Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale tried to bite his tongue when speaking about the NFL's rules regarding hits on quarterbacks, which have drawn widespread condemnation from fans and even some quarterbacks themselves (including Joe Flacco).
There have been 34 roughing the passer calls through the first three weeks. There were 16 at this point last season.
"We don't make the rules, we just have to play by them," Martindale said. "I know that's the hot topic right now, and nobody really cares what I think about it. I mean, really, come on."
But, as Ravens fans will learn, it's not easy for the Ravens' new, very candid, defensive coordinator to keep his thoughts to himself.
When asked about whether he has to talk to his players about quarterbacks taking dives, Martindale just couldn't hold back.
"Let's not turn this into the NBA flop fest," Martindale said. "Because now, the quarterbacks are making a mockery of it to the officials and the league. Now, you're insulting the officials and the league if you do that."
Martindale wasn't speaking specifically about Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers quarterback has been in the news this week after this play on Monday Night Football.
This play has nothing to do with the new "body weight" rule, but it speaks to the larger emphasis on protecting quarterbacks. Players are prohibited from hitting the passer "forcibly" in the head or neck area. They also can't hit them anywhere below the knees.
Now, NFL defenders are also not allowed to put most or all of their body weight on them when taking them to the ground. They cannot "scoop" the back of their leg while taking them down. Today, the NFL released a video explanation.
Last week, Terrell Suggs said defenders have to "caress" the quarterback when they take them down.
"I said I wasn't going to give my opinion, because it doesn't count, but I think this: this league has always been about the quarterback, and we know that. Everything is about the quarterback," Martindale said.
"There are going to be calls that there's nothing we can do about it. They're not going to stop it and review it because Wink is mad. We have to get ready to play the next play, and I think the teams that do that the fastest will have the most success."
This is of particular note this week because the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Roethlisberger is so hard to take down, and he can make defenses pay if they try and fail to get him to the turf because he and his receivers are so good at ad-libbing.
"You've got a guy that's about the same size as 'Sizz,'" Martindale said. "I talk to the defense about it. We talk about extending plays. That's what he does. That's where he's a top-tier quarterback in my mind, in my humble opinion, because he turns it into backyard football. If we ever had a backyard game, he'd be my first pick."
Ravens Got Information That Field Goal Block Was Illegal
In the moment, the Ravens felt that the Broncos' field-goal block during Sunday's game was illegal because the player jumped over long snapper Morgan Cox.
Well, there hasn't been any official word for the NFL, but Ravens Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg said his assessment was confirmed.
"The information that I got back was the play was not legally executed," Rosburg said Thursday. "I haven't heard an official NFL proclamation on that."
Rosburg, who went to the NFL offices to help draw up the league's new kickoff rules, gave a lengthy explanation about the rules regarding jumping over the long snapper. It's about player safety, he said. It's a dangerous play, and thus the NFL ruled that only a stationary player on the line of scrimmage could try to leap over the long snapper (and still couldn't make contact).
Looking at the play in slow motion, it's clear that Broncos safety Justin Simmons was moving at the snap. He took one step and launched.
"[The referees] were obviously informed of this, and I would guess that they thought it was going to be one thing and it turned out in the end to be another," Rosburg said.
"Protection is built for it and now that it has happened, I think everybody else in the National Football League will be looking out. It's something that we all have to deal with now. Everybody has their own lines they draw. That's not something that we're going to do. I'll just put that out there right now – we're not doing that."
The question is whether it's even possible for a player to jump over the long snapper within the rules. Now that the Broncos got away with it and the league hasn't come out to say it was illegal, Rosburg expects others teams to test the limits.
"I think we'll find out. I don't know if it is or not – I don't think it's been proven that he can," Rosburg said. "But I think, as they say down south, we're fixin' to find out."
JuJu Smith-Schuster Has the Stats, But Antonio Brown Is Still the Focus
While much of the media attention is paid to Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, second-year Pittsburgh wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster has more catches (27 to 24) and receiving yards (356 to 210).
"JuJu, it's crazy that he's kind of putting up some better numbers than 'A.B.,'" Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "He's definitely a guy you have to be alert of."
So what's Smith-Schuster doing so much better this year?
"Not buying it," Martindale said. "Ben is just throwing it a ton more, and there's more double-coverage on 'A.B.', so I'm not buying that one. [Smith-Schuster has] been a good receiver since he's been in this league. He really has. I know what the numbers say, but we also know 'A.B.' He's the matrix."
Marty Mornhinweg on Buck Allen's Goal-Line Ability
Alex Collins is the Ravens' lead running back, but his fantasy football owners are well aware that backup Buck Allen has twice as many touchdowns.
Allen scored a 1-yard touchdown in each of the Ravens' first three games.
The Ravens have shown a preference for using Allen on the goal line early this season, and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg explained why Thursday, first saying that Allen is simply a "very good" football player overall.
"Some guys just have that feel in those small, little spaces, in the gaps they have to hit," Mornhinweg said. "He's just very good at that, and we've used him extensively in those situations. We'll still continue to use others as well."