HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "[It's] good to see everybody. Thanks for coming over. Obviously, [we are] very pleased with the outcome yesterday and also with the process – the preparation process and the process of just executing one play at a time trying to stack good plays, and it turned out to be a good result for us. We looked at the tape. We'll make corrections tomorrow when the guys come in, and we'll move on to Atlanta, which will be a very tough challenge for us."
Even though you went down there [and] you got the conditions you were expecting, you did not prepare in heated conditions. So, in the future, when you're expecting a weather extreme, the conditions that you practice in, is that going to be irrelevant now? (Joe Platania)"I don't think it'll be irrelevant. That's a good question. We have to continue to talk to the medical experts and try to do a little research. We do talk to [experts]. We talked to the U.S. Olympic Committee on some of this stuff. We do a lot of different studies on nutrition and sleep. Acclimation is one we'd like to do a little more research on because if we feel like it's important enough and we can get enough out of it in two days … I don't think you want to dehydrate your guys through the week of practice either going into the game and wear them out. So, where is that balance? If we feel like it can help, we'll go ahead and take our guys inside and turn the heat up. I guess we just weren't convinced enough to override the fact that the guys wanted to be on the grass last week, and it turned out that it worked out well for us. We probably have to do a little more homework on that."
John, did you see progress from CB/RS Lardarius Webb? It looked like he played I think all but four or five snaps and didn't allow many catches. (Aaron Wilson) "Right, that's a great point. He played probably more snaps than we wanted in that heat. That was good to see him play. The thing about Lardarius, from what we understand, is he just has to get stronger. He got a good workout in yesterday and he did a good job with it continuing to chase good technique and things like that. It's a real bonus for us if he's playing well."
John, not to say it's not intense for 60 minutes, but when you're up that much at halftime – and you've had so many close games – was it just a different feel for you, and maybe one in which you can smile a little bit? (David Ginsburg) "Maybe inside you smile a little bit, but in this league you don't take anything for granted. This is pro football. You just saw a week before the Browns came back on Tennessee. We're certainly not taking anything for granted. We understand the conditions. If we try to sit on that lead and things start going bad, it can snowball on you in a hurry. Our guys are very focused. The talk in the locker room is to go out and finish and play every play. We gave up more yards and more points than we wanted to in the second half. They scored more points than we did in the second half, and that really wasn't the goal for us going out. We wanted to play as well as we could in the second half. But the fact that we were getting a little … I think the heat was a factor. And the fact that we did have the big lead – maybe guys play a little safer. But that was a concern for us, absolutely."
Did you consider at all pulling QB Joe [Flacco] any earlier than you did? It just seemed like it was such a blowout at that point at halftime, to rest him, and maybe prevent injury. I know that's not your M.O., it hasn't been in the past… (Jerry Coleman)"Pull him out at halftime?" (Reporter: "Maybe in the third quarter.") "At what point would you want to do that?" (Reporter: "Well, you guys were up at one point 38-0.") I think I just answered that question. Absolutely not did we consider doing that. That would be, in my opinion, foolish. You don't do that in this league. This is pro football. I don't see anybody else doing it. I wouldn't even consider that at that point in time. So, I think the consideration comes in the fourth quarter. We talked about it at about the 10-minute mark, I think. We went out for that one drive; that would have been a time to possibly do it. But we decided, 'No.' We were going to keep Joe [Flacco] in there and keep our offensive line in there and protect Joe [and] play our players. And that's what we'll probably do in the future."
**The fact that [QB Joe Flacco] was protected so well, did that play into it? *(Jerry Coleman) *"No. We're trying to win the game. We're going to play our best guys throughout. If you can give me some examples of some other teams doing that on a consistent basis in this league, then you might have a better argument. But until I hear a better argument, that's just not the way we play. We're going to play our guys."
**John, what was the thinking on the long field goal attempt? I know K Justin [Tucker] has made them from that range, but was it kind of to see – obviously you want the points – but maybe to see if he can hit it from that point in case of another situation? *(Aaron Wilson) *"No, we're trying to get points. We have an opportunity there at the end of the half, just like last week. We're trying to get the [ball] as close as we can. We have Justin [Tucker], so it's a little further out than other teams, but we're trying to get more points. We're trying to get as many points as we possibly can. The more points you have, the better chance you have to win the game. So, we're trying to get points. That is the situation where most of those long kicks occur, because the downside of a miss isn't as high. If you do that at some point in time in the regular ebb and flow of the game, and you miss one there, you're going to give them the ball at midfield. That's not something we really want to do. That's why you punt the ball most of the time. But that's kind of the golden opportunity to try a long field goal. I was just disappointed in the swing he put on it. He's better than that. So, when we kick those long field goals, I want to see a good swing put on that ball and kick a good kick. It was really low coming out of there, so we can execute that better. But we're always going to try to get points at the end of the half if we can."
John, how important is it to have other guys getting involved on offense – in terms of establishing WR [Kamar] Aiken and WR [Michael] Campanaro, what sort of dimension can those guys give you?* (Jeff Zrebiec)*"It's helpful. You want to do it in the flow of the game – in the flow of trying to be as good as you can – and score points and execute and all those kind of things. The fact that those guys … The fact that this league is a league where injuries occur makes that pretty much a fact. So, for those young guys to play and to play as well as they do and for the offensive linemen to go in there and perform the way they do [is impressive]. But, it's a practice sport. We practice every single day. So, they get reps practicing, and you have a pretty good idea of how they're going to perform. But until they get in the game and you see them do it in live action against another team, that really gives you the best indicator that you can have. So, it has been very positive to see those guys play and play well when called upon."
With the pass rush, you've talked for weeks about how you guys were getting close to … You were pressuring the quarterback, you were hitting him, the sacks you kept saying were going to come. Is there a level of satisfaction when you actually go, and say, "Hey, the guys are getting their sacks?" (Jamison Hensley) "We want to get sacks. Sacks matter. It's lost yards. The guys work hard, and sacks are the measuring stick. So sure, that's very valuable. But it doesn't give you satisfaction to counter the argument that we're not a good pass rushing team like some would argue. I saw a stat this week that says we're the No. 1 pass rushing team in the National Football League, which goes to the point. Pressures, hits on the quarterbacks, forcing the ball to come out quick, that's all good, and we want to build on that, but we also want to get sacks, and it was good to see those guys do it."
We've asked you before about S Will Hill. From a procedural standpoint, does he have to be put on the 53- [man roster] and practice, or can he start practicing this week before any sort of roster move is made? (Garrett Downing)"My understanding is that [Will Hill] can be on the [practice] roster for a week. He can practice for a week without being on the [active] roster. So, he has an exemption for one week, and then he has to be either put on the [active] roster or not. So, we have until next Monday."
CB Dominique Franks, he got some extended action. Your impressions of him watching the film? (Clifton Brown) "Dominique [Franks] played solid, yes he did; he played solid. He was … It's pretty amazing to come in and play as solid as he did and get the calls right. I think he had only one mistake as far as a call out there between him and a safety. And it was really positive the way he played, yes."
*John, is there a momentum in football – I know it's week to week, and you did lose last week – [where] you build on this performance and take it into next week's game against Falcons? (David Ginsburg) *"Maybe. To me, it's more process. It's more about going to work and trying to improve. You have to look past the result and look where you need to improve. You can build on good things, and you can build on not good things. So, we really try to do that. We try to build on everything that happens, and there's plenty of things in there that … On a scoring play for instance, there are things in there that aren't as good as they need to be. But there are also things that are really good that you can build on, because now you've challenged your defense in one way, and what's the next counter move off of that? They defend that, and now you give them this. We want to build the next thing in, too. So, it's process."
How pleased were you to get RB Bernard [Pierce] in the flow earlier in the game? (Aaron Wilson)"When did he get in the game?" (Reporter: "He was in the first half.") "I would like to get Bernard [Pierce] in there as much as possible. He's an explosive back. And it's like anything else, you earn your next challenge, right? And the better guys play, the more opportunities they're going to get. And he did a good job."
John, as far as you touching upon the S Will Hill question – not getting into strategy of whether he will be up, or won't – but is there a chance after one week of practice, because he has been in meetings and things like that, that he could be able to suit up for Sunday against the Falcons?* (Jamison Hensley)*"I would say, 'Yes.' It just depends on where [Will Hill is] at physically. He has been in every meeting, so he should be caught up mentally. There is a difference though between sitting in a meeting … Any one of us can understand the defense if we had the talent. We still might go out there and you get on the field, and it's a different perspective. It really is. So, even understanding what to do, it's a different perspective. We'll have to see how he looks in practice. You have to mix it in with how he fits, what our personnel looks like, those kind of things. But if he can help us and it's the best fit on the 46, then he would be."
How fun was it watching QB Joe [Flacco] yesterday in the first half? (Bruce Cunningham) "It's a lot more fun watching the tape this morning when I already know the outcome. But anytime you see a touchdown, it's fun. It's a joy. It's just a great feeling. It's probably like – you're probably in there as a manager in the dugout, and you see one of your guys tag one out, a two-run homer or something like that. You feel pretty good about that. So, it was good to see, and then you move on to the next play. It was a historic performance. To see our guys … I don't think it's just Joe [Flacco], although Joe obviously is the drive of it all. It's good to see, also, the football world see what Joe [is] capable of in that way. He's that kind of a player. But all of our guys … To see him play that way is a great thing."
You've already matched your road win total from a year ago. Was there any sort of emphasis this year to play a little bit better on the road than the way things went a year ago? (Jerry Coleman) "No, other than the obvious: 'We have to play better than we did a year ago.' That was something that we all knew would be important. We didn't play very well on the road last year. But we haven't changed anything, per se."
With that said, do you believe that you're a better road team now? [Do you think] this team is better equipped to win on the road? (David Ginsburg)"We better be. How good were we on the road last year? What was our record?" (Jerry Coleman: "2-6.") "OK, I'd like to do better than that this year. How many have we won so far?" (David Ginsburg: "Two.") "Two. Well, we're not better yet, are we? So, we still have work to do. (laughter) We have plenty of chances. After this week we have a couple right in front of us in the division. We're not moving on to Cincinnati yet, though. (laughter) [New England head coach] Bill [Belichick] will appreciate that. He'll appreciate that." (laughter)
Atlanta, [what are] your thoughts about them? They seem to be a different team outside of their dome. (Jerry Coleman) "Atlanta is good. You watch them, I guarantee you … They're going to be on turf, aren't they, this week? So, they're going to be fast. They have big, fast receivers; they have fast running backs – they have one big, fast running back [and] another two smaller fast running backs; and they have a quarterback that drives the whole thing. That's an explosive football team, and we better be ready for it."
TE Crockett Gillmore, as a receiver, how is he developing? (Clifton Brown) "He looked good. He had a couple catches, [and that] was good to see. He had his helmet knocked off. He's in there getting after it a little bit trying to get a first down. He gets better every day as a receiver. He's not the fastest guy in the world – not to be confused with a speed merchant – but he has good hands. He has very good body control. [Ravens tight ends coach] Brian Pariani is doing a great job of teaching him how to run routes and how to get open [and] body up on linebackers and safeties. The big tight ends are really valuable in this league because they have catch radius and they can get away from a defender. It's hard to cover them one-on-one. That'd be a big asset for us if he could keep growing that way."
Is WR/RS Michael Campanaro a player that you could see continuing to have a role in the offense? I know it's hard to get everybody up on the active roster, but is he, after what you saw, a guy that you could see making an impact going forward? * (Ryan Mink)* "Heck yeah, we've seen that all along. We've always felt that way. It's good to get him out there. Sometimes you get a nick or a bump, and Marlon [Brown] went in pregame and couldn't play, so Michael [Campanaro] gets a shot. Again, it goes back to practice. You keep practicing, and guys prepare, and you always talk to them: 'Hey, your time is coming. I don't know when, but it's coming. Be ready. Be as ready as you can be when the time comes.' And he's another guy that does a good job of that, and it showed up in the game. So yes, the answer is: Yes."
John, not from a physical standpoint, but could DT Terrence Cody, technically, if he's ready, practice this week, too? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, he could. There's a good chance that we'll practice him this week. Right now the plan is to practice him this week, and the reason is because he's really been doing a great job with his rehab. I've seen him do some things in there that we've never seen him do before from an athletic standpoint, as far as being healthy with his hips. He's in great shape. People look at a 335-pound man and say, 'How can he be in great shape?' Well, he is. His body fat is down – he's down around 20 percent, which is pretty darn good for a big man. He's ready to go. He's chomping at the bit. So, we'll see how he does."
What kind of challenge is it this week getting ready for Falcons QB Matt Ryan? (Todd Karpovich) "One of the best things that he does is he's an accurate passer. * *He's a big, tall guy; he's strong. He can make most of the throws at any time. But the thing about Matt is he runs things really well. They have an offense that is based on him basically getting them in a route, a play, a formation, a matchup that they want to create, and he's always done a really good job of that. He gets the ball out fast, and he has big receivers. He's a big guy throwing to a big receiver, so that's the challenge. He's one of the best quarterbacks you're going to see, and it's going to be a big challenge for us."
John, QB Joe Flacco was asked a couple questions about in the new offense, is he surprised how soon that he's able to have a performance like this? Do you see the positives every week, and do you see guys on the offensive end picking up more and more things every week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "You just try to get better every day. We expect to improve every day. Our coaches do a great job teaching, and our players do a great job of learning. But I would also say they teach each other, they practice hard, they compete. We practice now. I mean, we go out and practice. Our guys get after it. When you do that, you have a chance to get better, but it's no guarantee. And we have talented guys that work hard, so we should get better."
Coach, what has been the biggest change on the offensive line this year? This time last year, outside the walls, [the media] was criticizing [Ravens offensive line coach] Juan [Castillo] and his scheme, but it seems like the same scheme. But what is the big thing that has made success for them this year? (Kevin Richardson) "That's a comparison question. I never gave any credence to it last year. I'm not really going to step back there this year. We did the best we could last year, [but] it wasn't good enough, obviously – any of us. But [we have] good people working hard, and we're better. We just have to keep building on that. Really, that's what matters."