MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "OK, [it's] good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here in a little different format, unfortunately. But it was a late night last night, and here we go. What questions do you have?"
You often hear a lot of time that other people go, "Well, this team wins ugly. The Ravens, the way they're winning is ugly." Do you take offense to terms like that and how people kind of evaluate style points these days? (Jamison Hensley) (laughter) "I guess one man's trash is another man's treasure. I think it was a beautiful win last night against a very good team. The Browns are well-coached. They're tough. They're physical. They're playing for a lot. They're in our division, [and] they're a rivalry. They're very talented. [They have] excellent schemes. They had a really good gameplan. So, to come out of there with a win was a beautiful thing."
Was there a point in time last night where … I was watching via television, and I thought I had seen you with the play-call card during the first half and then didn't see it in the second half. Were you involved with some of the play-calling in the early parts? (Jerry Coleman) "No. No, that helps me follow along with the play-calling, but I don't get involved with specific play-calls on offense. … Well, never say never, but specifically, [offensive coordinator Greg Roman] 'G-Ro' does a great job of that, and I trust him completely."
Have you identified when DE Calais Campbell, or have you announced, when he actually was concussed? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know when [exactly]. He was concussed in the game, but we didn't know about it until, I don't know, a day or two later. [That's when] he had symptoms?" (SVP of Communications Chad Steele: "On Monday.") "It was on Monday. His symptoms popped up on Monday. They were considered mild on Monday, but they just never cleared. It happened in the game at some point in time, [but] I'm not sure when. Calais [Campbell] maybe could let you know that. He might not even remember, because he didn't feel anything until Monday when his symptoms came up, when it was reported."
I was just going to ask about OLB Tyus Bowser. After watching what he did and the way he's come on as of late, what else can you say about OLB Tyus Bowser? Specifically, how he closed out the game yesterday? (Shawn Stepner) "Yes, that's just a great point. He's just been a steady, really good player all season. Then to finish the game in a different variety of ways is probably very appropriate; he's rushed the passer, he's played the run, he's covered, [and] he's been a spy. He's doing everything, and then he finished the game for us. So, he'll be the closer, I'm sure, in this game for the award."
We didn't get to ask you last night, did you come out of the game relatively healthy? Or are there any other injuries that have popped up? Have you heard any more about ILB Patrick Queen's rib [injury]? Is that something that could linger? (Childs Walker) "It's not something that should linger. As far as I know, there's nothing serious at this point. But the way this season has gone, and things have popped up late, [I'm] not saying anything definitive yet that way. But we look OK."
We saw LB Kristian Welch for, I think it was, 10 or 12 snaps yesterday. We know LB Malik Harrison is back. Was it just a matter of, "Look he's practicing well, let's give him an opportunity?" What kind of went into his most-advanced role of his career? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It really is. We want to start spreading the snaps out and around a little bit, and he's really been developing well. Malik [Harrison] is obviously still in the conversation, but he was just back. He hasn't practiced for three weeks. Then, we're also, as was mentioned last week, I think it was asked and I confirmed it, Malik is working on the outside a little bit more now also in practice. So, sure; Kristian [Welch] figures to maybe figure in more and more as we go. He's doing a nice job."
I know your focus is on preparing each week. Do you give yourself a chance to look around at the league and what many describe as one of the most unpredictable years in this league? Do you concur with that? Do you get a chance to look at it in any lens like that? (Mark Viviano) "Yes, sure. It sure seems like it. Just watching the games and the scores, I really don't see too many games, except for on tape. So, I'll go back and watch a lot of games on tape, that's what we do. But just the scores and the standings from one week to the next, what happens is sometimes shocking. It shouldn't be, because we've seen this league, and we kind of know how it works, and we know how even it is. I'll say to [executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] something like that, and he'll basically just smile, look at me, and he'll say, 'It's exactly how they want it. That's how they planned it.' It's the way the league is built, to make everybody very competitive. So, that's what makes it so much fun, I guess."
The news came down today about Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy testing positive for COVID. He's not the first coach. Is it something that's still on your mind? [Is it] something that concerns you at all when you read about these things that pop up from time to time? (Jerry Coleman) "I know I don't want to test positive; I can tell you that. Does anybody? I'm praying about it. I have my toes crossed; my fingers crossed too, probably. But no, I'm pretty confident that I'm not going to get it. Aren't we all? But, yes, that's part of it right now."
This week, we saw WR Rashod Bateman's usage rate go down from 70% against the Bears to 44% last night. Was there anything into that? Or was it just trying to even out the reps a little bit more? (Cordell Woodland) "It wasn't really a planned thing. We were in more heavier groups; I think we had two tight ends, [or] three tight ends on the field with Pat [Ricard]. Sometimes, [we had a] fullback and two tight ends. Probably our bigger groups were on the field, I'm guessing, a little more, maybe than they have been in some other games – that might have been part of it. Devin [Duvernay] played well, too. So, all of those guys, I like having those guys on the field. We had Sammy [Watkins] and Marquise [Brown] back. It hasn't been too often that we've had all of our receivers healthy, either, of those four or five guys. So, it's probably all part of it."
I got a chance to see that Cleveland touchdown, and it still looked to me that the ball bounced off the ground. Were you given a different explanation on what exactly happened there for the score? (Kevin Richardson) "Right. They said it wasn't definitive. That's what they said – that it just wasn't definitive enough to overturn."
I saw that TE Nick Boyle only ended up playing 10 snaps. Did he have any trouble with his knee during the game, or was that just sort of the way the gameplan shook out? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I think it's part of both. He's still coming back. He's still trying to get the knee stronger, and then [it was] probably part of the way the game played out, too. So, hopefully, it will keep getting stronger and he'll be able to take more and more snaps as we go."
Do you find there is any advantage in playing the Cleveland Browns again so soon? You're going to be facing them again in about 13 days. Is the gameplan or strategy for that a little bit more simplified, when it's such a close relay period right back to them? (Kyle Barber) "We've had that before, where we've had teams within a week, and it just cuts down on the amount of research work you have to do for your staff and people like that, so it's a little simpler that way. But it's a little more complicated from the sense of you've just got done playing them, and it's kind of a chess game immediately right in front of you. What was their recent move? It was like their last move was the last move that you had against them. So, you try to figure out what the … It's almost like an in-game type of an adjustment you're trying to make. But we can't … That's a week away for us. For them, it's actually imminent, but for us, we have the Steelers, and that's all of our focus right now – will be on the Steelers. And to your question, we'll be addressing that next week, and that's kind of how that works."
Do you sense some confusion with your pass rushers on what's going to be called and what's not going to be called with roughing the passer? Around the league, there has been a lot of talk about frustration among pass rushers with everything getting called. Do you get a sense of that from your guys, or do you have a pretty good feel for what is going to be called and what's not? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No, I think there's a sense of frustration. I can't sit here and say that there's not. When you hit the person not late, in the strike zone – not in the head or neck area – you don't expect that to get called, or you expect it to get cleaned up by the replay official. So, there is frustration with the one last night – I can't say that there wasn't – but I think that's all across the league, like you said. It's part of it."
Is there a common factor that you're seeing, at least on the offensive side, when it comes to the slow starts you guys have been having this season? (Cordell Woodland) "Not really, other than the fact that we're not getting first downs. Sometimes we don't get started [well], but this game, we got first downs, we moved the ball. The turnovers hurt us at times, but I think we just need to score more points with our yards and our first downs. So, we've had high numbers of first downs the last two [or] three weeks, without a high number of points. We kind of correlate yards and first downs to points, time of possession. The time of possession was way up. That was a big part of the game – keeping their offense off the field. It helped our defense tremendously. So, our offense contributed in a lot of really good ways, but the points are something that we need to do a better job of. We had opportunities down there that we had to settle for field goals a couple times [on]."
How do you approach coming off that tough outing for QB Lamar Jackson? Do you change anything this week? What are your thoughts on Lamar as we progress into this Steelers game? (Shawn Stepner) "Really, it's a good question, and there's no macro-adjustment that you make. It's just a matter of keeping to the grind and embracing the grind of it – for all of our guys. I don't care how well you play or don't play or whatever … Lamar [Jackson] played a winning football game. He made so many plays for us, so you don't want to lose sight of that. But he'll be thinking about the interceptions. That's what he'll be thinking about; I know how he is. So, you just kind of embrace that and go to work and try to get ready for the next game – put the gameplan in, practice the gameplan, understand your opponent as fully and completely as you can and go play football, and that's what we'll do. Every week is a different week. We're not trying to look at some grand answer or some psychological diagnosis about one thing or another. It's not about all of that. It's about playing a very competitive game for three-and-a-half hours, preparing for the week to do it, and doing the best you can [to] play your best game. That's really all you can do."
It was a good weekend for the Harbaugh brothers. I'm just wondering if you have any thoughts on Michigan's big win? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, a lot of thoughts. I was emotional, man. I'll tell you, watching [Michigan head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] after the game with his players … You see how much that team loves each other, and seeing them on the field, and the fans on the field, and Jim going through the crowd. And then working with Coach Howard [Michigan men's basketball coach Juwan Howard] and running to Coach Howard, and Jim gave him a big hug, and Jim just … You could tell [by] the smile how proud he was. All of it … It was really one of those moments that I think everybody had to enjoy that – most everybody – except for the Ohio State fans, but they'll get over it."
ILB Patrick Queen was flying to the football, suffered a rib injury, had to leave the game, came back in, made more plays, and it looked like he had a pretty great game just from the eye test. But you see these analytics websites say he had a mediocre game, just an average game. After you watch the tape, do you then agree or disagree with that? (Kyle Barber) "I'm grading him, myself. I'm in the middle of grading him here. It's not the grade I would put on it, or will put on it, at all. I thought he had a very good game."