On if he's thinking about what will happen in his future with regard to head coaching:"My future is right now, and that's to get this team ready to play the Titans, and do all we can to beat the Titans. That's it. I've worked all my life to get ready for opportunities to become a head coach, so preparation time, I'm not going to be a phony, I'm going to be myself, and hopefully it's good enough for somebody. If it's not, then I'll stay here and coach this defense like I've been doing."
On if he feels any remorse that other people are already able to interview for the head jobs:"I'd much rather be in our situation. I was in the other situation last year and never had a lot of momentum going. But, I think I'm twice as prepared this year for the opportunity to become a head coach than I was last year, I really do. I think being under John [Harbaugh] and really working with him, John has really allowed me to experience what he's experienced. And really, he's made me part of the process of how we're dealing with things, whether it's a discipline issue, whether it's how we set up practice, all that kind of stuff. It's been great, because I think he's an outstanding leader, and I've been fortunate to be in the spot this year that I've been in."
On if it's helpful to go through the interview process several times:"Yeah… I'm not real good at it, I don't think. I'm not blessed with a silver tongue like some of these guys. What you see is what you get. I think, I know I'm a great football coach. I know I'm a leader of men, especially guys that play this game, and I think that's probably my edge over other people."
On going against a Titans running attack that may not have C Kevin Mawae:"OK. If you say so. No, that's fine. I mean, they're going to have a center there. Mawae is an outstanding player, but again, we've faced them before, and we know they're an outstanding running team. They've got the two-headed monster there, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside. We respect them. But, we respect ourselves. We think we can match up with anybody in the league, and we'll find out who's better."
On if it's better to have the bye week or not:"Well, I'll say not having a bye week. [Laughter] No, I mean hey – the circumstances are what they are. It's no big deal. You can make excuses one way or the other. We're not in that kind of business. We're happy to be going to Tennessee and having this opportunity. There are only eight teams left, and after this week there will only be four. So, we've got to do whatever we can to make sure we're one of those four teams."
On what about the Titans' offense concerns him most:"I'm always concerned. I respect every opponent, and these guys do a great job. You've got… I think they're really well coached on the offensive line. I think Mike Munchak does a great job there. And I think Clarence Brooks and our guys do a great job up front. So, it's going to be fun to watch, and hey – both us of us earn what you get. This is one of the best running teams in the National Football League, and I think we're one of the best at stopping the run. That'll be a great battle to watch."
On if any of the big hits he's seen have ever caused him to get emotional:"Oh, I mean, no question about that. I love it; that's what you're all about. I think a big hit can change the momentum of a game faster than a turnover, so we're fortunate we have some guys who can deliver some big hits."
On if S Ed Reed brings creativity and artistry to that position:"No doubt. Him and Ray [Lewis], I think, both are like once-in-a-lifetime players. I'm fortunate to have them on the same team. He's hard to account for. You think he's… You can say, 'I'm going to throw away from that.' Well, we know you're throwing away from that. So that helps us. It helps our other guys, too. And if you don't give him the due respect, he's going to make you pay for it. I think you go into a game, it's just like a great receiver, if you're going against a great receiver, you better know where he's at at all times. I think opponents are fearful of Ed, but he's such a great player, he still makes plays. He's an amazing guy."
On if seeing Ravens RBs Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain every day in practice helps to prepare for the Titans' two running backs:"Never really thought of it that way, but I think it's good. I think it's good to prepare against our offensive line. John Matsko has done a great job leading that group. Similar styles, just some tough guys. Tennessee has got a tough group, and they really get after you, and our offensive line is like that now. I think that's helped probably more than anything."
On if he anticipates Tennessee's defense being fully healthy with the injury questions they have:"They're healthy, and they're ready to play."
On whether he noticed anything different with head coach John Harbaugh coaching his first playoff game:"No. I don't think anybody was different. That's just been our approach. I would imagine it's going to continue."
On how tough it is to keep Titans DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth contained at the line of scrimmage:"It's a challenge, and they're good. I know they'll be excited to be back. They'll be fresh. Again, we're fortunate with the guys that we go against every day with Haloti [Ngata] and Trevor [Pryce] and all those guys. Our defense gets us ready to play every week."
On when QB Joe Flacco loses the "rookie" tag based on his play:"Really, from our perspective, he lost it a long time ago. The expectation is to play and play well. All that other stuff is for everybody else. That's probably a good conversation, but for us, we expect him to play the way he's playing. The good news for all of us is that he expects to even play better than we expect him to play. I think that's probably the important thing."
On potentially playing in wet or snowy conditions:"We're built for that. Really, you can't set yourself up one way or the other. You plan for all conditions. But we try to build this system to play in all conditions, especially in this division. The players that we play with are guys that are comfortable playing in any kind of conditions."
On what sets Rex Ryan apart as a defensive coordinator:"He's a great teacher. He really is. I've been fortunate to be around a lot of good teachers. He's a great teacher, and he has a great football mind. But, since you asked the question, the thing that is in my mind the most [unique] is I can't remember being around a guy that was as team-oriented. Again, most guys are fairly team-oriented, but he is as team-oriented a guy as I have ever worked with. He's a tremendous man to work with, I can tell you that."
On how much of the playbook has been grasped or if it's ever expanding:"It's ongoing. It is fluid. The system is never-ending because of the teams you play, all the defenses you play, all the personnel matchups. You never just have it. You're constantly learning. You get the general concepts, but the system just continues to grow."
On whether he would say it got mastered at some point:"No, no, I don't have it mastered, so these guys aren't going to have it mastered anytime soon. Defenses don't allow you to master it, per se. Like every one else, we're chasing perfection. Will you ever reach it? Probably not, but you're always chasing that as a team. And we're doing the same thing as an offense. I can say we've chased it, but we haven't reached it yet in any place. But that's what we'll continue to do."
On Flacco calling his interceptions in the first game against Tennessee "boneheaded" throws:"Boy, he took the words right out of my mouth." [Laughter]
On whether that is something Flacco realizes himself or if he needs someone to point it out:"Well, our approach with quarterbacks has always been let them play. Prepare them, then let them play. Then when they come off the field, we don't start telling them what happened. [We say], 'All right, what did you see? Tell me what you think happened.' Sometimes, they know exactly what happened. Sometimes, they say, 'I'm not sure what happened there.' And then you just let their mind work and let their mind grow. That's what you're seeing out of him – a guy that's growing every snap. He's playing a very difficult position, and he's just going to continue to grow. I've never really looked back to that game. I know people keep bringing it up, but he grew today in practice. He did three or four things today better than he's done them all year long. So, that's the important thing, that he just continues to learn and continues to grow."
On how P Sam Koch has developed:"We've talked about this pretty much all year. Sam's performance is a product of a couple things. One is that he's a hard-working young man. He worked all offseason starting in March and looked at his game and did some things differently than he had done, and it's paid off for him. And, two, he's a fine athlete. He can adjust a lot of different things, and he's been able to transform those changes into performance."
On what he's seen on the kickoff returns S Tom Zbikowski has taken:"First of all, he's hung onto the ball. We appreciate that. He's a guy that I like his style. I like the way he runs north and south. As you've probably seen from his college days, he has some skills when he has the ball in his hands. He's a tough guy, and we like that about him."
On the difference between kickoff and punt returns and how Zbikowski is making that adjustment:"Primarily, the differences are, just generally speaking, that kickoff returns are much more set plays. The patterns are in front of him, and they're pretty well-designed where it's going to go. Punt returns, while you call a play, there are things that can happen a lot quicker in a punt return than a kickoff return. So that's probably the biggest difference I would find."