Opening statement:"Good to see you guys – appreciate you being here. Obviously, [it was] a very exciting afternoon yesterday for us and for our fans. I thought our fans were tremendous. They did a great job, especially on third down, of making it loud. They had some pre-snap penalties that were probably directly attributable to the crowd noise. That's a big deal. I think our fans are starting to get excited about us. We'll go take care of business and continue to get better as a football team, get them more excited, and make our place an even tougher and tougher place to play. That was a great thing to see."
When it comes to the Patriots, everyone knows about head coach Bill Belichick, QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski, even though he is out. Is there anything about the Patriots this year that fans don't know about?* (Joe Platania)*"We're just starting to study them. I don't have an overview of them yet. We're just starting to dig in and look at them. That might be a good question toward the end of the week to answer. I don't have that great of an understanding of them just yet."
Looking at the film ahead of the Dolphins game, was there something you saw you could exploit in the middle of the field with their linebackers? (Jerry Coleman) "That's all a part of the game-planning process. You're always looking for opportunities. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. The structure of their defense is like any defense. There are strengths and there are other things that are left vulnerable. Sometimes you have to catch them in the right coverage or the right front or the right pressure with the right play. You're always chasing that. We were able to find some of those things, certainly yesterday, in that part of the field with some of the two-deep coverages where the linebackers were playing aggressive. But there were other times where they covered things very well. It was just a give and take that usually happens in a football game. The credit goes to Joe [Flacco] and to the players just for the way they executed. They really executed exceptionally well, really, throughout the course of the game – beginning to end. It was very sharp. It was very precise. We've talked about that many times in there, that we were chasing that kind of precision. To see it – not just to see it, but to see it consistently from the beginning of the game to the end of the game – was something that's been in our vision for a while. To see it happen was really good."
You always strive to get better every week. You have won four out of five, and you're playing very well. Do you like where you stand right now, in terms of the strength of the team? (David Ginsburg) "Sure. We like the fact that we're in it. We like the fact that we're in a fight for the division championship. That's our first goal – the starting point of everything we try to accomplish one week at a time. Now we have our toughest challenge. We're going to need to play our best football on Monday night up in New England to win that football game. We do believe we have a chance to do that based on where we're at right now. That's what we're shooting for."
OLB Terrell Suggs is playing really well right now. How impressed are you with his level of play, based on his injury and everything he has had to overcome this year?* (Garrett Downing)* "Very impressed, very impressed with Terrell Suggs. All of the things you just mentioned speak volumes, but what speaks the loudest is just what you see on tape. He's doing it from the first play to the last play. Put the last three plays on when you get a chance, and just watch him play the last three plays on defense when the outcome of the game is very much in hand. Just watch how hard he played in those three plays. I think that tells the whole story."
I know you haven't had a chance to really look at the Patriots yet, but in a more general sense, that's been a lively rivalry for you. You have had a lot of moments with New England, haven't you? (Bruce Cunningham)"There's a lot of respect for New England. Obviously, a lot of respect for coach [Bill] Belichick and for Tom Brady and all of those players. A guy like Rob Ninkovich comes immediately to mind. They've just got … Julian Edelman … You can name them. They have great players. They have a great organization. They do a great job, obviously, year-in and year-out, because they're always at the top, and they've earned it. That's something that we've been honored enough to be in some big games against them over the years. We feel like that's a place we want to be, and we're excited about the opportunity."
*They were almost always great games, weren't they? (Bruce Cunningham) *"Yes, they've always been pretty much great games. I think there's been one blowout on our side and one blowout on their side over the years."
John, when you go back and you look at the penalties from yesterday, some of the same things keep coming up. I know you had a talk with DT Timmy Jernigan. We have asked you about it with WR Steve Smith Sr. and some of the personal fouls that he has accumulated and how it hurts a team. How do you express that to a veteran who knows better? (Jerry Coleman) "I have my ways of expressing it to those guys. They understand where we're coming from on it. It's communication, it's relationship, and that's what it is."
The fact that it's 15 yards and hurts a team, is it more of a situation where you say, "Hey, you've been in the league a long time," and this is more selfish than anything else? (Jerry Coleman) "I have conversations between me and them. You framed the question in a personal way, and I would probably say that that's a personal conversation I have with those guys. Those two names that you mentioned [Steve Smith Sr. and Timmy Jernigan] are two guys in different places in their careers, but I still have great respect for both of those guys. No way are they intending to hurt the team in any way. Just the opposite, they want to help the team in any way they can, and I respect that about them. That's where that stands. We communicate about that. They don't want to hurt the team. They want to help the team. That's how it works."
**Talk a little bit about QB Joe Flacco in the hurry-up offense yesterday. Was that something that he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg went over that they decided to go with? He and the offense looked much more comfortable. *(Bill West) *"We've been in that offense for a few weeks to different degrees. Last week we ran it a lot, and we ran it a lot again this week. There were a couple instances where we added some wrinkles that were a little bit different this week, probably, than in the past. I'm sure that will be the same next week. That's game-planning stuff. That's been good for us recently. It's a direction that we'll probably continue to go. We got in the huddle toward the end of the game, too. We can get in the huddle and play out of the huddle, really, anytime we want. It just depends on the game, who you're playing and what you think is going to be most effective. It's, for the most part, the same plays. We've always had the ability to do that. Joe and Marty moving in that direction the last couple of weeks has been a real plus for us."
I know your focus is on New England this week. When you looked at the schedule and saw the last four games of the season, with three on the road, how big of a challenge is it to finish out that way? (Jamison Hensley)"You have to play these games. They were going to be on our schedule. Who we were going to play and where we were going to play them is part of it, so it really … In all honesty, it doesn't matter where you play them. You play them. I'm happy to be playing them right now. I'm excited to be playing them right now when it counts the most. I'm excited about it, and I'm glad they fell right where they did. It's an opportunity. It's an honor to get to play. It's an honor to get to coach these games. What degree of a challenge is it? It's a big challenge. It's a huge challenge. We feel like we have just the men for the job in this room right here."
WR Kamar Aiken's role this year has been quite different than it was last year. The last couple of weeks, he's had two catches for first downs in the first quarter. Has there been a concerted effort to get him more involved? (Luke Jones) "Not really. We don't really talk in those terms too much. The offense is the offense, and we move guys around. I think Marty [Mornhinweg] does a great job with the offensive coaches of hashing all of that out in the normal game-planning process about who is going to be where and for what reason. The reasons are to have the best opportunity to have a successful play. There's a lot that goes into that. There's much more that goes into it, probably, than people understand. Then it plays out. Joe [Flacco] reads it out based on what you end up getting. You may not get the coverage you expected. You may not have the matchup you expected. Any number of things can happen. Joe goes through his progressions, sees the field and throws it to who he sees as being the best option – in the heat of battle – just like that. Kamar came up those two times, as you said, earlier in the game, maybe a little more often than in the past. That's a good thing, because Kamar is a good player. I like when he catches the ball. We have a lot of weapons, and that's a real plus for us."
S Eric Weddle made a comment about DB/RS Lardarius Webb stepping up to the challenge of playing safety, and obviously, everyone saw the play he made yesterday. Can you talk about Webb evolving as a safety and what you are seeing from him at that spot? (Cliff Brown)"I think it is a day-by-day, hour-by-hour thing at a position like this. He is playing in the NFL. We are talking about playing a position at the highest level. Although he had played [safety] in college, it had been a long time. But 'Webby' brings some intangibles to the table. He is a natural cover man. He has always been a very good cover man, and he has natural ball skills. Now, it is just being in the right spot in all situations. No two plays are the same. Every play plays out differently, but there are principles that can be applied in all of these different situations, and I think he is really starting to understand how to apply the principles to the different situations that come up. That play [the interception] was a great example of it. You are not going to see a better play in football from a safety than what you saw from 'Webby' on that play right there."
ILB Zachary Orr led the team in tackles again yesterday. I think he is top 10 in the NFL in tackles. He is not really in the spotlight as much as other guys, but watching the film, what kind of impact is he making every game?* (Todd Karpovich)*"Like I have said before, Zach is playing very good football; he is making a name for himself. He is making a bunch of plays, because he is a good football player, and he is playing on a good defense, and he is flying around. He is coachable. He has talent. He is a very explosive athlete. He is a very smart football player, and he studies really hard. He plays every play as hard as he can, and it is paying off for him and for us."
A few Dolphins players were complaining about the grass. Your guys have not seemed to have a footing problem at all this year. How has it held up, in your mind, throughout the course of the season? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I think it has held up quite well. It was re-sodded for this game. You saw the stretch in the middle that was re-sodded. I thought [head groundskeeper/senior director of fields & grounds] Don [Follett] did a great job of getting the field ready. It felt good when I walked on it; I didn't slip. But our players didn't slip either; our guys were prepared for it. That is an individual thing as a player. You have to go out there and find your footing in pregame. Our guys did a good job of that."
There is a lot to like about the way QB Joe Flacco played yesterday. He had 36 completions, [and threw to] 10 different receivers. What did you see that you really liked? If anything, can he do even better than what he did yesterday? (Dave Ginsburg)"Execution was good all the way around. It is a team effort; it is a team game for execution to happen. It shows up most obviously with the quarterback. Joe played just extremely well. I thought all the guys around him played extremely well, too. It came together yesterday, and that is one game. We will be looking to try to improve, because we are going to have to improve just to stay the same. We think you have to get better every single time you step on the field in anything, really, and that is what our guys are going to try to do."
Can you talk a little about WR Breshad Perriman? He has scored a touchdown in three of the last four games. He was able to show his speed yesterday. He has been criticized by fans and everybody, but he was able to show his speed yesterday. (Bill West) "It was great to see Breshad have an opportunity to show everybody how fast he is. Those defenders probably had the angle on him there. I would think that most people watching – including myself from the angle I had – thought that he was going to get boxed in. He did not get boxed in; he just outran the angles. That was exciting to see. He did it with confidence. He is a quiet guy, he works really hard, and it really matters to him. He is only to continue to keep improving because of how hard he works."
With S Eric Weddle, everyone sees what he can do on the field and what plays he makes, but what are some of the intangibles you see with him that helps make the secondary defense better? (Jamison Hensley)"I see all of the intangibles that you guys see. He has a great attitude. He has great work ethic. He has a great enthusiasm for everything he does. He makes it his business to bring that to the table every day. My dad says, 'Attack every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.' Why wouldn't you? I think anyone that looks at it differently is selling themselves short and missing out a little bit on these few precious moments that we are given on this earth. That is how I look at it. I think Eric Weddle – I will tell you this – I think he believes that with all his heart. He is that way at 5:30 in the morning in the weight room. He is that way at 6:30 at night when he is just finishing up his work on tape. That is how he lives his life. He is that way when he has his kids in the building. That is how he lives."
I think a lot of Ravens fans have seen QB Joe Flacco get hot, and they have seen how well he can play when he gets hot. Was there a part of you yesterday when you were watching the game or when you were watching the tape today and you said, "Here is the quarterback that I have seen before do this," and that he can get on this run and this can be the start of that? (Ryan Mink) "I do not look at it like that. I think it is good to look at it that way, and that is fun. But I look at like, 'OK, what are we going to do on the next play? How are we going to execute, and how can we get everyone to improve and get better?' I think Joe … It is a competitive endeavor out here. It is not like golf, where you go out there and all of a sudden your swing starts grooving [like], 'I am going to make a bunch of putts in a row.' There is an opponent over there that is trying to take away your swing. They are blocking your putt. You have to find a way to maneuver through. They are attacking you, and you are heading down for your ball and they are tackling you. It is a different sport. It is not just about getting into a groove. If it was like that, then it would not be football. It is tough, because every single play presents a new challenge against a tough opponent that is doing everything they can within their intellect and their physical opportunity to thwart your efforts. We just have to find a way to win the next play. That is what we are trying to do."
A few weeks ago, there may have been some in this room that thought this team did not have a chance to go anywhere in this season. Now you guys are entrenched in first place and have a chance and are taking on a New England team that has lost one of its star players in TE Rob Gronkowski. Do you feel that the AFC is virtually wide open right now and it has changed from a few weeks ago? (Jerry Coleman)"Just like a few weeks ago, I did not think of it in those terms. I do not think of in those terms now. It is not what we think about. It is kind of what we were just talking about: It is more about trying to be the best we can the next play and execute and play good football. Things will fall the way they fall. It is a competitive deal for us."
You have cited how well T Rick Wagner has been playing in recent weeks. He suffered a serious injury [in 2014]. Is health the biggest thing as to why he is playing well? What do you think has keyed that? (Jeff Zrebiec)"I think so. Health – on top of that, because you are healthy – [you have] the ability to train every single day on your techniques. He has been able to stack a number of practices with the other offensive lineman and with [offensive line coach] Juan [Castillo] on fundamentals and techniques that are paying off. That is how it works. It is no different than learning how to do any skill. To play a piano, you have to practice. If your fingers are all broken, it is tough to get your practice in, and you probably are not going to perform as well. He has been able to stack throughout the course of the season a lot of really high-effort practices, and it is paying off for him."
A lot of has been mentioned recently about RB Kenneth Dixon's increased role in the running game. Has RB Terrance West managed to maintain his level of play while Dixon has come along? (Joe Platania) "Well, you watch it. Don't you think he has? I think he has. I actually would say he has gotten better. He is improving. He is a young player. Both of those two guys have improved really every single outing and every single day at practice in a lot of little ways. To me, they are both playing at a high level."
Do you think the dab [dance] may be the good luck charm? (Bill West)"Will you see it again? No. (laughter) *I thought it was … [Senior VP of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] showed it to me, and I had a good teacher, right Kevin? A lovely young lady [Amanda from Make-A-Wish last Friday], a huge Ravens fan. She showed a lot of spunk. She got into the huddle with the guys and showed them how to dab. She is a big Joe Flacco fan. I watched her do it with such flair! With that kind of the flair, I kind of just tried to do it like she did. But thank you for the compliment. *(laughter) *Maybe I will … If we win the AFC North, how about that? We will do it then. Is that good? Is that fair? Let's make it worthwhile." *(laughter)
Is there any chance on some of the guys that have been missing lately? TE Crockett Gillmore, RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, G/T Alex Lewis? Or are they still a good ways away? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Alex is a good ways away, because it is a high ankle [sprain]. The other two guys are hamstrings. You never know with hamstrings. You think they are close, and then they try it and it grabs on them. We will just see where that goes."