With the Ravens preparing to take on the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey this weekend, two members of the enemy team answered a few questions about their squad.
BR.com gives you coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Is it different preparing for the Ravens since they have a viable offense this year?
Tom Coughlin:"Yeah, they sure do. The last four games will certainly hold true to that with their average, scoring 33 points or more per game. The young quarterback, [Joe] Flacco, has really played well, and they've added a wrinkle here or a wrinkle there. They always do an outstanding job with the physical nature of the game, running the ball and defending the run. They've got some big plays involved in their offense now. Of course, I'm sure the defensive guys are excited about that."
How do you explain a quarterback like Flacco or Eli Manning playing well in their rookie season?
TC:"They're totally different, I think, in experiences for each individual. It's very difficult to compare, but I do know this: Talented guys surrounded by a supporting cast, excellent protection, someone who is focused and has the ingredients this guy has with his strong arm and his presence and his ability to hang in there in the pocket to make plays, he's doing the things that his coaches are asking him to do to win."
Is there any familiarity since you once coached against the Ravens and John Harbaugh used to coach against the Giants?
TC:"We certainly are aware. We've played in preseason games for a long time with Baltimore. That subsequently stopped, but there's still familiarity that way. We know John very well, know the quality of coach that he is. But it's one of those things where they have a unique style in Baltimore. They play the game their particular way. It requires, as does every team in the league, a lot of detailed study to understand what they're all about. That's the process we're in right now."
How critical will it be to establish the run game?
TC:"Well, for us, it's always about balance. We know we're going against the No. 1 rush defense in the National Football League and a defensive team that seems like, whatever category you want to look at, they're 1 or 2 or somewhere in there. They're very, very good in defending the run, and they're very aggressive. But that's the style of game that we play, in terms of trying to rush the ball and trying to create some balance off of that."
Do you sense that, with your three-back rotation, teams have trouble adjusting when you send in a new back?
TC:"There is a different in style. The style adjustment itself allows for some of that to take place. It's not that we do a lot with different plays or anything. They basically all three will run the offense, but they are different styles of runners, and that's the effect."
QB Eli Manning
What do you see when you watch the Ravens' defense?
Eli Manning:"I see a very talented team. They're tough in all areas on defense. They do a great job of stopping the run, where teams get stuck in a lot of third-and-long situations. They get to the quarterback by causing pressure. It's tough to convert because they do complex defensive schemes, and do a good job of getting to the quarterback pretty quickly, and playing different coverages on that. It's a team where you have to prepare very hard in the film room, on the practice field, and try to just play as smart as you can, knowing that they are going to make some plays on defense. And you can't just turn the ball over or make the costly mistakes that they can rely on."
Is the game plan altered since the Ravens' defense is so successful against the run?
EM:"We've still got to try to run the ball. It's not going to be that we're not going to attempt the run. We'll still try to do that. You've just got to have a plan and try to find ways when you can run the ball, try to be efficient doing that. But we know we are going to have to throw it. We're going to have to throw efficiently, we're going to have to pass protect, and guys are going to have to get open down the field so we can make some plays and change the field position."
Have you talked to your brother, Peyton Manning, about the game the Colts played against the Ravens?
EM:"We might talk a little bit. We just play such different styles of offense, in a way. We're more of a tight end, two-back offense, where they're more two tight ends, one back. So, there are some similarities at times. But I haven't talked to him this week. I might talk to him down the road, and I've watched their game, and ask him a question about something. We might talk a little bit, but we're not comparing notes and giving everything. We really don't like giving each other's secrets away, because you never know, you might have to go against each other."
Has anything changed from the first time you played the Ravens, and is any of it still applicable?
EM:"It was a long time ago. It was a time when we were struggling and trying to find an identity. They were a great defense, and I think we've… I've grown a lot as a player. This team has grown a lot since then."
What do you think about Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, and when did things start settling down for you as a quarterback in the NFL?
EM:"Joe has been playing terrific, and for a young guy to come in and play as well as he has is a credit to him and the coaching staff and those players. You never know. It's different for every player and every quarterback, and he's really come in and played well. I think as a young quarterback, and even anybody, you get better every game. You get more comfortable with what you're doing, kind of finding your identity of what plays you like, what plays you really have a great feel for, and you just feel comfortable no matter what the defense is. And the coach has got to get a feel for that also. And it sounds like, especially these last couple of weeks, they've really found that."