Fans of the Baltimore Ravens are getting frustrated with the inconsistent effort put forth by their team this season.
Based on the tone of John Harbaugh's press conference late yesterday afternoon, you can tell the Ravens' head coach is starting to share those emotions, as well.
It was a tense scene yesterday at Ravens headquarters in Owings Mills, a scene unlike any other this season and one which certainly contrasted Harbaugh's previous Monday press conference after his team's dramatic road win over the Steelers.
Harbaugh's tone was even dramatically different than the one he displayed following previous losses to the Titans and Jaguars. There were very few smiles yesterday and more than a couple terse, one-sentence (and sometimes, one-word) responses to questions. Harbaugh wasn't rude, but he was somewhat combative, insisting that there isn't a sweeping, big-picture problem with his team despite three road losses to sub-.500 teams.
He claimed that the comparisons being drawn between the three losses are unimportant as far as the team is concerned, and shot down a suggestion that there's some physiological factor which is causing the Ravens to thrice falter on the road immediately following an emotional win.
"I'm not a psychologist," Harbaugh said. "I think what you do is you look at football. You look at what you can do better as a football team. So we're moving forward. You know, we took responsibility for the loss; we take responsibility for the loss. We did not play well. ... We didn't execute in situations that we needed to execute as coaches, as players. You put yourself in a hole in a football game, you turn the ball over, you cost your field position, you don't make big plays and you give up a few big plays.
"We have to coach better, we have to play better and we'll win those three football games. But we've won some other football games that people didn't expect us to win, against some really good football teams. So tie the psychology together on that for me. I don't have time to be looking at that. We're going back to football. We'll study the football, as a football team. We'll have our answers in-house. We'll have our answers, that will be football-related answers, and we'll come out to play on Sunday."
Harbaugh admitted he noticed the frustration in his players' faces on the team's plane ride home from Seattle on Sunday night. Saying he expected them to be "hurt" a bit by the loss, Harbaugh said the entire team spent the flight re-watching the game on their iPads and talking with each other about situations and plays.
But while the fan base might still be reeling from Sunday's loss to the previously 2-6 Seahawks, Harbaugh insisted his team has already put the defeat behind them.
"It's not our job to lick everybody else's wounds for them," Harbaugh said. "Licking wounds? No. We're not licking any wounds. We are moving on. We correct our mistakes, and we go practice on Wednesday and we get ready to play on Sunday. That's what we do."
Now the Ravens' attention gets turned to the Cincinnati Bengals, who, despite being very young at a few key spots, are a surprising 6-3 this season. The Ravens follow that game up with a Thanksgiving showdown against the 8-1 49ers, coached by Harbaugh's brother Jim.
While Harbaugh surely knows that the family matchup is just around the corner, he commented that he "couldn't care less" who the Ravens play next week. The focus this week, Harbaugh said, is entirely on Cincinnati and bumping the Ravens' record to 7-3.
"The story of the season is going to be drawn, written at the end," Harbaugh said. "So to try to write that story now, I know you guys have to do that, but I am not writing that story now. The story for us as a football team is this week. You look at last week, and you correct it. You look at last week, and you find a way to find the things you can do well against the team you are playing this next week. And you go into the next Sunday and you compete and try to come out with a win this week.
"All the other storylines, I would like to give you an answer, but I am really not interested, to be honest with you. So you guys can write that story. It's not my job to have that answer for you. Our answer is on Sunday. That's what a football team has to do and go to work to do. That's what our focus is."