JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Opening statement:"OK, good to see everybody. I appreciate you guys being here. We signed a couple players: Jordan Richards and Ufomba Kamalu, so they'll be with us. [We had] a couple practice squad transactions. [We will] continue to roll that through, so we're excited about the guys that we get a chance to get a look at. Guys are back off the bye week. We did some work today, and we're getting ready for the game."
During the bye week, how much time do you spend on self-evaluation, looking at the Patriots and just taking a breather as well? (Jamison Hensley)"We did all that. We spent a lot of time looking at ourselves, obviously. The previous game, you start with that. Then we went to the next game. We spent a lot of time on that. We might have spent some time even on future games, just as a coaching staff, but then we got a little time off towards the end of the week."
Was there anything you learned or any adjustments you found that need to be made during the bye? I know you're always trying to get better, but was there anything specific? (Jerry Coleman)"We did. We had a number of specific things, just in terms of what we can do better, what we want to focus on, what we want to spend our time on in all three phases, what our priorities are going to be going forward, at least for the short term. Then you make those lists, and you go to work on them."
I know you were optimistic last week about ILB Patrick Onwuasor, CB Jimmy Smith and WR Marquise Brown. Are they all still on track? (Childs Walker)"Yes, they're on track. Yes. We'll see how it goes this week. I'm pretty confident that they'll be there, but you never know."
Specifically, with CB Jimmy Smith – getting him back potentially with the addition of CB Marcus Peters – does it excite you about the possibility of having that secondary really be the way it was envisioned in the offseason before some of the injuries? (Luke Jones)"It's exciting anytime you get your guys back. We want to have guys that can cover. That's important to us. We've got guys that can cover. Obviously, adding Marcus [Peters] is a big plus for us, and it makes up a little bit for the injury shortfall. But getting Jimmy [Smith] back – it's been a long time now. He played what, seven, eight, nine plays in the Miami game and has been out since? And he had a really good training camp, so if we could get him back, that'd be huge for us. I am excited about it. I hope it works out."
We all know who QB Tom Brady is, but is the biggest challenge with him how fast he gets the ball out? (Peter Schmuck)"It's a big challenge. That's a big part of it. How efficient he is, I guess, is the word. He's probably the best … He and Peyton Manning are probably the two best ever at dissecting the defense intellectually and knowing where to go with the ball, knowing where he wants to go with the ball, setting himself up pre-snap to have that throw, getting the ball out and getting it out very accurately and quickly, as you said. So, that's what makes him who he is."
The Patriots' defense has been really good this year. When you look at the tape, what do you see about them that's making them so good? (Ken Weinman)"I see a lot of turnovers to start with. They're creating an incredible amount of turnovers, especially early in games. But the basis of it to me is they're an old-school defense. They're a big, strong defense. They play straight ahead. They play square. They lock out. They get off blocks. They keep their eyes on their responsibility. They'll play a good mix of man and zone but mostly man in the back end. They have cover guys back there that can cover exceptionally well. [They have] a lot of experience in the back end, as well, so they know what they're doing. They play with good technique. It's just a very solid defense, a very physical defense, too."
Can the Patriots' defense make you see ghosts, too? (Jerry Coleman)"I'm going to give that the response it deserves."
Over the weekend, CB Tavon Young put on social media, "Everything went perfect. Time to get back to work." Do you know if he had surgery? (Jonas Shaffer)"Tavon [Young], he did; he had his surgery. I was told it went well. I think he's in and out right now with his rehab. I think he told me he'd see me soon. So, he has to take care of whatever his program is on that, but yes, he's on track."
Do you expect this to be an ultra-aggressive-type game? In other words, going back to the Kansas City game where you were going for it a lot on fourth down, they seem to kind of go for it a lot of fourth down. (Jerry Coleman)"It could be. It could be. Or, it could be an ultra-conservative game. We'll just have to see. We'll have a plan, I assure you of that. We'll work that out as the week goes on."
Do you look forward to a challenge like this? A team that's unbeaten coming to your place, Sunday night football – a lot of attention will be given to this game. (Dave Ginsburg)"You do. It's exciting. It's the National Football League, and they're all exciting. You only get to play 16 [games], so to say that any of them aren't exciting is definitely not true, for the players and the coaches, because they're just so valuable. Any player or coach would tell you that. Then, these are even more exciting. To your point, it's even more exciting because you're playing the defending champs. Obviously, they're playing great. [They are] a very well-coached football team, always are. [They are a] very smart football team, tough football team. So, that gets you fired up. That's what you're in this business for. We'll be excited for it, but for us, it's really more about just taking care of our business day to day and getting ready to play the game."
There were two trades today. It seems like a more active trade deadline than usual. Do you have any expectations with tomorrow, and is it something where you've been around long enough and you just tell Eric DeCosta, "If you need me to know something, come tell me."? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, he keeps me pretty well up to date on what's possible. I would say it's true, what you're saying. There's more talk. There have been years when there's been no talk, where nothing is going on. So, more in the National Football League, for whatever reason, this year seems to be the year where it kind of broke open, as far as trades. I know there's a lot of talk, but I don't really know the details of too much of it. We'll see what happens."
You guys do a lot of things to get ready for a game, like when you were going to Seattle and you were going to have the noise, you worked on that during practice. Do teams do anything to deal with night games and being under the lights? Can they do anything to prepare differently? (Peter Schmuck)"I guess you could practice at night, but we play at night in the preseason. We haven't had a night game, yet. A lot of teams … We haven't had a primetime game yet, so, it'll be new for us. The Patriots, obviously, are well-versed in that. It'll be new for us. We'll just have to figure it out."
With the trade deadline coming up, the fact that you've already made trades and have been able to acclimate defensive players quickly, does that give you maybe a little more confidence or flexibility if you do end up with somebody new? (Aaron Kasinitz) "Yes, we're definitely confident if we bring somebody in, if that happens, then we'd be able to get them up to speed quickly. I don't see any problem with that, as long as they've been playing. That's the amazing thing about Josh Bynes, that he wasn't playing, and he was in such good shape. But as long as they're playing, we can usually get them up to speed. Our systems, they are complex. You can't go out there and be simple. You can't go out there and just do one or two things and think you're going to stop anybody or make any plays. But our systems are really well-built. They're teachable and learnable, and guys can learn them pretty quickly."
Your new defensive end that you got off the Patriots' practice squad [Ufomba Kamalu], what do you like about him? (Jeff Zrebiec) "[He is a] big, strong player. He has played already, at times. He's kind of trying to find his way right now, but we thought he was a good fit. He was a good fit in their system. He's probably also a good fit in our system, the way he plays with his hands. He's square. He's a physical guy. He's big, and he can move. So, it'll be fun to watch him. He's versatile. He has played outside linebacker, even, the RUSH position that we have that Pernell [McPhee] was playing. He's also played down as a five-technique and a defensive end, even a four-technique for them. So, he's a versatile guy."
Did DB Jordan Richards' special teams experience … Is that because you guys have lost some special teamers? Was that factor promising? (Jeff Zrebiec)"That was mainly the thing. He's also a safety. He does a good job with that. But he was the best available special teams guy. It's kind of ironic the way it worked out, but they had to let somebody go. They let him go, and it was a good addition for us."
QB Joe Flacco was in the news today with a neck injury. Have you kept any kind of an eye on what's going on with him this year, or is that almost impossible to do with the season going on? (Childs Walker) "Well, I didn't know that. We always pull for our friends, to whatever degree it doesn't impact us. We're kind of selfish. We care about us first, as far as all that. But [we keep an eye on that] just from afar."
You only had one sack against Seattle, but in the second half, you seemed to make QB Russell Wilson uncomfortable. Do you feel like you might have unlocked something with the pass rush moving forward? (Ken Weinman) "We have to keep working on it. We've actually been pretty good all year, as far as getting pressure. We've forced the ball out very quickly. Most teams have decided to get the ball out quickly. I'm sure the Patriots will do the same, expect they'll have play-actions, and they'll have their trick plays and things like that that we'll have to be ready for, but that's pretty much been a theme against us, to get the ball out quickly. So, if you can force a quick outcome, that's also a plus. That's a winner, especially if you can cover. But you have to think the sacks are going to come at some point."
Does it hurt to have to see CB Justin Bethel on the other side when he's only there because of that "silly rule"? (Jerry Coleman)"It's not ideal. I'd rather see him on our side, for sure, but that's just the nature of the business. What are you going to do? We're just going to go play. He's on the other side now. We'll always respect him and love him and say 'hi' to him before the game, but that's how it works. It's crazy. It's a crazy business."