HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. [I] appreciate you coming out. [There were] a lot of great things this weekend. One of the things that happened today was [the] Community Relations [department] had some [volunteer] service events [Caw to Action] around town for kids and for young women that were great. I know because my wife was a part of it, and I was just talking to her about it. [They] had tons of volunteers from the Ravens' players, significant others, moms, family members. [It's] just neat to see that in the community, and I'm really proud of that. I'm also proud of the victory yesterday. Obviously, that was another thing to be proud of. I'm happy with the way we played – go back and study the tape. [There were] a lot of great things – so many great things – that led to a victory in a hostile environment against the division rival – a very good football team – but also things that we can work on. [There are] so many things that we can get better at and work on that we'll go to work on this week to try to get pointed toward next week, which will be a bigger challenge, because as you go along in the season everybody gets better. You have to keep getting better just to stay the same, then, you have to outpace your opponents in terms of improvement. So that's what we'll be working on doing this week. What questions do you have?"
Why was the offensive line so effective and what led to T Morgan Moses getting some snaps at left guard in the game? (Jamison Hensley) "Well, we had different formations, unbalanced formations that we were in. It was one of our formations. Guys were in different spots. You saw Daniel Faalele got out there for a little bit. Those were all good things. Daniel was [lined up] at tight end at one point [and] did a really nice job. Yes, that's part of it, formationally."
Why was the offensive line so effective yesterday despite being down two starters in C Tyler Linderbaum and T Ronnie Stanley? (Jamison Hensley) "I think the guys played well. People are concerned about stuff, and I understand it, but we maintained all along that those guys would come in and play well, and they did. Sam Mustipher deserves a lot of credit – a ton of credit. [He] played so well [at center] and really just kept it going at a high level. Obviously, Pat [Mekari] – he's done that so many times before. Nobody should be surprised by that. That's what those guys did, and Morgan [Moses] really had a good game. I think he really had one of his best games. He really had some big blocks for us. Kevin Zeitler was his usual, excellent playing self. John Simpson had a great game and a great weekend. I don't know if he made the announcement yet, but he had a real positive family thing. Did he make his announcement yet? I don't want to speak for him or his family. It's out! OK, good. He had a baby – his wife had a baby – their first, their son. [He was] seven pounds, nine ounces. It was just really wonderful. His son got a game ball on the plane after the game."
Was there talk this summer about OL Patrick Mekari getting involved in the left guard competition or did you talk to him and say that you love his ability to play anywhere on the offensive line which could also mean he might not play if everyone on the offensive line is healthy? (Bo Smolka) "You know the history of it, so it's a very good question. That's exactly … It's the conversation that we've had with Pat [Mekari] in terms of his versatility. [It's] probably [his] greatest blessing and probably for him somewhat of a curse. It ends up being the right thing, because he goes in there and does so well. The idea being that he could've been the starting left guard for sure, and that was the plan if nobody stepped up, but John [Simpson] stepped up in a big way. That was good for us, because now it allows us to have Pat … He backs up both tackle spots. Of course, Daniel [Faalele] is the next backup. [Patrick Mekari] can also be your center if you need him to do that. [He] didn't get as many reps in training camp at center. That was something that he would … We're working on that now just in case. You're always working on 'just in cases.' Sam [Mustipher] gave us the backup center. That just really helped us in this game a lot – that whole scenario."
When you look at the commitment you guys made to the wide receiver room, was yesterday the vision you had? Not only with the balanced production across the board, but even one of the starters sustaining an injury and still being able to put someone else back there that can still produce in the game? (Cordell Woodland) "Yes, for sure. That's kind of the first, the opening salvo, so to speak, you hope, and that's where we want to keep building in terms of just the depth of those guys. To see Nelson [Agholor] come in and make those plays – you talk about clutch plays in the game – clutch first downs and conversions. Boy, he made them, [and] a touchdown. All those guys just played so well. Rashod Bateman didn't have a ton of catches, but he played well, ran routes, moved around in different spots, to your point, after we went down [with] our guy [Odell Beckham Jr.], and then of course 'Duv' [Devin Duvernay] came in and did really well. He had some good runs and almost made a great catch in that third-down play. So, that's big part of who we are at wide receiver depth."
Did you get an explanation on the punt? The penalty being picked up and from watching it on tape, did you feel like the penalty should have stood there? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No, we received an explanation that there was a low block, which was illegal by [Cincinnati], but he was pushed into it by one of our guys. And it was on tape, it was the right thing. They correctly ruled that. So, that was on us all the way. We made numerous mistakes on that [punt]. That was truly poor coverage on our part. So, it's about us, and we were to blame, so we have to do better with that."
TE Mark Andrews expressed yesterday to keep the offense on the field during the fourth-and-3 play when you elected to kick the field goal. Can you talk about where you have to make those decisions and what leads you to those decisions? (Kyle Barber) "I didn't see Mark [Andrews]. I don't know what you're talking about there. I was down at the end by the 25-yard line. But I'm sure … the offensive guys always want to go for it, [and] they should. They have confidence. They want to go make those plays. That's what I love about our guys, and my job is to make the decision in terms of what's best for the team at the time [and] what's the best chance. And I always go by what's our best chance to get it or to get the points. It boils down to what's our best chance to get the most points. Sometimes, you take a chance. We kicked the field goal from 59 yards. Who does that? Very few teams do that, and it's a chance. You take a shot, and it's a risk because you give them the opportunity to get the ball at midfield which is what ended up happening. Our defense stepped up, thankfully. So, you factor in your defense, and I have confidence in our defense to get the stop. Also, I have confidence in 'Tuck' [Justin Tucker] to probably be 50/50-plus on that, in my mind. At 59 yards, I'm thinking he's going to have a shot to make that, a really good shot to make it. Those points were going to be a premium. So, we went for it. That was an aggressive move, and it didn't work out, but our defense had our back. So, that's kind of all those decisions. To me, the points there were important. It was fourth-and-3, and we wanted those points at that point in time, and you know 'Tuck' will have a great chance to make that kick. So, that's what we did."
Do you have any injury updates on OLB Odafe Oweh and WR Odell Beckham Jr.? (Luke Jones) "Yes. We have a lot more information. I'm just going to keep that close to the vest, though, right now. I can tell you this, if there's any long-term issue, we'll let you know what it is. If it's going to be something … anything like kind of an IR [Injured Reserve] thing or anything like that, but we're not there yet with anybody, and when we get there, we'll let you know."
With OLB Odafe Oweh going out, how pleased were you with how OLBs David Ojabo and Jadeveon Clowney held up despite not having a ton of defensive plays?_ (Luke Jones)_ "Those guys really played well. 'JD' [Jadeveon] Clowney, man, wow. He played great, he was disruptive, and he was a wrecking ball in there. Then, [David] Ojabo, too. Ojabo played [a] really solid, sound and physical game. [He] ran to the ball [and] was really good setting the edge. He had good help getting pressure, good bull rushes and was around the quarterback. He's just getting better every week. Odafe [Oweh] was playing [well], but he had the ankle sprain, so that was kind of tough. That's where we're at."
You talked about this a little last night, but just the efficiency of QB Lamar Jackson and the way he operated, things seemed to flow much smoother out of the huddle faster and more plays were ran. How much of a point of emphasis was that during practice from Week 1 to yesterday? (Brian Wacker) "Yes, the operation we call it – I guess that's an appropriate term – but it goes from the press box through the sideline to Lamar [Jackson] through the whole offense and back again to Lamar. There's a lot of moving parts with that, and it's really about communication and doing it efficiently. We work on that really hard from Day 1 of OTAs, because everything is based on that. We were kind of disappointed on how it went last week, but it was the first week. So, yes, to your point, it was a big point of emphasis for us this week, and it was much improved [even] on the road with the crowd noise and silent … We had silent count, too. So, I was really just happy and proud of those guys. I know Todd [Monken] was really happy with those guys, and yet like Todd said this morning, 'We still could get a lot better at that.' That's something that we'll keep working on to try and improve, because you have to be. Really everything is based on that."
I saw QB Lamar Jackson played his most snaps from under center of his career in a single game. Can you talk about the advancements that he's made under center? _(Ryan Mink) _"Yes. Well, we haven't done it a lot, but he's always been good at it. It's never been a problem with him under center. It's something that he does really well, and it was, going into the season, we talked about that before. It was part of the plan to be under there more, and you see it happening now. So, as long as it's successful, I'm sure we'll keep doing it. I think it creates a lot of problems [for the defense because] people have to defend us that way and all the formations and all the play actions that come off of that in the run game. They have to defend us in the pistol like always, and now the gun stuff has become a bigger part of what we're doing than ever, too. So, those [formations] make us more diverse."
Can you talk about your secondary and more specifically your cornerbacks who had a tough assignment this weekend? (Kyle Barber) "They really did. You have to be proud of those guys. Every Ravens fan should be really happy with the way the corners played. You're going against arguably the most talented receiver group in the league with a great quarterback [Joe Burrow]. [He's] a proven quarterback [and] the highest paid quarterback in the league. He's been doing it the last couple of years, and I know he's got the calf [injury] and all that, but he's still throwing that ball and playing really well, and he's going to have … They're not going anywhere, I promise you that. But, we didn't back off. We didn't. We played our game. We played press man. We played zone, press zone. We played cloud zone. We bailed. We played off at times. We played [cover] zero. We played everything we play, and those guys played exceptionally well. Really, I don't think they had any long passes over 15 or so yards completed – air yards – and that's really incredible, so we'll take that all the time from those guys. This week is a new challenge, we'll keep getting healthy back there and keep building on that. We're really building some depth in there."
The rallying and tackling are so important against the Bengals, because of their run-after-catch ability. What are you seeing from your team in terms of the tackling? (Ryan Mink) "Yes, we're tackling really well. They stress you big time with their RPO [run-pass option] game. They had some long drives out there where we basically didn't get off the field – that's something we really have to work on – because they were in third-and-5 or less pretty much the whole game. They were 10 out of 15 on third down. That's an area that we have to improve in. And really, it's because they were in third-and-manageable, because they did so well on first down. When the box was lighter, they were handing it off, and they were bleeding out four or five yards. And when it got a little more stacked, they threw the screen out there, and they execute the screen so well, so fast. They get up [the] field so quickly with those guys. It's one thing, like you [said], they're great at. We're really good at defending it, but they bled us for some yards there, and they got themselves in third-and-manageable, and then they were able to convert. So, that's something that we've got to continue to work on."
You said that S Marcus Williams would have to make a decision soon. Is that a process you are still trying to figure out right now? (Cordell Woodland) "Right, Marcus [Williams] is not getting the surgery, so he's just rehabbing right now to get himself back on the field."
Is there a ballpark timeframe for S Marcus Williams' expected return? (Jamison Hensley) "There is sort of a vague timeframe right now, but I just don't want to put it out there and then [have] everybody be mad at me later."
Is not putting S Marcus Williams on Injured Reserve a sign that he could be back soon? (Jeff Zrebiec) "[Marcus Williams] is not going to go on IR [Injured Reserve], right. Thanks for asking. [It's] definitely time to express that."
Did you get the chance to celebrate the Orioles' playoff berth? Did you have any time to celebrate them, as well? (Ryan Mink) "Well, yes. It was all one big celebration. It was all great. But I love the Orioles. I love those guys. I love Coach [Brandon] Hyde – the manager. I think he's a great leader, and I just love the way that team plays. I see a lot of us in them and them in us. They're gritty. They're gritty, and they're tough, and they fight. And yes, [I] love them. Congrats to the Orioles. That's just the beginning. They'll be ready to roll, I'm sure."
Does the concussion protocol situation with QB Anthony Richardson complicate preparations for the Colts, or did you get enough of seeing QB Gardner Minshew and what they ran with him to get a good idea of the differences between the two attacks? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, the problem is going to be the reps. [Anthony Richardson and Gardner Minshew] both do a lot of the same things in the system, and Coach [Shane] Steichen brought the system from Philly, and we understand that system. We've had a lot of that system in our system, as well, over the years. But [they're] different quarterbacks, for sure. [Anthony] Richardson has been – man – he's been tough to defend the last couple weeks. And [Gardner] Minshew, you know how he is. He can get hot, and he's a very dynamic player. But they're just a little bit different in what plays they run, specifically. So, we'll just have to get a feel for that as the week goes on, and really, we'll have to prepare for both."
I think this is the fastest QB Lamar Jackson has gotten rid of the ball as a dropback passer. I know some of that is attributable to the quick game and screens that you've thrown. But does it kind of match the eye test with what you're seeing from him – just being able to hit the top of his drop and get rid of it? (Jonas Shaffer) "Yes, [Lamar Jackson] is doing a really good job of seeing the field, and it is pretty much reflective of the offense, I think. That's what he's being asked to do now, and he's doing it really well. So, there are times when he holds it more – pushing the ball down the field and all that – and other times, more often, the ball is coming out on time and in rhythm. He's doing a great job with it, and I know he's just going to keep building on that."