Interview Transcripts: Thursday (10/02)

Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan

On whether anything LB Ray Lewis does amazes him, having been around Lewis for much of his career:"Not as much now. I think when I first got here, you've never seen a player like that before. But now, you've been with him for 10 years, so you've pretty much seen everything. I know his capabilities. The age and all that kind of stuff affects most people, but it doesn't seem to affect him."

On if he is amazed at Lewis' ability to play so long at a consistently high level:"No, because I almost look at him like he could play forever. It's one of those deals. Most guys, there's no way they can maintain the level that he plays at, but he's an unusual person. No question about that."

On whether they spend more time working on tackling after a game like Monday's:"Sure, there's no question we missed some tackles in the open field. I think it comes down to a lot of things. The big thing is you've got to hit and wrap. We made some contacts, but just weren't bringing the guy down. Our pursuit and our angles have got to get better. You take poor angles at a guy, a lot of times you'll have poor tackling. So we're definitely talking about that and running some drills or what have you, but it's uncharacteristic that we wouldn't at least get a guy on the ground. You saw even when we had, for whatever reason, Chris [McAlister] was on the ground and the receiver was running with the ball about a 40-yard separation. We were able to get the guy on the ground, and then they weren't in there until they're in there. So we held them to a field goal. On the touchdown, we had Fabian [Washington] going for the interception, [and] the ball goes through his hands. [Santonio Holmes] catches it. This guy's a hell of a receiver. He averages like 19 yards a reception. He gets hit by Chris, who never wraps. It's a good hit, but you've got to wrap. As we're running, that was the only shot we had at him because he kind of hit him back the other way, and there goes our pursuit angle by our top safety. It was disappointing, there's no question, but if you think we're a poor tackling team, then you never watched the rest of the game."

On what kind of threat he sees Tennessee presenting to the defense:"Hey, they're 4-0. I think that goes without saying. They run the football well. Last time we played them, they scored 26 points against us in the first half. Let's put it this way: They're 4-0. We're not overlooking Tennessee. They run the ball well. They've got some speed. Their receivers are big guys, so that brings some issues right there, as well. Again, we're focused on how we play and not as much on them."

On how his preparation changes between a drop-back passer like QB Kerry Collins and someone like QB Vince Young:"I agree with you that you would expect a lot of drop-back from Kerry Collins. We get that, but we also get a lot of bootlegs and things like that with him. So they're moving him around a little more than your typical drop-back passer. Hey, if we play sound fundamentally, if we do our job, we play to what we do defensively, I think we'll be fine."

On the key to the Ravens' consistent success stopping the run despite personnel changes:"We play techniques different than every other team in the league. We're set up, the way we play our techniques, to stop the run, and we do have excellent players. When you play with good technique and you've got great players, you have a tendency to be pretty good at stopping the run."

On the power and speed combination of Titans RBs LenDale White and Chris Johnson:"Right, it's interesting because they run similar plays. It's not like they're just running perimeter plays with Johnson and inside runs with White. They'll run the same plays. It's just that – you're exactly right – they have different styles. One of them will bounce balls to the outside. He's got as much speed as almost anybody in the league. Then you've got the classic downhill runner in White. We know about both of them, and they're going to know about us when this game's over."

On how his brother, Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, is holding up:"Oh, he's fine. Shoot, no big deal. If they don't want him to be a head coach, that's fine. He'll be the second best D-coordinator in the league *(laughter). *I have to always kid him, you know, right behind Dick LeBeau or Monte Kiffin. But, you know, he's fine. That's the business. They know he's a great coach, and if they want him to keep coaching their defense, then that's what they want from him. It's fine with me. I'm glad he's not the head coach, because we play them later [Oct. 26]."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

Opening Statement:"Just what Rex [Ryan] said, we're playing an undefeated football team, a great team. Their defense is playing at a high level, causing problems. We've got some things to get corrected from the other night, which we've done to some degree yesterday, but we've got a big day ahead of us today, and tomorrow. So the preparation for us, in terms of what we do, is probably the most important thing no matter who we're playing against. Things have got to get corrected from the other night."

On whose idea it was to implement the unbalanced line, and how that's worked out:"On our staff, everybody has input, and it's something that we've just kind of always done. Going back to college, our tackles… Adam Terry was a tight end at one time and [Jared] Gaither has played tight end, so it was kind of a natural fit. And some games we use it more than others. And some games it's an advantage, some games it's not. So it's just something that we've really kind of always fiddled with and haven't had them, and with Jared it really made some sense."

On the level at which the offensive line played on Monday:"We didn't play collectively as well as we can play. I know Rex mentioned tackling – for us it was blocking. When we broke down, it was just some one-on-one matchups, blocking, we've got to improve that. You mentioned 'they,' [and] I think when you look at pass protection it's a collective effort. The good news is, we're getting a lot of separation up the field, so when the ball is coming out, we didn't have any protection problems. Our tight ends, our backs, everybody's collectively involved in the protection, as well as the quarterback getting the ball out of his hands. So, I think as we look at our system, we're not a 'no-back' team, where really the five guys in the offensive line do all the protecting. We protect with everybody, and it's our protection unit that's got to continue to get better, and we will. You know, that team, they can create some edge pressure just like this team can, and we've got to work this week to get this corrected."

On if he wants to change the way his running backs and tight ends get more involved in the passing game:"They're involved as, and again, anytime you have a young quarterback everybody's going to be involved in protections. As you saw the other night, our tight ends were involved, our backs were involved."

On if he wants to get the running backs and tight ends involved by running down the field:"You just mix it up. Sometimes you keep them all in, sometimes you release them all. Going ahead with a big play to Willis [McGahee] is a five-man protection. The big play to Derrick Mason is an eight-man protection. Protection, every protection has a weakness, and it's a little bit of a guessing game. But you know, every defense has a weakness, and sometimes it can be hit-and-miss."

On what it will take to get WRs Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams more involved:"We talked about it yesterday afternoon. We've just missed some opportunities. We've had some opportunities, and I just think it's a matter of those guys growing together with Joe [Flacco]. I think we all understand that this is an offense in progress. We're building an offense. I wish it were, I wish you just put the magic wand on it and it'd all be where we all want it to be, but it takes, it's a process. I don't know how long it takes, but it is a process with quarterbacks, your receivers, a protection unit. And, I think you'll see us continue to grow. I do feel that people realize we're going to throw it up the field and I think the more we do it, the better we're going to get at it. We're going to continue to do that, because I think it's critical. You put pressure on the defense up the field."

On what stage he thinks the offense is in:"You know, I don't know. How do you know? I know that if you look at the tape from the other night we grew in so many areas. It's the first time I remember going against that defense where they felt like they had to go to the cover-2 in certain circumstances, and that's where you saw us starting to run the ball in certain circumstances late in the game. Where we are right now, we don't know. But we know we've got to get better, and we've got a heck of a challenge this week. Last week's a tough challenge. This week, some people say this is one of the better defenses in the league. But again, what a great advantage for us with the guys we go against [the Ravens' defense in practice]. I keep reminding our guys. [Albert] Haynesworth is a heck of a player, but Haloti Ngata's a heck of a player. Their ends are good, but we see [Terrell] Suggs every day, we see Jarret Johnson. We see a great book every day, and our defense gives us a chance for preparation."

On more opportunities for TE Todd Heap in the offense:"Opportunities – it's hard I know for you guys – you don't really get a chance to really… The opportunities are there, we've just got to execute better. I think everybody knows the philosophy here is you get everybody involved, whether it be two tailbacks, a fullback or a tight end, we're always trying to keep everybody as involved as you can. What we tend to do is just let the year go by and see how it just kind of, how guys, teams will take away a guy after a big game and it opens up somebody else. Derrick [Mason] made a huge statement the other night in his game, and now Todd, this is a big week for Todd. So yeah, we're trying for Todd, we're trying for Mark. Demetrius, yesterday's the healthiest I've seen him since I've been here. But, we've got room for growth, and we're not going to throw it every down. I keep reminding our guys that there's only one football, and no matter what position you play, the majority of the time you block. You block, you know, some of it you're blocking. And so, we've got to improve blocking. We've found that if you block well, all of those other things take care of themselves, because we've got a good idea of how to get the ball to people, and as you see Joe grow and the offense grow, you're going to see that football spread throughout the entire offense. And when we get all five, six, seven, eight skill guys going, we'd like to think that we'll give people some problems. We're just not there yet."

On if he believes in Ron Jaworski's comment during Monday Night Footballthat Flacco needs to learn that sometimes it's OK to take a sack: **"Absolutely, and I wouldn't say that that play was that he doesn't understand that. I think he learned a valuable lesson, and I think that's the thing. We're trying to win football games, but at the same time you're developing a young quarterback. But, it's not about developing a young quarterback. It's about trying to win. And Joe, unfortunately, that's one of those that you learn from. Every play has a starting point and an ending point. Sometimes the ending point is take a sack and punt. Sometimes the ending point is throw the ball away. For the most part, I think he understands that. The other night, obviously they made a heck of a play, and I think he learned a valuable lesson."

On if QB Troy Smith could be on the field playing this week:"He practiced yesterday, so he's out on the field in practice, and he'll dress for this game. And the final decision as to whether he'll be the second or third [quarterback]… I'm sure John will make that decision as the game gets closer."

On if he envisions Smith as a guy used to throw the football:"You never know. I think we all know the philosophy here on all three phases is just whatever skills a guy brings to the table. If he's on the 53[-man roster], we utilize whatever skill he has to try to help us win. That's, I think, we owe that to our team, and I think we owe that to the guy. Let's let every guy to contribute."

On if Heap playing pass protection has limited his opportunities as a receiver:"Again, over the course of the season, most of it he's in protection, and then all of a sudden he sneaks out the backside and he's over there all by himself. So, you try to tie things together. Is he in there protecting or isn't he? The other night, I think they thought he was going to be in there protecting, and he was running down the field with nobody on him, and that ball got tipped. It was a play we threw to him that got tipped that was a 40-yard gain. You're always trying to do things that compliment each other. But, the tight end in this system is a football player. He's not a wide receiver; he's not a receiver. He's a blocker first; he's a receiver/pass protector. You know, we demand as much of a tight end as any system, and blocking is a huge part of that. And I've talked to Todd. When you get labeled as that receiving tight end, everybody looks at you as a receiver and measures your contribution in catches. Todd's contribution goes way beyond catches, and we just need to adjust our thinking a little bit. And obviously, as you see Joe grow, I would think Todd's role will continue to grow as a receiver. But he's doing fine. Some of those runs we had in the fourth quarter were great blocks by him, and I think we just have to remember that. We ask a lot of him, and it's not all catching the football."

On if RB Willis McGahee will be able to take hits with his rib injury:"Absolutely. He had a nice day's work yesterday, and it looked like we had a nice walk-through this morning. I think he'll have a great practice. I guess you never know, but to me he looks like he's full-speed ready to play. He said, 'Hey, coach, I just want to play four quarters of football.' He wants to play, and that's the important thing."

On what he saw in FB Le'Ron McClain in the offseason to make them use him as a threat on offense:"I don't know that we saw anything that any of you couldn't have seen. Again, those offseason workouts with some of the injuries and the lack of the depth, he had the opportunity and made the most of it. But you could see that coming out of college. I just think back, and I had a real high opinion of him coming out of college. But I think anybody who's been around here and watched him when he was here and then in training camp, you could see it."

On what kind of a weapon McClain is in the red zone:"I think statistics will prove there's not a guy in this league who loves to run the football – and run the football in the end zone – more than me. For whatever reason, I came up that way, and when you have big backs who have a nose for the goal line, let them do their things. Usually, if you can establish that, then all of a sudden all of those other guys start catching the easy touchdowns. I think the other night was a perfect example. I would bet everybody in the stadium knew we were going to throw a pass there. But, you go back and you fake to those big backs. If you hesitate, there's a chance that ball is going to run in there. Next thing you know Daniel Wilcox is wide open. Hey, that's a personal thing with me. I think the line loves it, too, [and] the backs love it. Receivers all get mad at me, but I think they also know too that we're not stupid, we're not stupid. But, we want to establish the run."

Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On whether he thinks WR/RS Yamon Figurs was limited by injury or was possibly rusty for Monday's game:"I think he wants to play better this week, and he's had a good week of practice. So I would anticipate him doing so. I can't speak to how he felt. He was cleared for the game, and he went out there and played. We expect his best when he goes out there."

On K Matt Stover looking like he's back into form:"Matt had a very good week of practice last week. I'd like to think that he's had these situations come up in his career previously where he had a little hitch. He knows how to recover from it. He's a real pro."

On how impressed he has been with Stover's kickoffs:"He had a good night. He had two touchbacks, as you saw, and kicked the ball off well. It helps our kickoff team when we get those kinds of balls to cover. I was highly impressed. He was excited about it. It was a good moment."

On if penalties are more understandable because of the emotion of playing against Pittsburgh:"You coach all week long and all season long to try to have good fundamentals. A lot of times, penalties are the result of guys not quite getting on the right target or not using their hands properly. You try to avoid those at all times. I don't know if the emotion necessarily had anything to do with the fouls. We've just got to do a better job with our fundamentals."

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