TUESDAY MEDIA AVAILABILITY: BROWNS – WEEK 17
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see you guys – appreciate you being here. Rick Wagner is going to go [to] I.R. [Injured Reserve] with a Lisfranc sprain that he's seeing Dr. [Robert] Anderson about, I believe, tomorrow. Steven Means will be brought up to the 53-man roster."
John, to lose T Rick Wagner after the year he's had … Just your thoughts on the overall improvements he made and how tough it is to lose him? (Aaron Wilson) "Rick [had] a heck of a year. He proved himself; proved the naysayers wrong. [He] did a great job."
John, I know you're always very fond of [Chiefs head coach] Andy Reid, but are you going to be maybe cheering for him a little bit even more this week with the implications and everything? (Jamison Hensley) "Yes, absolutely." (laughter)
Do you generally talk to him, or would this be a week where you would say something to him? I know you're a very busy guy, but I didn't know if something like that would come up. (Jamison Hensley) "This probably wouldn't be the week. [I'm going to] just let him go ahead and do his business. We have our business to do; he has his business to do. But I'm definitely cheering for him, no question."
John, have you been happy with what you've gotten from DT Timmy Jernigan in DT Haloti Ngata's absence? (Childs Walker) "[I'm] very happy with what Tim Jernigan has done. He's done well since the day he's gotten here. [Ravens defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks has done a great job with him; he continues to improve every week. The playing time is probably helping him accelerate that process a little bit because he's getting so many more reps than he was getting before. So for his development, that's been a real positive."
We've seen WR Torrey Smith and what he's been able to do on the field. From your perspective, as a leader, though – something that we might not see as much – how much development do you think he's really stepped up as much as leadership? (Jamison Hensley) "Torrey is a good leader. He's a leader by example. He does a great job [with] the way he lives his life, the way he works and all those things. [He's] a very thoughtful guy – very willing to take young guys under his wing and share his experience with them. He's always done a good job with that."
John, the other guys on the offensive line … How do you feel about the depth and those guys being flexible to play some other spots? (Aaron Wilson) "I feel good about our offensive line. We've had those guys that have played before, and we just have to see how that shakes out. But I feel very good about our offensive line and how they'll perform."
In the run game, is there anything – you talked about what Houston did to slow it down – but is there anything you guys might have been lacking in the run game the last two weeks? (Jon Meoli) "No, I'm not going there. Let's not … You can do that. You watch the tape. You're always good at that, so you can figure that out for us. There are always things that we'll work on to get better at. We'll always improve. We'll always chase whatever we need to do to get better, and there are plenty of things to get better at. I'm quite sure that the Browns will test us on the things that they see on tape, but it's right there on the tape. It's not hard to see."
Cleveland signed another quarterback, Tyler Thigpen, today to add to their depth. Just now that you've had a chance to watch QB Connor Shaw a little more, just your thoughts on the kind of quarterback he is? (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, he looked good in the preseason; [at] South Carolina as well. [He's a] playmaker, runs around, has a heck of an arm and makes a lot of plays on the move. He does a good job."
John, the defensive offsides and neutral zone infractions have gone up a little bit for you this year – not really much the previous years. Is there a reason for why … Is it more hard count? I mean, is there a reason for that number to jump up this year? (Jamison Hensley) "I don't know how high it's jumped up. I don't think it's jumped up. It might be marginally more, but we are attacking snap counts. We had three in the game, which is three too many, but there is going to be a little bit of a cost of doing business when you're jumping snap counts the way we are. We study that really hard. Elvis [Dumervil] and Terrell [Suggs], especially, are students of that. We watch that very carefully, and that has to do with the fact that they are getting some great jumps on snaps as well. There is a little bit of a trade-off there. Sometimes you have to live with a little bit of that."
Do you feel good about T Eugene Monroe? (Aaron Wilson) "Yes, I feel good about Eugene."
DE Chris Canty
On if it's difficult to focus and not worry about what else is going on given what's at stake in this game:"No, I don't think that's difficult for us. This football team has done a great job of dealing with adversity and different challenges throughout the season. I think when it comes to the guys in that locker room, they are men of high character, and they'll be up for the task at hand, and they'll have tunnel vision. We'll pay attention to the details. We'll do everything that we can during this week of preparation to give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful on Sunday."
On if it's tough not being in control of their own destiny:"It's tough to think about the opportunities that we let go, and that's not anybody's doorstep but our own. We had some lapses in focus, and we've made some mistakes that have cost us some football games throughout the course of the regular season, and you can't get them back. That's the thing about the National Football League – you only get 16 opportunities in the regular season. You have to take advantage of each and every one of them in order to guarantee that you have an opportunity to play in the postseason. Unfortunately, we haven't done enough thus far to do that, but Sunday presents another opportunity, and we're looking forward to it. An opportunity is all you can ask for. In football, in life, an opportunity is all you can ask for."
On how to combat an offense that gets the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly:"We've seen some of those same things from different teams throughout the course of the regular season. Teams have thrown the ball quick on us – a lot of three-step; a lot of wide receiver screens; a lot of things to attack the perimeter on defense; get our guys running; and then try to go no-huddle tempo – things of that nature. It's nothing that we haven't seen. Houston did a great job of executing it within their scheme with a new quarterback. They were able to just make enough plays down the stretch, and we weren't able to give our offense enough opportunities with the football in order to be successful."
On how impressed he has been with the way DT Timmy Jernigan has played in DT Haloti Ngata's absence:"He's a dog. He's going to be a really good football player for a long time in the National Football League. And I noticed that when I came in here for the minicamp, just his aggressive play – his physical nature. He's quick-twitch jumping off the ball. He has a lot of great attributes. He's constantly learning from 'C.B.' [Ravens defensive line coach Clarence Brooks] and some of the other vets on the nuances of the game. Once he puts it all together and the game slows down for him, it's going to be scary. It's going to be really scary. He's going to be really, really good."
On the dimension to preparation that is added when not knowing the opposing team's quarterback:"We know we're preparing for an NFL-caliber quarterback. And that's the thing – the Cleveland Browns have an identity as a football team, they have things that they like to do. We'll continue to put them under a microscope and see some of the nuances of the things that they've been doing as of late. But these are two football teams that know each other very well. There's not going to be a lot of secrets. There's not going to be a lot of things that we're not too familiar with. We're just going to continue to prepare, and whoever they have under center, that's the person that they are going to deem the person that [will] give them the best chance to win. We'll be prepared for that."
QB Joe Flacco
On why the Ravens have struggled in the first quarters of games recently:"I think one of the biggest things about us is that we do … We should be ready for that part of the game. We come up with the plays that we're going to do, and everybody knows what to expect and what to do on those, so it's kind of tough to see that we've started out that way. Obviously, these last two games it's kind of carried throughout the course of the game. Obviously, we've had some issues. I think the biggest thing is just not being crisp enough and clean. I think teams have done a good job of coming up and limiting the yards we've been getting on early-down rushes and putting us in a little bit of a hole. We've had some penalties to back ourselves up, things like that."
On if he will look back on this year viewing it as a successful season:"I think the bottom line is … I think the longer you've been around the league and the longer you realize what an offseason feels like when you didn't win the whole thing, it's tough to consider it a real successful season unless you win the Super Bowl, because that's just what it's viewed as these days. That's kind of the mindset that we take, and that's what we work toward from the very beginning of offseason workouts, OTAs, all that. Listen, we're going to feel good if we go in on Sunday and play really well and win the football game. We're going to be in that locker room and we're going to be excited. Now, obviously, that doesn't mean anything in the long run. We're still going to have to see what happens [between San Diego and Kansas City]. Winning a game in the NFL is a tough task. There's a lot of energy expended, and when you get in that locker room and you're with your guys after that game, it's going to feel good if we go out and play the way we think we should and if we win the game. Having said that, it's going to be tough to think of anything besides that. We just have to go out there, play the game, feel good about how we played and do the best to make the outcome in our favor."
On how tough it will be to avoid "scoreboard watching" the Chargers-Chiefs game:"We were in this situation last year, and I don't think we responded or played very well in this situation. So, I'd be disappointed to see us do the same thing again. We just have to go out there and worry about what we can do. Turn the scoreboards off, I guess. (laughter) There's nothing we can really do about that game, so we shouldn't really be worried about it."
On not finishing the season with a pair of losses and going 10-6, even if it means missing the playoffs:"I see what you're saying, but at the same time, the success we've had around here and the team that we feel like we have, I don't really think that we can think about, 'Oh, let's win the game,' so we feel good about the way we ended the season. We don't care about that. We're going to go play the best we can, we're going to give our effort, and we're going to try to win the game – just like we always do – and we believe we have the team to win it. But we're not going to be sitting here thinking, 'Oh, that was a cool way to end the 2014 season.' We're going to go play and hope to continue to move on. Really, anything else, like I've been saying, it's tough to really think about that. Just to answer your question: No, I couldn't care less about how we end this season, other than the fact that I don't want to end it. I want to keep playing."
On how he responds to tougher games like the loss at Houston and what his mindset is coming out of the locker room:"It was a tough game. I said it afterwards: We got whooped in a lot of ways. And you start doing that, and balls start going their way, and you're just not making plays and you're thrown off. There's not really too much you can do about it at this point. You just have to have confidence in yourself, confidence in yourself as a group and go out and win the next one. It's kind of tough that we might only have one left. It's not like the middle of the season and we can go on an eight-game run. But that's the name of the game. That's what this business is. You just have to pick yourself up and get back out there. We're all adults around here, and we've all been through tough situations and tougher situations, and we'll continue to go through situations like that like we had on Sunday and like we're dealing with now. We just have to pick ourselves up and move on."
On re-establishing the run game because of its importance to the Ravens' offense: "It's tough. The way this offense runs, it's definitely key to get [the run game] going, because a lot of play-action is set up off of that, a lot of our keepers are set up off of that. And when we fall behind, we lose the ability to do that. So, I know in the games that we've fallen behind, we've had a tough time getting into the mode of scoring quickly and giving ourselves a lot of opportunities. Even when we [have] scored, it has taken us a little while to move down the field, because we haven't had our chunks in the play-action games. I have confidence that we're going to get that going and go out and play a good game, but that has definitely been tough."
On WR Torrey Smith's development and how important his role is on the team: "I think it all starts with the confidence that [Torrey Smith] has – and obviously his ability – but the confidence that he has in his ability to go out there and make the plays and be that guy. I think he has been doing a great job of understanding the game plan, going out there running his routes, catching the football. He's catching the football, and when you do that, you give yourself a lot of opportunities to make plays and get yardage after the catch. I think he has really grown in that area."
On whether this team has the ability to make a run if it makes the playoffs: "Listen, we've had spurts of being really good this year, but we also had … When we haven't been good, it has been drive upon drive upon drive of not being very good. So, I wish that when we haven't been good, it would just limit it here and there and [we would] go out and play really well. Besides that, we definitely have the ability to play good and make a run and do anything we want to. Obviously, it's not all up to us, but we do have that ability; we do have that team. Hopefully, we take care of it on our side and see what happens."
G/T Marshal Yanda
On how the offensive line will bounce back from last Sunday's performance: "I think any time in the NFL, when you have a bad game, I think we need to fix what needed to be corrected and step up the next week. Good or bad, we have to move on. And obviously, Sunday wasn't our best game, but we're moving forward to Cleveland, and you just have to keep fighting. Hopefully we do a lot better job this Sunday."
On the Ravens' "next man up" mentality: "If you're around long enough, you understand that injuries do happen, and they happen when you don't want them to happen. Obviously, you never want them to happen, so when they do happen, you just have to … [The] next man up has to be ready to roll, and you have to be ready to go in, step in and do your job and do it at a high level. We all work hard on the practice field to be ready to go on game day – that's the backups as well. You have to be ready to go and play. And you understand that injuries are a part of football. Guys get hurt, and guys go down, and guys have to step up. That's part of the game."
On the difficulty establishing the run game the last couple of weeks: "It has been tough, that's for sure. We love to run the ball, and it's a big part of our offense, like you said. We need to get back to … We need to block better, and that starts with us up front. We have to get it done better."
On whether his experience at right tackle is helpful if the offensive line needs to move players around: "Yes. I've played [right tackle] before. Obviously, I haven't played in a long time, but we'll see what happens come Sunday. We don't know who is healthy yet, and obviously John [Harbaugh] does the injury report. But I've played there before, and I'm ready to go wherever I need to play. I had to play there a little bit last Sunday, so it's part of that deal where you have to be ready to roll."
On whether the feeling of playing right tackle came back to him easily last Sunday: "Yes. [It is] just experience. We didn't have anybody else. Obviously, John [Urschel] came in, and Juan [Castillo] was saying, 'John said that he was going to play tackle.' I said, 'No. I'll play tackle,' because he hadn't played tackle in college before. He said [the last time he played tackle was] in high school. (laughter) I was like, 'No. I'm going to play tackle.' (laughter) Obviously, it's a tough time in the game. We weren't playing well, we were down by a bunch of points, and they're teeing off in the pass rush. That's when they go to work doing that, so it's a tough time to come in and play. So, I just wanted to do my part for the team knowing that I could do a better job at tackle and [Urschel] at guard. That's what we did."
On whether he has been in a situation where the offensive line did not have many backup players after suffering injuries: "Not very often have we had two guys go down. And then Jeremy [Zuttah], he kind of got shaken up a little bit, too. Obviously, he's a tough guy, and there was no way he was coming out of the game. But we've gotten to that point maybe one time in my career where we didn't have anybody left, and we ended the game on two reserves, but no further past that. We probably would have put a tight end in if we had one more guy go down, so that's a tough situation."
On how an entire season can be viewed differently depending on whether the Ravens make the playoffs: "We have such a rich tradition around here of going to the playoffs and being successful in the playoffs, so that's what we're striving for – that's for sure. Obviously, we haven't done … We didn't put our best foot forward last week. We wanted to get the win, obviously, but we didn't. The good thing is if we win, we put ourselves in a situation to get there and to be in the playoffs. We're going for playoffs, that's for sure. Obviously, a 10-6 record isn't a bad record, but if we don't get in the playoffs, it's not good enough. So, getting in the playoffs is what matters ultimately. We have to win."
On whether he will scoreboard watch the Chargers-Chiefs game: "No, because No. 1, we have to take care of Cleveland first. Obviously, they're going to come in and want to win the football game. There are a lot of guys from Baltimore – coaches and players – that are on that squad. And they're men, too, and professionals, too. They're going to come in, and we're going to get their best shot. We just need to take care of our job first, and then worry about how San Diego and the Chiefs play. I won't be worrying about that. I'm sure some guys are probably going to take a glance, but I'll be dialed in on Cleveland. That's it."
On T Rick Wagner's season-ending injury: "I told [Rick Wagner] that he has had a hell of a year. And for his first year starting, he has done a great job for us. It's unfortunate that he got hurt, but we go back to injuries happening. You never want them to happen, and it's one of those deals where it's just a bang play and you're hurt. It has happened to me, it has happened to a lot of guys, and it's unfortunate. But the good thing is that he had a great year, and I think that he's a hard-working kid. He'll attack his rehab and he'll be back for us next year, and he'll be great."