Transcripts: Ravens Media Availability 10/12

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here. Obviously, we face a lot of challenges right now. I believe we're up to the task, but they're tough – the things we're looking at throughout the course of the last five weeks that have tested us, without question. The thing I'm pleased with is the effort, is the competitiveness, the fight, the determination that our guys have shown in every single game. You go back and you watch the tape yesterday, our guys, they battled. We didn't always play or coach as well as we needed to, but we sure played and coached as hard as we could, and so you start with that. Anytime you have that as a coach, you feel good about that. A couple things I just noted: We have to find a way to finish games. We've lost four, close games. And whether that means scoring at the end of the game to extend the lead with a two-point conversion or scoring a touchdown instead of a field goal, it certainly means getting off the field in the fourth quarter when you have the lead. There have been four games where we've had the lead in the fourth quarter that we haven't finished. We've had one game where we have, and that's on us. We have to get the job done there. We have to coach our players at higher levels. It's an opportunity, when guys go down, for other guys to come in and play. It's an opportunity they've been working for and dreaming of, and all these guys, in our eyes, are capable of playing at the highest level. They're here for a reason. They're here because we believe they can play at this level, and it's our responsibility as coaches to help them realize that dream, to get them to play at that level. And the same thing goes for the guys who are in there right now – the guys who are playing right now. [We have] to get them to play at a consistently high level. You play good defense for two-and-a-half quarters, you play dominant defense for two-and-a-half quarters … I don't care who's in the game, those guys [who] are up who are active – those are guys that have been practicing with us; they should be able to finish the last quarter-and-a-half at that same high level. It's our responsibility to get them playing consistently in that kind of a fashion. The final point – general point – is what's in front of us now. The challenge that lies before us is very simply: 'Go win a game.' We're going to go out to San Francisco. We're going to travel west. It's going to be a challenge for us. It's going to be something that's going to be tough and challenging. It's a good football team. They have a lot of good players. We know a lot of those guys personally. We practiced against them last year. We know the team well. We have to go find a way to play our best and win the game, and that's all we need to be thinking about right now, and that's all we'll be focusing on."   
 
According to reports, CB Will Davis is no longer available to you. The fact that he was rather productive in a short time period, does that give you confidence that if you have to bring in somebody from the outside, there is enough quality out there even at this relatively late date?(Joe Platania) "That's a great point. The injury – just to give you an update on injuries – Will Davis is the one I can confirm. All the other injuries are guys who are getting MRIs and getting looked at right now to determine the extent of the injury, so we're probably not going to know that until you start seeing the injury reports throughout the course of the week. But, Will – we can confirm – had a torn ACL [anterior cruciate ligament]. He'll be out for the season, which is tough for him, because he was playing at a really high level. And it does give you confidence that you can find a guy, and it's not that late. You start getting past this time – close to the midway point – that's where it kind of dries up on you, but there are some corners out there right now that can play, and we're looking at those guys, and we have a couple guys on our practice roster, too."
 
John, was it the same knee that CB Will Davis suffered an ACL last year, or the other knee?(Luke Jones) "I believe it was the other knee. I can't confirm that for sure, but I talked to [Will Davis] earlier, and I'm going to say I'm 99 percent [certain] he told me it was the other knee."
 
John, do you simply stay the course knowing that you've been close in all four of these defeats? Do you simply stay the course and just do some things a little bit better, but nothing drastic in terms of change?(Dave Ginsburg) "We definitely believe in what we're doing. We definitely have confidence in the players that we have, in the coaches that we have and in the schemes that we're running. But you also look for ways to improve and get better, so we're looking at schemes. We're looking at things that we can teach a little bit differently, [like] the way we're playing a technique on the defensive line or the way we're playing a technique in the back end. But more importantly, we want to play the things right all the time. We want to chase perfection in what we're doing, and that's the thing we haven't done. [We want to] come up with a few ideas, too. Let's come up with some ideas where we can score a few more points, get a few more first downs. We have to be better on third down on both sides. We have to be better in the red zone on both sides, and we have to find ways to do that."
 
John, when you sit in the film room – you watch it with the players or with the coaches – and you see some of the same mistakes again and again in penalties that, again, you've called head-scratchers, what do you say amongst the players, amongst the coaches, without giving away too much? I don't know if the word is anger, but is that the most frustrating part for you, just seeing the repeated mistakes?(Jerry Coleman) "The gamut of emotions definitely runs in a meeting room – there's no doubt – or when you talk to guys one-on-one. It's a human endeavor. You go from right to left all the way across the spectrum. It's all part of it. And guys get mad at themselves. Guys get frustrated with themselves, but those are things that can be corrected. You can't just throw up your hands and say, 'Hey, we can't do this right.' We can do this right, and we're going to do it right. I told them in the locker room last night, I said, 'We're going to play the way we play. We know what it looks like. We all understand. We have a vivid picture about the way we expect to play here.' And every guy in that room understands it – coach and player. We're going to play that way. No matter how long it takes, we're going to play that way. No matter who it takes, we're going to play that way."
 
John, you mentioned the effort that you're pleased with. It seems like – on the defensive side – tackling has been an issue mostly. Can you put your finger on why – if you're getting effort – why that seems to have been such an issue this year?(Cliff Brown) "Let me stick to the last game. I think the last game is more important. We had two or three plays where we missed some big tackles. The touchdown run comes vividly to mind. We had a couple missed tackles. Two of our best players missed tackles. So, running to the ball, keeping it in front [is important]. But to me, the bigger picture there is the number of plays that we're on the field. We were on the field for 90 plays on defense. When you're on the field for 90 plays, there's going to be an accumulated number of missed tackles and plays that those guys make, because the odds are against you. You could be playing half that many plays if you play great defense, and that comes back to getting off the field on third down. We have not gotten off the field on third down. You have to get off the field on third down. And a number of those third downs are third-and-longs. So, they're converting third-and-longs? We're doing the job on first and second down and not getting off the field on third down? That has to change. If we do that – if we're off the field – then you're going to see fewer missed tackles, you're going to see fewer big plays, and those things aren't going to happen as often."
 
John, so you're, defensively, to try to fix what … You're going to look at everything, right? And that includes some free agents at different positions and some other guys available?(Jeff Zrebiec)"I don't know about free agents, what that means. You're talking about guys on the street?" (Reporter: "For cornerbacks and just in evaluating your personnel this week, especially with all the injuries you've had?") *"Yes, we do that every week. We have a meeting every Thursday with the scouts where I meet with some of the scouts, and we talk about every player that's available to one degree or another and how they could fit us. We'll continue to do that. Obviously, it takes a heightened emphasis with our situation this week."
 
And was RB Lorenzo Taliaferro [being inactive against Cleveland] more of a numbers issue?
(Jeff Zrebiec)"No, he [Lorenzo Taliaferro] has a foot injury." (Reporter: "OK, so that was more of an injury issue?") "Right."
 
T Eugene Monroe returned this past week. Can you just talk about what you saw from him and from the offensive line in yesterday's game?
(Ryan Mink)"I thought the offensive line played well overall. Eugene [Monroe] played well overall. They did a good job. There weren't too many mistakes. There [were] a couple times we … From a technique standpoint, we certainly can improve and be better. There are also times we can put them in better situations in terms of when we're running the ball and when we're throwing the ball against fronts and things like that, that we're looking at very hard. I thought we put ourselves in some really good situations, as far as the way we called the game, where we had some looks where we decided to change a play here or there and get into a better play. And we got into some really good looks, and you saw those plays go really well. But the offensive line is where we start – between Joe [Flacco] and the offensive line."
 
John, did you like what you saw from WR Jeremy Ross as a returner, and would you like to see, maybe, him get involved a little more as a receiver? I think he was on the field seven or eight plays and had two catches.
(Luke Jones)"Well, yes. He's a good receiver, and – how much he gets on the field – I don't see any reason why he wouldn't continue to expand his role. He's a good receiver, and he has done a nice job with the return game. Special teams played very well. In a lot of ways, special teams kept us in there and gave us a chance to win the game. We flipped field position two or three times down the stretch in our special teams game. So, we have to keep building on that. Those guys did a good job against a really good unit."
 
Another guy – DE Lawrence Guy – can you talk about the way he played yesterday and has played stepping in for DE Chris Canty? And once Chris comes back to the lineup, is it going to be a challenge to see who's going to get more snaps there or starts there between he and Guy, since he's played so well?
(Ryan Mink)"D-line, you rotate guys. So, they'll both play a ton when Chris [Canty] comes back, but Lawrence [Guy] has played really well. He's physical, rushes the passer – had a couple sacks, pressured the quarterback – had the one [roughing the passer] penalty, unfortunately. We're going to try to figure out how to coach that differently somehow. When the league can explain to us what they want, we'll get it coached differently. We'll do a better job of that somehow. We'll find a way. And yes, he played well."
 
John, when teams get off to bad starts, fans always want change; they're reactionary. Are you considering any changes as far as coaching staff or anything along those lines?
(Jamison Hensley)"No. No way. No, coaches are doing a good job. We just have to collectively find a way to finish games and get the job done. We have tough challenges that we're facing, but we have just the men for the job right here."
 
The effort that you talked about and were encouraged about, does that give you confidence that these guys are not frustrated and will respond to the challenge that they face in front of them?
(David Ginsburg)"I don't doubt our character. I don't doubt that our guys are going to play to the level of expectation that the Ravens expect. That's just not even going to be an option, and like I said, we have just the men for the job that way. We have a high-character bunch of guys, have a lot of heart [and] love to play. We don't need to play harder; we need to play better. We don't need to coach harder; we need to coach better. And we have to find a way to make the difference. It's making plays. It's calling plays that give guys a chance to make plays in critical situations that get you over the hump. We've done it one game, we had a chance to do it in four other games, and we need to do it more often."
 
This team talked – you talked – about having championship aspirations. You felt like you had the personnel, especially coming off last year. You haven't been in this position before at 1-4. How do you keep the guys motivated, and do you still talk – think – about the postseason? Or is that just "win the next game," and that's down the line?
(Jerry Coleman)"The fact is that it's always down the line. The aspiration, the end goal, is always going to be there. It's not going anywhere. But no matter what your record is, you're always talking about the next game. That's the same. You might have asked that same question when we had a 4-1 record at some point in time, and I'm sure I answered it the same way. You have to be 1-0 this week. That's what you need to do. That's what we're striving to be. Motivation will not be a problem; our guys are motivated." (Reporter: "I was just going by history and the percentages that if you start 1-4 – you've probably seen that – how rare it is for a team to make it to the postseason. You would have to defy the odds.") "We're up for the challenge. You don't think we can do it?" (Reporter: "Let's watch them play it out.") "There you go. You answered my question. Thanks. That's good."
 
John, I don't know if you expect WR Steve Smith Sr. back this week, but wide receivers had a better first half than second half. Is that something you just want to have them build on, that first half, moving forward?
(Jon Meoli)"Yes, we want to play well. We want to play well [in the] first half, second half, every half. Some halves are going to be better throwing the ball, some halves are going to be better running the ball, but we want to be effective every single play, every single series. We don't want to be walking off the field in any series without points. When we go three-and-out, that's really frustrating. So, we want all those guys to play well."
 
John, I know you've been asked a lot about the effect of injuries on the team's performance, but what about the effect on the roster flexibility in general when you have a bunch of guys who may have a couple-week injuries or are kind of week-to-week? Does that make it really tough to assemble the best possible roster?
(Jeff Zrebiec)"If you have healthy scratches, obviously, you're choosing from your 53 [players] to get your best 46 for that game based on who you're playing. So, you can make some choices based on matchups and things like that. If you have unhealthy scratches, then they're scratched regardless of the matchups or who you'd like to put out there. You just have to put your healthy guys out there. So, yes, the answer is yes."
 
With the games being so close – obviously all of the losses being under six points – how much are penalties killing this team a little bit? I believe against Cleveland it was 12 penalties for 98 yards, and we've seen that quite a few times this season.
(Matthew Stevens)"It's not helpful. We're not advocating penalties. It's not something that we want to see. The ones that were most hurtful were the offsides, where we lined up in the neutral zone, twice in the same drive. That was unfathomable. But as far as coaching penalties, you look at them one penalty at a time and you try to coach through them. Some of them are the cost of doing business, some of them are tough, technique penalties, and some of them are inexcusable penalties. We look at all of them."
 
Coach, your thoughts on the 49ers? They still have some of the key ingredients with QB Colin Kaepernick leading the way and a couple of other guys. They've had a number of guys retire, but now they have Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin – they're 1-4 like you guys, though. What are you seeing from them?
(Jerry Coleman)"Yes, the 49ers are very talented and obviously a very proud team. You start with their defense, they have a heck of a front. I love their tackles. They have two pass rushers; [Ahmad] Brooks and [Aaron] Lynch have done a really nice job for them. [NaVorro] Bowman is back. They have [Michael] Wilhoite playing inside there doing a nice job. [Eric] Reid is a young safety. You have a veteran safety back there in [Antoine] Bethea. Good young corners. To me, it looks like a 49ers' defense. That's an impressive group. Kaepernick remains the same; he's a threat [and] played well last night. They're trying to find what he does well with the guys around him now, and they're starting to find their way that way a little bit. Obviously, they have a great back in Carlos Hyde, three really good tight ends and the receivers that you talked about – guys that we know well. It's a dangerous group. It's going to be a big challenge, but we're up for it, and we have to go take care of business."
 
John, with the 49ers, of course you had a pretty big game with them a couple years ago. Is there any point where any memories of that game come back – and I know you've got a challenge ahead of you – but do you think about one of the greatest games that you've had in your life because you're playing that same team?
(Jamison Hensley)"Not really. It really doesn't cross your mind. It's a new challenge, new team, new year. That's what you focus on."
 
John, I know what you said about injuries – and I apologize if this is out of line – but do you have any insight on RB Justin Forsett? Is it an ankle? High ankle, low ankle?
(David Ginsburg)"It's not a high ankle, I can tell you that. So, that's a good sign, and it gives him a chance, certainly, for this week."
 
S Terrence Brooks got pressed into that fifth defensive back role. He said he doesn't see much of a difference between playing there and playing a regular safety role. What makes him suited, in your mind, to play that spot where he was yesterday?
(Jon Meoli)"Terrence is a football player. He's fast, he's a very good blitzer, he plays the run well and he's probably likening it to a strong safety-type position in base defense, and there are some similarities there. I think that's why he's comfortable in there. Obviously, he can continue to improve; I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you that. But he has some skills, speed, toughness, he plays in the box well as a box safety, and that fits that role to some degree."
 
WR Steve Smith Sr., he was listed as doubtful on the injury report, but did that come down to a game-time decision on Sunday? Was there a chance for him?
(Jerry Coleman)"There's always a chance with Steve Smith. Always. Never rule Steve Smith out."
 
Do you expect him to practice fully this week?
(Jerry Coleman)*"We'll see. I don't know. He was in here training hard, so that's a good sign. I'm hopeful."

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