Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg
K Justin Tucker won his third AFC Special Teams Player of the Month award. Can you elaborate on why he is deserving of that? (Edward Lee)"I think he's deserving of it because he's not only made long kicks, but he's been very consistent, and his kickoffs have been just as ordered. He's been clutch. He's made some big kicks in big moments. That's really the sign of a great kicker, someone who can come in in the fourth quarter and pin a game down for you."
How comforting is it to have a guy like him on your team? (Edward Lee) "We try to get the best players at every position on our football team, and we think we have one of the best in Justin, certainly. I have a lot of confidence in him, and I have a lot of confidence in the whole operation with Morgan's [Cox] snaps and Sam's [Koch] holds. It's very much a team effort. I have a lot of confidence in all of those guys."
Justin talked about kicking that ball that ended up being short. How much practice do you guys do with the offensive balls? Was it surprising, the difference between the two balls in that situation? (Pete Gilbert)"We do. It wasn't surprising to me that the [regular offensive] ball didn't travel like a K ball; they just don't. It's just reality. We do practice it, of course. We try not to practice those long kicks too often, because it's just a really hard kick to make. I thought he hit the ball great. He hit a really good ball. Unfortunately, it was just in the wrong circumstance. But it ended up working out. In the end it was all good."
**Do you say anything to WR/RS Devin Hester after a muffed punt, or has he built up enough cache where you don't need to? *(Ryan Mink) *"We coach everybody. Obviously, he's aware that that's not what we want. We talked about it. We fully expect that there will be no more of those. He's a highly-skilled individual. Things happen every game that are unforeseen, and that was certainly one of them."
How pleased were you to see special teams rise to the occasion and block the kick after kind of a rough day with some penalties? (Luke Jones)"It was a bad day. It wasn't just 'kind of a rough day.' We did not play well. Throughout the game, there were a number of opportunities we had that we just missed. We got schemed one time, but that's on the coach. It was a rough day to say the least. We were hanging in there. Our guys were still playing hard. You have to play all the way through the end of the game. I think it's a good sign for our guys. We have guys that are growing into their roles right now. We've had a lot of turnover on our special teams. With that turnover, I think we've had some inconsistencies, and it showed up. The same guys that played and did some things in the previous game, it was not so much this game. It was really a good feeling at the end of the game when we were able to make a couple of plays that helped us win. Those are things that you can more easily overcome after a victory. It's something we dealt with on Tuesday in a very frank fashion of how we need to play better. At the same time, there's still joy in your heart, because you were able to win the game, and everybody felt really positive about the win. [We need to] improve and get better in all phases and don't make it come down to the last play of the game."
On the blocked kick, I would imagine you only have a limited number of tricks in the book like that. Are there a whole bunch of those? How do you come up with those little scheme things? (Ryan Mink)"It's a big mystery. (laughter) It's a big mystery. It makes football fun, it really does. On every play on offense and defense, people are scheming one another and trying to get what they want [with] different leverage positions and different matchups. The game of football is a very complicated game. That's why the guys study so hard and there's so many … They have to have great intellect to do this game. It's a complicated game, and there are a lot of variables in it. Special teams is like that, too. There are different ways and methods of getting the job done. It's the fun part of the game, it really is. It makes the game really interesting to coach."
Have you seen that particular scheme work that well? Those two linemen just fell forward, and DE Brent Urban runs right by them. (Pete Gilbert) "I can safely say that's probably my favorite one that we've had, because it worked in a very timely way, and Brent did a great job. It's nice to be 6-7. That helps."
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
Has S Eric Weddle made an even bigger impact than you anticipated when you first signed him? (Ryan Mink)"I don't know if he's made a bigger impact. He's made a definite impact. We kind of expected it, from everything I knew about him. Even before he got here, I talked to Jarret Johnson and some guys I knew at San Diego about him, because I wanted to have a feel. Just like he called some guys and asked about me, I guess. I expected it. It's been as advertised. I'll put it that way."
Dean, you guys are ranked second in the league right now in yards allowed. What do you think is the biggest reason the defense has gotten off to such a strong start? (Garrett Downing) "No big plays. We haven't given up many big plays. That's been the key. The game that we gave them up in was the Cleveland game with the big run. Even with the two passes in that game, that's not so much as the big run. You just can't give up those things, and knock on wood, we really haven't given up a lot of big plays. That's going to have to continue. This league can humble you in a heartbeat on a couple of plays. That's the thing that we have to do is just keep the ball inside in front of us on both run and pass."
Why hasn't the defense given up many big plays? (Garrett Downing) "I think the guys are playing … I think we're a little faster on defense than maybe what we've been. I think that helps. I think communication-wise, we've been really good. We spent a lot of time in the offseason really looking at everything we did on defense and saying, 'What can we clean up here to make the communication easier?' and things like that. I think there's less communication that you have to make than maybe what we had in the past in some ways. I think the guys are just really focused. They're playing hard. To me, that's the biggest reason."
Coach Harbaugh talked about the way that Raiders QB Derek Carr is playing with less turnovers and getting the ball out. What have you seen from him and his targets in WR Michael Crabtree and others? (Jerry Coleman) "He's got a lot of targets. Their running backs are targets, too. The thing about them is that they're just a really well-balanced [team]. You can talk about Carr, but they're a well-balanced team. I think they're second in the league in running, too [with a] 148-yard game [average]. They've got running backs that can run downhill, and they've got receivers that can take the top off the defense. The thing about them is I think they have a really fantastic scheme on offense that really keeps defenses off balance. It's tough. They really have a great scheme, and it's very quarterback friendly. He doesn't make many mistakes. I think he only threw one pick. He's only really been sacked once. I think, statistically, it says two, but one of them was running out of bounds. You're not getting hits on the quarterback. They're not getting picks with the quarterback. He's not afraid to take what they give him, and he's making great choices. I don't know what his quarterback rating is off hand, but it's got to be great. I just think the whole scheme of what they're doing … The thing that sets it up is their running game. They really can run the ball. These guys, if you watch them … You talk about big plays, they have them every game – run and pass. Break a tackle, and a guy goes 50 [yards] or whatever. All of a sudden guys suck up a little bit at linebacker, and they break a pass and a guy goes 70 [yards]. They're in a very, very explosive offense."
**Even though things have gone pretty well defensively, when OLB Elvis Dumervil gets back, what will he give you that you haven't seen yet? *(Joe Platania) *"I'm really pleased with the guys that have filled in there. I'm hoping Elvis is back to the Elvis of old, and he can give us an edge rush like he always gives us. He did a good job, even last year, when we played him in the Raven defense – base defense. He did a good job of setting the edge, but the thing I hope that he can give us is a little extra help in the pass rush. As a defense, you don't want to always have to pressure to get pressure on a quarterback. You'd like to be able to do it with a four-man rush. The more you can do that, the more it really opens up the book for you on defense with the things that you can do. If you always have to pressure to get pressure on a quarterback … The offense wasn't born yesterday. They know how to go against that stuff. I'm just hoping that he gives us the pass rush that he's capable of doing."
How satisfying has it been to see your guys taking advantage of the opportunities when they come, in terms of turnovers?* (Pete Gilbert)*"Absolutely, guys are making plays. That interception of C.J.'s [Mosley] was phenomenal. I think that's a great, great play. I think we probably have about as many picks right now as we did all last year. I don't know what it is, but it's probably got to be close. It's really good. I think the more you do those things, the more you have confidence. The more you make picks, the easier it is to make another pick. When you drop it, it's like going to the free throw line when you shoot, and it goes off the back of the rim. That's what you're thinking about the next time you shoot the free throw. You're not thinking about it going to the bottom of the net, you're thinking about missing it. It's the same thing with interceptions. If you're thinking about missing them – you're thinking about, 'I have to catch it.' It just has to be natural. I think the more you do that, the more confidence you have, the more you're going to make."
What goes into the decision to stick CB Jimmy Smith on the best WR opponents have, as you have done occasionally?* (Luke Jones)* "It's a lot of things. It could be just the matchup on the receivers, but then again if it's … It depends on the formations that the offense gives you. Is it going to be hard to do? It also depends on what our plan is. How much man are we going to play? How much zone are we going to play? How much pressure are we going to do? How difficult is it going to be? There's no one deciding factor. There are multiple things that you look at, starting with their offense, and then what's our plan for this week and does that fit in our plan? That's kind of it."
*Zachary Orr said yesterday that the guys jokingly call S Eric Weddle "Coach Weddle." What have you see from him in the meeting room? (Ryan Mink) *"The thing is, he's just so in tune. He is like Ray [Lewis] and those guys from the standpoint … For the young guys, here's a veteran taking notes. You open up their notes … The other day, 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] left his notebook in there when we had a break and came back and one of the coaches said he looked at the notebook, and it's just notes – full of notes. This is 'Sizz.' How many years has he played? That's why they're great. That's why Eric is great. He can come in on Tuesday when we go to put the game plan in, [and] he can always tell you – like if I see a formation and say, 'OK, here's what they have a tendency to do…' – he already can tell you that's what they have a tendency to do. He's very, very smart and knowledgeable. I've seen a bunch of guys like that – Jarret Johnson, Ray [Lewis]. All of those great ones take notes and are really, really in tune to it. They almost know what you're going to do before we even do it. The other thing is they ask questions. Some guys, I think … I haven't been around [those who don't ask questions] very much. I've just been so lucky that I haven't, but I've heard other coaches talk about [it]. You'll say something as a coach, and the guy kind of [goes], 'Ehh, I don't know.' These guys will ask questions. It's like we're doing this, and I'll try to explain to them why, and he'll go, 'What if we want to do this?' And you say, 'Here's why I don't want to do that.' 'OK, great.' It's just like, 'Whatever you want. How do we want to do this?' They aren't afraid to say, 'How do you want me to play that?' Instead of just me assuming they do, they actually have a question. Some guys don't ask questions. The more questions you ask … They don't want to act like, 'I don't want to say anything in front of the coach. I don't want to ask this question.' Those guys, they aren't afraid to ask anything. That's what really helps you as a coach, because then you can make sure they understand it."
**Have you spied on Weddle's notebook? *(Ryan Mink) *"He sits [in front]. When I stand [in the meeting room], he's right there. I don't have to [spy]; I can see him. It's just I don't have to look at his notebook. I can watch him. He's not the only one. We have a ton of guys that are doing that. That really, really helps. Linebackers [like] Zach Orr and C.J. [Mosley], a lot of those guys are that way."
You mentioned dropped interceptions. Did you have a conversation with ILB Kamalei Correa about his drop? (Edward Lee) "I didn't have to. Everybody else did on the sideline. (laughter) I had to build him back up after they got on him on the sideline. That would have been a great first play of your career."
Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman
Opening statement: "We have had a really good week meeting. We talked today about why we are a 3-0 offense. [We talked about] the things that we have done to be productive, and we also covered on the things that have limited our productivity. I think Joe [Flacco] hit a lot of it yesterday when he talked to the media. I listened to that. That is where we have to go. We have to continue to get better at the things that we have done well, and we have to continue to pay particular attention to taking care of the football. [We are] trying to find a way to manufacture a couple of explosive runs along the way. We have been able, at times … When we have needed to run the ball, we have been able to do that at really crunch time scenarios, but we still need work in that area. We have to catch the ball, and we have to make the most of each and every play. We can't have the untimely penalties that have set us back as well. As Joe said, we are feeling good about what we can become. We certainly know that we are not where we want to be. That starts with me. But I think we have a group of guys that really have seen the tape, spent time with their coaches and understand that every guy has to step up, in terms of doing those things that really are about us. Then, we have to respect our opponent and play as hard as we can along the way."
John [Harbaugh] talked about the run game, and he has been talking about trying to improve it. I know you heard what he had to say in terms of blocking and all that. No changes on the scheme whatsoever? What about what is going on with the offensive line? We look at the injury report and see that two of your starting offensive linemen are out. How would that affect the running game? (Jerry Coleman)"We have played with the guys that are in there now. We have played and moved the ball successfully the times that they have been in there. We are really confident in that area. Obviously, we felt very good about Alex [Lewis] and Ronnie [Stanley], and we will see what the trainers and doctors say. John [Harbaugh] determines at the end of the week how that goes. But we feel good about the guys we have. As we look at it, we are not where we want to be. We are not changing things up. We certainly, each and every week, try to attack the defense, running-wise, the way we think is best. Again, as good as the teams that we have played that have been at defending the run … We have played teams with their backs against the wall and [that have] adversity. We saw a team play very hard against us last week. We still feel like we have to continue to go to work on our technique and fundamentals. Being together and working together is going to turn itself into being more productive along the way. That is where we are, and we are paying particularly close attention to it [the running game]. On the other side, as I said, we have been able to manufacture some runs at the right time and the right place to help us and help our football team be 3-0. But we are nowhere where we want to be, and we own that."
Has it been a common theme with the running back? Has it been a case where you correct something and then the next week something else isn't the way it needs to be? Has there been a common trend? (Luke Jones)"There really hasn't, other than that we haven't been able to have the continuity we want from snapping the football until the course of the back, the timing of the play, whatever it is. We are close. Like I said, if you can manufacture just a couple more runs that are plus or explosive runs in the 15-plus area, you have added 30 yards to your total, and we are looking at it completely different. That is just the way it is. That is the way it is with each and every team in the NFL. We just haven't gotten there. We want to be more consistent, more productive. We are going to continue to work on that. We have been very good on third downs up until last week when we had six third-and-2-3, and we didn't convert them last week, which would have enabled us to attack with more runs and have more opportunities to get those kinds of plays. It is continuity football with the offense all the way around, and we have been close. We have been productive enough to manufacture some yardage and some completions and some plays, and we are nowhere where we think we can be. We think the tape is proof of that. We have another opportunity this week to go out and do that, and we are going to do everything we can to get that done."
Have you been able to put your offense as to why they haven't had the fast starts you would like to have in the first quarter? (Ed Lee)"Again, as you look at it … I could break it down by play, but it is a dropped ball or it is a missed assignment that hasn't enabled us to continue drives. The good part about it is that we have been able to make the adjustments to come out in the second half and to be able to move the football. Last week, we had a chance to do it, and we lost a third-down conversion, we lost a red-zone touchdown, and we lost a touchdown on one play. That is how the NFL works. Those are things that we all can control. We have to do a better job of being more consistent and coming out faster. It is still too early to tell, but we have to play better early on, and there is no doubt about that. That is up to each and every one of us to get that done."
Have you noticed the opposing defenses doing everything in their power to take away the deep ball, given that you have WR Breshad Perriman and WR Mike Wallace? I guess fans and media are wondering why there haven't been more deep shots, given that speed. (Ryan Mink)"I think that we saw a little bit more of that early. We played a team [in Jacksonville] that we call a 'top-down' team. We knew exactly how they were going to play. That is why you saw 29 completions. They were going to give you everything underneath and not give you anything deep. That is the way they play, and they wait for the tipped ball. They wait for the mistake. That is how we played the game, and we had a chance to play the game exactly that way and move the ball down the field. The two disconnects in the passing game – one was protection-wise, and one was a tip. The inopportune penalties moving the football did hurt us. We didn't have many [penalties], but they came at inopportune times."
Is that a Jaguars' thing that they always do against a lot of opponents or do you think people are trying to do that against the Ravens? (Ryan Mink)"That is a good question. I think it is too early to tell. What we saw over the previous two weeks is what we got. We didn't get a chance to take advantage of that by moving the football, getting into the red zone and scoring."
I know he has only gotten back to practice the last couple days, but how has RB Kenneth Dixon looked and what can he bring to your offense that you haven't had until this point? (Luke Jones)"I think we saw a little bit of that in the preseason. We don't know yet, because he hasn't played in a regular season game. He is starting to get some reps, and we will have to wait for the trainers and the doctors and John [Harbaugh] to make that decision. We are excited to get him back whenever that is and are looking forward to him being a productive part of our offense."
One of the big things typically with a rookie running back – especially when they were a feature back in college – is pass protection. I remember RB Terrance West talked about that, too. He didn't pass block in college at all. Do you feel comfortable with RB Kenneth Dixon in that area? (Pete Gilbert)"I feel very comfortable. We saw a lot of that in preseason and in training camp. He is a very smart player; he has a good understanding of our protection packages. I don't anticipate that is going to inhibit our decisions to play him. It really is one of the No. 1 factors in playing. You have to be able to understand our protection packages and take care of the quarterback first. We feel good that Kenneth has that ability."
OLB Elvis Dumervil
On how he is feeling:"I'm feeling great. I feel like a Raven; it is awesome."
On if he feels like a "starting Raven":*(Laughter) *"I feel great. [It feels great] going out there and being with your teammates and going out there and competing. I am excited."
On if he will play this week:"I guess my guy [Terrell Suggs] already said it. 'That is what we are shooting for;' I can't use that [statement] anymore. *(laughter) *I'm excited to go out in front of our crowd. The team has been doing great – a 3-0 start. This is a tough opponent, a well-coached team, a good offense. We are excited for the challenge."
On if he was close to playing last Sunday:"It was really close. I wish I could have joined the party, but you have to be patient. I'm excited to go in front of our home crowd and do my very best."
On if he will have a certain limit on the number of snaps he can take:"That is the coaches' decision. I'm just going to go out whether they need me for 10, 20 [snaps] … Whatever the reps are. I'm just going to go out and do what I can do."
On if it makes it easier to be patient because he is a veteran:"That is a great question. I think as a competitor, you always want to go out and compete and help your team. But sometimes the doctors or the head coach oversee things better than you can as a player. Sometimes it is good to listen."
On how difficult it has been not playing:"It is tough. But it makes you value and reconnect the reason why you play the game. I had some time to reflect on how I want to end my career and how I want to attack this season. It was tough not being out there with your guys, but I have been working hard with the guys inside – the training guys, [assistant certified athletic trainer] Ronald [Medlin] and [physical therapist] Sam [Bell] and [director of performance and recovery] Steve [Saunders]. I am excited. It is time."
On if he is implying that this is his last season:"I am not saying that. All I'm saying is that I am excited, and you revalue playing in this game, because you never know when you are healthy enough or when this can get taken away from you. It kind of puts things in perspective, and you really go out and try to dominate every play that you can."
On if it is easier to be patient because the team is 3-0:"I don't think either way I could have made a difference on that. Your body is your body. As much as I wanted to be out there Week 1, I just wasn't ready. A 3-0 start is excellent, so I'm happy to be coming back with a defensive line like we have, the guys on the inside can rush. 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] coming back – we haven't been on the field [together] in a while. I'm excited. I'm real excited."
On how much it will help having other guys who can rush the quarterback:"It is tremendous. Having 'Sizz' [Terrell Suggs] alone is a huge impact. Obviously, he has been showing that. Now you start adding [Michael] Pierce and Lawrence Guy and Timmy Jernigan and then you have the linebackers, Zach Orr and C.J. Mosley. At the end of the day, our coverage has been great, as well, and [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees has been calling great schemes. It is just a great opportunity to kind of come back."
On if he thinks his injury will be a lingering issue: "I've never dealt with this injury. What I will say is the last couple of weeks I have woke up and felt good. We really kind of got after it in conditioning. This week, we really pressed it. You are never 100 percent in football, and if there is one thing I can do, I can play with pain. Early on the year, it was more injured than hurting."
On if he is looking forward to playing former Ravens G Kelechi Osemele:"Yes, no doubt. Every offensive line is a great task and a great challenge. I know as a teammate when he was here, he approached the game as a professional. He is a great athlete. I'm sure he will be ready, and he knows we will be ready."