Ravens coach John Harbaugh addresses the media during his conference call on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.
Q: What have you seen from the Patriots on film this week?
JH: They're really good. They've got a good team, and all three phases are contributing. That's why they're 3-1. Getting turnovers, not turning the ball over, doing the things that good teams do.
Q: Coach, how much of last year's playoff win will you watch to prepare for the weekend?
JH: That's going to be part of our study. And also the last year's loss up there will be in our breakdown also.
Q: Can you talk about the way your offense has changed with Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh coming in?
JH: I think it's expanded us a little bit. Obviously, it gives us a couple more guys that can get open, especially against one-on-one [coverage]. They can make plays when they're in one-on-one situations. I think Joe [Flacco] continues to gain confidence in those guys in critical situations. Until you develop some history together, I think it's hard to know exactly what that is. You've seen obviously T.J. make some plays, has made a lot of critical plays for us. Third down conversions, the touchdown catch in the two-minute drive against Pittsburgh. Anquan has actually dominated a couple of games in terms of numbers with multiple catches. That really helps us.
Q: Do you anticipate their offense will change much without Randy Moss?
JH: I don't think their offense will change. I think it will be the same offense. The personality of the offense sometimes takes a turn with different players that you have playing, it kind of goes in one direction or another. I think they'll run the same plays. They'll just put guys in position to do the things that they do well. Tight ends have made a big difference for them. Their offense is evolving even with the players that they have with the young guys.
Q: What do you remember of the Tom Brady-Deion Branch connection?
JH: I remember in the Super Bowl when I was with the Eagles, they caught a bunch of passes. It didn't seem like we could get him stopped, unfortunately. That and a couple of timely screens, you never forget those kind of things I guess. Deion Branch is a game breaking type guy. Obviously, he's had a couple injuries the last couple of years. It seems like he's healthy now. He looks good.
Q: I'm sure you've seen plenty of Brandon Tate on special teams. Have you been able to scout much of him as a receiver? He's a guy who may get increased playing time now that Randy Moss isn't here.
JH: We've looked at everything he's done so far with them. And we knew of him coming out. We looked at him in the draft, and we liked him. I think he's a speedy guy. He's a game breaking, potentially, type guy. He's proven that already on special teams. And we're going to have to keep our eye on him.
Q: What is it about his play on special teams, specifically those two returns, that jumps out at you?
JH: The main thing was they went for touchdowns. That really jumps out at me. Obviously, I know what you're asking. You look back and you say 'Why?' I think the thing is his speed and his vision. Scott [O'Brien] does a great job of scheming you up. He finds weaknesses in what you're doing. He goes after those things. It looks like he's got good vision across the field. He can kind of pick the spot where a guy might be getting out of position a little bit. He does it really seamlessly. It's not like he's got to stop-start again. He's very smooth, and he's a quick accelerator. It's something that we'll have to really deal with.
Q: Is it difficult to translate that type of action when you're a receiver though as opposed to returning a kick?
JH: He's a receiver. Some guys are running backs. Some guys are defensive backs. Some guys are receivers, guys who return kicks. He's a young receiver. He was a good receiver at North Carolina. It's not like he was a guy who couldn't play. He had some injury issues that pushed him down a little bit in the draft. I thought he was one of the premier receivers coming out. He's a young developmental receiver, and I don't see any reason why he won't be a very good one.
Q: Were you surprised to hear about the Randy Moss trade?
JH: I can't say so because I hadn't thought about it. It wasn't like I was considering whether that would or wouldn't happen. We have our hands full here. I think that especially the Patriots, but everybody in the league, but they have done it probably better than anyone this last decade, they do things to improve their team, short term and long term. Obviously, they feel like this improves their team. Taking those two things into consideration [and] all the things that go with it, [it] ultimately improves their team, and that's why they did it.
Q: Their passing game certainly has a different look to it right now.
JH: Yeah, but we don't know what that is because we haven't seen it yet. That's tough for us. We're going to come out there, and we're going to have to defend it for the first time, and everybody else will have a look at where it's at. But for us, since we don't get to watch practice, we're really not going to know what it is until we play them.
Q: Can you talk about Ray Lewis, the influence he has and the leadership he brings to your team?
JH: Sure. I think everything you see is real with Ray. That's the thing that impresses me so much with him these last three years. He's become, from a football perspective, I consider him a great friend. He's a guy that I personally, you get to know a guy and you're around a guy every day, and I admire him and respect him and like him. He's got an unbelievable passion for every part of football, not just playing the game, although obviously he loves to play. He loves to study. He loves to mentor the young guys. He loves to pick apart an offense. He's very coachable. When you give him tips and scheme ideas and things like that, he's all ears. And obviously, he comes up with ideas of his own as well. I think he's one of the all-time greats, first-ballot Hall of Famer. But he's one of the all-time great people in football as well.
Q: How impressive is it that he's been able to sustain the level of play he has for so long?
JH: Absolutely. It's just incredible. It's incredible. We played the Steelers two weeks ago, and James Farrior was a guy that I think he's one less year than Ray. Those two old warriors were going at it. But man, they didn't look old. They played like kids. And Ray, I'm sure that when the Patriots watch him on tape, you can compare him to what he looked like 10 years ago, but he's different. He's different, but I think he's playing as well as he's ever played in his career. How many guys are able to do that ever in the history of the game?
Q: What's the dynamic like among your wide receivers? You've got some pretty accomplished guys, some veteran guys. What's that room like and the dynamic on a day-to-day with those types of personalities?
JH: It's really been good. They're all into it. They're all football guys. I think they've got a lot of respect for each other, but they compete with each other. They compete against the defensive backs. They're just pros. It's been very positive. We like it. We like guys working hard. We're not afraid of guys competing. We like guys who want to get after it and want to do it well.
Q: After what happened last January and the blowout that was in the playoffs, do you think at all about the wounded-dog kind of scenario with a team like the Patriots?
JH: No, I don't think about their motivation at all. It's not a concern for us. We know they're going to be motivated. We expect their very best job. We expect that stadium to be a tough place to play. We expect to have our hands full. We know how hard it is to play them and to play there and about what kind of program they've been, what they stand for and all that. Why they feel that way doesn't matter to us.
Q: Have you noticed that your team kind of gets a lot of team's best shots?
JH: I think we get teams best shots physically. They make a big deal every week it seems like.
Q: Can you give an assessment of what you see in the Patriots defense?
JH: The safeties are all over the field. They've made plays, they've made interceptions, they've been in the right spot, they've been difference makers. The corners are young, very talented, very well-coached technique-wise, and they've been in position and they've played very well. [Jerod] Mayo, the whole thing in some ways revolves around him. This guy is one of the best linebackers in football. He does it all. I think they're outside backers, obviously they've got the veterans there. They're in the mold that they've always had there, very solid, physical, disciplined guys. The front's very very physical. Just very big, very good hands, two-gappers most of the time. I think they're able to be very multiple. They can get in odd fronts, even fronts, play man coverage, play zone coverage, press you, not press you. It just looks like they've always looked.
Q: How's it been having Dean Pees on your staff, and is there any advantage to having him this week?
JH: I hope so. Keep our fingers crossed. But Coach [Bill] Belichick is pretty wily. He knows Coach Pees is here. I think that's a lot less of a part of it as opposed to the type of person Dean is, the type of coach he is. I go all the way back to college with him when I played. I've always respected him. He's brought a lot of great stuff to us. I know our players really appreciate and respect him too, so he's been a big plus for us.