*With the Ravens preparing to take on the Cleveland Browns for a second time this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad. *
BR.com gives you head coach Romeo Crennel and tackle Joe Thomas.
Head Coach Romeo Crennel
What is the key in turning around the season after an 0-3 start?
Romeo Crennel:"We've been talking to the team about trying to do the little things better and coming on, and I think one area that we've improved on is the penalty area. Early on we were averaging about 10 penalties a game, and the last couple of weeks we've cut that down considerably. Basically, I tell them that [with] penalties that's free yardage that you're giving away, and we're not good enough to give yards away. So we've been concentrating on that, and I think that's helped. You have to focus to eliminate penalties. You have to make the right choices and your focus has to be where it needs to be. And if you can focus on penalties, then you can focus on the other parts of your game as it relates to your position and giving your team a chance to win."
Do you feel things are coming together better for the offense now?
RC:"When you win it always seems like things are going better and it is going a little better. The thing that we need to do is we need to see if we can develop some consistency because this team has kind of been up and down offensively – streaky you might say. If we can develop some consistency where we know that we can hang our hat on consistent performance, then that will be a plus for us."
How can an opposing team limit the Ravens' time of possession where they lead the league?
RC:"The way to do that is you keep the ball; your offense keeps the ball and moves the football. That's tough against one of the top defenses in the NFL. We know that it's going to be a challenge for us, so now what we have to do is every part and every portion of our team has to play their part. So, our specialists, they're going to have to do a good job so that we can maybe help change field position. And then our defense has to do a good job of being able to stop the run, and hopefully, keep your offense off the field."
What are your impressions of Haloti Ngata?
RC: "I'm really impressed with how Ngata has done. I liked him coming out [of Oregon], and ever since he has been with you I've seen him make progress as a player. He is a tremendous force in your defense. I know that big guys like that who play well help keep the linebackers clean. That's why Ray [Lewis] wanted a guy like that in front of him, because now that frees him up so that he can run to the ball and make the tackles. And when Ray gets there, he gets there with an attitude. And so, that helps that defense be the tops in the league."
What do you expect from the matchup between Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Browns tackle Joe Thomas?
RC:"I think it will be a good battle. Terrell is one of the better pass-rushers in the league. He's got speed, he's got quickness and he's got a knack for getting to the quarterback. Joe is a good athlete and he has some talent, so I think that will be a good matchup."
LT Joe Thomas
Can you compare the Ravens' defense to any other that he has seen?
Joe Thomas:"The Ravens have always been one of the best defenses in the NFL. Obviously, right now they are probably the best run defense in the NFL, and all around on defense they're in the top two or three. So, it's a tremendous challenge every time we play them, and being in the AFC North we get the pleasure of playing them more than once a year."
What are your impressions of Haloti Ngata?
JT:"He's a great player. He's one of the best defensive tackles in the league. He brings a great combination of speed, strength and power, and he's a guy you have to game-plan around."
What are your memories of getting into it with Ngata last year?
JT:"I think that was actually in Baltimore, if I'm not mistaken. The two teams, the Browns and Ravens, have a great rivalry, and a lot of times it gets real heated on the field and it gets a little chippy out there some times. But it's all in fun. No grudges are still going on."
Are you still upset about what happened last year and do you plan a special welcome for Ngata this Sunday?
JT:"No. We reconciled after the game last year. So there's no love lost, and I think we both respect each other, and I don't think there's going to be anything of that sort."
What do you think of Terrell Suggs?
JT:"He's a great pass-rusher. He's playing probably the best, actually, in these two years of playing against him. And he's another guy you've got to game-plan because he's such a great pass-rusher, but he's also such a force in the run game. And you've got to be prepared for a fist fight because he's an extremely physical player."