Press Conference Transcript - Practice 12/30


Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg

On P Sam Koch not being selected to the Pro Bowl: "I think Sam has had a great year. He's had a Pro Bowl-caliber year, in my opinion. [There are] unfortunate circumstances. There's another Pro Bowl-caliber punter in the same conference. [Oakland Raiders P] Shane Lechler is a fine player, and I know Sam feels the same way. There's no shame in being second place to Shane. The other thing I would say is that the thing we really feel good about with all of our Pro Bowl guys is they all understand the importance of winning and how that affects not only their careers and their accolades, but also the rest of the guys in the room. And Sam feels the same way. He doesn't want to be available on that day."

On whether he expects to have WR/KOR David Reed back this week: "Yeah, we'll see what happens. It's good to see him out here, and we'll have to wait and see what the doctors say. I'd love to have him back. I look forward to having him back, and if he's available and ready to go on Sunday, I look forward to putting him back in."

On how things have gone with new LS Kevin Houser: "It's gone well. I think he's had two real good days with our specialists. He's had two real good days with our units. We typically go a little more scout team unit on our Thursday practice, [but] we put the first-team guards in there just so he could work and get a feel for them, and that helped us, I think. The advantage we have is we have a guy that has NFL experience, and while some of the protection calls and some of the system names are different than what he's accustomed to, it's football, and he's been around it and he understands it. So, he just has to make the translation, and he's done that quite well and quite quickly."

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron

On why QB Joe Flacco has improved since the first game against Cincinnati: "I think – and you've heard me say this a variety of ways – I think Joe is the kind of guy… He doesn't live in the past. He learns from the past. I think that's important. We try to do that offensively as well. There are some things that we haven't done as well as we would have liked, but you've just got to learn from it. You can't dwell on it. Joe has a remarkable ability to move on. I think the great quarterbacks do. Not only from one game to the next, but it might be from one series to the next. I think that's why at some point in time – this guy, he's going to do nothing but get better and better – but someday this guy is going to be a great one."

On how much communication is involved when deciding whether or not to challenge: "It depends. [It] depends on how obvious it is. Sometimes it's a no-brainer, and other times you're trying to buy time for another look at it. But John [Harbaugh] can speak more to that. John controls that, and I think does an outstanding job with the guys upstairs, and has for the last three years. Just thinking in general, all those situations are a little bit different."

On whether there have been challenges where the referee sees things differently than the coaches: "Yeah, and I think we all sit there and we go, when I'm watching games at home, 'Oh, boy, we're turning that one over.' You do it. We all do it. It's the darndest thing I've ever seen. And the announcers [say], 'Oh yeah, that one's getting overturned.' It's almost… It's fun to watch, but it's challenging. I guess if it's not conclusive… There's a grey area there, and I think the system is obviously pretty good. It can probably go either way, but if it's not conclusive, stay with the call on the field."

On whether there is one thing offensively that stands out that he would like to correct before the playoffs begin: "We're still in the process of ironing out, cleaning up, improving, however you want to word it. Our running game, I think we're making progress, becoming more efficient there. Pass protection, that's week-to-week, like I said, and I think everybody else has the same issue. You're always cleaning up stuff in pass protection because matchups are different, and the schemes are ever-evolving. Defensive coaches are doing an outstanding job of creating problems. You've got to continue to do the things well that you are doing well, in terms of ball security or completion percentage. So, you're always trying to stay on top of everything, to be honest with you. We've got to find a way to finish. I think that would be a good one. Finish a drive, finish in the scoring zone. We've done some good things there. Finishing games – I think that would be the key phrase for us, and it applies to a lot of... Finishing a play, finishing a half, finishing a game, and finishing a series, all those things will be important for us."

On offensive struggles in the second half after being productive in the first half: "Well, then the Atlanta game is the exact opposite. It's really been an interesting year so far. It goes one way, then it goes the other. You can't start fast, and you're finishing, but now you're starting fast, but you can't finish. And we understand all that, and the bottom line is we want to play well for 60 minutes. The good news is it's nice to be in a position where you feel like you're – probably offensively in some ways – starting to become as healthy as we've been this time of year in the last two or three years. And you just get a gut feeling that you've got an opportunity to continue to improve, and we haven't flattened out yet."

On whether Flacco throws more interceptions against the Bengals than other teams because they do a better job of disguising what they're doing:"You've got to give them credit, I think; I really do. I don't know how many [interceptions] he had the first two [times he played them]. But the bottom line is, give Cincinnati credit. They've done a nice job. When they've had opportunities, they've made the most of them. And to point to anything or minimize anything, the bottom line is, they don't do anything different from a disguise [standpoint]. They do a nice job, but they don't do anything different from anybody else in our division. Everybody in our division, including our team, everybody disguises extremely well – the fronts, the coverages. I think you just have to… They've played well against us, and you have to tip your hat to those guys."

On whether he buys into the speculation that Flacco struggles against Cover 2 defenses:"Yeah, that's… Well, it's OK. (laughter) There's nothing to back it up. I really have never stood behind a mic and defended one of my quarterbacks. You just kind of let that stuff float around out there, and you just encourage people to just go do the due diligence on it and see what you find. That would be my encouragement to you. But, I really don't… Just getting into trying to defend a guy on stuff like that is really ridiculous because this guy is playing extremely well against all coverages."

On whether Flacco is unique in having the ability to play well and control the ball in cold weather:"I think he's a great fit for this division. He can play indoors, outdoors, [in] Southern California [or] Green Bay. We're looking for a guy with big hands and a lot of things that factor in this kind of weather, and a certain amount of arm strength, I think, matters in this part of the country. And he's innately smart and innately accurate. I don't ever take any credit for a guy who's got innate accuracy – you just try to make it more consistently accurate – or a guy's intelligence. This guy is extremely bright, extremely accurate – and just as I've said – it's just a touch of the surface at how good he's really going to be. I think the bottom line, too… Because if a guy's not winning, everybody looks at the stats, trying to say he's not… Then the other way, [if] he's winning a bunch of games, then they start picking at something else. The bottom line is, the quarterbacks are in this business to win, and it really doesn't matter how they win. This guy, we said Day One, is a winner, and he's continuing to get better. I think that's the most important thing. And it's easy to forget that, for whatever reason. This guy knows how to win."

On why he thinks Flacco has been successful on the road in the playoffs:"I think he's a winner. You hear that all the time; an 'it-factor,' 'winner.' He thinks, 'the game,' not just 'offense.' He doesn't think selfishly as a quarterback. He understands the kind of defense we have. He understands field position. He understands we don't want to put our defense in a difficult position if we can help it. He understands the game. This guy is a… His family is an athletic family, and they just think sports all the time. He just thinks the way you want a guy to think. When you do that, when it's all said and done, irrespective of his stats, you wind up winning a lot more than you lose. That just carries over into the playoffs."

On whether opposing defenses are taking WR Anquan Boldin out of the game because he doesn't seem to be getting as many targets as earlier in the season:"Yeah, target is a target. I know what target means; target means the ball was actually thrown to a guy. You're really targeting guys, and then the defense, like you said, takes it away. But, people know who he is. Early on, you see kind of an ebb and a flow. You see they're taking him away, and now that [Derrick] Mason is starting to come alive a little bit more, then you see they're taking Mason away. Now, there have been games where they double Mason and 'Q' [Boldin], then T.J. [Houshmandzadeh]. [The Browns] were doubling Ed Dickson the other day. And on the touchdown, actually, they were doubling everybody; they dropped nine, and they were spying, I think, the 10th guy. So, they were trying to put a double on all five guys. I thought [our] execution was outstanding. It all goes back to – and you've heard me say it all year long – it's about execution. We've seen some outstanding execution. We've still got some areas we've got to clean up and improve on."

On how he can still get Boldin the ball when he is being doubled on almost every play:"It depends on how they're doubling him. They're doubling him inside-out, over-and-under, outside-in. If you know [how they're doubling him], then there are ways to get another receiver inside to get the other guy doubled and get [Boldin] singled. So, there are some ways within concepts to get a guy singled up without necessarily having to put him in the backfield. That's another way you can get it done. So, there are ways to do it. Double coverage does not keep a guy from getting open. Triple coverage, depending on how they're playing it – if they're playing it over-the-top, inside and out – there's still a soft spot in between them in all three. There's still ways for us to get guys open, and I think you're going to see that here down the stretch."

Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison

On the possibility of Bengals' WR Chad Ochocinco not playing this Sunday: "Obviously, a tremendous wide receiver. You know, he and [Terrell] Owens are both great wide receivers. Anytime you take somebody like that out of their lineup, that's going to affect something. But, the other thing is [Andre] Caldwell and [Jordan] Shipley, they do a great job also. It's not like they're dropping off. And sometimes when you have a young receiver that's trying to make the team and trying to make his mark, sometimes he steps his game up even more."

On how much of a factor it is to have S Ed Reed back in the secondary: "I would think that every quarterback, when they see Ed Reed back there, they have to be a little sharper. And they sometimes can't take the gambles that you would take, because he may be thinking exactly the same way that quarterback is thinking, and he's standing there. So, I think that is a big part of it."

On whether they got as much pressure on Browns' QB Colt McCoy as they wanted to last weekend: "Well, he was a three-step drop. Everything they've done all year with Colt has been real quick. Everything is a three-step drop, and that's been their deal, and they got in a lot of situations. And the difference in that game and the first time we played them is they were 3rd-and-4's as compared to 3rd-and-1's and 3rd-and-2's. And that's their M.O.; they want to get down to manageable so he can three-step drop. But I think the thing that we did a good job of is when we pressured, we did affect him. We missed a sack dead in the backfield on one, and we hit him on the interception, and then our four-man rush became more effective also when it looked like we were pressuring and then we brought four. But we'll continue to mix it; that's the way we have to play and keep doing it. [Cincinnati] does a lot of max protection on third down, and we can't allow that to affect us because – as I said before – when we pressure, our whole goal is to get one-on-one. You're not necessarily going to design blitzes to get somebody free; this is the NFL. So, you've got to try to design a blitz to be able to get somebody one-on-one, and then somebody's got to beat somebody one-on-one."

On whether he was talking about Cincinnati that does a lot of max protecting: "Yes, a lot of max protecting on third-and-long. But, they also did last time we played them. If you remember Ray's [Lewis] tripping call, that was a one-on-one, and we've got to, and we will, beat guys one-on-one when we come."

On whether DE Cory Redding's improved play throughout the season is a result of him getting more comfortable in the system: "Well, it's a totally different technique system than what he's used to. He's always been an end and a guy that was [an] up-the-field guy and an effort guy, and that's why we liked him so much. Well, now he's settling in to our technique and [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks does such a great job of teaching technique, that now he's adjusted, and it takes time for him to get there. I've really been proud of him; he's really fit in, he's doing a great job of trying to do what we're asking him to do, and I know he'll continue to do that."

On whether stopping Bengals' RB Cedric Benson is a top-priority:"It always is. Any time our defense takes the field and a team has the ability to run the football, you always have to stop the run first. If you go against Carson Palmer and you allow him to have [where] he can run it and pass it, you're going to be in for a long day. So, we've got to stop the run with a seven-man front, with an eight-man front, with pressures; you've got to do it mixing up or he's going to have his day."

On what changed earlier this year when they had a better game against Benson than they did in either of last season's games: "I think the guys adjusted to some of their tackle over things that they did. And we got off blocks and made plays. You know, I think there were a lot of times when we allowed the guards to get off on Ray [Lewis] and our backers, and that makes it hard for us. And if that happens, the linemen have to get off and make the play. And I think we really had a concerted effort the first time we played them to make sure that didn't happen."

On what percentage of QB Carson Palmer's interceptions are coming off misreads or miscommunications:"I don't know, I didn't chart that. I do know there are a lot of times – or there were a number of times – it looked like that the receiver and he weren't on the same page. And then there were a couple tips and things like that, but he has had more interceptions than usual, but I don't know that it's pinpointed down to one thing."

On whether LB Tavares Gooden will just play through pain on Sunday: "Well, he'll try to. If the doctors give him the OK, Tavares Gooden will do anything he can do to play; there's no question. That's like everybody on our defense. They know how important this game is and it's the 12th one; we've got to go get that 12th win. That's our goal, so every guy that can play [will play], and every guy will give everything they have."

On whether there is anything defensively that he wants to use this game to get ironed out before the playoffs begin: "No, I don't think there's one [specific] thing. I think probably you'd say in the whole game, you want to make sure there aren't any of those big plays. If you can eliminate big plays totally… I think if you charted us throughout the season, I don't know if anybody has driven the entire field without a big play or penalty. And if we don't give them that free one in there somewhere, our guys make it pretty tough for them to go all that way and do it. And I think that's what we want to eliminate; we want to eliminate any big plays and any stupid penalties. And when you're going into the playoffs, that's critical. And I think that'll be a big part of it."

On whether S Dawan Landry took the encroachment penalty last week to give the coaching staff more time to possibly challenge the Browns' touchdown call:"I'd have to kill myself if I answered that question. (laughter) I couldn't answer that question."

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