BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Coach John Harbaugh apologized to Ravens fans Friday that the team didn’t continue past Saturday’s matchup with the Titans, but thanked fans for their energy this season.
“Thank you to our fans. Our fans were unbelievable. Our fans were spectacular,” Harbaugh said. “Start with the stadium, first of all, it was amazing how great the fans were in the stadium. I just really appreciate the energy in the city.”
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“That’s why you coach, that’s why you do it to impact the community to feel that kind of energy,” he added. “And I really do wish we could have extended for another week and two more weeks after that.”
In the 40-minute press conference, Harbaugh apologized to fans and reflected on the game.
“I apologize to the fans for that too, because that would have been a lot of fun,” he said. “It would have been something that Baltimore really latched on to.”
Harbaugh described the players as a “high energy group of guys that stick together that work, that fight, that overcome adversity, that try to do their very best.”
“We had a great season but a disappointing end,” Harbaugh noted.
“We were the best team we could be this season. All things considered where we were at — with our team, our roster, our youth, with our experience,” he added. “But we weren’t the best in that playoff game and that was disappointing and that hurts a little bit.”
But the Ravens coach said the Titans deserve some credit.
“That’s a team that went to New England and Baltimore and won,” Harbaugh said. That’s a team that beat Kansas City already this year. And they’re hot, they’re playing their best football.”
When asked why his team lost against the Titans, Harbaugh said:
“It’s not any one thing in football, it’s a layered game, but you can boil it down to probably this — if you wanted to step back and say what’s the big picture — they won the critical downs, we didn’t.”
Harbaugh said the team had yards and moved the ball up and down the field, but didn’t come away with points. He said the defense played OK when it came to yards as they had 300 yards, which would have been good on any other day,
“Our guys played hard, they played tough, but [the Titans] got points,” Harbaugh said. [The Titans] made the most of their yards, they made spectacular plays.”
Harbaugh said the Ravens made the mistakes and the Titans didn’t.
When asked about who made the calls for offensive strategy and if Harbaugh ever overruled Greg Roman, he said:
“First things first, we’re calling the game plan to win, so if you want to point the finger — if that’s where you’re going — I’ll take it. I’m responsible for everything,” Harbaugh said. “If that’s the goal, it’s always on the head coach. That’s where it belongs.”
He said so much goes into play-calling and execution.
When asked about Marlon Humphrey’s comment about the team “choking” in the playoffs, Harbaugh said he isn’t worried about the team’s confidence.
“Our guys are confident guys. I don’t think our guys take too seriously too much of what gets said, especially in the heat of the moment,” Harbaugh said. “Frustration, disappointment, I felt it, we all felt it after the game.”
Harbaugh said Humphrey is one of his favorite players and people.
“I love this guy, I mean he’s a great player,” he added. “Not just that, his attitude, his energy, his effort, his work ethic, and his coachability.”
Harbaugh said it was a tough week for players, coaches as well as fans.
“You know it’s been a rough emotional week for all of us. I know the fans feel that,” he said. “It hurts. It was a gutshot, you know. It’s the same gutshot 20 teams had at the end of the regular season.”
Harbaugh said he’s excited for the season ahead.
“It’s going to take scheme and roster to improve,” he said.
He said the team has a chance to build their roster in a way they haven’t been able to in a number of years.
The team has a quarterback in place and offense and defensive systems in place, and Harbaugh said now they just have to tweak and work on the team’s weak spots.
Speaking of the quarterback, WJZ’s Mark Viviano ask the coach about Lamar Jackson, how he reacts to adversity when the team’s behind and where he can grow.
Harbaugh said Jackson was in his office for a while on Wednesday and he asked him “where do you think you need to get better?”
Jackson was very self-aware of where he needs to improve, Harbaugh said.
“He nailed the priority list the same way Greg [Roman] and I discussed the priority list Monday,” he said. “He’s very smart about that, he’s really self-critical.”
Harbaugh said he knows what he needs to improve for us to take steps forward as an offense.
“I think it’s really interesting to look at Lamar Jackson, Look at the progress he made from last year,” he added. “He’s 23 years old. He’s younger than Joe Burrow. So he’s got a pretty good head start right now.”
Harbaugh said he’s confident in Jackson.
Viviano also asked Harbaugh if there were any links between the two losses the team has had in back-to-back divisional playoffs.
“We didn’t play well,” he said. “If we had gotten into these games and played very well and didn’t turn the ball over and played winning football, you could say that’s football.”
Harbaugh was asked if the players were “rusty” after having a couple of weeks to rest, but he called it a cliche.
Historically, he said it’s been 50-50, teams have gone on to win Super Bowls after resting players. But he said he may do it differently next year.
“We’re way better than what we played,” Harbaugh said.
Moving forward, the team management will be looking at the rosters — trying to keep some of their key free agents — like Matthew Judon, Michael Pierce, Jimmy Smith and Patrick “Peanut” Onwuasor.
Harbaugh said they “very much” want to keep Judon, and it might be “very hard’ to keep him. The Ravens have already re-signed eight players for the season already.
“We’re going to try to get as many of these guys re-signed, as many as we can,” he said, noting a lot of things go into that like the business part of it between agents and team managers and players.
As of right now, Harbaugh said it looks like all of the staff will be staying together. James Urban, Bobby Engram did talk to the Eagles, but decided to stay.
The players and coach will get a chance to reunite during the Pro-Bowl game on Jan. 26.
Harbaugh said he’s looking forward to reuniting with some of his players and working with others.