Transcripts: John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference (9/12)

Opening statement: "Good to see you guys here. I appreciate you coming. I had a chance to look at the tape, and lots of good things, some good things to build on, and lots of things that we need to get better at. So, we expect to get to work. Our guys have a great attitude about that, and we'll go to work this week to try to improve and be better, try to be up to the challenge next week playing against Miami, who obviously had a big win down there, a dominant win, and is playing great football. So, what questions do you have?"

With T Ja'Wuan James' Achilles injury, do you think you will bring in another left tackle, or do you think you have enough depth here to move guys around? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, I think that's something that's in conversation right now. We'll just kind of see where we're at with all the moving parts there. There's a lot of moving parts that go with that. Where we're at with our team, what's out there, those kinds of things. So, we'll continue to talk about those things. To add to that, with Kyle Fuller, he will be out for the year. The MRI came back and showed us that it was a torn ACL."

How tough is a season-ending injury for CB Kyle Fuller, a Baltimore native who just came home? (Luke Jones) "Yes, he was playing good football too. He'll tell you, he really loves it here; his mom is here. He just liked everything about what we were doing, and he fit in so well and was playing good ball in the game, really all camp. [He's] such a serious guy, so determined. He'll come back stronger than ever. [It's] one of those things, just a crazy circumstance on their AstroTurf. He got pushed off, and just landed the wrong way in the turf, and the turf doesn't usually give as much as grass. So, that's what happened."

We saw CB Marcus Peters running extensively before the game. How close was he to being able to play? (Childs Walker) "I don't have the measurement on that; that's not something I have a number on."

After watching the tape, what did you think of the job OL Patrick Mekari did stepping in at left tackle? (Ryan Mink) "He did a good job. Patrick [Mekari] is a guy – I was talking to him after the game – you just always appreciate that he plays all the positions. You never really know where he's going to be called on to play. That's why he's so valuable, and he played very well."

RB Kenyan Drake received the bulk of the carries yesterday and seemed to get better as the game went on. Did you see him evolving out there? (Todd Karpovich) "Yes, heck yes. He had some things. He's still learning the offense, in terms of the angles and the eyes, and just assignments in formation, where to line up, routes to run, protections … There's carryover, but it's not the same from team to team, so some of that stuff was there. Then, as you said, it got better as the game went on, I thought, and he started getting a little bit more confident in the way [with] his running style. He's a veteran back, knows how to run the ball, still young enough to have a lot of juice. Same thing with Mike [Davis]. Both those guys. I thought Justice [Hill] did a nice job too. So, the run game got better as the game went on, and we have to keep improving that. Obviously, they were very determined to stop the run and the RPOs. You could see on first and second down, that was their plan to try to take those away. At times, they did a really good job with that, especially in the first half."

Did you expect that type of performance from the defensive line? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, they'll be the position group of the week for sure. They'll get the award on that; they were dominant really everywhere. They're mad – I talked to the guys in the weight room a little bit earlier, some of the guys – they'll bring up the play or two they want back, which I appreciate about those guys. Very physical, very downhill. Pads were down, a lot of pocket push. I thought they did a heck of a job."

What did you think of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald's first game as a play caller in the NFL? (David Andrade) "He did great; he did a great job. The same thing as the D-line, he's talking about the ones he wants back, first thing when I had a conversation with him and all the different areas where we need to improve. That's what you appreciate about him. He had no issues; he was calm, he got the plays in quick, great communication with the defensive staff. I thought they all worked really well together."

After watching the tape, what did you see from the rookies in their debut performances? (Kyle Barber) "Well, generally – it's a general question – they were all pretty good. They all did a pretty good job, but certainly, you want them to grow from that. In the environment, in terms of confidence, in terms of getting a feel for what they're capable of out there and continuing to try to take steps and grow out of that 'rookie' label as quickly as possible."

What went into TE Nick Boyle being inactive yesterday? (Luke Jones) "We're just trying to put the best guys out there based on all the factors. Nick [Boyle] has the factors with the knees and the ankles and things like that and kind of getting back into the swing of things. We have Josh [Oliver], we have a number of guys who are healthy and stuff like that, completely healthy. That's going to be week to week really with different players. Nick's doing a really good job. I know that Nick is champing at the bit to play; I'm pretty sure you'll see him out there sometime soon."

ILB Patrick Queen ended up playing every snap yesterday, which had not happened last year. Is that a product of a difference in scheme under defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald? Did you anticipate that Queen would play that much? (Bo Smolka) "We were hoping that he would be a three-down linebacker, and he's earned that during training camp. I wasn't anticipating him being out there for 84 plays, that's a little much. That's kind of on us too, the whole team. The defense can limit their plays out there with the penalties; we extended some drives with that. And the fourth-down stops; we could have gotten off the field a couple times. Then offensively, we keep the ball longer, and that will limit the defensive snaps too. I'm not so much concerned about he's out there every snap, it's just kind of how many snaps, and that's more of a team effort."

With CB Kyle Fuller out for the year, DB Brandon Stephens will be relied upon more. What did you like about how he played yesterday? (Jeff Zrebiec) "He played a really good, fundamentally-sound football game. Technique wise, [his] eyes were in the right spot. [He had a] very solid game, made plays on the ball, [making] key plays on the ball to get us off the field. Generally, he played a really good game. He took a step from where he was last year."

How impressive is it for DB Brandon Stephens to have switched back and forth between cornerback and safety over the past two years? (Luke Jones) "It is an interesting thing; it's a great point you make. It's a hard thing to do, [and] he just takes it in stride. He's very smart; he's very conscientious. He always learns, and he's never sensitive – is that the word, defensive? He just wants to sponge; he just wants more information all the time. So, he's done a good job with it."

S Chuck Clark also played every snap on defense. How valuable is his versatility to be able to come down close to the line of scrimmage, deep and all over the field? (Garrett Downing) "[He was] all over the field, all over the field. Chuck [Clark] was instrumental in everything we did. He was communicating the defenses out there – I think he was the 'green dot' this week. (laughter) The mystery was solved. We got it solved. Chuck played an excellent football game; pass defense, run game, organizing us. Excellent game."

How was the train ride to New York? (Jonas Shaffer) "[The] train ride was nice. It was good. I always advocate Amtrak, Northeast Corridor. I need an Amtrak deal or something. (laughter) It was great, food was great. Relaxing. It's always nice with a win. Amtrak is way better with a win, I can tell you that."

What are your thoughts on how WRs Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman played, and how happy where you for Bateman on his 55-yard touchdown reception? (Shawn Stepner) "It's a great point. Receivers so often get judged on a couple plays. When we grade the tape, we grade it on all the plays. They're out there to make those plays; that's the difference in games, and it was the difference in this game in a lot of ways. It was one of the key differences, was the big plays, and the big play differential. That's an important part of any game, especially in the National Football League when the margin is that fine. So, Devin [Duvernay] made the two plays and 'Bate' [Rashod Bateman] made the one play. Those were three big touchdown passes right there that turned the game. So, I'm just happy for those guys, and proud of those guys. It's something that I think they were visualizing happening for them in the first game, for them to kind of break through in the first game and make those plays, it's a confidence shot in the arm. So, we just have to keep building on it."

There was a lot of attention on NT Michael Pierce this offseason. He led the defensive linemen in snaps yesterday. How have you seen him build up throughout the summer to get to the point where he was able to be relied on so heavily yesterday and play well, even late in the game? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, [Michael Pierce] came back in shape. We always … He probably could have been a little lighter when he came back; it wasn't like he was bad though, at all, if you want to call it that. But he was in football shape, and he practiced that way all the way through camp. So, just the way he played yesterday was the way he's been practicing all through training camp. And Michael is a pro; he's a good guy; it really matters to him. I think he's very motivated and determined to have a great year, and he had a great start yesterday. He was dominant. The whole D-line was dominant, but he was right there, leading the charge."

When you see a big guy like DT Justin Madubuike running around, it's almost like he was moving like a linebacker running towards the running back. What are your thoughts on him? (David Andrade) "I agree. [Justin Madubuike] made a play on a screen. [He was] chasing guys out of the pocket. He was explosive all over the field. [His] pass rush was explosive [and] setting the tone. He's another guy that I think is very determined to make a name for himself. He wants people to remember him. I think he wants people to know how to pronounce his name. You've got to make plays for that to be the case, and he had a good start, definitely, yesterday."

How much did familiarity with Jets QB Joe Flacco go into how you prepared? (Cordell Woodland) "I don't think it was a big factor, really. It was their offense. And Joe [Flacco] … We know a lot about every quarterback. You see these guys in games; we know all their stats and kind of know what all the guys are. So, it wasn't that big of a difference. It was a nicer conversation before the game and after the game than I normally have with guys, and I got to hear about Joe's five kids, and I got a couple pictures, and that's cool; that's what you appreciate, because it's bigger than football. But I thought Joe played a really good game. Obviously, he completed a lot of passes; he got the ball out; hung in there under duress. He was under a lot of pressure and handled it well. So, you give Joe all the credit, give their team the credit. They played hard, [and they're] a hard-playing team. It was a good thing, but I don't want to overstate that part of it."

I know this is a nuanced issue, and you'd have to look at specific plays to determine it, but there were several times when it seemed like the play clock was running down really late. Was that all working how you would have liked? Would you like to be up at the line of scrimmage quicker? And is that something that you guys have spent a lot of time on? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Well, we were doing more of our 'gameplan' play call. So, we were running more of our 'call them out' plays, more of our plays that are good against everything. There weren't too many specific 'defensive-beater' plays that were in there. There were some dual calls that can be one play or the other; we're looking for man or zone or looking for a certain front or going a direction; those get a little more lengthy. And sometimes the 'gameplan' calls get a little more lengthy because they're 'formationed up' – we've got motions and formations, and they has to be communicated – so, I think that contributes to it. We didn't have as many as the one-word, fast calls as we have in some games, because we just didn't know what we were going to get. We had to kind of be ready, because you can put the wrong thing up, and all of a sudden, you can really look bad. And we didn't want to have negative plays in the game; we didn't want to get hit seven yards in the backfield on a sweep because it was just the wrong type of a play. So, I would attribute it to that. But I also would say that we need to operate quicker from … The whole thing can be quicker, and we have to look at the play calls a little bit … Like every team does … I promise you, every team, every offense goes through this, because there's a lot to communicate, and there are a lot of plays in the gameplan. So, the more you can tell the guy in the huddle, the less they have to memorize in a big gameplan. That's something that coaches have to deal with. So, we'll look at where we can tighten some of those up and make them quicker and easier for Lamar [Jackson] to communicate, as well."

TE Isaiah Likely probably didn't have the first game that he would have wanted to have, and there had been so much excitement about him in the preseason. With a young guy like that, do you kind of pull him aside after the game for a word of encouragement? How do you deal with that? (Childs Walker) "Yes, I don't know yet; I haven't seen [Isaiah Likely] yet. So, when I see him, it'll probably come to me – what to say. But [it was Isaiah Likely's] first game, [his] first game, first real NFL game. He did OK. He did some good things. But we can't have a holding call on the perimeter; it happened in the preseason two or three times, and now it comes up this game. No, that's not cool; that's not alright. Why does it happen? Because your footwork, your angle and your target are wrong. But we had a veteran guy, another guy [who] had one of those on the perimeter, as well. Those are very costly. That takes away big runs and gets drives startled. And that's just fundamentals. That's being on the right angle and being on the right target. So, that's the one I'm not going to be as nice to him about. Some of the other stuff … 'Listen man, you can go make those catches. Yes, they weren't perfectly thrown, because the quarterback is getting you the ball, but he's also trusting you to make those catches. And you can make them; you make them every day in practice.' I'll probably tell him that about some of those catches he had a chance to make."

How does it affect the way you and offensive coordinator Greg Roman create gameplans when you have guys like TE Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely, who can line up in the slot, and even if you don't have three-wide receiver formations, you still have guys who are kind of flexed out there? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think that's a very good observation, and that's probably what we're going to be a lot. Those guys are going to be on the field as much as we can put them out there, because they're also receivers – they're just bigger receivers – but they're good blockers too. That's good for us. So, I think you'll see those guys out there quite a bit."

On fourth down in the first quarter, did you not like the look you were getting from the Jets? How did that play out, with you deciding to punt it? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, we weren't lined up quite right, the look wasn't right for what we had called, and we weren't really certain, and at that point in time, I pulled the plug on the play, as I felt like, 'I don't want to go for this right here at midfield early in the game if I'm not really confident that we're right to get it.' So, I called a timeout and said, 'You know what? Let's just play it safe, let's punt them down in there and let our defense play' – once I saw how it looked and how it felt."

It looks like QB Lamar Jackson has about 10 first-down play-action fakes. Was that due to the fact that the Jets tried to stop the run and that was their goal? (Kevin Richardson) "Yes, you just have to do that. Play-action is going to be a big part of what we do, and we can execute that so much better. We can sell it better, make it more believable. But if you're going to be a running team, then you're going to want to be a play-action team, too. You saw them run a number of play-actions, as well – a lot of teams around the league do that. Play-action is important. It's one of the most efficiently successful plays in the NFL, so it's something we should be good at, and we want to keep using."

You discussed your frustration with the two holding calls, but you had a relatively clean game, overall. How much was that stressed? (Kyle Barber) "Yes, I'm happy about that. The best thing was – to your point – the pre-snap stuff really was good. We were in there … It was loud, it's loud. The flag – did you see the flag? How cool was that? It covered the whole field. It was quite an environment. Their fans are into it; it's a loud fanbase. Their team stresses you. They stress you with the looks, with the way they run up field. They put a lot of people around the line of scrimmage; they run to the ball; they're very physical. So, all that being said, I thought our guys handled the pre-snap stuff well. We didn't have those mistakes, so that was a big plus for us and a big reason why we won."

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