Opening statement:"Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out. It's been a long time since we've seen you guys last. (laughter) Obviously, it's great circumstances. Players are in good spirits. They got in here today and took care of themselves, went to work on Cleveland. Coaches have been here pretty much almost since after the game – a lot of us. We are getting ready for Thursday night."
When the schedule came out and you saw you were playing Sunday night and then Thursday night, is there another team in the league that is doing that? (Jerry Coleman) "I'm not sure. It would be worth doing your research on that, though." (Iaughter)
How about your research into getting your team turned around and ready to go? (Jerry Coleman) "We've done this before; we've played Thursday after a Sunday, but we haven't played Thursday after a Sunday night. We are adjusting the schedule a little bit. Two things are important: preparation and recovery – those two things. One can't really take a backseat to the other; the recovery is going to be just as important as the preparation and the preparation. Obviously, we have to be prepared. It's a very good football team, a young football team, a team that's in the process of finding their way. You watch it on tape, you see so many good things. It's going to be a huge challenge for us. I know they are going to come in here, a division game, big rivalry game, always a very emotional game against the Browns. We've played a lot of tough games against these guys, as you guys all know. We expect it to be another one of those kind of games."
What kind of progression have you seen out of QB Brandon Weeden so far out of the three games he's been in? (Jason Butt) "To sit here and just say that I've really looked at it from that standpoint and have … I just know he's good. I know he has talent. What we are looking at right now are the things he does well and the way they're building their offense around him. [We're] not looking at so much from his progress or his development or anything like that. That's more what they do, but we know he is very dangerous. He's big, he's smart, he has a great arm. He gets the ball out very quickly. He has talent around him – not the least which is the running back Trent Richardson, who runs behind a very physical offensive line. They have some young talented receivers that can get out on you at any time. All three of those guys are first- or second-year [players]. There are a lot of weapons out there. We have to make sure that we contain those guys."
In your first year, you were going through the same kind of thing: Joe [Flacco] came in, Ray [Rice] came in. What was it like having two high draft picks like that? Obviously, you are really excited about what they can do, but you are also, maybe there is some nervousness, too, in some situations you go through the course of the season just kind of weighing that with the young and talented players like that. *(Matt Vensel) *"The challenge is that they haven't seen anything. It's the first time for everything, so you don't know how they're going to respond, and they don't know how they are going to respond. It's the same way with the rookies that we have on our team now, except for the fact that you are talking about two of the premium positions. Also, that their starting right tackle is also a rookie, so that's three of their starting four rookies. They have 15 rookies on their roster right now. They've done a great job with their draft and also with their undrafted free agents; a lot of those guys are playing on special teams. They've done a great job with those guys."
**Haloti Ngata seems to be off to a really strong start. Do you think he's playing at a really elite level so far this season? *(Garrett Downing) *"I don't know if I want to put a tag on it or anything. He's playing really well. He's a guy that we expect to play at the highest level; he's a guy that we need to play at the highest level, and Haloti's doing that."
I know it was an emotional and physical game last night. How did you come out health-wise overall? (Jeff Zrebiec) "It seems like we are OK. It seems like we are OK at this point, nothing major."
John, was it frustrating last night, I know you probably can't touch too much on it, but it's like all over the league yesterday with the refs and everything. It's in and out. It looks like it's getting really frustrating throughout the whole league. (Bill West)"I can't really touch on it. There are a lot of good officials in these crews. It's just going to be hard for those guys to all be on the same page with the history of the National Football League and all that in a few weeks. But, there are a lot of very talented officials that do a great job, and they're really great communicators and good guys and everything. There's a lot of talent there, but the task is tough, and they are working real hard at it."
*The offense struggled some during the course of the first quarter. From there, things turned around. What changed, not only from Joe [Flacco], but from the offense as a whole from the first quarter to the final three? *(Matt Zenitz) "One of the things was that we got a couple of first downs. The first couple of drives there I think we came up a yard or half a yard short on converting. So, if you gain another half of yard there and you convert, and you extend those drives out, and that's really what gets you in a rhythm and gets you started. I just think we never really got started in the first quarter as well as we could have. Credit those guys; they made some really nice tackles on us. We threw some balls and they came up and made some tackles, and that's what the Patriots do so well. It's a great tackling defense, and they limit the yards after the catch, and that kept us from kind of getting rolling. But once we started to get a little momentum, then success builds on success and you get a little rhythm, and we started moving the ball pretty well."
*How pleased were you with everyone that was getting involved, it seemed like this week more than ever? It seemed like this past game it was everybody – Ray [Rice] was getting his touches, all the wide receivers were touching, [Dennis] Pitta was getting his. (Jeff Zrebiec) *"You don't have to answer the questions about who didn't get their touches. That's really not the reason, actually. You never know, you just never know which way it's going to go. Some days you might spread it around, and we like that because we are less predictable that way. We like it to be moving it in different places. The progressions take Joe [Flacco] to where he's going to go, and then the run/pass, a lot of times the defense dictates that in the system that we are in right now. You are always going to try to do what you think gives you the best chance to move the football and ultimately score points. The fact that it played out that way is a good thing."
**What's the best way to utilize the emotion off a big win, while also not looking at it too much with the short week? *(Evan Washburn) *"I don't know what the best way is, but it's probably the only way if you expect to come out and play well on Thursday. You have to do that. We just told the guys right now, 'There's no more looking in the mirror. There's no more admiring the victory,' so to speak. What we did was we went to work. We are trying to build on the positive, but we have to correct the mistakes and then look straight to Thursday night. There's no time for anything else. You try to do that every week, but normally, you have a day or two to kind of wash it away, and we don't have that this time."
Courtney Upshaw got the start. Was that more of function? Is he starting to separate himself at that position or was it more function of Paul [Kruger] coming off … (Garrett Downing)"It's more function I really never really talk about the depth chart, because I think it's all kind of irrelevant in today's football. Everybody makes a big deal about who's starting and who's not starting, and I just have never – you guys know that – I've never thought that had any value because everybody has a role. Courtney has a huge role. Paul has a huge role. Courtney was in that package to start the game, which is to your question. So all those guys are, in my mind, they are all starters. If they are on the field, they sure better play like a starter. It's a positive for Courtney that he's playing well, but it's a positive for Paul, too, because Paul played well, too."
John, in terms of your preparation, in what ways do you become more efficient as a staff as you try to fit everything you need to do in a week into fewer hours? (Matt Gagne)"We probably won't be able to fit as much into the fewer hours. That's a good question. I haven't really thought of it other than [that] we're just going to work and get as much done as we can. But, what we're trying to do is prioritize and do the important things and make sure that we take care of the things that we need to take care of to be ready on Thursday night."
Is there something that you said to your guys to make sure they prioritize things and be ready for Thursday? (Matt Gagne)"These guys, they certainly don't need a pep talk. Everybody in football works hard, and our guys do a great job. Our advance coaches did a great job of preparing all of us for the Browns, so when we rolled in here early this morning or late last night, whatever you want to call it, that stuff was laid out, and we were ready to go to work. And, our coaches went to work on first and second down, and we had that prepared for today. We'll just kind of keep building from there. So, we're on schedule in that sense."
I know coaches around the league hate to look forward to the next week, but because of the short turnaround, did any Browns preparation take place before last night's game? (Matt Gagne)"That's what I am saying, the advance stuff does. As far as the straight game-planning, I'd say no because the signal-callers and the play-callers don't like to get the two game plans cross referenced in their head. But, all of the preliminary work was already done."
Coach, Ramon Harewood had a pretty good game last night. On Ray Rice's touchdown, he created a huge gap for him. How impressed have you been with him, and when did you really realize that you were going to plug him in there at guard, because we didn't really see him there that much through the preseason? (Kris Jones)"I really don't have the timeline right in front of me right now, and of course, I'd want to be very accurate for you. We always knew he had a chance to be a really good player, because we thought he could bend. He had the knee surgeries and all that, so he has been on the shelf for two years. But, coming in the OTAs, he really looked good, and in the training camp he played both tackle and played guard. I think that we just felt like we'd see if he can do it at guard, with about two weeks left in training camp seems to be about the time frame. We just plugged him in there to see how it looked, and it looked good, and he has done a good job. But, he has a long way to go. He'll be the first to tell you that he's a pup, but he's a pretty talented pup, and he is pretty physical. He is pretty smart. He likes football. So, those kind of things kind of added up for us."
John, talk about the fan base last night. They were very loud. I saw you very emotional at the end of the game, and happy birthday to you, actually. They were in to it, and some stuff went across national TV. It's great. Talk about the fans. (Bill West)"I heard it was pretty clear, some of the things that they were saying. *(laughter) *You have to love Baltimore. You have to love Baltimore. There is nothing like our stadium. We've been in a lot of stadiums, and they're all great in their own right, but there is nothing like our stadium. There is no better one. It's better than every other stadium that I've ever been at. Our fans are so loyal. They are so behind our team. I heard the chanting, and then the song that we had going right away in the first quarter, that was great. Coming off the field, everybody was still there, and they were just roaring behind our bench. I happened to be the only guy; I was walking over there, and Paul Kruger was behind me, and they are just cheering, and Ray [Lewis] and all the real stars are out there, so I am like, 'This is my chance!' So, I jumped up on the bench and got them going a little bit, then Paul came up and [I said], 'Hey, this is Paul Kruger!' and [there was] a big roar for Paul Kruger. It's the type of moment you never forget. You know the emotions were there with all the different things that led into the game and then the way the game was played and the opponent that everybody has so much respect for. It just made for a great night."
How impressed were you with what Michael Oher was able to do? He was up against a very aggressive rookie pass rusher. (Jeff Zrebiec)"Early on, Chandler [Jones] got him one time, and Mike did a great job of adjusting and adapting. Pretty much, after that, [he] didn't give up any kind of pressure at all. I must say, he is a great player. He is a great player; he is going to be playing great for a long time in this league. Nobody works harder, nobody studies more than Mike. He just comes to work every single day."
We've talked so much about pressuring the quarterback. How impressed were you with the execution and Dean Pees firing up the blitz packages and putting so much heat on Brady at the end? (Luke Jones)"It was just important, and we needed to do that. The thing about Tom Brady is that sometimes the ball comes out so darn quick, you almost feel like it's pointless sometimes, but it's not pointless. You have get pressure, you have to hurry up, you have to get him out of rhythm – any quarterback. It started clicking a little before, so it was really important, and, to me, it led to the two stops."
Torrey obviously dealt with a lot yesterday. Can you tell us what his plans are this week? Do you anticipate he'll play Thursday? (Mark Viviano)"I do. But again, it will be up to him. I don't want to speak for him on that, and he hasn't made any definitive statement to me about it. He is with his family today, and he plans on being back here tomorrow. We'll just play it by ear and see how he is doing."
John, I remember against Philadelphia, the issue was getting separation with the receivers. It seemed like in this game they kind of adjusted. Is it more of a technique thing, or figuring out how New England was playing and finding a soft spot? (J. Michael)"It was a technique thing, and we did a better job of getting off some of the grabbing stuff. I also think it got called. It got called this game, and when it gets called, it cleans up that stuff pretty quick. That was probably another part of it."
When you are studying the film of Cary Williams, it looked like some of those sideline routes were having some success. What can you tell a cornerback when a ball is being put on the money on the sideline like that? (Ryan Mink)"That's a tough play. That's something that has, in the last three, four, five years here, more and more quarterbacks are doing that really well – the back-shoulder fade and the back-hip fade sometimes. Where is that ball going to be? And you're a corner, and you're playing press and you're playing blind. If you play off on that quarterback in that offense, they are going to throw it in front of you and it's going to be a completion. If you press, you've got to contend with the fade and the back-shoulder fade. That's what all of our cornerbacks were dealing with, and then you have Tom Brady, who puts it right where he wants to put it. They've got receivers that are in sync, and they really are on the same page. So, what you try to do is try to be physical at the line, you try to stay even on the back-side hip, and you try to play the ball over top or behind as best you can, and just try feel the reaction of the receivers [when] that ball is coming in there. Basically, you have to almost guess with your hands about where that ball is going to be. You have to chalk that up – more than anything – to execution on the part of the offense. That's the National Football League. That's why we love it."