JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE & PLAYER AVAILABILITY
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"OK, thanks for coming. [It was] just a very important win, as we talked about yesterday. I'm very proud of our players and our coaches. We stepped up in a challenging situation when we needed a win very much coming off a tough game the week before and playing a rested opponent that was very well-prepared for us, and that showed in the first quarter with the way the game went early. The guys handled it. We weathered the storm – really all three phases – and continued to play better and better as the game went on, and we were getting stronger in the fourth quarter. That's really what it was. So, credit goes to our players and our coaches to get that done. It was a great accomplishment. I'm proud of them. We had a day today where we took care of a lot of different things football-wise and NFL requirement-wise, things like that. And we've let the players go, and they'll be back Monday to begin preparations for the last six games of the season."
**In terms of laying out the bye week and the plan for the bye week, you like to do it in advance. Let's say the game would have turned out in a much more negative fashion. Maybe you would have played well below par, maybe even lost. Would that have changed your plan at the last minute? *(Joe Platania) *"I have no idea. It's a hypothetical [questions]. It didn't happen. So, it's not something that needed to be addressed."
John, with the bye, this being so late … I know you pride yourselves on being physical and being able to withstand everything, but is it nice for the bye to come in? Because you had a physical game against Pittsburgh, [and] again, you had a tough game physically to wear [the Titans] down. Is it nice getting the bye right at this point? (Jamison Hensley)"It is. It's a good time for us. Hey, what's the right time? You can't plan a bye. Do you like them early, do you like them late? For our team, right now, it's really a good time for us to have it. It's obviously later. Most teams have had their bye. A few teams have their bye yet again next week; there are two teams that still have a bye coming up. So, it's come right at the right time for us, and we should come back fresh and strong and ready to go."
John, you've probably looked at the film and you commented on it yesterday, but what about the defensive secondary? They vastly improved from the week before and [you] incorporated new guys in there. You have to be pretty proud of the way they played. (Dave Ginsburg)"We played really well in the secondary, as you said. Our coaches did a great job. Players did a great job. We went to work. We have a ways to go, though, in every area. But I thought the challenge that we faced this week – they did a great job of answering the bell."
**John, from a preparation standpoint, how much is this a nice week to get a head start on the Saints? *(Aaron Wilson) *"We'll do that. It won't only just be the Saints, but it will be the second part of the season we'll be looking at, and also ourselves. You do a lot of work on your own tendencies and things like that and see where you're at. So, we'll do a lot of study that way."
*How much time off do the coaches get? *(Jerry Coleman) *"They get some time off." *(Reporter: "As in…") "Why do you need to know what the schedule is for the coaches? Are you planning on any social engagements?" (laughter) (Reporter: "No, not at all. I'll be leaving town.") "You just set me up, but I'm not going there. I'm not following that train." (Reporter: "As far as the time off for the coaches…") "The coaches are going to get time off." (Reporter: "It's not as long as the players, is it?") "Correct. We have some work to do on into the week. Thank you, yes, but there will be some time off for the coaches as well. We'll get away; it will be good for us."
John, in terms of the blitzing that the Titans did, how much of that was in-game adjustments that you guys had to do? How big was that for you guys to make that adjustment? (Aaron Wilson)"Our players and coaches both did a good job with that. They came after us. They threw the kitchen sink at us, so to speak. It's a pressure package. [Titans defensive coordinator] Ray Horton does a great job with it. He had a couple of weeks to prepare it and to attack some of our run schemes especially. They had a really good concept to go after our run blocking patterns and cause us some trouble. But the coaches got together and the players got together on the sideline, and we started blocking up better as the game went on."
John, with some of those, it looked like they showed early a lot of pressure stacking that line. Does QB Joe Flacco have the ability to check out of that? Or was he just supposed to … Because it seemed like they were stacking and preparing for that run. (Jamison Hensley) "You'll get a chance to talk to [offensive coordinator] Gary [Kubiak], and he can probably give you as much detail as he chooses to give you on that. But Joe has flexibility at the line within the structure of the offense to try to put us in whatever particular play that is called for on that play call. We don't walk up there with the whole playbook. So, it just depends on the play call."
John, is there a decision made on G/T Jah Reid's status? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Jah had a broken hand, so we're still discussing as far as how we're going to handle that in terms of roster [management] right now. But we'll just have to see how that goes."
John, if you look at the standings, it's the first time since 1935 that all the [division] teams have been two [games] over [.500]. You're 6-4 and a half-game out. What do you think about the AFC North at this point? (Dave Ginsburg) "I probably feel the same way I felt about it when the season opened. It's the best division in football. That's only going to serve to make us all better in the end. It's going to be a dog fight right to the end. We just need to do our part. We understand how good the other three teams are in our division and how well they're going to play down the stretch. That should just serve further notice to us in terms of how well we need to play."
Can you talk about the way that P Sam Koch is punting? It seems like he is having a lot of success, especially when almost punting an opponent back against their own end zone. (Ryan Mink) "His numbers are off the charts in terms of his effectiveness. He had the 69-yard bomb, which he just did a great job of punting it away from a really good returner and getting the ball on the ground – we got a good roll. But it's not just all luck, either. There's something to the way he hits certain balls. He's trying to get that roll. So, punting away from return schemes, things like that, he's done a great job of that. We've had very few returns against us, especially in the last four weeks against great returners, and Sam has been a big part of that."
S Terrence Brooks had a big hit yesterday. Can you talk about how he is developing? Do you feel like maybe he is able to be more aggressive because he feels more comfortable? How would you see it? (Clifton Brown) "That's probably exactly it. The more comfortable you get with what you're doing, especially in the back end, the more aggressive you can play, because you're playing through your responsibility. And in the back end on defense, so much of that is spacing. It's understanding leverages on the run game and the pass game, taking the proper angles so you don't get caught out of position, and those things are usually learned the hard way – especially in this league, because everybody is so much faster and so much better. He is learning those things; he's had a couple hard lessons. He played very well yesterday, and I thought the hit was just a great example of a young guy who is really paying attention to technique, paying attention to the rules, trying to do things the right way. The game can be played in a very physical way and still adhere to principles of player safety, and he did a great job of that."
John, you guys had to burn a timeout yesterday to allow the defense to get on the field. How do you hope the NFL can correct that going forward? (Kevin Richardson)"That's a great question. I don't know that there is a remedy for that one, because it was a huddle situation. It's not like they're going to hold that substitution like they do in a no-huddle situation. I'd love to see them restart the play clock maybe and give us a chance to do what we need to do, or to hold that snap a little bit. But Walt [Coleman] explained to me what was happening there and why he didn't hold them. I understood what he was saying. It really was tough on us, because we had a tough time getting our players on the field there."
John, I know there were a couple of challenges earlier this year that you think that you were correct on in hindsight, but how nice did it feel to get a challenge to go through, and how important do you think that played? It seemed like it was a pretty critical time to get it. (Jamison Hensley) "Our guy in the press box … Matt Weiss [defensive quality control/linebackers assistant] does a great job with that. He studies the rules and challenges and all those things really, really well, and I thought he did a great job of seeing that. He saw the bobble first on the first step, which gave us a chance to understand that it wasn't a completed catch. Once we saw that, it was clear cut that it was going to be overturned. You never know, obviously, but we felt like that was pretty certainly going to be overturned. So, give credit to Matt on that. He did a great job."
*Somewhat limited snaps, DT Timmy Jernigan has played well since he came back from his knee injury. Do you see a bigger role for him in the second half? (Jon Meoli) *"It's like any player – the better you play, the more opportunity you earn. That's like your profession as well, or any profession, right? [Timmy Jernigan has] done a great job, and he's earning more opportunity. He played really well. I think a lot of the young players are kind of in that boat. We're fortunate enough to have some good competition within our team. Guys are fighting for playing time. Guys are fighting to be activated on the 46, and that's a good problem to have."
To that, TE Owen Daniels just said that it takes a lot of pressure off the veterans who are expected to produce every week when you have rookies who are able to come in in their first year and contribute the way a lot of your guys have. Is that a pleasant surprise for you? Does that vary from year to year what you're going to get from them? (Jon Meoli) "It definitely varies from year to year. I hope we're not surprised by the success of our young guys. We like to think we draft good players and sign good free agents. But as you know, every year is different and every player is different. This year probably has been one of our best years. I think the young guys … This class has contributed as much or more than any class in recent history here with the Ravens. It's a good group of young guys. They're very motivated. They work really hard. They love football. I don't see their heads in a lot of different places. I see them thinking about football every single day, and those are the kind of guys you want to bring in."
John, how has ILB Arthur Brown done since he has started being active? Is he doing a good job for you guys? (Aaron Wilson) "Arthur Brown has done a great job. He has played really well on special teams. He drew a huge penalty on the kickoff coverage with his speed. He ran around the double-team – they were chasing him and blocked him right in the back, right in front of the return that backed him up inside the 10- [yard line]. You go to that, our special teams, we pinned them inside the 10-yard line numerous times with our punt team and our kickoff team. Unfortunately, we had the one punt return called back, and that was a good block, but it was just too high. That's something we have to do a better job of, of making sure we make that peel-back block a legal block. Darian [Stewart], he had the block, we know that, but you try to do it the right way, and you just have to get lower on that. If we would have made that play, we would've had a perfect day on special teams."
**John, were you appeased by that CBS apology, or is that something that still ticks you off? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"I never gave it any thought one way or the other. You like to have your 10 minutes with, private time with, your team. We're going to talk to our team in an honest and straightforward way, tell them what we think, and our guys deserved to hear that. I'm quite sure nobody is offended by that. I don't think any other team in the league cares what a coach says to his team in the locker room after a game. So, [I am] not too worried about it."
**Going forward, will that possibly, you might want to limit access going forward? *(Jamison Hensley) *"I don't really have a total say in that. It's one of the great things about the NFL is the access that the fans get. You like to have a moment with your guys, but I'm not going to say anything in there that I'm going to be ashamed of either, so we'll just take it as we go."
What we see on the Ravens' web site and what the team puts out, is that something that you have a chance to look at and OK before it airs? (Jerry Coleman) "No, I don't look at any of that. Kevin [Byrne, senior vice president of public and community relations] looks at that, and [president] Dick Cass looks at all that. So, that's not something I look at. But they do a great job with it. I'm never worried about that."
*John, even beyond just the performance of the offensive line, in the present, how positive has it been that even when you have younger guys that have had to come in – like on the left side of the offensive line – they've produced? How well does that sort of set you up going forward, because I guess T James Hurst played just a couple downs yesterday for T Eugene Monroe again? (Jeff Zrebiec) *"It's unique to have the opportunity to throw some guys in the game. You always wonder – and guys about it talk sometimes – we rotate defensive linemen all the time, but we never roll any offensive linemen in there. Why is that? I'll tell you why it is. It's because there aren't that many good offensive linemen. It's hard to find five good offensive linemen, let alone six or seven or eight or nine. Defensive linemen, there seems to be more of those guys. You want to roll those guys in. So, that's a blessing to be able to do that, and it also speaks to the player development here. Our coaches do a great job of developing players. Look at the secondary this year and some of the guys that came in and played yesterday, and how we keep working that in. Look – as you said – [at] the young players and how well they've developed at every position. And then the offensive line is probably the biggest and most obvious example of that, because of the injuries on the left side. So, it does speak well. It speaks well to the future. It speaks well to our depth. It's all very positive."
John, this is FB Kyle Juszczyk's first full year as a lead blocker for you guys. How has he done this season for the guys? Obviously they have been productive. (Aaron Wilson) "Kyle [Juszczyk] has done a really good job. You've seen him as a receiver, obviously, and he has tremendous skills that way. He's out there playing wide receiver and things like that and does a great job. But he's hammering it up in there very well, and he has made a lot of key blocks for us inside. I think Justin Forsett appreciates him. He has done a good job in pass protection. He has become a very, I'd say one of the top blockers in that position in the league right now in just his second year, which it's not something he did in college. It was all new to him last year. He learned from Vonta Leach. He had a chance to watch Vonta, who is one of the best ever, so it was good for him."
How is WR/RS Michael Campanaro progressing? He has been out a couple weeks, but are you happy to have the bye, hoping to get him back soon? (Luke Jones) "[We] have our fingers crossed. I talked to Michael [Campanaro] today, and he has his fingers crossed. He'll be in here every day. All the injured guys will be in here every day [during the bye week]. It kind of goes to the question earlier, but they'll all be in here working hard to get healthy."
TE Owen Daniels
On if he prefers having the bye this late in the season:"It was kind of nice the way we had it built in this year that we had that Thursday night game early, which was kind of a mini-bye. It's been a long stretch until now, but it's a good time to get fresh and get re-energized, for sure."
On if the NFL's domestic violence seminar was educational for the players today:"I think so. Obviously that's a hot topic across the country in general right now – it doesn't matter what line of profession you're in. So, it was good to get some expertise and perspective on that, and some enlightenment."
On if he believes the Ravens stand in a good position with six games to go:"We're 6-4, so we're happy we won yesterday. I think we're still kind of a little angry that we're not 7-3 or 8-2, but we can't change that at this point – it's a really tight race. We're going to get fresh and those teams still have to play each other a few times, and we're trying to take care of business, but one week at a time. We're at where we're at, everything is tight, but we have a lot of confidence in our team and what we're doing going forward."
On what his plan is for the bye week:"Resting, getting a lot of body work in, getting my old body fresh for the stretch run here. [I'm] going back to Houston for a couple days and just relaxing with my wife and enjoying some time together."
On if he is impressed with the way the Ravens' organization takes care of distractions:"I think everyone does a great job of that – top to bottom. We have great leadership starting from the top. [Head] coach [John] 'Harbs' [Harbaugh] does an awesome job of keeping things in perspective, and keeping us focused on the right thing, keeping us focused on things that we can worry about. If you can't change it, there's no need to worry about it that much if we can't do anything about it. But we're focused on what we can do. All of the guys in the locker room have a good head on their shoulders and, like I said, it comes from the top down."
On how the Ravens' offense adjusted to the Titans' blitzing:"They brought a ton of different looks at us – probably some things that we weren't expecting. They had an extra week to prepare, and that showed. But I think we did an awesome job adjusting, handling what they were bringing at us, and guys stepping up adjusting to pass protection and doing a lot of great things. That's what we can expect going forward. You want to be disruptive as a defense. I think that's what teams want to do to us and keep us off balance, but if we can handle that, there are big plays to be made."
On if a quick-strike offense can be a big asset to the Ravens:"Getting the ball out fast is always a big thing. We've been trying to quick count teams so they can't hit the blitzes full speed, and having them be a little off balance in that respect. There are a lot of little things you can do offensively to kind of counteract those things."
On what the contributions of the Ravens' rookie class has done for the team:"That's great when you have young guys come along and step up and are able to contribute. Obviously you want to see your leaders contributing all season, but when you have young guys chipping in and getting better [on a] week-to-week basis, that just makes things more difficult for our opponent every week. It kind of takes a little bit of pressure off the guys who are the leaders on the team that are doing it all year long. That's what you want to see out of the young guys. We have a great class, offensively and defensively, guys helping on special teams. I've been really impressed with the group."
On what it is going to take for the Ravens to have a more consistent offense:"I think the biggest thing is when we've been turning the ball over. We play really hard, we play really physical. For the most part, we're on our assignments. Teams do a lot of stuff to kind of take us out of that, but we do a lot of things offensively we're addressing to mix things up with them. I think if we protect the football and protect Joe [Flacco] – keep him upright and take the hits off of him – we'll be really, really tough to beat. I think we're running the ball well. Like I said, we're physical up front, physical all around. We're getting better. We're getting better and better."
On the Ravens' success in the run game and if it is at all surprising:"I'll take these guys any day of the week over anybody. They do an outstanding job running the football and finding the holes and running tough. Obviously, we have guys up front that are working really hard for them, but [from] my experience with [offensive coordinator] coach [Gary] Kubiak's offense – it's built off the run. It's built off being physical that way, and then doing what we do with play-action passing and keepers and stuff, getting the ball downfield that way. It all starts … From my perspective, we're most efficient and effective when we're running the ball well. And we'll try to continue to do that well, at least in these next six games."
OLB Terrell Suggs
On how the defense performed compared to the previous week's game at Pittsburgh:"I think we all just kind of motivated each other. We were coming off a rough two weeks, and [in front of our] home crowd, we really wanted to get the crowd going and get our fans something to be excited about again. After you go on a two-game skid, everybody's down [like] it's the end of the world, but we knew it wasn't. We knew it was going to be a tough two games to win. That's why we came here and won on Sunday."
On if the defense made a lot of adjustments after the Titans' first two offensive drives:"Well, the first two drives they ran a lot of plays against us that have had some success against us in the past. It's a copycat league. Once we were able to identify what they were doing, we were able to make some adjustments and be able to play solid defense."
On his impressions of Titans rookie T Taylor Lewan:"Pretty strong, pretty big guy. He definitely has a future in the league, but every left tackle is big and strong."
On if he gave OLB Elvis Dumervil a hard time about splitting their sack:"We always give each other a hard time. He's leading right now; I'm trying to catch him. But I think what we're both doing is pretty phenomenal for the team. I think it's fun, it's exciting. I never had a guy on the other side of the [defense] as a pass rush specialist like that, so it's definitely a good thing for the team. Of course we were having fun with it once we saw it was both of us on it."
On if he can feel that his body needs a break right now heading into the bye week:"Definitely. We have the opportunity to get some guys healthy, get rested up. When we come back, we have six games left – three home, three away – and we're feeling very optimistic about them. So, it's definitely a good time to have the bye though."
On if he thought his sack was a safety:"I couldn't tell. I saw him lying in the end zone, but the NFL is iffy. It's an offensive league, so they're always going to give the benefit of the doubt to them. It's just good to have them be on the stat boards, but whatever."
On how he feels about closing in on 100 career sacks:"It's kind of like the no-hitter. (laughter) I think it was one of you all that brought it up last week, and I didn't get one then. See, I got one [this week], and when you keep talking about it, it kind of jinxes the whole thing. So, can we all not bring it up again until it happens?" (laughter)
On if he is watching the scoreboard with as close as the AFC North race is right now:"You definitely have to take a peek, but you also have to handle your own business. It doesn't matter if you don't win your games and take care of the things you have to do. We're definitely going to be scoreboard peeking, but it also doesn't matter if we don't win. We definitely have to look at ourselves, too."
On if the Ravens are primed for a final push after the bye week after starting 6-4 on the season:"We realize that we would like to be a lot better, but we're just going to take it. After 10 games, we've won six of them. We've lost four games to four teams with winning records. There's a lot to be said about that, but like I said, we're very optimistic about the six [games left] going ahead."
On what he wants to accomplish during the bye week:"Definitely [getting] fully healthy. I think we all got some nicks and some bruises and we're banged up a little bit. We just definitely want to get back healthy."
On what he is expecting from rookie DT Timmy Jernigan for the remainder of the season:"His potential is endless. We definitely want him to help us win some football games coming down the stretch. We're very happy to have the emergence of Timmy Jernigan."