Harbaugh using Philadelphia experience to prepare for Super Bowl

January 29, 2013 | WNST Staff

HEAD COACH JOHN HARBAUGH

 

(opening statement) “Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. This is pretty cool, this is pretty exciting. We’re really excited to be here, we’re thrilled to be here. On behalf of the Baltimore Ravens, the entire organization, the city, the greater Baltimore area, Maryland, Ravens fans everywhere, we’re proud to be participants in the Super Bowl. We’re going to do our best to play our best in this game. We had an incredible sendoff down at the Inner Harbor this afternoon on our way to the airport. We had thousands, I’m not sure how many thousands, but lots of thousands of people there in a cold drizzle, on a January, Chesapeake Bay, afternoon. And they were there all morning waiting for us and they just went crazy. So we just had a great time doing that. Our organization, our Ravens staff putting together this trip has been flawless. Thanks to them for what they did. We have a great organization, led by Steve Bisciotti, and they did a great job. We’re just excited to be here and we’re looking forward to going to work. We had a good practice this morning, we had meetings this morning, practice this morning, things that we would sometimes do in the afternoon we did in the morning so we had our normal Monday. We’re on schedule and we’re going to work.”

 

(on what are the advantages and disadvantages of taking a week off) “Well there’s always work to do. There will be work to do right up until game time. We’ve laid out most of our plans now so we’ll be fine tuning what we’re doing trying to improve every single day and be our best on Sunday.”

 

(on the story behind the ‘What’s my name?’ mantra) “Well, the germination of the ‘What’s my name?’ goes back to, we were probably seven years old when we first heard the story and that’s Jack Harbaugh telling the story. I think it was the Ernie Terrell fight, Mohammed Ali and Ernie Terrell when Mohammed Ali had just changed his name from Cassius Clay to Mohammed Ali, and it was about respect. We were blessed to have Lonnie (Williams) and Mohammed to our training camp, it was actually the day right before we played the Cincinnati Bengals in the opener and they visited our players and spent time with our players. My dad was in the middle of telling the story when Mohammed and Lonnie drove up in a golf cart and the players went crazy, ‘The champ! It’s the champ!’ We had a chance to get pictures. The really neat thing about Mohammed Ali’s that he spent a lot of time with the kids. We had a lot of player’s kids there and coaches kids were there and he spent a lot of time with them. So that’s kind of where it comes from.”

 

(on the hiring of Juan Castillo) “Juan Castillo is a guy that I’ve known for a long time. Had a chance to work with him in Philadelphia for 10 years. Just a tremendous football coach, had a lot of experience on different sides of the ball. He’s going to work with our offense, he’s in a consultant’s role for this game. He’ll be on the staff going forward after this game. He’s just been adding whatever he can. He’s got another set of eyes on the game plan and is working with our players a little bit. He’ll play a role for us.”

 

(on what coach has inspired him the most other than his father) “Well looking at you I think of Tom Crean right away. Stand up for the cameras so they can take a look at you, you’re a Tom Crean look alike. You know, you talk about Bo Schembechler. We grew up with Coach Schembechler, and (with) Bo, Woody (Hayes), ‘The Ten Year War’, all those kinds of things, That’s a foundation for all of us. I would say Jim (Harbaugh) probably, and Tom. Those are the guys we talk to almost every single day during the offseason and sometimes during the season just about coaching and issues we have. So we try to keep it in the family.”

 

(on what it was like playing youth hockey against his brother growing up) “I stutter right away when I think about it I guess. Playing any sport with Jim (Harbaugh) growing up was a test of will for all of us. Jim was ahead of his time, he was bigger and stronger than all the kids his age. He didn’t hang out with kids his age too much he hung out with me and my friends all the time. He was good enough to take it to us on a pretty regular basis. Youth hockey in Ann Arbor, it’s big in Michigan. We played hockey, we played basketball, we wrestled. We played seven sports when I was in seventh grade. For one year we played them all, whatever sport was in season we were at practice. I’m not sure what the thinking was, but now that I have kids I think I can figure it out. Jim was a great competitor. If you played hockey with Jim, you got bounced around. That was true for pretty much any sport though.”
(on the changes he made on the offensive line) “Well the “Smith brothers”, obviously we think they’re two great players. They’re related by their greatness as football players and they work so well together over there and it would be our left side most of the time. It’s going to be a big challenge for us. It’s been a big challenge for everybody they’ve played. The offensive line situation has evolved for us. Jah Reid got hurt; he’s a good up and coming young player. Bryant McKinnie was working his way off some injuries throughout the course of the year and he was really coming out at the end of the year for us. He played exceptionally well in practice down the stretch there and he’s played really well, I think the timing has been perfect. You just can’t make the timing up sometimes. The timing has been really amazing as far as him going in there and playing so well and we’re just so proud of that. So him and (nose tackle) (Ma’ake) Kemoteatu on that side will have their hands full but we believe they’re up to the challenge.”

 

(on his experience with the Philadelphia Eagles and anything he took from Super Bowl XXXIX ) “It’s been a long time and I don’t have the memory stick going that well right now, but (Andy Reid) left me a book this thick for Super Bowl playing. That’s Andy; that’s meticulous. I think the experience of going through the Super Bowl experience one time is positive for a coach, and it’s positive for a player. You have a sense of the timing a little bit. You understand how the week goes. You understand the distractions, the potential distractions, and you understand the timeline for the game as much as anything. That will be a plus, but they’re all different. I remember it was Jacksonville; it was kind of cold that week. That’s the biggest memory I have of that week. And the fact that we did not win, you never forget that.”

 

(on whether it has all set in yet) “It really set in on the bus ride down the interstate on the way to Providence from Gillette Stadium. That’s when it set in. We already knew our opponent so that was kind of embedded in our minds. It was time to get ready at that point. We’ve been getting ready for these guys for weeks so we understand the challenge. It’s the Super Bowl, it’s a big deal, we’re very excited about that. We’re going to enjoy that part of it, but enjoy the football part of it more than anything. Our guys are football players, they love football, they love everything that goes with it and that’s what we’ll be focused on.”

 

(on whether he has any problem with the team trash talking) “You’ve seen us play so you know how we do it. Our guys are class guys. We’ll play with character, we’ll play with class, we’ll be a tough, hard-nosed football team –  that’s the way we’ll play. Before the game, after the game, I think we’re very respectful of our opponents, we always have been, and our opponents have respected us over the years. The team we’re playing is built the same way. We’ve got a lot of respect for the 49ers. We’ve got a lot of respect for their coach, the coaching staff, their players, and I expect it to be played in that way.”

 

(on what the plane ride was like) “It was like all of our plane rides. It was fun to start with and then as soon as the plane took off they quieted down, the lights went down, you grab something to eat and most of them fell asleep. When the plane landed they woke up and they were ready to go. It seems like that’s how it works for the most part. But they were excited. I think the thing in Baltimore, in the Inner Harbor, was a big deal. That’s something we all were surprised by a little bit. The fans were crazy, they had the music going, there were thousands of people there and they were doing the Ravens chant that they do. We were all pretty excited on the way to the airport about that.”

 

(on what he has seen from quarterback Joe Flacco in terms of how in sync he is with his receivers) “I think the passing game is, the precision part of it has improved a little bit lately. Those guys have done a good job with that. Joe has been good. The protection has been tremendous so Joe has had time to push the ball down field a little bit, that may be the most important part of it. But that’s been a work in progress all year and I think we’ve improved steadily throughout the course of the season. Even throughout some of the tough times we have continued to improve and showed up at the playoffs.”

 

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