HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys and gals. Thanks for being here – we appreciate it. Like we said yesterday, [we] lost a tough game in a tough environment to a very good football team. Three of the last four have been tough environments on the road, and we have not managed to find a way to win there, and that's something that we're going to have to find a way to do as the season goes on. That's going to be important for us. We're capable of doing it, and we have to become good enough to do that. Yesterday, if you look at the game, the turnovers, like we said last night, and the big plays, were the key issues – too many big plays by them, too many turnovers by us. And vice versa, us not getting enough big plays and not getting enough turnovers. We start the game off, our defense plays really well early. We have them bottled up with field position, and we don't convert on third down twice to give us a chance to extend plays in the fringe area. If we do that, those are at least 3 points and maybe on to more. We stopped ourselves, really, throughout the course of the game. We don't convert there, we go into the second quarter and we stop two drives with turnovers that set up scores for them. Conversely, we've been great on sudden change all year on defense. We didn't get the job done on sudden change. Credit the Steelers, credit their offense, their quarterback – they made plays there to convert and turn that into 14 points, which was difficult for us. On into the second half, we're moving the ball, we get stopped twice in the third quarter and once in the fourth quarter on third – twice third-and-medium, once third-and-long – all very convertible. That's the game. That's our opportunity right there. And that combined with the big plays, putting the defense back on the field and the defense giving up big plays, a couple of chunk plays, one play where we missed about five tackles – those are the things that ended up costing us the game.
"I will say that our team played extremely hard. Our team plays with heart. When you look at the National Football League, this is the way it's going to be. We look at ourselves, we focus on ourselves, but every now and then you've got to raise your head up and take a peak on the horizon and see what's going on around the league, and you see that everybody has tough weeks. You can look at all the games this weekend, last weekend, the weekend before – who's up is down, who's down is up, especially in the AFC, [but] really across both conferences. It's going to be a fight until the end, and we've just got to make sure we're in the fight. And that starts with moving forward right now, this week, to the next game, to Tennessee – a good football team coming in here to our place that we're going to have to play much better than we've played the last two weeks in order to win this game. And that's where our team will be 100 percent focused on."
Speaking of Tennessee, I think they're the only opponent you have all year that's coming off a bye. Any special consideration given to an opponent that's coming off a week off? (Joe Platania) "There are. The facts are when a team is coming off a bye and you're going into a bye, that's a tough one. If you look at the metrics, the Vegas people are going to be betting against us on that one. That's a proven loser in Vegas. So, we're going to have to make sure we overcome that. That's part of it, because they have two weeks to prepare for us. They're going to have some new things. They are going to be reassessing what they've been doing and try to play to their strengths. And they'll be attacking us with the ideas they've come up with over the last two weeks. So, you're exactly right – we have to take that into account."
John, after watching the game, what was your take on Terrell Suggs' tackle that riled up the Steelers? (Aaron Wilson) "In what way?"
Just your interpretation of it as a tackle and … (Aaron Wilson)"As a rule? Terrell Suggs is a very respected player in this league. He's respected by the coaches; he's respected by the players. I've never, ever heard anybody say anything about Terrell Suggs not being a clean, tough player. And he was attempting to make a tackle. I do think that whole thing goes back to what we talked about last week – the rugby, scrum-type play. It's a player safety issue. As a defensive player, your responsibility is to get the guy on the ground, and that's what he was trying to do."
John, how do you – I usually ask this question – but how do you assess where you're at now? You can beat Tennessee, go 6-4 at the bye and, as you say, you want to be in the fight at the end. Do you think your team is in position to be in that fight at the end where they stand now? (Dave Ginsburg) "Absolutely, there's no question. We have a chance to go 6-4. It's week-to-week in this league. We need to win this game this week against a big challenge. That's what our focus goes to, and then we move forward from there."
Two weeks ago you were in first place, now "last." Does it make a difference, or do you just look at the 5-4 mark? (Dave Ginsburg) "It doesn't make a difference, no."
Going back to OLB Terrell Suggs, there was a flag thrown on that play. Do you expect the league to react because of the way it looked in slow motion and having a chance to review it now? Because it just seemed like a lot of people were calling it a 'dirty' play, and you just explained that you didn't see it that way. [Do you] anticipate that the league will react differently? (Jerry Coleman) "I don't know what to anticipate along those lines. I haven't thought about that. I don't know what they'll do."
In a way, was that just part of [OLB Terrell Suggs] losing his poise, and maybe the team at some juncture losing their poise in that situation? Right after that, OLB Elvis Dumervil had an unnecessary roughness-type penalty as well. (Jerry Coleman) "I just explained it pretty clearly what I thought it was."
But as a team, collectively? (Jerry Coleman) "I just explained it really* *clearly. No, that would be a leap, for sure. As far as if you want to draw on all those fouls together, I'm against anything that costs us 15 yards. That's not good. To make it into [something] – whatever you're saying there – which I'm really probably not in a good position to … You can say it better than I can. I won't speak for you, but that's just not something that's going to help us win the game if we have a 15-yard penalty. They call it; we have to react to it. We don't call things. We have to understand what's going to be called – whether we agree or not really doesn't matter. Our responsibility is not the officials. That's [NFL vice president of officiating] Dean Blandino's responsibility. His job is to get those guys doing whatever he expects them to do, and we have to respond to that. We do our best to teach our guys what's expected, and we try to do our best with that."
John, after watching WR/RS Jacoby Jones' kickoff return for a touchdown, what did you see on that play, and do you see that as something that can kind of spark him as a returner going forward? (Ryan Mink) "I see it as a really good play – really well-blocked, really good scheme by [special teams coordinator/associate head coach] Jerry Rosburg. I thought the players executed it really well; Jacoby ran it really well, he's fast. They were squeezing the field pretty good, and he got back out to the field and just outran everybody. But everybody was pretty much blocked. It was a good play."
John, you talked about the blitz and not making them pay for what they did as far as blitzing. When you watched over the film, was it more of them doing the scheme, or did you guys have it designed correctly and it just wasn't executed properly? Was there a common theme in how you handled the blitz? (Jamison Hensley) "No, there really wasn't a common theme. It was a number of things. We got beat one-on-one a couple times; once or twice we didn't get to the hot receiver; once or twice we didn't make a throw or a catch, or we were safe with the ball, which sometimes you have to do. It's collective. There is a lot that goes in a 60-minute football game. But the theme is that we have to handle pressure; we have to make people pay for it – run and pass. That's something that's going to be important for us to do."
John, you guys have used a lot of players in the defensive secondary – some by injury that you've had to use, others by rotation. Is that something that's going to be a continue evaluation going forward, or would you like to sort of stick with the set two safeties? (Jeff Zrebiec) "The best players play, to me, and the best players are the players who are playing the best. When some player expresses himself as being the best player by how he plays, he'll be out there permanently. Until that happens, nobody is given anything. I think guys have played OK at times, well at other times, and there have been a few bad plays back there. Yesterday, we had two plays which were coverage bust – basically you call them. We were in the wrong spot. We weren't on the same page. We misplayed the coverage, and there were three other times where we got beat physically. Those are bad things. It's a good group, but we're capable of covering them. We have to look at what we're doing scheme-wise, look at what we're doing technique-wise. We have to play better technique. We're not disciplined back there in technique like we need to be. Our eyes aren't in the right spot all the time like they need to be. And when you're in the back end – just like in the offensive line – your footwork has to be right, your eyes have to be right, your leverage has to be right, and then you have to play the ball well. We had one time where we were in great position and we misplayed the ball, and then we didn't tackle. We're looking for the right combination, but I think that's a little overrated. I think it's the best players. You want to play in that secondary? Step up and practice and play well and step up in the game and make plays and be in the right spot. And that's what we're looking for guys to do."
John, the first five games you never had more than five penalties. In the last four [games], you've had at least seven. I know last night was some of the skirmish stuff, but is an increase in penalties a concern to you or not on your guys' part? (Clifton Brown) "It's too many. It's too many. You can talk about the different types of penalties and all that. I don't have a one sentence answer for it, but it's too many. And the ones I don't like are the foolish penalties. Those are the ones I don't have any taste for. You have to be smart and you can't put your team in jeopardy. You can disagree all you want, but [the official] has the yellow flag, and he's going to call it the way he wants to call it – right or wrong. We have to respond to that, and that's our job."
John, do you anticipate activating NT Terrence Cody to the active roster this week? (Jeff Zrebiec) "We'll let you know. That's certainly something we'd like to be able to do. We have to figure out how we're going to do it if we can. [Terrence Cody] has done a good job. He looks good. He's healthy. But we have to figure out the roster spot for that. We don't have that answer right now."
Did LB James Harrison kind of surprise you? He was a guy that started the season not even in the National Football League, and he decided to come out of retirement. He seems to get up for the Ravens. (Jerry Coleman) "[James Harrison] played well. He has played well the last couple weeks. He played the most snaps in this game than he has. I told the guys before the game that when he's out there, he'll be James Harrison, because that's what he has been. He was James Harrison for more snaps against us than he has been, so he is obviously getting into good shape. I told him after the game – when I happened to see him coming off the field – that he played really well. He deserves a lot of credit for that. He's an older guy. He's an old warhorse. I put Brett Keisel in the same category. Those two guys are two of their best players on defense right now. It has made a big difference for them. I'm sure they're happy with those guys, the way they're playing."
[Are] you looking forward to playing at home? (Bruce Cunningham)"Yes." (Reporter: "For obvious reasons, friendly faces in the stands and all that?") "[We are] looking forward to playing at home. We love our crowd. It's a tough place for opponents to play. All these stadiums are. It's tough for us to go into other stadiums, and it's tough for people to come into our place. We're going to need our fans behind us. We're going to need our fans there and excited, and we need to play our best."
Pleased with how DE Chris Canty and TE Owen Daniels played in their respective returns? (Luke Jones) "Yes, thank you. That's a great point. For Owen [Daniels] to pop in there like that and play the way he did was encouraging. He's a tough guy, and Chris Canty [did] the same thing. He really only had been moving … He wasn't in the greatest shape. He couldn't do anything until this week, and he played 30-plus snaps and he was fine. He played really well. That's a big plus for us. We have a lot of pluses. It's not like we're sitting here without good players. Every team has weaknesses. Every team has things that they have to scheme around and play around. We'll figure out how to do that. We just have to figure out how to win one game at a time, and that's where we're at. It's going to be that way for the rest of the season, and we can do it. We're capable of doing it."