to do that or not. As far as injuries in last night's game, there's nothing really definitive. It doesn't look like there's anything real serious. But, we've got a couple of MRIs out there today, so we don't have anything defined right now."
Will you be in contact with the league regarding Brandon Meriweather's hit on TE Todd Heap?"Well, we'll send those things in. We had a chance to talk to the league this morning about a number of things, and that was one of them. There were some issues there. The thing we try to coach our guys to do is basically hit in the strike zone and try to make an effort to do that and keep your head out of it. It's not just safety for your opponent, which it is, it's safety for yourself. When you start throwing your head in there like that, you're putting yourself at risk, but also your opponent. And it's just not good football. So, that's something that we try to do a good job of with our guys."
What impact can the return of a player the caliber of S Ed Reed have for the team?"You guys have seen it. I think we've all seen it. We have all seen the impact that Ed Reed has on a game. I'm pleased with the way the guys played for the first six weeks – the way our secondary has played together as a unit. You talk about specific players, you're basically talking mainly about 'Zibby' [Tom Zbikowski] because he was in Ed's spot – of course, Dawan [Landry] and Zibby playing together and the whole secondary playing together as a unit. If you look at the whole thing as a big picture for all six games, it was very good. It's only going to get better with Ed Reed back there. He's going to add a dynamic that is going to be a problem for offenses, because you never know where he's at. He covers ground and he sees things that other guys don't' see. And, I actually think that he would tell you that he's had a chance to grow as a football player in terms of the position he's been in as kind of as a coach. He's always the guy that wants to learn and study. He's added so much to what we've done as a coaching staff and as players and all that. But, we can't be sure that he's going to play this week either. So, we'll just have to see how it goes."
If Reed is able to play this week, will you limit the amount of time he will play?"It's going to be something we'll have to figure out. It's probably all in play. First of all, can he play? He hasn't practiced since last season. So, how's he going to respond to practice and football and bursting and all that? And then to what extent and how many reps he can take? It's going to all be up in the air."
Did New England take away some of the downfield opportunities later in the game?"They basically played, for the most part, a three-man rush, two-deep coverage, where they were dropping the 'mike' deep, a Tampa 2 style-type deal, and they were spiraling the other backer on top of Ray [Rice] for the checkdown. There are ways to attack that. Routes, they come open a little bit later against the three-man rush, and you've got to be able to give those routes a little bit of time to get open. So, I don't think there's anything with the routes we were covering. I thought our guys ran good routes and all that. It's just something that we need to grow and learn to attack a little bit better. There wasn't anything that we haven't seen before. We see it from our team in practice a lot. But obviously, we could have gotten the ball downfield better there."
With some people saying the Ravens got a little too conservative at the end, how would you characterize the offensive play-calling down the stretch?"I don't really characterize it too much. I think if you understand the coverage that they're playing, we had good plays called. I mean, we had downfield routes called against it. The checkdown is always really good against that if the downfield routes don't express themselves. And we had runs called against it, which you like against a three-man-rush – especially some draws. So, I don't think there was anything conservative about it in that sense. I don't think we executed it. I don't think we did a good enough job as coaches explaining to our players exactly how to attack it. I mean, we look at this thing, that's what we do all morning, we look at it and we say, 'You know what? What can we do better as coaches and players to solve that, that issue?' Here's a team that had two weeks to prepare for us. They had some pretty good ideas against us. They jammed our tight ends up pretty good. Those are all things, I think if we look at it really carefully, we grow from."
With Reed being banged up over the past few seasons, could this time of rest indicate that he's the healthiest he's been in a few years now?"Well it's… Healthier, I think probably, overall, yeah. He's probably had a chance… I know he's worked really hard, and when you look at him – you guys have seen him around the building – he looks very fit. He looks good. But the hip is the issue. How is the hip going to hold up with the football-related stuff? So, we'll have to see."
How frustrated were you with FB Le'Ron McClain's personal foul, and do you think losing those 10 yards had an impact on the game?"I don't get frustrated. I think it's something that you work with. It's not something that helped us. You can get mad about it, you can get disappointed about it, or whatever, [but] it's not helpful. Obviously, that's 10 yards that we don't need to regain. And the thing that we talked to our guys [about] – as a matter of fact we showed a tape on Saturday about some things around the NFL – the retaliation always gets called. And that's what you have to understand. There's a whole lot of talking, there's a whole lot of grabbing going on in there, and you just can't retaliate. That's what emotional control is all about, and we have to be 100-percent passionate, and 100-percent in control of our emotions at all times."
If Reed and Ayanbadejo are activated for Sunday, when would a corresponding roster move have to be made? "Four o'clock [p.m.] on Saturday. That'd be the latest we'd have to do it, to my understanding. Now, don't hold me to that, but that's what I understand the rule to be."
Are you OK with the way the season has played out after six weeks, with a 4-2 record, despite yesterday's loss?"That's something; that's a great point. We talked to our team about that last night, and again today. You do get disappointed with the fact that we had an opportunity to go up [to New England] and put ourselves in real good position for a lot of long-term things. But we do have the big picture in mind. We're 100-percent focused on Buffalo, and we're 100-percent focused on our season and what we can accomplish this season. I think both of those things go hand-in-hand. You try to get better every single day at everything you do, and we're sitting at 4-2, playing the game before our bye week, and we're going to be playing a very determined Buffalo Bills football team coming in here. [It's] a team that's got a lot of talent and is very well-coached and will have a lot to play for. And we will get the best Buffalo Bills team to date, and there's no question about that. But, it's a game we need to win, flat out. It's a game we need to win, because it's a home game against a conference team and it'll put us… We're 4-2, and if we're 1-0 this week, we'll be 5-2 [overall], and that's something that's really important to us."
Where is T Jared Gaither at this week with his injury, and is Injured Reserve still a looming possibility for Gaither with other players hoping to return from the PUP list this week?"I think that's unchanged right now. I haven't gotten any report on Jared. I asked him how he's feeling, and he said it's unchanged through the weekend. So, that's going to be part of the equation."
Do you feel like the AFC is even stronger this year than last year, and do you get an early indication that it will be even more difficult to make the playoffs this season?"You'd probably have to say so, right now. You never know, but man, there are some teams at the top of the AFC that just look really strong every single week. And I think we're in that category, without question. And that's exciting to be in that mix. So, we're going to have our hands full every week. You have to win. You're going to have to win a lot of games to make the playoffs in the AFC, and we understand that."
After looking at the tape, did you come up with any reason why RB Willis McGahee did not get in the game?"I think to define it in a sense of an X-and-O sense, it's just week to week. It's how you feel about how the game is going. I think the biggest thing is we felt good about Ray [Rice]. It wasn't a defined plan that Willis wasn't going to see the field, by any stretch. I think we all felt that Willis was going to play. I think we started calling the plays and [RBs coach] Wilbert [Montgomery] and [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] were rotating the backfield. They just felt that, hey, Ray was going good. The plays we were calling were good for Ray. It was a good game [for Ray] – the team we were playing. The surface we were on was good for Ray, and we just decided to stick with Ray. But you'll see plenty of Willis as we go forward."
Is there a possibility that McGahee could be traded before the deadline tomorrow?"The short answer is no. But it's fair; I can see where there could be speculation. There is no Willis trade talk. There is no way… Unless there's something that I don't know about, which I think is almost impossible, there is absolutely no way he's being traded. He will be on our team this week and for the rest of the season, and he'll be a huge part of what we're doing. Willis is a really good player. The thing on our offense is we have a lot of really good players. It's a good thing, but it's also a thing where I think every week we're probably going to be answering these questions. 'Why didn't this guy get carries? Why didn't this guy get throws?' That's going to probably be a weekly thing you guys are going to ask, which is going to be fair. But it's going to be tough to have everybody involved completely ever single week."
Is there anything internal that McGahee has done in terms of rules or violations?"Willis has been great. Willis is 100-percent on top of everything [and] has been working really hard. He's been tremendous."
Did you say anything to K Billy Cundiff before he kicked the ball out of bounds in terms of keeping it away from Patriots WR Brandon Tate?"Like 'kick it out of bounds?' *(laughter) *No. We didn't. We were into the wind, and there was a corner wind coming from that corner. We were trying to drive the ball low and hard to the left hash, thinking the wind would blow outside the left hash a little bit. I think probably two things happened. I think probably he overcooked it a little bit, bringing it over to the left. Probably the wind caught it a little more than he anticipated, and then it scooted out of bounds by 1 yard. I thought it was really… It was tough. We were covering kicks well, we were kicking off well. There was no reason to think they would've gotten the ball past the 25 there. And that probably gave them 15 or 20 more yards that made a big difference in that drive. That was disappointing."
Did something that happened in warm-ups go into the decision to inactivate CB Josh Wilson?"Yeah. It was a situation where Josh felt like if he… When he opened up to his top speed that [there] was a possibility that it would go. So I don't think we had to risk him in that situation and lose him for a few weeks."
Do you anticipate a lot of playing time for Zbikowski once Reed returns?"I'd like to say yeah, because he's played so well. You've got Haruki [Nakamura] in that mix; Ken Hamlin's in that mix. We've got some depth there, and we always do packages for guys. We'll be mixing guys in. So, we'll just have to figure that out this week. And some of it will have to go with Tom's heel and where he's at with that."
Would you be in favor of the league instituting suspension for helmet-to-helmet hits?"Absolutely. I think we're all responsible to adhere to the rules, the letter of the law and the spirit of the law as much as we can, especially when it comes to injuries. I'd be disappointed if one of our guys got suspended, and I would think they would probably do something in terms of that would be a one-strike-and-out kind of a thing. But when you become a repeat offender, trying to hurt guys – and I'm not saying [Patriots S Brandon Meriweather] is, I'm just saying generally speaking – that's something that would need to be addressed probably with suspensions. I'd be for that."
Do you like seeing confidence that players expressed after the loss, saying that they would beat the Patriots if they meet later in the year?"Let me see if I can figure out what you're asking here. What are you asking? (Reporter says that after the game, Ravens players said that the Patriots would not want to see the Ravens down the road because the Ravens would beat them.) I talked to [Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick, and he told us he wanted to see us again. We both laughed about it, because there's a lot of respect for both teams, there's no question about it. I feel like they respect us; I know we respect them. That's why that win up there [in the playoffs] was so meaningful to the Ravens last year, because of how much we respect that football team. We'll probably get a chance to play them again. I know we will at some point in time. We'll look forward to it."
Is CB Lardarius Webb reacting a little too much to fakes? It seems like in the Pittsburgh game and this game he was caught looking a few times...."Which play specifically? (Reporter answers, 'I guess on the touchdown.') Oh, the touchdown. Yeah, the touchdown is a scramble rule-type of a deal. So, when you get in that situation where the quarterback begins to scramble – we work real hard on that – it becomes block-on-your-man-type coverage. And, he did [react to the fake]. He got his eyes in the backfield, and then he got shook and lost coverage on that. So, I think that's a little bit of a lack of experience thing on an extended play. He's got to learn from that. Double moves… I don't think there was a double move on Lardarius that I can remember in the game. The back shoulder fade got him at the end, but he was in tight coverage there. I thought that was really well executed by them. That's a tough one to cover in press man."
Have you been pleased with the amount of pressure you've been able to get on the quarterbacks so far this year? "Generally, I think we've gotten good pressure. We had three sacks against a guy that is pretty hard to sack. We had a number of quarterback hits that were perfectly well-executed quarterback hits. I was really pleased with those, but we want more. We definitely want more, and we're going to try to get more."
Can you talk about QB Joe Flacco passing [Kyle] Boller for most career passing yards and what that means to this franchise and the fact that he did it in under three years? "Oh, did he? Oh, OK. I didn't know that. I think that's great. I hope there's many more to come."
Can you talk about the maturation of Flacco and going back to that quarterback sneak? Is that a situation you'd like to see him audible out of when he sees that stacked front against him, or does he even have the ability to do that on his own yet? "You can still run the quarterback sneak against that look. It's just a matter of where you run the ball. Obviously, they can't defend every gap, and Joe's got some options in there where to take the ball. You can check out of it. You can check into it. Probably, those are things that we don't want to talk about how we're doing it, but I would say that we need to do it better. There's no reason that you can't get six inches on third-and-six inches. All of us, together, are figuring out how to do that, and that's something that we have to do. I don't want to get stopped on third-and-six inches anymore."
On special teams, what do you feel like your team needs to do better to get longer returns out of kickoffs and punts? And also, the penalties seemed like a problem again this week... "Penalties just aren't acceptable right now, and there's no reason for them. The only thing you can do… It's been coached and coached, and it's been drilled and drilled, and it's been made important and made important. We got better at it last year, and they're starting to crop up again. The only thing I can say to those guys is that, 'You won't be playing.' Flat out. If you can't block without holding a guy on special teams, if you can't tell that that's his back and not his front and you put your hands on his back, then you can't play for us. It's just that simple. As far as longer returns, I think first of all, in the punt game in this last game we've got to catch the ball. So, before we get longer returns, maybe we can catch the ball. We lost 69 yards in situations like that, overall special teams, not just the punts. We still won the field position battle because we were covering so well and we got a turnover. We shouldn't have brought those two balls out of the end zone. There's no reason to go left and come back right from three yards deep, and you don't bring one out when it's 4.3 hangtime or thereabouts. So, that's just decision-making. But, we will find a returner that will make good decisions and run the ball where we want it run. We just have to do that. It's really important."
How is LB Tavares Gooden coming along? "Bill [Tessendorf] says he's coming along very well, actually. I'm not sure what the timeframe is, but I don't think it's going to be too long."
There were a couple of the fourth-down plays. What is the process like with you and Cam [Cameron] deciding whether you're going to go for it, not go for it, depending on where it is on the field, and then ultimately making that decision? "What's the process? We talk back and forth, and we communicate. There's no science to it."
There was one in the second quarter where you decided not to go for it around the 50 [-yard line]. "Well, in the second quarter I'm probably not going for it on fourth down around the 50-yard line, especially if we've got the lead, which I think we did. At the end of the game, it was a decision. I think it could have gone either way. Hindsight… By virtue of the fact that they drove the ball down the length of the field, [it's] pretty easy to make that decision in hindsight. At the time, we had the lead. I liked the way our defense was playing. I think we stopped them three times after that, so it wasn't like we couldn't stop them. But, if we'd have gone for it, there's a good chance we would have made it because it was fourth-and-nches."
You said Gaither's status with possibly putting him on Injured Reserve could be part of the equation if you activate these PUP guys. Is that a strong likelihood, and how tough will it be when you bring two guys back to make the cuts to bring them back? "It's going to be really hard, because when that happens, it's going to be a player that's going to some way, shape or form not be a part of the 53 [-man roster]. It's going to be really hard. I don't know the likelihood of anybody right now. I haven't thought about percentages. But, [I'm] looking forward to getting those guys back. [I'm] not looking forward to losing anybody. That's the tough dilemma of it."