JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement: "Good seeing everybody. I really appreciate you guys being here today. Talking about the [Pittsburgh] game a little bit, studying it, [I have] the same thoughts as last night: It was a team victory, probably, in many ways, our most complete team victory of the year. All three phases contributed. You watch the tape, and I didn't see any player or phase or unit that was disappointing in any way. Every single player and every single unit played winning football. That's pretty complete. That's pretty rare. We accomplished that, and we accomplished it with the full depth of our roster, which is even more interesting, and probably rewarding, to see that all of our guys could come through and play winning football in the situation was very good. Plans for this week: We will practice Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. They'll be fundamental practices, going to work and trying to improve over the course of the week. Then, Saturday, of course, we'll be studying and watching the games, just like everybody else to see who we play. Coaches will be back in Sunday to game-plan, and Monday will start our week in preparation for the divisional game on Saturday."
In terms of how you handle the week, will you guys get a decent start on all three teams that you could play this week, in terms of coaching?_ (Childs Walker)_"We will, yes. We'll be spending a lot of coaching time on all three possible teams."
How much do you spend, I know it's like a bye but kind of not, do you self-scout in this time and go back more like you would on a bye week and kind of reevaluate where you are and try to really dive into that? (Pete Gilbert)"We do. We do that, probably to a deeper extent, but we do that every week to a pretty good extent. Probably not like a bye week in the sense that we have three teams, as Childs [Walker, Baltimore Sun] was talking about, to get ready for. So, we have a really good handle on that right now, and we'll clean it up. I already got one report from one of our guys, and we'll have a few of those, but mostly, it's going to be studying the potential opponents."
I know you don't like the "momentum" word, but do you feel like this is a new season completely, or do you ride what you've done into these playoffs? (Dave Ginsburg) "It's a great question. To me, it's both. It's both. It's a new season, in terms of everybody is 0-0. It's the playoff season. It's a beginning of an opportunity that is what you work for. This is what you work for. This is what you do everything you do for an opportunity to be in this tournament, and that's what we're excited about. So, it's new in that sense. But also, we're the same team going forward, and we want to keep building on the team that we are right now. So, we're not starting from scratch. We are the team that we are. We have things to work on. We have things to build on. That's what we'll go forward trying to improve. We'll just be a better football team tomorrow than we were Sunday. And then throughout the course of the week, just one day at a time, one step at a time."
There's a report that Cleveland has requested permission to talk to offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Can you confirm that? How does that play into your whole strategy as you go through these weeks? (Bo Smolka)"That's definitely part of it. They have, Cleveland has put in the request. We've honored it, which we will do with all of our guys for head coaching opportunities. That will be this week, I'm sure, because we have the bye week. So, that's the only one I'm aware of to this point. I've seen some rumors on other guys – of course, Don [Martindale, defensive coordinator] and David Culley [assistant head coach/pass coordinator/wide receivers] both get mentioned pretty prominently. So, that's where we're at with that. But the way you handle it is it's business as usual. I don't think nowadays that guys spend too much time putting together notebooks and preparing for interviews and all that. That's something that you do; that's who you are. You walk in there and you try to get to know each other, and that doesn't take too long. So, they'll be focused. They'll be able to focus 100 percent on preparation and also take a sliver of time and go do that, whatever is requested of them."
If you lose offensive coordinator Greg Roman, do you have a replacement on your staff, or would you go outside? (Mike Preston)"We'll cross that bridge when we get there. I appreciate the question." (Reporter: "You could cross it now.") (laughter) "Not now; we're not there."
I know it's early and you have some time, but is RB Mark Ingram progressing well to this point?_ (Jeff Zrebiec)_"He is. There was a chance he was going to go in the game. He was a game-time decision and didn't feel good, didn't feel right before the game. So, that's why he was inactive." _(Reporter: "I meant Mark Ingram.") "I'm sorry, I thought you meant Mark Andrews. So, you got that answer, too. _(laughter) _wo for one. Yes, Mark Ingram looks good. He had a running workout today and is on schedule."
It didn't look like anybody except G/T James Hurst … Did he come out OK? He looked like the only one I saw that was dinged up. Did you guys come out well otherwise? (Pete Gilbert)"He came out OK, James [Hurst] did. We didn't have any other issues. So, that was really another great blessing. We're good. We do have some guys fighting off the flu, Lamar [Jackson] and some other guys." (Reporter: "Just players?") "Players, yes. No coaches right now." (knocks on wood) (laughter) (Reporter: "Is there going to be a quarantine room?") (laughter) "Right, exactly."
This is likely an obvious yes, but is there a different feel from last year going in, when you're going in as the top seed? Is there a different feel? (Dave Ginsburg)"I can't remember. You know I'm going to answer that the same way. I can't remember last year right now, because it's just not that important, comparing feelings. It's what it is. We're very happy, very pleased, very proud, very grateful for where we sit and the season that we've had. I'm going to try to answer this the fair way to do it, how we really feel about it. And we really feel all those things. It's something that will live forever. That's an accomplishment. Like anybody in life, you make an accomplishment and it's quickly forgotten by most people, but you remember it. We'll remember it. And our guys, I know I feel, and our guys would say this, a lot of our guys would, that God's fingerprints are all over this, in many, many ways at many, many levels. I wasn't afraid to talk about this in March or April or May or June, July, or August or September. And we got laughed at quite a bit. So, that's OK. If they aren't laughing at you, your dreams aren't big enough. So, we have big dreams, big goals, big ambitions, big faith, Big Truss.(laughter) That was not planned, either. So, we're not afraid to step out there and speak from the heart on those kinds of things. And that's where we're at right now. We'll stand in that and see what's in store, see what God's plans are for us going forward and see what we can make of them, see what we can accomplish with our opportunity with all gratitude, but with all tenacity. That's what we plan on doing."
When you watched the tape from yesterday, how impressive was the play of the offensive line, and what does that say about your line depth? (Ken Weinman) "It says a lot about the line depth, and it was very impressive. It was very impressive. To see those guys come in, guys who haven't played a lot … Ben Powers getting his first action played very well. Parker Ehinger, he has played, but not here, and this guy was knocking people off the ball. And all the guys that have been playing, young guys – Orlando [Brown Jr. played] right tackle, left tackle, had an excellent game. 'Boze' [Bradley Bozeman played well], like always. Pat [Mekari played] like he's been doing. Those guys played at a super high level. They really did, and it was fun to watch. [Hroniss] Grasu got in there on some tight end stuff and did well. So, all good."
You talked a lot yesterday about QB Robert Griffin III and his performance. Robert has said over a period of time that he wants to prove he can be a starting quarterback again. Did he show you that yesterday? (Peter Schmuck) "I would absolutely say so, yes. He won the game. He won the game against one of the best defenses in football, and you win it whatever way you have to win it. We ran the ball very well. He made a lot of great decisions. He protected the ball until the end. We tried to get that first down. I should have just punted it or run it. That's on me. But he won the game in a tough weather day when it was really hard to throw the ball, and he made good throws there, too. For the most part all of them were really good. Yes, I would say absolutely, yes."
When DT Brandon Williams gave you the game ball yesterday – I can't remember – had that ever happened before in your time here? (Childs Walker)"I can't remember. I honestly can't."
On Friday we asked you about ILB Patrick Onwuasor, and then he comes out and has three tackles on special teams, I think, and six maybe on defense. Do you like to see a response like that from a player who has been around here for a while and is considered one of the defensive leaders? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, that's exactly the response that you look for. You guys reported it. I thought it was somewhat exaggerated, to be honest with you, but that's what you do. You have to sell papers, right? We've had a lot more – what was the word that was used – 'heated' … It's been a lot more heated than that out there, but there's degrees of heat, right? (laughter) So, it was good. We had good heart-to-heart, and he's an honest guy and he was a good listener, too. And he took it and ran with it and made the most of it, and that's – gosh, that's all you ever ask for. It was great to see."
We saw CB Brandon Carr get a sack yesterday, and he forced the safety as well. We've seen S Earl Thomas III blitz heavily. CB Marlon Humphrey [has blitzed], obviously. Obviously, it's not a position that you'd expect to blitz that often, but is it just like any other skill where the more time, the more reps you get at it, the better you become? (Jonas Shaffer) "The blitzing part of it?" (Reporter: "For those guys, specifically.") "In the secondary, sure. Yes, that's a great point. And Brandon Carr played corner most of his career, [and] obviously, to your point, did very little blitzing. He went in there and got a couple sacks. He's mad about the one that got away, but he got the next one the very next play. We work on that really hard, and our guys take it seriously. We spend a lot of time teaching our DBs to rush the passer, believe it or not, through training camp and through OTAs. It's good to see it pay off like that. We plan on blitzing everybody. I mean, anybody can blitz in this system, so he better know how to do it, because you're going to get called upon at some point. And man, he had two sacks, right?" (Reporter: "I think it's two sacks for the year, and he had one against the Steelers.") "OK, so that was pretty good."
For this week, you said you wanted to focus on the fundamentals during practice. Is it going to be kind of the normal length practice just to keep guys sharp? Any details you can give us on what these practices? Because you're not game planning towards anybody. (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, it's not an in-season practice. It's kind of an out-of-season practice, sort of. That's the best way I can describe it. They're very similar. The way it's organized is different in that sense, and I'm sure we'll be trying a few ideas that we might come up with, in terms of upcoming potential calls and stuff like that. But we'll be working against each other more. We won't really be working against an opponent, and that'll be what we'll do."
You said QB Lamar Jackson is battling the flu. Could he have to sit out a practice or two? And are there steps you kind of take if one guys has the flu to ... (Aaron Kasinitz) "Quarantine them? We do quarantine them. [Head certified athletic trainer] Ron [Medlin] sends them home a lot of times, but he's going to be ready for practice tomorrow, is my understanding. So, we should be fine. He was on the sideline. I don't think he felt great, but he was down there. And I made a point to give him an elbow bump. (laughter)There were no handshakes."