Transcript - John Harbaugh Press Conference


Opening statement: "After watching the tape, it was pretty much what we thought after the game. The details and the issues, the things we did well and didn't do well, came out on the tape. We got a chance to study them and understand why we did some things well and why we didn't do some things well. Obviously, you can ask about any of those things. From an injury standpoint, nothing major came up in the game. Really, [there were] just bumps and bruises and things like that. Chris Chester – the doctors have asked us to describe it as an infection. Cellulitis is a part of it, and infection covers all of it. It is just a matter of how fast that clears up. Like we said, it could be a week or two, and we'll just get him back as soon as we can."

What would you say to the fans who are nitpicking things about the Ravens' performance in yesterday's game after such a decisive win?"I don't have to do that until tomorrow night when I have my show. (laughing) So, I wouldn't say anything to them until tomorrow night. (laughing) They have a right to do that. People care, I think. We care, they care, the coaches care. It's important to the fans. We do the same thing. We nitpick ourselves. Our players nitpick every little thing that they do well or don't do well, and we do the same thing as coaches and we do the same thing for our own performances. That's fine. We're OK with it. We get a chance to watch the tape and have a good understanding of what we're trying to do, and it's tough. It's tough to win; it's tough to compete in this league. It's back and forth, it's a push and a pull. It's competition, and you do the best you can."

Do you feel any need to address with WR Derrick Mason the heated exchange he had with QB Joe Flacco on the sidelines during the game yesterday?"What do you mean by address? You mean here, publicly? It's been addressed. Everything gets addressed in one way or another. You don't turn a blind eye to anything as a coach in this league, or as a player in this league. You address everything. I talked to [Mason] about it after the game; I talked to him about it in the locker room. It wasn't anything serious that we had to work through – just make sure we were on the same page and make sure Joe is on the same page. I talked to Joe during the game, I talked to him after the game, I talked to him today again, you know, about different things. That was just a small part of it. So, I'm not too concerned about it."

Are there times when a player can cross the line between having passion for the game and needing to get his emotions under control?"I don't want to comment necessarily on a specific guy, but there's always a fine line between focusing your passion. Derrick, over the years, if you want to talk about him, he does a good job of focusing his passion, because it shows up in his play. He plays passionately and he plays very well. Joe's got a very passionate personality, and you see it expressed in different ways. So, everybody does it differently. I do it in different ways. Everybody does it in different ways. You never want to let your emotions get control of your performance, that's the main thing. And you want to treat your teammates with respect. I don't think that line has been crossed. But, we have competitive guys, we've got fighters, and guys will fight for themselves and for their teammates. That's part of it."

Is there something rookie NT Terrence Cody could have done to avoid being chop-blocked or is it just tough for him because is such a big guy?"You're right, you have to be able to play the chop block. You can't get cut. On defensive line, a defensive play, you can't get chopped, you can't get knocked off the ball and you can't run around behind blocks. Those three things just cannot happen. And, he got chopped, and that created the hole defensively. They did a good job, scheme-wise, on that one, and we corrected it after that and that issue never came up again. Sometimes they catch you in the front and they run the perfect play, too. So, you make an adjustment, you tweak it. I thought our guys did a good job rallying to it and getting the ball down. But, that was the basis of the play, yeah."

How do you feel Cody played overall?"He played OK. He can play a lot better. We expect him to keep playing better and better. We need him to be a force in there – in the middle. And I know he wants to do that."

How important was the 49-yard field goal by K Billy Cundiff in the fourth quarter?"It kind of got lost in all the conversation after the game – that kick. Here we are in a one-score game. We moved the ball down the field and end up getting stopped there. We had that scuffle on the sideline, and Billy runs out there and makes a 49-yard kick on a soft field. That was a heck of a kick, and that was huge because it took [the lead] to 10 points."

Do you feel Cundiff is playing at a Pro Bowl level this season?"Sure. He's 59-percent [on] touchbacks, and his field goal percentage is right up there with the rest of the league leaders. So, if he's not a Pro Bowl guy, I don't know who is in the AFC as a kicker."

Did rookie WR/RS David Reed's kickoff return mean a lot since the Ravens have struggled with the return game this season?"Well, we wanted to score. I'm disappointed the thing didn't go all the way. But, no, it was good to see us get out. It was blocked really well; it was run really well. We need more than that. That makes such a difference. It looked like Lardarius [Webb] was getting more comfortable as a punt returner. So, if we can get the return game going here down the stretch, that's really going to be important."

Where is having a home playoff game on the list of goals before the season even begins?"I would think every team that's a contender makes that a priority, [but] let's take care of first things first. The first thing we have to do to accomplish what we need to accomplish. We have to take care of Tampa Bay. That's a really good, young football team coming in here that's playing very well. That'll give us a chance to win our division, and that's what we need to do first. After that we can talk about those other things after that."

Do players talk amongst themselves on the sideline about the importance of finishing games strong, and is it different now from previous weeks?"Not unlike some of the past weeks. That's something we want to do every week, and we talked about it [in] Atlanta: 'Let's get off the field, let's get these guys out, let's win this thing, let's close it out.' So, you try to do that every week. Obviously, our two big players came up with two huge plays, and you watch the one interception that Ray [Lewis] got, Jarret Johnson got a big hit on the quarterback that forced the ball to come out real fast. So, those are the things that are a team effort. You look at Ed's [Reed] interception, [and] our linebackers were underneath that thing, forcing the throw up over the top, and right, really, into Ed's hands. So, those were good plays. I think I was disappointed in the touchdown pass. That would have been part of closing the game out in the fourth quarter, too. We busted a coverage back there, didn't play it right from a communication standpoint. We weren't on the same page. So, that's something that we need to work on, but we try to do it every week."

Can you characterize what happened offensively in the third-quarter that you had difficulty moving the ball and scoring to put the game away?"I think it started with the red zone after the kickoff return when we weren't able to score a touchdown down there. That was a little bit disappointing, and I think we had a receiver fall down one time, and [there were] just execution issues – basic execution issues that we could have done a better job with. After that we got in third-and-long, and we couldn't really make anything happen whether it was… We'd get six yards on a play, and then we try to take a shot into the end zone and end up throwing a ball out into the flat and get tackled for a 6-yard loss, and all of a sudden you're back at third-and-10. I think that kind of characterizes what happened, and third-and-10s are tough to convert. So, we really didn't stay on schedule, and therefore we didn't convert on third down."

What would be the "perfect win" in the coaching profession, or is there such a thing?"No, there's no perfect win. We say we chase perfection, but I think it's a great question, because we talk to our guys about that. I mean, we do. We wanted to come out this past game and we wanted to play a dominant game. It's no different than the week before and the week before that. We're still looking for that dominant game, and I think we're all disappointed that we didn't play a dominant game. But, we're happy with the win. I think you take your victories where they come within the game, but by no means are we satisfied with the way we played. I think that's the same in the Atlanta game; you can say the same thing in a loss as you can say in a win. There are so many things we can do better to be the team we need to be, but we're still searching for that dominant performance."

Does LB Dannell Ellerbe need to cut down on penalties in order to be made active on game days?"Every guy is in a different situation as far as being active and starting and all those different things. So, taking Dannell's case – just like some other guys that are in the situation where they've been up and down – you've got to be one of the 45-most valuable guys that week. Sometimes it's how many guys you keep at a position. Other times it's how you play on special teams and what you bring to the table. It's always a combination of things that go into it, and I think when you're a backup linebacker, you need to be playing really well on special teams. So, now there's a competition for that role, and basically he and Jason Phillips have been battling it out week-in and week-out to be the guy that's been up, and Jason Phillips won last week. So, we'll see who wins this week. You know, Jason played really well on special teams and didn't have any penalties. So, in short, the penalties are a big part of it – it's not everything – but yeah, they're a big part of it."

LB/DE Paul Kruger got his first sack at Carolina. Are you seeing much progression from him?"I congratulated him on his first sack today, and he pointed out that he had another sack against Pittsburgh – the sack/fumble that didn't get counted because of the penalty. So, we had to congratulate him on his first official sack. (laughter) He wanted to make sure I was clear on that. But, he was excited about it. Yeah, he's getting better. He brings a lot of energy. Technique-wise, there are a lot of things he can do better to be a better pass rusher, but he's got the ability I think to be that kind of guy coming off the edge."

Are you seeing a few more guys starting to rush the passer a little more effectively?"We ran a little cross-dog inside that got Jameel [McClain] and Cory [Redding] clean in there, so that was a good call, and they executed it really well. But that's the kind of pass rush team I think we're going to need to be. We're not really a four-man, every single snap type of team that's got four guys risking them run straight up through there. I think we've got to create some things and give some linebackers and different guys a chance, but then on the four-man rush be able to get some pressure. We ran a four-man rush on Ed's [Reed] interception, and Jarret [Johnson] came clean off the edge. So, we've got to try to mix those things and create as much pressure as we can."

How important has the consistency from LB Terrell Suggs been this season?"I think Terrell is playing really well. He's a complete football player. There are things he can do better – and I'm on him about those things all the time and I think he appreciates that, because it's really important to him, I think, that he plays well. Football, how he plays and how he contributes, really matters [to Suggs]. He wants sacks, he wants tackles for loss, he wants to play technique well against the run. He really is a complete player and, that's what you really appreciate about him. He's playing very well."

Can you talk about the roster move you made on Saturday with G/C Bryan Mattison being moved to the active roster? What do you expect from him now being part of that 53-man roster?"That was tough because Scott Kooistra we really liked and had been doing a good job for us. But he's more of a tackle, guard-type guy – can't play center. With Chris Chester's injury, we have a need for a backup center. We have a couple other guys that can snap as well. Tony [Moll] can do it, and Marshal [Yanda] can do it. But now, you get into a situation where if Matt Birk gets hurt, you've got to shuffle the whole offensive line. So, Bryan can play center. I think he can be an emergency guy for us. Plus, he gives us a couple other things: He's our best wedge kickoff return guy – has been for a while. That helped our kickoff return team, so that was a plus. Then, if we got in a jam, he can actually play defense, too. So, he gives us a nice utility option in there as a backup guy right now, and he's been playing well in practice at center."

You guys targeted a season-high nine different players on offense yesterday. Was that something that you addressed during the bye? It seems like that's been a trend since the bye. How important is that now and moving forward? "I'm not sure about the trend part of it. I think it's something that we've wanted to do all along. You want to spread it around, but basically, the reads and the defense dictate where the ball goes. So, we're not saying we want to spread the ball around so much as we're saying we want to take the ball to the open receiver. And sometimes Cam [Cameron] will scheme something to go to a guy because we expect a coverage. And if we get that coverage, it goes to this guy. And if we get this coverage, it kind of goes to that guy. But that's different every single call. All those things are different, so the fact that the ball is being spread around I think is really a positive from a defensive standpoint because it makes us tough to defend and you make them a little more honest on defense."

The QB Joe Flacco that we see in press conferences is not necessarily the guy that you would predict would be in the middle of a heated sideline exchange. He's pretty low key… "I knew that's where this question was going." (laughter)

What is it that we don't see that you see in Flacco that would put him in the middle of something like that? "I would say, hey, get in a pickup basketball game with him sometime. Cover the guy one time and you'll probably see. You'll probably get an elbow right in the chops. Joe is a very competitive guy. Because he's a calm guy… I mean, Joe Montana, I think, was a pretty calm guy if you look back at some of his press conferences. And who was a more fiery competitor? You can't judge a book by its cover. And Joe, he's got a fire burning inside, and you see it in the way he plays and the way he practices. Yeah, there are times where… I don't mind seeing that fire. I don't mind him showing that passion sometimes. I think it's good for us and good for our team and good for him, but that's him. You've got to let a guy be himself and let his own personality shine."

Despite being in first place in the division and winning yesterday, a lot of the players talked about not having their best game on Sunday. Do you like that your players aren't totally satisfied with where they are at this point? "I'd be disappointed if we were doing cartwheels after that win. I think they realize how important the win was – and I think they did a good job of finding a way to win the game – but they're not by any means satisfied with the performance. We left too many points on the table. We gave up a couple, three big plays that were probably worth 130 yards that should have never happened. We gave up a kickoff return that should have never happened. The ball gets in the ground, guys overplay to the side of the kick, let him slide out the back door. Those are the things I think the players are referring to that we're capable of playing so much better, and we're going to need to."

LB Ray Lewis… There's not too many 35-year-old linebackers out there in the NFL. Have you even tried to tell him that if he limited his snaps he might extend his career? This is a guy that not only is playing at a high level, he's playing every snap. Have you ever even tried to talk to him about that? "Actually, I have. I have broached the subject with him, and the response I basically get is, 'When the time comes, we can talk about it.' And I agree with that because he's humble enough to say, 'The time is going to come,' and he also is humble enough to admit that he won't be the first one to recognize it, that I'll be the first one to recognize it as the coach. Now, whether we agree exactly at that point in time… But let's just say it's five years from now. Maybe it's when he's 40 years old we have to have that conversation. We'll probably have a little fight, and I might lose at first. But ultimately, I think he'll be willing to cut down on the number of snaps and keep playing and extend his career and help the team any way he can. That's just who Ray is. He's going to do that, but he's not going to easily admit that he's not the best player on the field. And right now, if I tried to make that case, it'd be an impossible case to make because he's playing so well."

You have another week to make a decision on RB Matt Lawrence's PUP status. Can you talk about what you see from him, and is there a chance that maybe, unfortunately, the numbers thing might not work out? "I think we're still evaluating it right now. It's a good question. He looks good, but I think there's some issues in there still. We'll just have to see how it shakes out in the next week. I don't really want to comment too much on it until we do something."

Your moment with Ray Lewis after his touchdown. What was said between you two? "Boy, if I could even remember. Those are the moments I think that… You get so close in this game. The relationships and the bonds are so strong, just like anybody. You have relationships with family members and co-workers and people that you've gone through some things with. It's more heart-to-heart than it is anything that was said. One thing I did comment on… I mentioned to him his dad and his grandpa were there at the game, and he just kind of went like that (touches heart), because I think that was pretty meaningful to him. That's the human part of this thing."

Talk about the emergence of WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Did it take time for him to get comfortable, and are his opportunities unlimited?"I don't know. I think he'd probably want more opportunities than he had, but I think he made the most of the ones he got. He had two [catches] – one was a deep one for a touchdown. It was huge to get us the lead. It was a big play. And then I said something to him when he came off the field. I said, 'Hey, let's not end there. Let's get a bunch more today.' And he was in agreement with that, and then he got one more. It's like we talk about spreading the ball around. What direction do you go? I think there's going to be a game where T.J.'s going to have eight-10 catches, no question about it. And there are going to be other games where he's going to have two, like he did in this one. But one of them is going to be a touchdown, and it's going to be important. So he understands that we have a lot of weapons. All those guys are talented guys, and we've got to make that a plus for us. I don't want that to be a negative. I don't think the focus should be: 'This guy's catching only so many, this guy's only catching so many.' I'm focusing on the opportunities that we missed as a football team. How about the five or six [plays] in there that we could've made, that could've been the difference in us making it the kind of game that we wanted it to be? That's probably what we need to focus on."

Do you ever get a chance to look around the AFC and see how the competition is doing?"You do. You watch the scores after [our] game. We get on the plane, and they've got little TVs on the planes nowadays. So, you throw ESPN on there and see what people are doing, and I'll admit to being disappointed in some of those scores and happy with some of the other ones. What you want is what's best for the Ravens. You cheer for whoever helps us, so I think we all know who we want to win and who we want to lose in the matchups that are happening."

You talked about trying to get Houshmandzadeh involved in the passing game. Are you doing the same with WR Donte' Stallworth?"I think it's the same thing. We're getting him more and more involved. Whoever you put on the field, someone [else] is not going to be on the field. You can only put 11 guys out there at a time. So does that mean more three- and four-wide receiver packages? Sure. But you're taking Todd [Heap] off the field; you're taking Ed Dickson off the field; you're taking Le'Ron [McClain] off the field if you do that. So that's going to be give-and-take. I just think it's a good thing. We've got to look at it as a positive, and hopefully those guys can make the most of their opportunities. And that makes us a more dangerous offense overall."

Will CB Cary Williams be involved in the secondary in the future, or is he strictly a special teams guy?"Cary's playing very well on special teams. I don't want to demean that by saying he's strictly a 'special teams guy,' because I think that's very important and that's why he's been active. He's done a really good job. But Cary's probably earning more playing time in the back end. He's earning a look. He's practiced really well, so there's a possibility we could see him back there. But, if you look at the way the corners played, it's easy to look at one play and say, 'Well, it was a bad game.' Look at all the other plays. How many times were they singled up on those really athletic receivers outside, including Steve Smith? And they had to make a one-on-one tackle and got them down every single time. Obviously, we had the interceptions. I thought the corners played well yesterday. But, I was disappointed with the big [88-yard TD] play. That should not happen. That's just playing the wrong defense than what was called. That's not a physical mistake; that's [miscommunication] and that's a mental error. We're better than that, and that's not something we want to have happen."

What specifically concerns you about Tampa Bay?"I think the way they play is the main thing. Obviously, they're a 7-3 football team, and it's not a fluke. They are a young, aggressive football team that believes in themselves. [QB] Josh Freeman is playing at a high level. He's making a lot of great decisions. They've got one of the more physical offensive lines in the league. This running back, LeGarrette Blount, is a downhill masher. 'Cadillac' [Carnell] Williams, he's one of the premier backs in the league, and he's become kind of a third-down option for them. So, he's playing really well. They've got four or five really good receivers, including Mike Williams. That's where it starts. Kellen Winslow, Jr., he's a premier passing threat at tight end. So, that's going to make you nervous anytime, as far as an offense. Defensively, they're rotating seven defensive linemen through there. Their linebacking corps is a downhill, active bunch. Ronde Barber, he's the Ray Lewis of corners. How does a corner play for that long? He plays everywhere. He plays right corner, left corner, nickel, dime, he plays everywhere. He plays safety. [Aqib] Talib is one of the better young corners in the league. It's just a really talented football team, and they're for real. So, it's going to be a heck of a game here come Sunday afternoon."

It seems like the game could come down to a battle of who is still standing at the end of the fourth quarter."We're going to go toe-to-toe. They're not going to back down and neither are we, for sure."

Does Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris pull a lot of trick plays?"Raheem doesn't have a huge track record, so I'm really not sure about the history of it. But give me a couple days to study him, and I'll have an answer for you on Wednesday as far as those things go.

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