Monday morning Harbaugh

Every Monday, win or lose, John Harbaugh steps infront of the mic to take questions about the game from all of Baltimore’s media members. Here are some of the highlights of what went down in today’s press conference:

Will you be in contact with the league regarding Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Todd Heap?
“Well, we’ll send those things in. We had a chance to talk to the league this morning about a number of things, and that was one of them. There were some issues there. The thing we try to coach our guys to do is basically hit in the strike zone and try to make an effort to do that and keep your head out of it. It’s not just safety for your opponent, which it is, it’s safety for yourself. When you start throwing your head in there like that, you’re putting yourself at risk, but also your opponent. And it’s just not good football. So, that’s something that we try to do a good job of with our guys.”

If Reed is able to play this week, will you limit the amount of time he will play?
“It’s going to be something we’ll have to figure out. It’s probably all in play. First of all, can he play? He hasn’t practiced since last season. So, how’s he going to respond to practice and football and bursting and all that? And then to what extent and how many reps he can take? It’s going to all be up in the air.”

With some people saying the Ravens got a little too conservative at the end, how would you characterize the offensive play-calling down the stretch?
“I don’t really characterize it too much. I think if you understand the coverage that they’re playing, we had good plays called. I mean, we had downfield routes called against it. The checkdown is always really good against that if the downfield routes don’t express themselves. And we had runs called against it, which you like against a three-man-rush - especially some draws. So, I don’t think there was anything conservative about it in that sense. I don’t think we executed it. I don’t think we did a good enough job as coaches explaining to our players exactly how to attack it. I mean, we look at this thing, that’s what we do all morning, we look at it and we say, ‘You know what? What can we do better as coaches and players to solve that, that issue?’ Here’s a team that had two weeks to prepare for us. They had some pretty good ideas against us. They jammed our tight ends up pretty good. Those are all things, I think if we look at it really carefully, we grow from.”

Do you feel like the AFC is even stronger this year than last year, and do you get an early indication that it will be even more difficult to make the playoffs this season?
“You’d probably have to say so, right now. You never know, but man, there are some teams at the top of the AFC that just look really strong every single week. And I think we’re in that category, without question. And that’s exciting to be in that mix. So, we’re going to have our hands full every week. You have to win. You’re going to have to win a lot of games to make the playoffs in the AFC, and we understand that.”

There was one in the second quarter where you decided not to go for it around the 50:
“Well, in the second quarter I’m probably not going for it on fourth down around the 50-yard line, especially if we’ve got the lead, which I think we did. At the end of the game, it was a decision. I think it could have gone either way. Hindsight... By virtue of the fact that they drove the ball down the length of the field, [it’s] pretty easy to make that decision in hindsight. At the time, we had the lead. I liked the way our defense was playing. I think we stopped them three times after that, so it wasn’t like we couldn’t stop them. But, if we’d have gone for it, there’s a good chance we would have made it because it was fourth-and-inches.”

On special teams, what do you feel like your team needs to do better to get longer returns out of kickoffs and punts?
“Penalties just aren’t acceptable right now, and there’s no reason for them. The only thing you can do... It’s been coached and coached, and it’s been drilled and drilled, and it’s been made important and made important. We got better at it last year, and they’re starting to crop up again. The only thing I can say to those guys is that, ‘You won’t be playing.’ Flat out. If you can’t block without holding a guy on special teams, if you can’t tell that that’s his back and not his front and you put your hands on his back, then you can’t play for us. It’s just that simple. As far as longer returns, I think first of all, in the punt game in this last game we’ve got to catch the ball. So, before we get longer returns, maybe we can catch the ball. We lost 69 yards in situations like that, overall special teams, not just the punts. We still won the field position battle because we were covering so well and we got a turnover. We shouldn’t have brought those two balls out of the end zone. There’s no reason to go left and come back right from three yards deep, and you don’t bring one out when it’s 4.3 hangtime or thereabouts. So, that’s just decision-making. But, we will find a returner that will make good decisions and run the ball where we want it run. We just have to do that. It’s really important.”

Quotes courtesy of