Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement: "OK, good to see everybody – appreciate you guys being here. Obviously, a tough loss yesterday – about as tough as it gets, you'd have to say. We had a chance to study it thoroughly, and we've met extensively with coaches and a few players, obviously, and we just have to move on. We have to improve from it and pick up the pieces and go back to work. I feel like we are a good football team that has a chance to be a very good football team, and I'm sticking with that, because I see within … When you watch the tape, I see what guys are doing, the improvements we've made and the execution that was there in so many different ways. So, I feel good about it, but I feel really, really gut-wrenched about the loss. It was one of those gut-wrenchers [when] you have the game in hand – the game is won – and then it's not won. That's tough for everybody. That's tough for the fans. It's tough for the players. It's tough for the coaches. It's tough for this coach, I promise you that. It's tough on families. But that's football. We don't have time to grieve too much. We just have to go back to work and get ready to play the St. Louis Rams, and that will be our focus."
"As far as the game, a few things that we'd worked on that I thought improved and some issues: We threw the ball better. Our passing game made some strides. We protected well for the vast most part. Joe [Flacco] made a lot of really good throws. Guys made plays. Kamar Aiken had a number of catches. Touchdowns, [we had] three touchdowns – Maxx [Williams], Crockett [Gillmore], [Chris] Givens. Givens had some plays there. Third downs were much improved. We got the tight ends involved, which we wanted to do, as far as personnel groups. The biggest issues were twofold: Early field position we didn't take advantage of. We had the ball right around midfield a number of times – maybe two or three times, drive-wise, in the first half – and we didn't execute enough to get the ball down and score seven. We had 200-plus yards in the first half – in that neighborhood – and we had 14 points. We should have had more points at that point in time. The run game is something to talk about. We were looking at it hard this morning, this afternoon, with the coaches. Early in the game, we're a block here and a block there away from popping runs. But a block here and a block there doesn't get it done. We did a lot of things with scheme. We had a lot of formations. We protected our edges with tight ends and with seal blocks coming back and sift blocks coming back the other way. We did a good job of protecting our edges. But inside of all that, they had a couple of little changeups with their linebackers that gave us a little trouble that we sorted out toward the end of the game, [and we] had some better runs. We can definitely run the ball more. [If] we get more first downs in the first half, you're going to see more runs there. Then, turnovers: In the second half, obviously, we had four turnovers in the second half that basically blew away our third quarter, and yet, we still almost won the football game, which goes to the execution in so many other ways, and it also goes to our defense. I thought our defense played really well on sudden change, especially. We did a good job of getting stops there. Run defense was excellent. The thing we had really worked on, dramatically, was to eliminate as much as we could the big plays, and we did a good job of that against an offense that was one of the best, if not the best, big-play offenses in football, as far as those two receivers [Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson] go. We did a good job of taking those guys out of the game for the most part. They had a couple of throws. The one touchdown throw on the seven-route was a good throw and pretty well covered. But, all in all, that was pretty good. We had a lot of opportunities for turnovers. We got the one. We should've had, probably, four or five. And that's something that has to happen. Guys have to make those plays. They know that. They want to make those plays. We say we work hard at that, but making a catch or recovering a fumble – or whatever it might be – is not really … You work hard at working hard. You work hard at running to the ball. You work hard at playing your technique and getting off a block. You don't have to work hard about making the play. You have to just go make the play. You guys are great athletes – you're talented people – and just loosen up a little bit and make the catch. It's right in your hands. In that sense, guys may be trying too hard in that moment to make the play when they've made those plays their whole life, and they're capable of doing that.
"And then the last thing: special teams. Kickoff coverage was really good. We had the big return on the kick return. But two things there: The muffed punt killed us. It was one of the four turnovers that shouldn't happen. It wasn't any easy catch. The ball was moving from left to right and behind [Jeremy Ross], but it's still a catch that you have to make in that situation, for sure. And then the penalties … I'll talk about special teams penalties and some of the other penalties. But, the penalties on special teams – as I go back and look at them – the two personal foul penalties, there's no place for that. There's absolutely no reason to leave your feet. I don't care if you are slipping or not. You might be slipping, but if you are out of position to make the block, you don't make that block, and you certainly don't throw yourself back into a guy's legs on a kickoff return. That's blatantly illegal. And then blocking a guy after the ball is down and dead – that's just foolish. That's what we call a foolish penalty. For one guy to have three personal foul penalties in a season – in a career, let alone a season – let alone two in a game, is unacceptable. The other penalties, I've looked at the different ones. Will Hill – he's coming up, he's trying to make a play across the middle, he's trying to knock a ball loose; he has just got to get lower. He has just got to bring his target down. Kendrick [Lewis] – he was going to make the tackle and was leaving his feet as the quarterback was going down. You could argue that the quarterback has to get himself down quicker than that. I think he's just going to have to do a better job in the future of putting his hands on the guy somehow and not putting his body on the quarterback in that situation, because they're going to call that. And then, 'Doom' [Elvis Dumervil] … At the end, he's trying to make a play. He's playing the play hard as the ball got snapped, and he caught the facemask. You can't do it. It's disappointing. He's the first one to take responsibility for it. I think it's an effort play. At the same time, we have to be better than that in that situation. He's one of our best players who played a heck of a football game. I'm certainly not down on Elvis Dumervil by any stretch, but that was a tough play in that situation that we'd like to see avoided."
**Further evaluation or opinion of Jacksonville's last snap and the irregularities that maybe you can point out to the league? *(Joe Platania) *"We looked at it, and we talked to the league about it. If you saw it on tape, it's pretty obvious what happened, as far as them not being set. When they come up to snap the ball … We understood the timing of the thing. If they caught the ball in play more than 10 yards downfield, they weren't going to be able to get the snap off and get everybody set. We knew the timing of that. We do a lot of studies on that. We understood that with that amount of time left, and they didn't get the snap off in the sense that they didn't get everybody set. The league has looked at it; they know it. There's nothing we can do about it now. It's unfortunate. It's disappointing. It's gut-wrenching. It's just the way it goes. But in the end, we have to overcome all that stuff. I don't care about officiating. I don't care about weather. I don't care about field conditions. I don't care about our opponent. That's the way our guys look at it. It does not matter. You have to find a way to overcome everything, and that's what you have to do."
John, just so I understand – or we understand it – would that have been an end-of-game there? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It would've been." (Reporter: "So, it would have been a penalty – a procedural penalty – and then a 10-second runoff, and there was no time on the clock?") "Correct." (Reporter: "And the league admitted that they messed up?") "I don't think I'm allowed to comment on that. No, I'm not allowed to comment on that."
So, the play would not have even happened? (Garrett Downing) "Correct. That's my understanding of it."
John, a play like that, it sort of seems like those things are happening this season. Something happens at the end, whether it be a pick or a crazy play like that. Is there anything you can draw from that good or bad? At the end, it doesn't seem to go the Ravens' way. (Dave Ginsburg)"I'll tell you, I've thought about that probably more than any human being on Earth, as far as our season goes. Maybe people in this building have thought about it as much as I have. Maybe fans have, too. Our fans care so much. It has been one of those years where when you make a mistake, you pay for it, or a call or something goes [wrong or] the ball bounces a certain way. We've had a number of times [where] we've knocked balls loose on special teams, and they've bounced right up into the returner's hands. It has just been one of those seasons. The thing that we've talked to our guys about is that that's the way life is. There are times where the rain falls on the good and evil alike. It's not a matter of how good you've been or how bad you've been or anything like that. It's just the way life goes. What it is, is an opportunity to acknowledge where you need to get better – to prune, to knock the rough edges off, to become a better player and to deal with the adversity as best you can. I know we've been saying that week after week here, and for it to continue to go that way is just the way it goes. We'll take responsibility for having to find a way to overcome those things, to make them irrelevant. That's what we have to do. We have to become a good enough football team [and] make the plays. We're not making a lot of plays. We're not making a lot of big plays right now, but we can. I thought our offensive coaches did a really nice job of scheming up the pass game and getting some guys wide open and Joe [Flacco] finding those guys and making throws in critical situations. Defensively, we were all over their receivers – they're a good group of receivers – covering them. We were in position to make plays. OK, let's make them, man! We're good enough to do it. We have the guys to do it. It has been a tough process for us. For whatever reason as a football team, this has been a real challenging year that way. Some things that come naturally and come easily over the years – and are coming naturally and easily to other teams in the league – have not been the case for us, but that's OK. We're up to the challenge. We can deal with this, and we will."
**You used the term "gut-wrenching,' and "picking up the pieces." Watching the film, did you do it once as a group with coaches, maybe once alone and then as a group with the team? Obviously, [in] different circumstances you're with different people, but when you're with the team, are you stopping and pointing out things, especially when some things – like you've already alluded to – are out of your control? What do you say? *(Jerry Coleman) *"That's a great question. Just so you know the timeline, today is player day off. We'll have the players in here tomorrow afternoon. This has been coaches [watching film] today. I've done it separately with the offense and the defense and then with individual coaches, called a few players. Obviously, when I see something, I call them up and talk to them about it, and they've all seen [the film]. We'll continue to do that with different players on a one-on-one basis. Most of the stuff that I'll do – in terms of patting guys on the back or correcting guys – will be one-on-one. The guys, they appreciate that, and that's how we do it. We'll have a team meeting where we'll come in here, and we'll have … Certain weeks we have certain plays [we watch]. I haven't decided how to do that yet for tomorrow's team meeting, but we'll look at what we need to look at as a team, and then we'll break up offensively and defensively and look at it and break it apart and dissect it."
John, on the last play you have OLB Elvis Dumervil trying to make a play. You also had a couple guys thinking the game was over and, I guess, celebrating for lack of a better word. Is that a teaching point? (Cliff Brown) "On the field? I'll have to go back and look at it. I saw guys on the sideline celebrating. Maybe I didn't notice guys on the field celebrating. Were there some guys on the field celebrating downfield? I'll have to go back and look at that. I wasn't studying that part of it. I'll take a look at that. But, I think we were back in coverage, and that's where we need to be as far as the back end guys."
**John, you guys are honoring Ed Reed on Sunday, and you talked a little bit earlier about how this year you guys have struggled to convert some of those turnover opportunities. Has time given you even more appreciation for how unusual he was in his ability to convert those opportunities and make them into big plays? *(Childs Walker) *"I always knew it. I knew what kind of player he was when I was coaching in Philadelphia and playing against him on special teams. It has not changed from the first day you saw Ed Reed – and his ability and talent – to what he ended up being."
Ed Reed has talked about maybe going into coaching at some point – I'm not sure at what level. You know his football mind. Do you feel like that's something he can be good at? (Childs Walker)"Absolutely. He can do anything he wants to do – coaching-wise or whatever kind of other thing he wanted to get into. We've talked about it, as far as his interest in coaching, and I know he's interested in it. Like I said, I don't think he has determined what level, yet. I think he's coaching a little league team right now [and is] a little frustrated with his guys (laughter), which I thought was kind of cool, like the parenting, 'You get what you deserve,' kind of deal. (laughter) It was good."
John, speaking of the safety position, one of the looks you guys offered defensively yesterday was CB Lardarius Webb lining up a number of plays there. What went into the decision to try that, and how do you think it went on a pretty limited sample size? (Luke Jones)"That's a great observation. It was something we'd talked about over the bye week, and it was just an idea that we had. You watch 'Webby' [Lardarius Webb] – and you watch how he plays – and we felt like he could be a factor in the back end, as far as chasing balls and being a ball hawk. And he may be kind of a natural that way, and we tried him there on Tuesday and Wednesday of the bye week; he looked good. So, we built a couple packages for him, and like you said, we were able to play him at three different spots, at least, throughout the course of the game. They had a tougher time knowing where he was going to be, and I really think that's something we can build on going forward."
Some of those packages also included ILB Arthur Brown. What did you see out of the limited snaps from him? (Jon Meoli)"Good – he played fast. Arthur [Brown] did a good job – played fast and was excited to be out there. [He] ran to the ball, made a couple plays – nothing spectacular, but nothing that made you concerned, either. He had done a really good job in practice, and Arthur deserved a little more playing time; and he did well with it."
I think WR Jeremy Butler saw some time out there. Do you feel – not to say that [you're] looking forward to the future – but do you want to see some more out of these young guys to see, in game action, what they can do? (Jamison Hensley)"I'm excited about that. I wouldn't tie it together with the record or anything like that. Those guys were out there, and we've always done it this way. Basically, it builds on practice. So, the better you practice, the more consistently you practice, the more the opportunities come in games, along with an opening. Sometimes it's got to go with an opening, too. Jeremy [Butler] has been practicing really well, especially the last couple weeks. The tempo of his practice, the speed that he's playing at, has ramped up a little bit. He has always been a guy that can really make plays on the ball, as you all know. I'm really excited to see him play more and more as we go forward, and same thing with Arthur [Brown]. Arthur has been playing fast; he's been playing smart in practice. He has done a really good job with special teams, kind of proving himself there. So again, he deserves more reps there as well. And I don't care what the record would be; you'd see those guys out there."
And your DE Brent Urban update? Is there a chance that he could be activated this week? (Jamison Hensley)"There is. Yes, there's a chance. It's not something we've talked about yet, but I think physically – based on what I've seen, physically – he's ready to go. But again, we'll talk about this week as we go."
You mentioned the running game. Yesterday you said that the three tight end set was something you guys really wanted to do. Is that a way to combat when teams are stacking the box against you guys the way Jacksonville was a lot yesterday? (Jon Meoli)""It is, because you can block the box. They'll always have an extra guy in there, but you can remove him a little further from the action. It can be a corner that can be the extra guy, and sometimes he's not going to be the best run-support guy that they have on the field. That allows you get maybe one, two or three more good blockers on the field, close to the action, that can cut people off and reach people and do those kinds of things. And then the good thing about our guys is that they can hurt you in the passing game. So, we can run play-action passes or spread them out or whatever we want to do with those guys on the field, which is a good thing."
John, obviously, the Jaguars, I think, were first in yards per carry and seventh overall in rush defense. How much did that, sort of, come into play? Because you guys came out throwing the ball a lot. Were you happy with how the balance worked out yesterday, or did it get a little too pass-happy for you? (Jeff Zrebiec)"We'd like to run the ball more; there's no question, on the one hand. On the other hand, if you look at the defenses they were playing, there were eight guys within four or five yards of the line of scrimmage at all times, pretty much, and even then, we had some really good runs. We had some nice runs in the second half. We weren't able to finish in four-minute [drill] like we would have wanted to; we were close to popping a couple of those runs, but in the first half, we weren't getting much. If we could have converted a couple more first downs there, you would have seen more runs. It's something we had planned on doing. We were going to run it at them anyway, but we just didn't get the opportunities that we wanted to."
Were there a lot of checks in the first half, because I think it ended up being like 29 to four, as far as dropbacks to run plays. (Luke Jones)"Part of that was the two-minute drive at the end, but the number of run plays was just down. We could have called a few more runs in there. There might have been a time or two where we went to a pass, but it wasn't predominant that way. It was just the way it was called."
John, do you view yourself as having to make a decision at punt returner, with WR Jeremy Ross' ball security? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes. I think that's fair. It just goes with the territory."
John, in your head coaching career, you've never had to deal with this number of losses. I guess that's a good and bad thing. In other places when losses stack up, sometimes things can get out of control. For you, how much effort as a coach do you try to place into making sure things don't get out of hand? (Jamison Hensley)"Well, I guess it would depend on the definition of those two terms you used. So, I'll just kind of assume what you're talking about there. But we have character guys. We have a great locker room. We have tremendous coaches. I've always felt like the mental to the physical – my dad has always said – is like three is to one. Attitude is really everything, and it starts with the position coaches in their room. And if the position coaches in their room do a good job of letting those guys understand that, really, what it's about is how we handle this, how we play. It's not about pointing a finger; it's about having somebody's back. It's not about the outcome; it's about the process. It's about taking care of one another. It's about coming through adversity and doing the right things, and when the coaches don't flinch and they don't bat an eye and they don't roll their eyes or waiver or crack in these kind of times, then the players are more apt not to, as well. And then our players, to me, are just of the highest caliber. We just have a bunch of guys that aren't going to let that happen, and it's not something that we believe in or stand for. As a matter of fact, we're determined, no matter what the outcome is, and we still *believe we can win every game going forward. We're not going to let that go, because we know what kind of a football team we can be, and I believe in these guys. I believe in their abilities, like I told them the night before the game. I know every one of these guys all the way back to college and some of them back to high school. [I know] what kind of players they are. They're the kind of players that we want to have on our team. They're Ravens. They're fighters. They're competitors. They're going to play hard, and they're going to play tough, and they're going to play well. And no matter what situations might rise up, we're not going to let those things get the best of us. No way. No way. We're not backing up; we're not backing down. And I just know that when we all hold firm together … It's like that gladiator movie, you know? Remember the movie? Right? When they all go shield to shield and shoulder to shoulder, and they're in the square? That's a visual, a little bit. That's how you handle tough times as a family. That's how you handle tough times as a team or as an organization, and that's what we will do. Nobody is going to flinch, no matter how long it takes. We thought we'd be through this by now; we're not. OK? No matter how long it takes, we're not going to flinch." *(Reporter: "Have you brought out the gladiator shields?") *"We need to get some of those, Kevin [Byrne, senior vice president of public and community relations], some gladiator shields. That might be a t-shirt for us." *(Kevin Byrne: "We've got a mask somewhere!")
C Jeremy Zuttah and WR Kamar Aiken both came back from their respective injuries. Are those long-term concerns at all? (Jon Meoli)"Jeremy [Zuttah] and Kamar [Aiken]?" "I'm not aware that they had injuries yesterday." *(Kevin Byrne: "They came out, then went back into the game.") *"Oh yes. I don't think so. They came back in the game. They're not on the injury report right now, as far as any kind of a long-term issue, so they should be fine. We'll know more as the week goes on."