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Transcripts: Ravens Media Availability 11/23

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "Good to see everybody – thanks for being here. Just a couple roster announcements: We've added Chuck Jacobs to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. [He is] a wide receiver who we worked out three weeks or so ago, and he has been practicing with us and done a really nice job, so we're excited to add him. We let Joe Morgan go to make room on the [roster]. Joe did a good job for us. It just wasn't working in the plans there for us fit-wise. We've also added Chris Matthews to the practice squad. You might remember Chris from Seattle. He was waived by Seattle a week or two ago. He's going to be on the practice squad for us, and I'm sure he is planning and hoping to earn playing time in the near future.
"I want to mention a couple of things that maybe got lost that [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] had mentioned to me that might have got lost yesterday with all the news that was going on after the game. I thought the effort yesterday by the defense to shut down one of the better run games in the National Football League got lost in the conversation. It really was a great job by our defense – yards per carry, total yards – [against a] tremendous back. They were committed to the run game, tried to make it go, and our defense did a really good job of stopping the run game. And then our running game … At the end of the game in the fourth quarter with the number of linemen down, Justin Forsett down, we hit some runs in the fourth quarter that put us in position to score the points in the fourth quarter and get us in field goal range to win the game at the end. Those are positives that we didn't get a chance to talk about that Kevin thought I should mention. OK, any questions?"
Obviously, the focus is always going to be one game at a time – the next game and all that – but if you consider the quantity and the quality of the guys who have gotten hurt, is it hard not to take one eye and look at the long term future and what that could mean around here?(Joe Platania)"I guess yes and no. It's a really great question. I think it's a fair question, because we do that. We do look at the long term, definitely – especially Ozzie [Newsome], myself, Steve [Bisciotti], Dick [Cass], Kevin. Those are things we look at big picture-wise all the time. Everything you do you have to be thinking about the short term and the long term, so we try to do both. Definitely from a coaching perspective, your focus is most certainly on the short term – and your players and your coaches – and getting ready for the next game. But, there is an awareness of the long term, for sure."
John, do you have any update on QB Joe Flacco? Was the MRI scheduled for this morning? Do you know how that went?
(Jeff Zrebiec) "The MRI confirmed what we had talked about last night, so the injury is as it was stated last night. The process will be … Those surgeries aren't done until the swelling comes down, so there will be a timeline to get the swelling down. That's usually certainly no sooner than a week. Sometime after that, he'll have surgery to repair both those ligaments, and then he'll be into his rehab right away after that."
Are you expecting a return for the start of training camp next year? Do you have any idea yet?
(Jerry Coleman)"That's a great question. I think it's probably way early and, obviously, speculative. But, indications that I've been given would be that [Joe Flacco] would be back for the start of training camp, and it wouldn't be an issue. However, as we well know, those are always things that get determined based on how the rehab goes."
In your career as an NFL coach, he has been your quarterback every single game. Is it going to be a little bit different for you going forward knowing that you won't have QB Joe Flacco as your starter? (Dave Ginsburg) "Is that a rhetorical question? (laughter) That's kind of an obvious, 'Yes.'"
In what ways will it be different for you? It has been something you've been used to, like waking up in the morning. (Dave Ginsburg) "It has been a blessing. I don't know how many coaches have had that kind of a run with their quarterback. It has definitely been a great blessing and something I've been very grateful for over the years. All of us here – not just the [head] coach, but all the coaches and the players and the organization – have had that remarkable run with a quarterback that has really stayed healthy. He has been an ironman. This will be a change for all of us. It will be a big challenge for us. I wouldn't say we're looking forward to it – we'd rather it not be the case – but we're not going to shy away from it."
John, any progress in replacing P Sam Koch as backup quarterback? 
(Kevin Richardson) "There is progress on that. It'd probably be too early to say for sure. I don't want to make any statements that don't end up coming true, because nothing is finalized yet. But, we're talking to certain candidates about that, and Ozzie is working hard on that one right now."
Were there tryouts or just conversations? 
(Jerry Coleman) "No tryouts today. No tryouts at this time. I don't think the tryout part is going to be a big part of it. We know what the guys who we are talking to can do."
Is it possible you add two [quarterbacks]? Maybe get a guy on the practice squad and also one on the active roster? 
(Jeff Zrebiec) "It is possible – something like that – this week, or if that's not possible this week, maybe within a week or so or whenever that player would become available."
John, the type of quarterback that QB Joe Flacco is – you've talked about it – he's probably more athletic than he gets credit for. With an injury like this, how can you realistically – or how should you expect – that this could affect him going forward assuming that he's healthy again? 
(Mark Viviano) "It'll be interesting to see that. I don't know that you ever really know. Most guys come back from those things pretty well. There have been quarterbacks who have had ACLs. There have been position players who have had ACLs, and they come back and do fine. It's not like the quarterback position even is like some of those positions in terms of the need to maintain a really high level of speed and stuff. Joe can run – he's athletic – but if there is some drop-off, it's not the main thing for the quarterback. He's going to certainly have plenty enough athleticism, even if there is a little drop-off there. The way technology is, guys bounce back from these things really well. And I have every expectation that he'll bounce back 100 percent and be stronger than ever and be ready to roll next year and be in great shape, like he always is. That's a long way away, but right now there's no reason to think he won't come back better than ever."
QB Matt Schaub has worked pretty closely with QB Joe Flacco throughout the season. How is that going to help him taking over the starting role? 
(Todd Karpovich) "It should help a lot, because [Matt Schaub] has been in every single meeting. He has experienced everything that we've gone through as a team this year. He has had every coaching point looked at. He has been a part of all that process. It's not like he's coming in from the outside new. He has been here. I think he has benefited from practice every single day. He has taken the reps mostly with the 'look' team, but he has also taken plenty of our reps, because we do go against each other at times, so he has been in our offense. And he has looked good in practice. He's a veteran. He has been there before. He knows how to handle himself. He knows how to operate. The players have confidence in him. I have absolutely every expectation that he's going to play very, very well."
John, I know you can't say too much, but is QB Bryn Renner being considered at all? (Jordan Schatz) "We've talked about Bryn. Yes, Bryn would be a candidate probably for that practice squad spot that Jeff [Zrebiec] had talked about. That would be a possibility, yes."
John, with RB Justin Forsett out, do you think that RB Terrance West will get some more chances to show what he can do? How have you felt about what you've seen from him so far?(Childs Walker) "He'll definitely get an opportunity. We'll see as far as activations and depth charts and things like that as we go throughout the course of the week. But, [he has] practiced well for us since he has been here and is learning the offense. He doesn't have it all probably 100 percent down right now, but he's working hard at it. We've been impressed with what we've seen so far."
From what you've seen so far, what do you think are the best traits that RB Terrance West brings to the table as an NFL back? (Childs Walker) "I don't want to get into an evaluation of Terrance West right now. I think everybody knows him. You've seen him play; you know what he is. I like him. I'm excited about him and looking forward to seeing him suit up for us."
John, do you think the offense will be a little bit different with QB Matt Schaub at quarterback and RB Javorius Allen as your starting running back, or are you just going to plug it in and have them run the same thing? (Dave Ginsburg) "The offense is never the same from one week to the next, exactly. So, they'll be game-planning; they'll be involved in that. I'm sure plays that Matt is more comfortable with – or does better – will be things that we'll gravitate toward and [for] 'Buck' [Javorius Allen] as well. You always try to use your personnel any way you can, but it'll still be based mostly on the offense that we believe in and the offense that we think will be most effective against our next opponent, which is Cleveland in this case. It's not going to be some dramatically different offense by any stretch. It'll still be foundationally what we've been doing. We'll try to build on those things and try to get better at all the things that we're doing."
John, as a whole, the offensive line yesterday was very young, particularly after T Eugene Monroe went down. You've said that you guys were able to pop off some runs towards the end. How did it get better, and what did you see as a whole from the offensive line? (Brett Hollander) "I think the offensive line – considering the guys that were in there were young guys, like you said – overall did a good job. We were probably better – I'm sure we were better – in the run game than we were in pass protection toward the end. We only got sacked once, but Joe [Flacco] took some hits down the stretch [with], obviously, the final one being the worst one. That was more a product of some young guys trying to pass protect against some really good pass rushers that St. Louis has, and that was a concern for us in the game. The run blocking was pretty good. They did a good job with that part of it. They were better with the run blocking than they were the pass protection as a group."
John, K Justin Tucker has probably missed more kicks than he would like, especially at home. How much when you're looking at him – just specifically the misses – is it the distance, the wind compared to maybe some mistakes he has made? (Jamison Hensley) "To my eye – and I shared this with Justin – it's his swing. When he swings the way he's supposed to – when he swings the way he's capable of, the fundamentally correct way to do it as he does in practice 99 times out of 100 – he hits a straight ball, and he hits a really good ball. When he doesn't swing the right way for whatever reason … You'd have to ask him what happens. There's a lot to it. There's the hold; there's the snap; the whole thing goes together. There's the wind. There's the footing. All those things are a factor, no question, but the swing mechanics are the main thing, and it's not hard to see when the swing mechanics aren't what we would be looking for or what he would be looking for. To my eye, that's what happened in the game yesterday."
John, do you have any update on T Eugene Monroe with the shoulder? Was that related to when he hurt it a few weeks earlier? (Luke Jones) "I think it's a little bit related. It goes back to a college injury that he had, I was told. We'll just see how that progresses during the course of the week."
John, with RB Justin Forsett – a running back with a broken arm – what do you expect from him? Obviously, it's going to be hard for him to lift weights and things like that. What is the prognosis? Have you been given any? (Mark Viviano) "I haven't really been given one. My assumption is that … Bones heal pretty quickly, so I'm sure he'll be back in the offseason lifting weights and training. I would expect Justin back next year full-speed, ready to go. He's under contract and a big part of what we're doing going forward."
How did you look at the penalties after looking at the film yesterday? There was one that had three personal fouls on it. It seems like you've talked about it on a weekly basis. I guess it has to be frustrating to see double-digit penalties again. You win, but still. (Jerry Coleman) "On that one [penalty], I saw … That was the … Was that the punt play that you're talking about?" (Reporter: "Yes.") "I saw the punter hit one of our guys dead in the back that they missed. I saw our guy retaliate, which is not what you want to see. Then I saw a free-for-all out there, which is not unusual against the team we were playing. I saw on defense three out of four that were not fouls. There's no way we can coach against those. Elvis Dumervil – sack. That is exactly what we coach when you tackle a quarterback – in the strike zone, off to the side, within a step-and-a-half. There's no way that he knows the ball is away. I guess if we're going to start trying to read people's minds … We go by the rules. We don't go by, 'He should've seen the ball [was] gone.' That's the way the NFL has taught us to teach it, and we'll teach it the way … We'll continue to teach it the way they instruct us to teach it, and we'll expect the officials to call it the way we're instructed to play it. Other ones: The special teams penalties are head-scratchers. They shouldn't be happening. We have to stop those. The hit out of bounds was unacceptable, not smart, should not happen. We had one or two blocks in the back – at least a hold and a block in the back – that should not have happened. I saw at least four that weren't called against them that should've been called. Offensively, we had a holding penalty, I think, on [John] Urschel. That was one that was tough, because John had his hands inside, the defender turns, he's blocking him. I'm not sure what to tell John [about] how to avoid that one. We had a block on a pass play that we were trying to release, and they were holding us, but it looked like he was blocking him in front of the play. I don't believe he was trying to do that, but it appeared that way, so I can understand the call on it. We'll have to coach not to make it look like that. What other ones?" (Reporter: "Tripping penalty.") "Tripping penalty was … He's cutting, he's going forward, he bounces on the turf, and the guy trips over his legs. There's nothing intentional about that. He didn't jack his leg up intentionally by any stretch, so that was a tough one. Good question. We were held blatantly in the end zone on a touchdown catch by Kamar [Aiken]. Not just him, there were two holding penalties that they turned a blind eye to. It's just the way it is in the National Football League nowadays."
I guess you had a busy day exchanging tape with the league? (Jerry Coleman) "We'll just send it in, and we'll get our usual 14 out of 16 [responses that] they made mistakes on, probably."
John, there are penalties that, like you said, you kind of object to, that shouldn't have been called. How do you deal with [that]? Is that something where, when you have a high number of penalties, you can see reason for it? Do you say, "OK, we understand," or do you still try to drive home, "Hey, we're getting flagged too many times?" (Jamison Hensley) "I'm not sure I follow. You mean with players or with the league?" (Reporter: "With players, I'm talking about.") "Yes, we look at them [individually]. I've said this many times over the last seven and a half years: We look at each penalty individually. So, we have too many penalties. There's no question about that. I'm not sitting up here saying we don't have too many penalties, especially on special teams. We're playing great on special teams, but the penalties are the one thing that's … I just don't understand it, because we have smart players, guys who are veteran players, making over-aggressive penalties that they shouldn't make. You don't block a guy in the back. There's no reason to hold a guy. We're better than that; we shouldn't be doing it. And then, every other penalty … That's why I try to go through it, just to kind of give you an indication. You look at each one individually, and you coach it accordingly. I'm not going to tell a guy, 'Hey, we've got too many penalties, but yet, your penalty is clearly not a penalty.' That's not fair to the player. Yet, when it's fair, when it's a good call … We look at penalties that aren't called, and there [are] other penalties that we have that aren't called. And we coach those up too, and say, 'That should be called. You got lucky there. You got a break there.' That happens, too. So, we're not hiding from any of that. No, we're not shying away from any of that."
Yesterday, DT Brandon Williams and OLB Courtney Upshaw … ILB C.J. Mosley seemed to be all over the place, too. He said, last week, that he was kind of disappointed with how he played in the first half. These last few games, has he taken that second-year step that you guys would have wanted? (Jon Meoli) "I think he [C.J. Mosley] has been making that [second-year] step all year. Certainly, he has had some games that he likes better than other games, but he played at a really high level yesterday – C.J. did. I would say Courtney [Upshaw] did the same thing, and did you mention Timmy Jernigan? Is that who else you said?" (Reporter: "Brandon [Williams], but Timmy, too.") "Brandon Williams and Timmy Jernigan – you put all four of those guys together – I thought they all really played at a really high level yesterday."
John, you mentioned P Sam Koch as the emergency quarterback. How do you make that determination? Do you have guys tell you that they can do it? Do you go through … I'm just interested in how Sam got that third designation? (Jamison Hensley) "I guess it's by default, like they have the line, and everybody steps back. And Sam [Koch] was still standing there. That's how Anquan [Boldin] got it. Anquan actually played [quarterback] in college, at least, when he was here, but Sam can throw." (Reporter: "Has he had any reps at all this year?") "No.(laughter) Absolutely not."
Were you aware – or have you been made aware – of QB Case Keenum suffering a concussion? And I ask that … When you're coaching a game, is there a level of responsibility for you or your coaches to recognize that, or is that all on the medical staff? (Mark Viviano) "I didn't know that until this morning. I heard talk about it, and it was mentioned to me by one of our coaches. But really, as coaches, you're not really involved in that. You're looking at your play sheet, and you're looking at managing the game and trying to win the game. And you do trust the medical people to do that for you, and you never question it. They say a guy is out, he's out. They say a guy is back, he's back. We don't go in there and say, 'Hey, we really need this player.' That's not a part of the conversation at all. It's just, they come to you, they say he's up or he's down and that's really what you rely on. Now, if you see something out there that's … Obviously, if you happen to see it – like anybody would – you're going to ask about it or address it, or if you don't think a player can function based on what you see, you'd probably take a player out. But, you're not looking for that. That's not something that you're thinking about during the course of the game. You're just relying on your medical people." (Reporter: "The NFL says it is looking into why it wasn't recognized, because it did appear obvious. Does that concern you? Because, as you mentioned, you're coaching. So, that's not what you're looking for, but something like that could slip through.") "I'm not sure what they're looking at or how they're looking at it, but I'm sure they'll let us know whatever they find. And we'll try to apply it in whatever way they suggest we should."
John, when QB Joe Flacco got hurt, did you know the exact moment, the play where he did get hurt, and did the play-calling change accordingly because of it? Or was it something you found our later on? (Jerry Coleman) "Well, he [Joe Flacco] didn't get hurt … He had two other plays and a spike after that. So, he got hurt, I think, with four plays left in the game. We would not have thrown the ball at that point anyway. Joe told me afterwards that once he kind of felt … Right away, he felt like he was going to be out, and then he kind of said, 'You know, I think I'm OK.' He kind of got his bearings. I saw him [limp] off, and I just kind of looked at him. Then he turned around and went back to the huddle. So, I didn't know, but we were running the ball at that point no matter what."
You guys have been, without a doubt, one of the more snake-bitten teams in this league. How are you motivating or keeping your guys in the game at this point when it seems like everything's going wrong for this team? (Matt Stevens) "You can ask the players that. They could probably give you a better feel for that, but I love our guys. I don't feel like … I feel like there's probably a level of motivation there that goes on, certainly, and it's kind of fun to be challenged in this way and to have the kind of guys that we have responding. They sit in that room just like you're sitting there right now. We have some of the best team meetings that you can imagine, and guys are into it, they can't wait to play, they can't wait to practice, they can't wait to study their opponent, and they're very determined. It's just a determined bunch of guys. So, when you have a bunch of guys that love football, as a coach, you love coaching guys like that, and we've done a great job here of bringing in guys that we consider Ravens. And by that, we mean guys who love football and who love being good teammates and want to work hard, and that has shown up through this season."
John, when you're looking to bring in a backup quarterback, obviously, time is of the essence with catching them up. How much is a guy that has a background in the system, may know offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and the style of offense you run go into it? Do you have to find a guy with that kind of background because of the time constraints, or are you just kind of looking for the best available candidate regardless? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's probably both. I think that would be a plus, if we had that guy available. Someone who has some experience would be a plus."
TE Crockett Gillmore as a receiver – it seems like he has made a lot of strides pretty quickly. Any traits that he has that have allowed him to do that, that you've seen? 
(Cliff Brown) "He's just a good football player, more than anything. He's tough. He loves football. He wants to get better every day. He doesn't let anything faze him. He's one of these guys … You guys talk to him, and you hear his quotes, and you can tell how mature he is. He has a great head on his shoulders. He can get better, though. There are a lot of things he can improve at. He's nursing his shoulder a little bit; he has done a good job with that. I expect Crockett Gillmore to be, really, a top player in this league before it's all said and done."
John, one of the things with TE Crockett Gillmore that stands out is his ability just to run over people. When you have players … Is that something you really just can't teach? Is it something that certain players just have, that aggressiveness to do that, in your experience?(Jamison Hensley) *"I don't think you teach that. Another guy that does it really well – it's kind of interesting – is Maxx [Williams]. Guys bounce off Maxx. When you look at his body, you look at it and you just kind of [think], '[He's] kind of young.' He's only 21 years old. I don't think he has been in the weight room that much. He works hard in there, and he's going to only get stronger. But they still bounce off him. Maybe he has heavy bones. *(laughter) *His dad and mom are big people, but he's another one like that. [Nick] Boyle is the same kind of way. You have three guys like that playing tight end of us."

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