With the Ravens preparing to take on the Indianapolis Colts this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you Colts head coach Jim Calwell and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Head coach Jim Caldwell
What have you seen in Joe Flacco and the Ravens' offense?
Caldwell: "I see a very effective offensive unit. It's a team that can certainly strike you at any time. They have some fire power. Flacco's doing a great job. He's got all of the tools you look for. He can make every throw, he's bright. Obviously, [Ray] Rice is doing a tremendous job out of the backfield. He's one of those guys that… He's leading the team in both rushing and receiving. He's an important part of that mix. And [Willis] McGahee is a fine player. [Todd] Heap is excellent at tight end. All we see is a lot of weapons over there that they utilize, and utilize them effectively."
How is your defense handling the injuries?
Caldwell:"It's like anything else. There's not any team in this league that's not going through the same thing that we're going through. We just don't spend a whole lot of time talking about it. We have guys that have to step up and play, and we expect them to do their job."* *
Is Peyton Manning playing the best he's ever played?
Caldwell:"I don't think there's any question about it when you look at the numbers. He's had some great years around here now, but you look at his numbers this year, and obviously the number of 300-yard games, I think he's had eight 300-yard games out of our nine ball games, and obviously that's highly unusual. But, he's also had some great years as well, when he threw the 49 touchdown passes. He's done some tremendous things in his career, but right now he's moving along and playing at a real, real high level."
How do you diffuse the talk of a perfect season?
Caldwell:"We're not really concerned about that. That wasn't one of our goals coming into the year. We have to focus in on making certain that we look at the next game. The next game is the most important game, and that's the only thing that we focus on."
What has Matt Stover brought to the Colts?
Caldwell:"He's been excellent. He's been absolutely excellent. To have a veteran that's been around, that knows how to get himself prepared for a game, but not only that – he's very, very good at what he does. He just fits right in. He's a great addition to our team, and we certainly are glad to have him."
QB Peyton Manning
Why have you had more success against the Ravens' defense than any other quarterback?
Manning:"I don't know if I would really look at it that way, to tell you the truth. I don't really get into what happened in games past. This is a new staff for the last two years, and they have some new players. They're an excellent defense, so it's really a tough week of preparation – preparing for obviously good players, but multiple looks. The key is just trying to execute, trying to protect the ball, and you have to be kind of aggressive and patient together, which in a lot of ways those are opposite words, but I think that's important. It's always a great challenge playing against these guys."
Does this defense look like the Ravens' defense of old?
Manning:"I think so. I think it does. They're very active and still capable of causing turnovers, certainly. You see Ray [Lewis] and Ed [Reed] doing their thing, but I think [Jarret] Johnson's very active. He's making a lot of plays. It's still a defense that can give you a lot of problems. It's very stout against the run, tough on third down, and like I said, they do a good job of stripping the ball and causing turnovers."
What is it like with Matt Stover on your team?
Manning:"Matt's done a great job for us. His first game he kicked five or four field goals, or his second game maybe. It's good to have him. Obviously, when you lose an Adam Vinatieri for a time, there's not many guys as far as a veteran with that kind of experience that can replace Vinatieri. But, Matt has been in a lot of huge games, been in a lot of high-pressure situations, and I think he's really done a heck of a job for us."
What do you think of the new look of the Colts' offense?
Manning:"We certainly have some new players. We've had a lot of young guys playing. These guys are continuing to learn. I think this Sunday will be one of their greatest lessons, potentially, facing this defense with the good players that the Ravens have, plus the multiple looks. It will be a tremendous challenge, but also a tremendous learning experience. We have no choice but for those guys to learn on the run and do the best job they can. They're working hard, obviously. They're all young players. You've got some rookies, you've got some first-year players, and they're definitely learning, like I said, on the run. That's what we're having to deal with right now."
How much will not having Terrell Suggs affect the Ravens' defense?
Manning:"Obviously, in respect to him, he is an outstanding player. To speak on our team, I know when you have top-level players get injured, like we've had here… We've had a number on defense as well. When you lose a Bob Sanders or a Marlin Jackson, it is extremely tough. But, everybody's in the NFL for a reason, and there's an opportunity for someone else to step up. Also, our philosophy is when other players get hurt, the other veterans really have to step up and raise their level of play to make up for a top player missing. The Ravens have plenty of veterans on defense, and I know they'll be a tough defense on Sunday."