MONDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: WEEK 11 VS. CINCINNATI
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"OK, good seeing everybody – appreciate you being here. Good, crisp day outside. Had a chance to get with our guys and meet and get through some football. We're off the bye week now. I think they came back fired up, fresh, enthusiastic, ready to go to work and excited for the challenge at hand – which is the Cincinnati Bengals. [It's] our opportunity to get rolling here in the second half of the season. We're excited, we're fired up, we can't wait to get going, and that's where we're at."
Do you want to address these reports that QB Joe Flacco is injured and will not be able to play against Cincinnati? (Jerry Coleman)"Well, [there are] different reports – that's one of them. There's a multitude of reports that say different things. So without addressing them all – because I don't know which one to even start with – Joe landed awkwardly on his knee. I think it was the third play, fourth play, of the [Pittsburgh] game, [then he] played the rest of the game. He's getting treatment, just like all the guys are getting treatment, and we'll see. I'd say that we'll know more as the week goes on, and I'm hopeful that all our guys will play – including Joe."(Reporter: "So it was a knee [injury], not a hip?") "It's a hip, but he landed on his knee – correct, right."
Looking back, how much do you think that inhibited him in the game? (Jerry Coleman) _"I don't know. It doesn't really matter. It's not something that's even relevant. I'm kind of appreciative of the reports, to be honest with you."(Reporter: "In what way?")"Well, it just makes it tougher for the Bengals to prepare. So, that's kind of a good thing." _(Reporter: "So you're saying it'll be a game-time decision?")"That's right. We'll see."
Are the other two quarterbacks in play, QB Robert Griffin III and QB Lamar Jackson, in terms of getting reps and maybe starting? (David Ginsburg) _"What's the question?" _(Reporter: "Are either of them candidates to start if Joe Flacco could not?") "Oh, of course. They're the two quarterbacks that we have, so it's one or the other. You're asking me which, I assume?" (Reporter: "Well, I would like to know…")"You're just obligated to ask the question, and I appreciate that. It's fair, but no – we're not going to talk about any of that. There's no reason for us to. We don't know. I don't know who's going to play. We'll prepare all the guys to whatever degree we think we need to, in terms of what the plan is. The plan will be ours; we have a plan [for] any direction that we decide to go or are forced to go. It'll be based on the health of Joe [Flacco]. If Joe can play, he'll play. He's rehabbing to play. Joe does not have to practice to play. He's practiced the whole season; he's practiced for 11 years. But he might practice. So, we'll just have to see how it goes. It's up in the air; we're not worried about it. We're blessed with a good quarterback room, and that's a good thing, that's a positive thing. I'm really happy about that. We have guys that can play – three guys that can play. We have a good football team, and it's just like any other position in my mind. You go with the next guy, and you roll and go win the football game."
Did you come out of the bye week, beyond the quarterback position, feeling a little healthier? (Gerry Sandusky)"Yes, no question. We're healthier. Different guys look better, so we'll just have to see how we go as the week goes on. But a number of guys practiced out there today."
You've expressed great confidence in QB Lamar Jackson's development overall. Does that extend to a point where you're confident that he can start a game and play well?_ (Childs Walker)_"Yes, absolutely."
Did you have a walk-through today? What did the guys do today? _(Jamison Hensley) _"We brought them in [and] had meetings. We did activation, strength and conditioning session, which got them moving quite a bit, then we went through the start of the gameplan – a very minimal part of the gameplan."
Was QB Joe Flacco able to do anything through that today? (Jamison Hensley)"He was. He went through a lot of stuff today. I'm not going to specify what, but he went through a number of things today."
The Bengals made a change at defensive coordinator today. How does that change how you prepare for the game? (Aaron Kasinitz) "That's a good question. I haven't seen a report about what direction they're going to go, or who's going to be the defensive coordinator. We'll just have to see. I think their defense is in place; they have the players that they have. We know the players; we know the scheme. We wouldn't expect any dramatic changes in the scheme. Coach [Marvin] Lewis is a defensive coach, so he's always had his imprints on the defense. We expect them to stay within his philosophy, and we'll just have to see what we get on Sunday and play against it." (Reporter: "Marvin said he was going to take over as defensive coordinator.") "Oh did he? That's good, thanks. That's good to know, which you would expect. We'll just prepare along those lines. We're not going to know exactly what they're going to do, so we'll just have to do the best we can."
Are the offensive linemen who were missing from the last game progressing well, T Ronnie Stanley and G/T James Hurst? (Childs Walker) "They are progressing well. We'll just have to see. Again, I can't sit up and predict what's going to happen six days from now, but I'm encouraged by their progress. So yes, having those guys back will be very helpful – there's no doubt about it. Those are both good players, and they're both important to us, so I'd like to get them both back if we could."
Did you feel like you guys were able to get enough done in the meeting with the coaches over the bye week? Will there be any noticeable changes? (Jerry Coleman)"I did. I don't know … I think it depends on your level of discernment, in terms of whether you'll notice the changes. Certainly, coaches will notice a few things that we tweaked. [In] all three phases, some things have been adjusted. That's a good opportunity that you have to go back and look at yourself. I'm pretty excited about some of the things that we've looked at. I mean, we're not going to come out here in some new-fangled thing – it's still 11 guys playing football. But, we have a few ideas; we have a few good ideas. I'm excited about that."
You said going into the bye week that you wanted to see QB Lamar Jackson in more packages. Regardless of the quarterback situation, is that still the plan? (Gerry Sandusky)"Yeah." (laughter) (Reporter: "Can I quote you on that?") "Yeah. That's Y-E-A-H."(laughter)
Do you think players know, or do you have to talk about where the team sits, as far as the playoff standings, and remind them that despite what has happened over the past month, that there's an obvious spot there for the taking?_ (Jeff Zrebiec) "Absolutely. You definitely want to remind them. When you're in a city, in the NFL, probably any sport, everyone focuses on your team [and] what's not going right – especially when you lose games like we have, three games in a row. But when I look at the three games we lost, I look at the way the games played out, and I look at the three opponents we played, situations we played and the way they went. You're not sitting there going, 'Hey, all is lost!' We have a very good football team. So, then you get a chance to sit back and watch other games on TV. I told the guys, 'Have you watched the NFL? It's week-to-week. This is how it goes. Crazy things happen.' We're right there. We're in the hunt just like everybody else. We're fighting. We'd love to be one of the one-loss teams – that would be great, that'd be fun. One of these days, we will be once again! But we're not right now. We're .500 basically; we're in the hunt. We're with the rest of the pack. It will be determined over the course of the next seven games who is going to make the playoffs. It won't be determined by what's gone before. It will be determined by what goes forward. If we want to be one of those teams, then we have to go earn it – make it happen. There are those who write history and those who make history. Well, you know what? If you have a chance to make history, then you write the history, too. So, we write our story for the next seven games. We'll write the story of the Ravens' 2018 season by how we play in the next seven weeks. That's what our guys are juiced up for. All the other stuff is just fluff; it's just noise; it's just banter. It's bar room talk. Turn on the TV, it's two guys talking in the bar, supposedly – except it's all _choreographed, you know? 'You take this side, I'll take that side.' It's all B.S. We don't care! We have to go play. Let's go play. Let's see who wins the game. We're ready – bring them in here. Get the Cincinnati Bengals in here as fast as we can. Let's go play the game. They took care of us last time, and that's the good thing about this division – you get to play each team twice."
Does it help that message at all that you guys did this last year? You went into the bye week with the same record and you ended up controlling your own destiny. (Childs Walker)"Yes, sure, whatever. We have a game Sunday, have to go win it. That's what matters. All the other stuff is good, I appreciate it, and I think it's a good point. I might have mentioned it – I might not have. I can't remember. (laughter) I was on a roll with the guys! I was on a roll. What's the scene from 'Animal House?' Remember? When the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? 'Leave him alone, he's on a roll.' (laughter) I know the Germans did not bomb Pearl Harbor – just for the record. For everybody out there, it's a movie scene!"(laughter)
In addition to the quarterback situation, there have also been reports again about your job status and your future here. Have you spoken with owner Steve Bisciotti about your future with the Ravens? (Jamison Hensley) "It's such a broad question. We talk regularly about lots of stuff. We talk about everything. That stuff doesn't matter. I mean, the report itself … How do you even address stuff like that when there is so many layers to it that you know just aren't true? Again, it's just noise; it doesn't matter; it means nothing. It's not something that I'm going to think about or concern myself with. Neither are the players, neither is Steve, neither is Kevin [Byrne, executive vice president of public & community relations], or Ozzie [Newsome] or anybody else. You know what we want to do as an organization? We want to win – that's what we want to do. We want to win. We're fighting as hard as we can – coaches, players – as an organization to win. That's it. All the other stuff – who cares?"
The Bengals did a lot of quick passing the first time you played. Do you think teams have used that similar recipe? When we've talked about the defense and some of the stuff other teams have done, do you think that started with the Bengals? Or no, you just think that in general because people don't want you to pass rush? (Jeff Zrebiec)"No, I think that's been around for quite a while in football – quick passing. The Bengals didn't invent that in Week 2 against the Ravens." (Reporter: "No, I know. Did their gameplan …")"Yes, people have been using that against us for years, and against everybody for years. Everybody uses it – sometimes it's successful, sometimes it's not. You have to complete those passes and that's it."
CB Brandon Carr
On if the injury to Bengals WR A.J. Green changes his approach in playing Cincinnati:"No, it doesn't change our approach. He's a great player, made a lot of plays for that team, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure they have the same approach as us: next man up. And, we're watching film, and they have some guys who are emerging throughout this season, especially during the time that he's been down. So, we don't have opportunities to kind of relax or take it easy because their star player, receiver is out. [It's an] opportunity for us to go out there and try to get a win."
On if he's seen teams attacking the defense differently in the past four games:"Yes, teams have been trying to keep us off-balance, whether it's with personnel, whether it's with tempo, and, of course, to try to attack our schemes. But, the great thing about this league [is] we got a bye. We got a week off and an opportunity for us to self-evaluate ourselves, figure out where our weaknesses are, areas we can fix, and that's what we've been doing throughout last week and carrying over to this week."
On if he feels rejuvenated after the bye:"I always feel great. But, the bye came at a great time. Hit the brakes, allow us to kind of refresh, regroup, get away from football, just get your mental [energy] back for this grind. We have seven weeks to make some noise, seven weeks to play our style of football and to win as many games as possible. But, the bye, the bye is always good. You'd rather have it later, I think, than having it earlier in the season."
On the mental benefits of the bye week:"You still have to stay locked in. I wouldn't say you take it as a vacation and go to Bora Bora or anything like that, right? [But it's an] opportunity to see your family, see your friends, kind of get away from football, watch some games, get off your feet for the most part and just kind of rejuvenate and rest. Guys came back with a bounce in their step. Guys came back looking forward to seeing each other and being on the field and in the weight room today. So, it was a great time for us to be away, but guys are eager for this stretch coming up, and most importantly, for this game coming up." (Reporter: "Did you do anything fun or notable?")"Yes, I went home to see the kids! It's more work at home than it is here. (laughter) A lot of early mornings and late nights. It was fun though, to see the kids play their sports and take them to school and stuff, so it was good change of pace."
On what he's seen from Bengals WR Tyler Boyd: "He's come along well. That's one of the guys I was saying, as far as emerging. He had a good season last year. Momentum has definitely picked up for him this year. He's a guy that we have to stop this week. They move him all over the field. He's made a lot of big plays for those guys. Even when A.J. [Green] is healthy, he's been out there making plays as well, so he's definitely a guy that we have to be aware, communicate where he is at all times."
On if he thinks about where the Ravens are in the playoff picture when he watches games during the bye week:"Yes, it's a lot of emotions when I watch the games. You see teams that you beat. You see teams that you lost to. Any given Sunday, anything can happen, and to see some of the scores this past week kind of shocked us. But it's the National Football League. That's why you prepare each and every week to go out there and give it your best shot, and we're back on the board to go against a team that knocked us out early in the season. It's an opportunity for us to get them at home to even the score."
On if it's encouraging to see teams that beat the Ravens by a small margin beat other teams by larger margins:"We don't like losing, period. I don't think it makes anyone feel better that you look and see other teams that you think are good, and they lose as well. But, it was interesting to see just how the league shakes out each and every week. It's all about matchups. But no, I don't really think that it makes us sleep easier because we know that the next team lost as well. We're trying to beat everybody."
On if he looked at the tape from Week 2 against the Bengals, and his takeaways from it:"Yes, of course. They just out-schemed us sometimes, out-executed us, however you want to call it. They made some plays on us. First half, they got out to a quick start, early lead. Second half, we battled back. We just didn't have enough in the tank for us. So, most importantly, we want to get off to a fast start, get our crowd into the game this week coming up. To play Ravens Football for 60 minutes, that's all three facets of the game: offense, defense, special teams."
G Marshal Yanda
On the significance of the fact that the team was in a similar situation last season, being 4-5 at the bye and then making a playoff push:"Yes, just that we have a lot of fight left. We have a lot of football left, and we're not looking [ahead]. We're just focused on the Bengals this week. Everybody understands that we can fight our tails off and be relevant at the end of the year. But, we're not looking anywhere past Cincinnati. Everybody has a good attitude. Everybody is working hard and preparing, and yes, that's definitely not our focus. We feel like we can get this thing turned around and get it rolling."
On how much the playoff conversation takes place amongst players:"Right now, we're just focused on Cincinnati. Obviously, we just need to win one game. We're on a rough stretch right now, so we just have to win one game, not really worry about the playoff talks. Win one game – it's a division game, so obviously, it's very important. So, that's where our mindset is right now. Just all eyes, everybody is laser-focused on Cincinnati, and then we'll go from there."
On the significance of being able to get the offensive line healthy:"It would be great. Definitely, getting guys back and healthy is important to every football team, and I know those guys are working hard to get back as quick as they can. And then, obviously, when they come back, we'll be looking forward to it."
On if the group gets frustrated by injuries:"It's adversity. And obviously, it's football, and getting injured is 100-percent part of this game. It's a 100-percent injury rate, so you have to find a way to fight through that. Is it frustrating? Yes. But, there are no excuses; it's the next guy up, and we have to prepare to have those guys step up and play. Obviously, you have two or three guys go down; that happens. Look at the Redskins. They lost, I think, both of their guards, season-ending injuries, in one game. So, it happens. We just have to fight through it. We have to just keep grinding and have a next-man-up mentality and just have to keep fighting."
On if he will prepare differently this week in the event QB Joe Flacco is unable to play:"No. Obviously, the whole injury thing, John [Harbaugh] addresses the injuries, so I'm not going to talk about the injuries. We're preparing for Cincinnati, 110-percent, and just preparing to play good football."
On the difficulty of preparing with quarterbacks who have different styles: "We've been doing both of that stuff all year, so that really hasn't changed."
On if he's pleased with his level of play coming back from injury:"Yes. I'm grateful to be back and playing and being a part of it, because, obviously, I missed it a lot last year. I love this game. I love competing. I love contributing, and like I said, I'm grateful to be back, and I feel like I just have to keep [grinding]. [We're] during the season, we're midway through, pretty much, and we have a lot of hard games to fight. I'm just going to keep my head down and keep grinding. Definitely, I'm super excited about being able to be back out on the field."
On rookie T Orlando Brown Jr.'s play:"He's a physical dude. He brings a lot of energy and excitement to the game. You can tell he loves the game. He loves to play on Sunday. He's a young player and just needs to continue to keep getting better. These games of him growing as a football player … When you're a really young player, especially a rookie, you have a lot of room to improve. Every single game, you should be getting better and better and better, and I think he's definitely taking that approach to do that. He's had some good plays and some not-so-good plays, but I like his attitude. I like his approach, and he just needs to continue to [improve]. Just like me, the same thing, we keep our heads down. We keep fighting, and I think the kid is going to get better each week."
On QB Joe Flacco's toughness and pain tolerance:"Obviously, I've been in a lot of games with him, but he's one of the toughest guys that you know – that I've played with. Maybe the toughest guy. You never see him get injured. I mean, you never see him limping around. You never see him on the field showing any signs of weakness. He's just been a rock for us for more than a decade. I've been fortunate, and just it's awesome to play with a guy like that. I have nothing but respect for him. I love the guy."
On the area he feels most rejuvenated after the bye:"I feel like everybody felt refreshed today. Obviously, we had a lift and some stuff today, but guys come back, and I just feel like the energy level is good today. I feel like it's going to carry over. We have tomorrow off, and it's going to carry over into Wednesday. So, that rest time was good for everybody."
On why he feels that Bengals DT Geno Atkins gives him "as much trouble as any player:" "Geno does a really good job of being a bull rusher, of taking the inside move, taking the outside move; he has all three traits as pass rusher. Usually, a defensive tackle is either super good with the bull [rush], and he's not-so-good with edges and side-to-side lateral quickness. Geno has a good blend of all of that. He can run you over. He can take the inside move. He has the lateral quickness and the super, bull-rush strength. So, those things, and he also does a good job of reading the player. Some guys have a move in their mind. Say I'm going to do an outside spin move on this guy on this next move. Geno does a good job of reading what the offensive lineman is doing to him, and he kind of takes what you give him. That's what he does well."
On if he feels optimistic in the run game's potential after the bye:"Yes. Obviously, talk is cheap. We hope so. We're trying every day to have that breakthrough game, and we're just going to keep grinding. Yes, I think we had good yards-per-carry [average vs. Pittsburgh], but obviously, some of those games we got into where we just had to pass the ball, and the nature of the game, we had to climb back into it. But yes, I feel like we're close on a lot of things, and that just takes guys staying laser-focused and just keep working hard every day. We have to get there sooner or later, and we hope it's this Sunday."
On if he has to watch for something new from the Bengals' defense in light of former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin's departure:"Yes and no. Obviously, they said Marvin Lewis is going to take over, so it'll be some of his blend. And obviously, we'll just have to try to … The coaches are going to do a good job preparing us. Both ways, both scenarios, I'm sure we're going to try to cover all bases that we can and be best prepared. Whatever he brings, we just have to be ready for."
On if he thinks about his personal big picture:"Not right now, no. I'm just taking care of today. These things, there are so many moving parts during the season, and controlling what you can control [is most important]. Right now, I just focus on playing good football, productive football, and try not to … Big-picture stuff, you'll worry about that after the season, or obviously, if we do well enough and we get into the playoffs, we go towards that part. But right now, everybody's eyes are on Cincinnati, and that's where they should be. Right now, we just need to win one game, and that's all my focus."