Skip to main content

Transcripts: Ravens Training Camp Day 21

Head Coach John Harbaugh

Opening statement: "It's great to be back. We just talked about [former Eagles defensive coordinator] Jim Johnson. Just being here brings back incredible memories and moments. I think about Andy [Reid], and I think about teams that we had. Brian Westbrook … We were joking with Ike Reese. We were talking about the 'Miracle in the Meadowlands' – one of the Miracles in the Meadowlands ­– with Westbrook on the punt return. But nothing more so than Jim Johnson, nothing more so than the guy I would consider the greatest coach – the greatest defensive coach – in the history of football. We're running half his schemes out here right now. [Johnson was] a great man and a great mentor and a great teacher. Hi to Vicky, hi to their family. That's probably the best part of it."

You were doing special teams. Did you sit in on Jim Johnson's meetings when you could, and how much of an influence was he on you as a coach? (Reporter) "Jim [Johnson] was a huge influence. Jim, he welcomed me in here. I was coaching special teams, but he grabbed me and pulled me in there giving me little duties and things like that and letting me learn. Not just that though, just the stuff on life, [like] playing golf with him. Ron [Rivera] and I and Pat Shurmur were with him in a foursome. And the Pro V4s, remember those balls? Titleist Pro V4s, I think they were called, Pro Vs had just come out, and Jim had just bought a six pack of Pro Vs. [He] put one over to the right at Downingtown Country Club over there in the woods. Four foursomes played through while we were looking for his Pro V golf balls. (laughter) You could just hear him muttering about that, right?"

In golf, is Jim Johnson a risk-taker, too? (Reporter)"Not so much a risk-taker as kind of not a great player, but he loved it, loved it. (laughter) Just a great man."

Was Jim Johnson the biggest influence on you? He wasn't a head coach. (Reporter) "I would say you're right. Football-wise, I'd say he's probably the biggest influence. I learned more football in the NFL from him than anybody else, just learning defense in his system. The thing about Jim Johnson was – and we've learned this with our defense – we've taken our defense back to square one. We're running a lot of our stuff old school, and Jim Johnson was old school. Jim Johnson always has a support player on the end of the line of scrimmage. Jim Johnson had somebody in every gap – two gap and playing technique through the man and not just running through a gap. He taught defense the way it was taught forever, and it never gets old. I would say that's right."

When you went over to defensive backs in 2007, what was the first thing you guys did together once you went over to defense? (Reporter) "The first thing [Jim Johnson] did was slap the playbook on the desk and basically said, 'You ought to know most of this anyway, but learn it.' He was the kind of guy that just expected you to dig in and start asking questions, and that's how he was. Even when I wasn't coaching the secondary, I asked him questions, and he would sit down and give you a lengthy explanation about the history of it and why they do it. But he expected you to work, and he expected you to study. He wasn't going to hand it to you on a plate. But just learning the system was the toughest thing the first year for me. As much as you think you know, when you're the guy teaching it and [with] all the adjustments and all the nuances of the thing, it was robust."

Should there be a place for someone like that in the Hall of Fame? (Reporter) "There definitely should be a place for guys like that. To me, assistant coaches are the foundation of the game. Those are the lifers. How come there's not a category for the Jim Johnsons in the Hall of Fame?"

How did you and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly decide on the tempo and pace of practice?(Reporter) "We didn't decide on that. We kind of worked out a practice schedule. He sent me one. I sent him one back. We tweaked it a little bit. But as far as the tempo of the practice, that was left to however he wants to do it, really. We're open to whatever tempo that they want to do. I don't know what they did. I was on the offensive field, but we ran our tempo and they can run their tempo however they want."

How long are your practices? (Reporter) "We're usually out there close to three hours. We do a lot of other stuff that we might not be doing today though."

Is that why you started early? (Reporter) "We started at 11:35 [a.m.]. That's what time I was told practice starts, so that's what time we started."

John, how nostalgic is it – because you spent a lot of time in this other organization – how nostalgic was it for you to come back? (Jamison Hensley) "It was just cool to come back. You go through the gates. You walk through the facility. You see the weight room – spend a little time in the weight room. You walk on the field. You see the bushes. The bushes have all grown up. They're all taller now. (laughter) People used to sit in the trees and watch us. I don't know if they still do that around here. I can remember 'The Vet' [Veterans Stadium] … I can remember sitting in this little office [at the training facility] and seeing 'The Vet' come crashing down, like in slow motion video [and] seeing the cats and the rats come running behind with the dust behind. (laughter) *When we first got here, the head coach's office was on the lowest spot in the building [of The Vet], so when the rains came – or it flooded in the baseball season – everything filed into the head coach's office. That's probably the way it should be in Philadelphia. *(laughter) So, I'm walking in one morning – it's the middle of winter – and I'm just looking at these cats, and they're huge, and they're hunched over, and they were like (motions head) with those eyes just watching you walk past. I'm like, 'Coach, what's with the cats?' He goes, 'You want cats, or you want rats?' We'll take the cats. (laughter)Yes, nostalgia."

*Brian Westbrook is going into the Eagles Hall of Fame. What do you remember about him as a player? *(Reporter) *"I'm taking full credit for Brian Westbrook, OK? *(laughter) [He was] over there at Villanova – kick returner, punt returner. I remember brining him in as a return guy. I think he returned a couple, and then all of a sudden he couldn't return anymore. I go to coach [Andy] Reid, I say, 'Coach, we drafted him as a return guy!' He's a Pro Bowl running back now. I thought it would make sense to get him the ball in space. But [he is] one of the greatest players ever – greatest guy, greatest player."

John, how have you evolved as a head coach in eight years? What has changed about you as a coach? (Reporter) "[I've] probably just gotten better, learned how to handle people better. If you can survive a couple years in this league and have a little success, which we were fortunate enough to do, because we have an incredible organization – [owner] Steve [Bisciotti], [general manager and executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome], [assistant general manager] Eric DeCosta, [director of pro personnel] Vince Newsome, [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin Byrne – everybody in our organization … If you can survive, then you get a chance to get your feet underneath you a little bit as a head coach and figure out what you believe in. The thing that's interesting to me is everything we believed in the first day, we still believe in this day. The principles have remained the same. And now you're eight years into it and your players believe in it completely. You have the veterans teaching young guys, [saying], 'This is how we do things.' Methods you can change. You can change what time you practice or what time you go to bed or what offense you run, but the principles – rough, tough, physical, disciplined, a fundamentally-sound football team that works hard – that never changes."

What do you see in Eagles head coach Chip Kelly as someone who's in the early part of the learning curve? (Reporter) "I see that. I see a guy that believes in what he believes, and he's a guy that's willing to fight those battles early on. You have to. You can't back up from what you believe in as a new coach in this league. He has a nice record in college coming in here, obviously, but now he has done well two years in the pros, so he has backed it up. But he has not flinched one bit from what he thinks is right and proper, and he sticks to it, and that's what you have to do."

Your brother [Jim Harbaugh] was that guy, too, and is back in college. Has that, No.1, all kind of merged more than it was when you first started, and was the evidence of college guys jumping into the pros, is that creating some sort of trend?(Reporter) "I think it's just football – college, pro. Good coaches are going to be good coaches wherever they're at. Sometimes in this league, it's circumstances. You get into a good circumstance, it sure helps you – like we were blessed enough to be able to do. I think good coaches are good coaches at every level."

John, a couple players have said – your players – that this training camp has been very demanding, like maybe even more so than previously. Are they accurate with that, and if so, why do they have that impression? (Cliff Brown) "To me, it's the same training camp we've always had. Maybe it's like childbirth – it's not so bad after you have your kid. I can't speak to that; maybe some of us here can. Does it seem so bad a couple years later, but when you're going through it it's really rough? They're going through it right now, so I can see why they think it's the toughest one."

You said you haven't really changed much [with practices]. (Cliff Brown) "We've changed the way we practice. Last year we adapted. We came up with some different principles. We do a lot more recovery. We do a lot more things to take care of the guys between practices than we've ever done before. To me, the thing is you can practice the way we've practiced. You've got guys that can recover and come back and stay healthy. You have to credit the players. The players are the ones who are getting it done. They're the ones out there. It was about 111 [degrees] out there – heat index – two days ago, and we went three hours, and our guys were beginning to end practicing fast and tough, and it was hard. But they knew … As Marshal [Yanda] said, 'It was just one of those days. Make the most of it.'"

What inspired that to change things to help them recover? Did you look around? (Reporter) "I think just learning more. Learning more. We've been doing it for probably three, four, five years now growing into it. This is the first year we actually dedicated … They're in there right now dedicating [one] hour every single day to that sort of thing, so it has been valuable."

John, with all QB Joe Flacco has accomplished as a quarterback, you've always talked about his continued evolution. What would you like to see him do in that regard this year to continue to evolve as a top quarterback? (Reporter)"That's a great question. We say you get one percent better at 100 things, you're 100 percent better. You get one percent better every day for 100 days, you're 100 percent better. To me, Joe [Flacco] buys into that. It's just across the board. The more you understand defense, the quicker the ball is going to come out against blitz coverage, say. The more you work on fundamental technique, the more road it's going to be when it matters the most in the most critical situations. Joe is going to continue to get better, but it's also our job to continue to build around him and put the pieces in place that can help him shine, too."

Were you pleased with how the team performed and how you got out of it health-wise? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I thought we practiced really well. I felt like the Eagles practiced really well, also. It looked, to me, like two good football teams pretty evenly matched pretty much throughout the day. I liked the way our guys finished toward the end. I thought we finished very strong. Health-wise, yes, I'm happy the way we got out of it. I thought both teams took care of one another, especially once they got through the first couple periods where they were feeling each other out. Then it seemed like they really settled in and had a good practice."

Did you have a relationship with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly before this all evolved? (Reporter) "My brother really likes Chip, so I talked to him when he got into the league, and we had a couple brief conversations. But Jim [Harbaugh] speaks really highly of him, so that helped me. When he grabbed me at the owners meetings and said, 'You want to practice?' It was easy. I just said, 'Yes, I'd love to.' I admire the way he runs the program, I love the way the teams plays, and I knew it would help us get better. That's the bottom line."

John, why do you think overall there has been more brawls in the joint practice sessions this year, and is that something you talked to your team about? Would that be something that would discourage them from doing it? (Reporter) "I wasn't really at any of those practices to address any of those situations, per se. But there was nothing [on the field today]. These two teams are professionals out here. These two teams went at it. It was a hard, tough, physical practice. It was a very demanding practice, and these two teams were all about football from the beginning to end. That speaks to the players, and it also speaks to the coaches."

How does this joint practice compare to last year's versus the 49ers? (Jordan Schatz) "Boy, it's hard to make a comparison. That was like 100 years ago, so I can't remember. I would say this: I would call them both a huge success so far. We still have two more days against them, so let's withhold judgment. But I feel good about today."

John, the Eagles organization is portrayed as being kind of ahead of the curve when it comes to the conditioning and recovery. Do you get a sense that's accurate? (Reporter) "I really don't know. It's not like we have a chance to really dig in deep and see what they do. I've heard a lot of good things about it, so it looks good. I think they do a great job."

Does there have to be compromises between the two head coaches? They don't really practice as long as you, and I know your practices are probably more physical. Did you have to kind of find common ground? Is that difficult to do? (Reporter)"It wasn't hard. I think we both just 'common-sensed' it out as we went. Anything [Chip Kelly] wanted, I was OK with it. And anything that we wanted, he was OK with. It was shorter than we normally do, but that's good for us right now. Obviously, it's going to be ratcheted up when you go against another team, so that was really positive."

John, do you like what you see in TE Nick Boyle's development so far as a rookie tight end?(Reporter) "We do like Nick Boyle. We do. I'll tell you one thing, when he runs the ball down 30 yards, and the Eagles are stripping all the way down the field, he better hold on to the football. You know what I mean? So, he has a lot to learn, but he has done a really good job."

*Do you believe time of possession is important?(Reporter) *"It's an important step for us, but everybody is built differently. That's the thing you have to remember. We're built differently than that. There are times we want up-tempo, and we've done that, and we'll do it. There are other times we want to run it all the way out. It just depends on how you want to play."

Do you think change-up is the best way to go for you? (Reporter) "For us. We just try to do it based on our quarterback and our offensive line and the way we want to play and our defense. We try to build it that way."

Is it more up-tempo now across the board in the NFL? (Reporter) "I would say the last five, six years … Really, New England and Indianapolis – go back to Peyton Manning in Indianapolis – that's really where it started. It has built with the college coaches like Chip [Kelly] coming in and the stuff that they do where they're signaling from the sideline and all that. It's great for football. It's just awesome for football. It's just a different way to play the game."

Coach, you mentioned weapons for QB Joe Flacco. WR Michael Campanaro had a nice practice today. Can you talk about how he has developed into a player you can use in matchups going against other teams? (Turron Davenport) "Yes, [Michael] Campanaro is a guy – obviously, local boy from Howard County – but he's the kind of guy … He plays outside, but he should be really good in the slot for us. You look at those guys who have played that position that look like him a little bit – he's like that. He can get away from coverage. He's quick. He has a good feel for where the pressure is coming from. He can get off the line of scrimmage. He's coming on right now. We just have to keep going. He has a ways to go still."

You have a bunch of guys that live close enough to commute, but you wouldn't let them commute. Is that an old-school camp kind of thing? (Reporter)"Traffic. We can't mess with traffic here. We know how the traffic is." (laughter)

John, I know you really have only had one preseason game and you don't really attack the quarterback when you have your own quarterbacks out there. As far as pass rush, have you been pleased with the guys, because you don't have OLB Pernell McPhee, you don't have DT Haloti Ngata?(Jamison Hensley) "I feel like our pass rush is going to be really, really good. We'll find out. And then people counter that by getting the ball out really quickly, which you saw here today quite a bit. Now, you have to be able to understand that that's the next step, and you have to get out there and cover the screens and the quick throws. So, it's one thing after another. But if you can't stop the run, you can't rush the passer, and you really don't have a chance to begin with." 

* *

OLB Elvis Dumervil

On if practice ever got heated between the two teams:"Like Joe [Flacco said], it was different looks, different guys, [and] it's definitely more competitive. You kind of practice something that you're not accustomed to seeing. So, that's like a game-like feel. It's kind of like the feared unknown; you're going to see what you see, but it's a great deal for us to go out and go against different guys, for sure."

On how the joint practices make each team better:"Just different looks, different players, different philosophies, different body types [and] a different style of football. So, it's cool; it's kind of cool to see different looks and get prepped for the season."

On getting good looks during practice on a high level of competition:"One thing that coach 'Harbs' [John Harbaugh] will harp on is we practice like Ravens. So, our intensity will always be high, we'll always compete, and hopefully, the team you play against matches that. We're going to always come out and play Ravens football."

On if the tempo of practice during the joint session is faster:"It's different; it's different. They've got a lot of no-huddles. We do no-huddles, too, so it's just different schemes [and] different body types. It's a different look, but it's good for us."

On his impressions having faced Eagles T Jason Peters in practice:"I've gone against him in 2009. He's a pretty good player – one of the top players in the game. It's always good to go against guys like that."

On if DT Brandon Williams is becoming a fixture on the team both on and off the field:"Yes, I think he is a great leader and would follow him, [similar to] Chris Canty. I think Chris is doing a great job with the young guys, obviously, with the departure of Haloti Ngata. I think Chris really stepped up into that role. And honestly, give credit to Timmy Jernigan – he's playing well. So, it's a lot of guys stepping up. We all want to be leaders and try to lead the way. If we can all move in the same direction, that's great for us."

On how much the coaching staff talked to the players about avoiding altercations during the joint practices:"We're just playing smart and playing like Ravens. We come out, we compete and we're going to be smart about things. We're going to get after it, but not to the point of being dirty or getting cheap shots. But we're going to compete, and we're going to take care of the guys at the end of the day. We want to make sure they take care of our guys on offense, and we'll try to reciprocate the same things."

On the pass rush this year without DT Haloti Ngata and OLB Pernell McPhee:"The three things you look at as far as a pass rush – being a great pass rush team: No. 1 is scheme; we have that in place. No. 2, we have a good secondary. So, secondary, coverage and rush go hand-in-hand. I think we got a lot better in coverage, got healthier. We're excited about our guys on the backend. Obviously, up front, we've got Timmy [Jernigan] coming along. [There is] Chris Canty [and] you've got Terrell Suggs on the opposite side. Courtney Upshaw has been doing great, and we've got "Z" [Za'Darius Smith]. We've got a bunch of guys that [are] going to step up, and myself included. [We've] got to take up some of the slack [Pernell] McPhee left."

On DT Timmy Jernigan's speed: "[Have] you guys been watching in practice? You haven't seen him? (laughter) The guy – he's in the backfield the whole time, and he plays with a passion. He wants it. So, it's a great thing for us to get him going."

On the value of preseason games:"I can remember my first two years. You're trying to earn a spot and you're trying to make a name for yourself, and that's how I got my chance. A guy went down, and I stepped into Game 2 and never looked back. So, these moments are critical. It's a chance where you can go out and prove to your teammates and to your coaching staff to build that trust and get some game film going before the regular season starts. Once the seasons starts, it goes pretty fast."

On if he thinks about pivotal moments throughout his career:"Yes, absolutely. Because I was a guy … It wasn't getting to me that early. And that's how I approach it every year. Every year, I approach camp and preseason the same exact [same] way. There's been a time when I got hurt the second week of camp, and you're whole season is over. So, I think this time is a very precious time to fine-tune your technique. Because once the season is going, you want to be at your best [by] Game 1."

* *

QB Joe Flacco

On the way the Philadelphia Eagles operate, and if there are any unorthodox methods head coach Chip Kelly uses:"I think the biggest thing is when you have guys that have come from other teams, you always kind of … Obviously, when you're going through the monotony of camp, you always kind of talk about what guys have done in the past, but I don't know if we have anybody from here. I think every now and then you hear things – just because guys talk – but not a ton. You don't really know until you've been a part of it, and even when we're here practicing, we're kind of on an agreed-upon schedule and things like that. You do things that we like to do; you do things that they like to do. So, you don't really get a good feel for what other teams are really doing."

On if practice feels the same or different during the joint session in Philadelphia:"It's pretty much the same for us; it was shorter. We're not out there going as long, killing each other, but it's definitely different to go against a different team and see some different looks and just kind of feel out what kind of tempo it is going to be at. My first time doing it was last year against San Francisco, and that was after we played the game. So, I think that was a little bit different [than] coming here before playing the game."

On if he will have extra family in attendance:"No. My wife came back. She was in Baltimore, and she drove back for a couple days just to hang out. But, other than that, no. They don't care; just stay at home." (laughter)

On bringing local fans to the game:"No, nobody needs to come on over." (laughter)

On what the Eagles' defensive backfield showed him during practice:"I think I heard some guys saying that they played more 'man' [coverage] than they usually do, which is kind of what they were doing. Who knows how basic they want to keep it [versus] how we want to keep it? Some of the periods were agreed upon, looks that we wanted to see. You know, 'Hey, come after us here.' Then half of it was what they wanted to see, maybe play-action and things like that. But, they usually had one of the guys pressed – at least – a single safety. They played some different combination coverages, depending upon if we were in bunches and things like that, but I think today was a lot of 'man' [coverage]."

On if any player in the Eagles' defensive secondary stood out during practice:"I have no idea who I'm looking at out there."

On the high-scoring Delaware-New Hampshire game during QB Joe Flacco's junior year of college when Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly coached at UNH:"Yes, that was probably back in 2006 or 2007, and – like you said – Chip [Kelly] was is New Hampshire, and they were running all those things [with] Ricky Santos back there. I think it was David Ball at receiver, and those guys were pretty good." *(Reporter: "Does that just kind of give an example of the kind of stuff that his [offense presents].") *"Yes, I think so. I haven't been able to pay too much attention to what he's been doing, but obviously, they're similar. They do similar things like that. Then at the same time, back in New Hampshire, Ricky was running for a lot of yardage, too. Obviously, in college, I think his system had a lot of that at Oregon. I haven't been able to pay enough attention here. I think they have some pretty offensive West Coast concepts that they run, and they're good at that."

On the game speeding up in the NFL:"Well, hey, the rules – and everything – the athlete [is different than college]. Everything has just kind of forced the game to go that way a little bit. There are just too many advantages to doing it that way. You're just kind of climbing yourself out of a hole when you're trying to do it the old fashioned way, play-in and play-out. So, I think teams have kind of realized that and kind of want to [not] pound their head against a wall for an entire game. And I think there are still a couple teams that can do that, but as a whole, I think a lot of the rule changes have lent [itself] to going that way."

On if he pays attention to QB contracts in the NFL:"I don't know about related to me, but you definitely pay attention to it. You see [that] guys are getting a lot of money, but I've already done that; it's not that big of a deal. So, as far as it relates to me, I haven't really paid too much attention."

On joining the Ravens with head coach John Harbaugh, what makes him successful and how he has evolved:"He comes in and lays it down how he wants it to be, he sticks to his guns, and he's honest with us. We know what to expect. And as he's been here with us – and I've been here with him – he's part of the core group of guys that has been here. He trusts us, we trust him, and I think it works really well because of that."

On what he knew about head coach John Harbaugh when he was with the Eagles:"Not really much, no."

On if he likes the joint practice session, and if it is beneficial to the team:"I think it's definitely beneficial, because you just see different things than you've been used to from your defense the whole entire training camp. Our defense gives us a lot, but it's definitely different to see different guys get some matchups [and] see different defenses. I think it can bump up the competition a little bit, because things tend to get a little more chippy. It's not all our teammates over there, and you want to take care of everybody, but at the same time, you also want to take care of your own. So, I think it brings the competitive level up a little bit, and it's a lot of fun."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content