JOHN HARBAUGH's MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE: DEC. 7
Opening statement: "OK, good to see you guys – appreciate you coming out. We had a chance to obviously study [Sunday's game video]. We're on to Seattle right now, working hard on that game plan. Nothing has really changed much from last night after watching the tape. There were no real surprises on the tape – kind of what we expected to see based on what we talked about after the game. We'll make the corrections tomorrow when the guys come in. We'll go to work like we always do and try to improve and play better than we did last week and get ready to play a big game against a really good team at home."
One thing we hear all the time when we talk about players on other teams is how much you liked them when they were coming out of the draft in their draft year. One guy you obviously liked – because you have him – is RB Javorius "Buck" Allen. What stood out about him when he wasn't yet a Raven? What stood out about him back then? (Joe Platania) "That's a great question. The thing that jumped out to me was his elusiveness. I thought he had elusiveness, and he had really good vision and then the ability to do something about it. He can take his lower body away from a tackle. He could lower his pads in college. It just looked to me like he was going to be a good pro running back. I thought he looked a little bit like some of the guys that have been in the stretch-zone scheme in the past down in Houston and places like that. I thought he would fit our scheme, and it's good to see that that's happened."
We were just told – or the announcement – about TE Nick Boyle being suspended for the final four games. With TE Maxx Williams and TE Crockett Gillmore both not playing – or finishing the game – where does that leave you at that tight end? (Jamison Hensley)"I think Maxx and Crockett both have a really good chance to play. We'll see how that goes. Maxx tells me he's playing. He's going through concussion protocol, so that's always going to be something that's hard to determine, but he's a guy that [we are] pretty certain he's going to play. We'll see how it goes. And Crockett is the same way. Crockett has had a myriad of nicks and bruises and contusions and all those kind of things like that, and this is another one. It'll just be day to day. He will not have to practice to play, for sure. With our situation at tight end, if he can play, he's going to be out there playing. That's just the kind of guy he is. We'll just have to play it day by day. And then we'll bring some guys in to make sure we have backup tight ends. We're going to have tight ends here. Konrad Reuland is here. He has been practicing with us pretty much all year – knows what we are doing – and he can play the position. Of course, Kyle [Juszczyk] fits into all those heavy-type groups. We have a guy we're bringing in – so we'll see how that goes in the next day – who is familiar with our system, who can definitely play and block and do those things. We're not going to get away from those types of packages. Those are very important to us, and we'll stay in that stuff."
Is there anything you can tell us about … You were obviously disappointed with what TE Nick Boyle did – and I know it is a sensitive subject – but was it [that he] mistakenly used something? Did this catch you by surprise? (Dave Ginsburg)"I don't really want to comment on it. You can ask Nick. He can share whatever it was. I can tell you this: It wasn't like steroids or anything like that. When I first heard about it, that was my first thought: 'Man, I hope it's not something like that.' It's nothing like that. He can confirm what it was. It's pretty common. It's what you read about all the time with guys. I don't think he realized that it was something he shouldn't be doing. Or if he did, he didn't think it through. I've talked to him, and he was telling me how stupid it was, and I agreed. It was pretty dumb. Hopefully, he'll grow and learn from that. The shame of it is here's a guy that's playing so well. This guy is playing really well. He's one of the gems of the draft class in terms of a fifth-round pick playing the way he does. He plays hard. He has been good in the pass game, good in the run game – smart, tough. He has a tremendous future. I told him that today, 'It's just a shame you're going to miss four games here. You're playing like a veteran out there.' He'll learn from it – he's smart – and we'll move forward."
Coach, you talked about the situation yesterday with QB Matt Schaub going down and being looked at with the concussion protocol. Just for clarification, he was looked at during the game, cleared and was able to come back in. At any point, were you close to putting QB Jimmy Clausen in the game because of that situation? (Jerry Coleman)"Not because of that. [Matt Schaub] got banged around pretty good a couple of times. He took a shot directly to his knee on a forcible hit to his knee. He took a helmet-to-helmet shot at the end – neither of which were called. Those are the two situations that I was looking at. I think we warmed Jimmy up briefly there. But, Matt is tough. He deserves protection just like every other quarterback in this league. As far as the other part of it, I was really proud and impressed with what happened. The protocol was followed to the 'T.' We all saw it pretty much on the sideline. Mark [Smith, head certified athletic trainer] was right on it, was right out there. And then [Matt Schaub] went into the in-game protocol and passed everything. [He] passed after the game and then passed again this morning. So, that was really good to see that [the concussion protocol] worked the way it's supposed to work."
John, I know the league has said you guys did everything you were supposed to do there, but it was pretty clear on TV when QB Matt Schaub hit his head that he grabs with his hands, clutching his head. I know a timeout was called on the following play, and I assume that's when he was looked at. Would you like to see the league – because they have introduced a spotter – to have a medical timeout system? Looking back at that, do you think the league should have used that to stop play right there? (Luke Jones)"I don't know. I haven't delved into that too seriously. It's not my area of expertise. I think whatever they do for safety – whatever they feel they need to do – is great. To me, you have one [situation] here that worked. We have experts who went out there and went through the process, and they're very diligent and very conscious of concussions right now. That's something that everybody is thinking about. I know mistakes have been made – I understand that – but I think you trust professionals to do their job and respect the fact that they know what they're doing, and they did a good job on this one. So, we feel good about that."
John, three-straight home games. What are you looking to accomplish besides the wins? Will you tell the guys at all about a spoiler's role? You've got three contenders coming in – you can certainly derail their Wild Card chances – or is it all about your team? (Dave Ginsburg)"It's all about our team. We don't really get too involved in that kind of thinking – never have. I don't think that's much of a motivator for anybody. I don't think anybody thinks our guys aren't going to play. When you watch our guys play – I've said this before, and I told them this in the locker room – I couldn't be more proud of them. You can talk about outcomes – and that's the bottom line, no doubt about it – but in terms of doing everything possible to try to win a football game, in terms of heart, courage, toughness, playing hard, running to the ball on both sides of the ball, being physical, doing all the things that make you proud as a coach – they're doing that. I couldn't be more proud of them. I'm proud of the firemen [who help in the operations department]. I'm proud of the trainers. I'm proud of the equipment guys. I'm proud of the coaches. I'm proud of the general manager, the scouts. I'm proud of everybody. I'm proud of the team president, because everybody is handling a very difficult season without blinking, without backing up one inch, and [they are] charging into next week. That's what we're going to continue to do for the next four weeks. Miracles do happen in terms of outcomes, but I don't care about any of that other than the fact that we're going to go out there and win a football game this week. That's what we plan on doing, that's what we're going to prepare to do, and that's what we are going to do. It's not going to change. It's the same thing I said Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, right on through, because that's the kind of men we have in this program. I don't know what else you can say besides that, because that's a fact."
Can you talk about the play S Kendrick Lewis made at the end to get that strip? It was lost in the outcome, but it was a very good play.* (Ryan Mink)*"There are two pretty incredible plays in that game. When you talk about running-to-the-football-type plays and effort plays, that was one of them. They popped a run on us. They cut it back. It was a nice little scheme – the first run they had in a while. And our whole defense turned and ran after the ball. Kendrick Lewis, Courtney Upshaw on the backside – the whole defense pursued. We had five guys around the ball, and that's why we came up with the ball, too. It was a great effort play by Kendrick and the whole defense. Every single guy was running to the ball. And then Buck's play – where he caught the ball and then ran for the touchdown – he did a great job of making people miss, but there were three guys who turned and got upfield and sprinted in front of him and made blocks – three receivers, a tight end and receivers – that were out on the route with linemen chasing from behind. Matter of fact, one of our linemen – De'Ondre Wesley that was at right tackle for that series – chased him all the way into the end zone. That's who we are as a football team."
John, T Eugene Monroe has missed the past couple of games with a shoulder [injury]. Would it get to the point where he might not be able to come back this year, and how difficult has it been juggling the left tackle position? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, it has been a real challenge. Give James Hurst all the credit in the world. He deserves it and has come in there and started for us a number of games. It's just unfortunate for Eugene. He has had the shoulder issues that have been nagging him. I think he's up for another MRI on Wednesday. Between him, his doctor and his agent, he'll have to make a decision about whether he wants to play with it for the rest of the year."
With QB Matt Schaub getting dinged up, there were some fans that were maybe excited to see QB Jimmy Clausen come in with all the pick-sixes and everything like that. Is that a thought for you guys at all maybe switching quarterback to Jimmy? (Matt Stevens)"I think it'll depend on Matt – where Matt is at – and how ready he is to play. Matt looks like he's going to be able to play. He was bounced around pretty good in the game – too much. We'll see how he makes it through the week, but I think he's going to be OK. He's a tough guy. We're planning on Matt being the quarterback." *(Reporter: "Even moving forward there's no thought for you guys?") *"I didn't say that. There are always thoughts on everything, so we'll consider everything. Matt is the quarterback; Jimmy is the backup quarterback."
Is it possible, John, that QB Matt Schaub may not be able to practice at least part of this week to get some rest so he is ready to go Sunday? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It is, which will give us a chance to get Jimmy [Clausen] the reps in there, which will help him, too. I don't think Matt needs the reps to play in the game. It's going to be the same offense we've been running."
Do you get the feeling that some of the players might be excited about having three straight at home – even before the short trip to Cincy – getting to play three straight, get into a pattern of playing on their own field? (Dave Ginsburg)"It will be good. We've had a bunch of games on the road, obviously. I guess if you do the math, we've had … We've already had seven of our road games and five of our home games, so this will be great. We love playing at home. I'm really hopeful the fans are with us. I'm really hopeful that the fans – the Ravens fans – take the situation for what it is and recognize the way we're playing. It's a team that's fighting like crazy, and a team that can win games. It's a team that's capable of winning games. The difference in that game was two crazy plays and a couple calls. That's what it comes down to in this league all the time, and it hasn't been going our way. All season long it hasn't been going our way. We don't make excuses. It's our job to create our own good fortune. We understand that, and we strive for that. You can't throw picks, and you can't throw picks that go all the way back to the house no matter if they get tipped – or whatever happens – or bounce the right way. I've seen lots of those things bounce harmlessly to the ground in our games and other games, but it just hasn't been our lot this year that way. That's the way it goes, and you have to find a way to overcome it. You get calls that go against you. It's just the way it goes. I'd love to see the data on that, in terms of who's getting more calls against them that are wrong. But that's not an excuse; that's just a fact. Those are things you have to find a way to overcome. As fans, look at the heart, look at the effort, look at the competitiveness, look at the young guys playing the way they're playing, and hopefully come out and support them and be really loud about it. Make it fun. Make it a Ravens football game. Let's make it tough on this team coming in here. Let's let them feel what it's like to come play in Baltimore. I hope our fans feel that way."
What have you seen from the defense over the past four games? It looks like they have been cracking down on yardage, specifically fewer big plays. Other than that, when you watch the defense as a whole, what improvements have you seen them make? (Ryan Mink) "I see more disciplined play. We've had very few breakdowns in the back end. We've had a few, but very few compared to earlier in the year. I see better tackling. For the most part, I see really good tackling. Our front is dominating upfront, and we are running to the football. That has gotten better every single week for about the last four or five weeks – say four weeks. It has gotten progressively and steadily better. To me, when you run to the football with your hair on fire like your life depends on it, you have a chance to be a really good defense."
John, I know that WR Daniel Brown's catch was wiped out, but he seems like a guy who, even though he's not a speed person, finds a way to get open. Can you just talk about that? And I think, also, he may have had block on RB Javorius Allen's run. Can you just talk about Daniel's skills as a player? (Cliff Brown)"Dan Brown is a guy that is really … Every time you put him out there in practice, he does something good, and he's a guy that came out of nowhere. He's kind of a throw-in, camp free agent-type guy, who came out the first day and started making plays. Then you watch and see if he can sustain it, and he did; and he sustained it throughout the course of the season. You finally get to the point where it's like, 'This guy deserves a shot' – circumstances with Marlon [Brown] getting hurt and things like that – and he goes out there and makes plays in the game. So, it's pretty neat. It's obviously not too big for him, because he made the same plays in the game that he made in practice. And he's blocking people, he's getting out front, he's hustling, and he's physical. [We are] excited about what he's doing right now."
John, do you have any update on QB Joe Flacco's surgery situation? I know you guys were waiting for the swelling to go down. (Jon Meoli)"I do. We received the update. [Senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] and I were walking in, and we received the update from [head certified athletic trainer] Mark [Smith]. [Joe Flacco] is going to have surgery tomorrow [at] 10 o'clock with Dr. [James] Andrews down in Alabama, and he was there today to get his pre-surgical examination done."
John, how much motivation have you and this organization gained from defensive line coach Clarence Brooks? Clarence talked earlier about his cancer battle, what he was going through off the field. How much inspiration has he provided for this organization with how he has handled this situation? (Jeff Zrebiec)"That's a great question. It's amazing the things that happen during the course of a football season, because you have a group of people that live so closely together. I can look back at every season, and there have been these moments that are just personal moments that you share with people that you love and you care about; and Clarence Brooks found out that he was going to have to deal with this cancer issue early on in the season and shared it with the team. Nobody said a word about it to anybody, because it was a family matter, and that's the way he wanted it. And he has been going and getting his chemotherapy and his radiation treatments three days a week, hasn't been able to make the two Monday night trips, because he had the treatments on Mondays, and we had chance to pray for him and be there with him, laugh with him and listen about all the stories he told us. The coaches had a celebration; we had a couple of cakes. He likes ice cream cakes, so we had a couple ice cream cakes up there last week when he had his last treatment on Wednesday. And he took us through the process and the people he had met in the chemo treatments, the friends he had made, and what other people are going through, and it just puts it in perceptive, once again, the things that are important. I say all the time, 'Football is a metaphor for life.' The challenges that you face are similar to what people face in life, but there are people out there facing things that are just [so important] – adversity, challenging, demanding, difficult things that they're facing – that this brings close to our home through Clarence. Maybe a season like this gives you a chance to think about some things as a coach or as players, things that are going to stick with you for the rest of your life." *(Reporter: "For many years, it has been pretty obvious. I think to myself, everybody who has come through … His guys love playing for him.") *"Yes." *(Reporter: "What is it about him, from a personal sense, that elicits that?") *"That's a great, great point. Clarence Brooks … First of all, he's the best defensive line coach I've ever seen, and I've been around some good ones. He is a guy that … He gets on them, he's demanding [and] he asks for their very best. He's very clear in what he wants; he has a way he teaches it, and he wants it done that way. He's not accepting 'no' for an answer. He's not accepting 'can't' – can't, won't, don't, won't. Those are not options, and when it's not done exactly right, man, you hear him going off down there on those guys. And you can just see them chuckling and laughing and shaking their heads, and they love it. They just love it, because I think they know he cares so much about them. He cares about them like they're his own kids. Like a guy like Clarence – when a guy shows you how much he cares about you because he's willing to let you know the truth and get it out of you every single day – how can you not appreciate that? Maybe it's a grandfather now, not a dad. Maybe he's a grandfather at this point. [He is] just a great man, and he's doing a great job. He's coaching, he has his energy, he's coaching them up, and they're playing well, just like they always do."