Transcripts: John Harbaugh Monday Press Conference

JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening statement:"Alright, good to see everybody here. I appreciate you guys coming, especially those of you who were all the way across the other side of the continent yesterday. It was great. It was a great moment, wasn't it? [I'm] very proud of the guys. Excellent football game – just a great football game in a heck of an environment. I felt like our players really came through and made the plays that needed to be made to win the game. First of all, the opponent, that's a really good team. The Seahawks played extremely well. Obviously, the quarterback – how many plays did he make, just ridiculous throws? [They have] a big, physical offensive line, excellent defense running to the ball creating havoc, special teams were very aggressive. So, I felt like our guys handled the opponent part of the challenge really well. The environment part of the challenge was the next part. It was really tough. It was rainy. It was wet ball. Obviously, the footing was tough for everybody out there, and the crowd was really loud. So, I'm really proud of our guys, and they deserve a lot of credit for how they handled that, especially Lamar [Jackson] and Matt Skura and all the guys on offense, especially. And then the last part was the circumstances. There were numerous challenging circumstances that we were faced with being down, things not going your way at times in a lot of different ways, and our guys were able to not lose their heads, and they really managed those circumstances really well and overcame those circumstances and found a way to win the game. So, that's what you're proud of as a coach, and that's where we're at right now going forward. We have the bye week, so we'll work on that, which mostly will be rest, recovery. We'll have guys working in the training room and things like that, but we're going to give the guys a lot of time off this week. We're not planning on practicing the next day or two. The guys, they practice so hard. As a coach, you have to make that determination. I just don't feel like any practice this week is going to improve us more than rest is going to improve us – both physical rest and spiritual rest, as well, emotional rest. It'll be good for the players to get with their families. Coaches will be working, though, like we always do, but we'll get a few days, too, which will be good. The last thing is a couple moves: Pernell McPhee – it looks like he has a torn triceps, so if he has a torn triceps, which I believe he does, that'll preclude the rest of the season. And then Justin Bethel, unfortunately, had to be released because of a funky rule that the NFL has with these compensatory picks, and a judgment has to be made, in terms of for the future as well. You guys can research that and figure all that stuff out, but that's tough for us because he's playing [so well]. I told him I think he's the best special teams player in the NFL, and he's playing that way. So, that's going to be a blow, and we're going to have to find a way to overcome that."

How difficult is it to lose OLB Pernell McPhee with what he brought from a veteran standpoint with the pass rush? And just the fact that his last couple years he's dealt with some injuries and came to you guys with an opportunity to restart his career? (Luke Jones)"We talked a little bit in the locker room last night and then again today in the training room. I feel like he's done that. He wanted to prove himself. He wanted to get back on track and demonstrate that he still could play. And to do it here, to be the leader that he was, he's been instrumental. He's been instrumental with the young guys. He's been a very good player for us. I see no reason why he can't recover from a triceps injury and be back next year stronger than ever."

You talked about getting healthy. With the timing of the bye week, do you feel like you could get some of the guys that didn't play back, such as ILB Patrick Onwuasor and WR Marquise Brown and others? (David Ginsburg)"We do. We feel very confident we should have all those guys back barring a setback, so to speak, and I can't even imagine what that would be right now. So, [I'm] very optimistic that we'll be full strength coming out of the bye."

Can I throw CB Jimmy Smith into that mix as well? (David Ginsburg)"You can. Yes." _(Reporter: "You expect him back?") "Yes."

How do you think OLB Jaylon Ferguson did upon reviewing the tape after he got extensive action yesterday? (Luke Jones)"Jaylon [Ferguson] played very well. He played his best game – a very physical game and against a couple of really big, grabby tackles, to say the least. He was strong at the point of attack and applied pressure, ran to the ball. He played really well."

Do you foresee having to bring in another guy, make another roster addition? (Daniel Oyefusi)"We could. We could. We've got the spot now. We'll have two spots, really, with Pernell [McPhee] and Justin [Bethel gone], so we could either promote somebody, which is a possibility, or we could bring somebody in. It kind of depends on what the landscape looks like. I know Eric [DeCosta] is working on that right now."

How about the overall spot you're in heading into the bye week coming off the win yesterday? Do you feel like you sent a message to the rest of the NFL in any fashion with the victory? A statement of any kind? (Jerry Coleman)"No, that's not what we try to do. We try to win the game, because the wins, they add up. And that's what we need to do is add them up. I feel like it's good confidence for us and for our team, in terms of going out there and winning in that environment against that team. That's a really good team, really well-coached team. This quarterback [Russell Wilson] is playing at a high, high level, right? It's all been documented. So to go out there and do that, I feel very good about our guys, and really, that's all we look at."

On the fourth down when QB Lamar Jackson came off the field and told you that he wanted to go for it, what does that say about your relationship with him and his confidence and your confidence in him in a crucial part of the game there? (Todd Karpovich)"It sure says I have a lot of confidence in him. I can tell you that. No doubt, because it's important to … When you go for it, the main thing is you want to get it, and that's what sometimes the number crunchers forget, [those] that do the analytics. We really respect those guys, but when you don't get it, it really hurts you. All of a sudden the numbers don't look so good. So, when he was very confident that he wanted to do it, Marshal [Yanda] really wanted to do it, hey, I believe in those guys. I really do. I trust them. And you know what the other side of the coin is? The defense trusts them. And if they hadn't gotten it, if we hadn't been able to pull it off, you know what? The defense goes out there and gets a stop inside the 10- [yard line]. That's what you have to believe in right there, and I know our defensive guys all [did]. I could feel it. They all wanted to go for it. And I actually feel like taking the timeout was a good thing, because it was loud, and we had had an issue or two with the snap count in that very series down there. So, the chance to settle down, get the play called, get our guys out there, get lined up and get it executed was probably more important than the timeout."

Is your decision to go for it on fourth down the same if you're at home? (Peter Schmuck)"Yes, I think so. I don't know. It depends on the ... You mean the same team, same score, same chain of events, but the only thing that's different is the home stadium?" _(Reporter: "Basically.") "I would say it's the same choice then. Yes."

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said in his press conference after the game yesterday that QB Lamar Jackson is a lot faster in person than he is on film. Is that an advantage? And do you think that's true? (Andrew Gillis)"I don't know. We see him in person every day, so I'm not in a good place to make that determination."

Does QB Lamar Jackson still impress you sometimes with some of those runs where he just turns it on to another speed? (David Ginsburg)"He always impresses me. He does. I love the guy. I love the person, the player. The person. And not just him, this whole team. It's a good group. It's a group of guys that wants to do right, wants to be right, and when you're a coach, you appreciate that."

After the game yesterday, you talked about QB Lamar Jackson's competitiveness to the 'Nth' degree. Did he take it to another level yesterday, regarding his competitiveness and putting the team on his back? (Shawn Stepner)"That's great for you guys to determine. You're taking that view from your perspective, and I think you have a good look at that. We're just trying to improve every day. He played one of, if not his best, game. People want to point to the passing stats. I mean he had four or five or six balls that probably could have been completed that weren't. So, [we] just try to get better."

What did you see from OLB Tyus Bowser on tape? It looked like he was pretty active. (Ryan Mink)"Tyus [Bowser] played really well. Yes, Tyus had a good game. He did. A lot of guys stepped up. Brandon Williams played about as good a game on defense as you can play. I thought both linebackers played well. Tyus was all over the field. He had pressures. He had tackles. Did he have a sack? I don't think he had a sack, but he got some quarterback hits. So yes, we had a lot of guys that really played well."

Obviously, a lot went well yesterday. You have the bye. You were talking about all the things that looked good. As a football coach, is there a part of you that distrusts good fortune when it comes in a wave? (Peter Schmuck) "I don't even know how to answer that question. (laughter) You're too smart for me, obviously, for sure. But that presumes it's all good fortune. That's not a premise I'm living in, to be honest with you."

Does it feel like the bye is coming at an ideal time, in terms of getting healthy? We ask this every year. (Childs Walker) "It doesn't matter. It's in the perfect time because God put it there. That's what I said last night. I'll stand by that. It's right where it's supposed to be. It's right on time."

Does everybody get to get away? With CB Marcus Peters just being here new, does he get the same amount of time as everyone else will? (Jerry Coleman) "Yes."

The defense is really … Two touchdowns. We've always talked about them getting takeaways, but it seems like you saw that yesterday. It looks like it's improving each game. (Dave Ginsburg) "Right, if we can improve on two touchdowns for the defense every game, that'd be really something, wouldn't it? (laughter) But it was great to see Marcus [Peters] and Marlon [Humphrey]. And I'll tell you what, Brandon Carr, watch the play. Did you see it, where Brandon gets DK Metcalf and tackles him and holds him away from the ball? That's just a veteran move right there, WWF style. (laughter) The defense is improving. We're better than we were, and we have to keep getting better. We'll add a couple guys, but more than that, just keep working together, communicating. We have veteran players out there. You need a good mix. It can't all be young guys; it can't all be old guys. It has to be a mix. It's a good blend right now."

You mentioned the linebackers, and we've asked you a lot about ILB Josh Bynes, but LB L.J. Fort – he's been around for a number of years but hasn't necessarily had a ton of starting experience. How pleased have you been with him and with getting ILB Patrick Onwuasor back after the bye, that you've kind of stabilized that position? (Luke Jones)"You hit it right on the head. It did stabilize it. He's a really good player. We played against him in Pittsburgh. We respected him there. I would say [he is] better, though, than I expected. As a linebacker, he played 55, 56 defensive snaps, and he played all four phases of special teams, and loved every minute of it. Wow, that's great shape, and that's a football player. And he played well. So, when we put Patrick [Onwuasor] back in there with those two guys, we have a three-man rotation. That really strengthens us."

Does that also help on special teams, especially after the loss of CB Justin Bethel? (Ryan Mink)"Absolutely. And then those three guys can all share the special teams duties, and it's a big plus for us."

TE Mark Andrews didn't have his sure-handed game that he normally has. Did anything play a part in that there, the weather or anything like that? (Kevin Richardson)"I don't know. That's a good question for him, probably. I'm not worried about it. Mark [Andrews] has been clutch for us, and it was just, I'd say, a very rare, off-game for him. He had the really good catch early, so we appreciate that. He worked hard and fought and competed, so we expect him to be back to form."

Did you tell the players they had the week off on the plane ride home? How did that go over?_ (Luke Jones)"I might have mentioned it on the way home. They might have appreciated it. _(laughter) One thing about players is it's never far from their mind, what the schedule is going to be. (laughter)They suspected that if they won, that it would be a good result. I told them it wasn't based on that. I had already made up my mind what's best for the team, but I will say that the win does put an exclamation point on that decision. (laughter) So, they kind of knew what was coming."

CB Marcus Peters talked yesterday about how he had seen the play on which he got the pick-six just two weeks earlier. For him to recognize that mid-play as quickly as he did … Obviously, it takes a lot of intelligence to be a cornerback in this league, but was there something especially impressive about the way he handled that play, having seen it so recently? (Jonas Shaffer) "He just played it right. He played the defense really well. We were in a coverage where he was playing an off-zone-type of a coverage, three-deep coverage, and he's responsible for getting between the two vertical routes and playing deep. But then it turned into a hitch and a corner, which we generally refer to as a 'China route.' He just kind of sat down under the seven and played eyes on the quarterback to drive up on the hitch. Normally, you drive up and you tackle it, and that would be good. But basically, he sensed that Russell's [Wilson] eyes weren't really where they needed to be. They were somewhere else. They came late over there. And I don't think Russ saw him, really. And I think he appreciated that. He's so quick. He really covers ground zero to 60 very fast, so that helped, too."

How well did you feel CB Marcus Peters played on the other 64 snaps he played? (Childs Walker)"Right, 65 snaps, right? Remarkable, remarkable. That really wasn't the plan. He played really well. There are a few plays I'll be talking to him about and [defensive backs coach] Chris Hewitt will be talking to him about. One in particular, I have in mind, that I won't mention here. He already knows what it is, probably, on the left sideline. (laughter)But he played great. He played a very good game. He's a really good player. He's really smart. He really wants to incorporate himself into the defense in a big way. He really appreciates the players. I know he appreciates being coached. The first thing he said when I talked to him was, he said, 'Coach, coach me. I want to be coached. I want to be taught.' Man, that's music to your ears as a coach."

You may have addressed this yesterday, but on that delay of game, QB Lamar Jackson spiked the ball, and then he immediately taps the center on the head. What did you think about the way he handled that whole thing? It showed his feistiness; maybe you thought he overreacted? (Dave Ginsburg) "I didn't think anything about it. It didn't even cross my mind. My thought was on, 'What's the next play? We're going to be five yards back, what are we going to do next?' I was pretty happy when he ran down there 13 yards to get within two yards of the first down. Then, it was a decision to make, because that was a little bit of a surprise. But I didn't think anything of it. These guys, they love each other. They're competitors, and we keep moving."

When we're watching the game from here, all the talk is about how quick QB Lamar Jackson is, all the things we all have talked about for a year-and-a-half or whatever. What about, and you made partial mention to it, he had a number of drops, a number of things went wrong in the game, and he seemed to respond every single time, appropriately and productively? (Peter Schmuck) "To me, that's the observation of the game, really. The circumstances, whatever it might be, whether it's that, or the score of the game, or the down and distance, or a call that doesn't go your way, those are all of the things that you have to deal with. I would say, to the whole team, really, but Lamar [Jackson], as the quarterback, spearheads that. He shows everybody the way out there on the field about how to respond. I do believe everybody responds to his poise, and his determination to overcome whatever circumstance he's faced with."

One of the big plays of that fourth quarter was the 30-yard run on third down down the left sideline, if you can remember that. (Jonas Shaffer) "There were a few runs. I'm trying to sort them out, which order they were in." (Reporter: "It was the one where RB Gus Edwards kind of leaked out and blocked the linebacker. Was that a designed run?")"Oh sure. I'm not at liberty to divulge that information at this time, in all honesty. Seriously." (laughter) (Reporter: "I don't think there are a lot of teams that have plays where you have a running back blocking a potential spot.") "Right." (laughter)

Was this part of the revolution that you envisioned when the season started? (Jerry Coleman)"Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. The revolution is on. I don't know. That's all … It's crazy. You say something, you have some fun with something, and then you come under barrage from all the skeptics and scoffers, which, really, I don't have any respect for those people anyway, so who cares? But there are a lot of layers to everything in life. There sure are. On the one hand, it's just football. It's just sport. On the other hand, it's a metaphor for life. And on the other hand, it's very real, because there's a lot going on all around us, right? And everybody kind of absorbs it at their own level, or their own place, or their own perspective, however they see fit. As a great person once said, 'Let he who has eyes, he who has ears...' For those who are paying attention, there's something pretty cool going on, and it's right here in Baltimore. So, call it whatever you want. It's pretty neat."

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