JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE: WEEK 16 at Chargers
Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody – appreciate everybody being here. [We're] just trying to turn this thing over and go to work. Coaches have done a great job, and we're game-planning [Los Angeles] right now. The week will be a little bit condensed. We'll have the players in here tomorrow and start installing the gameplan, and then [practice] Wednesday and Thursday, and we'll be leaving on Thursday to fly out to San … L.A. Thank you. (laughter) I stand corrected. I called the Cardinals 'St. Louis' for a long time, too. I finally got over that. So, apologies on that. But, that's where we're at."
After the game, did you get home and turn on the TV and see what happened between New England and Pittsburgh? You had to have a reaction. (Jerry Rosburg)"Not one that I want to share publicly. (laughter) Hey, that's football. Of course, that's what I'm going to say. Good! Make it the toughest possible road that we could have, and that's what our guys thrive on."
Do you look at the playoff scenario? Does someone tell you what you have to do and what could happen and all of that? Or, do you just go in there and know you need to win two games? (David Ginsburg)"No, we know. We know all the different issues. We have guys here; [senior football analyst] Eugene Shen and some of the other guys do a great job with all of that, and these guys are brilliant people, and they figure all that out for me and explain it, probably twice, so I can understand it. But, we know what we need to do, and we know the percentages on ties and different things like that. So, it's something you really need to know strategically going into a game, I think, to understand where you stand. And, that's been that way for the last three, four, five weeks. We've known that with each of these games, so yes, and yes."
When G/C Bradley Bozeman went in for G/T James Hurst yesterday, was James having any kind of physical problem? Or, what was behind that? (Childs Walker) "Right, that was part of the plan. We planned to do that, and we thought it worked out really well."
Do you have a sense of pride here in that the way you guys are winning is pretty old-school? Defense, running the ball – it pretty much goes against what the NFL is right now. It really seems to work for this team, and it's been a Ravens' tradition, too. (David Ginsburg) "I do, I do. I feel good about it. To me, it's good football. I talked to my dad, obviously; he has good feelings about it. It's good football, and I appreciate the way our guys are playing. I think we can play better football, and Terrell Suggs mentioned to me in the locker room after the game that very thing, that when we talk to the guys on Tuesday, this is one of the things we need to talk about. We can play better football – better winning football – and that's what we'll keep striving for. But, I do agree with that, and it's a good point."
Does this style remind you of a previous team here that you've coached, maybe even the first one? (Jerry Coleman) "I haven't thought about that. It probably does. I think, yes, I'm sure that's a good comparison with that team, thinking back to it, but I haven't thought about it that much."
When you run so much and you're successful, especially at the end of games – they know you're going to run the ball, and you're still successful – how is that? When they know what you're going to do, how do you counter that and still be successful? (Jamison Hensley) "The players deserve credit, and the coaches deserve credit. I think the game-planning has been excellent, and [assistant head coach/tight ends coach] Greg Roman spearheads that, along with [offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] and [running backs coach] Thomas Hammock and 'Joe D.' [offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris], all of our coaches. But really, it's the players, and the running game does have that effect. It does have that effect, and it's tough to stop that kind of a play – of a style of play. It's tough to stop that for a whole game when it's executed well with physicality. And, our guys are doing that, and I'm proud of them for that, and that's the way we're playing football right now. But, don't discount the pass game. There were a number of plays that were made in the pass game that were critical plays to stay on the field and keep drives alive – scrambles, all those different things. So, it all goes together."
Do you have the feeling that your guys are coming out of the locker room thinking, "We're going to dominate the second half?" That's certainly how it's played out, but have you gotten that feeling from them? (Childs Walker) "We talk about that. You have a plan, and that kind of gets summed up at the last moment before you go out there, and that was the idea, but it has to do with the adjustments that you make. It's a little more specific to all three phases and the different things, but we wanted to run the ball. You can't just run the ball, just like you can't just throw the ball. But, that was really the plan, to keep hammering away. It's not just the same run. I don't know if you've noticed, but we have lots of different runs and different blocking schemes, so that has an effect also, because you don't always know where the block is coming from."
On QB Lamar Jackson's fumble on Sunday, it just looked like he kind of mishandled it, but have you seen any common thread that's correctable, in terms of why he has fumbled the last couple weeks? (Aaron Kasinitz) "They've all been different fumbles. I think the common thread is that we need to secure the football in different situations. So many different things come up for any player in a game, especially a young player. It was wet. It was a high snap. I do think when you have the option football, and you're doing it in the gun, the snap is very critical that it's in the right spot every time, and that's hard to chase perfection. So, we're chasing perfection on that, because the timing and the ball-handling is really precise. And the snap was a little high, the ball was a little slick, and it had a little steam on it. It was a quick read. All those things kind of worked against us on that one, and we just mishandled it."
What does OLB Tim Williams have to do to become a gameday option for you here down the stretch? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He has to be one of the best 46." (Reporter: "So, he's completely healthy at this point. It's just a matter of...") "Yes."
A lot of times, a lot of people have been talking about ball control. You had three drives in a row for seven minutes. You guys held the ball for 37 minutes. What does that mean for a team to put together a drive like that – and even the last one, the last seven minutes – what does it mean to you guys to control the ball like that, and to a football team in general? (David Ginsburg) "It means a lot, and I think all of our fans have … We've all watched a lot of football, and we know how hard it is to get stops at the end and to win games and to finish. So, it means a lot to finish the game on offense, not put your defense back on the field. It means everything when you have the lead. For our offense to be able to do that is such a credit to them, all of them, every single guy, every single guy that was on the field, to go out there and end the game [in] seven minutes and, what, 50 seconds? I think something like that. We get the ball and we finish on a knee. I've seen that we were five times in the red zone and we were, what, 2-of-5? Well, one of those trips was taking a knee, and that has happened two or three times in the last four or five weeks. You guys should account for that. We have to be better in the red zone. There's no doubt we want to score touchdowns, but when you're taking a knee in the red zone to end the game, that's OK, and that's a credit to the guys."
Are you still comfortable with the number of runs QB Lamar Jackson has? If you look back at Michael Vick's career, he never ran more than 15 times in a game. Lamar has done it three times in his first five games. (Jerry Coleman) "I think that's all going to work out over time. It's a very good question, and I really do think it'll work out over time. There were some scrambles yesterday, there were some RPOs, some options where he kept [the ball]. You know, we had three kneeldowns – 17 [carries] is really 14, now 14. OK, it's not 15. When you look at all that stuff, take it into account. But to me, over time that will sort itself out."
You've spoken about how important TE Nick Boyle has been as a blocker. With him going out with a concussion, how pleased were you with how the young guys stepped up? _(Luke Jones) _"That's such a great point. I can't give Maxx [Williams] enough credit. For Maxx to step in and not have any drop-off, and then Hayden [Hurst] and Mark [Andrews] came in and blocked really well. You obviously saw that. To me, it's one of those unsung things that people don't see. Those two guys stepped it up – they really did. We have a lot of depth. We have four really good tight ends."
S Eric Weddle will be going against his former team for the first time. What has Eric meant to this team for the past couple seasons? (Jamison Hensley) "First of all, he's a really good player. That's what he's meant the most. All the other things he does so well, sometimes you lose focus of the fact that he's a good player. [He] made a couple big tackles yesterday, openfield tackles, that were so important. He had a couple disguises that forced the ball to be thrown or not thrown. He showed a 'zero blitz' one time and jumped out underneath the slant route that you might not have noticed. Little things like that, I think that other team's quarterbacks comment on a lot, when you read their quotes, are things that he does. But the leadership, the attitude, the spirit, all that – the fact that he allows us to be a more complex defense back there … Him and other guys … We have smart players. Eric is a big part of that. So, all those things."
TE Hayden Hurst was fired up about a couple catches he made yesterday. You've said you've seen things in practice, but sometimes with a young player, if they don't get results on the field, you get discouraged. Do you think this might be a turning point for him? How has his confidence been, as far as you can see? (Cliff Brown)"His confidence has been good all along, but he was champing at the bit for an opportunity to prove it. He made a couple big, tough catches out there, and you could see it in his emotions [that] it mattered to him. Like, 'Finally, I had a chance to show what I can do here!' That's just going to make him even more hungry to do more. That's what you want to see as a coach."
What stands out about Chargers QB Philip Rivers and what they do? (Childs Walker) "Philip is probably one of the smartest, if not the … He's probably in the category with the top two or three guys. Dissecting the defense, playing the chess game … I'm sure he and Eric [Weddle] will have a lot of that going on during the game. He really finds the weakness; he's not afraid to take chances. The thing that's jumped out to me watching the tape of him [that] I'm really, really impressed by is his courage. He stands in there, and he waits until the last second. He's not waiting just to wait; he's waiting because he has something coming open, and he'll throw it to a spot. Most of the time it works out well for him. Sometimes you get it – sometimes you pick it off. He only holds it when he absolutely has to, and he'll take a sack if he has to. He gets the most out of every play."
What have you seen from this defense from Los Angeles? Is it safe to say this is the toughest defense that QB Lamar Jackson has faced or is going to have to face? (Jordan Schatz)"I don't know. Every defense has been tough. I don't get into the stats too much. The stats are just not that telling all the time. To me, it's more about what you see on tape. Los Angeles is a very fast defense, very fast defense. Every single guy out there can really run and motor, which will be a challenge for our offense. Maybe that's kind of what you're saying. That makes a lot of sense now that I think about it. That'll be the challenge for us."
It seems like ILB Patrick Onwuasor has been playing well recently. Have you seen an uptick in his performance? (Ryan Mink) "I have. Patrick has really stepped it up, taking it to another level the last two, three, four games – both on defense and special teams. So, credit to him. It's important for us."
Have you seen anything different with the Chargers' defense now that DE Joey Bosa is on the field, other than him being just a good player? (Aaron Kasinitz)"Not really. When you game-plan, you don't really look at it like that. You look at it more like, 'This is what they are, and how we're going to attack them, and how we're going to teach our guys what they need to prepare for.'"
With RB Gus Edwards, there aren't a lot of wasted steps. Is there a certain mentality running backs have to have to constantly do the damage in between the tackles? (Jamison Hensley) "Well yes, every running back has their own style. I don't believe there are very many running backs that are really good that don't run between the tackles well. You have to have that ability, and that takes toughness and courage. Some guys do it like Gus [Edwards] does it. Some guys do it like Barry Sanders used to it. I'm not comparing Gus to Barry Sanders. Two guys couldn't be [like Sanders], even style-wise. Everyone has their own style. But you have to run between the tackles – yes."