**RAVENS THURSDAY quotes: WEEK 2 at EAGLES
Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
How impressed have you been with the guys that you've been rotating in at the return game, Jacoby Jones, Deonte Thompson and so forth? (Jason Butt)"Well, we didn't get a lot of damage done this last week. We look forward to more opportunities. We didn't have a lot of opportunities in our punt return game; we had our defensive 'stay' unit out there twice, and Lardarius [Webb] made a nice play, because we had an opportunity at a few yards. But those situations were really just making sure we had the ball back at the end of the play. We had a lead; it was a fake situation, so we left our defense out there. But we had one opportunity for a return [and] we got nine yards out of it. We can block it better, and hopefully we will this week."
John Harbaugh said bringing Anthony Allen back to the 53-man roster was a special teams move. What does he bring in that aspect? (Jason Butt)"He brings contributions in all four phases, which is big for us. He can play on kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return, so that's like having another linebacker or a defensive back when you get that big role from a running back."
It seemed like Chykie Brown was very active on coverage teams. How did he do? (Matt Zenitz)"Chykie played very well. We saw it coming; real, honestly, we've seen such improvement from Chykie through the offseason. It was something that without an offseason last year and going through the season, the offseason really helped Chykie. He continued to develop his skills as a gunner, and I think he has a much better understanding now that we've been through a full offseason program of what we're asking him to do. And he's developed his skills, and it really showed out there in our game on Monday night. He made three tackles, I believe, and was active as a blocker, and we're looking forward to big things from him as the season rolls on."
Lardarius Webb and Jacoby Jones both had work as the punt returner. Do you envision that being the plan moving forward, or at some point do you want to see one guy take the job? (Garret Downing)"The way I look at it is we have two guys that both have punt return skills, and we'll use them both. They both have scored and can score touchdowns, so having two returners rather than just one, I think, is a benefit."
With the kick returners, is that basically Deonte's [Thompson] job right now? (Garrett Downing)"It's just like everything else: He doesn't own the job, no. Every week is a different week. There is a different opponent, a different scheme, a different concept that we might be working. We are still working Jacoby [Jones] every day. This last game Deonte had the opportunities, and we will see what happens going forward."
*With what happened with the Redskins, their snapper, Oakland with their snapper … Does that change anything you guys do with maybe giving reps to another snapper in practice this week? *(Jeff Zrebiec) *"It's something that we always work, but it certainly gets your attention. Yesterday, we had a few more reps than we normally probably would have, because it brings it to mind. But you always have that in mind; you have to have a backup plan, so to speak. You hope it never happens. As you recall, we had a situation at Cleveland a couple of years ago when Morgan blew his ACL in the first half and played the rest of the game with that, which is unheard of – just a courageous effort. I recall on the sideline our backup snapper – who is no longer on our team, who will remain nameless *(laughter) – I was talking to him about snapping about getting warmed up and he's saying, 'No, he's fine. He's fine.' It brought back some memories."
Are you willing to disclose who the backup snapper is right now? (Jeff Zrebiec) "No. I'm not willing to disclose that. Hopefully, we'll never find out."
**It seems to me that John [Harbaugh] has a philosophy all over the depth chart – offense, defense – just giving himself options. Most would look for one guy to be the returner in punts or kicks. Depth spills over to special teams as well doesn't it? *(Joe Platania) *"Certainly in special teams, we like guys who can do multiple things, because it gives you the ability to do more things with that. We have that expression, 'The more you can do.' So, if we have a guy that can be a returner and also cover kicks, that's a real value to us. So you're not only trying to grow depth, you're trying to grow width on your roster. If you have more guys that can do more things, then if you get somebody nicked and they can't play this particular week, then you're not losing anything, because you can just moving a guy to another spot, and he's familiar with it, and he's capable of doing it. People talk about having a deep roster; we want to have a deep roster, but as you all understand, there's only so deep you can go with a 46-man roster on Sunday. So, you have to have guys that can do more than one thing."
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron
The big talk around town is the no-huddle. Never seen Joe [Flacco] get into it so much; it worked out. A big win, 44 points, a lot of points … (Bill West)"As you can imagine, about an hour after that game we moved to Philadelphia. We really did some nice things in the game – things that we can improve on. I thought Joe's [Flacco] comments were really good after the game, things that he felt he could have done better, and every guy in the locker room. I can't think of one player that I didn't talk to that felt like they could have done something better, so I think that's a good sign. I think they understand what we are trying to do from a strategic standpoint. We'd like to think that we can continue to build on that."
How would you assess how the offensive line played, specifically the two young guys who made their first start? (Matt Vensel) "The good news is they both played exactly the way they practiced, and that was the thing that we talked to most young players about, but those two guys in particular: 'Just understand why we practice the way we practice.' We practice game-like, and we don't expect you to go out there and do anything in a game that we haven't asked you to do in practice. I think Ramon [Harewood] and K.O. [Kelechi Osemele] both bought into that, and they went out, and of course the guys they go against in practice, too, help that transition a little bit, too. I thought they did exactly that. Now this week presents a completely different challenge, complete different style of defense. This is a penetrating, wide-aligned defense that can really come after you. So, this will be another test for those two young guys. It will be nice to see how they can adjust this week."
You mentioned the wide-aligned linemen. What are the unique challenges of having to worry about that, especially when they have so much speed and so much depth? (Matt Vensel) "Just the width itself, the fact that the trap of trying to get to make a linemen think that they have to come out to block you, and now you get beat inside. These guys, they don't stay blocked. They're athletic. They're explosive. They get off the ball probably as good as anybody in the league; I don't know if they are the best yet, but they can get off the ball quickly. This will be the first real crowd noise experience some of the young guys have had. It will just be another part of their growth, our growth as an offense, and being able to do the no-huddle and some of those things. Doing it at home is one thing. We do need to get our crowd to understand to get a little quieter at home. I'm going to let Joe [Flacco] handle that. Don't get me in that one. *(laughing) *It's a good problem to have. We had some crowd noise issues the other night at home. So, we'll need to improve our communication on the road, obviously."
In terms of Ray Rice, very productive when he touched the ball. Is that something where you want him to touch the ball even more or is it kind of a fine line to walk between with doing the no-huddle and preserving Ray? (Aaron Wilson) "I understand all that thinking. There's probably some merit to a lot of that, but we're really not going down that road and worrying about that. One thing about Ray [is] he's a smart football player. He understands the big picture of football. He understands why we do what we do. He knows how he can impact the play off of the stat sheet. The other night, we took him and took him on a little swing route that would go about from here to that wall, and there's two guys covering him, and he understands that's opening up other guys. I really like where his mindset is, and I think he's like most great players that get with a good group of players; they realize that they don't all have to do it themselves, and they understand what their role is on each play. That's where we are at, and that's where we are going to be. I think that's an important thing to remember."
In terms of Tyrod Taylor, how much is it helpful to have a guy like him, not just for your offense but for your defense this week, because not only is he familiar with [Michael] Vick, but his style of play to help you get ready? (Aaron Wilson) "Dean [Pees] could speak to that, I'm sure. But yeah, anytime a guy can simulate the other quarterback and do it at game speed, that obviously, helps. To me, there's a lot more to Tyrod than that. You guys know my feelings about Tyrod. We are thrilled to have him."
On the second drive you had the three end around/reverses and what not. Was that just the game plan or is that something that you are looking to do more of as kind of that creative stuff? (Ryan Mink) "I've never been a gimmick guy. I've never been a trickery guy. It's all been strategic. I think our staff agrees with that. We are just looking for strategic ways to get guys the football in space, to complement our running game, to tie things together. To take a receiver and bring him around and run our ghost game where we don't give it to him, and then not hand it to him, would really lose its effect. The ability to either give it to him or not give it to him, and then have the ability to be able to run off of those looks, and throw off those looks, it's strictly just what we do. It sounds strategic, but now we have more than one guy that can run reverses, and it keeps those guys in the game. It gets the ball in the … Sometimes defenses can take a guy away in the passing game, but sometimes you just have to hand it to him, and let him do his thing. So, that was kind of the thinking the other night. It will be pretty much strategic from week to week."
*With the no-huddle offense, is the key part of that your ability to be flexibility with your schemes and what not, so much versatility-wise with your unit? *(Ryan Mink) "Yes, it is critical. It's got to be real in the sense that just sticking guys in certain places and not using them, people aren't going to defend that. We have tight ends; we have people that we can move and running backs outside that they aren't a decoy – it's real. It gets them the ball in space. There are a lot of different things that go with it. We aren't trying to put any window dressing on anything. We are putting guys in places strategically to give them an advantage, or give us an advantage. It's really that simple."
How much capability does the versatility of the offensive line give you to be creative on a week-to-week basis? (Matt Zenitz) "I don't know if it falls in the creative category. Maybe some people think it does. Really, for us it is about having an answer if a center goes down, having an answer if a guard goes down, and having an answer if a tackle goes down. And then at the same time, that's what you utilize linemen for first, eight of them, and then if there's an opportunity to get them in the game, like you saw Bryant [McKinnie] come in the other night on that touchdown, then we'll do that. That will be a week-to-week thing. It will be a little bit … Sometimes you don't even know who is going to be active until right before the game. Sometimes you have eight linemen, sometimes you have seven, sometimes you have three tight ends, and sometimes you have two. So now, a tackle has to fill that void. The good news is we have flexibility – tackles that can play guard, guards that can play center, and that's the most important thing."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Ray Lewis, obviously, had a big game the other night. I know a lot of talk has centered around his weight loss during the offseason. How did he look to you out there? (Matt Zenitz)"I thought he played real well. He had a couple of good open-field tackles. I thought he moved around pretty well. It looked like Ray. I thought he played well."
Did you notice any difference with him? (Matt Zenitz)"No. I thought he played quick. I thought he played pretty well. I didn't see a great deal of difference. I think he's always a steady player. The thing about Ray is … The one thing that experience gives you is you generally aren't getting caught too far out of position most times. A lot of times guys, even if they end up slowing down later in their careers, a lot of good players, especially on defense, they learn and understand the game so well they don't get themselves too far out of position. Sometimes that can make you look real slow when you are out of position and a guy is running away from you."
What was your assessment of the defense against Cincinnati overall? (Mike Preston)"Overall, I was really pleased the way we played the second half. I was not particularly pleased the way we played the first half, especially against the run. We have to play better against the run than what we did in that game. They are all things that are very correctable. We just sometimes didn't play with good leverage, got kind of out of our gap. We don't really talk about gap control so much, but we got out of position sometimes and had some plays break out on us, and we can't have that. We did not play well enough against the run. [We] did in the second half, but then in the second half, we got to a position where they weren't running it anymore and made a whole lot of difference. We have to play better against the run. But, on the other hand, I thought we did a good job, too. One of the things we wanted [to do was] not give up big plays. We really didn't. They caught us on one blitz and that screen pass that kind of caught us. It was a good call against a good defense, and they had us. Other than that play, we played well on the back end, not giving up big plays, contesting some throws. But, we have to shore up the run game."
How good of a look can Tyrod Taylor give you in preparing someone like Michael Vick?* (Jason Butt)*"If he could throw left-handed, it'd even be better, but he's certainly running around, scrambling, doing those kinds of things. [He is] a great athlete and can help us in a lot those ways. The only thing is just you kind of have to flip everything formation-wise for [Michael] Vick because of the left-handed stuff, but he is giving us a great look. They all are. The 'show' team does a great job every week."
Philadelphia likes to run a lot of misdirection. John Harbaugh had talked yesterday about a lot of it being planned. Sometimes it is unplanned when LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick can get loose and make plays on their own. How tough is it to really get a sense of what they want to do when they line up, especially if they want to try to misdirect and get you guys going in a different way? (Jason Butt)"When you actually see the play and see how it's blocked, you know where the play is supposed to go. There aren't any plays that just can go randomly. The back can do that; that's the back. Anytime you are facing any kind of a back, whether it be the old Denver schemes where it's downhill, one step and cut, whether you get backs that can jump-cut, want to bounce outside, don't want to go inside, guys that will cut back … We've seen them run a stretch play that ends up cutting back behind the center. It's not designed to cut back behind the center – he does it. So, you just have to be disciplined on defense. That's one of the things that we've really talked about a lot this week. Compared to last week, it's a different style of running game, but at the same time, we have to be very good in our leverage on the blockers, stay where we're supposed to stay, tempo the ball, have a good edge. We can't let this guy get outside and all that kind of stuff. It's typical good defense. That's how you have to stop the run."
You mentioned the run defense as an area you want to improve this week. Just how difficult of a matchup is LeSean McCoy? (Matt Zenitz)"He is very difficult, because he is a guy that will take the ball outside in a minute, whether it's designed to be or not. The biggest challenge this week is the play may look like an inside-zone play, and he may jump it outside. It may look like an outside-stretch play the way the line is blocking and the way he takes the ball originally, and he may cut it back. So, it's certainly a big challenge, and he is the reason."
Dean, assess the pass rush in the Cincinnati game and then going into your first game without Terrell Suggs, how do you assess the pass rush this past week? (Bill West)"I think it's OK. It's not where we want it to be yet. For the four-man rush, we got some pressure on him the other day. We got a couple of sacks. We're still working on it. I think it's still a work in progress. I think we still have to keep working. We are still trying to move parts around a little bit to find out who really belongs where and who can give us the best effect and maybe what we can do scheme-wise to help some of those guys. I think we're OK, we just have to keep improving in that area, too."
Courtney Upshaw got in on a few tackles the other night and had half of a sack as well. What did you see from him? (Matt Zenitz)"What I saw from him is he's finally starting to feel better. He's been hurt and there are a lot things he didn't do in preseason, part of it because he was hurt and part of it because he was learning. So, I think that that is starting to come around a little bit now with him. He is starting to feel a little more comfortable in the defense. I think he felt a little better health-wise. So, we saw a little more production out of him."