A candid John Harbaugh tackles the Ravens' issues

October 22, 2012|By Matt Vensel

Ravens coach John Harbaugh wrapped up his weekly Monday news conference a couple of hours ago, and now that I have gotten a chance to go through the audio and read the transcripts, I’m not sure Harbaugh has ever been this candid after a tough loss -- the kind of loss that results in a lot of tough questions from media.

The podium session lasted more than 20 minutes -- a few more than usual -- and he addressed most, if not all, of the team’s issues, including the five I addressed in my weekly “Five Things” manifesto -- shameless plus alert! -- after Sunday’s 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans. Here are his responses related to the points I made.

1. On the no-huddle putting extra pressure on his defense:

“That’s something that we probably have to look at and kind of get a grip on. The other way you could look at it is you are going to go out and try to score as many points as you can. How do you perceive that? I’m not looking at it either way, because I have confidence in our defense. All three phases work together but also stand on their own. ... How we use the tools that we have to make all of those things work is what we have to come to grips with, and that’s something that I have to make some good decisions about.”

2. On Terrell Suggs surprisingly playing so well in his return:

“I didn’t know that he’d be able to play that many snaps, in all honestly. For him to be able to play 44 snaps is really something. I don’t know if that has ever been accomplished. To come back from an Achilles tear at that stage of the offseason and to come back this quickly, and then to play the way he played, it’s probably unprecedented. The credit goes to him and it goes to our training staff for what they accomplished -- pretty remarkable.”

3. On the Ravens considering changes on the offensive line:

“That’s a possibility. I don’t want to make it sound like … we’re not benching guys and putting other guys in there and all that kind of stuff. To me, that wouldn’t be a fair description of what we’re doing. On our offensive line, we’re just trying to find a good mix. To me, guys are probably going to be playing since we have a mix of young guys and older guys. I would guess we’re going to roll some guys in there and see how they do. Let’s take a look at some young guys and see how they do. Let’s keep the veterans available and let them play a little bit. Yes, we’d like to have five guys who are rock solid and who are in there and working with everybody all the time. It’s really just not where we’re at right now. So, let’s make the best of it and let’s work some guys in there. If we get hot with a group, then we’ll stick with it.”

4. On the Ravens considering changes to their defense:

“There are always going to be changes. It’s just a matter of what kind of changes are you talking about. Are you talking about drastic changes? Probably not. It’s not like we’re going to change to some other kind of a defense. We’ve got our structure, but what we have to do is we have to adjust it. We have to realign some of our rules, as far as gap control against the run or how we play coverages and things like that. Personnel-wise, there’s not a whole lot you can do, really. I like our players. Our players are most definitely good enough to get the job done, and we’ll just continue to improve there. Does that mean young guys? We’re going to keep developing the young guys, and as those guys emerge, sure, they are going to get an opportunity.”

5. On how the Ravens are not the same team on the road:

“If you look at it realistically, we are probably in the process of determining exactly what we are going to be able to do on the road and in a tough environment against a really, really good team, a really good front. That’s maybe the best front seven in football right there. And, [we must focus on] how we are going to have to balance out run and pass, how we are going to have to balance out the up-tempo, no-huddle, the communication, the [audibles] at the line. What’s realistic for us to be able to accomplish and what’s the best way to go win a football game? So when you push the envelope like we are pushing it a little bit, sometimes it pushes back. And to me, that is part of the growth process. You try to do that as much as you can by winning games and figure that stuff out. We did it this game by, obviously, not performing well at all. So I like to think we learned a lot in that game.”

There are still many questions the Ravens will have to answer before we see them next, and over the course of the next three months. But at least Harbaugh gave us a good idea of where his head was at after Sunday.

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