HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. This is what no sleep looks like, but it's a very happy no sleep. Everybody's pleased with the outcome [from last night's game] and really just got to work as soon as we got back in. [We] went to work on the game and then [made] our plans for the rest of the week as a staff. Some players had to check in. [With] other players, we've given them the week off. That's where we're at right now, and we're looking forward to preparing for the next five weeks of the regular season and if we do a good job beyond that. What questions do you have?"
Is it standard to give the players the full week off during the bye week? What went into that decision?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "It's moved that way the last couple years. The bye weeks have gotten shorter, I think, compared to what they used to be. It used to be the whole week until Friday, and you have the opportunity to come back possibly Monday, Tuesday, even Wednesday if you wanted to. We haven't done that for a while, but it just seemed like the right thing [to give the players the week off]. We're 12 weeks into the season – I don't think we would've gained as much from practicing as we would from resting, basically. [So, I decided to] let the guys get away and regroup physically, even spiritually, and just heal up and get ready for what's ahead."
Was there an administrative issue with the spots of the ball during the game? Do you wish you challenged some of those rulings?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "There were administrative issues, even on the field goals. The field goals were running down on us every single time. We had the one delay of game [penalty]. That was odd. The guys are pretty much in the same rhythm. We were struggling with the administrative aspect of the plays pretty much the whole game, but when we looked back and looked at the challenges – not really. The one on the sideline with Lamar [Jackson] – we looked at that closely this morning. We didn't have the views that you had later on TV. We didn't have those before the next play where they splice together the angles. It didn't look like on the angle we had during the game that we'd win it. Going back and looking at the spliced angle, we wouldn't have won it. They're not going to overturn that with the angles that they had. That would've cost us a time out, and we would've been out of challenges. The other one we thought was a first down. Everybody in the stadium thought that was a first down. They came on TV in our press box as a first down, and we thought [the referee] pointed first down. We called a first-down play there, so we wasted a play on that one, administratively. That was one you'd like to have back. We regret the fact that we didn't realize that they marked it short. As we looked at it, it shouldn't have been marked short. They should've caught it upstairs anyway with the replay official. They didn't, so we'll take responsibility for that. That's one that we thought was a first down. As far as the one we did challenge, I think that was the right challenge. You did the best you could. We didn't have the view of it stop-start, and it ended up being straight across even – that's a 17-yard play on third-and-long. That's a high-leverage type of opportunity. You have to challenge that one in that situation. I think looking back, we probably did the right thing. I know we did the right things given the information that we had and even looking back on it."
Were there some communication issues looking back on those challenges? Were there situations where you were not able to get the answer that you were looking for in terms of a certain call?*_(Jerry Coleman)_* "Well, yes. You don't get the view. Even on TV – we have a TV monitor up in the [coaching] box, but you get what the TV gives you, so there's nothing on the screens in the stadium that they're giving you like they would [when playing] at home. Those were all plays going to the line of scrimmage quickly. You don't get all the information that you'd like to have, for sure. We had the information. Looking back on it, honestly, I'd tell you if I thought we should or shouldn't have challenged it. We would not have won that challenge on Lamar [Jackson's run]. We can all look at it and say, 'I think he got the first down.' I'd like to say, 'Yes, I think he got the ball over inside [the first-down marker],' but what are they going to turn over? We study that, and we look and see what they turn over, why, what they see, and we're pretty good at knowing what they're going to turn over and what they're not. We'd lose a timeout and a challenge there. That could've hurt us at the end of the game. [In] hindsight even, I really feel like that was the right decision not to challenge that. I want to get the first down there, but that's just the way it went."
How beneficial will this bye week be for T Ronnie Stanley to try and get him to full strength as best as you can after battling right knee problems throughout the year?*_(Luke Jones)_* "I do think that it's going to be beneficial for him. It's something that's been … It's not been great. I think he'd probably be the first person to tell you it's not been great. He needs to get stronger and get his technique right. He needs to get out at practice and keep growing back into … He's a great player. We want to get him back into playing at that high level."
How taxing has this season been with multiple trips to the West Coast and the London game? How beneficial will this bye week be?*_(Kyle Phoenix)_* "As I told the guys last night in the locker room, I'm really proud of them. I think we all are, because they play with a high level of energy. It took that kind of energy to win. That's a team [the Los Angeles Chargers] that is actually a very good football team, [a] very talented team, a desperate team, had to have that win at home. We just played at a high level. Our guys were playing hard. It was a very physical game, and to do that, like you said, through the course of this season with all the travel and all the tough games we've had. I think it's pretty remarkable. I'm really proud of the guys. This is a beneficial time. We're going to try and make the most of it and then be ready to roll for what's going to be the toughest schedule in football for the next five weeks."
Was last night's win over the Los Angeles Chargers arguably the team's best defensive performance they have had all season?*_(Shawn Stepner)_* "Yes, you could say that, probably. We've had some pretty good ones, but that's a heck of an offense. [The Los Angeles Chargers] challenge you in a lot of different ways. You take away the one quarterback scramble [by Justin Herbert], probably, and they didn't have much [yards]. Then, the one long drive that they had also … And then Jadeveon Clowney coming up with that play [on the strip-sack]. I failed to mention that last night, it just didn't quite hit my mind. That might've been the play of the game. That rush, that sack, that [fumble] recovery, the whole thing was just a Hall of Fame-type play. Even when they did get the two longer drives, I think our guys stepped up pretty big. They did score on the one [pass] unfortunately, but I think you're making a good point."
What do you make of K Justin Tucker's season so far, having missed his first kick from inside of 50 yards this season last night?*_ (Paul Mancano) _*"'Tuck' [Justin Tucker] is 'Tuck.' That was one that he was rushed on. He was rushed on all those field goals the whole game. I'm not making excuses for him. He would never accept that. He'll tell you he has to make them under any circumstance. We can't afford to call a timeout there. I don't know why the clock was running so fast and why they didn't administer it the way they'd normally do, but we knew after the delay of game [penalty] on the first one that we were going to have to just speed it all up and get it off. It's just a miss. He's human, and I'm sure glad we have him. [I] always will be."
Is there a benefit to the bye week being as late as it is as you make tweaks to the final part of the regular season?*_(Garrett Downing)_* "We're going to make the most of it. We have an opportunity now to get to work as a coaching staff this week [and] look at ourselves, look at our opponents, try to drum up some ideas going down the stretch for situational football. There's plenty of areas in all three phases [of the game] that we need to improve [and] we need to get better [at]. There's a lot of things we need to get better at. I could go through the list right now, but I probably don't want to. We've gone through the list already today, and we're going to try find ways to improve as a coaching staff to help our guys and give them some more tools going down the stretch."
What did you think of the job TE Isaiah Likely did stepping in for injured TE Mark Andrews?*_(Ryan Mink)_* "He did great. He did a great job. He's athletic. To see him … Those are the things you guys have all seen in practice and training camp and preseason. That's who you thought he was going to be when he got his opportunity. [I'm] really proud of him. [I'm] happy for him, and he's going to be able to build off of that."
Are there any injury updates on OLB David Ojabo and OLB Tyus Bowser?*_(Kyle Phoenix)_* "Yes. David Ojabo had surgery last week late, actually in L.A. to repair a partially-torn ACL. He had to make a decision about it in terms of whether to risk it or not. Every medical expert said to get it fixed, because … He wanted to play. Even I told him, I said, 'Man, you have to get that right for the rest of your career, because it's a clean type of a surgery.' He'll be rolling again at training camp at the latest. He'll be rolling. So, that's what he did.
"Tyus [Bowser] is just trying to get the knee where it can basically handle the load, the swelling and stuff like that. It's just an angry knee, I guess. I really haven't been told exactly. I think it's a hard one to decipher. It's why we haven't been very clear with it, but when it calms down enough, he's going to be back playing. I know he's working toward that, and if and when we get him back it'd be a huge bonus for us."
What is the difficulty of the 21-day window to activate OLB Tyus Bowser if he is not ready to play after starting his clock too early perhaps and you get into a roster bind?*_(Luke Jones)_* "Well, it's not so much that. It's just that he's not ready to start his clock yet, physically. If he was ready to start his clock, I think we'd put him out there and get going with it, especially this point in time but we're just not there with the knee."
Are there any other injury updates from the game that we have to worry about over the next couple of weeks?*_(Childs Walker)_* "No."
What did you know of CB Arthur Maulet six months ago when he was signed vs. what you have learned from him since?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "I knew [Arthur Maulet] was a pain in the butt playing against him. We played against him quite a bit in New Orleans [when he was with the Saints] and then Pittsburgh [when he was with the Steelers]. I didn't like him in Pittsburgh, because I thought they lost their nickel [cornerback]. Then, all of a sudden, he's out there playing, and I wasn't sure how good he was going to be. Then, he turned out to be really good, so I was mad about that. Then, he came here, and I was happy about it, because he's a tough dude. He's a hard playing guy. He brings a lot of savviness [and] a lot of energy. He's never satisfied. [To] come up with that play he made – that sack – was a huge play, and it wasn't the only [one]. He had a number of plays. He was out there. He made the most of his time. He's done a great job for us. That [Maulet signing] was a great job by our personnel department."
What have you seen from S Kyle Hamilton's development as a Pro Bowl-caliber player this season?*_(Garrett Downing)_* "I've seen just what you guys have seen. He's been something. He's all over the field. We put more on his plate every single week, and he makes the most of it. He cleans his plate, so we'll keep putting more on there." (laughter) "I think he's a reflection of the whole defense right now. They're hungry. They want to get better. They want more. They hate when they don't make a play – any type of a play. That's what you love about him. I think him and all the guys – they're just in the same mold that way."
Can you remember a better weekend for the Harbaugh brothers than this past weekend, with brother Jim's Michigan squad defeating Ohio State?*_(Ryan Mink)_* "My dad says it's the best one ever, but he always says that every weekend. His thing is, 'You never had a better win.' Then, he goes, 'But this time, it's really true.' This time, it might be. I'm just proud of,, obviously Jim and that whole team to see that team come together. I see a lot of similarities in the two teams [Ravens and Wolverines] – how bonded together they are, how they really are a family through thick and thin. [I'm] happy for everybody this weekend."
What does the bye week look like for you from now until next Monday?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "[The] bye week will be from now until probably Friday. Friday, for sure, we'll be working a full week as coaches, so I'll be in all week doing that. [I'll] probably get the weekend [and] get away a little bit [and] probably watch the Big Ten Championship game. I'll watch it here, though. I'm not going [to Indianapolis]. That's about it. It's going to be simple. It'll be simple."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening Statement:"It's good to see everyone today. [I] hope everyone is doing well, especially the guys that traveled back from the West Coast. [I] appreciate you guys being here. [I'm] just looking forward to … Throughout this Bye Week, it's a great opportunity for us as coaches to kind of dive deep into some of the things you really wouldn't have had time to [in a regular week] because you're doing so much game-planning. But now, we have a full week to really just look at ourselves and figure out ways just to get better. [I'm] really encouraged, like I said before, by what our guys are doing. I think our guys are playing hard. Our guys are executing. We just have to find that consistency, and that's the thing that we're looking for out of our units. Questions?"
In total, I think K Justin Tucker's field goal misses on the season is five. Has there been a trend or a theme to it, because at this point, we don't usually see that many misses as this point in the season?*_(Jamison Hensley) _*"I don't think it's a trend or a theme. I think, like I said before, every kick is different. Every situation is different, and I think what it comes down to … We had the blocks. Those things are fundamental things that we as coaches, we can get fixed up, get cleaned up, and then we kind of take those things away. As far as the kicks, those come down to little detail things. There are a lot of differences in between the kicks, but I don't think it's a problem. I still think we have the greatest kicker in football, that I can tell you, and we'll put him out there whenever we need him or whenever we say so, so I think we're going to be OK. We'll keep putting him out there, and we'll keep working to just fine-tune what we do."
Head coach John Harbaugh said last night, there were some rush or administrative things had you scrambling or rushing. What was that all about?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "I think one of the things, when those guys get out there, there are a lot of nuances to it, right? We score on offense, there's a big play, and there are some guys that are on the field goal team that are also on the offensive line, so those guys are over there celebrating. Then, also, when they spot the ball, [we think], 'Alright, what is the play clock?' Honestly, I think we just have to do a better job of just handling that ourselves, managing the play clock, getting ourselves out there so we're not putting ourselves in those situations. We [can] go out there, we take our time, we kick the ball, [and] we make the kick. I think those are also some things we can take care of."
Other than that, do you think certain things operationally need to improve around the kick? Is there too much pressure at times around the edges? Did you feel that yesterday, early in the game, that for a couple of early kicks where there was a little too much pressure on the edge, or not? Are you OK with how the blocking has held out?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "No. I think the blocking last night was great. I think from the outside view, looking in on the field, that edge player looks close, but when you watch the tape, that guy is nowhere around the ball. That's easy to spot on the tape. When you sit back, and you watch the tape, there is no pressure there. Our operation has been smooth all year with our times and things like that, but those guys are getting the kick off to our standard. That will remain the same."
K Justin Tucker knows every little detail of every kick. Did you talk to him, and did he feel like he miss-hit the ball? Do you think he felt a little rushed?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "I think on that last one, that one that [Justin Tucker] missed, he felt rushed. When you look at the play clock and the timing of the play, again, with the operation, it's one of those things we have to get out there, and we have to see that play clock. That's part of it. That's part of our jobs. That's part of what Jordan [Stout] does. That's part of what he does. He sees that play clock, so we're not in those situations."
How do you feel like your protection and coverage units have performed from Week 1 through now, especially going against the Los Angeles Chargers who have a Top 5 special teams unit?*_ (Kyle Phoenix)_* "I thought last night, outside of the punt return we gave up, we covered the kick. We tackled them inside the 20-[yard line]. We hadn't put many balls in play. We got down there, and we covered that ball. When you watch that punt return play, we got guys in position, [but] we just have to go make those plays. There are some things when these guys get back, we'll talk about [it and we'll] watch [it]. I think we're doing a good job. We've gotten better. We continue to get better, and we will get better. Throughout these next five weeks, there is a lot more room for improvement between our guys, and we'll start to play the kind of ball that we want to play. We just have to find some consistency. There are some good [moments], and then we might hit a bump in the road, but we're not like discouraged by what's happening, because these men are really putting their foot forward and giving everything they can with effort [and] with execution. Then, there might be a little breakdown, so those are things we can get fixed up."
How frustrated do you get? You've mentioned this "consistency" two or three times now. How frustrating is it for you that it's not there?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "I don't think I necessarily get frustrated. I think I just try to remind the guys of what the standard is and what the standard has been. When they understand that, and we continue to show them that, they'll get back to that level of where we want to get to. I don't think I necessarily get frustrated, because it's my job to coach them and try to get them to that point. As a coach, that's just not what I do. It's just like, 'Hey, we have to do this better,' and I know we can do it, so why aren't we doing it? I kind of ask those kind of questions. Did I say something in a meeting? I kind of always bring it back to me, and then put it on them when they go out there and play. So, no. There is no frustration at all."
Twelve weeks into the season, how would you evaluate P Jordan Stout's second season?*_(Kyle Phoenix)_* "Again, I think it's been up and down. We're just trying to put those games back to back. I think Jordan [Stout] is doing a great job. Last night, he punted the ball great. That ball was two yards from the sideline. That's a ball we don't want to get back to the field, so how do we make that better? I think Jordan's doing a great job from Year One to Year Two, and I think [special teams coach/specialists] Randy [Brown] and [consultant] Sam [Koch] have really done a good job with him."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
Opening Statement: "It's great to see everybody. Shoutout to those who made the trip back, I'm looking at a couple – much respect. But we're in it, so let's bang this out. How are we doing?"
Do you have any strong views on touchdown celebrations?*_ (Kyle Phoenix)_* "I was hoping there was just one of them yesterday. The second one, I don't know if it was necessary or not."(laughter)
How pleased were you with the defensive performance last night? There were four takeaways from a talented offense.*_ (Garrett Downing)_* "Well, the most important thing is winning the game, and we talked about how we wanted to play, and definitely the guys did that [by] starting fast. Obviously, takeaways is of paramount importance throughout the entire season, but to actually come to fruition especially against that offense who hasn't really turned the ball over the course of the year was great to see. Us attacking the football, handling the situations – I thought really the thing that goes unnoticed is the poise that the guys had throughout the game given the situation – I was proud of that. You just turn the tape on, you're just really proud of the effort and the physicality. There are things that we're going to always be chasing execution-wise, but we're right there. So, we're in a good spot going into the bye."
How good of football is S Kyle Hamilton playing?*_(Garrett Downing) _*"[Kyle Hamilton]'s playing really, really good football. He's a special player. He can do just about anything on the football field, and we ask a lot of him and we're very excited to have him. But he's playing at a high level right now."
Was there a time where you started to see it click for S Kyle Hamilton where you could tell he just looked like a different player and how he's moving and just the way he was playing with confidence?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "That's an interesting question. I don't know if I can pinpoint a time. [Kyle Hamilton] definitely had some comfort filling in the nickel spot last year moving closer to the football. The offseason is probably the best way I can pinpoint it [with him] being able to play both positions, and we're really cooking him at safety and was able to make some plays on the ball throughout camp, and you just really felt him out there, so that's probably the answer."
On the fourth-quarter fourth-down play last night, CB Arthur Maulet comes in untouched. What's going through your mind prior to that play in terms of how to attack them?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "The thing is in that situation, we were trying to throw our fastball, and we talk about [how] we want to be going forward and staying aggressive. So that was a call we had and for that particular situation and … Honestly, it's a shoutout to the guys. You get the call in fast, we talk about an early call is a good call, so the guys can go play. All across the board – all 11 – the execution was just to a tee of how we wanted it and just proud of Arthur [Maulet] not jumping [offsides] in that situation and aiming for the high shoulder and mirrored the throwing hand and did all the things we coach him to do, and he really took advantage of the situation. So, you can go through each of the 11 guys in that situation, and they're doing it exactly how we want it to be done. You do that in critical situations, you have a great chance to close out games."
I'm curious about ILB Patrick Queen's play where he had an open lane at the quarterback, and he veered off and still set the pick for the stunt. As a coach, are you like, wow man, way to execute the play. What do you say to that?*_(Ryan Mink)_* "It's actually happened a couple times over the last year or two, and we say we don't want to dishonor the organization by aborting the pick, and he hasn't dishonored the organization yet. So, shoutout to 'P.Q.' [Patrick Queen]. In those situations, when you understand the protection schemes that you're getting, go ahead and make your layups, but he's doing what we're asking him to do, and he's trying to set his teammate up. So, shoutout to 'P.Q.'"
Going back to CB Arthur Maulet's play and watching NT Michael Pierce drop back on that one. How do you kind of think through that when you have a defensive tackle dropping back in coverage and when you tell Michael Pierce on the play he's going to be dropping back in coverage, what does he say in those situations?*_(Garrett Downing)_* "For that particular technique, [Michael] Pierce is probably the best guy we have at doing it. He's a really underrated athlete. It goes back to our philosophy of we're trying to … We want everybody to be able to blitz [and] drop. It's fluid, right? And having the threat of being able to bring pressure from both sides, up the middle, overload a side. That particular scheme asked him to drop, and he has his role, and he executed his role, and he stood right where he should be standing. Shoot, he almost picked the ball off. It's closer – actually I didn't realize in real time – but watching it back on the coaches' copy, I realized it was pretty close to getting his hand on the football which would have been pretty epic, but I would say the play worked out in our favor."
What did you know of CB Arthur Maulet six to eight months ago? Now that he's been here, how would you identify his skill set?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "I knew he played some really good football for [the] Pittsburgh [Steelers], and you see that kind of stuff on crossover tape. Then when it became known to us that we were interested in bringing him in, you just trust the scouts and the personnel guys and [director of player personnel] George [Kokinis] and [General Manager] Eric [DeCosta] and they really liked him, and we brough him in, and he kind of just hit the ground running. But he's a competitive guy, and he brings a lot of energy on the edge of the defense, and the way it shook out last night with the reps – he didn't get a lot of reps early – but he stayed ready and when we called his number towards the end of the game, he executed at a high level. So, that's all you can ask. It speaks to the whole defense, all 11 guys playing together, you're going to have an opportunity to step up and make plays when their time comes. It just comes from doing your job and executing one play at a time, and he's done that."
Is it amazing when you step back and think about it how much your guys improved your defense with guys you added in late July, August, September. People probably traditionally think of teams as set going into training camp, but you think about the contributors that you added in those months.*_(Childs Walker)_* "Listening to your question, Eric [DeCosta] and Ozzie [Newsome] talked about it over the years, talking about your roster is never really set throughout the course of the season, and I think that's a philosophy of the organization, just always trying to improve the team, and we've done a great job at targeting guys that can be productive for us and then we kind of take it from there. Obviously, we're always excited to take on a great player, we're never going to turn down a great player."
You guys didn't draw it up to have CB Marlon Humphrey miss as much time as he did leading up to the bye week, but how much of a credit is it to the guys that have filled in for him that you've still played such high level pass defense? What does it say about maybe even hitting a higher level getting Marlon back healthy after the Bye Week?*_(Luke Jones) _*"Those guys, they deserve a lot of credit. It's been seamless, and it's the attitude we have as a defense. We're not batting an eye; we're not flinching; we have a lot of great players in that room, which I've talked [about] in prior [media sessions]. Whoever's ready for that week, let's roll. They know their role, understand the gameplan. There's a lot of guys that could have gone in the gameplan last night we had a lot of confidence in, it just didn't shake out that way. When Marlon [Humphrey] comes back, then … Again, [he's] an elite corner in this league, and he's done it for a long time at a high level. I'm just excited for him to be healthy and doing his thing out there."
You guys have been good in so many defensive metrics. To close a game out like you did last night, what do you feel like that does for the defense as a whole? Is that something that can carry over and be a building block to finishing more games?*_ (Ryan Mink)_* "Well, it's definitely [been] a point of emphasis for the last couple of years. The more you're in those situations, the better. It means you have the lead late in the game, so we want to be in those situations. It's something that we've obviously talked about because of the way games have shaken out over the last year or two, but yes. Once you do it, and you do it a couple of times … We had a couple of chances to close the Indianapolis game out, and we want more of them. We want more of them so we can keep contributing to wins here."
With DT Justin Madubuike, I think we all kind of saw his potential over the years and have seen him improve every year. Why do you think he made the big jump this year to what he's doing right now?*_(Jamison Hensley) _*"I'd attribute it to a few things. One, just his overall worth ethic, and I think when you start to stack those reps over the course of time, you start to really feel the dividends going into Year Four. I think that's probably the biggest thing. I think 'Weav' [assistant head coach/defensive line coach Anthony Weaver] has done a tremendous job with [Justin Madubuike], just [on a] day-to-day basis. It means a lot to have a great coach and to keep putting yourself in great situations, so shoutout to 'Weav' on that. He just brings it every day, man. I know it sounds like coach talk [or] coach cliché, but that really does mean something. You can't go in and out [where] some days you bring it, [and] some days you don't. It doesn't work like that. You have to keep building every day, and 'Buikes' is a guy that's out here every day, and he goes 100 miles per hour every time he's out there. I've spoken to this before, but [I] definitely think very highly of Justin and the way he plays the game. He plays like a Raven."
Head coach John Harbaugh said OLB David Ojabo had surgery on his knee. What are your thoughts on the player he can still come back and be next year?*_ (Ryan Mink)_* "David [Ojabo] is going to be a great player in this league. He's going to have a great career. Obviously, [I] feel for him [and] the way that his career has started. He's dealing with adversity right now, so he needs our support, and he has it. But, he's going to have a great career, and he's going to recover, and he'll be back ready to roll next year. I have full confidence in that."
It seems like DT Justin Madubuike was getting double-teamed a lot yesterday. Have you seen him get more respect as the season has come along?*_(Paul Mancano) _*"That's a good question. I can't answer that with 100% certainty. We haven't like really charted how many times [Justin Madubuike] has been getting doubled teamed and all that, but when he's getting double teamed, it means someone else is getting the one-on-one [matchup], and so those guys are expected to come through in that situation."
Is there a focus for you in this Bye Week? Will you be self-scouting? Do you start looking ahead at teams on your schedule? How do you spend the week?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "Yes. We met [as a staff] this morning. It's really like three-fold, so the first thing is … The first big goal of the week is to kind of look at our guys and evaluation what they're doing well [and] what things they can improve on an individual basis. The next fold would be looking at ourselves situationally, schematically, what we're doing well, what we can build upon, what opportunities are there for us to grow, and then obviously, we're trying to get ahead, so [we're] working on the Rams [gameplan], working on Jacksonville, San Francisco [and] Miami. [We'll] kind of phase into that in this last quadrant of the season."
As a coach, what do you think of the late Bye Week?*_(Garrett Downing)_* "[It's] whatever, man. [I] just go wherever they tell me."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR TODD MONKEN
What does the Bye Week look like for you and the staff, in terms of your self-scouting process?*_ (Garrett Downing) _*"It's been an ongoing thing – our self-scout. Every coach has an area of the gameplan, so it's a weekly thing we do anyways, but we certainly get to drill down with a little bit more time. Tomorrow, the coaches will work in their areas that they're assigned for gameplan. [We'll] really take a look at what we've been, kind of who we are, where we want to go from here down the stretch [with] five games left, and then what we're missing. What else? What else is out there that we want to build off of that we've shown [or] maybe that we haven't really gotten to? So, it will be good. It'll be good for us."
I know you like to find plays everywhere. Do you spend a lot of time on social media? Does the Bye Week give you more time to scroll on there in search of plays?*_ (Ryan Mink) _*"Yes, it's unbelievable. You feel … It's actually really crazy; you feel like you're almost incompetent. You see all this good stuff on social media, [and] you're like, 'Why aren't we doing that?'"(laughter) "And all of you say, 'Why aren't you doing that?'"(laughter) "Exactly, but it's fun. I love watching film. I like watching what other people do and then seeing what fits in with what we do. Nobody has the market cornered on good football or what it looks like or how you can move it, because ultimately, what really matters is how much you score each week and don't turn it over. So, those are the things we're constantly working on. I'm joking, kind of. It creates ideas – looking at what other people do and then looking back at what you do – as much as anything. And then, obviously, you have your strengths and your weaknesses and what you want to play to."
What did you make of your first game without TE Mark Andrews for the rest of the season? How did you think the team did, and what's the big-picture there?*_ (Bo Smolka) _*"Well, we didn't score enough. We got bogged down. We moved it fine [and] ran the ball well – maybe not [as] explosive in the pass game as you'd like. [We] left some things out there, but I don't think it was a matter of not having Mark [Andrews]. I mean, Isaiah [Likely] played fine. He did some good things. That's hard to say, when someone is not out there, what it would have looked like had they been out there. I don't know that. I just know that we're lucky to have Isaiah, and he did a good job the other night. He's going to continue to grow as a player. We've just got to continue to figure out how we're going to use the other pieces that we do have; that's probably the biggest thing."
At left tackle, T Ronnie Stanley has been dealing with some injuries. How do you think he's been dealing with that, and how confident are you that he can get back to the level that he's been at?*_ (Jamison Hensley) _*"I think that's more of a question for Ronnie [Stanley]. Again, [I give] credit to him. He's tried to work through it and come back for the team. Certainly, he would probably say it's not at where [he wants] his knee to be, but he's continued to work through it. Like I said, each week, it's getting stronger, and he's been able to fight through it. So, again, it would be more of a question for Ronnie than it would be for us. I give him a lot of credit for getting out there and continuing to play."
What are you seeing from RB Keaton Mitchell, and what's the next step for him, in terms of blitz pick up, pass protection and those parts of the game for a running back that don't involve him having the ball?*_ (Luke Jones) _*"That's a great question. With each week … I shouldn't have said that. This week, we got [Keaton Mitchell] a little bit more involved. He had more snaps. As he gets more and more comfortable, we get more and more comfortable with him and certain personnel groupings when we get him in there. He's certainly going to only continue to get better with reps, especially, like you said, in terms of the pass protections [and] some of the detail things. Handing the ball off to him is probably the least of that. It's really in terms of pass protection, route running and then assignment-wise, but he's been fine with that; it's just a matter of reps."
On the fourth-down direct snap to RB Gus Edwards, what went into that play call, and what did you think of the execution?*_ (Paul Mancano) _*"Well, it didn't work, so obviously, it didn't go as planned. There were a lot of things we could have done better. It was a speed break for us. Ronnie [Stanley] got hurt, [and] we didn't get Zay [Flowers] subbed off the field in time, so that started it off on the wrong foot. We weren't able to break the huddle; we allowed [the Chargers] to get their cleats in the dirt [and] get aligned properly. That happened to us in London; we had an opportunity there one time, when Ronnie got hurt – or not Ronnie, but another player, Morgan [Moses] – so, that started it. Gus [Edwards] was a little deep, and we've got to keep it up inside. Again … But that's nothing … It didn't work. We've been repping that for a couple weeks, and it didn't work, so it is what it is. I mean, anything that we call that doesn't work, we've got to do it better, got to coach it better [and] got to execute better."
You alluded to the fact that the explosive pass plays didn't connect a lot last night, maybe especially against pressure. Why do you think that was the case after you went back and looked at it?*_ (Childs Walker) _*"Some of it might have been … We tried to get it out of [Lamar Jackson's] hands a little bit quicker. Even without [Joey] Bosa, Khalil Mack is a pretty good edge rusher. Sometimes it forced us to check it down. We had a couple other times [where] we might have gotten opportunities for shots down the field; it just … One: As the game progressed, we ran the ball a little bit more. It kind of goes hand in hand. I don't know what we ended up running the ball [for]. We ran the ball pretty well, and when you run the ball pretty well, it's going to limit some of your opportunities to throw it down the field as much, just because you're not throwing it as often. But certainly, it's got to be a big part of what we do – I mean, obviously, being explosive and not turning it over. That's what hurt us last night; we ran the ball well, and we were explosive. Overall, we were explosive. We just didn't convert on third downs. So, when you're not explosive, and you're not converting on third downs, you're eventually going to bog down. You're eventually going to stop, because you're putting yourself in too many third-down situations, and then we weren't converting. So, that's what hurt us. It wasn't a matter of moving the ball. There was some execution [and] some calls that you wish you had back, but we certainly are capable of playing better."
There have been some weeks when you've been as dynamic as any offense. You've played a lot of good offensive games, but then you have some games like last night. What do you think it's going to take just to be a little bit more consistent when facing one of the toughest remaining schedules in football?*_ (Jeff Zrebiec) _*"[It's a] great question. That's the nature of this league; it's very difficult to sustain. That is your goal, obviously, to play at an elite level every week [and] execute at a high level in all the critical areas. Obviously, we've got to coach it better, scheme it better, execute better – that's really what it is – and keep continuing to build what we want to be [and] what we want it to look like, so [that] everybody is on the same page. And it's just part of it. At times, I like a lot of things that we're doing, and there are times [when] we just need to be better at it; we need to call it better, and we need to execute better. That's really what it is. There is no magic to it. We have good enough players, [and] we have good enough coaches. Now, we've just got to consistently do it. And we've been pretty good. Really, since about … Since Pittsburgh, other than Tennessee in the red zone, we've been pretty good. We certainly can be better, but we've gotten better in the red zone. We've got to get better on third downs, [and] we've got to continue to stress the 'D' [defense] and be explosive in the pass game. But for sure, we can certainly be a lot better."
WR Zay Flowers scored two touchdowns. With the separation that he's getting, do you see more opportunities down the stretch to get him more downfield? What does he need to do to get those chances?*_ (Ryan Mink) _*"We're always trying to look for opportunities for [Zay Flowers] and some of our other players to get the ball down the field; sometimes it [doesn't] present itself. The other night, he was certainly in some of those pockets. [On] some of the plays we may have checked the ball down, we were trying to get him down the field. He's a guy you're trying to get the ball to in a number of ways. Where there is space, that's good for him. Certainly, putting it down the field … To me, the biggest thing is how do you get him the ball in space? It's not even so much down the field as where can you get him where he's hard to bring down? He can turn a short pass into an explosive [play], so those are the things that we're constantly trying to work through, as [we are] with all of our skill players."
Head coach John Harbaugh said last night, on the WR Nelson Agholor play, that everyone in the stadium thought it was a first down. He called a play thinking it was a first down. What was the chaos of the moment like for you realizing they didn't give you a first down?*_(Bo Smolka)_* "It was awful." (laughter) "[Expletive], I didn't know it. I wouldn't have called the play that we called on third [down] and a foot. Now, that's on me. That has nothing to do with the official. He spotted it like that. He was yelling, but he was pointing as to where that was. It has nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with me. The way I saw it, he was behind the first down marker. By the film, he was, but that doesn't matter. Officials make mistakes like I make mistakes. It's the way it is. I have to see that it's third [down] and a foot. We went fast off of it – not that we couldn't go fast – and we spit the ball on the perimeter for an 'RPO' [run-pass option] and the defender knocked it down, and I'm like, 'Holy [expletive], it's fourth [down] and a foot.' [I'm] like, 'What are we going to do now?'" (laughter)"I'm just telling it like it is. You're like, 'Alright. Well, let's run this.' Luckily, Gus [Edwards] did a great job of getting the foot. That probably was that, but that has nothing to do with the officiating. That has everything to do with how I saw it and how they saw it. It doesn't matter; that's how they saw it. That's where they spotted it. [It] came up on the other fourth [down] and one where Lamar [Jackson] was close enough on the other one to getting the first down, and he didn't. The difference was where the official was … [What] makes it hard is that the official where he was at. I don't think this is capable of me getting fined. They don't fine assistant coaches I don't think." (laughter) "The reality is he was beyond the marker, and he was pointing back. I don't know what the [heck] that means. He's here, and he's pointing right here. Usually, the official is running to the spot and putting the foot down. He's back here pointing. I don't know what that means, and it hurt. It made it even – I know I'm going into this big whole thing here – but what made it worse was we were going fast. Had we not been going fast based on the play, within a matter of five seconds, someone would have said, 'Holy cow. Where is he spotting it?' It just happened to time up with [us] going fast and then the spot. Thank God that wasn't third down to fourth down. We actually had an opportunity on fourth down."
On the 37-yard touchdown to WR Zay Flowers, before that play, when you're talking to QB Lamar Jackson on the headset, do you tell him to remind guys in the huddle that if they get the first down to get down?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "[Zay Flowers] should've gone down. Yes, that's on me. I was thinking about the play, and when you're doing some of the … That's all on me. That's an easy one to … We were doing so much of the quarterback-driven that in my mind, we were so far out that I wasn't even thinking about it at the time. You're really trying to talk about ball security, because there's an exchange that occurs. The worst thing that can happen is when you put the dang thing on the ground. That's on me. I have to tell them, 'Hey, this is this situation. [If] we get a first down, go down.'"
Generally, is telling a player to go down after getting a first down in that situation something you would tell a quarterback?*_(Jeff Zrebiec)_* "100%. Tell everybody we go down – first down, get down. Yes, that's normal. That would've ended the game right there. Then, we wouldn't have had to see another silly touchdown celebration by Zay [Flowers]." (laughter) "That would've saved us all from that. The fact of the matter is, you have to tell them to get down and end the game. That's something you have to tell them. That's on me."
How much time and effort do the players put into choreographing touchdown celebrations when you're not around?*_(Jerry Coleman)_* "It's really sad, isn't it?" (laughter)"I mean, you would think that ... And Odell [Beckham Jr.] is the first guy in the end zone. I didn't know he had that much juice. He'd been out half the week. Of course, he certainly found enough energy to choreograph the end zone celebration. But no, I think it's great. It's fun. Guys are having fun. [It] shows that personality. I'm certainly not involved." (laughter) "Certain things we did weren't nearly as choreographed as those, so we have our work cut out for us trying to choreograph our offense. [It's] a [heck] of a lot closer to how they have their wedding I think one and then the soccer one. We're obviously behind the times in terms of execution."
Obviously, you want TE Mark Andrews out there, but with TE Isaiah Likely, does his run after the catch ability and elusiveness open up more possibilities for the offense to go in a different direction at tight end?*_(Ryan Mink)_* "[Isaiah Likely] is a little bit different than Mark [Andrews]. He probably has a little more twitch. He probably has a little bit, as he develops as a player, to break tackles. He can get to an edge a little bit more than Mark. Mark's more of a powerful [player]. Get the ball in his hands like a bull, run over people and out muscle you. Where 'Zay' [Isaiah Likely] is a little bit more elusive. As he keeps developing his craft and his depths [on his routes] and setting up defenders, he's going to be hard to handle. It's just a matter of time. It's not a matter of if, it's just a matter of when, when we keep working through that and developing that."