With the Ravens battle against the Miami Dolphins looming, Baltimore media got a chance to discuss the upcoming game with Dolphins Head Coach Tony Sparano and running back Ronnie Brown.
Topics included Miami's potential to use a Wildcat formation, prowess on the road and several key players.
Here are some highlights:
Head Coach Tony Sparano
How would you assess the development of Haloti Ngata? TS:"I think the guy is playing fabulous right now. Physical, outstanding movement. I think he's getting pressure on the passer. His pass rush, I think, has improved tremendously. He's a
guy that, to me in that area with their football team, you have to know where he is at all times.That's a little bit of a problem, because at times, he lines up in a couple of different spots. I think he's playing outstanding."
How have you been able to go undefeated on the road this year (4-0)? TS: *"Our leaders are outstanding. They do a great job of keeping our team focused. This football team enjoys being together. *I think that when you get on the road for a little bit, those Saturdays are occupied by a lot of football, and we have a lot of football guys on the team that enjoy talking it, watching it, any of those things. When you get them on the plane and through the airport, that takes a lot of time before you're getting to where you're going. They're talking football constantly. And then on my end, I try to occupy as much time as I can when we get to the hotel, so it's kind of a football environment, which I think has been good for our kids."
Does sack leader Cameron Wake still have a chip on his shoulder coming from the CFL? TS: *"This guy doesn't really forget where he comes from. I think he's a pretty humble player. *He knows how hard he had to work to get into this position, and he doesn't really forget it. In fact, he'll remind you of it. *He'll let you know if you bring it up. I think that's a good thing, a really good quality for some of these players that have been bouncing around a little bit to have. He certainly has it."
*How much of an impact has Brandon Marshall made on the offense? TS: *"Brandon's numbers from this time here as compared to what he was in Denver last year are all higher, other than touchdowns. All the other numbers – receptions, yards, average – they're all higher. But, I think the biggest area where he's made an improvement is he's allowed other things to happen for us. In other words, *in the past, we haven't had a Brandon Marshall, much like an Anquan Boldin. One of those type of players where you can go out there and say, 'Look, we need to pay attention to this guy.' *Now, we have double coverage. We've seen roll coverage. We've seen a lot of people paying attention to Brandon. With that in mind, guys like [Anthony] Fasano, [Davone] Best, [Brian] Hartline have all reaped the rewards."
*After having a field goal and punt blocked to the New England Patriots this year, have the special teams been fixed? TS:"We've made some progress in all areas, from a special teams standpoint, from that night. But, it's a hell of a way to learn a lesson. From our end, we're going to continue to keep our guard up and continue to work as hard as we can at it. That's all we can do. We have a long way to go in that area. A lot of improvement needs to be made, but we've made steady improvement. In the last couple of games, we've been fortunate enough to change field position with our special teams. That's been a big help."
RB Ronnie Brown
On not running the Wildcat formation as much this year: RB:"I think there are some different reasons. I think we're a little bit more efficient in the passing game. Chad Henne has another year under his belt to actually come in as a starter, so his preparation process was not coming in as a backup. Expectations have been high in that area. As well as being able to run some traditional sets. Brandon is here, and everybody is comfortable in that situation. I don't think there is as much of a need for it. But at the same time, it's another one of those formations that is an opportunity for our football team.We're able to jump into it, like jumping into a no-huddle situation. We haven't used it a lot, but we still have it there every week."
Are you disappointed that having Marshall hasn't opened the running game up more? RB:"Not so much disappointed. When you get a receiver of his caliber and being in a two-back system, you have to know that you may not get as many opportunities as in the past because we do have a lot of weapons on our side of the ball. There's not enough footballs to always go around, so you have to make the best of your opportunities." Why have you guys been so good on the road? RB:"I'm not so sure. We've played some great opponents at home, and that's been one of the things that plays a key role in that. But at the same time, on the road, you know what you're getting into and coach does a great job of preparing us for the situation you're getting into, as far as the stadium, the setup, the crowd. I think we have everything we need as far as being prepared on the road."
How good does it feel when you silence a road crowd? RB:"That feels good. That means you're doing something right. As a football team, we're on the right track when we can get the other team's crowd to silence a little bit. That adds more incentive for you as a team, maybe a little bit more motivation. It just says that you're doing the right thing as far as taking care of your business."
The Ravens haven't stopped the run as well as they have in the past. Have you noticed that? RB:"I think there is some opportunity there, but at the same time, you have to be fundamentally-sound against these guys. They do such a good job of preparing, and Ray [Lewis] does a great job of recognition of plays… They have guys that can make plays, so you have to make sure that you're on top of your game at all times and you're not giving them anything, as far as turning the ball over or creating penalties on your side of the ball. You have to play a fundamentally-sound football game."