Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody [coming] onto the screen here. I appreciate you coming out for this. It was a very important win yesterday against a very good team, an AFC contending team, a very successful team and a team that's going to win a lot of games this year. We're very happy with the win. We've been working on the game all morning. We'll be finishing that up, as a coaching staff, here this afternoon and then moving onto the Chiefs here [in the] late afternoon and into the evening, as far as that preparation goes. We'll have the players in tomorrow afternoon to go through this tape and then start on the Chiefs. So, that's where we're at. What questions do you have?"
I know that you are analyzing yesterday's game, but how soon after it was done did you start thinking about this big game Monday night against the Chiefs? (David Ginsburg) "You can't help it; you think about it. It's probably the first thing that goes into your mind once you get in the locker room. You kind of start talking about the game and then everybody is talking about it in the locker room, about the next one, too. Honestly, it's that way every week, but this probably as much as any week, we're thinking about the next one."
I know you're focusing on your own game, but across the league there were a number of injuries – ankle and knee injuries. How much would you attribute that to the changed training camp and the lack of OTAs and whatnot? (Daniel Oyefusi) "I really don't know, in all honesty. You can speculate and that would be a logical conclusion, certainly. But gosh, you just don't know for sure. I do think it's true that the best way to get into football shape is to play football. All the other stuff is helpful. The ramping-up and those kind of things, and conditioning is really important, but the offseason program, the OTAs, the training camp, even the [preseason] games, are valuable and help guys move in ways that they learn to protect themselves and just get ready to play football. So, I don't know the answer, but obviously, where you're coming from does make sense."
The Texans had a really aggressive pass rush yesterday coming after QB Lamar Jackson. How do you think he handled all of that pressure? I guess that's sort of going to be a strategy going forward; teams are going to try to bottle it up and keep him under pressure. How do you think he handled yesterday, and how do you think he'll handle it going forward? (Todd Karpovich) "I don't think it's new. Every team tries to pressure every week. Nobody wants to let the quarterback just sit back there and do his thing. They have really good pass rushers. They did get four sacks; they got some sacks early. They did a really good job with their cage rush. They left Lamar [Jackson] with nowhere to go a couple of times, just with good coverage and rush. A lot of times, as the pocket begins to tighten up a little bit, Lamar has been able to find guys open. This time, there weren't always guys open and he had to eat the ball. I thought he made good decisions [and] held onto the ball in the pocket, and sometimes you have to take the sack. We did a pretty good job, really. As I watched the tape, I felt better about it after watching the tape than I did watching the game during the game. We did a better job, probably, than I thought. So, [it's] not great about four sacks, but that is a good pass rush team. In the end, we just have to try to keep getting better at everything, every single day. That's definitely one of those things."
Two-part question – one, did you get final word on CB Tavon Young and his injury? And, I know you'd much rather have him on the field, but with the way CB Marlon Humphrey played in the slot last year, do you feel that gives you a better idea moving forward as far as the best way to proceed in the secondary? (Luke Jones) "Yes, we did get a final word on Tavon [Young]; it is a torn ACL. It's only a torn ACL, so that's a positive. He'll be going back into … He'll have surgery and go into rehab, and he'll fight his way back – there's no question about it. Our hearts go out to him on that, and we'll be supporting him all the way. Going forward, we'll see where we go. Knowing that we have options in the slot is really valuable. Of course, we put safeties in there, too, but knowing that Marlon [Humphrey] can go in there and play the way he did yesterday, and then last season, is a big plus. We'll just try to figure out what we're going to do next during the course of the week, and we'll have a plan for Monday night."
You had to prepare last week for a quarterback who poses a great threat to run. QB Patrick Mahomes is the same way this week. It seems like that's almost more the norm now in the NFL, as opposed to the exception that you're playing a guy who can really move and poses a threat with his legs. Do you see the NFL kind of making a shift away from the traditional pure-pocket passer, at all? And if so, what factors do you sort of think have brought it to that point? (Adam Kilgore) "I'm not really looking at the macro-dynamics of that right now. I don't really care that much about it, except for in terms of who we're playing in the next game, and we're playing the type of guy you're talking about, for sure. He's a defending champ. He's just been phenomenal in his first three years in the National Football League. We've seen it up-close and personal in two different occasions – at their place the last two years – where he's made some just tremendous plays that have really, in the end, beaten us. So, we have to find a way to stop him and all those weapons they've got. It's going to be a big challenge. But mobility in the pocket, ability to extend plays, the things that you saw both quarterbacks do in our game yesterday, is just a huge part of the NFL right now. So, it's a big factor as a defense to think about and to consider how you're going to try to defend it."
As you know, the Ravens don't get too many home Monday night games. I know you understand about the pandemic, but how disappointing is it not to have fans Monday night in one of the games that most fans are really anticipating? (Jamison Hensley) "The irony of it is pretty unbelievable in terms of how few Monday night home games we've had in the past 13 years. We get one against the Chiefs, and it's kind of a big game, and fans are not going to be there. I don't even know what to say about that. 2020, man – it's that kind of a crazy year, I guess. But we'll be excited to play still. And all that being said, it'll still be a great environment. It'll still be a lot of fun. We'll be ready. They'll be ready. It'll be a great night for football."
You've coached in a number of big games – Super Bowl and playoff games. When it comes to big games, do you address the obvious of who the opponent is in terms of the scope of it, or is it best just to treat it as a normal game? What's your approach? (Mark Viviano) "I don't think you can ignore it. The guys understand that. You can't sit there and pretend. Every game is important; that's the thing. It is true, because they all count for wins, and you don't want to mess up one that the fans or somebody else might not think is important. But who wouldn't get excited for a game like this? When you're playing a team that is the defending champs, the favorites to win the whole thing again – going forward – the type of players they have, the coaches they have, the head coach, Coach [Andy] Reid. You're going to get excited about it. It's not something that we downplay. We don't ignore it. We try to embrace it and make the most of it, really. That's what we try to do."
You just mentioned Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, and you know him well. Why do you think he has managed to stay ahead of the game for so many years in terms of play designing and play calling? (Childs Walker) "He's just really good. He's really good. He's always been that way. He's never been locked into a system. He's always tried to … He has the West Coast fundamental system that he learned from [former NFL head coach and executive] Mike Holmgren, and that's his foundation, but he's always been a guy who's looked for new things. He had [former NFL head coach] Brad Childress on his staff for a number of years, studying RPO's [run-pass options] before anybody else was doing it in the NFL. That's [Chiefs head coach] Andy [Reid]. Andy is always looking for a play – always looking for a big play. Anything he does, pretty much all the time, the play is designed to try to score. That's what you understand about Andy. That's just the way he looks at the game. So, we try to understand that when we defend it, as well. And we have a lot of respect for what he does and for what they do."
We haven't asked you about DT Justin Madubuike and WR/RS Chris Moore in about three or four weeks. Could they be options for Monday, and do you expect to see them at all on the practice field? (Jeff Zrebiec) "I'd say that they have a chance to practice this week at some point in time to some degree. We'll just have to see how much they're able to do. Chris Moore, if he is able to do enough, he could play special teams; he could jump right in there. Justin [Madubuike], he's a rookie, so we'd have to see enough to feel comfortable with him out there Monday night. But from a health standpoint, this is the week that both of those guys have a shot, yes."
We got the chance to see a lot of CB Anthony Averett yesterday. How would you assess his play? (Kevin Richardson) "I thought he played well; I really did. They were looking at him a little bit, and he played well. They called him one time for illegal contact; I didn't see it on the tape, so can't fault the coverage there at all. He was running to the ball [and] had a couple tackles. We're not really … Anthony [Averett] is not a concern for us. He's practiced really well, [and] he's played well when he's played. He's kind of biding his time. This will certainly be his opportunity to step in there and show what he can do. He's played really well on special teams this year. So, we're not concerned about Anthony. We're excited to see him play."
I know we're only two weeks into the season, and I don't know how much other football you've watched, but are you surprised at the high-level intensity of the games given the lack of a preseason? (Stan Charles) "No, we felt like games would be intense. That's a good question. But it's the NFL; if you don't come out and bring it, you're going to get embarrassed. And I feel like all the players and the coaches understand that. It doesn't matter … The environment is definitely different. That environment in Houston was even different than our stadium, because it was indoors, so it just seemed very strange. But both teams were bringing the energy and yelling and screaming after a kickoff play – both sidelines erupting when their side made plays. It was kind of football in its purest form – no question about it. Sometimes you say, 'We'll play them anywhere. We'll play them in a parking lot. We'll play them anywhere. No fans, we don't care.' Well, here we are. We're playing basically in a parking lot right now – with no fans – and I think the level of play has been really good." (Reporter: "I love your t-shirt. I love your t-shirt, John.") "Yes, I wanted to see if you guys noticed that or not – Mo Strong." (Coach Harbaugh showing his 'Mo Strong' t-shirt, honoring the life and legacy of Ravens superfan Mo Gaba.)
QB Lamar Jackson has just been really, really accurate this year. The knock on him coming into the NFL was that he was a sub-60% passer in college. Just from a big-picture perspective, have you found that most guys are pretty static in terms of their accuracy? I know there are so many variables, but for him to make the kind of leap that he has, is that unusual? (Jonas Shaffer) "Probably, but I don't think he was an inaccurate passer in college. One of the things we studied in tape … It's one thing to look at the numbers; it's another thing to look at the player. And when you watched Lamar [Jackson], we felt like he had arm talent, and he had accuracy – that he had the ability to be accurate; he was an accurate thrower. We felt like a lot of the misthrows that he had were more about technique than anything else. And sometimes other things blend into it too, and certainly, experience and repetitions and stuff like that. But he's just done a great job. He's worked on his base. He cleaned up his footwork – his hip-work. The angle of his release is just … People thought that was a negative when they watched him. It's turned out to be one of his greatest strengths. So, you can never make assumptions about what you're looking at all the time and generalize too much. But he's certainly, when you watch him day-in and day-out, you can't help but say, 'This is a very accurate passer.' He puts the ball where it needs to be, in some really tight spaces, on a really regular basis. He's done it in the games; everybody's seen it. So, I'm not sure about the big-picture question. It's a good question. But for Lamar, I would say, the accurate arm ability was always there."