Week 7 concludes with the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars squaring off on Monday Night Football. The matchup pits two teams going in opposite directions – the struggling Jaguars (1-5) are in a full on rebuild mode after giving rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert the chance to play, while the Ravens (4-1) are leading the AFC North and on the short list of favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Jacksonville has lost five in a row and the task this week at home will not get any easier. For John Harbaugh his focus this week is getting the Ravens offense to improve in the red-zone.
John Harbaugh joined 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore with The Norris & Davis Show to discuss the need for Baltimore to improve in the red-zone, a potential handshake issue when he takes on his brother Jim on Thanksgiving, and how he’d respond to those who don’t think Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback.
How do you guys improve in the red-zone offense?
“We work on it. We just got to practice it. I think it is execution. You look at a couple of plays there if you block a little better they walk into the end zone on some of the runs we had. We get down inside the 5-yard line and if we execute the screen [pass] to Anquan Boldin a little better that one scores. If Joe sees the progression a little bit better on that one over on the left side. Those are all things we can do better. I like our concepts. What we are not gonna try to do is chase a lot of new plays and put a lot of different stuff in and get to the point where we can’t execute our stuff. We’re going to keep working on the concepts we have and just execute them better and get better.”
Let’s fast forward to Thanksgiving. Your parents are going to be at the game. Who is taking your side if you and Jim Harbaugh have an intense handshake issue after the game in this brother-to-brother battle?
“[Laughs] All I know is my dad, when we used to get a little out of control, he used to grab us both by the back of the head and knock our foreheads together. It would be a ‘head clunk,’ we would call it. He’d clunk our heads together. That’ll get your attention pretty quickly, so I hope he doesn’t have to clunk our heads together after the game. He wouldn’t take a side. He’d be doing the head clunking I think. [Host: I think your mom is taking your brother’s side] That is how it is going to be. That’s why my dad said he doesn’t want to be at the game with the camera on him and all that stuff because inevitably there’s going to be some play in the game that goes one way or the other. He’s going to wince or smile or is going to have some type of expression that is going to be caught and we are going to see it later and one of us is going to call him up and say ‘Dad I knew you loved him more than me. It’s always been that way! ‘ He says he has to go back to our house and get down in the basement and watch it on TV. We’ll see.”
What do you say to all the Joe Flacco critics right now?
“Well I mean it’s okay. Joe is critical of himself. We’re critical of everything that we do. We look at it with a fine-tooth comb. We talk to our guys all the time and it is just the nature of the business. We are looking at ourselves. We look at 90% of the things we do right 10% of the time probably in terms of studying it and 10% of the things we don’t do very well 90% of the time to try to make it better. That’s just a general 90-10 rule, but that’s what we do. We spend our time on the things we need to improve at. I think people spend their time looking at things they need to improve and the things guys do well it just kind of taken for granted, but they say okay we got that straightened out and let’s go get the other things straightened out. You start talking about Joe not being a good quarterback and not being this or not being that? Well everybody can have their opinion, but anybody that knows football knows that is not the case. He is the first quarterback in history – the fastest quarterback in history to reach 40 wins – so that’s real.
That’s the measuring stick because in the end this is a team sport and how a quarterback interacts and relates to his team and plays the game in such a way is to win games. That’s what counts. That’s the bottom line. Now within that all the things a quarterback can do or any position a guy can do to make him better at his craft and make him better at what he does that is the things he has to chase, so whether it is red-zone touchdowns or whether it’s completion percentages, third-down conversions, whatever those things are as it relates what he does and how he plays his position. Now we study that stuff like crazy. Joe like in every other position and like me as a coach and like all of us we try to get better at all that stuff. However you want to label the guy an ‘elite quarterback’ or not an ‘elite quarterback,’ when he wins a championship, which is going to happen then people can start talking about the ‘elite,’ label. We don’t care about that. I could tell you one thing: Joe could care less about what label you put on him. He wants to be a winning quarterback.”