Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh conducted a conference call with reporters today as they prepare to face the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend. Harbaugh touched on a number of topics including Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco on the road and, yes, Jim Harbaugh's next job. As most coaches are, he was impressed with the Chiefs running attack and says not only do they run a lot but they run it very well. Interesting stuff.
Here's a summary of what he had to say:
Ray Lewis still has it. Harbaugh says it's "pretty incredible" that the 35-year old Ray Lewis is still playing at the level he's at. He says it's his work ethic, his instincts and that he's simply a gifted athlete is what keeps him going.
Joe Flacco is solid on the road. He already has three playoffs wins on his resume -- all on the road -- and Harbaugh says he's intuitive and smart which helps him handle road environments. "Heck, we'd like to get him a home playoff game," Harbaugh said. Asked why they're considered a good road team, Harbaugh simply said, "We won."
The Chiefs have improved steadily. We asked Harbaugh what the difference was between last year's Chiefs team and this year's team and he said it's not really a fair comparison because he doesn't look at it like that. Where the Chiefs are right now, Harbaugh says, comes from "steady growth and improvement" and they've "obviously been successful" at doing it so far.
The Chiefs running game is on the Ravens minds. Obviously. "You better get ready for the run," Harbaugh said. He says they're not just running it a lot but they're doing it very well, too. Ray Lewis told us via conference call earlier today (more on him later) that they pride themselves on stopping the run. As we've talked about, this is the premier matchup in this game.
Overtime rules are changing. OT rules are changing in the playoffs (remember?) so that teams can't kick a game winning field goal on the first drive. Could this set up a situation where a defensive minded team like the Ravens defer in OT and go on defense first to hope for good field position? Harbaugh said it's something you'd have to consider.
What's up with the Baltimore offense? Baltimore's offense was tops in the league earlier and they've dropped off since then. Harbaugh's response? "I think that we're 6-1 in our last seven so..."
What will Jim Harbaugh do? As many of you know, John and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh are brothers. Jim is currently a top the A-list head coaching candidates. We're in the process of figuring out where Jim will go next -- NFL? College? Stay at Stanford? Harbaugh says he's not sure where he'll go but, if it's in the NFL, he'd rather not face him that often. Perhaps that's a sign that, if it's in the NFL, it'll be in the NFC.