Transcripts: John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference (9/25)

Opening Statement: "Alright, good to see everybody. I appreciate you being here. I had a chance, obviously, to study the tape this morning – early this morning and through this afternoon – and from there, get onto the next challenge against the Browns. So, we're looking forward to that. It's going to be a tough game – tough division game – on the road, in Cleveland; It always is, and we're looking forward to the challenge. It's a great opportunity and a great challenge, and we'll be putting every effort we have into that starting today. 

"As far as the game [vs. Indianapolis yesterday], I just appreciate the way our guys play, in terms of how hard they played. Our guys were competing, fighting [and] throwing their bodies around. It was a very physical game, and [they] were doing everything that they could to find a way to win the game. And we made numerous plays in critical situations throughout the course of the game. It was one of those games, probably, where … There were probably more critical moments and critical plays – situations – in that game than any game I can remember in a long time. It was just a very unique, different kind of a game. And we made a lot of them, and other ones, we didn't make, and other ones, they made. It was just one of those kind of crazy games, and unfortunately, we came out on the short end of it. 

"But when you watch the tape … From a coaching perspective, it's really important not to let the outcome blur the facts. And when you watch the tape, the fact of the matter is, we've got a bunch of guys that play their hearts out and are physical and tough and accountable and are trying to do everything they can to find a way to win the game. And when you have that as a coach, you're happy, because you can build on that.  

"And it's early. It's the third game of the season. The difference between being 2-1 and 3-0 is … It's a significant thing; you'd much rather be 3-0 than 2-1. But it's one game early in the season, so it's not so much about whether you're 3-0 or 2-1 right now; it's what you do with it going forward and how you build on it. So, that's what I'm looking forward to. I mean, our guys, we make no excuses, we acknowledge our errors, and we move onto the next game. It's a week-to-week league. So, that's what I'm looking forward to – is this week and getting to work on what we have to get better at. So, we pinpoint what those things are, and we go to work and try to define ourselves as a football team and see what we can become. 

"What questions do you have?" 

Can you take us through the confusion around the two-minute warning? _(Gerry Sandusky) _"Yes. Hey, we'll take responsibility for that. We didn't … In the confusion of all that – it was chaotic – which I didn't realize at the time … But I think Gardner [Minshew II] stepped out of the back of the end zone, right? So, they ruled it at 1:58, which changes everything in terms of the clock management. And while that was going on, we were in the huddle, and we made the determination that we were going to fair catch anything, because we were looking at an onside kick, pop-up kick – those kinds of things – for them to try to get the ball back. So, the smart play was to fair catch anything, and we did not do the job we needed to do to communicate to our guys after the change was made – once they were on the field – that [the clock] changed. We might have thought we did; that's the way it goes in communication. So, we just have to do a better job communicating. I think communication is the basis for everything, especially in football, especially in the heat of battle – finding a way to communicate clearly – and we just didn't get that done. I'll take responsibility for that. We've just got to be better at that. That should not have been a fair catch. We knew it, and we didn't get the word to Zay [Flowers] like we needed to." 

In overtime, there appeared to be two potential missed calls, both involving WR Zay Flowers. Have you heard anything back from the league on those? (Jamison Hensley) _"No. The way the procedure works is, on Monday, you list the plays that you want them [the NFL] to look at, and you send them in, and it's got to be written form; you can't really call and ask. Yes, you're not really allowed to do that." _(Reporter: "But those would be two plays you would be listing?")"Yes. Yes, we'll be sending those in, for sure – absolutely. We'd like to get some clarification on those, and not just those; a lot of the things are things that you just ask for clarification on or how they see a certain play, how are they going to rule things going forward. But those will definitely be two that we'll be asking about." 

During the confusion of the safety-punt situation, were you contemplating calling a timeout? Or once you realized you couldn't get the call in, was it the kind of thing that you just let go? _(Cordell Woodland) _"Well, we thought we had the call in, so that was really … But no, looking back on it, I think right away, afterwards, we all said to ourselves, 'We should have called timeout.' So, yes. I mean, if we had kind of had … Looking back on it – in hindsight – we should have called timeout, and [then] we would have made it more clear. So, I know we'll learn from that." 

On that same play, with WR Devin Duvernay up at the line, and WR Zay Flowers was the back guy, were you expecting some kind of short kick in that situation? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"Well, yes. If it was 1:58 [left on the clock], that's what you think you're going to get. So, yes, [at] 1:58, there's a very good chance for an onside kick because if not, you're looking at 20-25 seconds after you punt if you don't gain any yards. So, we thought for sure we were defending … That's why the hands team was out there. That's exactly what we thought we were going to get, and then it kind of changed in the process of that. It's nobody's fault but ours. We didn't understand exactly quick enough, in terms of that it was going to be over two minutes left when the ball was kicked. And by the time we did, we didn't get the thing communicated like we needed to to the guys out there. That's on us. That's on us 100%. [We] take full responsibility for it. I'll take full responsibility for it." 

You mentioned ball security issues yesterday. What do you attribute those issues to? (Brian Wacker) "There's not any one overarching theme to different situations. Every situation is different. So, you coach every situation individually, and you make a big emphasis on it. It's always a big emphasis for us. The No. 1 thing is taking care of the football. It has to be, and we have to become great at that in order to win football games, and we all understand that; everybody knows it. So, we'll work on it even more and even harder, because it's something that's come up now, and we can't make excuses for it. There's no, 'OK. It's not OK.' Everybody knows it. It's challenging, no doubt. It's the NFL now; it's challenging. They're trying to get the ball out. We're trying to get the ball out. That's the name of the game, and you have to be great at protecting the football." 

You've used RB Gus Edwards to close out games. How challenging was it to find the plays and run the clock out without having him there due to injury, and did that alter your decision making? (Kyle Barber) "Absolutely. You want to call the plays that are going to give you the chance to do two things – You want to run the time, and you want to get the first down. So, those two things came into play. We had the penalty that stopped the clock. That was a real tough one there. [We] tried to get the ball out on the perimeter and tried to get it on third-and-long. In fact, we wouldn't have wanted to be in third-and-long, obviously. We would have liked to have created some yards before that. So, it's always challenging, but it's something you have to do. You have to get it done. Closing out the game is the way to win the game. That's something we have to be good at this year. It's really important, and we can't be looking for reasons why it's challenging to [answer] your question, we have to be looking for ways to get the job done, and we are, and we will. We will get the job done in that area this year."  

Is RB Gus Edwards in concussion protocol? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know the exact details of where he's at right now. I haven't heard. I don't know how it's defined right now. He's in 'evaluation' is the best thing to say. I don't know where he's at in the stage [or] what stage he's at." 

Do you feel you'll have to make a move at running back with all the injuries? (Kyle Barber) "All that is up in the air right now. We'll just see where we're at. It's early, it's Monday. [The] guys get evaluated on Monday." 

After the game, you're down to two healthy running backs, and you're missing your starting edge guys and some of your special teams guys. Are these injuries becoming too much to bear right now? (Cordell Woodland) "Well, no. We don't feel like it's too much to bear – the way you stated the question, absolutely not. We have guys that can get the job done. It's definitely relevant. It's definitely something we're contending with – we have to. It's where we're at right now. Like I said before, the good side is that guys are coming back. The downside is not all of them are coming back right now, or they haven't already been there. But we'll coach the guys, and the guys will step up and play. You saw guys play very well yesterday, but that's just part of it, and we'll just keep working through it. Like I said, [we have] no excuses, [we'll] just get ready for the next game."  

How is OLB David Ojabo doing with his ankle? Also, OLB Tavius Robinson and OLB Jeremiah Moon played more than you anticipated, how do you think they did? (Luke Jones) "[OLB Tavius Robinson and OLB Jeremiah Moon] played well. They played hard and played tough, and that was good to see, just like you would expect them to play. David [Ojabo]'s being evaluated there. So, he has the ankle issue. We'll see where it's at. [This] just goes to the last question exactly, it's just kind of where we're at."  

Are there any updates on OLB David Ojabo's ankle injury, S Geno Stone's rib injury and WR Tylan Wallace's hamstring injury? _(Brian Wacker) _"Like I said, it's just Monday. We're figuring it out. They're being evaluated today." 

Why do you think the team has been hit with so many injuries this early in the season? (Brian Wacker) "If you look at each injury this year, they've almost all been guys getting caught in piles. It's all been football contact-related injuries. That's what you're looking at this year. I don't think you can have a theme for that, other than it's football, and that's the way it's been." 

How do you anticipate any injured players' practice schedules this week? (Kyle Barber) "We'll see. We're working on that right now." 

Is there a sense that the players who are eligible to come off of injured reserve next week such as OLB Tyus Bowser and RB Keaton Mitchell are on pace to do so, or is it too early to know? (Bo Smolka) "We know where they're at. We'll get there next week. Let's cross that bridge next week when we get there." 

Two of QB Lamar Jackson's sacks he took appeared to be on designed quarterback draws. Were those plays that you just have to tip your cap to the Indianapolis Colts? (Jonas Shaffer) "Each of those were different. Some of them were … We had a number of designed QB draws that also had their other RPO [run-pass option]-type plays. There were plays like that that were in the offense. Everybody runs plays like that. [They were] different plays – they play out [in] different ways. Those certain plays – the two sacks – played out certain ways each play. We look at that stuff in great detail. It's not something I can really lay out in a press conference. If we put the tape up there, maybe we show you and talk about it. It's not traditional to do that, but there are plays that we can definitely execute better, that's for sure." 

How do you think QB Lamar Jackson handled the Indianapolis Colts' blitzes? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think he did well. Yes, they made some plays, but we made some plays, too. I thought he got the ball out on time numerous times well. Other times, he was forced to hold the ball a little bit, and they got to him a couple times that way, but also he got out of it a couple times that way, and he dropped it down a couple times. That's just … [We want to] continue to chase perfection and continue to try to build on what we're doing and get better. That's really what it is. It's a process. It's week to week, and you have to keep building on the next week because you just keep moving forward. We'll get better. We'll improve. We'll clean stuff up. We'll figure out our identity as we go, just like every team in the National Football League does that. Along the way, while you do that, you want to win these early games, as many as you can, obviously, because that's stacking wins. That's what we'll continue to try to do next couple weeks. It's a long season for a reason. It's the National Football League, and the one true champion will be the team that becomes the best team – and proves themselves to be the best team – over the course of the season. You don't crown the champion in Week 3. They never have, and it's not going to happen this year, either. Whatever you think about a team right now is fine. That's where it's at right now. It's all about where it goes from here, and our guys understand that – whether you win or lose. We're happy last week that we won, but we know we have to get better. We're disappointed this week that we lost, but we know we have to get better, and that's what we're working on." 

ILB Patrick Queen attributed the Indianapolis Colts' success in the run game to a lack of communication defensively. What did you see on film as to why they were so successful in the run game? (Cordell Woodland) "[There were] a couple balls [that] bounced outside on us. That was really the bottom line. We did a good job against the run except for, I think, four plays that pretty much bounced outside of the defense. Yes, there were reasons for that – there are technical reasons for that. Communication I guess is a way to say it very generally, but it's just more technical reasons that we can play those better, and we will." 

CB Daryl Worley played 102 snaps on defense and special teams combined. How much stress does it put on the team as a whole when there were players like him that played more snaps than they are accustomed to playing? _(Brian Wacker) _"That's too many snaps, obviously. We played five quarters. Daryl [Worley] was out there for most every defensive snap and numerous special teams snaps. We were finding ways to get him out of there on special teams towards the end. You don't really plan on playing 88 plays on defense. That's tough. That's the challenge right now, but that's the way it went. That's the way the game went." 

How much does shuffling through multiple running backs change the team's running scheme, or do you try to just fit them into the scheme? (Jamison Hensley) "Guys do certain things well, and you want guys to be running the plays they run best. But you also can't be predictable that way. It's a little bit of both." 

When you watch the way S Kyle Hamilton played yesterday, do you foresee his role being more of a traditional safety or in the slot?_ (Bo Smolka) _"It remains to be seen. No, I don't see that necessarily. [Kyle Hamilton] plays safety, but he played in the slot quite a bit in this game. We played a three-safety type of defense in this game partly [due to] personnel [and] partly [due to] gameplan, I would say. [It was] dictated by both, probably. He definitely plays well in [the slot]. It's definitely something that you have to think about, because he's kind of a difference-maker down in there. He makes sacks. He bats balls down. He covers downs No. 1, one-on-one [and] numerous times in man coverage. That's pretty impressive. So, yes, Kyle just played super well doing that. He does super well when he's playing back, too. [I'm] just really happy with the way he's playing. We're going to use him in different spots." 

QB Lamar Jackson didn't throw downfield very much. Was that the gameplan going in, or was that more dictated by the way the game went? (Childs Walker) "It's more dictated by the way the game went." 

Did you re-sign QB Josh Johnson? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes." (Reporter: Was it to the practice squad?)"No. [Josh Johnson]'s back to the regular roster. He signed to the roster. He'll be back on the 53[-man] roster. We did that, basically, because we needed to have enough guys who were healthy [and] active. And I'll just say this about Josh, if I can: For him to do that – because as a veteran, he has a choice to do that, and we asked him to do that, it wasn't like we required him to do that – he was good about it because he knew it was the best thing for this week. He deserves a lot of credit for that." 

After watching the film, were there any other takeaways that you came up with that you want to share (Kyle Barber) "Yes. I did bring a list of situations that we did well. I was happy with so many things that we did in the game. I'm not happy with the outcome. I'm not happy with some of the things that happened – [like] the execution in certain areas – but you just have to understand and realize that is part and parcel to growing your football team, especially when you're a young football team, and you have some guys out there playing. It's nice to come out of the gates. It's nice to win every game early on [in the season] because it puts you in great position, and we still hope to do that. We have an opportunity in the next two weeks. We're going on the road three weeks in a row. We have an opportunity to play two division teams on the road. We'll have our first five games [including] three of our division road games behind us. Man, if you can get some wins in those three games, you are ahead of the count really well. So, that's what we're focused on right now. We're playing hard. Yes, it's not ideal that we have all these guys out because of these injuries. It's not ideal, but like I said, we're not making excuses for that. We trust the guys that are going in there to play well, and our guys are going to go play their hearts out. Lamar Jackson is going play his heart out, and these receivers are going to play their hearts out, and the offensive line ... You look at our team – I feel really good about our team. I love our team. I love our team. I love the way they practice. I love the way they play. In my mind, I can picture guys throwing their bodies in there on kickout blocks and all the other things that were happening in the game. [I can picture] corners covering downfield. You asked me about throwing down field, and [the Colts] didn't throw downfield, either. They completed one pass downfield, and the guy made an amazing catch. [Michael] Pittman did. So, give them credit for that. That's football in the National Football League. So, let's just keep building on all of the good things. Let's not make excuses for the things we can do better. Our guys never do. They just go to work on correcting them, and that process goes on. It's always a moving target with the goal towards constant improvement. I love our guys, and I believe they'll go to work this week. We'll go out to Cleveland, and we'll throw everything we have out there. If we play our best football, we'll win the game. That will be our goal."

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