Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 14

"OK, thanks for coming out. Obviously, it's not much different than it was last night. We had a chance to look at the tape, and probably the biggest thing that we're proud of is the fact that we had a number of injuries – you know guys who have had a lot of success around here and have played well over the years – who weren't able to play in some positions. And some young guys, some first-, second-year players, stepped up and played really well. So, that's really a credit to them. It's a credit to the coaching staff in terms of developing players. I think our guys have done a great job of working with the whole 53-, really the whole 61-man roster, and the personnel department, which obviously always does a nice job. So, it's a 53-man game in the NFL, and it's a 16-game season. And those things were a plus for us yesterday."

Do you worry that some pass interference calls take away from players being able to use some of their talents?

"Well, that's a good point, because over the years that hand-jostling has always been a part of playing the position back there. It was acceptable to knock hands back and forth, and receivers and [defensive backs] have done it – always have done it. Now, it's not OK for the [defensive backs] to do it, so they've got to find a way to stay off the receivers. The receivers are still going to knock their hands down, but that's the way it's being called this year, and they're going to have to adjust. Maybe the other part of that is they've been able to adapt over the years to get to this point. So, you have to adapt. What happened to the dinosaurs? They died, right? So, they'll have to find a way to do that."

What are your thoughts on LB Antwan Barnes and where he is right now?

"Antwan has done a good job. He obviously, earlier in the year, he wasn't playing as well as we thought he could, and he thought he could, and he's corrected that. I think our coaches have done a great job of working with him – both Clarence [Brooks] and Vic [Fangio] and Greg [Mattison]. All three coaches have worked with him in different parts of his game, and he really… He had a chance last week to come back and play. He got his shot, and he did a nice job, and he's got to build on that. But he's played well the last two games."

Was RB Ray Rice's chest injury significant, or could he have returned if the game was closer?

"He could have still played. He got hit in the chest pretty good, and we just felt like at that time, it was a good time to get him out. And we've got good backs, so it worked out."

How has the secondary responded to not having S Ed Reed in the past two games?

"[If] you take away the penalties last week – obviously, which were very damaging – but they played well. I think we were in good position for the most part. This week, the penalties were taken away, and they did play well. Calvin Johnson was a big challenge. Bryant Johnson is a good player. Daunte Culpepper has been around, and they did a nice job. Tom Zbikowski, especially, has played well, so that's another example of the young guys. I mean, he's a great example. Here's a second-year guy, done great on special teams, has really been a force on special teams, but had a chance to play defense – kind of like Antwan [Barnes] – and has done it."

Were you happy to see WR Demetrius Williams step up and show his potential when he went up and caught that high pass to make a big play?

"Right, really important for us. We really need Demetrius to be a player. Missing all of last year with the injury, kind of going through training camp and getting healthy, early in the season fighting through that and getting himself back, [he] has practiced really well for about five or six weeks here. And it's funny how that works. You practice really well for a few weeks, and maybe the coaches get a little confidence in you, and you get a little confidence in yourself and you start making some plays. But, he's a guy who can go up and make a play, and we need him to do that."

Are you happy that Colts head coach Jim Caldwell has said that he will play his starters against Jacksonville on Sunday despite the Colts having clinched a playoff spot?

"Yeah, there were some conflicting reports on that, I think. So I assume that they will do that, and we expect them to do that. But that's up to them. They've got to do whatever is best for their team."

Are you partially happy because you have a vested interest since you are competing with the Jaguars for a Wild Card spot?

"I don't know if I can go there. Sure, yeah, we're interested, and in all the games in the AFC, especially those teams right around where we are. But we're most interested in how we play. That's the bottom line. That's what we have to concern ourselves with, and I know you guys know that. Sure, we'll be watching the game. There's no doubt. But we have to take care of [our business]. If we don't take care of business against the Chicago Bears first and foremost, which is a very good football team coming in here, it's not going to matter what happens in those other games. So, that's our job."

Are you aware of all the scenarios for clinching a playoff berth, or do you not think about that?

"The only thing I've looked at is conference records. So, you pretty much know what the conference records are because I think that's going to be the main tiebreaker – especially if it is multiple teams involved. So, that's going to be really important."

Is there an art form to scoreboard watching so you stay aware of what is happening in other games but still keep focused on coaching tasks at hand?

"Yeah, I've seen the scores before. For whatever reason I didn't notice them yesterday. I didn't look up at the right time, I guess. But, [Terrell] Suggs had it covered for us, he said. So, he was on top of it. It really matters in games where it really matters. Let's say it is the last week of the season and you're in a situation where a game is going to make a difference in how you approach the outcome of the game, then you really need to know. Until then, we just need to play well and need to win."

A lot of players were excited about the offense running the ball yesterday because they said it is key in December to run the ball well. Do you subscribe to that philosophy, and do you feel this team is going back to a running scheme?

"Philosophically, what we want to be… We want to be physical. That's really important in the National Football League. We want to be physical running the ball, and we want to be physical throwing the ball. And we think you can be physical throwing the ball, too. We've said that before. But we don't ever want to lose our ability to run the ball. We've done it better in some games than other games, and yesterday we did it as well as we've done it – ever – in the last two years here. That's a credit to our guys, to our coaches. And yeah, you do need to run the ball when the weather gets a little bit worse. We want to be an all-weather offense. That's something that Cam [Cameron] talks about a lot. And of course, that means running the ball. But you've got to be able to throw the ball in December, too, and you've got to be able to make plays in the passing game. And we did that yesterday as well. I thought our receivers went up and made some grabs for Joe [Flacco]. That was probably the biggest difference in the passing game from one week to the next week. We didn't turn the ball over, but we went up and made some catches, and it paid off."

If TE Todd Heap can't play, how comfortable are you with TE Edgar Jones and G/C Chris Chester?

"Well, obviously those guys, their strength, especially in Chris's case, he's going to be blocking. I don't know how many times we're going to be sending him down on seam routes. *(laughter) *Edgar has done a nice job. He caught a pass. So, we'll just see how that goes. That's a good question."

Does the depth at TE concern you at all?

"It's a concern because it will take us out of certain personnel packages, but we can put receivers on the field and we can't put linemen on the field. We're going to have 11 guys out there no matter what. Our offensive coaches are very creative in figuring out some oddball packages, and maybe that gives your opponent more to plan for than the standard formations and groupings and things that you get."

Are you optimistic in getting T Jared Gaither, S Ed Reed and WR Mark Clayton back this week?

"I would say optimistic, [but] not for sure. Jared has got some lower back tightness. So, that's just really… He can go, it's just a matter of how effective he can be. Mark is going to be, probably as the week goes on, we'll have to see how much he can move around on that thing. I know he's a lot better today than he was last week. Ed, same thing. Ed's going to have to get out there and practice and get a feel for it. It will be up to him. I'd put Ed and Mark, probably, in the same category that way."

Is this December fun for you and are you having fun with the close playoff race?

"Yeah, you made a good point. We had a meeting with all the older guys, the vets, and really, the point was that they're going to have to lead the way in December, and it was going to start in practice. That's the way it has to be. We told the young guys, 'Just follow the vets. Watch what the vets do. They've been here before. Do what they do. Watch tape the way they watch tape. Practice the way they practice. Play the way they play. Then you guys, what you need to do, is go out and make plays. You need to go out and carry the vets on Sunday. Come up with some plays and help these guys out.' But Ray's [Lewis] point… All the vets had an insight. Derrick Mason had a big-picture insight for the team. Trevor Pryce had more of a 'take care of now; take care of this practice, this meeting' – a one-play-at-a-time kind of message, which was valid. Then Ray's point was, 'You're going to remember these Decembers for the rest of your life.' Here's a guy that's played 14 or 15 years. He's had a lot of seasons, and I don't think he remembers every play. But, I think he remembers every December that they were in the hunt. That's what he's basically saying: 'These are valuable. Don't take this for granted. It's not easy to be in a playoff race in December and make the most of it.' And that was for the young guys. It was just a great message."

Can you build momentum in practice?

"Absolutely. To me, that's how you build momentum. When you click in practice, then that builds momentum for the game. Then the challenge has been carrying it over to the game. We've had good weeks of practice, but we haven't, all of the sudden… I felt really good about the way we were going to play on Sunday, and we didn't play quite as well as I thought we would. I wouldn't say we've had a bad week of practice yet. But for whatever reason, last week was our best week, and then they took it to the game. So, that comes down to December football. If we can continue to do that, like Trevor said, one day at a time, one meeting at a time, be our very best at that moment, then take that mindset to the game as well."

How much do you enjoy watching RB Ray Rice film?

"I don't know. I think he's a heck of a guy and a heck of a player, but I didn't like that fumble too much in the red zone. That's kind of what we focus on sometimes. That's our coaching thing. We focus on the things that need to get better. But obviously, Ray's just been a workhorse, and he's getting stronger as the season goes on, really."

A day later, are you still just as impressed with the tape of the offensive line?

"Yes, they played great. I just think Oniel Cousins stepping in there after all the work he's put in for almost two seasons... The work that the offensive line coaches have done with him, to see it pay off like that, as a coach, that's what makes you feel good. You work with a guy, you're not really sure, but you want him to do well so badly, and he goes in there and does it. Michael Oher going over to the left side, the guys in the middle picking up the slack, Ben Grubbs playing so well, that's a good thing."

Can you give us your impressions of the Chicago Bears? Can you talk about QB Jay Cutler's play this year?

"We just know it's a team that came into the season with high expectations and has a ton of talent. We're just starting getting to know them. Offensively, Jay Cutler, we had in the Pro Bowl last year, so we know what kind of a talent he is and what he's capable of doing. He can make every single throw. He's got some great speed out there, starting with [Devin] Hester at wide receiver, and then they have a great running back and a very physical offensive line and one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the game. He's kind of a young, up-and-coming guy. It seems like Jay's got a lot of confidence in [Greg] Olsen at tight end. Defensively, it probably starts with the defensive line. They're as deep a defensive line as you're going to see, and they move them around – angle, slant. They're very physical. It's one of the better defenses in the league, and I think they're getting better now as the season is going along. Coach [Lovie] Smith is running the defense. He's been pretty good at that for a long time. It's a real good football team coming in."

Usually RB Willis McGahee has come in on the third drive of each game, but yesterday we saw RB Ray Rice stay in. Was there anything to that?

"We didn't have a conversation about that, per se. We'll have to save that one for later in the week, I guess."

What's your message to the team before those games that they're "supposed to win"?

"It's not a message that we really say, 'OK, now this is a team that everybody thinks we're supposed to beat, so let's make sure we beat them.' I think it's a message that you go out, you practice hard, and you try to put your best foot forward against everybody you play. Our guys, one thing about our guys thus far, they haven't let down in any week. There are better performances some weeks than other weeks, but I don't think you'd ever say that our guys haven't gone out and played tremendously hard and fought right down to the end for two years now. That's something that's a credit to them. It's a credit to our coaches, and it's a credit to our players. If that's the result of it, then so be it, but we want to beat everybody we play, and that's always the goal."

Brian Billick is going to be in town for the Fox-TV broadcast. How do you feel about him coming in and analyzing the team?

"I'm excited about it. We've had a chance to talk to Brian pretty much every other Monday because of the show he does, the coach's show ['CoachSpeak' on FoxSports.com]. We've had some great conversations. As a matter of fact, we taped it one time here in the building. We have a great relationship with Brian, Brian has a great relationship with the Ravens, and it'll be, I think, a fun part of the whole deal."

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