HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Just a little – not a little, a very major – move to report: We've signed Kevin McDermott as a long snapper. Kevin was in San Francisco recently. He's a guy that we are very familiar with. [Special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry [Rosburg] had a chance to work out he and Patrick Scales this morning. Patrick is a guy who was with us in training camp twice who we have a lot of respect for as well. Both of those guys had excellent workouts, and we feel like either one of those guys would fit us really well. We just chose to go with Kevin, and so we're moving forward with that. And then with Morgan [Cox], it was confirmed it's a torn ACL on the MRI. That's just the tough part of the business. Morgan was in this morning with his wife – his family was here. He's in there, and the long snappers are coming in to work out and all that. The great thing about Morgan Cox is he couldn't be more supportive of those guys, and he's kind of pledged his time and effort as he is rehabbing to get with those guys and help them understand what we're doing and the nuances of the position. We're probably more than most teams … There's a lot there for those guys. We do a lot with our snapper in terms of mental responsibilities and different techniques that we use. We'll have to see how Kevin fits that, but Morgan will be there to help him all the way, which shows you what kind of guy he is. So, it's a team effort that way. [There's] really nothing else to report injury-wise. There is no new news on anything. The guys who are out, we are going to continue to see how they do this week, and we'll have our fingers crossed, and we'll just see if they feel like they can go and where the trainers feel like they're at. So, that's where we're at."
Even after impressive wins, coaches like yourself are always saying there are things to clean up, things to improve on. What do you see as some of the glaring deficiencies right now, even at 5-2? (Joe Platania) "We'll just work on everything. There will be plenty of things we have to work on. I'm sure our opponents are looking at those things as things to exploit. So, we have to be ahead of the curve and make sure we clean some stuff up."
John, [the Bengals] won the first one, obviously. I guess it's obvious, but [is there a] sense of urgency to win this one and not be down 0-2 to them and they win the tiebreaker? (Dave Ginsburg)"That's very important. It's still the eighth game of the season. It's not the last game of the season, so it doesn't have that kind of a drama to it, but it's important. You're in your division, you're playing a team on the road – a team that's beaten us once at home already – and it takes on the same urgency, yes, that you're talking about. I think it says it very well."
**How different do you feel your team is from the one that played Cincinnati just a short time ago? Do you feel you're a different team at this juncture? *(Jerry Coleman) *"I would hope we are. We better be. We're seven more weeks later down the road. That's the idea of going to practice and meetings and working hard – as hard as our guys do. Our guys work hard. I say it all the time; I never really see anybody write it, but one of these days you'll write that, about how hard our guys work and how hard our coaches work and how well they do. So, it's showing up on the field. That's the thing about it that you're proud of. I just think we have a great coaching staff. Our coaching staff is very creative. Our coaches are excellent teachers. You start with the special teams. I think we're … These two teams, in my opinion, [are] the two top special teams in football right now. There's no question. When you look at all the numbers, these are the two best special teams in football [that are] going to be going head to head. And they're ranked a little bit above us, frankly. So we know we have our work cut out for us, but that speaks to Jerry Rosburg and the job he does and the way he motivates those guys and the way those guys respond and the way those guys work. We've put together a good group of players in there. We have a bunch of guys that get after it, and they're really good football players, which goes to the depth of our football team. I'm proud of that, and that's just one example. You can take that example and take it across the board at every position."
**John, how did you think DT Timmy Jernigan did in his first game back as he got knocked off with a few weeks' of inactivity? *(Aaron Wilson) *"Timmy [Jernigan] did well. He did well, especially for the first game back."
**Can you explain why WR Marlon Brown was in uniform for the final warm-up? Was it just a misunderstanding there? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Yes."
**But [WR Marlon Brown] didn't realize you had … *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"Yes. We didn't communicate that. That's my fault. [We] did not communicate well on that. So, [Marlon Brown] shouldn't have been out there."
John, I know every game you're going to learn something new from your team. But [with] two games on the road back to back against AFC North teams, do you think you'll learn something from your team over these next two games? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes."
What do you hope to find? (Jamison Hensley) "We'll learn where we stand after the nine-game mark of the season. That's what we'll find out, and that's going to be very interesting. I'm looking forward to finding out. It's a big deal."
John, in years past this team – well, you can go back and forth – but [it's been] really known for its defense. [This season], the offense has really showed up. Would you say there is almost a balance where you couldn't even decide whether this team should be known for its offense or defense? (Dave Ginsburg) "You know I wouldn't even go down that road [given] the way you phrased it. It's a great conversation and it's an interesting thing to talk about, but my position [is] it's not something I'm going to go down that road on. We want to be as good as we can be on all three phases. The word you used was 'balanced.' That's really a great word, because we'd like to be No. 1 in every phase – offense, defense and special teams. That's the goal. We want to be as good as we can. We're not going to say we want to be one thing or the other thing – we want to be everything. We want to be whatever we need to be to win the next game, and you never know what that's going to be. It could be offense; could be defense; could be special teams. Whatever it's going to be, that unit has to be ready to be one that makes the difference. We just want to be as good as we can be in every phase."
To follow it up, clearly neither of those units – and throwing in special teams – is deficient. Would you not agree that you can count on any one of those if need be going into Week 8? (Dave Ginsburg) "That's what we're trying to accomplish."
John, with WR/RS Jacoby Jones, you said that he probably should've fair caught it. In your conversations with him, what was kind of the takeaway from that play? (Aaron Wilson) "I agree with that. We're both in agreement on that."
Just going forward, do you feel like you still … WR/RS Jacoby Jones is an accomplished return man. Do you feel OK with him? (Aaron Wilson) "I do."
**John, you guys have been pretty penalty free for the most part, but you actually had some offensive holding [against the Falcons]. Can you tell what was causing that, and any concern about that? *(Clifton Brown) *"Yes, it was one guy. It's not like I'm calling anybody out. Everybody can see who the penalties are on. I think it speaks to the confidence that [James Hurst] has earned, in all honesty. Our offensive coaches and I have great confidence in James Hurst. He's a young guy who has accomplished some pretty amazing things here as a rookie. So, we've put him in some pretty tough spots, probably, in that game, and that's what we probably learned. But that doesn't mean we don't think he can block play-action one-on-one against a really good pass rusher. I like the fact that he made sure that No. 94 [Jonathan Massaquoi] didn't get to the quarterback. I like that. That's kind of a veteran move right there. And the other thing about that … And he'll learn from that. He has to grow from that, and we have to do a better job of whatever we can do to keep ourselves out of that kind of situation as much as possible. But you can't do it 100 percent. Guys have to block people one-on-one, and he has done a lot of that, especially in the dropback pass and in the run game. But going forward, we'll just mix it up and do the best we can with it."
You singed some of the key guys this offseason – TE Owen Daniels, WR Steve Smith; traded for [Jeremy] Zuttah – you obviously had big expectations for them coming in, but have you been impressed with how quickly they've been able to play at a high level this season? (Garrett Downing) "Impressed, yes. Not surprised. Those guys are excellent players, and that's what we were planning on. [We are] proud of them. I like where we're at, but we have a long way to go. To sit here and … I appreciate the questions. They're great questions, and they're complimentary questions, which is appreciated. But we're just beginning. We have talked a lot about that. This is our beginning, and next week we'll be beginning, and the week after that we're beginning, because we start from where we're at. We have a lot of football to play, and we're not a good enough football team right now to accomplish the things that we plan on accomplishing. So, that's in our … The ball is in our court. We need to go get that done."
Is that a message that you delivered to the team all the time, something that you're stressing right now, or what? (Ryan Mink) "I think that's a pretty universal message. You've been here for how many years?" (Reporter: "Six.") "Have you heard that message before?" (Reporter: "Yes, but it comes more at certain times.")
*You say you're not a good enough of a football team right now [for] where you want to be. Could you line up right now and win in Denver? (Jerry Coleman) "We don't play Denver this week." *(Reporter: "Moving on to Cincinnati?") "Right – correct, correct. (laughter) I was waiting for an opportunity to throw that one out there, but Jerry beat me to it!" (laughter)
John, communication in the secondary, that's a talking point that's thrown out there a lot, but how much of a credit is it to the preparation? You had four different guys play extensive snaps yesterday at the safety position. It appeared pretty seamless just as an outsider. (Luke Jones) "Great point. I think we're really on track there. But my point is that we're on schedule in a lot of ways. The secondary was really good with that. We were on the same page for the most part. There were a few things … There were three or four things. There are going to be things that we have to anticipate going forward, because people watch you, they attack you, they cause problems for every unit. But – like I talked about last night, [which] was confirmed by the tape – the technique, the fundamentals, the eyes, the communication were all very good in the back end. And that's a credit to Steve [Spagnuolo], Chris [Hewitt] and the players."
John, was this one of ILB Daryl Smith's better games? It seemed like it was not just from the stats. (Aaron Wilson) "You're exactly right. Daryl [Smith] played … He has had a lot of good games. Do I say his best game of the year, and that be a comparison answer? Maybe so. You might have got me into one. But he played great. Daryl had a great game."
How would you gauge the progress of G/C John Urschel at left guard [during] K.O.'s [Kelechi Osemele] absence? (Jon Meoli) "I'd say he's done a great job. [He can be] put in the same category as James [Hurst]. He's stepped in and done … It'd be pretty hard to predict for a rookie to come in and play the way he's played at left guard, so [I'm] very proud of John. He deserves it. He works really hard, he loves football and he studies the game. So, he's getting what he's earned."