JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"OK, great seeing everybody – thanks for showing up today. Obviously, looking back on it, it was a great win, a December victory, which is very important to us, and it is critical in having a chance to achieve our goals this year so far. So, we're pleased with that. Like we always do, we'll go to work [and] build on the things we did well and correct and address the things that we didn't do as well and try to improve. We look at that as an opportunity to improve and play better the next week."
**When it comes to great defensive ends, great pass rushers around the league – you have several of them on your team – but what sets DE J.J. Watt apart? What makes him unique? *(Joe Platania) *"I haven't studied J.J. [Watt] yet this time around, but we've seen him enough in the past, and I guess we've watched him enough to have an opinion. His size – he's gigantic. And he's really fast and he's a great athlete – evidence he plays out there at wide receiver and catches fades. He does everything. He's a guy that we liked a lot coming out [of college] – great competitor, great motor. He just has it all."
John, any update on CB/RS Asa Jackson's injury? (Jamison Hensley)"Yes, Asa has a PCL [injury]. It's a five-week injury, so we'll be ruling him out the rest of the way. Thank you."
John, does that put you again on the cornerback market? Or with CB Antoine Cason coming in – between him and CB Rashaan Melvin and CB Anthony Levine coming back – do you feel like that's enough depth to get you through? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, I don't think you can ever feel like you have enough depth to get you through, so we'll be looking at all our options. It's one thing to hope to have a guy; it's another thing to find a guy. So, we're just looking at our options right now as we speak, and we'll have some answers probably over the next two days on that."
**I know you don't usually have time to think about certain things, but do you wonder, like in the NFL sometimes, it's always like one year one position gets hit harder than most [with injuries]? Or, do you not have time to even think about such things? *(Jamison Hensley) *"Both. We don't have time to worry about it, but it seems that way. In teams, it seems like it comes in bunches at certain positions, certain types of injuries. Whether it's with a team or around the league, I've definitely seen that. It feels that way, yes."
John, [there are] two games left, two wins needed. You went through a lot to get this far. What do you look at? Do you just tell the guys, 'We're right where we want to be,' at this point with two weeks to go? (Dave Ginsburg) "Yes, that's exactly it – two games left, two wins needed. That's well said. It hits it right on the head, actually. That's probably what I'll be saying to the guys tomorrow. (laughter) Seriously, it's perfect."
How would you describe the communication that goes on between you and the guys upstairs when it comes to challenges [and] timeouts? When you look back yesterday – specifically the CB Rashaan Melvin interception – you decided to challenge, and it didn't go your way. The process that goes on there, how do you feel that's gone this season? (Jerry Coleman) "It's excellent. Our process is excellent. We've made a lot of great challenges. Some of them, looking back on them, I think [the officials] got them wrong, in all honesty. Sometimes they let them stand, for whatever reason. The one yesterday, when you saw the ball hit the ground … It wasn't moving, [so] we thought we'd take a shot at it because it was such a huge play in the game. It was worth taking a shot at. It was worth a timeout."
Down in Houston, they already declared QB Tom Savage out. It could be QB Thad Lewis [or] QB Case Keenum [behind center on Sunday]. For your approach, does it differ not knowing who the quarterback is, or do you kind of just prepare for their system? (Jamison Hensley) "It's both. We'll prepare for their system and their scheme. We'll try to anticipate as best we can how we think they'll attack us – scheme-wise and philosophically how they'll approach the game – and try to gear our game plan and our reps accordingly as best we can. Who plays quarterback is definitely a part of that. We'll be looking at that and we'll have to prepare for both of those two possibilities."
Is there going to be some hard research going into these guys? (Jerry Coleman) "We know these guys. We know them; we've seen them in the league. We'll watch everything that they've done, tape-wise. Those guys have been around."
How much of a resource will offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak be this week just because of [his familiarity with the Texans], especially with QB Case Keenum – he knows him very well – and some of the other personnel? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, that's always a resource anytime you have experience with teams [or] players. The scheme is different, certainly, than what they've done in the past, but the personnel – there are a lot of those guys that are still there. We'll try to use everything we have – every bit of information we can get – like we always do."
Coach, can you talk about the way that WR Marlon Brown has played over the past several games? [He's] made some clutch catches and big plays. (Ryan Mink) "Marlon has played great. He's made some clutch catches and some big plays and has really done a great job for us He's come through. He's rounding into form a little bit. He's healthy and he's been practicing really well, and it's showing up on Sunday. He has a great catch radius, and he goes up and makes some catches for us. I put Owen [Daniels] in that same category. He had an outstanding catch on an option route that was away from … The defender was draped all over him. Both those guys had some really big catches for us yesterday."
John, what have you seen from S Jeromy Miles now that he has become a full-time safety for you all, and how much [of] what he did on special teams might have dovetailed into what he's doing for you at safety? (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, Jeromy [Miles] has done a good job. He has always played well for us wherever he has played – special teams or defense, as you pointed out – and he has carried it over to into defense. He has played good, solid football back there. He has been in the right spot, made tackles. [He] has done a good job. He continues to improve, and we want him to continue to improve and get better and see where it takes us."
Coach, we'll get a chance to talk with Gary Kubiak on Thursday about how he feels about going back to Houston. Can you describe what it was like maybe for you the first time you went back to Philadelphia after being there for so long? Returning to the old stomping grounds, that'll be one of the stories this week I'm sure. (Jerry Coleman) "Going back to Philadelphia?" (Reporter: "Not for you, but for coach Kubiak.") "I don't remember going back to Philadelphia. That was too long ago. I don't have any recent thoughts on that, but thanks for asking."
Wouldn't you tap [Gary Kubiak] though for any information, but because of the system change it won't apply? In terms of … (Jerry Coleman)"Excuse me, about going back to Houston? I'm not following your question." *(Reporter: "Coach Kubiak.") *"Yes, we just answered that question. It was a good question, and it was answered already."
John, is there a benefit from yesterday's game which you admittedly did not play perfectly, so you can show them that there are things you can correct over the last two weeks, plus [that] any team is going to be tough? Obviously, they knew that, but it wasn't a blowout, [and] there are things that can be worked upon. (Dave Ginsburg) "We anticipated a tough game, and if you anticipate … Anybody that would anticipate a blowout in this league is a fool, and they don't coach or play in this league. Because [NFL coaches and players] know how tough it is every week and how good your opponent is every week and how determined and how fierce the competition is in the National Football League. So, we got exactly the game we expected. We didn't play as well as we'd hoped, or as we'd planned for. We wanted to play better. The biggest issues we had were field position issues. We gave them some field position. We had five issues on special teams and one on defense that created the ball near or past the 50-yard line five different times. Fortunately … Not fortunately, but to our guys' credit, our defense rose up and just played outstanding football – sudden-change football, backed-up football – and got some big stops for us. That, to me, was the story of the game. The offense came through when they had to with the big drive in the second half. [The offense] went and took it all the way down the field and put it in the end zone. [It] ended up being the difference. And the special teams, we're disappointed in those plays that created the field position one way, but they covered very well, covered punts and kickoffs very well. And another difference-making play, they blocked a punt to start the game. So, our guys continue to fight. They show great faith and they show courage, and that's what this league is all about, especially this time of year. We'll analyze everything that we can do to improve and anything that applies for next week. If it doesn't apply to next week, we don't care about it. It's past us. It's history. We don't need to look back at it."
Playoffs then … For just a second, are you happy with the team the way the team is playing, maybe generating some momentum for what could be a playoff push? (Dave Ginsburg) "Absolutely. Absolutely. I'm excited about our team. I like where we're at. We're getting better and stronger, and I also think there's room for improvement, which gives me a lot of encouragement and excitement, because we've yet to play our best game, by far. Our best game is out there yet. And our guys practice with a lot of effort and intensity, a lot of focus, and our best game is very attainable. Hopefully it's going to come soon."
**John, last couple games the offense in the second half has been very good, so I guess No. 1, are you satisfied … Is it a good sign that you can … It seems like you guys, whatever adjustments you need to make at halftime seem to carry into the second half. Also, you haven't started as well the last couple games. Is that a concern, or coincidence the last couple of games? *(Clifton Brown) *"We need to play better even in the second half. We didn't start the second half with a drive. They knocked us out and forced a punt right away. To the negative aspect of the question, yes, we're going to look at everything we can do to get better, and starting better on offense is definitely one of those things, and all those other things are going to be part of it. Again, if it doesn't apply to next week, we couldn't care less about it. If it applies to next week, then it's very important to us."
John, when you were watching the film, especially the pass rush, is it just those guys beating the one-on-one battles, or is there something else happening that you're just generating a lot of pressure on quarterbacks lately? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, it's both. We have some really good schemes, some really good pressure schemes that we got them on. We had some four-man schemes that we got them on as well. We had some games inside that worked for us. In the end, it's the players though. It's the players; it's the pass rushers. It's those guys executing the technique, the scheme and winning the one-on-one battles as you pointed out. That's really the main thing that's happening. Our guys are winning. When they win like that, then you have a chance to get there."