We had our traditional exit meetings this morning and I met with the team and used the Nelson Mandela quote, “Don’t judge me by my successes, but rather by how many times I fell and got back up again.” That’s what I felt about this team. I was proud of this team and the way they finished the season, with a 7-3 record in the final 10 games, but more proud of them for their character, for their strength, the way they bonded together as a team, the way they came together in the face of adversity and continued to get up when they were knocked down. They were knocked down a number of times this season, obviously. I think this is a very strong group, a group that I was very proud of, very proud to be associated with. We didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish. We set out to be world champions, just like everybody else, in the 32 teams in the NFL. We didn’t achieve that, but we didn’t stop fighting. I left them with that message.
My response to the question that was raised last night, I do want to coach. We do have meetings scheduled throughout this week, perhaps this week, with ownership and management and we’ll try to evaluate everything at that point in time. I’m sure there will be many, many questions asked about going forward, so we’ll talk our way through some of those, I’m sure, at another point in time. I do want to coach, so with that, if you have any questions I’d be glad to try to answer them.
Q: Have you talked to ownership about your situation? Did they tell you you’re coming back?
A: You’re going to hear from John Mara, from Jerry Reese a little bit later, and they’ll fill you in on that response. I do want to coach.
Q: On your end, was it something you had to consider or was it always a no-brainer at this point for you?
A: On my end, I’ve always been a coach. My feelings are exactly the same as they always have been. Competitive by nature, I want to be the best that I can be and the people that surround me, I want them to be the very best they can be. The issue with asking me questions of this nature and with my response this year to people that try to ask me these questions is I don’t want it to be about me. I don’t think it is about me and I don’t want to take anything away from our team and what we’re trying to accomplish by answering questions about myself and my future. You say to me, the season is over. Well, last night it wasn’t over for me. I hadn’t even completed my press conference postgame. Today there is a little bit more reflection time, but it’s also been another one of those busy days. You get here at 5 o’clock in the morning and you grade all three tapes. You have a coaches’ meeting, you have a players’ meeting. There’s not a lot of time for anything else. Over the course of the next few days, there will be. From my standpoint, as I look at a 16-game season and hopefully a postseason, I’ve always had the energy and the drive and the determination and my answer has always been to those who have asked, I got into this thing a little bit later than most. I became a head coach in Division III when I was very young. At age 45, I got another opportunity to be a head coach in college. I’m just a young guy in this business. Everybody wants to know what’s next for me. I hope it’s coaching the New York Giants. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about me, and my circumstance, and my situation, it’s rather our team. Where we’re going and what direction we’re in.
Q: Do you feel like you have some unfinished business after a season like this?
A: Definitely unfinished business, but you know what, when you put me in this position, I don’t have any choice but to say, ‘how long ago was 2011?’ Did the Ravens make the playoffs this year? This is not an easy business. These people who are constantly trying to build and develop their teams, they’re very competitive, too. Our league is a league of parity by choice, by design, and it’s a good thing. It’s very competitive. Not that long ago we were in the winner’s circle. It hasn’t happened for us for a couple of years. Do we have unfinished business? Yeah we have a lot of unfinished business. We’d like to get to the winner’s circle again. That’s what this thing is all about. Am I disappointed? You bet I’m disappointed. Do I do a good job of masking it? Yeah, as best as I can. Do I take a position with my team of building and encouraging and inspiring, rather than the other way around? Yeah. Twenty years ago, would I have? I doubt it. You don’t conquer by dividing. You conquer by inspiring and building and being one. This is a game of a lot of numbers. You need everybody on the same page.
Q: Do you think this can be turned around quickly?
A: I look at different situations throughout the league, teams that have turned it around, one or two players here, one or two players there. I think it can be. It would have to be the kind of season that all of us want. Maybe the same guys that start at the beginning of the year are there at the end of the year, which didn’t happen this year, as you all know, but it’s not about that, either. Don’t ask me about injuries or any of that stuff, that’s not an excuse. I’m just telling you these are facts.
Q: Do you anticipate making any changes on your coaching staff?
A: That certainly will all be discussed throughout the course of this week. Everything will be evaluated. I have great confidence in this group of men that we’ve had here as a coaching staff and I believe in them very strongly.
Q: Antrel Rolle said that he felt like this team found its identity toward the end of the season. Is that different than the way last year ended when it seemed like you were groping for an explanation?
A: I don’t think there’s ever been any groping about what went wrong, when at the end of the season you evaluate where you are. I never had that issue. This team did come together and have an identity.
Q: When you talk to the team after you go 7-9 and don’t make the playoffs, you tell them how proud you are of them. Although it seems like, and please tell me if I’m wrong, that you felt like you got almost all of what they could get out of themselves, that they weren’t tremendous underachievers and if so, is that an indication that the roster needs to be bolstered?
A: There’s no question that we need some help. Every team needs help. If you’re 7-9, you certainly do need help. You need some of these young people that have had injuries to come back and come back strong, and you need some help here or there. That’s what the draft is for, that’s what free agency is for.
Q: Have you ever been in a situation quite like this, where so many guys are free agents?
A: All of that is going to be evaluated. That’s what these discussions will be about going forward, for sure. Do I have an answer for you on that? No.
Q: Have you ever been through anything like this, though, with so many guys?
A: Every year in the NFL there are circumstances that deal with players and their contracts are up or free agents. The numbers may not be the way you’re describing them in other years, but it’s always an issue.