JOHN HARBAUGH SEASON REVIEW PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: “I appreciate everybody being here – media —and also everybody in the building! Hey, thanks everybody for being here! I’m used to seeing everybody in the cafeteria. (laughter) Now, I get to see you in the auditorium, so I appreciate you being here.
“To start it off, as is right, I want to say this: Thanks be to God, who, in Christ, always leads us in triumphal procession. Thanks to Him also for your interest, and thanks for who you’ve been for the last 11 years, media-wise, and the people in the building. It’s just been a joy to be a Raven, and to see that continue, I guess I just can’t express enough how great I feel about it. I mentioned [my wife] Ingrid and [my daughter] Alison; I know they feel the same way. I want to mention them for their strength as women and for who they are, their support. And, my mom and dad for sweating all these games. You know how hard that is when you’re family. I think I worry more about Alison’s games, so I could only imagine how they feel with our games, especially the way the Ravens have been playing. We keep everything kind of interesting, right to the end, so especially my mom.
“But, just very grateful to stand here. It’s an honor, and it’s a privilege, to coach the Baltimore Ravens. [Owner] Steve Bisciotti is a great leader. He’s the kind of guy that … He’s supportive, and he’s a mentor, and he works with you, but he pushes you. He challenges you, and he stretches you. So, for him, and for [his wife] Renee and for their whole family, for the support and what they’ve done to try to make the Ravens great. I think you look around the league, and I’m sure there are great people in all the organizations, but you couldn’t find a better ownership family than the Bisciottis, and just to have them in our life is just an unbelievable, unbelievable, graceful thing.
“Dick Cass – Dick, thanks. Steady leadership in the building every single day. You guys all know it, right? Dick is incredible, very smart man, very wise, and just a steady hand, I think, that enables us through all the ups and downs and the turmoil to kind of see through the fog a little bit, and it’s just been great, Dick, and we appreciate everything. Ozzie [Newsome], mentor, friend. Ozzie and I go at it every day, pretty much, and back and forth and all around, just forever grateful for his friendship and leadership. Eric DeCosta, I think, Eric, I just saw you slip in here, right? There he is. Taking the reins, man, taking the reins, and we’re excited. Eric’s energy and his passion and his ideas, it’s exciting. So, it’s a new start, yet we’ve been together, side-by-side, for 11 years. So, we have all of that behind us, and we’re standing on that. So, I’m really excited about that, and I know our coaches are, too. The scouts have been amazing. I saw all the scouts this week down at the Senior Bowl. They’re fired up, and they have a great list of guys, and they’re ready to roll and help get us better. So, it’s been a pleasure being with those guys.
“I want to mention the coaches. Strong, steadfast, immovable group of men who don’t flinch, no matter what, and I’m proud of those guys. And then, the players. It’s always about the players. It’s been a joy – I think I said it during the season – it’s been a joy to come to work every single day, because of the way the players approach things from a team perspective. No drag, nothing holding us back, nothing slowing us down. And those leaders, I can talk about Terrell [Suggs] and about Marshal [Yanda] and about Eric [Weddle] and Tony [Jefferson] – I don’t want to leave anybody out – Brandon Carr. We have amazing leaders, and I just want to thank those guys for the job they did, and for the young guys for being willing to be led and being willing to learn, because that’s how you make it in anything, especially in football.
“And, just the idea of football. I want to rejoice in that for a minute. It’s just a great sport, and you talk about … You kind of look around and see what’s going on, but nothing like football. You have a bunch of people who come together from all walks of life – every part of the country, every economic situation, every race, every religion, everything that makes America the great country that it is – and come together for the common good, which in our case is football, and being a great football team, and building a team. I guess I just kind of think … Man, I’ll go ahead and say it, the leaders of our country could learn a lot from football. I encourage them to do so, and I’m just proud to be a part of it.
“So, grateful, faithful and highly-motivated to get to work. So, with that, we’ll open it up to questions.”
You mentioned a new start, and you were talking about general manager & executive vice president Eric DeCosta, but you have a new contract, a new GM, a new offensive coordinator. Do you sort of feel like it is maybe a new era of Ravens football, even though, of course, it’s an extension of your 11-year tenure? (David Ginsburg) “I do. To me, that’s the nature of it. So, I understand how different people perceive it in different ways and all that kind of stuff, but it is a new era of football in every kind of way that you just mentioned, and I think those are great points. It’s also the nature of kind of what we do. I’ve said this before, but I was told, ‘In this league, three years is a career, and ten years is a lifetime.’ And, I think that’s true, because every year is a new year. You start over every year from the ground up and begin to build something new every single year, but it’s exciting with those pieces in place going forward. There’s always going to be change. There’s always going to be renewal, and we’ll be a different team than we were last year. We’ll be a different team than we’ve ever been here before, because of a lot of the changes and because of the fact, I hope, I think we grow and get better every single year anyway. But there are a lot of new pieces in place, and I’m excited about it.”
There was a period of time when the press release came out saying that you were going to be around back in December. Then came a report last week. So, a lot of time passed between now and the announcement yesterday. Was there a holdup of anything, a particular sticking point? And then, with the new contract, does your role, does your position in any way change? Do you have, perhaps, more say on the 53-man roster, or is it the same status quo as it was before? (Jerry Coleman) “I appreciate all those questions. As far as the second part, it’s the same, and that’s all we ever wanted. That’s all I ever wanted. I have great confidence in the way the organization is built, the way it’s been built from the beginning. This has never been an organization that’s about lines or silos or anything like that. This is an organization that works together. And, we cross paths and we talk everything out – football, scouting, medical, weight strength and conditioning, everything you can think of. We don’t get too involved in the marketing, unless you guys need something, right? (laughter) Because, they don’t need us. They do a great job. But, I think that’s the great thing about our organization. We wouldn’t want that to change.
“The other part of it, I don’t know what the normal timeframe is for that stuff or how it’s supposed to work. If it’s supposed to get done in a day or an hour or a week, I don’t know. But, to me, it went really smooth. Dick [Cass, team president] was a big catalyst of that. [Agent] Bryan Harlan was a big part of that, and to me, those guys just did a great job, and I really didn’t have anything to do with it. They just did a great job working out the details, and it was pretty straightforward.”
I know you can’t speak to other coaches, but why do you think you have been so comfortable just wanting to be the coach? You’ve never seemed to make that power grab. (Stan Charles) “Well, I don’t know. It’s probably because the Ravens and Ozzie [Newsome] and now Eric [DeCosta] – and Steve [Bisciotti] is the leader of that – have made that comfortable, have made it work. To me, it doesn’t matter who has what say over what. It’s never been about that here, and I think Eric will probably reinforce that on Wednesday, but it’s always just about, ‘Let’s do the best thing for our team, and let’s talk it out and hash it out.’ We rarely ever have a disagreement in the end. You always have … You want to call them disagreements, challenges, conversations, you better have all of that. Everybody willing to say what they think, nobody afraid to express their opinion. Top to bottom and sideways, in those whole organization, people are asked what they think. That’s like a regular conversation around here: ‘What do you think?’ To me, that’s the way it should be, and that’s why it works.”
You talked about the change, there’s always change. This is the first time we’ve had a chance to talk to you since Greg Roman took over as offensive coordinator. Former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is no longer here. Can you discuss what went through that decision-making to make that change? (Bo Smolka) “I just feel like, and this is something that I’ve talked about with all the people involved, Marty was great. Greg was great about it. This was just me looking at our situation, feeling like and deciding pretty quickly that the direction we needed to go – from the way our offense was going to be built from the ground up – needed to start with the run game and build into the play-action pass, and then to the drop-back pass from there, kind of built around our quarterback and what he’s going to bring to the table going forward. That’s Lamar Jackson. So, that was the best way to organize it. I feel like, it’s a little overrated sometimes, who’s in charge and all of that. Who calls the plays is important. There’s no doubt about it. But, those guys work together, and those guys work together in a really great way, and that’s a credit to Marty, and a credit to Greg, and [quarterbacks coach] James [Urban] and [tight ends coach] Bobby [Engram], and [former running backs coach] Thomas [Hammock], and [offensive line coach] ‘Joe D’ [Joe D’Alessandris] and everybody involved in that staff. So, it’s going to continue to be a collective effort, but I felt like it needed to be centered around that part of the offense, and that’s Greg’s role. So, we decided to do it that way. I totally respect Marty’s decision, no question about it. He felt like it would work better for him and for us if he moved to the next thing. That’s just the way it went down.”
You mentioned change, but the fact that you and Eric DeCosta have worked together so long, is it a pretty seamless transition with Eric taking over as the general manager? (Todd Karpovich) “Absolutely, very seamless. How is it going to work? I’ve been asked that a lot. I go, ‘I don’t know. It’s going to work probably the same.’ I haven’t seen too much of a change yet. I feel like it’s been a collective effort all the way through, and the fact that Eric and Ozzie [Newsome], still, they work very closely together, [director of college scouting] Joe Hortiz, [director of pro personnel] Vince Newsome, [senior personnel assistant] George Kokinis, the whole staff. Those guys, I’ve always seen those guys just work well together. So, to me, it works the same way, except now Eric is in the seat. Eric is the decision-maker, and he’ll be the guy making that final call, and he’ll also be the guy that will be kind of, I think, building from the ground up in terms of all the areas that he’s responsible for that affect our football team. That’s really the only difference.”
You mentioned that you had invited former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to stay in a different defined role, whatever it might have been, passing game coordinator. Do you plan on adding an outside assistant to fill the role that you had envisioned for Marty, or are you going to keep that in-house? (Luke Jones) “We’ll see. I’m talking to a lot of … I’m thinking about a lot of things. I think I saw Jerry Jones said he ‘doodles and noodles,’ and all that kind of stuff, right? I’m not a big doodler, but you do think a lot about it. I’m thinking about where we’re going to go, talking to coaches. We still have a coaching spot to fill. [Former wide receivers coach] Bobby Engram is going to go to tight ends, really excited about that. Bobby is a great coach and a great person, and it’s going to add to our tight end room the development of the pass game, and that’s the idea there. I think it also expands Bobby’s [role]. I think Bobby is going to be an offensive coordinator, he’s going to be a head coach in this league, without question, and there’s a guy that can build us from the inside out with the pass game there. And, we’ll add a person in the wide receiver room, probably somebody that can really help us in the passing game, too, so now, you have a lot of guys here. You have [quarterbacks coach] James [Urban]. You have [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman]. Greg knows the passing game. Sometimes we put people in boxes, and it’s not really the right thing to do. So, he has a vision for the offense, but they all do: James, Bobby, that person we’re talking about, [senior offensive assistant] Craig Ver Steeg and others that contribute to that part of it.”
Does that mean that you’ve hired a running backs coach? You didn’t mention that as one of the vacancies. (Jeff Zrebiec) “I haven’t. That’s a spot still. Could go outside, could stay inside with that, so it’s all kind of … We’ll probably go wide receiver first, then address the running back spot. Congratulations to [former running backs coach] Thomas Hammock. Very deserving, going to be a great head coach. Very smart, very tough, very good coach.”
The team announced that this was a new four-year contract. You had one year remaining on your current contract, or your previous contract. Was it something that you pushed for? Did you need to have further security beyond one year remaining? How did that work? (Mark Viviano) “No, no, it’s a one-year league. I really wasn’t too worried about it. That was just the way it worked out in terms of what people wanted to do, they wanted to do. I was happy to add more years, obviously. I want to be here, and I said that from the beginning, but whatever number it ends up being is what it ends up being, and that’s what we kind of agreed upon, and I’m excited about it.”
Was there a point during the season when you thought that a new deal could happen? (Jamison Hensley) “That could happen?” (Reporter: “Yes, when do you think the process began on the new deal?”) “I figured it was going to happen … I never thought it wasn’t going to happen. But listen, I guess, to me, the answer is just trust in the Lord, lean on family. Lean on staff, lean on players, people around you. You don’t worry about that stuff. It wasn’t something that I was thinking about. Sure, it’s on your mind. I’m not going to say you don’t understand the circumstances of your own situation, but to me, again, you do the job, not keep the job, and that was the fun part of it. The other stuff, you just wait and see how it plays out and where it’s going to go, and that’s what we did.”
Two of the people you thanked at the beginning were S Eric Weddle and G/T Marshal Yanda. Have you talked to them over the last few weeks, and would you like to have them back next year? And, is your sense that they would like to play here next year? (Childs Walker) “Yes, they’re both under contract, and unless something changes along the way, they will be back. Of course, those decisions have to get made and talked about; we have talked about all of those things. But, no decisions have been made, and I don’t think … The one thing you learn about this whole ‘building a roster in the National Football League’ and working around the cap, is that no decision stands on its own feet. And, it’s not sequential, either. It’s not ‘this, then this, then this.’ It all happens together at once, and it’s all interwoven together. So, I think that will play out over the next couple months, but I want them both back, for sure, and everybody does. Eric [DeCosta] does, Ozzie [Newsome] does. There’s nobody that wouldn’t want both of those players on our team, so we’ll do everything we can to make that happen, and we’ll see what happens.”
We have not had a chance to ask you about more after looking at the tape of the Chargers game and some of the adjustments they made. They made it public that they saw stuff that wasn’t recognized by the coaching staff from T Ronnie Stanley. (Jerry Coleman) “I don’t think that’s how they said it, but that’s OK.” (Reporter: “How did you see it?”) “I like the way you ask questions, but I’ll just say that, yes, that’s always the case. I promise you that we saw plenty of tips on their offense that we used. We knew if it was run, pass, which way the run was going, what the pass protection was, which way the center was going, who the back was blocking, whether the back was releasing, splits told us what routes were going to be run. That’s part of football. If you’re good at what you do, that’s part of football. So, Ronnie Stanley definitely gets in a pass stance in passing situations, there’s no doubt about it. How often does Ronnie Stanley change it up in run downs? So, is he in a pass stance in some run downs? Is he in a run stance in some obvious passing situations? That’s how the stance thing works. So, that’s up to us to make sure he does a good job of trying to keep people off-balance. I think that’s all good, and we had lots of tips on them, too, and that’s the way football works.”
Moving forward with QB Lamar Jackson as your quarterback, what would you like for him to work on during this offseason? Are you concerned that with the way he runs he is one hit away from being hurt? (David Ginsburg) “Well, every player is one play away from being hurt, and every quarterback standing in the pocket is one hit away from being hurt, too. But the fact that he gets out and runs and scrambles … I get it; I think it’s fair to consider that, but you can’t live your life in fear. I think there’s just as much fear on the other side that he’s going to take the thing to the house if he gets out and runs, too. So, we’ll live in that world as opposed to the other world. I think Lamar is just a heck of a player. He’s a threat every time he touches the ball – run and pass. You certainly, as a coach, are excited to have a guy like that playing quarterback for you.”
It’s been widely discussed, probably outside of this building, that if you were available to any other team, you’d be scooped up immediately. Did you give thought to ever coaching elsewhere? Does it bring you any solace to know that you’d probably be highly employable elsewhere? (Mark Viviano) “Yes, everybody gives thought to those things. Did it give me solace? I don’t know. I can’t remember. (laughter) I’m just appreciative to be here – I mean, really. Everything else … I get a lot of solace in the fact that I have a great family, a lot of solace in the fact this is a great place to work. We have incredible fans. I went to Chick-fil-A yesterday. I texted my dad that I was in Chick-fil-A yesterday, or was at Chick-fil-A, and he thought I had a mistype. He said he spent two hours trying to figure out who Chick was – like, ‘When did he meet this guy named ‘Chick-fil-A’?’ Gosh Dad, you have to get out more, man. (laughter) We were in Chick-fil-A and the people were just great! It was fun – the place was up for grabs. That’s the great thing about Baltimore. I take great solace in that, and the players and the coaches, and that’s one of the best things about being in Baltimore and being a Raven.”
I know you can only have so much contact with players. Do you know if there’s any plans for QB Lamar Jackson to work with a quarterback guru or coach? What do you know about how he’s preparing for the 2019 season? (Jeff Zrebiec) “That’s a good question. Yes, I do know what his plans are. I think he’s still formulating those, and we don’t do it – he does it. It’s his responsibility to do it, per rules, and that’s the way it should be. But, of course, we have thoughts on it and advice and whatnot. He’s going to work at it. He’s going to work at it really hard. Who he works with, or where he works, I’ll leave that to him to answer if he wants to answer. But I’m quite sure that he’ll be working at it really hard, and he already is. Throughout the course of the offseason, he’s going to throw the ball a lot. He’s going to have his receivers and throw the ball to them, he already told me that, and all those other things. He should come back, I expect him to come back a better quarterback, skill-wise, than he was when he left. He’s determined to do that.”
I saw you after the Chargers’ game making your way through the locker room with the players. It’s much more than just coaching players it seems. What is it, the bond you have with players, and why is it they get you? (Kirk McEwen) “I don’t know why they get me. I don’t get myself half the time. We just have good players and we just have … I don’t know – it’s like a family. Half the time our team breaks the huddle, they’ll say, ‘Family.’ Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Team.’ Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Win.’ Sometimes they’ll say a lot of things – especially when [Terrell] Suggs is in the middle of the thing. But so many times they say, ‘Family,’ and to me, that’s what resonates with them. You walk together forever; it’s the beauty of this sport. It’s like none other. Maybe we get each other. We have a great group. I can’t wait to see these guys back in … They can probably wait a little longer, but I can’t wait to see these guys back in these chairs come April 15th. I expect them all to be back, too – you can pass that on to them. We’re excited. We’ve got a great group of guys.”
We might have some news coming next week with Ed Reed and the Hall of Fame. You guys had a lot of ups, a few downs and in-betweens. Was he one of the most fascinating people you’ve ever worked with? (Childs Walker) “Yes. Ed Reed – he still is one of the most fascinating people. I think we laugh about that and joke about it, but there is no ex-player that I’m closer with right now, than we have a better bond, than Ed Reed and I. We were texting back-and-forth yesterday, and he is just a really amazing person, and a really great friend. To me, those types of things are forged through a lot of things: triumphs, trials, tribulations, adversity, joyful moments – when his son was born – all those kinds of things are the things that bring you close together. I’ll never forget the bus ride after the Super Bowl [XLVII]: He might’ve had a bottle of champagne in his hand, and he just said looking back on it, all the things that we went through together, and how he saw where it got us. That lives with you forever.”
The Ravens spent a few days with the L.A. Rams in the preseason, and they’re now going to the Super Bowl. How did that come about? Was there a pre-existing relationship there? What are your thoughts about where their journey is now taking them? (Mark Viviano) “[Rams head coach] Sean [McVay] called and he wanted to practice. I kind of knew him – we had met a number of times because he’s a Miami [University] grad, a little younger, a little later than me. I joke with him all the time; he was a wide receiver [and] I was a boundary corner. I’m quite confident that I could’ve shut him down. (laughter) I mean, come on. (laughter) Mike [Preston], what do you think of the matchup? You know? But he knows that, and he might’ve disagreed with me in the summer a little bit. We should’ve lined up in a one-on-one drill. He’s got like 25 years on me, though. But congratulations to them. They’re talented. I think two things watching them play: They’re very talented, and they’re very well-coached. That’s the combination, and you can’t beat that combination. In the end, I think he’s done a great job with that team. Their staff has done a great job, [defensive coordinator] Wade [Phillips] has done a great job. They’re just really good, really well-coached, and they have a lot of good players who play really hard. You watch them play and you’re impressed. You watch them practice [and] you’re impressed. We’d like to be where they’re at right now. We’re chasing them, the Patriots and anybody else that’s in front of us right now.”
After the contract was finalized, I know you mentioned Chick-fil-A, but was there any way you celebrated at all with the new deal? (Jamison Hensley) “Chick-fil-A, my wife made a plate of brownies, and life is good. Alison scored 14 [points] in the second half, so life is great. That’s what we did. Thanks.”
You said in your statement that you were humbled by the deal. What humbled you so much? Was it the faith, the dollars, what was it? (Jerry Coleman) “Oh man, you are something else. I’ll tell you what. (laughter) You’re a piece of work. [Executive vice president – community & public relations] Kevin [Byrne] wrote that. So, Kevin, what was it that humbled me? (laughter) It was a great … Well, I know, but he wrote it, but I OK-ed it! I put a check mark by it! It was cool! Why is it the right word? There was another word, too – humbled, and what else was in there?” (Reporter: “I don’t know.”) “That’s the only one you cared about – that’s the one you circled, right? I’m just humbled by life. Humbled by people, humbled by the opportunities that go. You guys don’t want to hear all this, but one thing I have learned is don’t plan too much. Yes, make goals, have objectives and make plans to be the best that you can be. Try to treat people right. You learn that. But as far as where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there, and what opportunities are going to arise, you start trying to make plans like that – forget about it. There’s a [poem] called ['To a Mouse,' with a line in it that reads] 'The best-laid plans of mice and men [often go awry].’ I think there’s truth in that. Let God take that stuff over and go where he tells you to go. That’s what I’ve learned. I’m humbled by that.”
I imagine that a lot of your opponents this offseason will spend a lot of time looking at the running schemes that you guys employed to such great success this past season with QB Lamar Jackson. Do you think that all the schemes you didn’t use with offensive coordinator Greg Roman are sustainable coming into next season? I know it’s a constant re-invention, but do you think what you didn’t run this past season will work in the season to come? (Jonas Shaffer) “Oh yes, it’s all going to work. It’s going to work if we call it at the right time against the right defense and build the right system around it, where we can get to the right play when we want against the right defense. They can’t stop everything. If you think there’s a defense that’s going to line up and stop Lamar running plays and us executing really well, that’s just not the case. You can’t put 13 guys out there. They have to play their 11 against our 11. The Chargers deserve a lot of credit. Jerry [Coleman] asked the question in such a way that he wanted to put me on the defensive, so I’ll defend us and our coaches and our guys. But by the same token, the Chargers out-played us that game and out-coached us. There’s no doubt about it – I said that after the game. They deserve all the credit in the world. We need to do a better job of attacking what they did that day. What they did that day is not going to work next game. But we have to be ready for the next thing that’s coming, just like they have to be ready for the next thing that’s coming. That’s the great thing about it. The offense that we’re going to put together is going to be very diverse. It’s going to include elements that weren’t in there this year, that maybe we aren’t there with or didn’t get to or hadn’t learned about yet. I do appreciate the fact that we saw something that we hadn’t seen exactly that way personnel-wise. I’d like to play the game over, but you don’t get to do that. We’ll play it again starting next year against somebody.”
I know we’re a long way from the first preseason game, but are there elements in the passing game that you would like to incorporate that you didn’t have this past season? (Jonas Shaffer) “Yes, absolutely. What those elements are is something that we’ll build. We were meeting in here yesterday morning, and we’re building the offense from the ground up. I think you should do this every year, I don’t know that we all do this every year, and I don’t think enough coaches do this every year. But we built the defense from the ground up last year, we’re going to build special teams and we’re going to build the offense from the ground up this year. That’s what’s kind of exciting, and we’ll see what comes of it.”
Are there any areas or positions that you’re looking to improve on, especially coming back from the Senior Bowl? (Mike Preston) “I’ve read your articles, you know what they are. We have priorities. So, to list one thing or two things or whatever, I probably don’t want to do that. But, we have priorities. I don’t think they’re that hard to figure out what they are. But, we need to get better everywhere, so we won’t be turning down the opportunity to improve at every position – and that includes improving the players that we have mostly. [Jeff Zrebiec] asked about Lamar [Jackson] and his work in the offseason – I think that’s an example of improving at a position where you have your player set in place. But we still have to sign a No. 2 quarterback, potentially a No. 3 quarterback. We’ll be looking hard at that. Then depending on what happens with free agency and those sorts of things, we may have some holes to fill that weren’t there last year. What I just don’t want to do is take any steps back. I don’t want to lose a bunch of guys that we have to work like crazy to replace, and just do everything we have to do to stay the same. As a coach, you want to keep taking steps forward, so hopefully we can do that.”
Will your backup be similar to QB Lamar Jackson? (Mike Preston) “That’s a great question. I would probably lean toward the backup being similar to Lamar. That’s what I would hope we would be able to do. Obviously, ‘RG3’ [Robert Griffin III] is a great option there. There are others out there like that, that can do those things. So, yes.”
Was there a way to quantify how much QB Lamar Jackson ended up meaning to your defense? Just by the time of possession and the length of drives that gave the defense more rest. (Stan Charles) “I’ll tell you what, that’s a good question. I’m sure we’ll do some studies, some analytic studies and things like that. I’m not a math guy. I probably wouldn’t know how to quantify that right now without help from those guys. But I would say from a football perspective, that answer is, ‘Greatly.’” (Reporter: “Was it unanticipated? Was it something that you could have foreseen?”) “You could foresee it in a sense that we understood when we drafted Lamar the type of football that we were going to play around him. I think we started building that into the offense from Day One. You’re going to be a little more of a ball-control defense, you’re going to run the ball more, you’re going to look for play-action chunks, which we didn’t get enough of. Next year, you’re going to want big plays, which we didn’t have enough of. You’re going to want to simplify the defense, which is going to open up your passing game, your 3-, 5-[drop] step in the passing game. You’re going to run the run-option plays that get the linebackers involved in defending the run, then throw behind them. Those are all things that you try build into the offense. I think that builds around [Lamar], result hopefully being more points and more time on the field. So, both of those things, to your point, right? That’s huge for the defense. In a nutshell, that’s what we’ll probably be trying to do going forward.”
Are there any players that need offseason surgery, or might be in jeopardy for the start of next season? (Jeff Zrebiec) “Nobody in jeopardy. Alex Lewis had a shoulder surgery, he’ll be back for training camp – a labral issue. Tony Jefferson had a little arthroscopic on his ankle, he’s five or six weeks. Tavon [Young] had a sports hernia corrected, Za’Darius [Smith] had a sports hernia corrected – those are four-to-six-week deals. So, nobody that is a long-term issue.”
You’ve been one of the head coaches that have been outspoken about expanding instant replay. Did what happen at the end of the NFC Championship game further that, and do you anticipate any change to that? (Mark Viviano) “Kevin [Byrne] said you were going to ask that. (laughter) That’s a good question. Very good call, Kevin! (laughter) Yes, and yes. To me, it’s a no-brainer. I’m not afraid to stand up. They may get mad at me in the league office – they usually do. We’ve been pushing for that, along with [New England head] coach [Bill] Belichick and [New Orleans head] coach [Sean] Payton, ironically enough, and some others for quite a while. Hey, the technology is there – let’s use it. There are smart ways to do it. I’m not quite sure what’s holding us back. They do a good job, so they’ll figure it out.”
Have you gotten a sense how QB Lamar Jackson might affect whether free agents want to come here? Do players around the league seem to want to play for a guy like Lamar? (Aaron Kasinitz) “I haven’t, because we haven’t talked any free agents yet. So, I don’t know. I see your point, I think it’s a really good point. I think a lot of players are going to want to play with a quarterback like Lamar. I’m looking forward to seeing if it helps us. I know the guys that are here do. I know the guys that are here, the guys that are pending free agents and restricted free agents and those guys, they want to stay. That’s probably a big part of it.”
LB C.J. Mosley is a free agent. If he were to leave, would you guys have a lot more reconstruction to do on defense than you would if he stayed? (Childs Walker) “Well, yes. You’d rather have C.J. back. There’s always the give-and-take, of course. There are limitations with the money, but C.J. wants to be back and we want him back. So, I think that’s a really good formula for a player coming back. I’m just not even going to entertain the possibility right now that that wouldn’t happen, and just assume it’s going to happen. That’s where I’m at. Eric [DeCosta] is going to be up here [speaking to the media] next Wednesday. (laughter) You’ll get a chance to ask that again.”
Has there been any talks with QB Joe Flacco this offseason? Has anything changed with his status? (Jeff Zrebiec) “No. I just talked to him a little bit right after the season, and he’s with his family now. So, no updates on that and I don’t think there’s any updates that I’m aware of.”
What do you think QB Joe Flacco’s value is at this age, coming off the season he’s had, to a team that needs a quarterback? (Jonas Shaffer) “I think his value is high. I’m not just saying that, OK, but I do believe that. Joe can throw the football. He’s a big, strong quarterback. He’s moving much better than he was [in] ’15, well ’16 after the injury, and even ’17. Joe’s ready to roll. You protect Joe, you give him some weapons out there, you’re going to see one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He can throw the ball. All you have to do is just put Joe next to the other guys – that’s really the competition. If I’m a team out there, who’s the best option for me? Joe is going to be on a lot of lists, there’s no doubt. And I would just recommend him for the kind of person he is.”
Closing statement: “Thanks for coming here, especially the people in the organization – love you guys. Like I said, it’s a privilege and an honor. Let’s roll. Let’s go be great. Thank you.”