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John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco talk about facing the New Orleans Saints on Monday night

Transcripts from John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco's conference calls with the New Orleans media on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Saints suffered one of their worst home losses in the past eight years last week, and I guess you are familiar with how teams tend to bounce back from that. What are your thoughts on that?

"Yeah, I'm not sure what the numbers are on that. That's really not a thing that we focus on. We're just focusing on the team, the personnel, the scheme and trying to come down there and play the best game that we can play against, obviously, a very good football team no matter where they play. At home they've always been even better."

From a personnel standpoint there are questions here about who is going to play at safety this week. How much do you look at that or do you monitor that as the week goes on?

"Well, you look at it but it's not the main thing. We can't really know who is going to play back there, and whoever it is is not someone who has been back there regularly so there is not a lot of tape for us to watch. We look at the scheme, and I'm sure whoever plays back there will plug into their scheme and play the scheme the way they expect them to play it."

Your brother Jim and Steve Smith have both gotten the best of the Saints over the years. Are those resources you can turn to as you prepare for this team that you would not have against other teams in the league?

"There is always some kind of connection and you always try to draw information and understanding wherever you can on any team. I don't think we have, certainly, any more with the Saints than any other team we have. (It is) Probably less because we don't play them as much and don't have as many connections or as much history with them. You try to do the best you can with that, it really doesn't matter who you're playing."

Have you talked to your brother since the game against the Saints?

"Yeah, I've talked to him. We talk about a lot of things. What do you want to know?"

Have you talked about the Saints and what he saw and had success with?

"I don't really think it's a big story. I can see where it's interesting but really it's not valuable. He's dealing with his team and we're dealing with ours. You're kind of busy with that, so I don't think there is as much to made of that. I could see where you would be interested in that but I don't think there is much to that."

Why do you think the AFC North has had so much success against the NFC South?

"I don't know. I really can't speak for any of the other games, we played pretty well in the three games and that's really the key for us. We just executed and hopefully we can do that going down there. It's just week to week, I don't think it's so much the divisional issues for us. It's just been those are the games we've played well in."

Do you understand the perception that the AFC North is a better conference or do you really think it is a week to week thing?

"It is not something we really look at. I can understand where it is an interesting topic but just in preparation it is not really on your plate. You're just really looking at schemes and players. Every team we've played, when you look at the team that you're playing that week, and the team that we're playing this week is very good, very well coached, they have very good players, they've got great tradition, obviously they have one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game, playmakers on offense, a very aggressive style of defense, and it just presents a bunch of challenges and really that's all you focus on."

Do you tell your guys to not look at the 4-6 record and just look at the film?

"Yeah, it doesn't matter. In this league I would like to think our guys already understand that about this league. The record, what's the difference, it's two games, it's nothing. It's just a very balanced league, it always is, and it's a week to week league. That gets proven over and over again. It really does, it's just very clear cut."

The Saints have gotten one break and that's that they're tied for first in the division. Do you feel that intensity this time of year?

"Absolutely, it's that time of year. It's November football and December football. That's when seasons are made or broken right now. We talked to our players about that, our guys understand that. It's always been a time of year that we've pointed towards where we feel like we need to be playing our best football and I'm sure that's true for every team in the league."

What are your thoughts on Steve Smith and his mental approach to football? Is that contagious in your offense? Does that impact your offense in any particular way?

"Steve's approach to the game, attitude and competitiveness is definitely contagious. He's the kind of guy you just love being around, you just love being around him every day. The way he works, the way he competes, he loves the game, great personality, obviously he's a tremendous player so he's been really good for us and we really are blessed to have him on our team."

Were you at all surprised how quickly he fit into your offense and how effective he's been?

"Really not. I think that we all expected him to do really well. We felt like we had studied him on tape and felt like he had a lot of gas in the tank, still does, and we're just very happy with it."

Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco
Conference Call with Local Media
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How meaningful has it been getting some extra time off with the bye week?

"I think it is always big.  It is a long season.  We have a long stretch so to get your body a little bit of time off and get rested and get your mind away for a little bit always helps out and gets you ready for the last little run you are about to make."

Do you feel like bye weeks throw you off a little bit?

"I think there's always a risk when you step away for a good amount of time to not be as sharp as you want to be but I don't think that is something we need to think about or worry about.  I think in the long run you are definitely better for getting away for a little bit and letting your body heal up as much as it can.  I think any time you step away from something there is a risk that you run and having that crispness that you kind of developed over the previous weeks.  I think John (Harbaugh) laid the schedule out well. He has allowed us to get back in here, get the sweat going and use the extra time wisely and make sure that kind of stuff doesn't happen to us."

What are some of the advantages or disadvantages of playing a Saints secondary that hasn't had a lot of time playing together?

"Obviously you can look at some film of guys that have played and see what they do but obviously it's not that guys so you don't know if he's going to jump this or sit back on this or what his tendencies are.  I think obviously anytime you play guys that haven't played a lot you have to go out there and test him and see what they are made of.  I think everybody's been there at some point where they haven't played a ton of games.  You have a certain feeling in your mind.  It's our job to go out there and test everybody and see how everybody is doing.  The bottom line is you can talk about that stuff and all that but you really just have to go out there and go through our progressions, run our routes well and let all that stuff take care of itself."

When you do not know who is going to play one of the starting safety positions for the Saints, is that something you don't worry about in your preparation?

"You can't worry about it too much.  Our coaches might think about it a little bit but the bottom line is you can't worry about it too much.  There is going to be somebody over there playing their defense.  Like I said, it is our job to run our offense and take advantage of things that they give us and make sure we don't let them take advantage of what they are trying to do."

What has Steve Smith, Sr. meant to your team this year? Has he offered any advice about the Saints?

"No I haven't really talked to him too much about playing against these guys being that he has played against them a lot.  I haven't really talked to him too much about that.  I think it is pretty obvious what he has brought to us.  He is just a really good wide out that brings explosiveness, the route running, his ability to catch the ball, just the fire and the passion that he brings and you can see when he catches the ball in his hands that he runs with.  He is a pretty impressive guy and obviously he has helped us out a bit amount."

What do you think about the Saints coming off their worst loss at home in eight years?

"Every week is a different week in the NFL.  Everybody has a good football team.  You have to make sure you show up each and every week and give it your best.  You can't really develop too many thoughts based on what happened the previous week.  It is our job to go out there and do the best we can each week.  When we look up and the end of the 60 minutes if we did what we wanted to things will be in our favor.  It is crazy how from one week to the next how it is very unpredictable and how you really can't pay too much attention to it and you have to talk yourself into things because of it."

How much has Justin Forsett opened up your offense?

"He's been great, his vision, and his ability to break the first guys' tackle and hit the hole and see where it is supposed to be.  He has just done a great job on a lot of things.  He's familiar with the offense though.  He has been able to do the pass protection stuff.  he is very good at that.  He has been all around really good for us.  I think that has proven with the way he's played this year and people I think have seen that.  I think during training camp and during the offseason we could obviously see that he was going to be a good back for us this year.  We just didn't necessarily know how good and how important he would be but he has proven to be very important and we just have to keep him healthy and keep him going."

Steve Smith, Sr. has been a huge nemesis for the Saints in the past.

"Are you saying that he has played well against them?"

Yeah.

"Well I am glad to hear that my man.  I appreciate the heads up.  I haven't really talked to him about that or I didn't even really know that. That is good news."

The Saints have always had a problem with Steve Smith, Sr. always going up and getting these 50/50 balls.  How does he fit into your offense in that way?

"He has done a great job getting the ball and having runs after the catch.  He has had a couple of deep shots where he has scored touchdowns for us.  We have had one of them called back where he was in a critical (situation), where him and his guy were going up for the ball and he went up and got it.  It is pretty impressive that a guy at his stature can go up and get a ball and do it so well.  That just ties into the effect that he has really good hands.  He's very sure of himself in any situation.  He knows how to play that ball and go up and meet it with his hands.  That's a big advantage.  Hopefully we don't have to throw him any 50/50 jump balls.  We just have to keep him doing what he's doing and get him the ball early and let him run with the ball a little bit."

Why do you think the AFC North has had its way with the NFC South?

"It's tough to say.  We have been a pretty good division for a few years now and it's for whatever reason it just happened to go that way.  I think when you look at our division right now though, I think everybody's right there.  We have all winning records.  We're all playing pretty consistent football.  I think we all at the same time would like to be a little bit better than we are.  But the bottom line is that this year we just happen to have some good teams in the division and just happen to go our way in those games."

Is it a style of play?

"I don't know.  You guys can talk about that and debate over it.  Obviously when you think about this division it is mostly warm weathered teams and dome teams versus not but that shouldn't really matter because half of the games are played there and half of the games are played here.  That would be for you guys to talk about."

Are you going to try to enjoy the bus ride from the airport to downtown and ride a bike to Café du Monde?

"We came down in the preseason and I had my opportunity to do that and I wasn't playing in that game so it was nice to be able to do that and get that out of the way, this week, not so much."

You have some fond memories of playing in the Superdome huh?

"Yeah, obviously, I want to keep them that way too."

Does the Mercedes-Benz Superdome have a reputation for being a tough place for an opponent to play in night games that you have heard about?

"No I did not know about that but I think anytime you go on the road in the NFL, in the dome with a crowd that is very into the game it obviously presents its challenges.  We just have to make sure we go in there and that stuff does not become an impact on the game.  How do you do that?  You just make sure you practice the way you have been, stay disciplined and all that stuff.  The bottom line is it is going to be up to us to go out there on Monday and stay within ourselves and not let the environment get the best of us."

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