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Week 4 At Bills: Ravens Conference Call w/ Buffalo Media

Posted Sep 25, 2013

Head Coach John Harbaugh

On Buffalo native CB Corey Graham and his start to the season: “Corey has just been great for us. He’s a guy we brought in before last year, and [assistant head coach/special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg and myself were the two that had the highest hopes for him, because we had seen him play the most. And then very quickly, the whole coaching staff realized what we had. He’s just a gem, and he’s played that way. He’s off to a great start again this year. We’re just really pleased with him.”

On if CB Corey Graham is playing in the nickel role this year with the return of CB Lardarius Webb: “We’ve got three guys [including Jimmy Smith] in that mix. You know how it is – even this week – you see so much three-wide and spread-type offensive stuff that you really need three starting corners. So, I’d consider all three of those guys starters.”

On if it’s best to get after a rookie quarterback with an attacking game plan: “You never know. Generally speaking, and philosophically, certainly you would. But it might mean blitzing and it might not mean blitzing [EJ Manuel] has also had great success, too. And then with a rookie, you don’t really understand his game as well. You haven’t seen him as much; you’re not sure exactly what he brings to the table. In EJ’s case, we see a very poised, polished guy for such a young guy. [He] stands in the pocket, has a big arm, gets the ball out fast, looks like he gets through his reads pretty quickly. He can move around. He scrambles and he runs, but more than that he scrambles and he looks downfield to make plays with his receivers, which is a pretty veteran-type of thing to do. We’ve been impressed with him. He looks good.”

On whether it’s best to throw a rookie quarterback right into things as a rookie, or let them sit and learn for a time: “There are probably benefits both ways, but based on our experience, it has been the best thing. It was the best thing to put Joe [Flacco] in there right away. We didn’t necessarily plan that or know that at the time, it was just kind of the way it worked out. But, it has been the best thing for Joe.”

On whether it’s a case-by-case thing in terms of what is most beneficial for a quarterback: “I’d probably have to say so – case-by-case on the individual quarterback and also on the team situation.”

On being able to tell after a 16-game season if a quarterback has what it takes to be successful, or if it takes shorter or longer than that: “I don’t know. I never really gave the timetable too much thought. Heck, it seems like every day, every year [you face] new challenges. Joe is going into his sixth year now, and we’re facing challenges there. It just seems like that never really ends.”

On his reaction to Ray Lewis’ comments regarding the Ravens lacking leadership: “No, [the Baltimore media] didn’t ask me about it. I’m on record regarding the leadership of our team, but I probably agree with what Torrey Smith said: I didn’t really see the connection there, and I would not agree with those comments.”

On the players who have stepped up to fill the leadership role on defense: “It’s a long list when you look at what we’ve done defensively. We’ve had quite a bit of turnover. Every one of those guys has helped us, but Terrell Suggs has done a great job if you want to start with the leadership. Lardarius Webb, James Ihedigbo, and there are a lot of other guys as well. [Some of our] new guys … Daryl Smith has played very well and also is obviously a leader – all those years in Jacksonville, but now here. Chris Canty has been excellent. Marcus Spears has been excellent. And, we’ve got other young players, too. Corey Graham, you mentioned earlier, he’s one of our best leaders. I love being around Corey every day. Young guys like Jimmy Smith [and] even a rookie like Matt Elam. I’m probably going to leave some guys out, but I feel very good about our guys and really, really like where we’re headed.”

On what he sees from the Bills’ secondary, particularly with the fact that it has lost some key players to injuries: “They’ve got a lot of depth there, too. They’ve done a nice job of building depth in there. They have a lot of DBs on the roster, and they’ve played a lot of those guys. So, that’s impressive. We’ve been down that road ourselves, so we understand the injury part of it. We had no healthy scratches out of the seven guys last week, so we’ve been battling injuries as well. I think every team faces that.”

On if he reached out to anyone seeking advice on dealing with a “Super Bowl hangover” with the team: “Not specifically. Not for that purpose. We all have people we talk to, but the main person my brother and I both reach out to in all things, football and life, is our dad. I’ve had a chance to talk with him about a lot of these things all the time. Not just that, but a lot of things. So, he’s probably the main advisor that we have.”

On his message to the team about dealing with their Super Bowl success in the upcoming season: “The message is that the 2012 Ravens were champions, and we’ll walk together forever as champions. And the 2013 Baltimore Ravens have their own mark to make. Certainly we can build on what we leaned and the success of the past, but we have our own mark to make, and we’ll see what the 2013 team will be known for.”

On his impressions of Bills head coach Doug Marrone and if he knew him before Marrone came into the league with Buffalo: “My impressions have been very, very favorable. I had a chance to meet coach [Marrone] and his family at the owners’ meeting in the spring and just really, really enjoyed getting to know him a little bit. Of course, you follow college football through the draft and things like that, so I loved what he had done at Syracuse and knew about him in New Orleans. He’s highly respected [and] has been for years.”

On RB Bernard Pierce and how he has handled his role with the injury to RB Ray Rice: “He came through really well. He played well last week. Obviously we’d like to do better with the running game than we have the first three weeks overall, but Bernard has made some big plays. Bernard has done a great job in four-minute [situations] the last few weeks when we’ve tried to run the clock out the last two weeks. He’s really made his best runs there. So, that’s a good sign.”

On RB Ray Rice’s status: “We’re hoping that he will practice; we’ll see. And then based on how that goes throughout the course of the week, we’ll have to see how he is on Sunday.”

 

QB Joe Flacco

On how the offense and the team are doing one month into the season: “I think we’re improving every week, even if it may not show in how we’re playing out on the field. We’ve got a lot of, whether it’s young guys or new guys to the team, new additions. We’re getting better and better each week, and everybody is getting more and more comfortable, so I think that we’re on our way.”

On if it’s better for a rookie QB to learn on the job or to wait and learn behind a veteran: “If you feel like you have a guy who’s mentally tough, then it’s always better to start right away. There’s no better place than in games to really grow and get that experience and become better. You can’t really reproduce that in any way. Even if you’re practicing really well, it’s tough to get that same kind of game-like situation. I always say [that] if you feel like you have a guy who’s mentally tough enough and can handle losing some games or not always playing to the way that they feel like they should, then that’s definitely the best thing to do.”

On if starting as a rookie expedites the learning process: “There’s no doubt about it. Not only does it help you learn and get better, it just gives you a lot more confidence to get in there Day One and just go after it. When you sit on the bench for a year or two, then you kind of just start to lose that confidence and all that stuff that you had and developed over the last couple years when you were in college. I think when you’re thrown into the fire right away, you feel like they have confidence in you, and that gives you the ability to keep that confidence that you had. The longer you sit on the bench and the longer you don’t play, I think the more you just start to doubt yourself.”

On if he considers last season a “breakout” year: “It’s just always a continuation. We do certain things around here, and obviously, towards the end of the year there, we started to get better and do a lot of the things that we needed to do to win it all. But we have a lot of ability over here, and I believe that I have a lot of ability. It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it. Every year, we’re different in terms of personnel and what we’re trying to accomplish. So right now, we’re just trying to get a lot of young guys and a couple guys we haven’t had, try to get everybody on the same page so that once the midseason comes around, we’ve won a lot of games, getting better. And then once the midseason comes around, we’re ready to go and really let this thing fly and start to put up a lot of points. I want to see that every week. I want to see us putting up a lot of points and yards every week. The goal is to win a lot of football games, and then at some point, really start to see this thing open up and start really getting after it a little bit. But it’s always a progression, just because your personnel changes a lot every year, and your team changes a lot on both sides of the ball.”

On how he’s a different quarterback today than he was a year ago: “I think every year, you gain more and more confidence and you become more and more comfortable with your surroundings. You obviously learn something in every single game you play, and you become quicker at making some decisions out there. I don’t know if I can necessarily say what that is, but you just do. It’s just a natural progression and becoming more mature and learning more about defenses and about protections and all that stuff. And I think the more and more comfortable you get, which is every year, then the better you become. It really comes down to decision-making, and however you can get to be the best decision-maker that you can be, that’s really how you become better and better each year.”

On his thoughts on the Bills’ defense: “I think they’ve held up pretty well, to be honest with you. They’ve played three games that have all been down to the wire, really. They’ve got a good, physical defensive front, and we’re going to have to make sure we combat that. We’ve played a couple physical teams so far, and we’re coming off of a physical game, so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to show up against those guys.”

On if his eyes light up when other teams are without their top corners: “I don’t know how you look at it, but we’ve got to make sure we run good routes and throw the ball well. I feel like every week, we feel like if we do that, then we can take advantage of some guys because it’s just the name of the game. It’s tough to play that position. But the biggest thing is I think if we can protect some of the guys that are on your guys’ front and get some time to work in the back end, then we’ll be able to accomplish what we want to accomplish. But it all starts up front. If we can block them, then I think we’ll have time, and those guys will make some plays in the back end.”

On how the team is replacing a perceived leadership void: “You guys pay more attention to that stuff than we do. We have a strong group of leadership in this locker room – we always have. It’s never been one guy or two guys or three guys. It’s a lot of guys. It’s a lot of guys who buy in to one thing and one goal, and that’s why we’ve been successful around here consistently for the last handful of years. Obviously, there are your big guys that have to do things at certain points, but the biggest thing we have going for us is that everyone buys in to one common goal and sees what it takes to get there. So, we’ve been fortunate in the sense that we don’t have a lot of guys veering off of that goal and that path. Everybody stays on it, and we accomplish what we want to.”

On the keys to avoiding a Super Bowl hangover: “It’s tough to say. I think the main thing that’s key in avoiding a Super Bowl hangover is making sure you have a good football team. If you don’t have a good football team, you’re not going to win football games. You play such a long year, and you have such a short offseason that you can kind of come back [fatigued], and the biggest thing I would say is you can become a little bit satisfied with what you’ve done or become content. And I think our coaches do a great job of creating an environment around here where you can’t be content with what we’ve done. You just kind of go to work, and you grind every day, and you don’t really think about what’s happened in the past because you have to be so locked in to what we’re doing now just to get through what we’re doing and to do it well. Because of that environment and because of that work ethic that we create around here, it’s too hard not to focus on what we’re doing. And when you focus on what we’re doing in the moment, I think that gives you the best ability to go out there and play successfully every Sunday.”

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