Opening statement: "First postgame that we've had is our first regular season game, which is obviously different than other years. So, we've been going through the process this morning of grading the tape and analyzing ourselves and where we can go from here. It's good to have this kind of information. It gives us a chance to really reset our direction a little bit and assess where we're at, and where we're going and what we need to work on and things like that. We're excited about that. You get an opportunity to really focus with just some good information. We're very pleased with the win. I felt the guys played really hard. We can play harder, there's no question about that, [but] I thought the guys played with real physicality. We can play with more physicality, speed – all of those things we'll be seeking to improve upon – and we'll have to as the season goes on. And then, we'll start our preparation for Houston. They've had a couple extra days. They played [last] Thursday night, so they've been working on us all weekend. We understand that, and we're just going to have to hit the ground running here. [Here with] the coaching staff this afternoon, and tonight, and then tomorrow morning – and then players will come in tomorrow afternoon, and we'll get started on those guys."
Curious as to what you learned about your team? As I mentioned yesterday, no preseason games, and then you throw them out there. I'm sure they showed you something that you maybe didn't know. (Dave Ginsburg) "I don't know, I haven't really thought about what thing I didn't know. I felt like we handled the situation well; it was just a different kind of situation. We hadn't played yet, the fans, I think there was a certain … I felt it. It was just different. It was a little bit off-putting, in a way, and we had to deal with that and try to find a way to make sure we manufactured our energy through all of that – even just [with] no preseason games and that being the first one, and it counted. That's just different for us to deal with. Then you don't have fans out there. I thought the drumline was great. That was really cool. I loved that. And then all the cutouts were really neat, and 'Mo's Rows' … I got a little choked up watching the 'Mo's Rows' out there. Thanks to all the people who did that and bought those cutouts. We handled the situation well. Now, we've got our feet on the ground, we understand what it is, and where we're at and where we're going. Hopefully, we have a chance to accelerate a little bit and improve as a football team."
You mentioned re-setting in new circumstances. First road trip, first time you guys will be getting on a plane and staying at a hotel in these times. Any particular challenges [or] differences that could be disruptive or different? (Mark Viviano) "Yes, we'll see. Our people do a great job. [Ravens president] Dick Cass is the leader there, [senior vice president of operations] Bob Eller and [senior director of team travel] Joan [Fennekohl] and all those people. [Director of football information] Megan [McLaughlin], and all the people in the building who do such a great job for us with travel and different things. We'll just trust them. That's not something, as coaches or players, we really need to be focused on. We're going to trust them that the plane will be there, and we'll get on it, it'll fly, and it'll land, and we'll get off of it, we'll get on a bus, and the bus will work and take us to the hotel, and the hotel will be open, and the rooms will be ready, and the meeting rooms will be ready. (laughing) We'll try to focus on the football part of it. Whatever glitches … I think the biggest thing here – and to your point – the biggest thing is that we try not to worry about things. If the food line is a little longer than we're used to – or something like that – and we have to stand in line and wait … If we get off-kilter a little bit, you've just got to say, 'So, what' and don't worry about it, and don't let it throw you off track and keep the focus on the main thing, which is playing the game. That's what we'll try to do as coaches and players."
You took QB Lamar Jackson out, I think it was with four minutes left. The previous drive, I think it was 10 minutes left. How close were you to removing him for that drive? What went into the thinking of keeping him in at that point? (Jamison Hensley) "The four minutes left was because the defense was on the field up until that point. Ten minutes left, no, I don't think so. It's the National Football League. You look around the league, you'll see that not too many people are taking their quarterbacks out with 10 minutes left in the game in the National Football League – and that's historically true. There are a lot of reasons for that. I don't think I have to get into all the reasons for that, but all the people that want to say that should be done, I'd have to disagree with that."
We talked a lot about DE Calais Campbell yesterday, but DE Derek Wolfe played 52 snaps, which is the most on the defensive line; three tackles and two quarterback hits. What did you see from him on the film today? What stood out with his performance? (Todd Karpovich) "[Calais Campbell] made plays, for sure. We even dropped him into coverage, right? He had a [pass breakup] dropping into coverage. It wasn't just batted balls; he had two of those, too. He played really well. He's a force in there. I thought Derek Wolfe was a force in there. Brandon Williams was a force, especially in the second half. Boy, Brandon really played well. They helped the young linebackers. We had good rotational plays. 'Jelly' [Justin Ellis] did a great job. He was really physical in there when he played nose guard. Broderick [Washington] did a nice job. [He's a] young guy, and he got his sea legs a little bit, and really started playing well as the game went on. So, I was really happy with all of the guys in there on the D-line."
What stood out to you just looking at the film and looking at G/T Tyre Phillips at right guard, making that start without any preseason games, and starting the season opener? (Daniel Oyefusi) "That's a great observation. There are so many little things [and] so many young guys to talk about. To start on the offensive line as a rookie at a position that you didn't play in college – he was a left tackle and he's starting at right guard – it's pretty remarkable. He has a long way to go. He can improve so much, but I look at that as a real positive. He's only going to get better, because he's really smart and he's really a detail-oriented person. He's the kind of guy who once he's experienced it, he corrects it. He's going to learn from every single snap that he takes out there. He had a few things, but he cleaned them up right away. He's a heck of an athlete [and] a real strong guy. I would say he graded out a plus, for sure, in the game. He had a good game."
After watching the tape this morning, how impressed were you with the last touchdown drive of the first half – 35 seconds, 69 yards – just the efficiency that the drive showed and how QB Lamar Jackson operated that in game one with no preseason? (Shawn Stepner) "That's a great observation. I feel like you couldn't do that drive any better than that. That's as good as it could be done. It couldn't be done any better. No timeouts, I think we did it in 42 seconds. Fifteen seconds left, no timeouts, we get down there [and] we run three more plays. We score on the third play. Those are situations where you can't run the ball, you can't take a sack, you can't throw a completion where the clock's going to be running, or you're going to be done. So, you're greedy in a sense. You're trying to get the touchdown, but you don't want to give up the field goal. That's a situation we work on very often. We still had six seconds left after we scored. It's just remarkable. The whole offense deserves the credit for it. They all understood the situation. They all reacted perfectly. But, of course, the quarterback is the conductor, and Lamar has a real knack for handling situational football, especially as it pertains to the clock. It's something that he's really, really good at. I was glad to see it show up there at the end of the half, because it really separated the game for us a little bit and gave us a little breathing room going into halftime. It was just, as you said, it was probably the turning point in the game."
Looking back on it a little bit, for C Matt Skura to play yesterday, to start Week One basically less than 10 months after a serious injury, what kind of achievement is that? In the offseason, when you were planning for your team and the season, did you think there was any chance that he might be able to go in Week One? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It's a remarkable accomplishment. I'd say no, I didn't think there was any chance he would be able to go [in] Week One, in all honesty. I thought he'd be a PUP and come back after six weeks at the earliest type of a situation. That would've been excellent. For him to be back playing in the opener is a tribute to him and to our trainers and the doctors that did the surgery, just the whole thing. His wife, for putting up with him, all of these things that go into this. And he played a good solid game. He's only going to get better from here. He's on limited practice and I don't think the knee … I don't think physically he's 100% yet, either. But he played, still, a winning football game. So, yes, I'm very proud of him for that. He did a great job. That's a really good point."
How did you see Cleveland's gameplan to stop QB Lamar Jackson? (Ximena Lugo-Latorre) "I think their first thought was to stop the run. They wanted to make sure they stopped the run, and they did a pretty good job of it. They have a good defensive line. I thought the linebackers, the way they positioned them and the way they organized their front that handled the quarterback-driven stuff, was good. And then, they wanted to not give up big plays. They did a pretty good job of that, too. But Lamar [Jackson] was able to take advantage of the intermediate throws, some of the extended plays, keep the chains moving [and] the two-minute stuff. That was the difference in the game, I thought."
I know you were asked about keeping QB Lamar Jackson in the game, but in that last drive he was in, I believe near the goal line, he lowered his head and tried to score late in the game. Was that particular play one where you might have liked him to step out of bounds, or did you like his decision there to try and score? (Aaron Kasinitz) "I'm not going to worry about it. I think Lamar [Jackson] does a great job. He knows how to play. If you watch the play, who took the hit on that play?" (Reporter: "I'd have to go back and watch again.") "You're asking me about the play, so certainly it's a play that you've studied. It wasn't Lamar [who took the hit]. But no, we're not looking for Lamar to take big hits or lower his head and try to run people over or anything like that. That's not something we practice. And Lamar does a great job of protecting himself. Every player out there is in a situation where you're at risk. It's football. There's a risk. And it goes for every quarterback in the league. It goes for every defensive back in the league – every player in the league, and that's part of it. You try to minimize as much as you can, but you can't run from it. You can't play scared. You have to go play the game to win the game, and Lamar does that. I'm proud of him for that. We do the best we can to protect all of our guys, including our quarterback. It's very important to us; I don't want to minimize that. We think about that. But we're not going to just react to every criticism and say, 'We can take him out of the game at halftime, too. That might keep him safer, too.' But we're not going to do that. And if you look back at the history of football, you'll see that nobody does that. Nobody's done that. People don't take their quarterback out. We're the first team that I know of to start taking their quarterback out with 10 minutes left in the game. We did that once or twice last year. Check and see who's done that in the last 30 years. It's very rare. So, a lot of things can happen. I've seen teams come back in the fourth quarter. You want to keep your defense off the field. All these things are factors, and we want to develop our team, too. It's the first game of the season, so we're trying to work on stuff as well. So, all those things factor in. And it's just a criticism that you guys can keep asking me about, and I'm going to keep telling you the same thing. If you study football and you look at what other teams do, you'll see that people don't do that, and there's a reason for it. It's not because we want to see somebody get hurt or something like that. So, take a look at Seattle with Russell Wilson. What were they up by? And when did Russell come out? So, I would encourage you to do your homework on that."
Is there any update on T Ronnie Stanley? And how impressed were you with CB Jimmy Smith, who had back spasms, yet played most of the game? (David Ginsburg) "Yes, Jimmy [Smith] did a great job. And I do not have an update on Ronnie Stanley yet. I don't think it's anything … I haven't been told anything serious. They're working on him down in the training room. I'd say Wednesday we'll have a pretty good idea. But again, I expect him to be out there practicing Wednesday. That's my expectation at this point."
QB Lamar Jackson talked a lot of this offseason about just adding precision to the passing game, and a throw that stands out from yesterday was the one to TE Mark Andrews over the middle of the field. How encouraging was it to see that kind of precision right from the get-go from Lamar in the passing game? (Garrett Downing) "I thought he just showed great poise in the pocket the whole game. He had a good awareness of the rush. They were bringing it. They have really good pass rushers. They mixed up their coverage – man, zone, different types of zone coverages – and he had just a great feel for it. Mark [Andrews] of course, has a great feel for coverages too. It wasn't just Mark. The throw to Willie [Snead IV], and the route that Willie ran there late in the game for the touchdown. All those things were just really indicative of a well-played quarterback game. Lamar played an excellent game, and the passing game – the drop-back passing game – was really the main part of that. I thought he just did a great job."
When we talked to ILB Patrick Queen yesterday, he was happy, but he felt like there were some things he could clean up. When you kind of drilled down on the tape, what stood out to you about what he did yesterday? (Childs Walker) "He did a good job with his run-fits. He was downhill. I thought he showed his explosive speed a couple times, where he went and made some plays. But generally speaking, [he was] just very solid in terms of the basics; the run-fits, the angles he took, the zone-drops, the way he related the routes, the patience he showed there. He didn't panic at all. I felt like that was the best thing about it as a start. And again, he should only improve from here."
How impressive was it for ILB Malik Harrison to get the start? I know obviously, you guys are rotating there with ILB L.J. Fort and whatnot. What did you see from the film on him when you went back and looked at it? (Ryan Mink) "He did. He played the same exact as Patrick [Queen]. I thought both those two guys played really good football, especially for their first time. Good starts for those guys. There will be things that they can learn from, and they'll see right away when they look at it – things that they can improve and carry forward. But I was pleased with both those two guys. I thought Malik [Harrison] played very well, also."
You do have those young guys playing. So, how valuable is it to have ILB L.J. Fort just as mentor, but also what he did for you defensively and obviously the big play on the fake punt? (Luke Jones) "Yes, exactly. That's exactly right. That certainly gives you a foundation to work those young guys in, to not put them in positions where they have to do more maybe than you'd want to ask them to do. ILB Chris Board played a good game on defense, too. He had some good snaps for us out there. So, I think that's a great point. We're going to rotate those linebackers probably pretty much all year and put them in situations where they do things they understand and do well and move them in and out. It's kind of what we like to do on defense anyway. That's kind of our personality. So, yes, it's a good situation to have."