With the Ravens preparing to take on the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at Lucas Oil Field, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you head coach Tony Dungy and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Head Coach Tony Dungy
How important is it for the Colts to beat the Ravens with your upcoming tough schedule?
Tony Dungy:"We've got to do a number of things. We've got to get a streak going, number one, because it's hard to get in playoff contention is you win one, lose one, win one, lose one. We haven't won a home game yet this year; that's a little disappointing. It's hard to be a playoff team if you don't win homes games. So from that standpoint, it's a big game.
"We are also playing against another AFC team who figures to be in the hunt, so we definitely want to win this one and get the tiebreaker on the Ravens. It's a big game for a lot of reasons."
Is there a difference for the team playing in the old RCA Dome or the new Lucas Oil stadium?
TD:"No, there really isn't. It's a great facility, the new place, and it's loud and very similar to the old one. It's just nicer. We've got to start playing well at home and winning, and then I think it'll become very familiar."
Is Peyton Manning back where you would want him to be after missing camp and the preseason?
TD:"He's coming around, but I don't think our whole team is where we want it to be. I don't think we've been sharp. We haven't really played a sharp football game in the first four all the way across the board where we had everything – offense, defense, special teams, our run game, our run defense. Nothing has been as sharp as we need it. That's what we've got to work on."
What can we expect from the matchup between Dwight Freeney and Jared Gaither?
TD:"He's a big guy, first of all, and he looks very athletic [with] long arms. So what you've got a big man against a smaller guy and speed and quickness against a big, powerful athlete. [It is] not too much different than it was against Jonathan Ogden where you're facing just a big, massive guy. It will be interesting."
What does the Ravens' defense present?
TD:"What they do, and they're no different than they've been probably for the last ten years, they try to bring pressure and keep you off balance so you can't zero in on any of those guys in the secondary. They expect the ball to be thrown fast, they crowd you, they make you go after big plays. They're not going to let you complete balls in front of them and they expect their pressure to hinder you from getting balls deep. It's a tough job.
"You've got a lot of things that you've got to pick up, a lot of different blitzes that you've got to handle, your receivers have to speed their tempo up a little bit to make sure they're getting open quick enough. It will be a challenge."
QB Peyton Manning
What do you think about the Colts' slow start the season?
Peyton Manning:"It's hard to give a real summary, I guess, but the fact is we sort of break our season into quarters, and 2-2 for the first quarter, that's not where we want to be, obviously. That's 500-football, and that's not good enough. So we hope to play better here in this second quarter, but our schedule is probably even more challenging and demanding, starting with Baltimore, who very easily could be 4-0 with the scores of their games. Just a couple of plays here and there, and they're easily 4-0.
"Certainly, we've had some different guys playing, but that's something that's happened in the past. We've had injuries before and we've had young guys step up, and that's part of football. We probably [have] had [injuries] a little earlier in the year as opposed to years past, and it's something we have to work through."
What is it like maching up with LB Ray Lewis?
PM:"It's a great challenge for me as a quarterback playing against a guy like Ray because you're playing against a guy who truly takes a lot of pride in his profession and truly tries to perfect his craft. You can tell he studies just a ton. He's very familiar with tendencies and those types of things. There's many a time when I've heard Ray calling out our plays, and he's been pretty accurate at times. It's always impressive to watch him play when you play against him. I don't know if I necessarily enjoy it, but it's a challenge and he presents a lot of problems for us. It certainly is, like you said, a chess match is probably a good word for it because he's constantly moving his defense around and trying to get his defense into the best play. And obviously, I'm trying to do the same thing for our offense."
Do you expect the Ravens' defense to be more motivated after last year's loss?
PM:"In the fifth game of the season if you're not motivated to play, then I think something's wrong with you. I don't think this Ravens team needs anything that's happened in the past to motivate them. They've always played extremely hard; we've always had close games. Last year it was one of those games where things fell right for us. They had a bunch of turnovers on offense, we had very good field position, they had a number of injuries in the secondary, and that game was an exception in my opinion. The games [we've played] – the playoff game and the other games we've had against them there in Baltimore – are more of the type of games we have, and that's the kind of game you expect this Sunday."
What are your memories of being a rookie quarterback like the Ravens' Joe Flacco?
PM:"I can't really speak for him. I haven't had a chance to see him play a whole lot. Of course, this week I've focused on their defense. It's a marathon it's not a sprint. That was the kind of thing I tried to keep telling myself and people were telling me. I think you learn something new each game. Certainly, I had a number of struggles that season, but I felt like I learned something new each week, and I felt like I tried to get a little better each week. It may not have shown in the wins and losses – we only won three games that year – but I did feel more comfortable in the second half of the season than I did in the first.
"I was very thankful that I played as a rookie because I think there's no other way to learn than to be in there playing and seeing just how fast a Ray Lewis is and just how much ground that Ed Reed covers. The only way I learned that is to be in there playing, in my opinion. It definitely served me well in my second year [because] we turned things around pretty quickly, going from 3-13 to 13-3, and I certainly felt much more comfortable as a quarterback."
Do you see a difference when watching film in the Ravens' secondary without CB Samari Rolle or S Dawan Landry?
PM:"All teams like to have their full complement of starters in there. When you have Ed in there and Ray in there, I think their D-line is playing well, and those guys can take a lot of pressure off of a new player in there. I think Fabian [Washington] has been a good addition. I played against him in Oakland last year, and he's a good player. [Bart] Scott's an active linebacker. They have plenty of good players. So even without a Landry or a Rolle they're still an excellent defense."