Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening Statement: "[My] hat's off to the Dolphins. They played a very good football game. Outcoached us, outplayed us, and won the football game. So, the bottom line is this falls squarely on me as the head coach. We were not prepared the way we need to be prepared. Our schemes weren't up to snuff and we weren't prepared to execute the way we needed to. That's it. Not on one player. Our players played their hearts out. They worked hard all week. We did everything we could to be prepared and we just weren't ready. That's on me. OK, what questions do you have?"
For the Dolphins defensively, seemed like they sent defensive back blitzes a lot. Was that something that they showed before or something you were prepared for? "That's something they've done all year. We worked on it all week. We didn't have a good enough plan for it, you know, as a group, and we didn't execute well with the plan we had."
It seemed like a lot of times, though, guys were getting out of the huddle late, they were snapping the ball with, you know, under five seconds a lot. It just seemed a lack of rhythm. What do you attribute that to? "I agree with that. It was hard to get first downs. So, it's hard to get a rhythm when you can't get started. You know, too many times we didn't get started, too many three-and-outs. And there was some crowd noise and things like that in terms of communication. And sometimes you have to handle blitzes and put plays together that are a little more complicated. That's no excuse. We just didn't handle it well. They were blitzing us, and we have to handle it better. And that's on us as coaches."
I know you don't want to make any excuses before a short week. Traveling, a short week, humidity, how much of that was a factor you think? "That's the nature of the beast. You know, it's a road Thursday night game. It's hard to win on Thursday night, but we've done it before, and we've been successful. We just played poorly, and it's because of our coaching. I didn't do a good job getting these guys ready."
Obviously, football's an emotional game. Is there any possibility that your team saw a 2-7 team and decided … "No. No possibility of that. We watch the teams on tape. We know who the players are, we know what they're capable of. We know it's the National Football League. We're very conscious of that."
How do you bounce -- I mean, obviously, a disappointing loss, but also you're still 6-3. How do you kind of balance that as your message to the team? "Well, that's the reality of it. We have to go to work. We have to be better. So, if we're going to win next week, we have to – we'll play a lot better because we'll coach a lot better in Chicago."
What happened on that Wilson play at the end there? Was that a miscommunication? "We weren't ready. We didn't do a good job of it. The guys weren't coached up well enough."
You had nine punts, obviously not what you want. What was – is there an overlying theme of what kind of happened or what you guys were seeing? "Yes, we didn't handle the blitz well at all. You know, it's basically an all-out Zero coverage blitz. We were getting it on second down, almost all of third downs. And we just did a poor job of it. The plan that we had wasn't up to par."
Is the Tavon injury minor? "I don't know. We haven't had any reports since he left the game on that."
QB Lamar Jackson
They were blitzing a lot of defensive backs. What was the biggest problem to overcome that? "[They were in] Cover Zero the majority of the whole game. They just got hot each and every time. I was dropping back, just couldn't do anything about that."
Is that something you've never seen before? "No, we've seen it before. We were practicing it the whole week. We just got to do a better job, do a better job facing that. Get a handle. I feel we'll be good. The Dolphins played a great game."
What do you mean they had a guy hot? "No, I was hot. There was a guy free every time I was dropping back. I was hot."
You know the NFL is a copycat league. So, when one team has success, you're going to see it every week. What's the key going forward to beat that defense? "Play our game. You know, do us. Do our thing. We'll be good. There were some plays we left on the field, some things we left on the field. Little mishaps. Just be us. That's it."
They showed a clip of you kind of yelling on the sidelines. How frustrating was it that you kind of -- you know, when you were stalling so much offensively? "I was hot. Like, we weren't scoring any points. We were putting our defense out there. They played a great game. Dolphins had their great plays on offense. But I feel our defense played lights out, man. We just weren't getting it done on offense. So that's why I was mad. Because if you were on offense, you would be mad, too. Like, you know? They played a great game."
Was there something just chemistry-wise that was not happening? You know, there was a lot of three-and-outs, a lot of punts for you guys. "No, I wouldn't say it was the chemistry. They just had a great day. We couldn't find ourselves. Like I said before, our defense started getting out there, stopping them, three points, stopping them in the red zone, three points. We're just not capitalizing. We have to, you know, watch film, get back and regroup."
You guys were having a lot of quick throws outside. "Cover Zero. Cover Zero."
Right. Was it just, I need to get the ball out of my hands as fast as possible kind of – was that the approach? "Yeah, around – like I said, they had the guy off the edge coming in hot. So, I tried to get the ball out to the receivers to make a play. You know, sometimes it was tipped passes, you know, the ball was getting batted down. They just played a great game. They played a great game."
The last time you were here, you had an incredible game against them. Some players on the team – on their team are still there. Were they kind of talking back and forth to you, kind of letting you know that's not going to happen this time around? "Nah, they … Nah, nah, nah. There wasn't none of that. They didn't say none of that. You know, they're going to talk trash. It's football. They're going to talk trash. But, nah, it wasn't none of that. It was respect."
Did you talk to Sammy about what might have happened on that first pass when he was in the back of the end zone, and he might have lost the ball as it was coming down? "Actually, you know, I was hot. I was hot. And I had to throw the ball in the air and give him a chance. But, you know, if he's not sitting with the back in the backfield, it would probably be hard to try to track the ball, if I'm just throwing it up trying to make something happen. So, nah, I didn't talk to him about it."
Coach Harbaugh took responsibility for this loss. But it seemed you guys knew what they were going to do, that you were prepared to see what you saw. "Yeah."
So was it as much execution as, you know, being surprised by them or anything? "Like I said, you know, we've just got to do a better job out there. Things like I said before, things we left out on the field. The mishaps. We have to get that fixed, regroup, get ready for Chicago."
Lamar, in the past, you guys generally start pretty fast. This season… "Slow. Every week. It's ridiculous. I don't understand it either. We just have to do a better job at that. You know, hit the ground running, like we're supposed to do. And that starts by staying calm and just doing us. Don't put nothing extra on our minds."
Do you have to game plan to your team – you know, even though it was a disappointing loss, you are six and three. Did you try to send that message, as well? "Our guys good. We got grown men here. Like I always say, it's a brotherhood. We're not pointing no fingers in here. Not never. We're going to get right. Got to. Trust."
Do you think teams are blitzing you more than they have before on third-and-longs? "I don't know. I feel like I got blitzed a lot on my rookie season. I don't know. We'll get it fixed, though. We have a lot of games left in the season. We're good."
TE Mark Andrews
What exactly were they doing? Obviously, you guys had trouble picking up the blitz. But anything in coverage that they were doing that was giving you problems or something you didn't expect to see? "They played a good game. You know, they did a lot of [Cover] Zero. That's kind of what we saw for the most part. But they played a good game. So, [my] hat's off to them."
Did you take more shots against the early blitz or is that just really hard to do? "Yes, [Cover] Zero is like one of those things where you have to make them pay, you know? And, I don't think early on we did that enough. That's one of the things, you make them pay early on, they kind of get out of there. You know, I think you see towards the end of the game. Again, they played a great game. But we did a lot of things toward the end of the game that I think we needed to capitalize early on."
It seems like you guys haven't been able to finish strong in a lot of these games. Why is it that there's been such slow starts? "Yes, I think you look at our first drive today, and we didn't – and we were moving the ball. You know, we moved the ball pretty well. But, you know, that's one of those things that we have to go in and work on, is just starting fast. We have a bunch of players that work hard and, you know, fly around, play 100 percent. And coaches that, you know, coach us hard and really care. So, we're going to get this thing down. There's a lot of positives that happened tonight. You know, we're a 6-3 ball team, and, you know, there's a lot of positives. And that's what we're going to build on, learn from the mistakes, and build on the positives. And we're going to continue to be a dangerous team."
Your catch that they overruled, did you catch that ball, and were you shocked that it was overturned? "I thought I caught that ball. I'm not going to lie to you, I thought I got my hands under it. I know it popped up, but I never thought it touched the ground. You know, obviously, I didn't see the replay. They didn't play it in the stadium, obviously, because they [probably] thought it was a catch."
DE Calais Campbell
This was very uncharacteristic of you guys. You know, what do you think was the biggest problem or challenge? "I mean, we just didn't play a good football game. I mean, I don't really know what … We need to watch the tape and get a feel for it. At the end of the day, you know, they played better football than us today. They earned the win. I mean, we played our hearts out, left it out there. [We] just didn't get it done today."
How much of a backbreaker is it when the offense scores a touchdown? You have a chance for another comeback and make a big play... "Yeah, I mean, that one hurts. [We had] all the confidence in the world that we're going to get a stop there, and they made a play. I mean, that's football. You know, it happens, but, you know, you try to eliminate it as much as possible. I mean, I don't even know what happened. I've got to watch the tape. But I just know that, you know, that's the play – we make that play, I feel like we win the game. So, it's … There were plays out there for us to make, we just didn't make them. But, you know, it is what it is. It's definitely – it stings a little bit. But, you know, like anything else, it's a 24-hour rule. We're studying the tape, looking forward. [We've] got to get a win [at Chicago] next week."
On an earlier question, John Harbaugh said, "I didn't have these guys ready to play, I didn't coach well enough." Did you guys feel you were prepared to play better than you executed out there? "You know, I mean, I feel like we had a good gameplan, especially our defense. I don't really pay attention much to … I don't have as much understanding on the other side. I feel like we had a good gameplan. They just made a couple plays. This is the NFL. Good, bad and ugly. [We've] got to keep playing and press through it. For me, I feel like as players, we know we can play better. You know, we know we can give – you know, get the ball out there and find a way to win the ball game. But when you lose like this, you know, it's … The first thing you have to do is look in the mirror and figure out what I can do to help the team win a football game, get us better to where we want to be as a football team. Because, you know, right now wasn't our best football. We have a lot of getting better to do."
It seems like every week it's always a couple big plays. At what point did you just kind of – you know, you keep talking about it. But at what point do you try to stop that? "I mean, I guarantee, the effort is there. You know – I mean, it's – you know, I mean, it's just a game – it's a game of momentum, game of football. You know, it's just a game of momentum. And, you know, it's going to be – they're going to make some plays. As much as we want to stop them every play, and we're good enough to stop them every single play, they're going to make some plays. And I feel like we did better today than in the past because we got those guys down, and we deflated every blade of grass. You know, they found a way to get a score at the end of the game. It's good football. They made the plays to win the game. We still have a whole lot of getting better to do. We got a lot of pride in who we are. So, it takes one play at a time, and we have to earn it. Can't make no excuses. Just have to go out there and keep fighting. You know, it's a daily grind."
CB Marlon Humphrey
Do you feel there's something similar how defensively you held up a few big plays again that really cost you? "Yes, I mean, it's kind of … You know, things we're trying to work on. But, you know, I guess you are what you put on film in the game, and that's kind of been our Achilles heel, you know? Even when we play good, good, good – a slip up here – good, good, good – a slip up there, a slip up, bad quarter. So, we had some, you know … [Defensive coordinator Don Martindale] 'Wink' asked me, 'What's something you can guarantee is going to happen in the game for the secondary?' And I said, 'We're going to communicate.' You know, as a leader in that secondary, that's on me, man. We've got to communicate better through the secondary and then throughout the whole defense as a whole."
Was there anything going up against QB Tua Tagovailoa as a quarterback that hurt you guys or bothered you guys during the game? "We anticipated that [Jacoby] Brissett was going to start. But when Tua came in, it didn't really change anything. We know they're two different quarterbacks. But nothing really, really there. But both quarterbacks, great players. And I think Tua, when he got in, it gave them some juice that kind of took them the way."
Marlon, could a game like this be a wake-up call for you guys? "I think so. I think it's going to be a good time to watch the film. I was thinking this week, I was sitting there thinking, like, you know, when you have those bad games, I think you … Sometimes you want to, like, if you're putting something on film and you know you're better, you're like, 'Why have I not been consistent and playing as good as I want to?' And it seems at times, the defense, the offense, you haven't been playing as good as you wanted to play. So, I believe this will be a great wake-up call to be for everybody to be like, 'What is it? Am I not understanding something I'm doing? I'm not playing the technique I'm coached? Do I need coach to coach me a different way?' I think there's going to be so many different things to look at and I think, you know, how we understand the coaches, how the coaches coach us. I think it'll be a good wake-up call for the players and the coaches. The good thing, we've got a bye week. We can spend a full day to really figure out what went wrong tonight, what we can do getting better, and take another day or two to ourselves, and just sit down and have those mental talks with yourself. You know, 'What can I do to be better?'"
Do you have a guess what it might be? Or do you just have to do the study to figure it out? "Really, just have to do the study. I think when you watch us, in practice and different things, I think we're practicing right, we're doing the things right. It seems like we're getting to the game and there's kind of a disconnect, at times. At times. I'm not going to say we haven't done good things in the past, offense and defense. But there seems like there's certain series or plays that's kind of getting us, and the certain mistakes that I think can be fixed. So that's the encouraging thing."
Marlon, you mentioned communication. The Albert Wilson play at the end there when he came across and no one covered him … That play in the second quarter … Were those communication issues you think? "Yes, we've just got to communicate it as a whole on defense. And like I said, as a leader of that secondary, that's one thing that I said we were going to do, and we kind of failed on that. So, that's on me."
Marlon, how much of an impact is it with those entries, especially in the secondary, you know, guys being rotated around? How much has that been an impact, you feel? "I think, you know, it's weird. We lose an All-Pro guy [Marcus Peters], we lose … This guy moves, this guy sits out here or there. You know, the good thing is we've got guys that can play and guys that know the defenses. Excuses are pretty easy to say. But, you know, like I said, I've just got to communicate better, and we all have to as a whole get there and just be better. I mean, we've got to echo the call. Even when you heard it; just say it again."
C/G Bradley Bozeman
(on if the defense did anything they hadn't shown on film) "No, they did kind of what we thought they were going to do. They blitzed us a lot. They brought a lot of [Cover] Zero, [and] we tried to pick it up. We didn't do a great job of picking it up. We have to make adjustments and go forward from here."
(on the team's mindset following a tough loss) "All of our guys are a bunch of battlers. [We] battle to the end, no matter what the score is. No matter what the situation is, [we] just continue to work until the very end and until the last breath. I'm so proud of these guys for doing that and just working and trying to continue to get the win and do like we've been doing. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough tonight."
OLB Justin Houston
(on recording 100 career sacks) "It felt great. I know that's something big in this league. Not many have done it. And I just think it's a blessing for me to have the opportunity to even do it."
(on the defense generating four sacks) "I felt like we did good when we had the opportunity. We can do better though, as a whole. We still gave up too many big plays for where we want to be and where we're going. We should limit it to no big plays at all. So, we've got work to do."
(on the mindset of this team heading into next week at Chicago) "Oh, I know we'll be fine. These guys, like you said, they're resilient. And so, these guys are ready to work, they're ready to get better, they're ready to see what we did wrong as a whole and fix those mistakes and move on."