**RAVENS WEDNESDAY quotes: WEEK 3 vs. Patriots
Head Coach John Harbaugh
Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. Obviously, we have a big game this week – Sunday night game. We're very excited about it. Preparation has begun. It began on Monday, and we are facing a tremendously talented and well-coached football team. Obviously, [New England is] a team that has experienced a great deal of success, has great leadership, has great coaching, great young players. They have done just a tremendous job in the draft on both sides of the ball. Defense, a lot of those rookies are playing – rookies and second-year guys are playing really well. It shows up in every phase. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
With Tom Brady, what kind of sets this guy apart of the other guys? There's so many good quarterbacks in this league, but he always seems to be right there at the elite level.* (Aaron Wilson)*"That's probably what it is. He's always right there at the elite level. He always plays that way. He has his own style; every quarterback does, but nobody does it any better than he does. He's been doing it for a long time. Anytime there's Tom Brady playing, they're always going to be dangerous, and they're always going to be successful."
*Do you look at this as a rematch of the AFC Title game or do you guys just want to be 2-1 here? (David Ginsburg) *"We just look at it as our game this week. It's a big game; they are all big. Every single game is big, because they all count. This just happens to be an AFC game. It's a home game; those are important, too. It's the next game up."
What about the way you guys have bounced back after the losses? It was pointed out: 13 times you've lost and have come back with a win. Does it show a lot about the resilience of the team? (Jerry Coleman)"Maybe in the past, and we'll find out about this team. This team is a new team, so that's going to be our challenge this week. That starts Monday; it starts with how we practice and how we prepare. That's what's important."
*The Patriots' defense stirred up a lot of criticism last year, especially their pass defense. [It] seems like they have improved through the first two games this year, especially dominating against the run. Can you just talk about their defense a little bit? (Matt Zenitz) *"Their defense is exactly as you say: They are playing tremendously well. The back end is playing sound and solid. It starts with a Cover 2 shell. It's all disguised extremely well. They are very physical. They hit every receiver they see every opportunity they get. They are really good at it. Their safeties play with great spacing and great vision in the back end. They are getting nice pressure out of their front, very steady pressure out of their front. Linebackers are downhill, physical guys. The five inside players are just so physical, and the ends do a great job of pushing everything back into those guys against the run. So of course, Vince Wilfork, he's just a force in the middle. [It is] just a really, really good defense."
What about your defense? It may have slipped up a little bit last week. Is it a work in progress, or how would you assess yours? (David Ginsburg) "We are always trying to be the best we can be every week, and we're always trying to get better; that's not going to change. You tackle the challenges in front of you, and our challenge right now is the Patriots' offense, which speaks for itself. We have to go out there and play the best defense we can."
How about the changes in the Patriots' offense? They've added [Kellen] Winslow and brought back Deion Branch. How does that affect what you are doing? (Jerry Coleman) "We'll just have to prepare for those guys, and we've seen those guys before. We've seen those guys, some of them in this offense before. Kellen [Winslow] was in a similar offense in Tampa Bay with Pete Mangurian, so he understands what they are doing. There's no reason that he can't plug right in there and play. So, we'll have to be ready for those guys on Sunday."
Does the absence of Aaron Hernandez make perhaps the defensive job a little bit easier? (Ed Lee) "I don't know. I probably haven't thought of it like that. It's going to be a big challenge."
*When you guys were going in the draft, [Dont'a] Hightower and Chandler Jones, a couple of guys that everyone scouted … What do you think about those guys? How do you think they're doing? (Aaron Wilson) *"We liked those guys a lot, and you probably know that already. Those guys are guys that we had ranked very highly. So, when they took those guys, there was one less good player on the board. Of course, we got a good player, too, so we were happy about that."
**You've done such a great job of putting the AFC Title game behind you. This week, you are kind of forced to, it's kind of thrown back in your face. Is that frustrating or does … *(Pete Gilbert) *"I haven't seen it. No one's thrown it in my face. It doesn't matter. It's always, 'Hey, man, that's history.' It's going to be in your memory banks, and hopefully, we can learn from all of our past experiences."
They obviously added Brandon Lloyd in free agency. Brandon has a long track record in the league. Just talk about what he brings to their offense. (Matt Zenitz) "He has a long track record in the league, and he brings a lot to their offense – mainly speed, tremendous route-running ability. [He is] very smooth, sure-handed receiver, very experienced. [He's] been in that offense, obviously, also with Josh [McDaniels]."
QB Joe Flacco
*On if he feels healthy and his ribs feel OK: *"Yeah, I feel good."
On facing the Patriots after the loss in the AFC Title game last season:"I don't think the last game we played against them has anything to do with this game. We're both coming off a loss last week and want to get back on track. It should be a good game, like it always is."
*On considering QB Tom Brady to be the gold standard for quarterbacks in the NFL: *"Tom has played well for a lot of years now, before I was in the league. I don't know if we necessarily aspire to play like him; we aspire to go out there and play well each week and get our teams wins."
*On whether he knows Brady well or has ever talked to him at length: *"Not really, no. After the game I've gone up and shook his hand and said good game. But other than that, I don't know him well."
*On his reaction to pundits saying he outplayed Brady in last year's AFC Championship: *"Well, we didn't win the game, so it doesn't really matter what people say about that."
*On his assessment of the Patriots' defense this season: *"Again, they've got a good front seven. They have a secondary that plays really well together. They're well-coached. They're a good defense, and they're playing pretty well, so it should be a good test."
*On the offense avoiding a letdown in the second half: *"We've just got to go out there and execute and play well and do what we know how to do. I feel if that happens, we will eliminate the chances of a second half where we really can't put too many points on the board happening again. But, those guys [the Eagles] did a good job of coming up with pressure on us and doing some things to slow us down a little bit."
On what the Eagles did to shut down WR Anquan Boldin in the second half:"I don't think they did anything extra. They did what they did to everybody. They came up and put a lot of pressure on our receivers. They got good pressure from inside. When you're able to get pressure like that, it makes it tough to go through your reads and get to [the second and third receiver]. They were just able to be effective with that in the second half, and we never really were able to keep them off balance and keep them guessing. I think they had a good read on him. We've got to execute a little better and move the chains a little bit more so that teams can't really put us in situations we don't want to be in."
*On why he's thrown so many passes to TE Dennis Pitta this year: *"It was a matter of me going through progressions and him maybe being the guy we're trying to target. Or, just going through and by the time I get to his point in the progression, he's open. I don't really know what to attribute that to."
*On quarterbacks taking more shots down the field resulting in more points in the first few weeks of the season: *"I think the rules definitely set it up for that, and that's what football is [becoming]. There's definitely a point in football, if you look at the history, where you've got two different things and you try to take advantage of what you have on offense. There are a lot of things set up these days to go back downfield and throw the ball a lot."
On if the fact that one of the two teams will be 1-2 ramps up the intensity of this game: "Maybe a little bit. I don't think we can look at the possibilities of what might happen if one of us wins and one of us loses. I don't think we can look at the consequences of that, but I'm sure it will have a little bit of an affect early in the game."
*On his comments on the officials after Sunday's game and the controversy it has sparked over replacement referees in the NFL: *"I honestly don't pay attention, so I don't know if it has taken off or not. That game is in the past. I've said what I've had to say about it. I could probably say more, but I'm not going to."
On how he would grade his performance against the Eagles after reviewing the film:"That's not my job. That's my coach's job. You guys can talk about it whenever you want to."
On how much WR/RS Jacoby Jones has added to the Ravens' offense in the vertical passing game:"He's a good athlete, and he creates a lot of matchup problems on the outside, personally, and it allows us to free up those tight ends, free up Anquan, free up our running back. All those things have worked favorably for us so far."
*On how the Ravens' offense can be more effective in third-down situations: *"We can execute better on the plays that we had. We can go see … Obviously, we know what we did, and maybe we can take a couple more chances in different ways there. We all know what we could have done better there. I'm not going to sit up here and dissect the reasons. There are good reasons. They put pressure on us. We didn't have time to get through a ton of the guys. We might have been able to stuff a couple of them in there with Ray [Rice], and it's just a matter of we really didn't execute well when we had the chance to, and that ended up being a pretty big part of the game – us not converting those. But sometimes that happens, and you've got to be able to overcome that. We just weren't able to."
*On what he attributes his record of coming back to win after a tough loss: *"I just think we have a good team. We've been a pretty good team since I've been here, and good teams are able to put their past losses in the background and forget about it and move on to the next one. I think that has a lot to do with winning that next game, just being able to forget about it and still go play your best game that next week."
LB Ray Lewis
On what the pass defense needs to do to tighten up against Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski and not let him have a big game like Eagles TE Brent Celek:"I think you're dealing with two totally different offenses. You are dealing with two totally different quarterbacks. You are dealing with a quarterback [Eagles QB Michael Vick] last week who can make magic anytime he gets out of the pocket with his legs. That's what Vick's whole career has been about. You see a lot of those things, but a lot of those things are just simple coverage adjustments, whether one person reads this and takes this away, takes that away. I think last week is already in the past. I think this week is about really focusing on [Patriots QB Tom] Brady, kind of getting him off his spot, because if you let him sit in the pocket, it's like a seven-on-seven [skeleton drill] for them."
On if he feels the defense has played better than its 27th ranking reflects:"I think if you look at anybody, wherever you start at, you can always fix things here and there and make things better. I think at the end of the year, every year, is when you always pay attention to stats. If you get into stats early … Trust me, we've never gotten into stats early. That's why when people talk about our defense or whatever, they want to say [something] at the beginning of the year, we always say, 'Find us at the end of the year,' and you know what we're going to be. That's all adjustment. That's all adding this person, adding that person, fixing this, fixing that, this person goes down, that person goes down, lose a Paul Kruger after not having a Terrell Suggs. Moving a lot of people around and a lot of different communication things really have to pick up as you go farther in the season. All of that, every team is going to deal with that. Every team is going to deal with that. You watch the TVs, and you watch the offensive struggles that are going on with different quarterbacks. There are always adjustments that every team has to make, just like us – we are no different. We have to make the same adjustments."
On what it means to have senior advisor to player development O.J. Brigance continue to work while fighting ALS:"Every day, I walk out, not just to tell him how much I love him, but I tell him that he is the one thing that lets me not complain about anything. Seriously. Don't get me wrong, we love this game, we love this business. But when you see that, you know that life is much bigger and life is much greater because he has a different attitude every day, for a man that I played with. I played with that guy. Now to see him in the situation that he is in physically, but his brain is probably as sharp as ever, he clicks you back in. He clicks you back in. For me, every day, I tell you, every time he is out here, he clicks me back in. When I walk out here, I tell guys, 'Don't complain about anything. Win, lose or draw, come out here and prepare and have fun out here, because you just never know when it's done.' For him to be coming up on another birthday, I just think it's awesome. His spirit is just awesome."
On Lewis' experiences with former NFL Films president Steve Sabol:"Losing somebody like that – I kind of spoke about it earlier this morning – he was one of those guys who was a visionary, a true visionary of things that he has seen. When you kind of talk to Steve, and you really know who he is, his knowledge of the game and how important it was making the game impactful and making the game leave a legacy. He left a heck of a legacy. The years that I worked with him, even this past thing that I did with him, it was just remarkable, just his knowledge of what he did. So, we lost another great one. That's why I tell you life is one of the most precious gifts we have. When you lose someone like that, at the end of the day, you ask yourself, 'What was his legacy at the end of the day?' His legacy was a true visionary."
On if he has seen the show on him that will air tonight, "Ray Lewis: A Football Life":"No."
On if he will be watching it:"Why wouldn't I? I want to watch it like everybody else watches it."
On how to best defend Gronkowski:"He's a big guy. He gets open. If you see him, he gets open a lot. He is a big body. Those guys, they have a great scheme over there. New England has always been at the top for whatever reason they are, but he is just one of those guys. He is a hard-nosed guy. He is a hard worker, and Brady loves to use him. You look at the history, all good quarterbacks, great quarterbacks always have that cornerstone type of tight end. If you go back to the [former 49ers TE] Brent Jones, you go back to the [former Cowboys TE Jay] Novaceks, all those guys like that, you always have that type of cornerstone. He is that guy. He is one of those guys."
On what he saw from QB Joe Flacco in last year's AFC Championship game at New England:"I have always backed Joe in whatever it is. If Joe had his choice – I will speak for him on this – to not outduel [Tom] Brady and win, I think he would take that over everything else. I think everybody puts so much pressure on Joe and everything is about Joe, [but] it's a team thing. It's a team thing. It's not about him going up against Brady this week. It's about the Ravens going against the Patriots. If we can come out on the victorious side, then I think Joe will take that over stats any day."
On if he talks with Patriots QB Tom Brady often:"We don't talk like that, but when we do see each other, there is a mutual respect. You always respect somebody who has achieved greatness on his level, just from being a historian of the game. The way he plays the game, the way he approaches the game, the way he prepares for the game is probably what I respect the most about him. He is just one of those guys that you know that he is never going to be not prepared. Anytime that you can find yourself prepared in this game, you give yourself a chance to win. That's why that organization has been winning for a long time with him at the quarterback position."
On if it's tough to have a shutdown defense in today's NFL with all the rule changes:"What makes it tough is whether you make a great play or not, the referees can take that away from you through all of the penalties. That's the thing that I think crushes you at the end of the day. I've spoke about it a million times: You get off the field on third down and you see late flags and roughing the passer. I've always said that's after the fact. That's after the down is over, and if that's after the down is over, then penalize them on the punt. Don't give them a first down. But, it's simple rules like that that take away from defensive players. I just think if, defensively, we keep playing the game the way the game is supposed to be played, then games should take care of themselves. But, those penalties do hinder defenses."
On if last year's AFC Championship game has been brought back into his memory this week:"No. I told you, it's always hard to think like that when you have a totally different makeup as a team. Just take Jacoby [Jones]: How do you take Jacoby through what we went through last year? 'Man, we should have done [this].' No, there's no we shouldn't have done. The Patriots didn't win the Super Bowl last year. The Giants did. Whoever's year it was, it was. I've been there before to realize, whether it was Oakland, who was supposed to be the best our year, Tennessee was supposed to be the best … That year wasn't their year. That year was our year. You don't hold onto nothing. Win, lose or draw, you let it go and you move on. This year, we have a totally different makeup as a team. We have a totally different outlook on what we're trying to do as a team. So, we are looking at this game as a totally different game."
DT Haloti Ngata
On offenses being more willing to challenge the Ravens' defense:"I think people realize that we don't have Terrell Suggs outside and Jarret Johnson. So, I think they tried to test our younger guys last week with Philly, but I think our guys did great up front, Sergio [Kindle] and those guys. Hopefully, they can continue to do great out there, and they'll probably stop testing us."
On the grade he would give himself on his performance against the Eagles:"I think as a defensive line we've got to get more pressure as just the four-man rush. I don't think we are getting enough pressure to help our back end as much and also stopping the run maybe for no gains, or one or two yards, instead of three or four yards that's helping them out for second or third down. If we can get those things fixed, I will feel better about our play. But, right now I think we've got some things we have to improve."
On how important it is for the Ravens to get a win against the Patriots this week:"I think we have to start fast. A lot of times we were just tight throughout the whole game, and then we just lose at the end. So, I think if we can start fast and keep a lead, it will be much easier for us. If we can do that and have Tom Brady move around in the pocket instead of just standing there, it will help our back end a lot better."
*On how he feels the Ravens' defense is playing overall: *"I think we can improve in a lot of things. We are not used to having teams try to run on us as much, and a lot of it starts up front, like I said earlier. So, if we can stop that run early and just try to pressure the quarterback better, I think once we can do that our defense can be more dominant."
*On feeling if the Ravens' defense is a work in progress: *"Oh, definitely. We have a lot of new faces in our front seven. We're just trying to get used to each other. It definitely is a work in progress. Once we continue to gel more, I think we'll seem more dominant."
*On viewing Sunday's game versus New England as a rematch of the AFC Championship game: *"No, that game is past, and we're a totally different team this year, and they're a totally different team this year. So, it's us against them right now."
RB Ray Rice
On the Ravens being able to bounce back after tough losses: "First of all, I just think that, No. 1, we have a great team. We have a great group of guys, and every week is [approached] week by week. So, as soon as we got back on the train, back from Philly, it was on to the next team. The greatest part about our team [is] we know where we can get better at. And ever since I've been here, we've always tried to get better each week and never be complacent on whether it was a win or a loss the next weekend. We just try to go forward and execute, and I just feel good about this team and our guys, because we get in the locker room and you get the feeling of what happened in games, but everybody is like, 'You know what? Look at the outcome.' We try to take the good from it and the bad from it, and we learn from it."
On New England's defense this year compared to last year: "I think the No. 1 thing that sticks out about New England is that when you talk about New England, the first thing that comes to your mind, obviously, is Tom Brady and their offense. But, for a guy like me, you look at the guys on defense, you look at how they played us the last few years – and you look at the one run I had ever since then [in the 2009 Wild Card playoff] – they've played us pretty good. That's a great defense over there, and coach [Bill] Belichick does a great job. They've got a great number of guys who really rally to the ball really well. It just so happens that they have a great quarterback and a great offense over there, so the defense sometimes gets overshadowed a little bit, but that's a great group over there and we're looking forward to an opportunity."
On whether the Patriots' defense has changed at all from last year: "Well, the one thing about it is, when you add two first-round picks and they're both starting, it's for a reason. Those guys are playing really well. Chandler Jones and the linebackers are playing really well, and I'm going to have to ask Courtney Upshaw about what's going on to see if I can get some scouting reports on [Dont'a] Hightower over there. But he's a great, talented guy, and we're looking forward to it."
On the importance of one of these teams falling to 1-2 after this weekend and not wanting to be that team: "Yeah, you never want to fall below .500, and that's just the NFL. And every week is … I play the season in quarters, and the first quarter is the first four games. Then you go to the next four games. But, every week is a different opportunity, but – not to go back on last year – we were 1-1 at this time last year, then we came back [and] we rebounded. And we know what's after that next game, everything happens so fast. So, it's very important to try to keep your level afloat, above .500, and we always want to say we want to take care of our home. You win all your home games, and you split on the road, you find yourself sitting great at the end of the year."
On senior advisor to player development O.J. Brigance having another birthday upcoming and what he means to the team: "I'm in my fifth year, and I've been with O.J. going on five years. When I first got into this situation, I was learning about his story. And now I got to be a part of his life, be a part of his story. The greatest part about O.J. is that, what you see is a person who is battling something [ALS], but they come to work every day. And it sort of gives you the reality of you shouldn't come to work with any excuses because of what he's going through. But, it's always a pleasure to receive an email from O.J. Brigance, just lifting you up, because regardless of what you're going through, imagine what he's going through on a daily basis. So, when you get an email from him, you know it's very well thought of and it took time for him to really do that, and I'm appreciative of O.J. Just to be a part of and a presence in his life makes me feel good."
On whether it's nice to finally play the Patriots in Baltimore this time: "Yeah, to be honest with you, any home game is great, but you do want to win on the road as well. But, you come home and you feed off of our fans and our environment. Other teams will tell you that's what they do, when their fans can get in it on third down and the crowd gets loud and the quarterback has a hard time hearing. You know, it's a great feeling, because that's just something that our fans love to do, and I think we have a pretty tough environment to play in. I'm sure our fans will be rocking and rolling Sunday night."
On a record number of points being scored in the first two weeks and why he thinks there has been a shift to throwing the ball a lot more in today's NFL:"The game has changed. And like I said, me being a leader on this offense and me being a running back, you want to evolve with the change. Just look at the positions and look at everything changing; the tight ends are really big wide receivers now in our offense, but they can block as well. When you've got a chance to spread people out with that opportunity, you've got to take advantage of it. Joe [Flacco] loves his targets, and I love being back there blocking and protecting for the guy, and you see it with every team. You see it with New England, what they've done with their tight ends. They brought in guys that not only can block but can catch, and they can run after the catch, and that's just evolving with the change. When you see a guy throw for 500 yards, it's pretty impressive, no matter what the outcome is. You're talking about a half a season worth of yards in one game."
On whether there is still a place for running the ball:"Absolutely. From where I'm at, you look at the first two weeks of the year, I think this is my highest yards per carry since I've been a pro [with] where I'm at with my average. And like I said, the touches really don't matter to me; it's all about winning games, because I know how effective I can be in the passing game. Last week was just a little bit of the proven point that when you think I'm protecting, I can get out in open space and make a guy miss. All it takes is one big play in the pass game to change a game."
On whether he wishes a run play would have been called in some of the third-and-short yardage situations last week at Philadelphia:"No. When we looked at the film, they were great calls. It was just a little off in execution. The time when Dennis Pitta was open in the flat, if we complete that pass – or at the end of the game, if we complete those throws – we're not even having this discussion. I just think that the calls that we have are great. It's giving our guys opportunities to get open and make moves in open space, and that's what our offense is going to be. We'll use Vonta [Leach] plenty. He's a guy that … We're all team first; he knows his role, I know my role, and our role right now is to try to take care of this one and become 2-1 at the end of Sunday."
On the leadership role that QB Joe Flacco has taken on:"I've said it before: This is Joe's offense, but I think he's taking that role of he is the quarterback of this offense and we rally behind him. So, when he starts lighting people up, we just have to keep going and rally behind him. When we're all down, we pick each other up, and I think that's what's great about our offense and Joe Flacco, because I've been with him for five years, and we've seen the growth in both of us. We couldn't be as vocal before, because we had other guys leading the team, and now me, Joe, Michael Oher and the younger guys, we call ourselves vocal leaders now."
On how the younger guys like G/T Kelechi Osemele and G Ramon Harewood have played along the offensive line:"I think the young guys have done really well, and I think they're doing a great job of taking coaching. Those guys grind. They're probably the hardest working group on our team. They meet a lot, they work a lot, and the more they gel together – you know how the season goes – the better we'll be. And obviously, they're doing a great job, No. 1, of … I think for playing on the road last week in that tough environment, they played really good. But you also take those corrections, and those guys love to be coached. Any coach will tell you when you've got a guy that loves to be coached, it drives their enthusiasm as well."