John Harbaugh, in his own words

OWINGS MILLS -- Seated in the lobby of the Baltimore Ravens' training complex near a large painting of former majority owner Art Modell, new Ravens head coach John Harbaugh discussed several topics with a few newspaper reporters, including Ravens Insider. Here's an unabridged text of his comments:

Q: Are things getting more comfortable here for you?

A: I definitely have learned my way around the building. I haven't gotten lost since the first week. Steve [Bisciotti] had a meeting with our coaches last night for at least two hours. It was unbelievable. It was dynamite. Our guys were walking around that room saying ‘Wow.' He laid a whole foundation for our program, how he sees his management style and how he sees the organization operating. Basically, I think that's why I'm getting this opportunity. The things I was already talking about are the things that he happened to believe in and our philosophies meshed. He should have been a ball coach.

Q: How are the philosophies similar?

A: The basis is relational motivation. Taking care of one another. Having each other's back. That basic team concept is what he's talking. It's not really a hierarchy so much as guys pushing each other and raising each other up. The old saying is rising tide raises all ships. That's what we want to be all about. We want to have each other's back and we want to take care of one another. We want our team to learn how to do that. We want our coaches to model that. To me, that's the way it should be done. And when you have permission from the organization to do it that way, you have a chance to be successful.

Q: What's your impression of your coaching staff?

A: It was an unbelievable experience. We had a process. We had a bunch of names. Until you get involved, you not sure who you are going to get. The first two days, we laid out a plan to go after guys. I've said before it's a three-dimensional puzzle. You might take this guy if you get this other guy. But if you don't get this guy, you have to plug this other guy. Trying to figure that whole thing out is really fascinating. The amazing thing to me was the whole thing fell into place. I don't know what power caused that to happen. But the whole thing just came together. I didn't worry about. I didn't stress about it. We worked really hard and tried to interview as many people as possible and it just came together.

Q: Is there a common thread among the staff?

A: There are three things. The No. 1 thing -- and far and above the most important thing -- is they all have tremendous character and they are men of integrity. You can trust them, which is non-negotiable. The second thing is they're all great teachers. They can stand up in front of a classroom and they can probably teach sixth-grade math. If you can run a junior-high class, then you can coach football and take care of these guys. And the third thing is they all have great football knowledge. To me, that was the third-most important thing. We ended up getting coaches with pretty amazing resumes, and football knowledge is important, but it's the third-most important thing. I think we really got better people than football coaches.

Q: What do you think of the team that you have?

A: The thing that's been striking is the players have been coming in and we've anywhere between half-hour and two-hour interviews with different players. We probably have about 60 percent of the team talked to right now. Cam and I were laughing about this yesterday that it's almost like these guys have a script. We were joking about who has been telling these guys what to say because all the things they have been saying are all the things we want to hear.

They're talking about practicing hard and guys caring about one another and paying attention to detail. It's like these guys already have that foundation. Ozzie has done an unbelievable job of bringing in guys that fit that ‘Raven model.' To me, that's why it has a chance to be a good football team.

Q: Have you decided on a starting quarterback?

A: How can you? We're not there yet. To me, personnel situations are like playing a round of golf. You have to play the shots that are presented to you. So, sometimes you're behind a tree and sometimes you're in a bunker and sometimes you're in middle of the fairway. Sometimes you got a 60-foot put and sometimes you got a tap-in. That position right now is probably not a tap-in. We got to figure that one out. It's going to be competitive, and it's going to determine which ever guy gives us the best chance to play. Maybe it's someone in the draft or someone on another team.

That has yet to be determined. All three of those guys will tell you the same thing. That's the way they expect it to be. That's the way they want it to be.

And I think all three of those guys want to compete for that job.

Q: How's the health of McNair?

A: I think he's going to be healthy, there's no question. He's well on his way to being right. He's already been in here for two straight weeks doing rehab and training. He might be in the best shape he's ever been in at this stage of an offseason. He's committed to the off-season program. He's already committed to being here for all of the off-season football schools. He's motivated.

Q: Any interest in McNabb?

A: Obviously, there's no contact with Donovan. I have tremendous respect for Donovan McNabb. There's no question in my mind that Donovan McNabb has plenty of good years left in the NFL. I think next year he will be better than he was last year because he's two years away from that ACL. I think any team would love to have Donovan as their quarterback. Donovan quarterbacks the Philadelphia Eagles, and that's where it stands.

Q: Any plans to restructure contracts for cap room like Todd Heap?

A: I'm sure guys will be willing to do whatever they can do to make our team better within the boundaries of good business decisions for themselves and their families. I'm sure Todd is no different. Getting to know Todd the last few times that we've talked, he wants to be successful and he wants the team to be successful. I'm sure he would help Ozzie any reasonable way he could. But that's between Ozzie and the players.

On Jonathan Ogden.

"I think he's right on the fence. The times we've talked, he's torn. He's just trying to figure out what he's going to do and I think he's just going to take his time and approach it in a very methodical way and do what's best for his life right now. I'm sure there are a lot of considerations."

ANY PLAYER SURGERIES?: "I'm not sure. Bill and I haven't gotten onthat yet. Now that the staff is hired, you know what, we'll put that right on the agenda."

HOW INVOLVED IN MEETINGS WILL YOU BE: "That's a good question. What does that mean? Hands-on? I'll run the team meetings, which we'll have regular team meetings. Rex will obviously be in charge of the defensive meetings. Jerry will be in charge of the special-teams meetings, Cam in charge of the offensive meetings. Every position coach in charge of their meetings. I think every coach has a role just like every player. There's 53 roles on the football team. Every guy runs their area and is responsible for their area. I think you need to give coaches the opportunity to do that, but I'm going to be in a lot of those meetings. I want to be a part of them.

I'll be in every drill. I'll be?walking around. I'm going to probably be chasing offensive linemen down the field. And kickoff teams down the field and defensive backs, I'll be behind those guys. As a head coach, my personality is probably going to be coaching everybody on the style we want to have. Which is fun. If you can do that as a coach, that's like the ultimate fun. I'm going to have fun out there. That's a rule. You don't get this opportunity to not enjoy it, right."

WILL THEY ENJOY IT: Yeah, sure. So long as I don't trip anybody up out there."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANDY REID: "I talked to him two or three times per week. He's been a great resource. We talked about coaches. We talked about schedules. We talked about drills, minicamp training camp. He's kind of alerted me to some landmines. He didn't really talk about is it different or the same. I think that's the same is you get hit from every single angle whereas a coordinator you get hit from one angle.


ANY PERSONAL TOUCHES ON HOW THINGS ARE ORGANIZED: "Yeah, everything here was really well organized. Brian was highly organized, the meeting rooms, so it was a great template for us to go and work off. That just gives you a chance to just kind of work off of it, survey it and see how you want it to fit you. We've done some things with pretty much every room. You guys were joking about the weight room. The weight room is going to be totally different. The locker room is different. The offices are different."

HOW SO: "I think we're going to run a college strength and conditioning program with an NFL cutting edge science. The weight room is going to be high energy. It's going to be power. Chalk is going to be flying. Weights are going to be clanging. Guys are going to be working. They're going to see that.

LOCKER ROOM? "We fixed the locker room. It's not a new philosophy. Most NFL locker rooms are organized by position. What we did was webasically rolled the dice and just kind of shook everybody up in a bottle and threw it out there. We mixed all the lockers around. We just figured we wanted to have tangible expression going forward of the picture of our football team. So, Kelly Gregg I think is next to Ed Reed. You're with your position all day every day.

Offensive linemen are like a herd. They go everywhere together. They don't need to be next to each other in the locker room, too. So, we even got the DBs with the offensive linemen, the linebackers and quarterbacks mixed around. Let's get to know some other guys. Let's find about each other. Let's get to know each other so we can say I know this guy. This guy is my brother. I care about this guy. I got this guy's back. I'm going to take care of this guy."

SURPRISED ABOUT ANYTHING: It surprised me about how many people want to be Baltimore Ravens. In interviewing these coaches, about how many of these coaches had other options and had five or six other teams interested in them, probably the most highly regarded college assistant in the game after having many other pro offers would say, 'I'm going to come to Baltimore andbe?a Baltimore Raven.' I didn't think it would be this easy. Not easy, but I didn't think it would be this successful putting together a staff. Now, Jerry, he said we'll find out in September how successful we are. How fast all of this comes together, but it's going to come together. We're going to have a great football team."

It's just a matter of the process. When it all happens, the challenge is going to be to keep it happening at a high level. People want to be Baltimore Ravens."

SECONDARY COACHES: "I think the way to look at it is that Chuck will be in charge. He will be overseeing the secondary. He'll be the guy who's that's responsible for tying together the whole thing. He'll be installing coverages with his unbelievable experience. Mark will be working both the corners and the safeties. He'll be working technique and coverage. Every day it will be different. We wouldn't say this guy has got only the safeties or this guy has got only the corners. I think it's Chuck in charge and Mark working with it also."

GET OUT AND SEE BALTIMORE MUCH?: "Every weekend we've had a chance to go downtown my wife and daughter. We stayed at the Marriott a couple of times, great people down there. I've been to Ruth's Chris more times than I care to admit. Everybody has been great. The first day. Kevin [Byrne] asked me if I had been recognized by anybody and I got recognized by one person the second day after I got hired and he was from Philadelphia. Aren't you John Harbaugh. Congratulations. We're sorry to lose you. Nobody from Baltimore recognizes me yet. That's okay. The next day it started picking up. It's been fun since. Just really nice people."

PARKING SPACE: I didn't I parked over here on this side. It was nice. The fireman moved me over there.

HC? What's that stand for?"

EXCITEMENT? "I think you can hear. You can hear it up there with the marketing people. There's a buzz, man. And it's good people that have done a great job of building something really special. The previous staff they did a great job and Brian did a great job of rallying everyone behind him in the whole building. I'm going to try to do as good a job as he did of rallying everybody around him. There's generally an excitement when things change. It's going to be our responsibility to validate that."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh completed his coaching staff Tuesday by officially hiring five more assistants, including linebackers coach Greg Mattison and secondary coach Chuck Pagano.

The Ravens also added Marwan Maalouf as an assistant special teams coach, Bob Rogucki as the strength and conditioning coach and John Dunn as Rogucki's assistant.

"There are three qualities we wanted from each coach we hired: first, good people with great character; second, outstanding teachers; and third, football expertise," Harbaugh said. "I believe we got all three qualities with each coach who became a Raven. It's a diverse group in both experience, with college and the NFL, and age.

"It's a group that has tremendous energy and enthusiasm for winning. They complement each other well. We took our time, and we were thorough to make sure we got the right coaches for our players."

Mattison was the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at the University of Florida and coached with Harbaugh at Western Michigan. He has been a defensive coordinator at Notre Dame and Michigan and coached former Ravens defensive linemen Tony Weaver and Sam Adams in the college ranks.

"Greg is a special person," Harbaugh said. "He is one of the best communicators I have ever met and watched coach. He has had other opportunities to be an NFL coach through the years, but always decided to stay in college.

"We recruited him, and got him to cross over. You could check both college and pro coaches about Greg, and they will tell he is among the best coaches there is."

Pagano was the University of North Carolina's defensive coordinator and secondary coach last season and has prior stints in the NFL as a secondary coach with the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns. He coached Ravens Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed at the University of Miami. Harbaugh said that Pagano will oversee the secondary with assistance from former NFL safety Mark Carrier, who was retained from Brian Billick's staff.

"I think the way to look at it is that Chuck will be in charge," Harbaugh said. "He will be overseeing the secondary. He'll be the guy who's that's responsible for tying together the whole thing. He'll be installing coverages with his unbelievable experience. Mark will be working with both the corners and the safeties."

Rogucki was formerly the Philadelphia Eagles' assistant strength coach, Maalouf worked under special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg with the Cleveland Browns for two seasons and Dunn has prior stints with the Washington Redskins and several other NFL teams.




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