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Transcript - John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference


Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Obviously, it was a difficult loss against a good football team. We had a chance to talk last night after the game, and a lot of times you come in and you watch the tape, and you're like, 'We saw this was different and that was different,' but this was one of those times when it was pretty much what we saw when we saw it live. It was not too much different than what we saw. It was a disappointing loss, because I think we had an opportunity in these first two weeks to really do some damage and put ourselves in great position. We were playing two playoffs teams, on the road, to start the season, in the conference, right out of the gates. And if we would've been able to get off to a 2-0 start, it would have given us a big leg up. We weren't able to do that, but we played hard; we competed. We felt our guys really fought and tried to find a way to win that game. But we were unable to do it, so we move on. We're in good position still, and we've got a tough opponent, a division opponent, a must-type of a game and a home opener here coming up, and you take your focus and you move it right to that next game. And that's what we need to do."

Did QB Joe Flacco express any frustrations on the way home from Cincinnati, once the team was away from the media?"If he did [show that], I wouldn't share it with you. That's in-house stuff. That's an opportunity for guys to be on their own. Everybody handles it a different way. But it's not like we're walking around asking guys how they feel. Guys feel the way they feel. We all felt disappointed. We all felt it was a tough loss. But in this league, you have to get over that. You've got the plane ride home, you get home, you get to bed, and you get back up the next day and go to work. And that's what we did today. You go to work, you watch the tape. We've had a practice, we've addressed all the football issues that came up during the game, and we try to move forward from there."

What are your thoughts on the LB Terrell Suggs "roughing the passer" penalty call now that you've had a chance to watch the game film?"My thoughts are, from a coaching perspective, you try to coach your guy. We've talked about this before with penalties, right? You try to coach your guys to do things from a technique standpoint correctly. There are no corrections that you can make on those two penalties. Those guys did exactly what they were asked to do within the rules of the game. I thought they did it perfectly well. Ray got cut, he was going 100 miles per hour, he got cut, he was rolling on the ground, his legs were on the ground, and Carson [Palmer] tripped. What am I going to tell Ray, as a coach? Terrell wrapped up the quarterback and tackled him. So, that's what we coach our guys to do. They did exactly what we coach them to do. And we just move on from there. You can't control the rest of it."

Has the NFL sent you an explanation on those penalty calls, and have you asked for one?"We always do. We always send that stuff. There'll be a lot more plays than those two that we send in. I think the league does a good job. They work really hard to try to make the officiating [fair] and make us all understand what the officials are looking at and doing the best they can with it. It's a tough job. It's not easy. And, we just move on. It's not something that we're going to sit there and worry about. They'll do the best they can to get better, and we'll do the best we can."

What were your thoughts of Flacco's performance yesterday?"Hey, four interceptions is too much, but it's not just the quarterback. I'm not ducking the fact. Joe will be the first to tell you he wants to play better. The offensive line and the wide receivers and the running backs and the defense and the special teams would all say the same thing. That just goes for everybody. So, I'm not going to stand up here and single one guy out. I guarantee, on our football team and our coaching staff, every single person has singled one guy out. And who do you think that guy is – themselves, right? And that's what we do. And that's why I'm proud of our guys. Joe will be the guy to single himself out. And we'll all single ourselves out and try to get better and help each other better, and that what's we do. It's a long season. He's going to play a lot better, I guarantee you that."

What would the process be for making a change in personnel during the course of a game?"Anytime you talk about a player personnel situation, it's always a coordinated effort, but that's my call in the end. The head coach will decide from a standpoint of production ability who's going to play, who's going to start and all that stuff. But you take input, obviously, from the position coach and from the coordinator, because they're watching every day, and you just have a conversation about it. So, you always put the guys in that give you the best chance to win."

How is LB Tavares Gooden doing today after getting injured during the game?"We'll see. He's got the MRI, so I don't know until that comes back. Wednesday, we'll just kind of see where he's at. We've got a lot of guys – like most Mondays – with bumps and bruises. Tavares' looks a little more serious, because he had to get an MRI, and hopefully, that will come back not too major."

Do you like what you've seen from G/T Chris Chester and G/T Marshal Yanda on the right side of the offensive line?"Yeah, generally speaking, yeah, [but] there are things that they can do better. They're very athletic guys, and they allow you to do some things from that standpoint, and you try to play to their strengths as much as you can. So, I think they've played well."

Can you assess CB Lardarius Webb's performance in his first game back?"I thought he played well. He played outside, played in the nickel situations mostly on third down. I think there was only one route that got away from him the whole game, and he was kind of anticipating a route that Chad [Ochocinco] likes to run in that situation. So, he looked as well as could he hoped for, I think."

How do you see the situation at cornerback shaping up with a few guys coming back now – like CB Cary Williams – and is it nice to have that depth at the position?"I've heard coaches say you can't have too many cornerbacks, and it's probably true. The thing it's going to give us – and you throw the safeties in the mix [with] Ken [Hamlin], Haruki [Nakamura], [Tom Zbikowski], on top of Dawan [Landry] – but those guys really give us a lot of flexibility with our packages. So, we're going to be able to put a lot of defensive backs on the field and run different pressure packages and different coverage packages that are going to be tough for people to identify. So, that will be a plus for us."

Is Williams already back with the team after serving his suspension, and what does he need to do to get back in football mode after missing the last two weeks?"Well, just practice, you know? I think he was out there today, and [we'll] get him into meetings and get him back on track. He went through all the training camp and the whole offseason, so I don't think it will be too much, but it was good to see his face sitting in the room there."

Did you have to make any transactions to re-add Williams to the 53-man roster?"We have to by 4:00 [p.m.] tomorrow."

Is a hungry team like Cleveland a dangerous team?"Yeah. I think the thing that you'll find out is every team in this league is really hungry, and obviously, they're looking for a win. So are we. And every team is dangerous. That's proven week-in and week-out. We respect the Cleveland Browns. They've proven time and time again that they can beat us or anybody else. We've had tough games against them every time we've played them, and this will be no exception."

Was there any time during the game yesterday that you thought it just might not be Flacco's day and that a change at the position might help?"I wouldn't probably share that with you if there was. That's just something that's kind of what we talk about in-house, and like I said before, it goes with every position. You always want to put your team in the best position to win a football game on a given day. And there are a lot of conversations that take place. Some of them are meaningful, and some of them aren't."

Is it difficult to hear a lot of people saying that there should be a change at the quarterback position?"I haven't heard any of it. I haven't seen any of it, so it's no problem for me. What we'll do is… Nobody's got a better perspective on it than us, in-house. And we like our football team, we like our players. We're not one bit concerned about our talent level at any position. We know we can win with the guys we've got, and that's what we intend to do."

WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh was hard on himself after the game. When you saw the tape, was he close to making a play or does he still need to get more comfortable with the team?"No, I think Joe [Flacco] put a couple balls there, and T.J. went up to get them and just didn't come down with them. He made an effort to come down with them, and those are plays he's made a lot of times. But those are tough plays. But he's a great player, and he expects to make those plays. So, I was pretty impressed with the fact that that's how he felt. I'm very certain he's going to make a lot of those plays this year."

What have you seen from Flacco the last few years that gives you confidence that he'll bounce back after a slow start?"He always has. He's always bounced back. He bounced back from a tough first half and led us on that [scoring] drive to start the second half. He's always done [it in] the past. He'll do it. That's the kind of person he is. He's a competitive guy. He's a talented guy. He's starting his third year. So you look around, you look at the history, there are going to be ups and downs. We lost a game. You lose games for different reasons, and you try to correct them and move on to the next game and try to win the next one."

Have you heard from the NFL about how animated and emotional you were on the sidelines during the roughing the passer call against Suggs?"I haven't. It's funny, the refs, the guys… And [line judge Ron Marinucci] is one of the best in the league. He's really talented. I was a little animated in describing the strike zone, I think, and I think he understood the emotions of it. I'll make sure that I let him know that I think I was over the line in my animation without question, and that's never something you want to do. And the point is we had great conversations with those guys throughout the game. We respected – we disagreed and it was animated – but it was respectful throughout. And I know Ron understood that it was respectful, so it should be OK."

Do you consider it unfair that you had to play back-to-back road games on Monday night and then Sunday? Are you glad it came early in the season?"Yeah, I guess. If you start looking at that, you'd rather have that kind of a thing early because we're probably a little stronger, fresher, whatever, at this point of time in the season. I don't think they'd ever do a Sunday-Thursday back-to-back road [game]. Obviously, they did a Monday-Sunday in this case, and we just had to deal with it. I don't know if it's fair. It doesn't really matter. You look at everybody's schedule – they're going to have one or two things in their schedule that they're going to look at go, 'Wow, that's really tough.' So this is one of ours. We just deal with it."

Did S Tom Zbikowski look better on returns? How did RB Jalen Parmele look?"I thought Zbikowski looked better on all but one – the one that was kicked over in the left corner that he tried to bring back to the middle. That was a flashback. I didn't like that one at all. He could just go straight up the field, and he's got 15 yards where he's not going to get touched. But the rest of them were good. He took the ball north and south and made some plays. And Jalen really hit north and south. Our kick return was very effective. But then he tried to make a cut, and got hit right on the ball, and it popped out. When you change direction full-speed on kick returns, you've got to put two hands on the ball, and he knows that. I thought they both did OK."

Is the offense a work in progress that you expect to get better week to week or are you disappointed that it hasn't materialized yet?"It's going to materialize, and we're going to be a winning offense – there's no doubt about that. We've got good players and we've got a good, physical offensive line. We've got a great scheme. It's not going to be like this kind of a process. You're going to have ups and downs, because it's competitive. You're going against different defenses; they come up with different ideas. Every game is different. This game was a tough game for us. We did not play as well on that side of the ball as we expect to. And we've got to find a way to get better next week. Really, that's it."

This is the latest home opener in team history. Does it feel good to be playing at home this weekend?"Yeah. I didn't realize that. That's good information. It does seem like forever since we came out of that tunnel. I think it's going to be special for our guys. I think our fans are going to be excited – we need them. Obviously, it's tough to play on the road, so let's make it tough on an opponent to play on the road. Let's show them what it's like to play in Baltimore."

Is the team close to a deal with rookie LB Sergio Kindle?"I have not heard. I don't know. I hope so, that would be great."

Are turnovers an inevitable side effect of an aggressive offense?"If you'd look at the great offenses, you'd say, 'No.' You've got to be aggressive and you've got to be… We want to be first in the league in ball security and the winningest offense in the league. That's our goal. So we're going to be aggressive. We're going to throw it, we're going to run it, whatever we have to do – but we can't afford to turn it over. That's job one. It's been that way for the last – going on three years now. That's something that we have to get resolved. We can't be minus-six, averaging minus-three a game, and expect to win games. That just cannot happen."

Did you notice if WR Anquan Boldin was frustrated on the field yesterday?"I was frustrated. I want our guys... I expect our guys to be frustrated if we're not playing up to our capabilities as a team. That doesn't bother me at all. I think the main thing is that you corral that and you focus it on the next play and how you play football, and Anquan does that. I think all our guys do a good job of that, for the vast most part."

Can you find a silver lining in this game in that the defense didn't let up a touchdown?"I think there are a lot of 'silver linings' so to speak. We're playing really good football in a lot of ways. We just didn't do the things we needed to do to win this game. The reasons are really obvious, and it's not hard to figure out what cost us the game, per se. We told our guys that we want to get better at everything. The things that we consider that we're doing really, really well – we want to get better at that. So red-zone defense is something that we're doing well, but we're not satisfied with that. We need to get better at red-zone defense, just like we do turnovers and everything else."

With batted balls, is it more that the offensive line can maybe bat their hands down?"Yeah, we've had a couple batted balls. I don't think it's an epidemic yet, but what you try to do is you try to get their… The offensive line needs to get their hands down, and you do that by being physical in pass protection, whether you're knocking their hands down or just knocking them down if they try to jump up."

There was a question about balance in play-calling yesterday. How much do you in a given game change plays or do you really just stay out of it to revisit on a Monday? "As far as the run-pass ratio?"

Just in general, do you have input on gameday or do you stay out of that side of it until after? "We've got a communication that takes place. When you're the head coach, you're responsible for every part of it, so I let my feelings be known. And if I ever want to make a point on any one of the three phases, I'll do it. But I've got a lot of confidence in our coordinators, too. And our coordinators do a great job of play-calling all three phases. We can get better at everything – every part of our football, coaching and playing."

Do you think that the cliché that an offense needs to have an "identity" is just sort of that, a cliché, or is there some reality to that? "Well, if you want to say it's just going to be this – a running offense or just going to be a passing offense – I'd say it's just bogus, because you have to be able to do everything pretty well. You know you can't… If you think you can line up and run the ball 70 times a game or throw the ball 70 times a game, that's not true. But you have to be able to do both effectively. If we can run the ball better in situations, we will. If we can throw the ball better, we will. We're going to try to get good at everything. I'll say this about our identity, and I think it's been established: We want to be a physical football team, a fundamentally sound football team, and rough and tough in everything we do. So, if you're talking about offense… If you're throwing the ball, that doesn't mean you're not physical and you're not disciplined, you're not smart, you're not tough and all those things. So, you try to find that in all areas. That's our identity."* *

How is RB Ray Rice doing?"He's got a little ankle [injury], but he was out there today, so he looked OK."

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